My Thoughts on Perfection

my kitchen this morning.
I have been wanting to share this thought with you for quite some time. Most of what you see when you come to Oven Love are recipes, photos, ideas.. and a little (teeny, tiny, very small) window into my life. But this blog is just something I do, not who I am.
I want you to know that behind this blog is a real person.
I repeat- I am not perfect. I am a real person.
I am a real person with a perpetually messy house, a huge pile of dishes, and kids who misbehave. I am a real person who doesn’t make gourmet meals every night, relies heavily on bananas to get through the day and makes ugly food sometimes, too. I am a real person who is not perfect and who doesn’t put this blog first. And that’s okay.
This message is mostly directed at my female readers out there (which is most of you). We are naturally prone to compare ourselves to other women; to wish we were more, or wish we were better versions of ourselves. Beautiful blogs and websites (and Pinterest and Facebook) play right into that- giving us an endless list of things we should do or make or be.
My hope is that you don’t look at this blog and see something unattainable. I don’t want you to think that I am perfect or better in any way- I am just a sinner saved by the grace of God who happens to enjoy cooking and taking pictures and sharing what I learn with you.
We are in this fight together.
I am always fighting a battle against myself. I desire to be a better wife, a better mom, a better cook, a better Christian.. a better everything. If I’m not good at it, I want to be good at it. If I’m already good at it, I want to be better- even though I know that it is Christ who defines me, and not anything else.
 I also know that the only way to fight this battle is with the Holy Spirit by my side. God is the one who changes me. He reminds me what is worth striving for.
So while I am in the midst of taking this blog to a new platform and making lots of changes for the better, I just wanted this message to get to you. This blog is something I love and enjoy, but it does not define me. There is so much life to be lived beyond the pages of the Internet!
I want to encourage you today- you are worthy of love, you are special, you are important. God sent His own Son to die just so that he could be with you and show you that love. How amazing! Don’t believe the lie that you need to be a perfect (fill-in-the-blank) for you to be worthy of love.
It’s okay to admit we aren’t perfect.
We are so loved in our imperfection.
“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Roasted and Spiced Autumn Vegetables

It’s a miracle that I have this recipe to share with you today. Not because I’m busy, but because my oven is on the fritz! The ol’ Oven Love oven is breaking down on me. Not the whole thing, oddly enough.. the stove top is still working. So weird! And so inconvenient since oven-using season is upon us. Maybe a new oven is in my future?!
Anyways, roasting vegetables is nothing new, but here’s what I like about these:
  • I can throw just about any fall vegetable or fruit in the mix.
  • It’s perfect finger food for babies!
  • Adding allspice to the spice mix gives it that special, savory something.
 This is one of our go-to side dishes throughout fall and winter. We just switch out the veggies/fruits, depending on what we have on hand. You can use the leftovers, too- they would be delicious as a filling for white lasagna, as a topping for a salad, added to alfredo pasta, inside a grilled cheese sandwich, or added to a fritatta. Lots of options, lots of yum.
Oh, and if you know anything about fixing ovens, email me at!
Roasted and Spiced Autumn Vegetables
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Feel free to substitute any fall produce or root vegetables here- fresh pumpkin, potatoes, parsnips, turnips, onions, etc. You can also switch up the spice mixture- adding ginger, cloves, etc; or substitute 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice.
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 6-8

  • 1 small butternut squash; peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large sweet potato; peeled and chopped
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large or 2 small apples; peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 large or 2 small pears; peeled, cored and chopped
  • extra virgin olive oil, melted butter or melted coconut oil
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ⅛ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine all the chopped vegetables and fruits in a large bowl and toss with a few tablespoons of olive oil, butter or coconut oil. Add the spices and toss. Spread the mixture on a parchment or silicone-mat-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Roast in the oven for 30-45 minutes tossing once or twice. Serve warm.

18 Things You Didn’t Know Your Slow Cooker Could Make

I know ya’ll are loving some slow cooker recipes these days. Did you know you can make more than just pot roast in there? Um.. yeah. You can make BREAD in there. And cheesecake. And Chex Mix. The creativity out there on these internets is top notch, am I right?
Pop over to MPMK to see my round-up and put that Crockpot to work!

