Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Pumpkin Chocolate Scones with Spiced Pumpkin Glaze

My birthday is coming up here pretty quick and I can hardly believe that another year has come and gone.  This year for my birthday I asked for a plane ticket to Utah for my sister Stephanie who lives in California.  I'm pretty much getting the best birthday gift ever (and all of my sisters and mama are thanking me for the gift I asked for and am getting)!  Her visit will be short (too short), but we are definitely planning on making the most of it and I can hardly wait for her to get here.  I have that tight, excited Christmas feeling inside.

Last night, my thoughts were filled with planning the food we will eat while she is here (she loves food as much as I do).  You'd laugh if you saw all my planning lists.  Dinner menus, breakfast menus, lunch ideas, grocery lists, food preparation lists.  It might all seem a bit crazy, but if I can plan it out (at least the things that I really want to be included) and can prepare the things that can be made ahead of time then I don't have to spend every moment in the kitchen while she's here and we still get to eat really great food.

These pumpkin scones were at the top of one of my lists.  It is October and something pumpkin seemed to be the perfect way to start one of her mornings here.  I've made these scones before (without the chocolate) and I couldn't help but think that a great dark chocolate would be a very welcome addition to these scones.  So, this afternoon I gave them a whirl to make sure they'd turn out the way that I wanted them too and heaven help me...the chocolate was the perfect addition!  I ate one and I seriously couldn't refrain from eating another (and right before dinner too).  The pumpkin. The chocolate.  The glaze.  I was in scone heaven and I know Stephanie will be too!



Pumpkin Chocolate Scones

1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 large egg + 1 yolk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/3 cup pure cane sugar
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
6 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate

Spiced Pumpkin Glaze

1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon pumpkin puree
dash of cinnamon
dash of fresh grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons finely chopped bittersweet chocolate

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together pumpkin, cream, and eggs.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices.

Using a pastry cutter, your fingers, or a food processor, cut butter into the flour mixture until the mixture is crumbly and there are no pieces of butter bigger than a pea.  Add chopped chocolate and toss to combine.

Make a well in the center of the flour/chocolate mixture and pour in pumpkin mixture.  Using a fork, combine until dough just comes together.  Do not overwork the dough.  Form dough into a 6"ish square and cut into 9 squares (thirds and then thirds again).  Place square scones on prepared baking sheet.  Place in freezer.

Preheat oven to 425°F.  Once oven is preheated, remove scones from the freezer and bake for 15 minutes.

While the scones are baking, make the spiced pumpkin glaze.  In a flat bottomed bowl, whisk together cream, pumpkin, salt, and spices.  Add the powdered sugar and whisk until no lumps remain.  Glaze scones while slightly warm (not hot) and sprinkle with chopped chocolate.

Scone recipe adapted from The Faux Martha

Monday, August 22, 2016

Bleeding Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are my very favorite chocolate chip cookies!  I personally think they are the very best, and most delicious when eaten while they are still warm (or reheated in the oven for  few minutes).  I call them bleeding chocolate chip cookies because the proportion of chocolate to dough is amazing, and by using a good quality chocolate that pools when it melts instead of staying in "chip" form, the cookie if warm (as it should be) will "bleed" melty, glorious chocolate when the top of the cookie is gently pressed.  It's pretty much chocolatey amazing-ness!


Bleeding Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (220 grams-I always weigh my flour for this recipe)
8-ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut with a serrated knife into roughly 1/2-inch chunk
Flaky salt, for sprinkling

Heat oven to 360°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butters and sugars with an electric mixer until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Add the egg and vanilla, beating until incorporated.  Scrape down the bowl with a spatula.  Add the baking soda and kosher salt and beat to combine.  With the machine on low, slowly add the flour. When the flour is halfway absorbed, add the chopped chocolate and mix until the remaining flour is incorporated.

Scoop dough into mounds (I use a big scoop, probably close to 1/4 cup dough).  Space the dough mounds evenly apart on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with flaky salt.  Bake for 9-10 minutes or until golden brown, but still very gooey and soft inside.  Let the cookies cool slightly on baking sheet before transferring them to a cooking rack.

Recipe slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen and originally from Not Without Salt

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Almond-Crisped Peaches

It's peach season and we've been eating fresh peaches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Every year this happens and every year I look forward to it.  Allred Orchard's opens their fruit stand and boxes of Red Haven peaches (the first peach of the season) fill their store front and in turn fill my refrigerator.

Ever since I was a little girl, I have always loved peach cobbler.  I remember my mom making peach cobbler when I was growing up and stealing a bite from the corner of the pan as it emerged from of the oven, bubbling and golden brown.  That bite would be so hot that I'd puff out my cheeks and quickly tilt my head from side to side to keep the burning hot peach from settling on my tongue and burning the daylights out of it. I remember my mom filling bowls with that steaming hot cobbler and topping it with a rather large spoonful of sweetened whipped cream that quickly melted into all the nooks and crannies of the cobbler.  It was so good and so comforting.

