If you’re visiting my site this morning, you should notice something is a little different around these parts.

My little website got a facelift this weekend, and I wanted to take the time to introduce y’all to the new Speckled Palate!

But first, an explanation of sorts because I know it’s out of the blue. (Heck, it was out of the blue for me!)

No, this wasn’t planned.
No, I wasn’t expecting to have to do this so soon.
But c’est la vie.

My site went down late last week due to a firmware update not being compatible with my blog’s theme. So I did what any reasonable blogger would do: I found a new theme and began work tweaking the design to my liking.

And y’all? I’m really pleased with the final result…

The Speckled Palate: Version 3.1 // The Speckled Palate

Not only did I work on an overall facelift for the site… but I added some new pages and updated the About Me and FAQ pages.

I even made a super pretty Recipe Index that’s organized by category and photographs to make finding recipes easier on everyone.

The Speckled Palate: Version 3.1 Recipe Index // The Speckled Palate

So… I’m curious.

What do y’all think of the new site?

What are your favorite features? Is there anything distracting or something you’d rather see?

  • Paris (My Big Fat Happy Life)September 8, 2014 - 9:44 am

    I am loving your new theme! It looks so clean and easy to navigate!ReplyCancel

    • ErinSeptember 8, 2014 - 11:08 am

      Thank you so much, Paris! That’s what I was going for, so I’m glad you dig the clean and easy navigation, too!ReplyCancel

  • AlliSeptember 8, 2014 - 9:45 am

    I like it! I love a good, straight forward blog with no distractions and you’ve hit the nail on the head! Congrats on your new and improved blog!ReplyCancel

    • ErinSeptember 8, 2014 - 11:10 am

      Thank you, Alli! I’m glad you think the new design is straightforward without distractions. That’s what I was going for, and I think it just looks so much cleaner than the old design.

      WP4 snafu turned new blog design for the win!ReplyCancel

  • Kelly @ Hidden Fruits and VeggiesSeptember 8, 2014 - 10:01 am

    Love the new look! I know it kind of sucks when you have to change things unexpectedly, but usually without that push I’m never motivated to ;-)ReplyCancel

    • ErinSeptember 8, 2014 - 11:11 am

      Thanks, Kelly!

      It really does suck when you have to change things unexpectedly, but you’re so right. Without that push, I would have put off this redesign for too long… or never done it in the first place! It’s kind of nice to have something to force you to change things up, even if it is a major inconvenience at the time.ReplyCancel

  • Ashley @ 3 Little GreenwoodsSeptember 8, 2014 - 10:12 am

    Very clean and fresh! Love the gallery of all your recipes too!

    Well done!
    ~ AshleyReplyCancel

    • ErinSeptember 8, 2014 - 11:12 am

      Thank you, Ashley! I appreciate it.

      The recipe gallery took me a LONG time to figure out, but I’m so glad one of my friends suggested adding photos to it instead of just listing out the recipes. I think it really makes an impact!ReplyCancel

  • KatherineSeptember 8, 2014 - 10:38 am

    The new theme looks great. I’m a fan! :)ReplyCancel

    • ErinSeptember 8, 2014 - 11:12 am

      Thanks, lovely! I appreciate it!ReplyCancel

  • aimee fauciSeptember 8, 2014 - 10:43 am

    Love the gallery of recipes.. Great pictures and nice sized as well. Welcome to your new house!ReplyCancel

    • ErinSeptember 8, 2014 - 11:36 am

      Thank you so much, Aimee! The gallery of recipes was a pain to pull together, but it’s so worth it in the end. I have a feeling I’m going to enjoy these new digs QUITE a bit!ReplyCancel

  • Jayne @ Tenacious TinkeringSeptember 8, 2014 - 9:39 pm

    I LoooooooVE this new design so much! Very clean, classy look that still embodies your personality. You kinda made lemonades out of the lemons, and it’s perfect! Sometimes these things just happen and then boom! Beauty. Great job, Erin. <3ReplyCancel

  • EileenSeptember 8, 2014 - 10:57 pm

    What a great redesign — I love the fun & colorful header! Yay!ReplyCancel

  • MJ @ Daisy & JuneSeptember 9, 2014 - 9:22 am

    I love the new look! It’s very fresh and clean and it suits your blog name so perfectly!ReplyCancel

  • MeganSeptember 9, 2014 - 10:06 am

    I love it! It looks so fresh and clean, and that recipe index is great!ReplyCancel

  • NancySeptember 9, 2014 - 2:37 pm

    I really like your facelift! :) Plus that cute picture on the right!

    http://neatly-packaged.com/ReplyCancel

Welcome to another week of the That’s Fresh Friday Link-Up! We’re so happy that you’re hanging with us and sharing your fabulous posts!