Homemade Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins [with no refined sugar]

I don’t eat much store-bought candy these days, but when Halloween rolls around, I find myself eyeballing those Reese’s peanut butter pumpkins. I know it’s basically the same as a peanut butter cup, but for some reason, the pumpkin always tasted better to me. Maybe a better peanut butter to chocolate ratio? Maybe the eye-catching Halloween packaging? Let’s be real, though- that peanut butter filling is so good.
But that filling is also full of not-so-healthy ingredients (sorry, Mr. Hershey! xoxo). All it took was a few pantry ingredients to create a satisfying version of my own with no refined sugars. Hooray! The pumpkin cutter I used is from Pampered Chef, but I’m sure you could find one this time of year at your local baking/craft store. You could also roll them into balls, or cut them into another shape, or save this recipe for a few months so you can knock of the Reese’s peanut butter eggs come Easter time.
If I had the time and/or patience, I would make these to hand out to trick-or-treaters. Though I’m not sure parents let their kids accept homemade treats anymore. Sad times. Must go cheer myself with a pumpkin.


Homemade Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins [with no refined sugar]
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makes 1-2 dozen pumpkins, depending on how thick you make them.
Recipe type: Candy, Dessert
Serves: 1-2 dozen

  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch salt
  • 2-4 tablespoons coconut flour (this is just to give the filling more body. you can also use almond flour, but i wouldn’t recommend a wheat or grain flour as a substitute since the filling is not baked.)
  • 4 oz unsweetened, dark or semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • chopped peanuts or sprinkles for topping (optional)

  1. In a small bowl, whisk peanut butter, honey, vanilla and salt until combined. Using a spoon or spatula, mix in 2 tablespoons of the coconut flour. Continue adding coconut flour by the tablespoon until the mixture forms a dough. Refrigerate the dough until cool, at least 30 minutes.
  2. When your dough is ready to work with, roll it out with a rolling pin and use a small pumpkin cookie cutter to make the pumpkin shapes. Re-roll the dough if necessary to make more pumpkins. Place the pumpkins on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and freeze until firm, at least 1-2 hours.
  3. When you’re ready to dip them, melt the chocolate and coconut oil in the microwave (30 seconds and then check every 10 seconds until melted). Using a fork to pick up each pumpkin, dip the pumpkin into the melted chocolate until covered, tap off the excess chocolate and place back on the parchment paper. Repeat until all pumpkins are covered.
  4. Sprinkle each pumpkin with chopped peanuts or sprinkles if desired. Freeze or refrigerate until the chocolate is set. Trim off any excess chocolate and serve cool (not frozen) or at room temperature. Store in the fridge.

Chicken, Coconut and Lentil Soup

I’ve got a thing for soup lately.
Maybe because it’s getting cooler, maybe because I’m trying to include more bone broth in my diet, maybe because you can just throw anything you want into a pot and call it soup.
And this soup is really about just that- throwing a bunch of semi-related ingredients into a pot and waiting until they magically melt together into something delicious. How does it happen?? You wouldn’t think all of this stuff would go together, but it does. It really does.
If you set out to make this, I beg you- please put your thinking cap/game face on at the grocery store and DO NOT forget the naan. It is essential. You will be super sad if you forget it which will put you in no mood to whip up some naan from scratch. Trust me.
Get the naan and make your soup. And then save me a bowl.

Chicken, Coconut and Lentil Soup
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adapted from Scaling Back and 101 Cookbooks
Recipe type: soup
Serves: 6-8

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper cut into ½ inch dice
  • 1 fresh jalapeno or serrano chili, finely chopped, including seeds (I used just ½ to keep the spice down)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh peeled and minced/grated ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped/grated
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ⅓ cup tomato paste
  • 7 cups chicken stock
  • 1 can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas (or about 2 cups pre-soaked)
  • 2 cups lentils (preferably red; I used green, which is what I had on hand)
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • fresh cilantro and lime wedges for serving

  1. Heat the coconut oil in a dutch oven or large soup pan and add the onions, bell pepper and jalapeno and cook for 5-7 minutes until the vegetables have softened and start to take on some color.
  2. Add the garlic, ginger, spices and tomato paste and continue to cook for 2-3 more minutes until the mixture is toasty and fragrant.
  3. Add the chicken stock, coconut milk, chicken, lentils and chickpeas and cook uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on how soft you like your lentils.
  4. At the end of cooking, add the lime juice to taste and adjust with more salt if desired. Serve the soup topped with a sprinkling of fresh cilantro and some extra limes on the side.