These almond-crisped peaches quickly brought back all those peach cobbler memories as I pulled the baking sheet from the oven and couldn't resist immediately topping the corner peach with lightly sweetened whipped cream and taking a bite that made me puff my cheeks and quickly tilt my head from side to side.  Oh man, it was so good and so comforting!


Almond-Crisped Peaches

4 ripe peaches, halved and pits removed
1/3 cup whole almonds
14 cup turbinado (raw) sugar
3 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Heat oven to 350°.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place fruit cut side up on baking sheet.  In a food processor, pulse almonds and sugar together until coarsely ground (with a few pebble sized pieces left).  Add cinnamon, salt, and butter, pulsing the food processor until the ingredients are just blended.

Spoon a heaping tablespoon into the center of each peach, then press the mixture flat, as if you were icing the tops of the peaches.  (If there is extra almond mixture just add a little more to the top of each peach.)

Bake for 45 minutes (baking time varies with peach size), or until the top is brown and crisp and you can slice through the peach with ease using a fork or spoon.

Serve warm with a large spoonful of lightly sweetened whipped cream.  (For breakfast the next morning I ate the leftover peaches with lightly sweetened plain yogurt.)

Recipe slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Friday, August 12, 2016

Kale Chopped Salad + Peaches (and a whole lot of other goodness)

Sisters are the best!  I am one of six girls (+ three brothers) so there definitely isn't a shortage of sisters in my family.  About a month ago I was lucky enough to have my sister Stephanie who lives in California come and visit.  She brought along her two boys while her husband stayed in California to work.  A week before she came I started planning out a few of my favorites (food of course) that I wanted to eat with her while she was here.  Cocoa crispy crunch, chocolate olive oil bread with ricotta & honey, black ice cream with salty sprinkles, homemade frozen yogurt, butter chicken and homemade pita, flatbread pizzas, and a few of my favorite kale salads quickly filled my list.  I was giddy with excitement both to see her and to feed her!

For lunch one afternoon, we filled white salad bowls with lightly dressed chopped kale, red onion, charred corn, fresh peaches, avocado, baby pea sprouts, feta cheese, and sweet and spicy sunflower seeds.  While we were eating, her "mmm's" confirmed that she loved this salad as much as I did.  It's so great having sisters who love and enjoy food as much as I do.



This is more of a list of ingredients that you can use in the amounts you want rather than an exact recipe.  The dressing will make more than enough for a couple of salads.  The dressing is also delicious with this salad. 

Kale Chopped Salad + Peaches

1 bunch lacinato kale, finely chopped
Charred corn, cut from 2 ears of corn
1/4 red onion, thinly shaved
Fresh peaches, diced
Avocado, sliced
Sprouts (broccoli, pea, or micro greens)
Feta Cheese

Sweet & spicy sunflower seeds

Dressing

4 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon cream
Salt

To make the dressing, place vinegar, honey, and mustard in a small bowl.  Slowly drizzle in olive oil, whisking constantly until emulsified.  Whisk in cream and season with salt.

Sweet and Spicy Sunflower Seeds

3/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat and toast sunflower seeds until just fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Add the salt, cayenne, and brown sugar and toss them around until the sugar is hot enough to stick to the seeds, 8-10 minutes.  Place sunflower seeds on a piece of parchment paper and spread out in a single layer to cool.

Recipe slightly adapted from
Sprouted Kitchen

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Black Ice Cream and Salty Sprinkles

I love ice cream and the thing that makes me REALLY love ice cream is the toppings.  I love toppings!  On a scoop of vanilla my favorite is sliced bananas, hot fudge, roasted almonds, and lots and lots of salty sprinkles.  (Peaches in the summer comes in at a close second, but chocolate will always win first place in my book). 

If I know I'm going Baskin Robins, I'll bring a baggie of salty roasted almonds to put on my ice cream (don't worry, I don't bring hot fudge).  And along these same lines, I also bring a baggie of granola when I'm planning on eating an acai bowl because you can never have enough granola.  I know...I'm a nerd.

I first came across salty sprinkles near my last birthday.  I made myself a banana split for lunch and covered it in salty sprinkles.  (I think it should be a rule that everyone should eat a banana split for lunch on their birthday.) 

Salty sprinkles are a mixture of raw sugar, toasted sesame seeds, and vanilla flaky salt and I promise you they are addicting, like really addicting.  They take a bowl of ice cream to a new level and make ice cream sundaes crazy good!  (I may just start carrying a small container of them with me (along with my baggie of almonds) just in case I stop for ice cream.)