We’re preparing for a big weekend — it’s the start of football season! And we’re thrilled to be traveling to Houston to see our Tigers take on Wisconsin this weekend. It’s going to be a great time… and now, I’m beginning to fret over what to pack for gameday because I know it’s going to be crazy hot and humid! What are y’all doing this weekend? Any wardrobe suggestions for me?

So, with that said, let’s get ready to party!

If this is your first time with us and don’t know what That’s Fresh Friday is, it’s a weekly link-up hosted by Southern Girl Blog Community and seven other amazing ladies. You can come and share all of the “freshest” posts from your blog and meet some new friends through the event. The only thing that we ask is that you read our simple rules below and help spread the word about our party.

First, let’s meet the girls who let us hang with them every week:

That

Hosts for the That’s Fresh Friday Link-Up:

Southern Girl Blog Community :: Facebook :: Twitter :: Instagram

Chene @ Prototype Mama :: Facebook :: Bloglovin’ :: Pinterest

Co-Hosts for the That’s Fresh Friday Link-Up:

Kathryn @ Up To Date Interiors :: Facebook :: Twitter :: Pinterest

Aleshea @ Glitz & Grits :: Twitter :: Facebook :: Instagram

Erin @ The Speckled Palate :: Facebook :: Twitter :: Instagram

Candyce @ The Sewcialite :: Facebook :: Twitter :: Instagram

Michelle @ Diva With A Purpose :: Facebook :: Twitter :: Instagram

Check out my favorites from last week:

It should come as no surprise that I’m highlighting some screen-licking beautiful recipes, right? Because that’s how I roll…

 

Vanilla Almond Granola Cereal from Natural Chow

Peach Dumplings from Seduction in the Kitchen

Taco Bowtie Pasta from Lamberts Lately

Cherry Chipotle Cheeseburgers from Erica’s Recipes

Simple No Bake Fruit Tart from A Dash of SANity

Be sure to check out what my other co-hosts are digging from last week’s party. All of our features have been pinned to our That’s Fresh Friday feature board on Pinterest: Go check them out here.

The Rules:

Link up anything with the exception of giveaways, reviews and blog/link parties.

Follow ALL Hosts & Co-hosts via one of the methods listed above.

Visit at least two links before yours and mingle with some of the other bloggers! I’m sure you’ll find a new bloggy friend!

Display our link up button somewhere on your blog (sidebar or post) or link back.

That

(Find code HERE.)

Link up as many posts as you like. (Please link directly to your post!)

Spread the word about the freshest Friday link-up via Twitter, Facebook, etc.!

The more, the merrier. And be sure to use the hashtag ‪#‎thatsfreshfriday‬ to spread the word!

Every week when the link-up goes LIVE, Chene (one of our lovely hosts) sends out a ‘heads up’ email to our That’s Fresh subscribers. If you would like to be added, click here.

Now it’s time to PARTY! We can’t wait to see what you guys have been up to!


  • Melinda @Home.Made.InterestAugust 28, 2014 - 6:03 pm

    Thanks for hosting!ReplyCancel

    • ErinSeptember 7, 2014 - 11:07 am

      Thanks, Melinda! I know I’m a week late, but I hope to see you back at this weekend’s party!ReplyCancel

  • AdrianAugust 28, 2014 - 8:02 pm

    Thanks for hosting Erin! Have a great weekend:)ReplyCancel

    • ErinSeptember 7, 2014 - 11:08 am

      You’re welcome, Adrian! Here’s to a great weekend for you, too.

      And I know I’m a week late, but I hope to see you back at this weekend’s party!ReplyCancel

  • WinnieAugust 29, 2014 - 3:20 am

    Hi Erin :)
    Thanks for the party and I wish you a relaxing weekend
    Beautiful features!ReplyCancel

    • ErinSeptember 7, 2014 - 11:09 am

      Thank you, Winnie! I hope you’re having a fabulous weekend and to see you back at this week’s party!ReplyCancel

  • Lara @ Methodical LivingAugust 29, 2014 - 4:34 pm

    Thank you for hosting this link up!

    -LaraReplyCancel

    • ErinSeptember 7, 2014 - 12:35 pm

      You’re welcome, Lara!

      I know I’m a week late, but I hope to see you back at this weekend’s party!ReplyCancel

  • […] Lou Lou Girls Fabulous Party, Cook It! Craft It! Share It!, Be You Tiful, Freedom Fridays, That’s Fresh Friday, Whimsy Wednesday, Inspire Me Please, Skip the Housework Saturday, Creativity Unleashed, The […]ReplyCancel

Fresh Cream of Tomato Soup // The Speckled Palate

Have we already discussed my love/hate relationship with tomatoes?

Because it’s a thing. And it centers around fresh tomatoes and how they’re just… meh… to me.

Now, I love tomato products as much as the next person. Red sauce? Add extra to my pasta, mmmkay? Ketchup? I’ll have extra with my fries! And Tomato Soup? This girl has died and gone to heaven.

But fresh tomatoes? Eh. I could take ‘em or leave ‘em… and most of the time, I choose to avoid them.

We were inundated with fresh heirloom tomatoes from our CSA this summer, and I was confounded as to what to do with them since I don’t eat them by themselves. And currently, Tomato Pie even sounds gross… so I needed a workaround.

Fresh Cream of Tomato Soup // The Speckled Palate

So I perused the internet and realized I could make Fresh Cream of Tomato Soup.

And that’s exactly what I did, thanks to a glorious recipe from Ina as inspiration.

Fresh Cream of Tomato Soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 5-6
Ingredients
  • 1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1½ tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4½ pounds fresh heirloom tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1½ teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ¼ cup packed fresh basil leaves, chopped, and extra basil leaves for garnish
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
Instructions
  1. In a large Dutch oven over medium-low heat, heat the olive oil and butter.
  2. Once warm, add the onions and carrots. Sautee until tender. (About 10 minutes.)
  3. Add the garlic, and cook for a minute.
  4. Add the tomatoes and their juices, along with the sugar, tomato paste, basil, vegetable stock, salt and pepper. Stir until combined, and bring the ingredients to a boil.
  5. Once boiling, lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30-45 minutes. The tomatoes will need to become very tender.
  6. Remove the soup from the heat and add the cream.
  7. In a food processor/blender/immersion blender, process the soup until smooth, then pour the soup into a fine mesh strainer to remove tomato seeds and other pieces of vegetable that will keep the soup from being smooth.
  8. Once the soup has been strained and is smooth, enjoy immediately, chill or freeze.
  9. When ready to eat, reheat soup in the microwave and serve with basil leaves as garnish on the side of the soup bowl.

This soup is delightful with a fresh grilled cheese during these hot months… or you can do as I did and freeze a portion of the batch for the cooler fall and winter months!

What is YOUR stance on fresh tomatoes?

  • CherylAugust 27, 2014 - 11:06 am

    I actually read somewhere that only a very small percentage of people like both cooked tomatoes AND raw tomatoes – I’m definitely one of them! This looks great.. because it’s almost like a combo of the two! Yum :)ReplyCancel

  • EileenAugust 27, 2014 - 12:14 pm

    I am jealous of those tomatoes! Our homegrown tomato harvest has just started, and we’re also supposedly getting tomatoes very soon from our CSA, but they haven’t shown up yet. I’m 100% in the “love them” camp. This soup sounds like such a great way to savor fresh tomato! My second choice would be serious big batches of tomato sauce — that is, if you’re getting THAT many tomatoes. :)ReplyCancel

  • AlliAugust 27, 2014 - 3:24 pm

    I eat tomatoes like apples for a snack because I love them so much. This soup looks amazing though, I will definitely have to try it.ReplyCancel

  • MeganAugust 27, 2014 - 8:53 pm

    I looove tomatoes in any form, but tomato soup is my top choice. I have about five different tomato soup recipes, but I have never tried this one. Looks amazing!ReplyCancel

  • […] cups Fresh Cream of Tomato Soup (or canned tomato […]ReplyCancel

  • AdrianSeptember 11, 2014 - 6:13 pm

    I love tomato soup! This recipe looks like my kind of dish:) Found you at That’s Fresh Friday Link Party.ReplyCancel

    • ErinSeptember 11, 2014 - 7:45 pm

      I love tomato soup, too, Adrian! If you try this recipe out, let me know! And thanks for stopping by!ReplyCancel

Sweet Potato Pancakes // Erin Skinner from The Speckled Palate for My Cooking Spot

I realize it’s still the summertime, but sometimes, a girl wants sweet potatoes.

