Monday, September 5, 2016

Caramelized Peach and Lavender Scones



My favorite thing about the weekends is sleeping in, going on long walks and making fresh cream scones! They have become a habit around here and we just never get tired of them.  Peaches are in season right now and we just got a whole bunch from my parents' trees. I can most of them for food storage but always leave some for fresh eating and, of course, making yummy treats with.

If you have not tried scones before or have tried them and have not been impressed, you must try them again! I have a ton of scone recipes on the blog and they are all pretty fabulous.  I use a cream scone base recipe and they turn out so light and flaky and just perfect if you ask me.

In May I made this cake for Mother's Day for me, my mom and my sister.  It was the first time I had used lavender in cooking or baking and it was so delicious.  Since I still had tons of lavender leftover, plus the fresh peaches, this scone recipe was a no-brainer.


Caramelized Peach and Lavender Scones
3 medium peaches, peeled and diced
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
olive oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. dried culinary lavender buds, plus more for garnish, if desired
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla

for the glaze:
3/4 cup powdered sugar
peach juices
milk or heavy cream

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Place peaches on a baking sheet and toss with brown sugar and a couple drizzles of olive oil.  Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven and toss again, then put it back in the oven for 10 more minutes.  Remove from oven and cool completely.  Drain the liquid off the peaches and reserve for the glaze.

In a food processor fitted with a blade attachment, add the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Pulse a couple times to blend.  Add butter and pulse until mixture becomes a coarse meal.  Alternately, you could use a pastry blender or two knives to cut the butter in.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the heavy cream and vanilla. Add the dry mixture and with a wooden spoon, stir until it just comes together.  Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead gently, only about 4-5 times,  Split the dough in half and press each out into about a 6-inch circle.  Cut into wedges and place on a baking sheet, lined with a silicone baking mat.  If you are not planning on glazing them, brush with additional cream or an egg wash before baking.  Bake in preheated oven, 425 degrees, for 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden.

Cool on a wire rack.

To make glaze, whisk together the reserved peach juice and powdered sugar.  If it's too thick, add milk or heavy cream until it's thick but syrupy. Spoon glaze onto cooled scones and garnish with additional lavender, if desired.

Best eaten fresh the first day.  Will keep about 3 days in a vented plastic container.



SOURCE: Adapted from How Sweet It Is

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Mile High Biscuits



If you've followed my blog for a while you know about my love for all things scones.  Cream scones, to be exact.  I had never made them until a few years ago, now it's about my most favorite thing to bake on a weekend.  They are delish, they are to DIE for.

So, it's probably no surprise to find out I love biscuits as well.  They are very similar and the method is pretty much the same.  Mile high biscuits are wonderful!!  They aren't quite a mile high, but they're nice and tall with lots of buttery delicious layers, a little crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.  They're great at breakfast smothered in sausage gravy or as an egg sandwich.  They're even great at dinner!  But, I think my most favorite way to eat them is with some homemade raspberry jam.

A couple things to remember when working with biscuit dough.
*Embrace the crumbs- Your dough will be a little dry, as it should.  It's not going to be soft and elastic like bread dough, it'll be more craggy-looking.
*Less is best- Remember not to over work your dough or it will become too chewy.
*When using a biscuit cutter, don't twist it to get the dough out, it will seal off the edges, making it harder for the dough to rise "mile-high." Make sure the cutter is floured and you'll be able to lightly tap the dough out.


Mile-High Buttermilk Biscuits
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut in to chunks
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 egg
1 cup cold buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

In a food processor, fitted with a blade attachment, add all ingredients but the egg and buttermilk.  Pulse until it looks like a coarse meal.  Alternately, you can use a pastry blender or two knives to cut in the butter and shortening.  If you use your fingers, work QUICKLY as to not melt the butter.

In a large mixing bowl add the egg and buttermilk and whisk.  Add the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until mostly combined.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand just until dough comes together; about 10 seconds.

Pat dough out into a large round, about 1-1/2 inches thick.  Using the biscuit cutter of your choice, cut as many biscuits as you can. Barely press scraps together and cut the rest of the biscuits out.  Place biscuits on a cookie sheet and bake 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden brown.

Biscuits are best the first day but can be stored 2-3 days in a vented container. They will get soft over time, so if you're eating them on the second or third day, slice them in half and throw them under the broiler for a minute or two on each side to crisp them up a bit again.



SOURCE: Slightly adapted from Something Swanky

Friday, May 20, 2016

Teriyaki Chicken Burgers with Piña Colada Sauce


Two of my favorite "take out" foods I love (and prefer) to make at home are pizza and hamburgers. Pizza, obvs, because I can put whatever crazy toppings I want, not just pepperoni and cheese.  Hamburgers because, hello, PRETZEL BUNS!!  No seriously, they are the bomb.  I discovered them at Costco last year and now it's the only thing I use for my homemade burgers. Actually I think the taste of a homemade burger far surpasses that of anything you'd get at a fast food joint.  And, I'm choosy about my ground beef and like to know where it comes from.  I have been using this recipe for years and I love it.  It's great to build on.

Buuuuut, I wanted to step outside the norm with this one, do chicken and amp up the flavors a bit.  The thought of this burger had me drooling and I could not wait to make it. It was seriously delish, maybe not something for a quick weeknight dinner, but definitely something to plan for the weekend!

While these burgers are fabulous with the pretzel buns, they are not necessary, you can use any ol' bun you'd like.  And the teriyaki sauce I used was thicker like a glaze or dipping sauce.


Teriyaki Chicken Burgers with Piña Colada Sauce

for the burgers:
1 1/2 lbs. ground chicken
2 Tbsp. onion, finely diced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp. jalapeño, finely diced
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 egg
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
3 Tbsp. teriyaki sauce

6 pretzel buns, sliced in half
6 slices colby jack cheese
6 slices cooked bacon
6 slices fresh pineapple (core intact)
extra teriyaki sauce

for the piña colada sauce:
1/2 cup fresh pineapple chunks
2 Tbsp. cream of coconut
1/2 cup sour cream


In a bowl, gently mix the ground chicken with the rest of the burger ingredients. Make 6 patties.  Refrigerate about 30-60 minutes to help them firm up a bit, they will be very soft.

Prepare outdoor grill.  Place chicken patties as well as pineapple slices on the grill.  Grill chicken 4-7 minutes each side.  Grill pineapple 2-4 minutes each side. *NOTE: Grilling the pineapple with the core intact helps it not fall apart while cooking.  Once removed and cooled, use a pairing knife to remove the core.

Meanwhile, puree pineapple chunks, cream of coconut and sour cream together for the piña colada sauce.  Pour into bowl or squeeze bottle for serving.

Remove burgers from grill once done cooking; place a slice of cheese on each patty to melt. Turn heat down on grill and place buns, cut side down, to toast up a bit. Just keep an eye on them, it should only take a minute or two.

To assemble burgers, spread a spoonful of teriyaki sauce on each half of the bun.  Next, spread the piña colada sauce, add a patty, slice of pineapple and bacon and top with the lid. 

Enjoy every last bite!  It's worth it!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Overnight Yeasted Waffles


Up until about 2 years ago, I had almost never made waffles my entire life.  Sure, I grew up with a mom that made them often and I enjoyed them. But I always considered myself a pancake connoisseur.  I've made LOADS of pancakes I can make just about any kind with my eyes closed, no recipe needed. Waffles, to me, were just not on my radar because there were those little extra steps of separating the eggs, whipping the whites and folding them in the batter. Just not my thing (ok there could be a time and place for it-but not for breakfast).