Oh and this black ice cream is amazing!  So, so, so good!  I love it so much that I've made it four times already.  Melissa of the Faux Martha out did herself with this recipe!


Black Ice Cream

3/4 cup cane sugar
1/2 cup black cocoa powder
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (Califia)
14-ounce coconut cream (not coconut milk)
1/4 cup Lyle’s golden syrup

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, black cocoa powder, cornstarch, salt, and espresso powder until combined.  Slowly pour in the almond milk while whisking to combine.  Add coconut cream and gold syrup to the sauce pan and whisk to combine.

Over medium heat, bring mixture to a simmer.  Allow mixture to simmer for about 3 minutes, whisking continually.  Remove from heat and pour mixture into a high-powered blender.  Blend on high for 30 seconds. 

Let mixture cool to room temp and then refrigerate to cool completely, preferably overnight.

Freeze in your ice cream machine according to your manufacturer’s instructions.  Once churned place ice cream in freezer to completely set up.

Recipe slightly adapted from thefauxmartha

Salty Sprinkles

4 teaspoons flaky vanilla salt (I use seeds from 1 vanilla bean for every 4 teaspoons of Maldon salt and blend together with the tips of my fingers, taking care not to completely crush the flaky salty.)
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

Combine everything in a small bowl and mix to combine.  Store in a jar.

Recipe from Food 52

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Bread

I first stumbled upon Ashley Rodriquez's olive oil bread recipe last year, early fall.  I've made countless loaves and I have a hard time saying no to a slice (or two, or three).  Each bite of warm bread deserves a small chunk of cold butter in my opinion. 

Not long before Christmas, I made the mistake (the very delicious mistake) of adding chopped bittersweet chocolate to the dough and it was life changing (and belly expanding).  Preston and I ate a slice every morning for a week straight.  We would lightly toast it and then smear homemade ricotta drizzled with vanilla bean honey on each and every bite (the more the better).  Oh my!  It was perfection!  (We even shared a slice with the washing machine repair man who was fixing our washing machine a couple days before Christmas.  Ugh!)

This afternoon I started planning my mama's birthday breakfast because this Thursday is her birthday.  I'm always looking for an excuse to have my family and friends over to share a meal and a birthday is always a good excuse to gather those I love around my kitchen table.  Not long after I started making plans my mama sent a text to me with a birthday request for homemade ricotta cheese and just like that, dark chocolate olive oil bread (along with a side of the requested ricotta cheese) quickly made its way onto her birthday breakfast menu. 

Happy Birthday Mama!  May this coming year be filled with all kinds of wonderful!  I love you with all of my heart!


Homemade Olive Oil Bread

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon honey
1 cup lukewarm water
1/3 cup great quality extra virgin olive oil
3 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
In a large mixing bowl, combine yeast, honey, and water.  Stir to combine and let rest for 5 minutes, or until yeast begins to foam.  Add the olive oil, flour, and salt and stir to combine into a shaggy ball.  Place shaggy dough ball on a lightly floured surface and knead for 1 minute until dough is smooth and a round ball forms.

Brush a little olive oil inside the empty mixing bowl and place dough back into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Once doubled, place dough on a lightly floured surface and press dough into a rectangle.  Spread half of the chopped chocolate and fold in both sides like you are folding a business letter.  Press gently into a rectangle again and sprinkle with the remaining chopped chocolate.  Fold again as you would a business letter and then tuck sides under, forming dough into a ball.

Preheat oven to 375° F.  Place dough on a parchment lined baking sheet, brush with olive oil and allow to rise again for 30 minutes, lightly draped with plastic wrap to cover.  Just before baking, sprinkle with flake salt.

Bake for 30 minutes or until deep golden brown.  Remove bread from oven and brush loaf of bread with additional olive oil if desired.

Recipe slightly adapted from Live.Love.Lux

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Soft Pretzels

These soft pretzels were pretty much all Preston (I helped with the boiling water part of the recipe).  He had these soft pretzels on an end of the year field trip to Sundance Resort and loved them.  He came home with soft pretzels on the brain and a recipe in hand.  It only took a couple of days before he was in the kitchen using yeast for the very first time.  I love how brave he is in the kitchen. 

The first round of proofing the yeast, the water was too warm and didn't survive.  The second time around a foamy mixture meant success.  Together we rolled the dough into long ropes and Preston skillfully demonstrated the art of twisting a pretzel into the traditional "pretzel" shape for me. 

Moments after they were pulled from the oven and bathed in salty, melted butter, we devoured them.  The cinnamon sugar ones were a hit, but I'm a sucker for a warm, soft, buttery pretzel dipped in a generous amount of mustard. Mmmmm!

After our bellies were filled and our fingers were covered in butter (and cinnamon sugar), Preston conveniently left for a golf tournament leaving me with a sink full of dishes and a counter covered in flour, butter, and empty cookie sheets.  But, the mess was completely worth it.  I love watching him get excited about being in the kitchen (with the added bonus of a warm, soft pretzel of course).
 

