Thanksgiving is right around the corner guys! Who’s ready to eat their weight in food? Raised hand right here! My favorite thing about the holidays, other than my family, is all the food and alcohol I shamelessly consume. Turkey is the go-to on Thanksgiving, but turkey is not the star of the meal. The sides are. So ready those stomachs, because you’ll be licking the plate.
First up (which is technically not a side, but something to eat while you wait for your meal) is the cranberry and bacon cheese ball. I don’t know if cheese balls are a midwest thing, but cheese balls are very common during the holidays here in Kansas City. This one is full of dried cranberries, bacon, roasted garlic, and gorgonzola. Make sure to serve these with buttery crackers or slices of fresh apple.
Cranberry & Bacon Cheese Ball
Makes 1 large ball
½ head garlic
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 8 oz. package cream cheese
½ cup gorgonzola, crumbled
⅓ cup dried cranberries
4 strips thick cut bacon, cooked and roughly chopped
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Take the ½ head of garlic, making sure all the cloves are peeled and toss in a bit of olive oil. Wrap it up in some foil and put in a 375F oven for 25 minutes until the cloves are soft and golden brown.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add your roasted garlic, butter, cream cheese, gorgonzola, cranberries, bacon, salt, and pepper. Mix on low to medium speed until the mix is smooth and everything is evenly distributed. Make sure to scrape down the sides during the mixing process.
Remove the mix from the bowl and using your hands form a large ball, or many small ones. Roll them in the chopped parsley. Eat right away or refrigerate.
I love when you can put something in the slow cooker and forget about it. This dish is great because it’ll free up oven and stove top space, plus everything goes straight in and cooks for several hours.
Slow Cooker Cheesy Corn with Smoked Ham
3 15oz. cans corn, drained (or 1 bag frozen)
1 1/2 cup milk, half & half, or cream (depending on how rich you want it)
1 8 oz. package cream cheese
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1 ½ cup smoked ham, cubed
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Fresh Thyme, to taste
In your slow cooker add the corn, milk, (or cream or half and half), cheddar, smoked ham, cream cheese, salt, pepper, and fresh thyme. Set your slow cooker to the high setting and let the corn mix cook for 3 hours. Make sure to stir every 30 minutes so it cooks evenly.
The corn will be very thick and creamy, adjust seasoning with the salt, pepper, and thyme.
The green bean casserole is a staple during the holidays. This recipe is traditional but ditches the canned soup and opts for fresh fried onion strings. The fried onion strings you could eat by themselves! Make sure to watch out for thieving fingers who will try to swipe a few.
Green Bean Casserole
1 lb green beans, trimmed and washed
2 Tbsp butter
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 cup Flour plus 1 Tbsp reserved
1 ½ cups half and half
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken stock
1 medium onion, julienned
2 Tbsp milk
2 cups Seasoned Breadcrumbs (to follow)
2 qts. vegetable oil for frying
Preheat oven to 400F. In a deep saute pan, add the butter and melt over medium heat. Saute the sliced mushrooms until the liquids start to release. Add the minced garlic and cook until aromatic. Add the 1 Tbsp flour to soak up a little bit of the excess liquid in the pan. Then add the chicken stock and bring everything up to a light simmer.
Add your half and half and cook until liquid has reduced by half and thickened. Add the green beans and toss everything together. Set aside while you make the onion strings.
To make the seasoned breadcrumbs: using store bought or homemade breadcrumbs toss them with salt, pepper, dried sage, dried thyme, dried basil , dried parsley.
In three separate bowls: one with the flour, one with the egg and milk whisked together, and one with the seasoned breadcrumbs. Working in batches, toss the onion in the flour, then the egg mix, then the breadcrumbs. In a deep sauce pan, add your vegetable oil and heat until a thermometer reads 375F. Again, working in batches add the breaded onion strings. Cook for about 2 minutes per batch, pull and drain them on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt while still hot. (Yes my paper towels have minions on them. Don’t judge me.)
To assemble the casserole: add the green bean mushroom mix in a buttered glass casserole dish. Make sure everything is evenly spread out. Then place all over or around the edges the onion strings. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes, remove foil and bake 5 more minutes. Remove from oven and serve.
I’m a stuffing fanatic. If it’s served you will see more of it on my plate than anything else. I have a deep appreciation (obsession) with stuffing because it’s the perfect dish to play with flavors. For this I took a traditional stuffing and added some sweeter elements with the apples and dried cranberry. I added the pork for some additional heartiness and for complimentary flavors to the apple. This dish can be made vegetarian or vegan by removing the pork and replacing the chicken stock with vegetable stock.
Pork, Apple, & Cranberry Stuffing
1 lb. ground pork
2 carrots, peeled and small dice
3 celery stalks, small dice
1 medium onion, small dice
1 green apple, peeled and cored, small dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup dried cranberry
1 bunch fresh sage
6 cups bread for stuffing, store bought or homemade
1-2 cups chicken stock
Preheat oven to 375F. In a deep saute pan, cook the ground pork. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the carrots, celery, and onion. Cook until the vegetables start to soften, This could take up to ten minutes. After they have softened a bit, add the apple. Cook for another 5 minutes.