Then it happened.  I found LOVE.  Waffle Love that is.  About two summers ago the Waffle Love food truck started showing up around the corner from where I live and I just HAD to try.  I mean I can make a mean breakfast so if they can sell this thing from a truck, it MUST be good.  And it was.  And I died with my first bite.

You see these aren't your typical buttermilk, whip 'em up in the morning waffles.  These waffles have yeast and the batter sits out overnight for the flavor to develop (kind of like you would a sourdough starter).  And when you cook them in the waffle maker, oohhhhh the smell that fills your house.  I just died again.

These have become a tradition we do twice a year, in the spring and in the fall.  We enjoy these waffles with Nutella, Biscoff cookie butter, whipped cream and fresh fruit-usually berries. Once you try these you will NEVER (maybe almost never) go back again.


Overnight Yeasted Waffles

the night before:
1/2 cup warm water
1 Tbsp.  active-dry yeast
1/2 cup melted butter
2 cups whole milk
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp.  sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour 

the next day:
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp. baking soda 

Combine the yeast and the water in a large mixing bowl and let stand for a few minutes. Stir to make sure the yeast dissolves into the water. Melt the butter over low heat. Combine the butter with the milk, salt, and sugar (if using). Test with your finger to make sure the mixture has cooled to lukewarm, then stir it into the dissolved yeast mixture. Add the flour and stir until a thick, shaggy dough is formed and there is no more visible flour.

Cover the bowl with either plastic wrap or a loose fitting lid and let it sit on the counter overnight. The batter will double in bulk as it rises.

The next morning, beat the eggs  and baking soda  into the batter until completely combined.
 
Make the waffles according to your waffle maker's instructions, cooking until the waffles are golden-brown. Cooking time will vary with your waffle maker, but it is typically 4 to 6 minutes.

Waffles are best if served immediately, but re-heat well in the toaster. Leftovers can be kept refrigerated for up to a week. Leftover waffles can also be frozen for up to 3 months and toasted straight out of the freezer.


SOURCE:  The Kitchn

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Cauliflower Dirty Rice with Andouille Sausage



After all the kitchen failures I've had, it's nice to have something work out once in a while.  I didn't even know I was going to make this, let alone blog about it.  But it was SO good, I couldn't NOT post it.

This was my first attempt at cauliflower rice (as far as I can remember, lol!) and I have to say I'm a huge fan.  I love that it's just like rice in that it'll take on the flavor of whatever you cook it with; so it's very versatile.  I also love that after eating a big bowl of it I don't feel like I just ate a brick because it's all VEG! That's a big score in my book.

We love jambalaya in our house so this was right up our alley.  The flavors are spot on, just enough spice to give it a good kick but not too much you can't taste anything else. I used Aidells Organic Cajun Style Andouille Smoked Chicken Sausage, which is nitrate free and has no added hormones. But feel free to use any kind of Cajun style sausage you can find. I served the cauliflower rice with Cajun seasoned tilapia and steamed asparagus.  It was perfect!


Cauliflower Dirty Rice with Andouille Sausage
1 head cauliflower, thick core removed and chopped into florets 
1/2 onion, diced 
olive oil 
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced 
1 pound smoked andouille sausage, sliced 
1 tsp. salt 
1 tsp. ground black pepper 
1/4 tsp.  cayenne pepper
1/2 Tbsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. dried thyme 
1 Tbsp. dried oregano 
1/2-1 cup chicken or vegetable broth 
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped


Place cauliflower florets in a food processor with a chopping blade and pulse until finely chopped.  If necessary, chop in batches. Prepare the rest of the veggies because cooking will go quickly.

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onions and sauté until soft and translucent; 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and peppers and sauté another 3-4 minutes, then add sausage and cook until browned.  Add the cauliflower, spices and seasonings and chicken broth and simmer until veggies are tender but not mushy; about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.  Serve warm and garnish with fresh parsley.





SOURCE: Slightly adapted from Always Order Dessert
 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Skinny Broccoli Soup with Sourdough Croutons


This winter has been the longest, snowiest and coldest winter we've had in a LONG time! I walk around my house with layers of clothes and still freezing.  I am really looking forward to spring and wearing less clothes! In the mean time, I've been making lots of soup to keep me warm.

My middle daughter started asking me to make broccoli soup a few weeks ago. It kind of caught me off guard because I don't remember her ever actually eating or wanting broccoli soup.  I don't know where she got the idea that she liked it.  Buuuuut I was gonna take FULL advantage of that.  You know when kids even think they might like something, it's so much easier to get them to eat it! 

I actually made two attempts at broccoli soup.  The first one, a pretty simple and classic recipe, bombed!  My kids wouldn't touch it.  So I decided to tempt fate and try again.  Inspired by this Zucchini Spinach and Basil Soup, I tried again and scored!!  They were brave enough to try it again and liked it. And as a bonus, this one is much much healthier.


Skinny Broccoli with Sourdough Croutons
olive oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups zucchini, choped
3 cups broccoli, chopped
2-3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
1-2 cups cashew milk (in the carton)
salt and pepper, to taste
 parmesan or cheddar cheese for topping, optional

for the croutons:
1 sourdough loaf or boule
butter

In a large pot heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion and saute about 7-8 minutes, until soft and translucent.  Add garlic for another 60 seconds then add zucchini broccoli and saute another couple of minutes.  Add broth and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer 8-10 minutes; until veggies are very tender.  Remove from heat and add spinach.  Stir to wilt.  Use an immersion blender to puree soup, or working in batches, puree in blender.  Add milk and more broth, if desired.  Add salt and pepper, taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.   Top with cheese, if desired, and sourdough croutons.

To make croutons, cut about half of the sourdough loaf or boule into 1-inch cubes.  Melt 1-2 Tbsp. butter in a large frying pan, add croutons and toss to coat.  Season with a few dashes of salt and cracks of black pepper.  Saute on medium high heat until they start to turn a light golden brown.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Lemon Cream


So, I was shopping at Costco the other day and this bag of Meyer lemons caught my eye.  I've never tried them before although I've been hearing about them for years.  Since they were pretty cheap I grabbed a bag and figured I decide later what to do with them.  I got a lot of great suggestions from friends, some of which I'll be trying soon,  but I also searched the interwebs high and low for something to make that was worthy of my time. Let me tell you friends this lemon cream is it!

WOWWY!!  No I know that not every loves lemon perhaps as much as I do, but wow, this is just the best.  It's not too sweet and has a lovely lemon flavor and luscious creamy texture.  You'll seriously want to put it on everything.  Try it on pancakes, waffles, crepes, on fruit, over ice cream, the sky is the limit!  It only takes about 10 minutes to whip up, so definitely worthy of my time.


Lemon Cream
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (I used Meyer lemons)
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup heavy cream

In a heat proof mixing bowl whisk together sugar, eggs, lemon juice and zest.  Make a double boiler by setting the bowl on top of a medium saucepan with a few inches of water in the bottom.  Heat over medium high heat.  Cook mixture, whisking often, until it starts to thicken and become pudding-like; about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in butter until melted.  Set in an ice bath until cooled then stir in the heavy cream.

Keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.



SOURCE: The Grant Life

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Skinny Zuppa Toscana


I know that really the "official" start of winter was only like a month ago but seriously, this winter is already dr...a....g..g....i...n...g!  It's been the coldest and snowiest we've had in Utah for a LONG time. Needless to say, I'm always looking for something to warm me up.  I walk around the house in warm fluffy socks, slippers and a jacket and always drinking some warm tea.  I'm also always looking for warm comfort food to get me through the nights.