Soft Pretzels

3 cups warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 tablespoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, melted
6 cups of water
2/3 cup baking soda
Coarse salt
Melted butter

Place water, yeast, and sugar in a bowl of a stand mixer.  Let rest 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam.  Add the flour and butter and using the dough hook, mix on low speed until well combined.  Increase the speed to medium and knead until the dough is soft and glossy, about 5 minutes.  Place dough in a greased bowl and let dough sit until doubled in size, about 45-50 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly grease.

Portion the dough into 4-ounce balls.  Using your hands roll each piece of dough into a long rope.  Take the ends of the rope and form a U-shape.  Holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U to form the shape of a pretzel. 

In a large pot combine 6 cups of water and baking soda and bring to a rolling boil.  Place the pretzels into the boiling water, one by one, for 30 seconds.  Remove from the water using a flat spatula and place on baking sheet and sprinkle with coarse salt.

Bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown.  Brush warm pretzels with melted butter.

Recipe slightly adapted from Sundace Resort

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Our Favorite Buttermilk Pancakes

Growing up I was always more of a French toast kind of girl.  Hot French toast smeared with so much salted butter that it melted in pools.  A heavy dusting (aka spoonful’s) of powdered sugar would melt into those pools and create its own frosting.  I remember it always tasted so much better when my mom would fix it and cut it up into small squares for me.  (The middles squares that were heavy on the butter and powdered sugar were always the very best.)

Today, my 37 year old self still loves French toast (especially when it's made with Kneaders chunky cinnamon bread), but pancakes have won a place in my heart. 

I would say that most often I make whole wheat pancakes.  I love a good whole wheat pancake...a lot.  I have a couple recipes that I really love and are my go to recipes.  But, these buttermilk pancakes from America's Test Kitchen have quickly become a family favorite and are definitely the most requested pancake in our house.  They are perfect for a lazy Sunday morning breakfast and are also perfectly acceptable smack in the middle of the week when you can't seem to get a pancake craving to quit (speaking from experiecne). ;)

I think these pancakes are best served with a mound of sliced bananas and homemade cream syrup (my sister Savannah would agree).  Preston and Noah like theirs with cream syrup or a great deal of butter that begins to melt as soon as it hits the hot pancakes and then is sprinkled with granulated sugar (using a heavy hand).  Stella dots her pancake with blueberry’s once we pour the batter on the griddle and Todd isn't particular. 

These pancakes may not be the healthiest breakfast, but they sure make a delicious one!   
 


Buttermilk Pancakes

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg
1-2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Sift all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl (and by sift, I mean whisk because I'm lazy).  In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, melted butter, and egg.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients: pour in buttermilk mixture and whisk gently until just combined.  The batter should remain lumpy and a few remaining streaks of flour is ok.  Do not over mix.

Heat a cast iron pan or griddle over medium heat.  Using a pastry brush spread a thin layer of vegetable oil over the bottom of the pan or griddle.  Add batter in 1/4 cup mounds to the pan.  Cook until bubbles begin to appear evenly over the surface and the bottoms are golden brown.  Flip pancake and cook until second side is golden brown.  Serve immediately with warm syrup and lots of sliced bananas.  Repeat with remaining batter, using the remaining oil as necessary.  

Recipe from America's Test Kitchen Cooking School Cookbook

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Banana Crumb Bread


I couldn't decide whether I should toss or save the near black bananas sitting on my kitchen counter.  I finally decided that it was the end of their banana life so into the trash they went (or at least kind of).  I actually placed them in a trash bag, but left the bag sitting on the step in my garage just in case the need arose for the only possible thing a black banana would ever (ever) be good for...some sort of banana baked good.  I figured as long as I didn't have to look at them sitting on my counter any longer, they could live a couple more days of their banana life hanging out in my garage. 
And guess what...those black bananas that only made it halfway to the garbage can came in handy yesterday afternoon when I decided I needed a thick slice of warm banana bread smeared with lots of salty butter.  Todd declared it the best banana bread he's ever had.  So hurray for the black bananas that were taking up residence in my garage!


Banana Crumb Bread
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 cups mashed bananas mixed with 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
 
Crumb Topping
 
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
To make the crumb topping by combining the butter, sugar, flour, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the butter pieces are pea size.  Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 °F.  Butter two loaf pans and set aside.  (I used cooking spray and the loaves came out just fine.)
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light in color.  Add the eggs one at a time beating after each addition.  Add the bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla and mix well. 
In a separate bowl whisk together the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flour.  Add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture and mix until just combined.
Scrape batter into the prepared loaf pans and top with crumb topping;  pressing crumbs lightly into batter.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaves comes out clean, about 50-60 minutes.  
I found this recipe on Instagram @gotorecipes

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Raspberry Cream Biscuits

I use to make month long menu plans.  I think I actually liked making them more than following them.  I would often carry a black bag of printed recipes with me when I knew I would be going somewhere where I'd have a little time to glance through them.  In no time my empty month calendar would begin to fill in with the dinners we would be eating that month.  I laugh because even now, there are times when I go to my mom's house to let my kiddies play and I will tote a bag of recipes along with me (not so much to plan, but to read over and let my mouth water a bit). 

