(Healthier) Bacon, Kale and Roasted Tomato Eggs Benedict {KitchenAid Blender Giveaway} | girlversusdough.com @stephmwise

I like to think of this as a healthy BLT. Or an excuse to eat a BLT for breakfast (if we need one). Because bacon + kale + tomatoes + lightened up “hollandaise” sauce + whole-grain toast + an egg on it = maximum health! Says myself, anyway.

You see, I simultaneously love and hate the new year thing. I love that, in some ways, it feels like a time to hit the reset button, to start fresh. It’s a time to set new goals and write new lists in our new planners, to plan ways to cross things off our bucket lists (or start them) and seek to feel whole again. But at the same time, it’s all so daunting. I feel like I can barely remember to put socks on both feet these days, but now I also have to fit in time to declutter the house and do yoga and eat healthier and read the Top 50 Banned Books? Oy. It’s almost enough for me to scrap it all, put my one-socked feet up and eat a doughnut while not reading.

So this year, I’m not seeking to start over. I’m not touching the reset button. Instead, I am going to be intentional with my everyday choices. So when, say, it’s time to eat breakfast, I will choose to eat a more whole, healthier meal rather than that doughnut I dream about (most of the time anyway; lest you be fooled, I will always make room for doughnuts). Enter this healthier bacon, kale and roasted tomato eggs benedict. YASSS.

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Cranberry Walnut Bagels | girlversusdough.com @stephmwise

First, we had peppermint brownies. Then, carmelitas. Now, these cranberry walnut bagels. In other news, I am officially set for the winter with carbs (lolololololz, just kidding. I can never have too many carbs).

Speaking of carbs, a story: Last week, my husband approached me with an idea. “I’m reading a preview of this book,” he said. “OK,” I said, probably while eating one of the aforementioned carbs. “It’s called ‘Eat Bacon, Don’t Jog.’ I think I want to order it,” he said.

Here’s where you think I’m totally kidding about the title of the book. I am not. This is real life, guys.

Continuing: “From what I’ve read so far, the writer says you should eat more fatty foods like bacon and cheese and fewer carbs like bread and bagels. What do you think?”

It’s like the man doesn’t even know me.

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Apple, Walnut and Brie Bread Pudding Pancakes | girlversusdough.com @stephmwise

Apples and walnuts and Brie and maple syrup on top of bread pudding pancakes? I’m making this a regular thing for my face.

It all started a couple of weeks ago when the husband and I were able to go out to breakfast sans bebe. We headed over to Colossal Cafe in St. Paul; he ordered the biscuits and gravy (always) and I hemmed and hawed and fidgeted and deliberated — it’s not like we get to go out to eat and have someone else make our breakfast every day, so the stakes were high — and finally settled on the house special, a short stack of flappers (a.k.a., yeasted pancakes) with an apple, walnut and Brie topping.

I think you and I both know I made absolutely the best breakfast decision ever.

It was true pancake nirvana. I melted into my seat with each bite of fluffy flapper. I tried to dab some of the buttery apple-walnut topping on my wrists (juuuuust kidding. Maybe). I wondered why I’d never thought in all my days to put Brie on pancakes before, because hot diggety that’s a good idea. While I was unable to finish the colossal plate (har har) before me, I did manage to polish off the entirety of the toppings, which I feel doesn’t even need justifying. You are my people; you understand.

Since then, I’ve been wanting to bring the recipe into my home kitchen. So when Cartwheel by Target approached me about creating a simple and delicious seasonal recipe using ingredients found in their slick savings app, I was oh-so-pleasantly surprised to discover that almost everything you need to make these pancakes can be found on Cartwheel. Huzzah!

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Cherry Cheescake Monkey Bread | girlversusdough.com @stephmwise

You know what they say about Thanksgiving — eat all the turkey and green bean casserole and cranberry sauce and pie, twice, then make cherry cheesecake monkey bread and eat that, too. At least that’s how we do/did this year.

Because my husband works in the medical field, and we need medical people even on holidays, he worked on Thursday afternoon so I ended up having two Thanksgivings: one on Thursday with his family and one on Saturday with mine. My belly = SO FULL, and my heart = so thankful. And nestled right in between the two days of festiveating was the making of (and, also, eating of) this monkey bread.

Please excuse me while I collect myself as I think back on those fond memories of eating said bread warm from the oven with cherry pie filling and cream cheese icing and soft, pillowy, baked-from-scratch pull-apart dough and GAH. Maybe we all need a moment.

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Caramelized Shallot and Mushroom Quiche | girlversusdough.com @stephmwise

Much as I love being here, chatting with you, hopefully both of us with a big mug of hot coffee in our hands as it is Monday morning and we probably both need it, there is nothing like having a conversation in real life.

There is also nothing like a good quiche.

Both are why this weekend did my soul good.

On Saturday morning, I had a few of my blogger friends over for a brunch in real life — IRL, as the fancy interwebs folk say. It was potluck-style, so everyone contributed a dish and let me tell you, it was proof that these virtual baby showers and wedding showers and linky parties and such we have ’round these parts every once in a while? They would cure whatever ails ya with one happy food coma. In short, the food was amazing.

So was the company. Because sometimes me + this computer screen can get a wee isolating, and much as I love to have heart to hearts with my baby daughter and my cat in the long afternoons, it doesn’t compare to being able to spend intentional time with the women in my life who walk a similar path. I was telling Melissa, who spearheaded the idea for the gathering, that I feel like we are so lucky to have such a uniquely warm, kindhearted and encouraging group of food bloggers in this tundra/great state we call home. All of that to say: I hope this weekend can be repeated again and again.

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Apple Cinnamon Streusel Pull-Apart Bread | girlversusdough.com @stephmwise

(This giveaway is closed.)

It’s a big day, you guys.

Not only am I sharing a recipe with you that is, quite honestly, the best thing I’ve baked all season, it’s also the day I get to share with you the awesome partnership between Red Star Yeast and Stop Hunger Now and their joint campaign to bake the world a better place.

Oh, AND there is a giveaway at the end. AND it’s Friday. Let’s dance the Carlton for all o’ that.

Sometimes I think the food that I make doesn’t really matter or make a difference. I mean, yes, there is nothing I love more than to provide a meal to my family and to anyone who comes over — it’s what I love most about food, really, that it brings people together in a joyful and intentional way. But at the end of the day, I don’t feel like my enchiladas are going to save the world, just my hangry-ness.

That’s why Red Star Yeast and Stop Hunger Now are coming together to raise awareness of their mission: To end hunger in our lifetime by providing food and life-saving aid to the world’s most vulnerable and by creating a global commitment to mobilize the necessary resources. Did you know that 842 million people in the world do not have enough to eat, and that every day, more than 25,000 people die abroad of hunger and hunger-related causes? It is why Stop Hunger Now aims to provide nutritional, filling meals worldwide. In 2013, roughly 125,000 volunteers worldwide packaged more than 42 million meals for recipients in 30 countries. Also in 2013, Stop Hunger Now sent more than $9 million worth of donated goods — including antibiotics, birthing kits, water filters, school desks, projectors, fabric and solar lights — to countries in need.

In 2014, they — and we — want to make those numbers even bigger. And it can happen starting with the food we make in our homes.

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