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Earlier this month, Brown Eyed Baker celebrated its TENTH birthday, which is absolutely mind-blowing when I sit down and really think about it. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been rewinding and reliving those early days and thinking about how different life is now than it was when I first hit “publish” on my recipe for Italian wedding soup on February 11, 2007. It feels like a lifetime ago, and in many ways, it was.
I’ve moved three times, brought two heartwarming dogs into my life, had to say goodbye to one of them, got married, and have given birth to two beautiful boys who light up my days. It’s been quite an adventure, and one that I thought you would enjoy reliving with me as we look back, and forward, as well!
I may have talked about it before, but when I began Brown Eyed Baker, I was living outside of Cleveland, Ohio, a couple of hours away from Pittsburgh, and with a super boring day job. It involved a lot of web surfing, and I eventually stumbled upon a couple of food blogs. Literally, like two or three. Blogs really weren’t a thing back then. We’re talking back in the days of spending hours customizing your MySpace page. MYSPACE, people. Not even Facebook! The phrase “social media” had never been uttered and I wasn’t even aware of companies dedicated to helping people build an online presence, like Squarespace.
Can you imagine starting a blog in a world where Facebook was limited to college students, and Twitter and Instagram didn’t even EXIST? Truthfully, it was sublime. It was just (bad) pictures, (really short) write-ups about the food I was making and loving, and connecting with other people who were learning to love cooking and baking in different Internet forums. A lot less pressure and a lot more blogging “for the love of the game” (a favorite Kevin Costner movie of mine!) or, “for the love of food”, more appropriately.
To put in perspective how utterly long ago it was when I started Brown Eyed Baker… it was two weeks before I would bring Einstein home as a puppy, I was 26 years old (TWENTY SIX, good Lord, I was a BABY!), it was a year and a half before my husband and I would even start dating, and nearly four years before I would be able to call Brown Eyed Baker my full-time job.
I continued working as a marketing analyst while I was baking, photographing, writing, connecting with regular readers, learning social media, and putting together my plan for being able to replace my regular job with this blogging thing that I was just loving so much.
In December 2010, I said goodbye to my “real” job and haven’t looked back since. Perspective: that was almost four years after I initially started blogging, probably earning me the Tortoise Badge (Joseph is watching Hey Duggee behind me so I have badges on the brain!). If you’re thinking about launching a blog to replace your full-time job, it’s certainly easier to do so now than it was back then, but it’s still not something that will happen overnight, and will take some blood, sweat and tears! It certainly would have been easier back then if I had access to something like Squarespace, where everything that I needed to blog (domains, hosting, publishing, design, etc.) was all right there in one place for me, and not something I needed to spend tons of time on myself!
My foray into full-time blogging was still before blogs were a mainstay on the Internet, so if my mom told someone I was a “food blogger” when they asked where I was working or what I did, she had to answer the question, “but how does she make money?!” approximately eleventy billion times. (Sorry, Mom!)
Suffice it to say, things have changed just a bit. There are now literally millions of food blogs, food blogging is an actual industry, countless people are making a good living from sharing recipes online, social media has exploded, and if you’re one of the lucky ones to be able to call this your job, then you know that due to the saturated market, you have to hustle to stand out among the crowd.
In the early days of my blog, I started on the Blogger platform, then transitioned to WordPress (which I still use today). Back then, if you were just starting out (i.e. didn’t have a lot of excess money to spend), your choices were pretty much to use a free theme or to teach yourself HTML and CSS and spend the better part of a summer trying to customize a theme without breaking your entire site (true story, hello/goodbye summer of 2010).
Now, thanks to the fact that there are so many bloggers, there are countless businesses dedicated to blogging services. Squarespace is more recently popular with bloggers and they offer a one-stop-shop for new bloggers that makes it incredibly easy to get up and running with a gorgeous website and minimal effort. I would have certainly gotten way more vitamin D during the summer of 2010 had I known they were around back then, ha!
A couple of years ago, I wrote about how to start a food blog; if you want to throw your hat into the blogging ring, give it a read, and then be sure to check out Squarespace as an additional resource. You can easily snag a domain, customize your design, and do everything from publish recipes to set up an online store. No need to employ the services of five different people or companies to get all of that accomplished!
They also offer 24/7 support via email and live chat, which is music to the ears of this person who LOATHES talking on the phone. As someone who had spend 7 hours on the phone with tech support on a Friday night in 2010 because my site was down and my database had broken, the ability to have everything needed for my site to run under one roof and with such accessible support is amazing.