Fast forward a few years to today and my current struggle of making even a weekly menu.  Now, planning a weeks’ worth of dinners gives me a bit of anxiety.  Without fail, during the week I will spy something(s) new I want to try or our nightly dinner schedule changes and then my menu plan gets thrown a bit and that bugs me.  I seem to fly by the seat of my pants a bit more these days (which also has its major drawbacks, one being that I make more trips to the grocery store than should ever be allowed in one week).

So while I often am on the hunt for new recipes to try, I also have the tried and true favorites in my back pocket that are both familiar and loved by my little family (like these biscuits).

I first found the recipe for these cream biscuits on the blog Orangette.  They come together quickly (bowl and wooden spoon) and are tender and delicious.  I can't count how many times I've made them and my food spattered biscuit recipe that hangs right inside my kitchen cabinet door along with a few other favorites (Ashley Rodriguez's chocolate chip cookies, flatbread pizza dough, and our favorite whole wheat waffle recipe...just to name a few) proves it.  The original recipe doesn't call for raspberries and most often I make them without, but this morning my raspberry studded, sugar crusted biscuit tasted just perfect and will sure to be repeated over and over again.



Raspberry Cream Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped (optional)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/4-1 1/2 cups raspberries
Turbinado or other coarse sugar

Preheat the oven to 425°F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar.  Whisk together and then add then add the raspberries and gently stir.

In a small bowl, whisk together the cream and seeds from the vanilla bean.  Slowly add 1 1/4 cup cream, stirring gently as you pour in the cream.  Add the additional 1/4 cup cream if the dough feels shaggy and pieces are dry.

Dump the dough onto a work surface and shape into a 1/2 inch thick square.  (If you don't mind the raspberries breaking up a bit or if you aren't using raspberries, you could knead the dough briefly if necessary.  You don't want to overwork the dough.)

Cut into 9 squares (or 12 if you want smaller biscuits).  Place each biscuit on prepared baking sheet and brush generously with melted butter so that all sides of the biscuit are coated.  Sprinkle with coarse sugar and bake for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Serve hot.

Recipe adapted from Orangette

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Loaded Mexican Parsnip Fries

On Thursday I downloaded Food52's new (Not) Recipe app.  This app is being offered as a place to capture and celebrated "the casual, off-the-cuff, cooking that most people do every day."  In the Food52 article that introduces this new app, Amanda and Merrill (Co-Founders of Food52) talk about how "the great majority of the world's cooking doesn't involve recipes:  It's putting together dishes you know, with your own signature touches.

To be honest, I am definitely one who leans toward the recipe side of cooking.  It feels a bit safer to me.  I feel I'm less likely to waste ingredients and time making something from a recipe that comes from a food someone I trust.  I know there's a loss of creativity by doing it this way, but when it comes to creativity it's not my strongest quality.  I often make something once and then add my own touches the next time around (although some recipes are just too good to mess with).

Over the past few years as I've become more comfortable and confident in the kitchen, I've definitely become a bit better at "casual, off-the-cuff cooking", but I still have a long way to go.  I know it will take time and I'm willing to put in the effort to keep learning and growing in the kitchen.

The night I downloaded the app, Preston and I ate dinner together, just the two of us.  I had bought some parsnips the day before and with the (Not) Recipe app in mind I turned those parsnips into loaded Mexican oven fries that we ate on very tiny baking sheets.

So with a little more bravery under my belt and with a greater resolve to be more courageous in the kitchen, today I'm sharing a picture and a simple how-to for loaded Mexican parsnip fries.  Enjoy!


Loaded Mexican Parsnip Fries
Peel and cut parsnips into thin sticks and drizzle with avocado oil.  Dust parsnip fries with kosher salt, cumin, cayenne, coriander, dried oregano, and chili powder.  Toss to combine.  Bake at 450 until cooked through, golden brown, and crispy.  Top fries with warmed pinto beans, salsa, sour cream, avocado, cheese, radishes, cilantro, and a good squeeze of lime juice.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Healthier No-Bake Cookies

My kiddies love no-bake cookies!  They are an afterschool snack favorite. This recipe is awesome because it leans a bit more on the healthy side being that the cookies aren't loaded with refined sugar.  The one trouble with these little bites of chocolatey oatey goodness is that I am capable of consuming far more than would ever be considered "healthy".