 It's been a while since I've had Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana. In fact I don't know if I've ever eaten it at the restaurant, my husband and I swore it off years ago.  I enjoy the soup but the original is not so calorie friendly, with all the potatoes, pork sausage and heavy cream.  I was so happy to find a recipe that is not only much more healthy but exploding with flavor.  This soup doesn't miss a beat and satisfies every warm comfort food craving I had. 

Skinny Zuppa Toscana
1 lb. Italian chicken sausage
1/2 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium head of cauliflower, chopped in to bite-sized pieces
3 small russet potatoes, peeled and small-diced
4 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups cashew milk
4 cups fresh kale, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat.  Remove sausage from casings and add to frying pan along with onions. Cook until sausage is no longer raw and both sausage and onions are light golden brown.  Toss in the garlic the last 60 seconds.  Remove from pan and set aside. 

Bring chicken stock to a boil in a stock pot, then add cauliflower and potatoes.  Cook until tender; about 5-8 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, remove half of the cauliflower and potatoes and puree in a blender with a little stock.  Return to pot. 

Add turkey, onions and garlic back to the pot as well the kale, parmesan, milk and red pepper flakes.  Heat through, until the cheese is melted, making sure not to boil.  Taste for seasoning then add salt and pepper, to taste.  Serve immediately.


SOURCE: Adapted from With Salt & Wit

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Perfect Pot Roast


 Nothing says Sunday dinner like pot roast! We don't eat much red meat, and roast maybe once or twice a year.  But boy do I love it!  And my girls are actually old enough that they are beginning to enjoy it as well. I hadn't had much experience with cooking roast, except in college when I threw it in a crock pot with a can of cream of mushroom soup.  Good, but I don't like using canned soups anymore.  Luckily many years ago Pioneer Woman came into my life.  If anyone knows how to cook beef it's her.  So when I first saw her recipe for pot roast I knew it would be good.  And she's right, it is perfect!!  I absolutely love it this way and don't think I'll change.

Perfect Pot Roast
1 whole chuck roast, 4-5 lbs.
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 onions, quartered
6-8 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch slices then halved or quartered
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup red wine (or red wine vinegar or beef broth)
2 cups beef broth
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried rosemary

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.

Heat oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat.  When hot but not smoking, add the onions, browning on each side.  Remove to a platter then do the same with the carrots. 

Generously salt and pepper the roast.  Add another drizzle of olive oil to the pot, if necessary, then add the roast.  Sear on all sides, about a minute on each, until it's browned all over. Remove to a plate.  Deglaze the pan with about a cup of red wine (or red wine vinegar or beef broth), scraping bits off the bottom with a whisk.  Place roast back in the pan, arranging the onions around it.  (You can add carrots now but I usually add them the last hour.)  Add enough broth to cover the meat about half way.  Add rosemary and thyme.  Cover with lid and roast in the oven 3-4 hours, until fork tender and falling apart. This would be delicious served with mashed potatoes.  Use the juices from the roast to make gravy to go with the potatoes.




SOURCE: Pioneer Woman

Monday, December 21, 2015

Egg Nog Cream Pie with Gingersnap Crust, Raspberry Sauce and Mascarpone Whipped Cream


Looking for a fabulous dessert to take to a holiday party this week?  Look no further! This Egg Nog Pie will knock the socks off your guests and leave them wanting more.

In my family we take egg nog very seriously. In fact my older brother uses the smallest glass possible to drink his egg nog so that the least amount is lost on the sides of the cup.  Whatever, I just drink it from the carton, haha! NO really, I do.  When I first got married and went to family Christmas parties on my husband's side, they always added sprite to their egg nog.  Not this girl, not the watered down version. I like it straight up.

So, as you can guess by the number of pie recipes on the blog, I don't do pie much.  It's not my favorite dessert, especially the fruit kind.  BUT, my husband loves it.  I've had several opportunities to go beyond my comfort zone lately and make pie and I think I might be getting into it.

At our church Christmas party this year there was a pie bake-off, so I decided to stretch my wings again a little.  I usually take this Egg Nog Gingerbread Trifle every year, also amazing, but since it was pie this year, I decided to turn that dessert into THIS pie.  You guys, SERIOUSLY. SO. GOOD!  And it even won best overall pie.  So, don't wonder what dessert to make this week, I've got you covered.



Egg Nog Cream Pie with Gingersnap Crust, Raspberry Sauce
 and Mascarpone Whipped Cream

for the gingersnap crust:
2 cups gingersnap crumbs
5 Tbsp. melted butter
2 Tbsp. sugar

for the egg nog custard:
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
5 large egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 cups good quality egg nog (not low fat)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. rum extract
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

for the raspberry sauce:
6 oz. frozen raspberries
1/4 cup sugar
1-2 tsp, cornstarch

for the mascarpone whipped cream:
4 oz. mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine gingersap crumbs, sugar and melted butter in a small bowl.  Mix until well combined.  Firmly press into a 9-inch pie pan.  Bake 10 minutes.  Cool on the counter.

In the mean time, prepare the custard filling.  In a medium saucepan, mix together sugar, cornstarch and salt.  Whisk in heavy cream, egg yolks and egg nog. Bring mixture to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture becomes thick and smooth. This may take 5-10 minutes to thicken.  The finished texture will be very thick but not gelatinous. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and rum extracts and butter.  Pour custard into pie shell.  Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it down against the custard so it doesn't form a skin. Refrigerate pie until it is completely chilled.

While pie is chilling, make the raspberry sauce.  Combine raspberries and sugar in a small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat 5-10 minutes until is becomes sauce-like. Whisk in cornstarch, making sure there are no lumps, and bring to a boil.  Boil about a minute until thickened.  Remove from heat and chill in refrigerator.

Make whipped cream just before assembling the pie.  With electric beaters, beat together mascarpone and powdered sugar. Add whipping cream and vanilla and beat until stiff peaks form.

To assemble the pie, spread cooled raspberry sauce over the top.  Then, either pipe or spread on the whipped cream.  Serve immediately or continue to chill until ready to serve.






Monday, November 30, 2015

Secret Mashed Potato Cinnamon Rolls


I don't know what it is about a fresh cinnamon roll that just gets me! That smell has got to be one of the best smells ever. I have to restrain myself every time I walk into IKEA because the smell hits you the second you walk in...and I don't even like their cinnamon rolls!

So after the feast that is Thanksgiving, I had NO intentions of making more food, let alone anything sweet.  But we had a bunch of mashed potatoes leftover and we just don't eat that much of them. So I decided to make cinnamon rolls!  Wait what...mashed potatoes = cinnamon rolls?

Yes!!  Mashed potatoes is the secret ingredient that makes these super light and fluffy. Add lots of butter and eggs and you've got a deliciously rich brioche-type dough that will melt in your mouth. This recipe comes from a family cookbook, so you know if grandma made it, it's gotta be good.


Secret Mashed Potato Cinnamon Rolls
for the dough:
2 cups scalded milk (whole), cooled to lukewarm
1 cup mashed potatoes
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 Tbsp. yeast
5 eggs
7-8 cups flour

for the filling:
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
2-4 Tbsp. cinnamon

for the frosting:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
5-6 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tsp. vanilla
2-3 Tbsp. milk
 
Pour lukewarm milk into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add butter, mashed potatoes, sugar, salt, yeast and eggs. Whisk well until incorporated. Switch to a paddle attachment or dough hook. Add about 4 cups of the flour and mix until incorporated then add 3 more (making 7) and mix again. If dough is extremely sticky, add flour a few tablespoons at a time until it looks right. Dough should be sticky but not so much that you can't handle it. Mix with dough hook for about 5 minutes. Remove dough and place in oiled bowl and let double in size.

Punch dough down and divide in half. Roll one half at a time into a long rectangle. Use your fingers to "SHMEAR" on half of the softened butter all over the top. Sprinkle on half of the brown sugar and gently pat down with your hand, then half of the cinnamon.  (I tend to be heavy handed with the cinnamon so go light at first if you'd like.)  Roll it away from you, stopping with about an inch left on top. Pull that part towards you, pinching it down. Use unflavored dental floss and pinch off rolls, about 1-1/2 inches thick. Place in greased cookie sheet or round cake or pie pans. Repeat with other half of ingredients. Let rise again until rolls fill out the pan. 


Once rolls have risen, preheat oven to 350 degrees F and bake for about 15-17 minutes or until golden brown on top. Allow to cool until just barely warm to the touch.  Glaze and cool completely.

For the glaze: Mix together softened butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Add milk a tablespoon at a time until you've reached desired consistency. Whisk glaze until smooth. Spoon about a tablespoon on each roll and spread around covering any exposed surface.



**NOTES: This makes about 2 cookie sheets worth of rolls, a lot! I love to make these in those disposable foil tins, they are kind of like pie tins but they have straight sides instead of slanted. You can find them pretty much anywhere, they're super cheap. I also like to make them in the tins because I can just give a whole pan away and not worry about getting it back. Great for neighbor gifts. You can also freeze them after the first rise, when you cut them into rolls and put them in the pans. It'll just take longer to thaw and rise all the way.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Roasted Green Pozole with Chicken


Mmmm, fall is in the air.  I'm extatic!  Time to start baking everything with pumpkin, drinking hot chocolate every night and making gobs of soup! I LOVE soup.  My kids pretty much only like the homemade tomato or taco soup variety but we may have to do something about that soon.

Pozole, also spelled Posole, is right up there as one of my favorite soups. This is my third and definitely my favorite posole on the blog (see here and here for the others).  Pozole is a traditional Mexican soup using a rich brothy base with meat, usually pork or chicken, garnishes such as cabbage, salsa, lemon or lime, and it's staple: maize, or hominy.  There is also the red variety made with tomatoes and the green variety, made with tomatillos and peppers. If you can't tell by the color, this posole is verde!

This soup gets it's start by roasting the vegetables, giving it that little bit of smokiness.  Then while it's simmering away with the broth and chicken, you can prep your garnishes. The garnishes are almost my favorite part, they really brighten up the soup and give it a fresh element that is not only eye appealing but mouth appealing too!

Roasted Green Pozole with Chicken
1/2 cup roasted, salted pepitas (green pumpkin seeds), plus more for garnish
1 tsp. cumin seeds, toasted
olive oil
3/4-1 lb. tomatillos, peeled and quartered
3 garlic cloves, whole and peeled
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
1 jalapeño, halved and seeded
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried oregano
3-4 cups chicken broth (homemade preferred)
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs*
1 24-oz can hominy, drained

Garnishes:
roasted, salted pepitas
cilantro
avocado
thinly sliced radish
thinly sliced cabbage
fresh lime
crumbled cojita cheese (or similar) 

*Note: I used bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, just removed the skin before cooking. Either way works fine.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Place tomatillos, garlic, onion and jalapeno on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss with your fingers.  Bake about 15 minutes or until veggies begin to char.

 While veggies are roasting, toast the cumin seeds in a small frying pan over medium-high heat until they become fragrant; 2-3 minutes.  Grind pepitas and cumin seeds in a spice grinder until finely ground, set aside.

Drizzle olive oil in the bottom of a dutch oven and heat over medium high heat.  Add chicken and cook a minute or two on each side then remove and set aside on a plate. 

Once veggies are done roasting, cool slightly and slide everything into a blender jar. Add half the cilantro, the salt and blend until desired consistency.  Add another little drizzle of olive oil to the dutch oven then pour in the contents of the blender.  Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently and scraping off the brown bits from the bottom. Add chicken broth, ground pepitas and cumin, oregano and hominy.  Stir to combine.  Gently place the chicken thighs in the pot and simmer, uncovered, about 20 minutes.  Taste for seasonings and adjust as necessary.

Serve warm with desired garnishes.



SOURCE: Adapted from Not Without Salt

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Roasted Tomato and Chipotle Salsa



It's that time of year.  Summer is winding down and the garden is bounteous. Most years I have a good tomato crop but this year seems to be a difficult year.  I have lots of plants but my tomatoes aren't turning green!! Fresh tomatoes are my favorite part of summer and having a garden.  I hope they start turning quickly before the weather does.  Typically around here, they're done the first week of October so that doesn't give us very long.  Lucky for me, there are several produce stands around here that sell local tomatoes by the box.  I usually hit them up once or twice a season so I have enough to put up for the winter and through next year. We love to can spaghetti sauce and tomatoes for soup and, of course salsa!!

It's been a few years since I canned salsa and we are sorely missing it!!  I found this Restaurant Style Salsa to hold us over in the mean time, but there's nothing like the taste of salsa made from home grown tomatoes. This roasted variety will blow your socks off (especially if you use a lot of chipotles!!). I love the smokiness of the roasted tomatoes and chipotles, it's seriously the best-tasting salsa that's come out of this kitchen in a LONG time!


Roasted Tomato and Chipotle Salsa
1 quart roasted Roma tomatoes
3/4 cup diced tomatoes
1/3 cup onion, diced
1/4 cup Anaheim pepper, diced
1/3 cup jalapeño peppers, diced
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 1/2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp. salt
1/2 Tbsp. sugar
chipotles in adobo, seeded
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup vinegar


Rinse tomatoes, slice off top and cut in half.  Place cut side down on a baking sheet and place under broiler.  Broil until tomatoes start to blacken.  Remove from oven and slightly cool.

Add all ingredients into a blender and enough chipotles to suit your taste. Blend to desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.

Store in airtight container in the fridge or process in boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.

**If you are not planning on canning the salsa you can omit the vinegar and reduce the lime juice to 1-2 tablespoons.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Waffles



Nevermind that I have salsa recipes from the summer to still post, let's move right along to fall with these waffles!!  I have been waiting to make these for a couple weeks.  I LOVE just about everything the fall brings, especially pumpkin chocolate chip.  One of my favorite combos.  These are pretty much my regular buttermilk waffles, with a little extra fall punch, so not a ton of work.  These are perfect for Sunday brunch with friends or family because they make a HUGE plateful.  But even if you don't have company, they keep really well.  I like to just throw them in the freezer and pull them out when we want them.  When you're ready to eat, just toss them in the toaster and they'll warm up nice and good.  I like to serve them with pumpkin maple syrup or cinnamon sugar sprinkled on top. Sometimes I even sprinkle the cinnamon sugar on top of the batter in the waffle iron.  (If you do this, make sure you spray it with cooking spray so it doesn't stick.)


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Waffles
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 Tbsp. vanilla
4 eggs, separated
3 Tbsp. sugar
6 Tbsp.  unsalted butter, melted
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2-3/4 cup chocolate chips

Melt butter and set aside to cool slightly. Preheat waffle iron.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together buttermilk, pumpkin, vanilla, sugar and egg yolks. Slowly whisk in melted butter. In a separate bowl, stir together the remaining dry ingredients then gently stir them in with the wet ingredients until just incorporated.