Back when I was training for my marathon, I began eating a lot more sweet potatoes, as I’m allergic to bananas, and after a horrible bout of leg cramps on my 18-mile run that ended with several fits of uncontrollable tears, I knew I needed more potassium. Lucky for me, sweet potatoes are packed full of it!

Sweet Potato Pancakes // Erin Skinner from The Speckled Palate for My Cooking Spot

So I began experimenting, adding sweet potatoes here and there.

And then I developed these Sweet Potato Pancakes, which is utterly divine and which was eaten the day before my marathon as my final meal in Dallas.

I’m over at My Cooking Spot sharing this recipe today, and I’d love for y’all to join me over there!

Have you ever tried sweet potatoes at breakfast? What’s your favorite sweet potato recipe?

  • AlliAugust 25, 2014 - 12:40 pm

    Sweet potatoes are on my top 5 favorite food list. I will definitely be trying these!ReplyCancel

  • Kelly @ Hidden Fruits and VeggiesAugust 26, 2014 - 9:58 am

    Are we not supposed to eat sweet potatoes in the summer time??! I eat them allll the time and there’s no stopping me. Especially not when they’re in pancake form!ReplyCancel

Whole Wheat Italian Focaccia Bread // The Speckled Palate

Sandwiches and me have a love-hate relationship.

Some weeks, I love ‘em.

Other weeks, I could leave ‘em.

And other times? Well, it’s probably best y’all didn’t hear what I thought about ‘em.

Whole Wheat Italian Focaccia Bread // The Speckled Palate

A few weeks back, I was obsessed with re-creating the sandwich I fell in love in Italy… and the first part I wanted to get right was the bread.

So I began tinkering, and I ended up baking this delightful loaf of Whole Wheat Italian Focaccia Bread in response to this obsession.

And if I do say so myself, this focaccia is a game-changer when it comes to making sandwiches at home.

Whole Wheat Italian Focaccia Bread // The Speckled Palate

Sadly, the rest of the sandwich didn’t come together quite as nicely.

The canned tuna in olive oil just didn’t taste as good as it did in Italy.

The pesto I made was tasty… but it wasn’t Cortona quality.

And while the mozzarella was delicious, I felt like the overall dish was lacking.

Whole Wheat Italian Focaccia Bread // The Speckled Palate

So today?

Today, I share a really fantastic bread recipe and promise I’ll keep working on the sandwich portion of this, as I cannot wait to take a bite of the perfect recreation and then share it with y’all here. Though something tells me it’s going to take a while and a lot more tinkering because I truly believe the simplest recipes are the ones that are the most challenging to recreate.

However, this focaccia is pretty darn good, and as an added bonus, it’s pretty darn easy to pull together, too.

Here’s how you do it:

Whole Wheat Italian Focaccia Bread
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Bread
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 1¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1½ teaspoons dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1¼ hot water
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2½ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon local honey
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flours, oregano, basil, garlic powder and onion powder. Using a whisk, stir until incorporated, then set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the hot water, olive oil, active dry yeast, honey and salt. Stir until the salt has dissolved into the water and the ingredients are incorporated, then pour into the dry mixture.
  3. Using the dough hook attachment on a low speed, combine the ingredients until the dough has become smooth. (Don't get over-anxious and speed up the mixer, as you'll get a face full of flour.)
  4. Once the dough has come together, turn up the speed of the mixer, beating the dough against the sides of the container for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Once the dough has finished mixing, spread it onto a greased baking sheet. (This will be a bit challenging, as the dough is a bit tacky and won't want to listen.) Cover it with a damp kitchen towel. Let it rise for 45 minutes in a warm place.
  6. Once the dough has risen and doubled in size, preheat the oven to 450°F.
  7. Create divets in the dough using your clean fingers, then season the bread with additional olive oil, salt and oregano.
  8. Bake for 25 minutes or until top is golden brown.
  9. Let the bread cool for 10 minutes, slice the bread into pieces and enjoy!

 

Whole Wheat Italian Focaccia Bread // The Speckled Palate

What kind of dishes have you tried to recreate from another time in your life?

Was the recreation successful?