 
Healthier No-Bake Cookies

1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup all natural peanut butter
1 cup rolled oats
Crushed peanuts
Flaky salt

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a small saucepan set over medium heat, whisk together the coconut oil, maple syrup, and cocoa powder until everything is incorporated.  Next, add the vanilla and peanut butter and whisk until smooth.

Remove the mixture from the heat and using a wooden spoon or spatula, stir in the oats and salt.  Using a small cookie scoop or spoon, drop the mixture by the heaping tablespoon onto the prepared baking sheet and flatten a bit.  Top each cookie with crushed peanuts and a dusting of flaky salt.  Transfer the baking sheet to the freezer and chill 15-30 minutes before eating.  Store cookies in the refrigerator or freezer.

Recipe slightly adapted from Oh Ladycakes

Monday, March 21, 2016

Fiesta Kale Salad

I remember the first time I made this salad; my kiddies and I were clinging to the last few weeks of summer break.  My mom, myself, a couple of my sisters and their kiddies decided to head up American Fork canyon to beat the heat and let the kidlets play in the frigid river water.  Part way up the canyon, we picked a picnic area close to the river, set up, and tried to make our peace with the bugs and bees that also seemed interested in what we were having for lunch (and by making our peace I mean that we tried and tried to get rid of them, but our efforts were in vain).  After getting settled, we pulled out jars of strawberry lemonade (it was actually a mix of citrus because I ran out of lemons) and wrapped up the fiesta kale salad in pieces of whole wheat naan smeared with sour cream.

I remember my sister had brought her then new boyfriend (and now husband) along to meet the small portion of our family that was there.  I'm the oldest of nine and I'm guessing she wanted to ease him into the craziness and introduce him to us in small doses.  It was probably a good idea! ;) After we started eating, he made the comment that he didn't know something so healthy could taste so good.  I felt happy inside even if he was just saying it to be nice.

This salad involves a bit of chopping, but besides that it comes together quickly.  The addition of black beans and avocado make it completely satisfying and it doesn't leave you wanting say, a bag of chips when you're finished. :)


 
Fiesta Kale Salad

1 bunch lacinato kale, washed, stemmed, and shredded
1 cup baby tomatoes, halved
1 bell pepper (red, orange, or yellow), small dice
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 English cucumber, small dice
1 small bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
1 14-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 large avocado
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
Sweet and spicy sunflower seeds (recipe below)
Juice of two limes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon hot sauce
Kosher salt to taste

Place shredded kale in a large salad bowl and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and massage the leaves with your hands until the leaves are darker in color and fragrant.

To the kale add, tomatoes, peppers, green onions, cucumber, cilantro, and black beans.  Add the juice of limes, olive oil, and hot sauce, and a sprinkle of kosher salt.  Toss to combine.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Top salad with avocado, feta cheese and a scatter of sunflower seeds.

*The dressing is forgiving.  I never measure.  I just squeeze some lime juice on the kale; give it a quick glug of olive oil, and a few good shakes of hot sauce. 

Sweet and Spicy Sunflower Seeds
 
3/4 cup raw sunflower seeds or pepitas
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat and toast sunflower seeds until just fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Add the salt, cayenne, and brown sugar and toss them around until the sugar is hot enough to stick to the seeds, 8-10 minutes.  Place sunflower seeds on a piece of parchment paper and spread out in a single layer to cool.

Recipe slightly adapted from Sprouted Kitchen

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Cocoa Crispy Crunch

After seeing a picture for cocoa crunch on Alexandra Cooks instagram account, it took only a few minutes before I had a pan in the oven.  I've made chocolate granola before and I really love it, but I love the addition of crispy rice in this recipe and also that it calls for no nuts.  I love nuts, but these two changes make it a bit lighter and easier (on the jaw) to eat (which may or may not be a good thing). ;)

I have two favorite ways to eat this chocolatey crunchy goodness and it depends on the time of day which way I choose.  If it's time for breakfast then I will scoop two rather large spoonful’s of yogurt into a bowl and top it with a great big handful of berries (sometimes sweetened with a little maple syrup depending on how much help they need in the sweetness department), and a handful (or two, or three) of cocoa crunch.  It kind of feels like I'm eating a treat for breakfast.

My second favorite way usually happens between 9-10 at night when I'm starting to feel a little hungry and probably should just go to bed.  The thing is...my need for a little something sweet at night always wins, always.  So I will get a mason jar and fill it with cocoa crunch and ice cold milk.  Next, I do a little chopping with my spoon to break up any big chunks.  The chopping also helps make the milk really cold because I usually add an ice cube or two to the jar.  I know this sounds weird and most people aren't on board with the ice in milk thing, but it makes the milk super cold, just the way I like it.  (Oh and just so you know, I've successfully managed to pass on the ice in milk thing on to everyone in my little family.)  Once the cocoa crunch is gone, I add a little more and a little more until the all the milk is gone and then I go to bed.