In a separate mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. With a spatula, gently fold them into the batter until almost incorporated, add the chocolate chips then fold in a few more times.  NOTE: Egg whites do not have to be completely incorporated, just mostly.

Pour batter onto waffle iron and cook according to manufacturer's directions.  Serve with choice of toppings: pumpkin maple syrup, syrup, cinnamon sugar, or powdered sugar.


Pumpkin Maple Syrup:
4 Tbsp. pumpkin puree
6 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
splash of vanilla
pinch of cinnamon

Friday, August 28, 2015

Summer Egg Scramble


I know it's nearing the end of the summer but we have been enjoying this yummy breakfast for a couple months now so I wanted to share.  My friend made me something similar when the girls and I had a sleepover with her and her kids and I haven't been able to stop making it since.  Even my three-year-old loves it and asks me to make it for her frequently.  She even loves to run outside and pick some fresh basil and tomatoes for it. 

I love quick and easy breakfasts that are also healthy and fresh.  This egg scramble is easily customizable to suit your own tastes, what you have in your fridge or even your garden! Enjoy.


Summer Egg Scramble
serves 2

olive oil
4 slices Canadian bacon, cut into 1/2-inch squares
1-2 cloves garlic
4 large eggs
small handful of cherry or grape tomatoes, diced (or about 1/3-1/2 cup diced tomato)
3-4 large basil leaves, chopped
2-4 Tbsp. fresh mozzarella shredded or small-diced (try smoked mozzarella too!)

Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk.  Set aside.  Heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium high heat in a frying pan, saute the ham until it just starts to brown.  Add the garlic for another 30 seconds.  Add eggs and tomatoes scramble about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat while they are sill a little glossy and toss in the basil and cheese.  Stir just to combine and allow to sit for a minute or so, so the cheese can melt.  Slide onto two plates and garnish with extra basil and tomatoes, if desired.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Peanut Butter Baked Oatmeal


School is right around the corner, in fact just one week away for us!  We are on A Track this year, meaning I need to get my kids up, ready and fed before 8am!!  Wow, considering they've been staying up until 10pm, waking up at 9am and not eating breakfast until 10am sometimes, this is going to be quite an undertaking.  I don't do cold cereal, mostly hot breakfasts and sometimes they take longer than 5 minutes. I'm going to have to make sure I plan ahead, which is why I LOVE baked oatmeal.

My girls and I enjoy oatmeal in it's many forms, but baked is our favorite.  It's so versatile too.  Sometimes I like to add berries or mashed bananas to change up the flavor, or even throw some chocolate chips on top while it's warm.  Adding peanut butter this time was genius though!!  To say we loved it is an understatement.  I baked this ahead in a big pan (doubling works wonders and keeps well too) and we ate it two days in a row.  Talk about a time saver!  This will definitely be a keeper  and something I can make ahead and pull out quickly on those early school mornings.


Peanut Butter Baked Oatmeal
1 egg
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 cups milk
2 cups rolled oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease an 8 or 9 inch baking pan.

In a mixing bowl combine egg, brown sugar, applesauce and peanut butter and whisk until peanut butter is well incorporated and there are not lumps.  Add in vanilla, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and milk and whisk to combine.  Stir in the oats then pour into prepared baking pan.  Bake in preheated oven 35 minutes or until lightly golden on top.  Serve warm with a splash of milk, fresh fruit, nuts or even a few chocolate chips.

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.



Sunday, July 19, 2015

Jambalaya


I had no idea what Jambalaya was until my parents moved to Georgia when I went to college.  It's a southern dish that's typically a mash-up of rice, meat (chicken, andouille sausage and shrimp), veggies, spices and chicken stock.  It's kind of like a Spanish paella, only southern-style.

While living in Georgia my mom got this recipe from a friend for Quick Chicken Jambalaya.  It was my first and pretty much only experience with jambalaya and we made it and loved it for years.  It's super easy and yummy and not too spicy.  After getting into cooking more and wanting to branch out I started looking for jambalaya recipes that were a little more authentic.  My sister pointed me in the direction of this recipe and we have really loved it.  It's so full of flavor and just the right level of heat for my taste (although may be a little spicy for the kiddos). It's also great because once everything is chopped and ready to go, you can throw it together in a jiffy!

Jambalaya
olive oil
1 rib of celery, small-diced
1/2 onion, small-diced
1/2 orange pepper, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 yellow pepper, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 lb. andouille sausage, sliced
1 1/4 cups chicken stock
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup uncooked rice
1 Tbsp. Creole or Cajun seasoning (Zeus or Tony Cachere's are good or a homemade blend)
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 lb. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (I omitted this and just added an extra chicken breast)

garnishes: chopped green onion, parsley or cilantro


Heat a drizzle of oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add celery, onion and peppers and sauté about 4 minutes.  Add garlic and sauté another minute.  Add another drizzle of olive oil, of necessary, and add chicken to the pan.  Sauté a couple minutes until about half-cooked.  Add the sausage, tomatoes, rice, stock, Creole seasoning, bay leaf, thyme and cayenne.  Stir together and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and, cover, and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until rice is cooked.

Once rice is tender stir in the shrimp to combine. Continue to simmer until shrimp is fully cooked.  Remove from heat. Remove bay leaf and check for seasoning.  Add more Creole seasoning, salt and pepper, as desired.

Serve warm with choice of garnish.


**Note: I halved the original recipe because I didn't think my kids would eat it and I didn't want to have tons of leftovers. To make original recipe, double everything except the chicken stock and tomatoes.  Still use 1 can of tomatoes and use 3 cups chicken stock.


SOURCE: Gimme Some Oven

Monday, July 6, 2015

Jalapeño Popper Pizza



Confession: I don't think I've ever even had a jalapeño popper!  I don't even know what they really taste like but I could not stop thinking about the idea of this pizza.  So mouth-watering, I had to make it.  Like over and over.  My husband's response to what kind of pizza we were having the other night when I made this was, "oh, that one again."  Yeah, that one again.  Don't get me wrong, he loved it too. The first two times I made it there was no chance of getting a picture so I had to make it again to make sure I got it just right and had a quick couple of seconds to snap some pics.

This pizza definitely isn't the hottest thing I've tasted, but just enough heat and smoke for my taste.  I used half pepper jack cheese and half smoked cheddar cheese (my fave).  Smoked cheddar (not the processed smoked cheese "product", but real cheese) might be hard to find in some areas, so using all pepper jack or using mozzarella or sharp cheddar would be a good substitute. Sometimes I like to add grilled chicken but it can get heavy. In that case, I would use parchment to roll the dough on and just slide that onto the pizza stone. I also brush the edges of the dough with some of the bacon fat and that's TOTALLY optional, but not really....just do it. 


Jalapeño Popper Pizza
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
1 cup shredded smoked cheddar cheese
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 jalapeños, seeded and thinly sliced
a few thin slices of red onion

Prepare pizza dough as directed.  While dough is rising, cook bacon and set aside, reserving a couple tablespoons of the bacon grease.  Prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Preheat oven and pizza stone to 450 degrees. Stretch out pizza dough onto pizza peel dusted with flour or cornmeal. Brush bacon grease around the outer edges. Using either your fingers or a spatula, spread softened cream cheese over the dough, leaving about a 1-inch border where you brushed the bacon grease. Layer both cheeses, crumbled bacon, red onion and jalapeños.  Slide pizza onto baking stone and bake 8-10 minutes, or until lightly golden and cheese  is bubbly. 



 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Smoky Black Bean Chili


I know it's summer time and hot, hot, hot! But my oldest daughter has fallen in love with chili since eating it at a friend's house recently.  I don't know about you, but I'm so over the dinner time struggle!!  I know I still have to deal with it for years to come, but hey, if I can find a few more healthy things my kids like that I can add in to the dinner rotation, I'm all over it.  My middle daughter already LOVES this black bean soup, as well as taco soup, so I didn't think it would be hard to get her to try this delicious chili!  Plus, you can totally eat it with chips.  That always gets their attention, haha! To my surprise both girls told me they didn't like the chili, they LOVED it!  I was so happy, I literally jumped up and down with them.  Dinner time was happy time that night.

This chili, like most soups, is open to a little interpretation.  I didn't add a ton of heat because I knew my three littles would be eating most of it.  I wanted to add a couple chipotles in adobo during cooking but I knew it would be too spicy, but feel free to do so.  Instead, I decided to just use the chipotle tabasco sauce on the side instead; my husband loves that stuff anyway and puts it on everything.  Whatever you do, don't leave out the smoked paprika, ginger ale and cocoa powder!! They lend such a unique element to the dish, I think that's why I loved it so much.

This chili would be lovely served with some cornbread, fresh tortillas or even hot cooked rice.


Smoky Black Bean Chili
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 red pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 1/2 cups ginger ale
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
3 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can RoTel
1 can diced or crushed tomatoes

garnishes:
sour cream
shredded cheese (cheddar, monterey jack, mozzarella or my personal favorite smoked cheddar)
cilantro
diced avocado
chipotle tabasco sauce
tortilla chips

Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan or Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add onion and ground beef and cook until onions are translucent and beef is browned.  Drain off all but a tablespoon or two of the fat.  Add chopped red pepper, garlic, salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, cocoa powder, oregano, smoked paprika, and brown sugar.  Sauté 2-3 minutes, until fragrant. Add ginger ale, tomato sauce, black beans, RoTel and tomatoes to the Dutch oven.  Stir to combine.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook about 15-20 minutes.

Serve warm, with desired garnishes.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

S'mores Layer Cake


Right before my birthday this year I posted on facebook a couple of times that I was getting ready to choose my birthday cake.  Usually it takes about a month (the time frame between my husband's birthday and mine) to decide but this year seemed busier than usual and my birthday was getting closer and I still didn't have a cake picked out.  SO, a week or two before my birthday hubby and I were out to a play and waiting for it to start so I whip out my phone and we scroll through alllllllll the cakes I have pinned (seriously there's a ton!).  When I saw this one, at the very end mind you, I knew it was the one.  I LOVE anything s'mores and this cake looked just absolutely delicious.  Plus, it's from Smitten Kitchen, so I knew I couldn't go wrong.

I was so, so happy with this cake!  Luckily I was able to share with a bunch of people, otherwise I would have been in BIG trouble.  I love how the cake tastes exactly like graham crackers and the ganache practically melts in your mouth, like it had been melted by the campfire.  I go for a classic s'more and to me that's only with milk chocolate, which it weird because otherwise I pretty much only like dark.  I really like the taste of Hershey's milk chocolate, that's what I always use when making s'mores.  Feel free to use something different but whichever chocolate you choose, make sure it's good quality.  Since the ganache is basically only cream and chocolate the flavor really counts.


S'mores Layer Cake
for the cake:
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups honey graham cracker crumbs (about 1 1/2 sleeves of crackers processed until it's a powder)
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups buttermilk, well shaken and at room temperature

for the milk chocolate ganache:
16 oz good quality milk chocolate
1 1/3 cup heavy cream
pinch of salt

for the meringue frosting:
4 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

mini marshmallows, for extra garnish, if desired


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease 2 9-inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper, then grease the top of the parchment. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda and powder, salt and cinnamon. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together butter and sugars until they are light and fluffy; about 2-3 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.  Add the flour mixture alternating with the buttermilk, in three additions. Scrape down the sides and mix until just combined.

Divide the batter between the two cake pans and bake about 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pans about 10 minutes then remove from pans and cool completely on a wire rack.  Wrap each cake in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator at least 30 minutes (I typically refrigerate overnight.) *NOTE: This cake is very soft and tender, especially when it's still a little warm. When lifting and wrapping the cake be very careful so it doesn't break.

To make the ganache place the heavy cream and salt in a sauce pan and barely bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Add the chocolate chips, cover and remove from heat.  Let sit 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes, remove lid and whisk until chocolate is completely incorporated and mixture is smooth and sheen. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until firm enough to spread on the cake.

To make the meringue frosting, place the egg whites, cream of tartar and sugar in a heat proof bowl.  Place over a simmering pot of water and whisk constantly for about 3 minutes, until sugar is dissolved and it's warm to the touch.  Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, or use electric beaters.  Beat until stiff glossy peaks form, 4-7 minutes then add vanilla and mix in.

To assemble the cake, remove from the fridge and unwrap.  Using a long serrated knife carefully slice each cake in half.  Place the bottom half of one cake on cake plate.  Spread with about 1/3 of the ganache.  Place top half on top of the ganache and then spread another 1/3 of the ganache over that.  Place the top half of the second cake top down over the second layer of ganache.  Spread with remaining ganache and place the bottom half of the second cake, bottom up, on the very top. Quickly do a crumb coat with the meringue and place in the fridge about 10-15 minutes to let it set a bit.  Bring it back out and generously frost the cake, with extra marshmallows for garnish, as desired.  Brown with a kitchen torch. Keep leftovers covered and refrigerated.



SOURCE: Smitten Kitchen Cookbook


Some of my other favorite birthday cakes:
Cherry Chocolate Cake (#1 FAVE made this so many times!)
Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cake
Neapolitan Layer Cake
Snickerdoodle Cake
Sweet and Salty Cake


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Snickerdoodle Sandwich Cookies with Marshmallow Buttercream Filling


Hello to the most amazing creation ever made!! No seriously this is NO joke.  When it comes to cookies I'm a die-hard chocolate chip cookie lover, homemade of course, and fresh out of the oven.  I like other cookies too, but I'm picky.  So, when I tried a cookie similar to this at a local restaurant I was seriously blown away.  I had never tried anything like it.  The flavor combination is out of this world!  And totally genius, if you ask me. The cinnamon-y and slightly salty cookie with the sweetness of the marshmallow buttercream.  OH. MY.

So, without further ado, I give you the Snickerdoodle Sandwich cookie with Marshmallow Buttercream Filling.

Snickerdoodle Sandwich Cookies with Marshmallow Buttercream Filling
for the cookies: 
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large egg, plus 1 yolk
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

for the cinnamon sugar mixture:
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

 For the frosting:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature 
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 7-oz jar marshmallow fluff
3 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tsp. milk, if necessary


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Add in egg, yolk and  vanilla and beat for another minute, scraping down the sides as necessary.

In a separate bowl, sift together baking soda, cream of tartar, salt, cinnamon and flour.  Gradually add it to the butter and sugar and beat until well incorporated.

Mix the cinnamon sugar in a small bowl.  Using a small cookie scoop or a spoon, scoop out dough  and roll into a ball, about 1-inch.  Roll the tops of each dough ball in the cinnamon sugar mixture then place them on a cookie sheet, about 9 to a pan.  Do not over crowd.