Next, add the garlic, dried cranberry, and fresh sage, and cook until the garlic and sage are aromatic. Add the chicken stock and bring the mix up to a light simmer. Turn the heat off and fold in the cooked pork and bread. Make sure everything is evenly distributed. Spray with nonstick or butter a casserole dish. Add the stuffing mix and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and cook an additional 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.
I’m going to confess a possibly unpopular opinion: I’m not a Halloween person. I’m not the kind of lady to pick out a costume or go to any fun parties, because frankly, I’m a little bitter about the whole thing. I’ve always been stuck at work on Halloween, I’ve rarely gone to a fun, spooky party, and the options for women’s costumes are laughable. Sorry not sorry, but I don’t want to be a sexy firefighter or wear a culturally-insensitive costume. No thank you.
This year turned out to be no different… I was stuck at work in an empty restaurant, while the rest of Kansas City partied it up. I should have been at a zombie pub crawl or a costume party having a good time, but the reality is that I scrubbed the night away and got off at an ungodly hour when all those parties and events were coming to a close.
Pity party aside, I know that next year will be a different story as some career-related changes are coming. So this article is for those who get to party on Halloween and for those who don’t.
No matter the holiday, whether it be Christmas or MLK day, I will be drinking. I drink every day, but that’s beside the point. On any special occasion I will drink MORE than what I’d typically drink. So for this Halloween I’m treating you to two awesome cocktails. Along with those cocktails I have a three course menu, laid out for those who are having a spooky sit down dinner, but it can also be adapted to fit the needs of a large party with small bites.
First off, let’s talk alcohol. If you are having a party, especially a party that involves food, I beg of you not to start off with a heavy cocktail. The last thing you want is to serve a drink that tastes artificial, sugary, or filling. It’s a huge pet peeve of mine when the mixed drink of the night tastes like I’ve devoured fifty pixie sticks. We’re adults, let’s drink like adults. The pre-dinner cocktail sticks with the theme of Halloween. It’s a bold red color (that reminds you of blood or other creepy things), and also follows my guidelines on a good first cocktail. This drink is crisp, refreshing, and stimulating to the pallet.
Blackberry Gin & Tonic
For Blackberry Simple Syrup (makes about 2 1/2 cups of syrup):
2 cups blackberries, fresh or frozen (if using frozen, make sure to thaw overnight)
1 cup water
1 ½ cups sugar
For 1 drink:
1 1/2 oz. gin (I used Beefeater)
3 oz. tonic water
Fresh Blackberries, for garnish
Make the blackberry simple syrup: Combine the blackberries, water, and sugar in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat to low and let the mix simmer for 5 minutes. While this happens take a wooden spoon and muddle the blackberries. This will help release some of their natural juices and sugars. This process should take no more than ten minutes. When done, carefully pour into a fine mesh strainer. The goal is to separate the liquid from the muddled fruit and seeds. Trash the muddled berries and refrigerate the blackberry simple syrup until completely cool.
Now let’s build the drink. I used a 5 oz stemless wine glass, but you can use another glass as long as it holds 6 oz or less! Add the ice, it should go up to the very top of the glass. I lightly crushed my ice with a rolling pin so I wouldn’t have large cubes in a small glass. Pour in your gin first, add the blackberry simple syrup, then top with the tonic water. Stir together, then garnish with two blackberries.
To make this party friendly: You can easily premix everything and pour it into a chilled punch bowl. I recommend not adding ice to the mix as the ice will melt and dilute the drink. Instead, leave the ice off to the side or put the punch bowl on ice to keep it cold.
Now that you’ve got a cocktail, it’s time to start cooking. First up on the menu is a butternut squash and pumpkin bisque. This soup is a great starter for fall, and the leftovers are perfect when it’s a little chilly outside and you want something to warm you up. This soup is thick and can be filling, so I highly recommend a small portion when serving this.
Butternut Squash & Pumpkin Bisque
Serves 10 small or 5 regular portions
1 butternut squash
1 stick butter
1 yellow onion, medium dice
2 carrots, medium dice
2 celery stalks, medium dice
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. ground cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. ground coriander
1 Tbsp. ground nutmeg
1 Tbsp. ground allspice
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock, plus 1 cup reserved
1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 cups cream
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Creme Fraiche, for garnish
Preheat oven to 400F. Split the butternut squash in half, lengthwise and place onto a pan. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Roast the butternut squash, about 35-40 minutes or until a fork can easily pierce the skin. Set the squash aside to cool before handling. Once cool, take a spoon and scoop out the inside, making sure to not scoop up any skin. The skin should be discarded.
On a cutting board, medium dice the onion, celery, and carrot. Mince the garlic. Set aside.
In a large pot, big enough to hold the soup, melt the butter. Saute the onions in the butter until translucent. Then add the carrots and celery, and keep cooking until everything is cooked through and soft. Add the cayenne pepper, cumin, coriander, nutmeg, allspice, and garlic. Cook until the garlic becomes aromatic.
Next add your chicken or vegetable stock. Bring to a light simmer and let it go for about 15 minutes. Then add the pumpkin and butternut squash. At this point, the soup will be very thick. Add the reserved 1 cup of stock here and let the mix simmer at a low temperature for another 15 minutes. Then add your cream, which will thin out the soup a bit. Let it go for another 15 minutes.