Cocoa Crispy Crunch

1 1/2 cups rolled oats
2 cups crispy brown rice
1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1.5 ounces (42.5 grams) dark chocolate
1/2 cup pure maple syrup

Preheat oven to 275°F.  Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. 

In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, rice cereal, coconut, cocoa, and salt and stir to combine.

Heat the coconut oil and dark chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat until chocolate has just melted.  (You could also do this step in the microwave using a microwave safe bowl.  This is what I do.)  Stir chocolate and coconut oil to blend and add maple syrup to mixture.  Pour over dry ingredients and stir to combine.

Pour out cocoa crispy mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and spread in an even layer.  Cook for 35 minutes without stirring.  Remove from oven and let cool (once again no stirring).  Break into chunks and eat by the handful or break into small pieces and eat in a pint size mason jar with ice cold milk.

Recipe from Alexandra Cooks

Monday, March 14, 2016

Croque Monsieur with a Poached Egg

It's no surprise to anyone who knows me that I love cooking and love being in the kitchen.  But just like everyone else, I go through the occasional (maybe more than occasional) slump of, it's 5:30 and I have no idea what to make for dinner.  I remember one time in particular this slump seemed to be lasting longer than normal and I just wasn't feeling all that excited about food.  Around this time I happened to find my way onto the blog Alexandra Cooks

I remember my mouth watering as I scrolled through recipe after recipe.  I could feel my food excitement building and I quickly made my way back to the place I love...the kitchen.  That night I made Ali's croque monsieur with poached eggs and with the very first (very delicious) bite I was reminded of a quote by Alice Waters that hangs in one of my favorite restaurants.

"When you have the best and tastiest ingredients, you can cook very simply and the food will be extraordinary because it tastes like what it is."

Ali's croque monsieur with a poached egg was a simple meal made from simple ingredients, but tasted truly extraordinary.  

 

Croque Monsieur with a Poached Egg
(2 open faced sandwiches)

Great bread, cut into thick slices
Béchamel (recipe below)
2-4 slices good quality ham
Grated gruyere cheese
Fresh thyme leaves

Béchamel
 
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons finely minced onion
Kosher salt
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup whole milk
1 bay leaf

Poached eggs

2 eggs (I will usually cook an extra just in case one breaks)
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Prepare pot for eggs.  Fill a 10-inch nonstick skillet with two to three inches of water and bring to a simmer.

Prepare the béchamel.  In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the onions and a pinch of salt and cook until the onions are soft, but have not begun to color, about 5-7 minutes.  Turn the heat to low and add the flour.  Stir to combine with the onion and butter.  Cook over low heat until the flour is absorbed, stirring constantly so that it doesn't brown, about 2 minutes.  Slowly whisk in the milk.  Add the bay leaf. 

Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat then reduce the heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The mixture should be thick, but if it's too thick and becoming difficult to stir, whisk in a bit more milk, 1 or 2 teaspoons at a time.  Remove bay leaf and discard.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Preheat heat broiler.  Place the slices of bread on a rack on a sheet pan and broil each side for about a minute or until golden brown.  Watch closely!  The bread can go from golden brown to burnt in seconds.  Remove pan from oven.

Spread about 1 tablespoon of béchamel over each slice of bread.  Top with 1 to 2 slices of ham.  Top with grated cheese.  Set aside.

For the poached egg.  Bring the water to 190 degrees F. Add the vinegar. Gently crack each egg into a small bowl or ramekin. Lower each cup into the water until it touches bottom and gently pour in the egg. Cook for 4 1/2 minutes, adjusting the heat to maintain the temperature. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon, 1 at a time, to a tea towel lined plate.

When the eggs have cooked for about 3 1/2 minutes, place croque monsieur under the broiler and cook until the cheese is bubbling and starting to get brown in spots.  Remove from oven.  Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves.

Top each sandwich with a poached egg.  Sprinkle with a pinch of flaky salt and freshly cracked pepper.

Recipe barely adapted from Alexandra Cooks

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Oatmeal Souffle

I'm finally seeing the light after fighting congestion, a cough, and fever for nearly two weeks.  I haven't felt quite like myself.  Often I fall asleep at night thinking about what I want for breakfast the next morning, but with this bout of sickness there hasn't been a lot of food thinking and breakfast has consisted mostly of Rice Chex.  Nothing has really sounded all that great and pouring a bowl of cereal takes very little energy which is good because I seemed to be lacking in that department.  This past Friday I was feeling a bit better and with a little more energy under my belt I made an oatmeal soufflé for breakfast (mostly I did it because the Rice Chex were gone).  It sounds fancier and more difficult than it really is.  It actually comes together pretty quick and was a perfectly delicious start to my morning.  I halved the recipe with the intention of eating half the soufflé.  I sat at my kitchen counter eating the first half and then while I was talking on the phone with my sister the second half managed to disappear as well.  The next morning I made full recipe and was surprised that all of my kiddies LOVED it!  So here's to feeling better, an oatmeal soufflé, and happy eaters!