Bake about 10-12 minutes, turning cookie sheet halfway through baking. Try not to underbake them, as you will need them to be sturdy while spreading the frosting.  Cool cookies completely on a wire rack.  You can even place them in the fridge so they are more firm.

To make frosting, place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Whip until creamy. Add in marshmallow fluff and beat 2-3 minutes, then add in vanilla.  Add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until fully incorporated. Beat another 2-3 minutes.  If frosting is too thin, add a little more sugar, if it's too thick add a little milk, 1 teaspoon at a time. (You will most likely have extra frosting.  Nothing that another batch of cookies later won't remedy...or there's always a spoon or a graham cracker.)

To make sandwich cookies, frost the bottom of one cookie then top with another.  Continue until you've used all the cookies.  Store in an airtight container either on the counter or in the fridge (I actually like mine chilled so I keep them in the fridge.)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Nutella Stuffed Croissant French Toast


It is a rare occasion that I make something like this for breakfast.  I almost can't stand to serve my kids something that's over the top sweet that early in the morning.  However, I think I can get away with this french toast because croissants aren't really sweet at all, and neither is the whipped cream (unless you buy it premade at the store), and I just serve it with fresh berries. So I'm totally good right!! 

I almost never buy croissants because they're kind of expensive.  But I love to shop the reduced bakery rack at a couple of my favorite grocery stores. Occasionally there will be a package or two of these babies, so I just grab them and throw them in the freezer for when I'm ready to use them. Day old bread is perfect for french toast since it's a little dry it'll soak up the egg mixture a little better.

This french toast is easier than it looks and SOOOO worth it!! It just takes a few minutes to pull everything together and you'll be on a roll flipping these babies on the griddle in no time.


Nutella Stuffed Croissant French Toast
1 package of croissants (either 5-6 large ones or about 12 small ones)
Nutella
2 large eggs
2-3 Tbsp. whole milk, heavy cream or half and half
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. sugar

garnish:
whipped cream (homemade or store bought)
fresh berries

Preheat pancake griddle to about 300 degrees F.  Alternately you can cook these in a large frying pan, heated to medium-low. Add a little butter to the pan when you're ready to cook the croissants.

In a small shallow dish whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and sugar. Set aside.

Slice each of the croissants in half and spread on nutella as desired.  Place the croissants in the egg mixture and let them hang out to soak it up.  Flip them to soak on the other side.

Place croissants on the griddle and let cook about 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown.  Flip and cook another 3-4 minutes.

Serve warm with whipped cream and fresh berries.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Mexican Cabbage Slaw with Jalapeño Dressing


So, I really enjoy celebrating different holidays with food.  Heck, I enjoy celebrating anything with food!  And when I get my act together, I can actually make something and blog about it.

I love Mexican style food and I really LOVE salad.  My biggest beef when making a Mexican meal though is that I never had a good salad to go with it.  I would sometimes make a simple cabbage slaw like the one in this post, but for Cinco de Mayo this year, I wanted something a little more. So I started with my basic slaw and threw in some extra stuff, made a simple spicy dressing and it hit the spot for me.

Cabbage salads are one of my favorites, not only because of the flavor but because they have a lot to offer nutritionally as well.  If you love salad as much as I do, you need to try this one!

Mexican Cabbage Slaw with Jalapeño Dressing
1/2 head green cabbage, shredded
1/4 head purple cabbage, shredded
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
5-6 radishes, thinly sliced
1 can black black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
diced avocado, for topping

Jalepeño Dressing:
1 jalapeño, finely diced
1 shallot, finely diced
juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Prepare all vegetables and toss together in a large salad bowl.  In a small glass jar with a tight fitting lid, add all dressing ingredients.  Shake well to combine.

To serve, toss individual salads with dressing, as desired, and top with fresh chopped avocado.  


SOURCE: Dressing from Bakers Royale

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Buttermilk Banana Bread


Growing up I learned to cook from my mom, mostly desserts, on Sunday afternoons.  As I grew older I branched out.  Once I got on my own, I still loved to make brownies and cookies but banana bread became an absolute favorite of mine!  Still dessert-y I guess if you add all that sugar.

Many years ago I found this recipe that I have stood by and loved. Then I fell upon this recipe a while back looking for ways to use my my extra buttermilk.  Not that we ever have much leftover due to all the pancakes and waffles we consume in this house...but sometimes.  And WOW, that one little extra ingredient makes good banana bread amazingly delicious banana bread. I have cut back the sugar and added in whole wheat flour to make it a bit healthier and it's still super moist and absolutely delicious!

We all go bananas for this bread.


Buttermilk Banana Bread
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed banana
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. baking soda


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x5 loaf pan and set aside.
 
In a mixing bowl, whisk together butter, sugar and bananas.  Add eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and whisk together.  Add in dry ingredients and stir batter until moistened and just combined.

Pour batter into greased loaf pan and bake 50-60 minutes, or until toothpick  inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack and cool completely.


SOURCE: Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Steak and Blue Cheese Salad


You guyyyyyyys! I can't stop eating this salad. It is my new absolute favorite.  And because it only has like 5 ingredients, besides the dressing, you can blink twice and it's basically done.  Ok, maybe a few more times than that.  But, seriously, like 5 minutes tops.

When it comes to ANYTHING beef, I always turn to Pioneer Woman first, because her hubby is a cattle rancher and they like live and breathe beef. If you've never tried her Perfect Pot Roast, I strongly urge you to.  It is heaven on a plate; best roast I have ever had. Ever!

So, after you get everything prepped, throw the dressing together. It's a little tangy, a little sweet, a little gingery and goes perfectly with beef. You will use some to marinate the meat and the rest you'll just want to slurp up eat it on salad practically every day 'till it's gone. 


Steak and Blue Cheese Salad
2 steaks (Ree suggests rib-eye or strip steaks, I just get whatever looks good)

for the dressing/marinade:
3/4 cup light olive oil
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. lime juice (about 1 lime)
2 Tbsp. sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
1 tsp. salt
fresh ground pepper

for the salad:
lettuce mix (whatever floats your boat, I like romaine and arugula or just arugula)
cherry tomatoes, halved
thinly sliced red onion
about 4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled (or more if you want leftovers)
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Combine all the dressing ingredients together in a mason jar. Twist on the lid and shake vigorously.  Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

Place steak in a zip-loc bag and add about 1/3-1/2 of the marinade.  Seal and marinate in refrigerator for about 2 hours.

When you're ready, preheat grill and cook steak over medium-high heat about 2-4 minutes per side, depending on how pink you want it.  Remove from heat and let it rest 5 minutes.  Thinly slice steak across the grain.

To assemble salads, place a large handful (or more) of lettuce mix on each plate.  Top with a good handful of tomatoes, sliced onion and a couple tablespoons each of blue cheese and pecans.  Lay the sliced steak on top of everything and add dressing as desired.



SOURCE: Slightly adapted from Pioneer Woman

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Pesto Chicken Bacon Ranch Taquitos


Man oh man, when I first started making taquitos, my kids could not get enough of them!  Especially my oldest daughter.  I make the same ones every time (these Chili-Lime Taquitos) because they don't like to branch out much.  Much to my chagrin, but kids will be kids right!  So, I thought it was high time to switch it out.

Adding bacon and ranch was a no-brainer, where the kids are concerned, and hey, us adults too.  I mean really, who doesn't love THAT? These are super simple, with just a few ingredients, to throw together and they whip up real quick. I can even make them on a busy weeknight!  I prefer to use the uncooked tortillas because you don't have to cook them beforehand and they taste MUCH better!


Pesto Chicken Bacon Ranch Taquitos
4 chicken breasts
1 ranch seasoning packet
4 Tbsp. basil pesto, divided
1/4-1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
uncooked flour tortillas 

Place chicken, contents of the ranch seasoning packet, 2 tablespoons of the pesto and chicken broth into a crockpot. Cook on low for 4-6 hours or until chicken easily shreds.  Remove chicken to a large tray or cookie sheet and cool enough to be able to handle it.  Shred chicken and return it to the crock pot.  Add the remaining pesto, mozzarella and bacon and stir until combined. 

*Note: Don't discard juices when initially taking chicken out of the crockpot.  Once chicken is shredded and added back in, it will soak up most of the juice.  If there is a lot of excess, remove some, leaving enough remaining to keep the chicken moist. 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with a silicone baking mat.

Depending on size of tortilla, scoop a scant 1/4 cup of the chicken mixture onto the tortilla and spread it out close to one end of the tortilla.  Roll it up and place it seam side down on prepared baking sheet.  Repeat until all the filling is gone.

If you have an olive oil spritzer, spritz the tops of each of the tortillas with olive oil.  Otherwise you can use a pastry brush to brush with olive oil. Sprinkle a pinch of coarse salt over the top of each one.  Bake for about 15 minutes, or until tops are lightly golden. Serve warm with ranch dip or sour cream.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Cranberry Pistachio and Dark Chocolate Granola



I used to be a granola making machine! I got a few in my recipe box that I loved and used all the time, then I sort of took a break.  You know how things go...life happens.  After our last stash of Almond Joy Granola (my fave!) was gone I decided to try a new recipe.  Actually the base is pretty similar to most of the granola I make, but the add-ins are what make it unique and delicious.  I've never put pistachios in granola before but I was pleasantly surprised.  I love them by themselves and their delicious taste and saltiness gives a great contrast in flavors to the sweet cranberries and dark chocolate. This will definitely be up there in my top faves!


Cranberry Pistachio and Dark Chocolate Granola
4 cups rolled oats
1 cup crispy rice cereal
1- 1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup water
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
3 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 cup salted pistachios
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, cereal and coconut.  In a smaller microwave-safe mixing bowl, add coconut oil, water, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and ginger.  Microwave about 30 seconds to melt coconut oil and whisk together until combined.  Pour over oat mixture and stir until oats are well-coated.

Spread granola out on 1 or 2 cookie sheets.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes.  If you use only one cookie sheet, use the longer cook time but if using two sheets the granola will brown quicker so stir more frequently and use the shorter cook time.

Allow granola to slightly cool then add pistachios, cranberries and dark chocolate chips.  Mix in and let it sit a few minutes so chocolate melts a little. Stir just a few times so the chocolate spreads just a little but doesn't coat everything.  This will give you clusters perfect for popping in your mouth.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Crispy Parmesan and Basil Quinoa Patties


One of my most favorite things about making quinoa is these patties!  I don't particularly love rice, so any time I can swap it out for quinoa I do.  And when I do make it I ALWAYS make extra, then I have leftovers for these beauties.

Quinoa patties are really like a blank slate, kind of like pancakes if you ask me.  But I always start with quinoa cooked in chicken broth.  I think it just ups the flavor a little more and gives you a good base to work with. I love the tomato-basil variety but really you can customize these to your liking.  Change up the cheese, herbs, even the salsa on top.


Crispy Parmesan and Basil Quinoa Cakes
2 cups cooked quinoa (in chicken broth)
2 eggs
2 Tbsp finely diced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1/3 cup (generous) whole wheat flour
olive oil
avocado, sliced
cherry tomatoes, halved


Cook quinoa ahead and cool completely.  You could even cook it a day a head and refrigerate it.

In a mixing bowl, combine cooked quinoa, eggs, onion, garlic, cheese, basil, salt, pepper and flour.  Stir well so mixture is wet and well-combined.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Using a large scoop, scoop out batter and drop into skillet.  Gently press down until it forms a pattie. Depending on size of skillet, cook about 3-4 at a time.  Cook until crispy and golden; 5-6 minutes per side. Remove patties and place them either on a paper towel or plate to cool.  Serve warm topped with tomatoes, avocado and fresh basil.



SOURCE: Slightly adapted from How Sweet It Is

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Best Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies


Who doesn't love a warm chocolate chip cookie right out of the oven? Mmm, there's almost nothing better (except maybe the cookie dough). Just when I think I've got all the chocolate chip cookie recipes I'll ever need, I try a new one that goes in the recipe box.

I was craving chocolate chip cookies like MAD the other day and for some reason wanted to try a new recipe.  Although I absolutely love my current go-to Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies and these Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (my hubby's favorite), there was just something about this recipe that drew me to it.  I had to try it!  The method is similar to the brown butter CCCs and hey, the recipe is from Joy the Baker, so I knew I couldn't go wrong there. 

I've learned a few things over the years from baking many, many, MANY batches of cookies. So if you find a recipe with similar methods, you're sure to have a winner.

1-Whip it, whip it real good!!!  When you cream the sugar and butter, don't just beat until it's combined, beat it for a good 3-4 minutes until it's light and fluffy.  It spreads out the sugar granules and incorporates air into the dough resulting in a more tender cookie.

2-Use a combination of both white and brown sugars.  I learned this a long time ago from Alton Brown on "Good Eats."  All white sugar will make a crispy cookie that spreads more, while adding brown sugar helps add a little moisture as well as chewiness.

3-Chill!  You don't have to chill the dough very long (20 minutes) but chilling the dough will help the cookies from spreading too quickly.

4-Low and slow.  Don't be tempted to turn up the heat! Use a gentle heat (350 degrees) and slightly underbake and you'll have a soft, moist and chewy cookie.

5-Use a chocolate bar instead of chocolate chips.  Chocolate chips have stabilizers that keep them from melting as easily as a chocolate bar.  Plus by chopping up a bar of chocolate, you not only get chunks of chocolate but little shards throughout the whole cookie, thus chocolate in every bite.


The Best Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup butter (2 sticks), room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. molasses
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1/2 cup sweetened, flaked coconut, toasted

Place 1 of the sticks of butter in a small saucepan.  Melt the butter over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally.  Once it's melted, it'll start foaming then it'll start popping. Keep a close eye on it, continuing to swirl.  Once the butter starts smelling nutty and the brown bits on the bottom turn amber in color, remove it from the heat.  Allow to cool completely.

In the mean time spread the coconut out on a cookie sheet and place under the broiler until just starting to brown.  Don't take your eye off it.  It can go from toasted to completely burned in a matter of seconds!  Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

In a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the remaining stick of butter with the brown sugar about 3-4 minutes, stopping to scrape the sides as necessary.  Mix in the vanilla and molasses.

Add the cooled browned butter and the granulated sugar and cream another 2 minutes until light and fluffy.  Add egg and egg yolk one at a time and mix.  Add in flour, baking soda and salt and mix until mixture it uniform.  Gently fold in chopped chocolate, toasted coconut and pecans.

Scrape the dough out onto plastic wrap and flatten into a disc.  Refrigerate about 20-30 minutes.  Alternately, you can scoop out all the dough into balls ahead of time, then refrigerate the balls. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Once dough is chilled, scoop dough out onto cookie sheets, either using a small cookie scoop or making about 2-inch balls.  Place 9 balls per cookie sheet.  Bake 12-15 minutes, until tops just start to get golden.  Remove from oven, cool a minute or two on the cookie sheet the cool completely on a wire rack.



SOURCE: Joy The Baker
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