Cauliflower and Roasted Garlic Soup

 [This post has been updated from the Oven Love archives.]

This soup is exceptional.


It’s so good that every fall for the last four years, we’ve remembered it and had to have it again. You know how rare it is for me to make a recipe twice.. so I think this is going to be a Herr family favorite.

There is nothing more satisfying than a creamy soup on a cool night, am I right? The roasted garlic in this thing is no joke- so, so good- do not skip that step! If it weren’t for the garlic breath, I would eat a head of roasted garlic every. single. day. (TMI?)

The soup is filling as a meal all it’s own, but makes a great starter for a holiday spread as well. And I just love the roasted cauliflower florets on top with their cheesy, herbaceous flavor. Great presentation for company, but also a perfect supper to share with your family.

Cauliflower and Roasted Garlic Soup
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via Martha Stewart Recipes serves 10-12 This recipe is for a crowd (think holidays)- but can be easily halved and it’s freezable, too.
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 12

  • 3 heads garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 3 white onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 heads cauliflower, 3 cored and thinly sliced and 1 broken into florets
  • 8 sprigs thyme, tied with twine, plus one tablespoon chopped (you can sub. 1T dried thyme)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 6 cups chicken stock, plus more to thin, if desired
  • 2 cups heavy cream, plus more to thin, if desired
  • 2½ cups plus 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut off the tops of garlic heads. Place each on a piece of aluminum foil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap tightly in foil, and bake until garlic is very soft, about an hour. Let cool. Squeeze garlic from peel; set aside. Increase oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat ¼ cup olive oil in a large pot over medium low heat. Add onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until soft but not browned. Stir in sliced cauliflower, thyme and wine. Simmer until wine is reduced by half. Add stock, bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. Remove cover and simmer until cauliflower is soft, about 15 minutes more. Remove from the heat.
  3. Remove thyme bundle and stir in cream and 2½ cups Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in garlic. Puree with a stick blender or in batches until smooth. Thin with more stock or cream, if desired. Return to pot; keep warm on low heat.
  4. Heat remaining ¼ cup olive oil over high heat in a saute pan until almost smoking. Add cauliflower florets, stirring until browned. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer pan to oven and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in thyme, parsley and remaining 3 tablespoons Parmesan. To serve; ladle soup into bowls and garnish with cauliflower florets.

16 Fall Favorites

Fall 2012 is here!
Let’s just say my jeans are happy to be worn, my tea cups are happy to be full.
My scarves and boots are waiting in the wings (it is Georgia, after all).
It’s not really cold here yet, but I’ve wasted no time stockpiling pumpkins, squash, pecans and apples. We’ve also got a pumpkin/squash patch taking over our yard- can’t wait to see what we get!
These 16 recipes are some of my very favorites from the past.
Please enjoy while I get to work on all that produce.
New fall inspiration is on its way!
Pumpkin and Gingersnap Cookie Dough Ice CreamBaked Potato Casserole
Pumpkin MarshmallowsRed Bean Chili with Cheddar Cornmeal Waffles
Chicken Apple ChiliPumpkin Bread with Ricotta Cream Cheese Swirl
Fall Harvest SaladMaple Syrup Scones
 Almost Paleo Pumpkin SquaresSpicy Kale Lasagna
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip GiantsApricot-Glazed Pork Tenderloin
Pumpkin and Kale Baked RisottoSmall Batch Natural Applesauce
Roasted Butternut Squash LasagnaMake Ahead Baked Oatmeal

Chicken Satay Lettuce Cups and Thai Chicken Taquitos

For a fresh take on double duty dinners, visit me at MPMK today!
There, you’ll find the recipes for Chicken Satay Lettuce Cups and Peanut Sauce.
Then pop back to Oven Love for the Thai Chicken Taquitos recipe (posted yesterday).
Then get ready for two dinners that will blow your pants off.
(I mean that in the best way possible.)

Thai Chicken Taquitos

I felt like a real genius with this one, you guys.
This crazy Thai/Mexican fusion taquito idea just popped into my brain and would not leave until I made it happen. All I could think about was peanut sauce for days. Days! Then another idea called Chicken Satay Lettuce Wraps became best friends with the taquito idea and I had no choice but to go full force with it.
Here’s how it’s gonna go down.
You’re going to put some chicken in a crockpot with some coconut milk and forget it. Then you’re going to remember it, shred it, mix it up with some other goodies and stuff it into some lettuce and then into your face. And you’re going to have to set aside half of the filling before you dig in because you will probably eat it all without thinking about it, then be super-bummed when you remember the whole taquito thing. So set it aside, for the love! Then the next day, remember it again, roll it up in some tortillas and dip those gems into the peanut sauce.
Go visit MPMK for the Lettuce Wraps and Peanut Sauce recipes.
 This is a double duty crockpot dinner, people! You don’t want to miss it.
Thai Chicken Taquitos
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These taquitos are part of a double duty dinner! The filling is made with leftovers from my Crockpot Chicken Satay Lettuce Cups.
Recipe type: Main, Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine: Thai
Serves: 5-6


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. Microwave 2 tortillas at a time for about 15 seconds or until warm and pliable. Fill each tortilla with about 2 tablespoons of filling and roll tightly. Place on the baking sheet with the open seam down, cover with cooking spray and sprinkle with sea salt. Repeat until your filling is gone.
  3. Bake the taquitos for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. If you’d like them to get even crispier, turn on the broiler for a few minutes (but watch them closely so they don’t burn). Remove from the oven and serve hot with peanut sauce for dipping.

Spent Grain Crackers

I have awesome friends.
I have awesome friends who let me borrow their fancy blenders, no questions asked. And friends who tell me about secret local food co-ops. And friends who dehydrate our spent grain from homebrewing and then spin it up into flour for me. Just because.Are you jeal? My friends are AWE-SOME. Just full of love.
Remember when I wasn’t sure about moving to GA? Well now I’m not sure about leaving. I love these crazy Southerners! They really grow on you.
These tiny crackers were my first project with my spent grain flour. If you’re curious, spent grain flour is just dried spent grain (leftover from the brewing process) that is ground into flour. I just used a little bit in this recipe- it’s pretty powerful stuff. You don’t need much to get that robust, deep-grain flavor.
If you don’t have any spent grain flour, you can certainly substitute another whole grain flour or seed. I think the crackers would be great with the addition of sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds or maybe some millet. Whatever you have on hand, just throw it in and see how it goes. You can’t really ruin these. Unless you leave them in the oven too long.. I can’t help you there.
If you make your crackers tiny like I did, the recipe makes approximately a bazillion crackers. It will seem like you will never run out of dough. To make it easy on yourself, you can just cut them into squares- no need to get fancy with the little cutters.
The nutty, whole-grain flavor goes great with sharp cheddar, by the way.
Share them with your awesome friends (I know you have them, too).
Spent Grain Crackers
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based on a recipe by Whisk and Whimsy
Recipe type: Snack

  • 1 cup rye flour (you can sub another whole grain flour if you like)
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ⅓ cup spent grain flour (use a dehydrator or oven to dry your spent grain and run through a grain mill; directions here)
  • ⅓ cup ground flax seed
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more for topping
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½-3/4 cup water

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, flax seed, baking powder, and salt. Then add the olive oil and mix with a fork until combined. Slowly mix in a ½ cup of water, working it in with your hands. If needed, add up to ¼ cup more water until the dough holds together. Knead the dough in the bowl until it is smooth and easy to work with, about 2 minutes.
  3. Dust a clean surface with flour, dump out the dough, and press it into a flat disc. Use a rolling pin and roll out the dough until it is ⅛ to ¼ inch thick. Cut the crackers into 2-inch squares or circles, re-rolling the dough as needed.
  4. Carefully transfer the cut crackers to un-greased or parchment paper lined baking sheets, and sprinkle each cracker with a little salt. (I also poked holes in mine with a fork). Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through, until the crackers are crisp and hard to the touch. Transfer the crackers to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 7 days.