After the soup has simmered, you’ll need to puree it. Working in intervals, ladle the soup from the pot into a blender. The mix will be hot, so work slowly and carefully. When all the soup has been pureed return it back to the pot. Put it back on low heat and taste the soup. Season with salt and pepper to your liking. Garnish the soup with the creme fraiche.
To make this party friendly: In tall shot glasses, or the sturdy plastic ones (the cheap ones will melt!), pour in “shot” sized portions and add a dollop of creme fraiche. This is perfect for parties because they can be easily picked up and carried.
I’m a meat and potatoes kind of lady, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Beer is a great alternative to many braising liquids. Stouts are thick, malty, and full of flavor, which makes it a perfect braising companion to bone-in pork chops. Accompanied by a balsamic glaze that pops on the tongue, creamy mashed potatoes, and pan-seared brussel sprouts that give the dish a great crunch.
Stout Braised Pork Chop w/ Balsamic Maple Glaze, Creamy Mashed Potatoes, & Brussel Sprouts
2 bone-in pork chops
2 Tbsp olive oil
1-2 12 oz. bottle stout beer (I used Boulevard’s Dark Truth Stout)
½ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp. dijon mustard
2 oz. whiskey
1 Tbsp. honey or agave nectar
1 Tbsp. sriracha
2 russet potatoes
⅓ cup cream
2 Tbsp. butter
Salt & Pepper, to taste
½ lb. brussel sprouts
1 Tbsp. butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, minced
Heat a deep saute pan over medium-high heat, and add the olive oil. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper. When pan is hot sear the pork chops on both sides. Add the stout beer to the pan and turn the heat down to low. Cover with lid and cook the chops to your desired doneness.
To make the glaze: add the balsamic, maple syrup, mustard, whiskey, honey, and sriracha in a small pan. Whisk it together over medium heat and let the mix lightly bubble. Reduce by half and then remove from heat.
When the pork chops are done, turn the broiler function on for your oven. With a pastry brush, brush one side of the pork chop with glaze. Transfer them to a sheet pan and put them under the broiler. Pull them out when you see the tops starting to bubble and the glaze is cooked into the meat. The glaze should not be running off the sides.
For the mashed potatoes: wash and peel the russet potatoes. Cut each potato in half, then half again. Cut each into 4-5 equal portions. Place them in a deep pot and cover with cold water. Put the pot on the stove over medium heat and bring the water to a boil. Cook the potatoes until a fork easily pierces them. When done, remove from the heat and strain off the liquid. Return the potatoes to the pan, adding cream, butter, salt, and pepper. Mash with a wooden spoon until the potatoes are creamy.
For the brussel sprouts: Bring a pot of water to a boil. Generously salt the water. Add the brussel sprouts and cook them for about two minutes. Strain them off and stop the cooking process by flashing them in a ice water bath. Once the sprouts feel cool, remove from the ice water and pat dry. In a saute pan over medium heat, melt the butter. When pan is hot, saute the sprouts until they start to brown on the outside. Add the minced shallot and garlic, salt, and pepper and toss it all together.
To make this party friendly: I would ditch the bone in pork chop and go for a pork loin. I’d braise the loin with the beer in the oven. Slice the pork loin into medallion sized pieces and serve it with a small scoop of potato and sprouts. Don’t glaze the pork but instead use the balsamic maple glaze as a sauce to drizzle over the dish. To plate it, I’d use the clear disposable cake plates (or small bowls) that are supposed to look like china.
Starting to see a pattern? Chocolate goes well with a lot of things, and stout beer is one of them! When making the pudding I highly recommend using a stout beer that you would enjoy drinking. The beer in this recipe is cooked down until it’s a thick syrup, concentrating the flavor. It packs a punch, so make sure whatever stout beer you choose is flavorful.
1 12 oz. bottle stout beer (I used Boulevard’s Dark Truth here as well)
2 cups heavy cream
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
For Spiced Cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground clove
1 tsp. ground allspice
To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350F. Spray two round cake pans with nonstick spray. In a bowl of a stand mixer, sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Using a paddle attachment, turn it on low speed and add the sugar. Add the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted butter to the mix and let it go until combined. Make sure to scrape down the edges as you go. Add the water last, and just until incorporated. Pour the batter equally into the two pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. When done, remove from oven and let the cakes rest in the pan for 10 minutes.
Gently remove the cakes from the pan and refrigerate them until they cool completely. When cool, you want to cut the cake into cubes, about ½ inch by ½ inch per cube. Cover and refrigerate cake when not in use.
For the pudding: In a bowl whisk together the egg yolks and cornstarch, set aside. In a pan over medium heat, reduce the stout beer until it becomes a very thick syrup. Remove from the heat.
While beer is reducing combine the heavy cream and sugar. Whisk until the mix just starts to simmer. Add the chocolate and whisk until the chocolate melts completely. Remove from the heat and temper the chocolate cream into the egg yolk and cornstarch mix. To temper, slowly ladle in the hot liquid into the egg yolks. Make sure you whisk the entire time to prevent curdling of the yolks. Return that back into the pot. Add a little of the warmed chocolate cream to the reduced stout beer to help release any beer that is stuck to the pan. Scrape with a rubber spatula and return it all to the pan.