I was a way late adopter of Twitter and Instagram and I never even touched Snapchat, so I’m kind of an old soul when it comes to technology and love handing the reigns over to people who are better at it than I am!
Ten years, come and gone, it’s unbelievable. It’ll be interesting to see how technology, social media, and the blogging landscape changes over the next ten years. I’m planning to still be here, talking about the foods that I love and my changing family.
Is there anything specific you hope to see moving forward? Any recipes you’re dying to make, things you want to see me tackle… anything! Let me know in the comments below.
There is no way that I could have done what I have over the last ten years without all of you here, wanting to share food and family and stories on a weekly basis. So a great big THANK YOU to all of you for allowing me to do this thing I love while getting to spend my days with my boys, who are growing so exceptionally fast. You have made Brown Eyed Baker what it is, and I’m forever grateful.
If you’re ready to start your own blog and want to take advantage of the perks associated with using Squarespace, they’ve put together a special offer for Brown Eyed Baker readers. The first 50 readers who use offer code “BROWNEYED” will receive 10% off their first website or domains purchase.
This post was sponsored by Squarespace and their all-in-one platform.
GET READY TO SAVE TIME PREPARING YOUR FRUITS, VEGETABLES, AND MORE WITH THE Joymee Kitchen Gadgets Set
This Joymee one-of-a-kind mandoline slicer set features a vegetable slicer, vegetable grater, fine grater and julienne slicer, all in one convenient, easy-to-use set! This multi-purpose mandoline slicer set is excellent for use as vegetable cutter, cheese grater, fruit and vegetable peeler, chopper and more! With this set you will receive five interchangeable steel blades, a food container base, a safety hat, a detachable mandoline slicer, a fine grater, a straight slicer. With all these pieces, you have the tools to create a perfect meal faster and easier each time.
Feel free to use the 5 interchangeable stainless steel, super sharp blades to make straight slices of various fruits, vegetables, and more! These 5 blades are durable and will not rust after use.
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Endless fresh options to quickly chop, mix and puree. This compact and lightweight 3.5 cup mini food Processor is ideal for every day use – whether you want to Eat healthier, be more creative, or just save time on meal prep.
Almost any cookie can be paired with coffee, but there is something about biscotti that is just a little bit better than most. It could be because the crisp, twice-baked cookies hold up to dipping, or that their long, thin shapes are ideal for nibbling on while you savor your drink. I’ve made them in a wide variety of different flavors and enjoy each and every one of them. Over on the Craftsy blog (it’s free!!), I’m sharing a great recipe for Cherry Almond Biscotti in a post that will walk you through the process of making biscotti at home, step by step. The post is packed with photos that show how to shape and slice the cookies, which should come in handy if you haven’t tried making biscotti before. That said, they’re much easier to make than you might think, so don’t be intimidated to give them a go.
In the post, I also offer some suggestions for different variations that you could put on my recipe to make it your own and customize it with your favorite mix-ins. The base recipe really is a good starting point for a wide variety of flavors. And if you’re in need of even more inspiration, give these recipes a try!
A few weeks ago, we were invited to a dinner, where our friend, a fantastic cook, Yasemin of Yasemin’s Kitchen, spread an irresistible Turkish feast we absolutely fell in love with. Among the bright array of dishes Yasemin prepared, including eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes in olive oil (kirli kizartmasi), green salads, pilafs and boreks, one dish stood out for me with its very inviting magenta color. I suspected the beets to be the culprit and Yasemin confirmed it. It was Bulgur Salad with Beets and Apples.
I was intrigued. I tried it, then tried some more, and more, until I couldn’t stop and devoured most of it. I had never tried anything like that before. Tender grains of fine bulgur were mixed with grated raw beets and green apples, flavored with a copious amount of fresh herbs and just enough walnuts added for a subtle crunch. The beets were not overpowering at all, albeit being uncooked. They provided only a subtle sweetness that paired well with the tartness of the apples and pomegranate paste.
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In these tough economic times, it is important to find ways to save money, especially when feeding your family. Maybe you are a college student looking to save money by taking a break from fast food or paying at the cafeteria. Canned biscuits are an inexpensive staple ingredient that many people have in their refrigerator but they rarely thing about the possibilities beyond plain biscuits. Canned biscuits are actually a very versatile ingredient that can be made it to many different delicious meals.
This recipe book contains tons of tasty and creative hacks that go beyond the traditional with delicious options such cakes, doughnuts, sandwiches and casseroles.
