Girl Versus Dough

10 things to know when working with brands

working with brands

Six years, y’all. That’s how long I’ve been blogging. That practically makes me a dinosaur in blogging years. And I’ve got a big sweet tooth and a constant mountain of dishes in my sink (OK, and a lot of recipes) to show for it.

It also means I’ve picked up a few experiences along the way, many of which I shared with you back in this post. That post was super fun to write and it seemed to resonate with a lot of people, many of whom have followed up with me via e-mail or social media (hai, frands!) to connect and ask more questions. I love it. It makes me remember why I do this in the first place, and hopefully my rambling words have helped you. Help me help you. How very Jerry Maguire of us.

A lot of your follow-up questions have had to do with my ongoing partnerships with brands, which you may notice in a sponsored post from time to time or by checking out my portfolio page. In the time I’ve been running this bloggity blog, I’ve worked with dozens of brands, big and small, national and local, etc. These partnerships have been huge for my food blogging career and are the source of a good chunk of my income.

But it’s been about so much more than the income, too — the experiences I’ve gained (like, walking through Iowa cornfields or cooking in the Kitchens of General Mills or shaking Bob’s hand) are unforgettable, and the relationships I’ve cultivated are unmatched. I am insanely grateful for all of it.

That being said, it hasn’t been all sunshine and lollipops and rainbows (though there have been a few rainbow-themed recipes). It’s been a LOT of hard work and there have been many lessons learned. I thought I’d take some time to share some of those lessons — or, in a “more fun” manner, top 10 things to know — with you today. Neato, gang!

(P.S. For those of you who don’t blog/aren’t interested in working with brands, tune in next week when I may or may not have a fun surprise for you! I’m such a tease, I know.)

blueberry lime cream cheese cookies

blueberry lime cream cheese cookies

Blueberries. Limes. Cream Cheese. Somehow they all come together to make a really, really, ridiculously delicious cookie.

As a self-confessed dessert lover/snob, it’s hard for me to go more than a few days without a homemade dessert in the house. At those times, I become desperate. I try to find solace in a mini Blizzard from Dairy Queen. Or in a square or two of dark chocolate. Or in a Girl Scout cookie I find lurking in the back of the freezer. I’m not proud of that moment in particular. But none are quite as satisfying to me as a homemade treat.

Such was the case last week when my inner dessert snob turned into a cookie monster and all I could think about were COOKIES. Not to say this isn’t fairly normal behavior for me, but I’m usually able to resist the call for a day or two (or a few hours… or a few minutes, it really depends). This time it was different, though — not only did I crave cookies, but I wanted cookies with a bright fruity, citrusy flavor. Preferably a cakey cookie, with a glaze. But not just any glaze — cream cheese glaze. YES. YESSSSS.

And then I went all mad scientist in the kitchen and came out with these blueberry lime cream cheese cookies. And my cravings were cured.

tarragon blue cheese turkey burgers

tarragon blue cheese turkey burgers

Twenty minutes. That’s all it takes to make these burgers. And an extra approximately 1.5 minutes to eat them all.

We have this situation in our household and that situation is called Elliott and His Insatiable Appetite. The man can eat an entire frozen pizza with ease and polish off bags of chips as a snack. When we are with family, he is always called on to finish the last bites of things, and he always obliges. And following normal serving sizes for recipes? Fuhgeddaboutit.

So when I made these delish tarragon blue cheese turkey burgers — all jazzed up with fresh tarragon, crumbly blue cheese, chopped red onion and homemade honey mustard sauce — earlier this week for dinner, I knew I needed to enjoy my burger to the fullest. Because the rest of them were guaranteed to be gone by midnight.

And they were.

tomato ricotta phyllo tart

tomato ricotta phyllo tart

I don’t have a garden; I can barely keep a basil plant alive. But my parents have had one and my grandmother has one and many of our neighbors and friends have ones that we gratefully reap the bounty of now and then. We also have farmers markets, and I am thankful to each one of those vendors for not only growing their edible wares so well, but selling them to us black thumbs, too.

This post is a celebration of all the freshness and flavor of the garden in a phyllo tart form. In other words: a crispy, flaky, buttery crust topped with creamy lemon-herb ricotta and sliced heirloom tomatoes topped with salt and pepper. My only regret is that I didn’t make this recipe sooner.

(I suppose I regret that poor basil plant, too.)

apple peanut butter granola bars

apple peanut butter granola bars on a cutting board

For the past week, I have been on a serious oats kick. Overnight oats, oatmeal, muesli, these apple peanut butter granola bars (obvi) — the list goes on. And I have Bob to thank for it.

Last week I headed out west to Portland, OR for the very first time not only to catch up with and meet some new blog buddies and to explore the amazing city in all its foodie heavenly wonders, but to visit Bob’s Red Mill. And of course, Bob himself (who, by the way, really does look like this in real life). The trip was fantastic and memorable in so many ways, and I already can’t wait to go back.

But I digress. Because oats. Specifically, these oats, in granola bar form with dried apples and toasted roasted peanuts, creamy peanut butter and crunchy honey oat granola. All no bake, all gluten free, all easy to make, all DELICIOUS.

no knead dutch oven bread

loaf of no knead dutch oven bread on a surface

Ready to bake homemade bread in your own kitchen? This no knead Dutch oven bread is your BFF. You just need three ingredients to make this delicious recipe, and I’ll take you through it step by step. So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to get some delicious carbs in your life.

If you could see me right now, you’d know I am jumping for joy for this post.

Why?

Because this beautiful loaf — this glorious no knead Dutch oven bread — might just be the very best bread I’ve ever baked. Seriously. And it also happens to be one of the easiest ever, too. And I’m going to show you, step by step, just how to do it.

Like I said, so much jumping for joy. And for carbs.