Put the mix back on the stove over medium heat, whisk constantly until the mixture starts to thicken a bit. Remove from the heat and pour it into a bowl. Put the pudding into the fridge and let it cool completely, or until it sets. It will be very thick.
For the cream: In a bowl of stand mixer, with a whisk attachment, add all the ingredients. Whisk until medium peaks form.
To plate this I recommend using small glasses or small mason jars. Begin with a little bit of the spiced cream at the bottom. Add some cubed chocolate cake, then pudding. Repeat until glass is full and top it off with some spiced cream. Sprinkle the top with some ground cinnamon.
To make this party friendly: Do everything exactly as it says in the recipe, just make the container you serve them in smaller. Here I’d recommend those cheap plastic tall shot glasses.
Can you blame me for this? Nutella, chai, and Rum Chata. Yum! I consider this beverage an after-dinner cocktail. This drink should be served an hour to two hours after dinner because I’m sure everyone will be full from all the delicious food. This is a hot beverage that is designed to warm and comfort you. It doesn’t have any added sugar, so it’s not overly sweet. As the night wears on it starts to cool off, this drink is a perfect way to warm up those party-goers.
Nutella Chai Latte
3 cups milk
6 chai tea bags
¼ cup Nutella
1/2 cup RumChata
Heat the milk over low heat until it just starts to bubble. Steep the chai tea bags in the milk for about 10 minutes. Making sure your hand is gloved, gently squeeze the tea bags to release more of their flavor. Return the mix to the stove and add the Nutella, stirring until it is incorporated. Ladle Nutella chai milk into a mug, about halfway. Top with RumChata. Add the whipped cream on top and garnish with cinnamon.
To make this party friendly: Follow all the same steps except when you get to the serving portion. I recommend mixing in the RumChata and transferring the liquid to a thermis, crock pot, or a pot on the stove and let guests serve themselves. You can leave a can of whipped cream and a shaker of ground cinnamon off to the side.
Why don’t cannibals eat clowns?
Because they taste funny! *buh dum tss*
I deserve a drink for that one and so does my editor for putting up with me. Cheers Brittany! Even if you don’t use these recipes for any spooky fair, they are always great during the fall and winter months. It’s starting to get chilly outside so make sure to have these on hand when you need to warm up this fall!
I typically find your average shortbread to be boring and uninspired, but it can be a perfect blank slate for creating and experimenting with flavors. I know I love lemony desserts, and of course I love chocolate (because who doesn’t?), so when creating this recipe, I went with a classic lemon shortbread, dipped in white chocolate.
I made these lemony delights for a tailgate at a Royals game hosted by my mom’s work. The first thing out of one of her coworker’s mouths when I presented these was. “Well shit, I made brownies out of a box.” If you ever invite me to a party and ask me to bring dessert, make sure NO ONE ELSE IS BRINGING DESSERT! I’m classically trained folks, and I always want to make a good first impression.
Desserts speak to me, so I hope these speak to you too (figuratively, of course, although if the food starts speaking to you too then we should definitely hang out).
Preheat an oven to 350F. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper. I like to use parchment paper when baking to keep my cookies from sticking and to prevent burning. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the softened butter and sugar until smooth. Add the lemon compound and beat until incorporated. Sift the flour and mix at low speed until the dough comes together.
On a floured work surface, roll out ¼ of the dough to ¼ of an inch in thickness. Make sure you are using plenty of flour during this part, you don’t want your dough to stick to the rolling pin or work surface. Use a cookie cutter of your choice to cut shapes out. Repeat this process until you use all the dough or until the dough becomes too tough to work with. Gently transfer the shapes to the baking sheet. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before putting them in the oven as this will help keep their shape and not spread out.
Make sure the cookies are evenly spaced on the trays, at least 1 to 2 inches apart. Bake them for 12-15 minutes. The cookies should just start to brown on the bottoms. Let them cool in the pan for a minute or so and then transfer to a cooling rack. Let them cool down completely before dipping them in the white chocolate.
Once cool, place the white chocolate into a microwave-safe bowl and zap the chocolate in 15 second intervals until smooth. White chocolate can easily burn, so be careful! Once melted, dip your cooled cookies. I did a half dip but you can do whatever you like. If you don’t want to dip them, you can also drizzle the chocolate over the cookies. Place the dipped cookies on aluminum foil or wax paper until the chocolate has hardened.
White Chocolate & Lemon Shortbread Cookie
Makes 4-5 dozen
2 cups (4 sticks or 1 lb) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2-3 Tablespoons lemon compound
4 ½ cups all purpose flour
12 oz. white chocolate (your choice on brand)
Preheat oven to 350F. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar together until smooth.
Add the lemon compound and beat until incorporated.
Sift the flour and add to the mix, turn the speed to low. The dough will come together and be smooth like a typical cookie dough.