Canned biscuits may be cheap but they don’t have to be boring if you know how to Hack It!
Sausage, Biscuit and Gravy BakeBBQ in a Biscuit BlanketChicken Salad Biscuit EmpanadasPesto Biscuit PizzaEasy Chicken and Biscuit DumplingsCinnamon Biscuit Roll RingCanned Biscuit Pot PieGlazed Biscuit DoughnutsBiscuit Monkey BreadChicken & Biscuit PieBiscuit Cinnamon RollsGarlic Biscuit LoafBunny BiscuitsOrange BiscuitsCinnamon Biscuit LoafBrown Bag BiscuitsBiscuit Coffee CakeTurkey Pie With Biscuit ToppingVegetable BiscuitsPizza BiscuitsHamburger BiscuitsOrange Juice BiscuitsHash Cheese Biscuit BakeCaramel Biscuit Ring A RoundBeefed Up Biscuit CasseroleZesty Biscuit Bean BakeBiscuit Nugget Chicken BakeBiscuit PuddingItalian BiscuitsCreamed Chicken Over BiscuitsEasy Biscuit Garlic BreadCheese Danish BiscuitsStrawberry Shortcake BiscuitsRaspberry-Mango Shortcake BiscuitsBiscuit Peach ShortcakesRed, White and Blueberry Shortcake BiscuitsBlueberry Biscuit Monkey Bread BakeCheesy Sausage CalzonesPigs in a Biscuit BlanketBiscuit BLTHam and Cheese Biscuit MeltsBiscuit Bowl Chili RecipeSpiced-Sugar Biscuit DoughnutsPumpkin Biscuit DoughnutsGerman Chocolate Biscuit DoughnutsSalted Caramel Biscuit DoughnutsBlueberry Biscuit WafflesPeach Biscuit Cobbler
This rich and creamy Carrot Tomato Chipotle Soup is an easy and delicious upgrade to your tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich night.
With just a handful of ingredients—some fresh, some from the pantry, you can easily whip this up on a busy weeknight.
I came up with this recipe a few years ago when I was in the middle of dealing with some really tough things. At the time, I scribbled down the ingredients, took a few pictures, and planned to eventually write about it here because it was a really delicious soup.
Although I never managed to write about it back then, I recently found the photos and ingredient list. I decided to make it again last night to see if we still liked it as much now as the first time I made it.
This soup starts with onion, celery, carrots, canned tomatoes, chicken broth, and coconut milk. I added some chipotle paste for extra flavor and a touch of heat.
The first time I made this, I had a tube of chipotle paste that Phil brought home from work (he works at Sur La Table, so he’s always bringing home specialty ingredients and gadgets to play with). If this is a product you happen to already have, use it.
If not, a much cheaper option is to buy a can of chipotle chiles in adobo and puree it in a blender or mini food processor.
You can keep the chipotle puree in a small glass jar in the refrigerator for a couple months and use it to flavor all kinds of things!
Another option for storing chipotle paste is to freeze it flat in a plastic bag and break off little chunks whenever you need it.
To start the soup, sauté the onions and celery in some olive oil or butter.
Next, add the carrots, canned tomatoes, chicken or vegetable broth, and a spoonful of chipotle paste or puree.
Bring it all to a simmer and let cook slowly for about 30 minutes to blend all the flavors and soften the carrots. This is the perfect time to assemble some cheese sandwiches!
If you use a regular blender, make sure not to overfill it and leave the top open a bit to vent the steam or you will end up with a hot soup explosion.
Once blended, just pour it back into the pot to keep it warm or serve immediately.
And here’s my husband Phil, enjoying the soup three years ago.
He enjoyed it even more last night because I served it with the parmesan toast shown in the first picture. We’ll have the leftovers today with grilled cheese sandwiches.
I kept the flavors pretty simple in this soup, but feel free to add your favorite fresh herbs or spices. Curry powder would be delicious!
I like to stir in some fresh chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime at the end, but this carrot tomato soup is also delicious as is.
I’ve shared links to lots of other delicious soup recipes and carrot recipes at the bottom of this post below the recipe. Check them out!
This post includes Amazon affiliate links. Making purchases through these links won’t affect the amount you pay, but I may earn a small percentage, which helps support this blog and my family. If I write about products I have received for free or am ever paid to write about a product, it will always be disclosed. Thank you.
More Carrot Recipes from my Fall Fest friends: