DIY Rustic “Table” Photography Background

DIY Rustic “Table” Photography Background Pistachios 1 - offbeat + inspired

As I’ve been perusing the works of some of my favorite food photographers, one element I’m drawn to is the backdrop. I absolutely love the look of food composed on a rustic farm table. The natural look enhances homey, comfort recipes, contrasts formal dishes to make them really pop and showcases the beauty of simple ingredients.

I haven’t yet found my dream barn wood table that perfectly complements the recipes I’m working on (I know it’s out there somewhere!). Even if I did have that perfect table, the best natural light in my house comes from a particular spot near my family room window. It’s not at all a convenient place to store a table and I’d hate to have to move large furniture to that area every time I want to shoot.

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Cardamom Hot Chocolate + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

Cardamom Hot Chocolate - offbeat + inspired 1

I remember when we had a snow day as a kid, my brother and I would head out to the backyard and sled down the hill behind our house for hours on end. When our fingers were finally numb and our clothes soaked through, we’d tromp through the garage and down into the basement to throw our jackets, gloves and hats into the dryer. Then we were off to our rooms to change into cozy sweatpants while Mom whipped up hot chocolate and built a fire. Snow days were seriously the best.

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Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes

Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes - offbeat + inspired

This is the first Christmas that my entire immediate family is in Kentucky. My mom drove out from New Jersey 2 days ago and it’s been a whirlwind of excitement since she got here. We want her to see everything. We’ve had lunch at Windy Corner, cookies at National Boulangerie, coffee at the Starbucks downtown (because Mom loves her Starbucks), had a visit to my youngest sister and her husband’s new apartment for the first time, ate dinner at Ted’s Montana Grill and saw The Hobbit. That was just yesterday.

This morning, groggy and hungry, I texted my sisters to join my mom and I in my room so we could chat and plan the day. After the inevitable silly-ness that happens when the sisters and mom are together, the much anticipated topic of breakfast came up. It was quickly decided that I would make pancakes, and pancakes I made. Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes.

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Maple, Banana + Pecan Muffins

Maple, Banana + Pecan Muffins 7 - offbeat + inspired

I’ve mentioned before that I typically don’t bake very often, but lately the tables have turned. This holiday season has stirred up for me a new love for creating fresh breads (some which morphed into this), cookies, scones, cakes and now muffins.

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Lexington Love | A Christmas Shop

Lexington Love | A Christmas Shop - offbeat + inspired

Lexington never ceases to amaze me with the creativity and inspiration it introduces me to week after week. I recently had the pleasure of visiting Joseph and Shannon Hillenmeyer at their Christmas Shop. As I’m not sure where to begin with my rave about these people and this place, I’ll just tell the story of how I experienced it all for the first time.

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Mocha Bread Pudding + A Giveaway! [Featuring FreshGround Roasting]

Mocha Bread Pudding 4 - offbeat + inspired

Food isn’t always about what ends up on the plate. For me, it’s about the process of preparing that dish. It’s about the people I get to share it with, where the ingredients originated, who passed along that recipe to me or how it morphed and changed in my kitchen.

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Holiday Gift Guide + Favorites

Holiday Gift Guide + Favorites - offbeat + inspired

I can’t believe how fast Christmas is coming. I meant to put a gift guide up WEEKS ago, but time flew and now here we are, only 2 weeks out. I decided to mix up this little roundup with some of my absolute must-haves across multiple categories so you can find something for (almost) everyone. I also figured, since time is running low, I might as well illustrate the entire guide. Smart? No, but time management was never my forte and it was fun to make so I hope you like it! Ok, let’s go.

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Coffee + Dark Chocolate Bark

Coffee + Dark Chocolate Bark 2 - offbeat + inspired

I’m not sure why Christmas has declared itself the chocolate bark holiday. Yet for some reason around this time of year, you can find these decadent chunks of chocolate in nearly every grocery store or at almost any holiday party. While I personally vote for it being around all year long, I’ve officially jumped on the Christmastime chocolate bark bandwagon.

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Lexington Love | National Boulangerie & Patisserie

Lexington Love | National Boulangerie & Patisserie - offbeat + inspired

There’s a new cafe in town! National Boulangerie & Patisserie opened their doors on the corner of National and Walton yesterday, just outside downtown Lexington (KY). I’ve been very eagerly awaiting this opening for months because the owners, Krim Boughalem and Andrea Sims, also own/owned two of my absolute favorite local food spots: Wine + Market (now owned by Renee and Seth Brewer, who also own the wine and tapas bar, Enoteca) and Table 310. Table 310 has been a frequent stop for me with their outstanding seasonal menus, weekend brunches, killer cocktails and delicious French-inspired coffee bowls. The atmosphere and service consistently match the exceptional quality of the food and drink. And I have to say, National is going to continue Krim and Andrea’s tradition of knocking it out of the park with their must-visit Lexington eateries.

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Mini Chocolate Cakes + Cardamom Buttercream and Lemon Curd

Mini Chocolate Cakes + Cardamom Buttercream and Lemon Curd - offbeat + inspired

This time of year, I’m constantly looking for an excuse to bake. Sometimes I want to get crazy and try something like French macarons (which I definitely have yet to master, but head over to Stella Parks’ BraveTart if you’re feeling ambitious!), and other times I want something familiar like brownies or oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. These mini chocolate cakes happened when my baking moods collided and I wanted something a little familiar, a little crazy, a little adventurous and entirely satisfying to a cake-craving chocoholic.

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