 
 
Oatmeal Soufflé

1 cup thick cut rolled oats
3 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
Seeds of one vanilla bean
3 large eggs, separated
Zest of one lemon
2 cups mixed berries
Pure maple syrup
Hemps seeds, toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Lightly butter a 2 quart baking dish.

In a large saucepan, combine the oats, milk, salt, sugar, and seeds of the vanilla bean.  Over medium heat bring the oat mixture to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally.  Cook for 15 minutes or until the oats are softened and the mixture begins to thicken.  Remove the pot from heat and let cool slightly.

Separate the eggs.  Once the oats have cooled a bit, working quickly, whisk in the egg yolks completely.  With a stand mixer or electric beaters, beat the egg whites until medium-stiff peaks form.  Gently fold the egg whites and lemon zest into the oat mixture until just combined.  Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.  Gently dot the top of the unbaked soufflé with a handful of berries and lightly push each berry down into the mixture a bit.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until puffed and golden.  Remove from oven and brush the top of the soufflé with pure maple syrup.  When serving, top each serving with fresh berries, hemp seeds and/or sesame seeds, a splash of cream, and light drizzle of maple syrup.  The souffle is best when eaten soon after it comes out of the oven.

*I bought some thick cut oats, but they didn't really look that much thicker than my regular rolled oats.  It only took about 10 minutes for my thick cut/regular oats to soften.

Recipe lightly adapted from Sprouted Kitchen

Friday, February 19, 2016

Kale and Tomato Salad with Tahini Dressing

Todd jokes that soon after we started dating he walked into my King Henry apartment and I was sitting at the counter eating a Cafe Rio salad that looked big enough to feed a small family.  I remember that day perfectly.  He learned early on that I can eat with the best of them. 

Today at lunch we sat across the counter from each other, him with his peanut butter and honey sandwich and me with my kale salad.  He sarcastically told me that my salad was really small.  Haha!  He then reminded me again of the giant Cafe Rio salad.

I love kale salads, like really love!  I'm pretty sure that Todd thinks I'm crazy for having cravings for them.  I told him last night that after I ate this salad for lunch (yesterday) that a couple hours later I was wishing I had some more.  I was feeling pretty pumped that I had enough leftovers for today and I loved eating every bite (even if it was big enough to feed a small family). ;)




Kale and Tomato Salad with Tahini Dressing


1 large bunch lacinato kale, ribs removed, washed and finely chopped
A squeeze of fresh lemon juice
A pinch of kosher salt
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, packed in oil
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 avocado, cut into chunks or slices (personal preference)
1/4 cup sweet and spicy sunflower seeds (recipe follows)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

Place kale in a large bowl and sprinkle with a pinch or two of kosher salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.  Massage the kale a bit until the leaves are darker and fragrant. Think scrunch and release.  This helps the kale be not so tough and more palatable.  Place in refrigerator until ready to dress.

For the sun dried tomatoes, drain off any excess oil and pulse through a food processor for a chunky texture or mince very fine.  Set aside.

Tahini Dressing
 
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons low sodium tamari
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
2 tablespoon water
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a jar and give it a good shake.

Sweet and Spicy Sunflower Seeds
 
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
Heaping 1/4 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat and toast sunflower seeds until just fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Add the salt, cayenne, and brown sugar and toss them around until the sugar is hot enough to stick to the seeds, 8-10 minutes.  Place sunflower seeds on a piece of parchment paper and spread out in a single layer to cool.

To prepare the salad, drizzle the massaged kale with a big spoonful or two of the tahini dressing.  Next, add cherry tomatoes and a spoonful of the chunky sundried tomatoes to the kale and toss until combined and ingredients are evenly distributed.  Taste and adjust seasoning adding more dressing, salt, and/or pepper if needed.

Plate your salad as you with and top with avocado chunks/slices, sweet and spicy sunflower seeds, toasted sesame seeds, and a drizzle of the tahini dressing.  Serve.

*This was enough for me to eat for two lunches with leftover sunflower seeds and dressing. I like having seeds to toss on other salads so I just put the extras in a baggie and tossed them in my freezer.

*Because I knew I was going to have this salad for lunch the next day, I only used half of the ingredients the first day and the other half the following day instead of making one giant salad.

Recipe adapted slightly from Sweetish.co

The sunflower seeds are from Sprouted Kitchen Bowl and Spoon