On a floured work surface, take ¼ of the dough in the bowl and roll it out until about ¼ of an inch in thickness. Make sure you are using plenty of flour so that the dough does not stick to the rolling pin on the work surface. When rolled out, use a cookie cutter of your choice. Repeat this process several times until you have no more dough or the dough is too tough to work with. Make sure to refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes before putting them in the oven.
Handle the cookies gently and transfer them to the lined baking sheets. Make sure to keep them all an inch or two apart. This will give them room to expand and they won’t run into each other.
Bake for 12-15 minutes until the cookies are slightly browned on the bottom. Let them rest in the pan for a minute or two and transfer to a cooling rack.
Let the cookies cool completely before dipping them in the chocolate. Once cool, place your white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and zap the chocolate in 15 second intervals until the chocolate has melted. White chocolate is easy to ruin if you overheat it, so make sure you are doing it in small intervals until the chocolate has melted.
Once melted dip your cookies how you’d like, either a full dip or half.
Place the dipped cookies on aluminum foil or wax paper to let the chocolate harden.
Oh the chocolate chip cookie! A soft, gooey, sweet treat as iconic as mac & cheese or the American flag. Nothing beats a good chocolate chip cookie. NOTHING! A classic chocolate chip cookie can comfort you on a cold day, satisfy a sweet tooth, or make you reminisce about childhood. (They’re also the way to my heart. Single men out there, take note!)
This chocolate chip cookie recipe is perfect for when you want a treat all to yourself, or if you need to bring something to that one event you said you’d be at and then FORGOT ABOUT! Don’t worry, I’ve got your back.
Preheat oven to 375F and line your baking sheets with parchment paper. I like to use parchment paper when baking because your cookies won’t stick, and that way they have a better chance of not burning. In a stand mixer, add your butter, sugar, and brown sugar together and beat on medium speed. Stop the mixer on occasion and scrape the sides of the bowl down to make sure you are mixing everything together evenly. The mix should be smooth, fluffy, and free of butter chunks.
Add your vanilla, then eggs one at a time, making sure each one incorporates before adding the next. In a separate bowl sift together the flour and baking soda. Add that into the mixing bowl along with the salt and chocolate chips. Mix on low speed until the dough comes together.
Scoop out and form 1 inch balls of dough and place them onto the sheets. Depending on the size of your pan or size of your dough balls, you will space them differently on the pan. I’d start with 8 dough balls to a pan, but if you made them a bit bigger I’d go 6 a pan. You want to space them evenly, about 1 to 2 inches apart so that when the cookie spreads they don’t run into each other and create a big mess.
Bake those for 10 to 12 minutes until starting to brown and the tops are still a little wet. Let them cool on the sheet tray for about 1 to 2 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.
Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 2 ½ dozen (about 30 cookies)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 package (12 oz) milk chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375F and line several baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a stand mixer, beat butter, sugar, and brown sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy.
Add the vanilla. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Make sure to stop the mixer in between additions to scrape around the sides of the bowl. The mix should be smooth, fluffy, and uniform in texture and color.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and baking soda. Add the sift dry ingredients, salt, and chocolate chips into the mixing bowl. Set the mixer to low speed until the dry ingredients incorporate and the dough forms.
Scoop and shape 1 inch round balls of dough and place them on the sheets, make sure to space them evenly. I did 8 dough balls per pan.
Bake for 10-12 minutes until starting to brown and still a little wet on the top. Let cool on the pan for 1 minute before transferring them to a cooling rack.
It’s well known among Americans that mac & cheese is one of the best comfort foods. You could probably go to almost every home in America and find a box of instant mac. Although a boxed version is good when you need a quick fix, nothing compares to homemade mac & cheese. This mac & cheese has smoked gouda and an aged cheddar cheese, crispy bacon, and green onion. The sauce is rich and creamy with penne pasta to absorb every cheesy bit.
What you’ll need:
sharp aged cheddar cheese
Salt & Pepper
Preheat the oven to 350F. Dice the bacon and add into a skillet at medium heat. Cook until fat is rendered and starting to brown. Remove the bacon from the pan and pat dry the bacon to remove any excess fat. Set aside. In a pot of boiling salted water, cook the dried penne to package directions. Thinly slice the green onions on a bias and set aside. Meanwhile, grate all your cheese, both the gouda and the sharp cheddar. Reserve about ½ cup of the shredded cheese, the rest goes into a bowl, set aside.
Using a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and dry mustard; whisk until it incorporates. This creates the thickening agent for the sauce, called a roux. Continually whisk the roux until it turns a sandy blonde color and has a nutty aroma. Keep whisking the roux and slowly add the half-and-half, then add the milk. Don’t stop whisking during this part! Turn the heat to a lower setting and whisk until the mixture starts to thicken.
In a bowl, whisk the egg and add about ¼ to ½ cup of the thickened sauce to the egg. Mix until it is all incorporated and add back into the pot. Don’t stop whisking or you will curdle the egg! Keep whisking until the sauce becomes smooth and uniform in color. Tempering an egg into the sauce creates structure to the sauce and a creamy texture.
Once thickened, add the shredded gouda, cheddar, and cajun seasoning. Keep whisking until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth. It should coat the back of a spoon.
When the sauce has come together, add the bacon, sliced green onion, and penne pasta. Mix it all together until everything is coated and evenly distributed. You can serve it like this, but I take it a step further.
Fill 5 oz ramekins to the top with the mac and cheese. Top each ramekin with the reserved shredded cheese. Place the ramekins onto a sheet tray and place the sheet tray into the oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the cheese has melted and started to bubble. Wait 5 minutes to cool down and eat!
Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese with Bacon & Green Onion
½ lb. thick cut bacon, uncooked
1 lb. dried penne
4 Tablespoons butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups half-and-half
½ cup milk
2 teaspoons dry mustard
7 oz smoked gouda, grated with 1 oz reserved
8 oz sharp aged cheddar cheese, grated with 1 oz reserved
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
½ cup thinly sliced green onion
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350F.
Cook dried penne to package directions, set aside and keep warm.
Dice the thick-cut bacon and add to a skillet over medium heat, cook until just browned. Remove the bacon from the pan and press with an absorbent towel to soak up excess fat. Set aside.
In a large, deep pot, melt the butter and then add the flour and dry mustard. Whisk constantly. The butter/flour mix will bubble, do not let it burn. This will create a roux. Once the roux reaches a sandy blonde color and has a nutty aroma slowly add the half and half. Keep whisking until incorporated and then add the milk. Reduce the heat to a lower setting, and whisk often, until mixture has thickened.
In a small bowl, beat the egg. Take about ¼ cup of the sauce and add to beaten egg, whisking constantly. Add the mix back into the sauce and whisk until the sauce is smooth and uniform in color.
Add in the 7 oz of smoked gouda and 7 oz of the sharp aged cheddar cheese, making sure to have 1 oz of each cheese reserved. Constantly stir the sauce until the cheese is completely melted. Add in the Cajun seasoning and salt and pepper to your liking.
Add the cooked penne pasta, bacon, and sliced green onion to the pot with the cheese sauce. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, mix everything together until everything is coated in sauce and the bacon and green onion are evenly distributed.
In a 5 oz ramekin, fill it almost to the top with the mac and cheese. Top with a little of the reserved cheese. Place on a sheet tray and bake for 20-25 minutes. The cheese should be melted and slightly browned. Let cool 5 minutes before eating.
I consider myself a snacker, and unfortunately I typically go for something salty, like chips, or sweet, like chocolate. I needed a change, and I decided to be adventurous and try hummus. I fell in love with the creamy texture and I’ve been eating it ever since. One thing I’ve discovered about hummus is that you can make it from scratch, and it’s easy! For this recipe, I went for a classic garlic hummus, which can be easily dressed up if you so choose. Personally, I prefer adding basil pesto or sriracha when I want a twist on this hummus!
What you need:
Garbanzo beans, cooked
Tahini Paste (sesame seed paste)
Crushed Red Pepper
Set the oven to 375F. Take a piece of foil, big enough to accommodate an entire head of garlic. Remove and peel the garlic cloves. Toss in some olive oil. Add the garlic to the foil and wrap the foil around it, creating a purse. Place it on a sheet tray, to prevent oil dripping on the bottom of the oven. Roast for about 30 minutes; the garlic will be soft and aromatic.
In a food processor add the cooked garbanzo beans, tahini paste, lemon juice, water, roasted garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, and turmeric. Process until there are no clumps. The hummus should be smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with a sprinkle of crushed red pepper and drizzle of olive oil.
Roasted Garlic Hummus
Makes about 5 cups
2 15oz cans garbanzo beans, drained
⅓ cup tahini paste
Juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup water
1 head of garlic
4 TBSP olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp pepper
1 tsp crushed red pepper
Set the oven to 375F. Separate the garlic cloves and peel them. Toss them in 2 TBSP of olive oil and place onto a piece of foil. Fold the foil up to encompass the garlic. Place the foil pouch on to a sheet tray to trap any leaking oil. Roast for 30 minutes, the garlic should be soft and aromatic.
Add the garbanzo beans, roasted garlic, tahini paste, water, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and turmeric. Blend in a food processor until smooth.
Spoon into a serving bowl and garnish with crushed red pepper and remaining olive oil.
I’ve been on a bit of a salmon kick recently. I’ve been buying it every time I go to the store, and I’ve been ordering it obsessively at restaurants all spring. I find salmon to have a very distinct odor and flavor, and I think that might be what attracts me to it. This week I found myself with two salmon filets and no idea of what to do with them. So I dug around my kitchen and got a bit creative.
What you’ll need:
5 oz salmon filet
Brown Basmati Rice
Old Bay Seasoning
Unsalted Butter, softened
Preheat the oven to 350F. Drizzle the salmon filet with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place into a roasting pan and place into the oven. Cook for about 10 to 12 minutes. I like my salmon cooked medium, but if you like yours more done, add a little bit more time.
To make the compound butter, add the softened butter into a bowl and mix with the Old Bay seasoning and fresh dill.
For the asparagus, bring a pot with water up to a boil. Season the water with salt and add the asparagus. Blanch the asparagus for 3 to 5 minutes, then drain into a colander. Shock the asparagus in an ice water bath to stop the cooking process. Remove the asparagus from the ice water. Heat a saute pan with a Tbsp of butter. Saute the asparagus for about 2 minutes and season with salt and pepper.
In a pot, bring the vegetable stock up to a boil. Once boiling, add the basmati rice and turn the heat down to a medium-low setting. Place the lid on top and cook until the rice is done, about 30 minutes. Fluff with a fork when done and add the juice of one lemon.
On a plate, spoon about ½ cup of the rice into the center. Lay about 4 asparagus sprigs across the rice. Place the salmon just on top of the asparagus. Add 2 Tbsp of the compound butter on top of the salmon and let the heat of the salmon melt the butter.
Oven Roasted Salmon with Asparagus, Brown Basmati Rice, and Old Bay Compound Butter
5 5 oz salmon fillets
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3 Tbsp Old Bay Seasoning
3 Tbsp fresh dill, lightly chopped
1 bunch asparagus
½ cup brown basmati rice, uncooked
2 cups vegetable stock
Juice of 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 350F. Drizzle the salmon fillets with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place onto a roasting pan and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, for a medium center. For a more well done salmon, add a few more minutes.
To make compound butter combine the stick of unsalted butter, Old Bay seasoning, and fresh dill in a bowl. Set aside.
Bring a pot of water to a boil and season the water with salt. Blanch the asparagus in the water for 3 to 5 minutes. Drain into a colander and then shock in an ice bath. Remove from the ice bath immediately. In a saute pan, melt about 1 Tbsp of butter. Saute the asparagus in the butter for about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
For the rice, bring the vegetable stock to a boil, add the rice and cover the pot with a lid. Turn the heat down to a medium-low setting and cook the rice for 30 minutes. Fluff with a fork when done and add the juice of the lemon.
To plate, add about a ½ cup of cooked rice into the center of the plate. Lay about 4 to 5 asparagus sprigs across the rice. Place a salmon filet on top of the asparagus. Add a Tbsp or two of the Old Bay compound butter to the top of the salmon. Let the heat of the salmon melt the butter.
I could eat pasta all day every day. I never tire of pasta, and it honestly confuses me as to how I don’t get bored. I shouldn’t complain though, because pasta can be prepared many different exciting ways; you can prepare a lighter dish, like this one, or something heavy and creamy like my Classic Carbonara. This recipe has the tanginess of balsamic vinegar, the sharp bite of parmesan, and the crunchiness of bell peppers. This savory dish should keep a space in your rotation.
What you’ll need:
Red Bell Pepper
Green Bell Pepper
Bring a deep pot of water to a boil, salt the water. Add the penne pasta and cook until al dente. When pasta is cooked, drain into a colander and keep pasta warm. Meanwhile, mince the shallot and set aside. Julienne the red and green bell pepper and set aside with the shallot.
In a skillet, add a tablespoon of olive oil, add the minced shallot and julienned peppers and saute over medium heat. The shallot should be caramelized and the peppers should just be starting to soften.
Add the balsamic vinegar and cooked penne pasta to the pan. Toss together until everything is coated with the balsamic. Add some cracked pepper to taste.
Distribute into preferred food holding device and garnish with parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.
Balsamic Penne with Peppers and Shallot
1 lb or 16 oz. penne pasta
1 whole shallot, minced
Red bell pepper, julienned
Green bell pepper, julienned
1 TBSP olive oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 TBSP cracked pepper
¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
½ bunch parsley, chopped
Bring a deep pot full of water to a boil. Season the water with salt. Add the penne pasta and cook until al dente. If using a packaged product refer to the cooking instructions.
While pasta is cooking add the olive oil into a saute pan and place on a burner at medium heat. Add the minced shallot and julienned peppers to the pan. Saute until the shallot is caramelized and the peppers start to softened. Add the balsamic vinegar and cracked pepper.
When pasta is cooked, drain into a colander and then add the pasta into the saute pan with the shallot, peppers, and balsamic. Toss it all together until the pasta and peppers are coated lightly in the balsamic.
Immediately distribute into desired bowl or plate and garnish with grated parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.
I’m a lover of chocolate, and my favorite treat is a brownie, straight out of the oven and still gooey. Everyone has their preference: some like soft, almost undercooked, and others prefer a more cake-like texture. I love a classic fudgy brownie, rich and dense. For this recipe, I added some raspberry compound for flavor. Flavored compounds are a great alternative to extracts and will provide a more natural taste to the flavor you’re adding. If something calls for an extract, I highly recommend you add compound instead. Compounds don’t have a harsh alcohol taste or smell, and you don’t need to use much of it to achieve the flavor you want. The flavor is concentrated, uses the ingredients it says on the bottle, and has a shelf life at room temperature or in the fridge. To add a little crunch I mixed in some chopped walnuts, but those are entirely optional.
What you’ll need:
2 cups sugar
2 sticks butter
3 TBSP raspberry compound
½ cup cocoa powder
⅔ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup walnuts
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour an 8 inch pan.
Cream sugar and butter together. The mix should be very thick, and coming away from the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, adding a new one only after the previous egg has been completely incorporated. Blend in the raspberry compote.
Add the dry ingredients to the bowl, along with the walnuts. Mix until everything is incorporated. The mixture should be very thick. Pan up the mixture, and using the spatula spread the brownie mix evenly in the pan, making sure it is flat and even.
Bake at 350F for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before running a knife around the edge. Place a cutting board on top of the pan and flip it over. The bottom of the brownies should be facing you. Transferring the brownies straight to a cutting board will make it easier to cut than trying to struggle with cutting them in the pan. Place the brownies into the fridge and let them cool completely before cutting.
Cut into desired sizes and garnish with powdered sugar and fresh berries.
Raspberry Walnut Brownies
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
3 TBSP seedless raspberry compound
½ cup cocoa powder
⅔ cup all purpose flour
½ cup walnuts, chopped
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour an 8 inch pan.
Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment cream together the butter and sugar until the mixture starts to pull away from the sides and is very thick.
Add the eggs one at a time, only adding the next egg until the previous has completely incorporated. The mix will still be thick but fluffy.
Add in the raspberry compound and blend into the mix.
Sift together the cocoa and flour and add to the raspberry mix. Add the chopped walnuts. Turn on the mixer to the lowest setting and mix until the dry ingredients incorporate. The mix will be very thick, fluffy and not pourable.
Using a spatula, scoop the mix out of the bowl and into the pan, spreading the mix evenly in the pan, making sure it is flat.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, depending on your oven. A toothpick inserted will come out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes in pan. Run a knife around the edge and remove the brownies from the pan by placing a cutting board on top of the pan and flipping it over. The bottom side of the brownies should be facing you. Place the whole thing in the fridge until the brownies are completely cool. Portion the sizes to your preference.
Lunch and dinner have nothing on breakfast. At breakfast, you can eat anything you want because it’s okay. You can have a rare steak with a poached egg and hash browns and no one will judge you. Even though steak is a great way to start your day, it’s not my favorite way. My favorite is quiche. Quiche is the perfect breakfast item because you have a flaky, buttery crust with baked eggs, and any filling of your choice. It’s easily one of the most versatile breakfast items. So today I wanted to share with you my go-to quiche recipe when I want something for myself or have guests. Quiche is a simple, quick meal to put together and allows for endless creative possibility.
Cheesy Bacon Quiche with Bell Peppers and Mushrooms
What you’ll need:
Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Green Bell Pepper
Red Bell Pepper
Short Dough/Pie Dough
Start by cutting the green and red bell peppers. Remove the stem and seeds and cut into a small or medium dice. Roughly chop the mushrooms. Add the bell peppers and mushrooms into a bowl. Salt and pepper them. Set aside.
Take your bacon and roughly chop. Add into a skillet over medium heat and render the fat until the bacon is crispy. While your bacon is cooking, shred the cheddar cheese into a bowl and set aside. When the bacon is to your desired doneness, remove from the pan and pat dry with paper towels, to remove excess fat. Add the bacon into the peppers/mushroom mix.
Crack the eggs into a bowl and add the milk. Whisk until milk is incorporated and there are no whole yolks. Into the eggs add the pepper/mushroom mix, bacon, and shredded cheddar cheese. Fold in the ingredients with a wooden spoon. Set aside.
Lightly spray a pie tin with pan spray, and place your rolled out piece of dough, you want it at about a quarter inch in thickness, over the top of the pan. Press down gently to make sure the dough is in the pan. Take the edges and pinch to make a border. You can easily make your own dough, but if you want to buy it pre-made, look in the refrigerated section of your grocery store for unbaked pie crusts. Pour the mix into the unbaked pie crust.
Bake at 400F for 35 to 45 minutes, depending on your oven. When done, a toothpick should come out clean and the top should not jiggle. Let the quiche cool down for 10 minutes before cutting. Consume!
What’s great about this quiche recipe is that you can interchange the ingredients. If you’re not a fan of cheddar, you can easily substitute for swiss or havarti. If you’re more of a meat lover, you can add breakfast sausage, ground beef, or cubed ham. Remove the meat and add fresh spinach or tomato to make the quiche vegetarian. The possibilities are endless, and I hope you use this great recipe to get creative with your quiche!
Cheesy Bacon Quiche with Bell Peppers and Mushrooms
1 green bell pepper, small to medium dice
1 red bell pepper, small to medium dice
½ cup mushrooms, roughly chopped
8 strips bacon, medium dice
3 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
8 large eggs
1 cup milk, 1% or higher
Pie Crust, homemade or store bought
Preheat oven to 400F.
Take your red and green bell pepper and mushrooms and add into a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Render the bacon on medium heat in a saute pan until brown and crispy. Remove from the pan and pat dry with a paper towel to remove excess oil. Add the bacon to the pepper/mushroom mix.
Add the shredded cheddar cheese to the bacon/pepper/mushroom mix and set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk until milk is incorporated and there are no whole yolks. Add the pepper/mushroom/bacon/cheese mix into the eggs and fold in with a wooden spoon.
Lightly spray a pie tin with pan spray. Roll out the dough to quarter inch thickness(if it’s store bought you will not need to roll it out, it’ll be done for you) and press lightly into the pan to make sure the dough is in every nook and cranny. Pinch the edges to make a border.
Add your egg mixture to crust and place into the oven. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean and the top does not jiggle. Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting.