Hello all! It’s been a bit of time since I’ve been posting consistently and I fear that’s only going to get a bit worse. Oh well. I’ll figure this thing out eventually.
Anyways, happy holidays to all and to all a good night! Something like that, too, I suppose.
So in between baking, shopping, work, and preparing for travel, I’ve been going a bit crazy. Who’da thunk, huh? But I figured for this post, I wanted to work on something that reminds me of the holidays with a bit of a twist.
I always love pies, I mean, come on, who doesn’t? But I recently had the most amazing chocolate pie, compliments of my boyfriend’s mom. It was this rich, Hershey chocolate no-bake pie. And the recipe (I do believe!) can be found here.
I made a few changes. First, I used a regular milk chocolate Hershey’s bar and added about 10 extra Hershey kisses for more of the chocolate richness. I used mini marshmallows instead of large, and then I added cinnamon and vanilla for the flavor. Here’s my adaption!
1 8-ounce milk-chocolate Hershey’s bar & 10 hershey kisses
2 cups mini marshmallows
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 tbsp plus 2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 9-inch pie crust
Over a double-boiler, heat the milk and marshmallows until they start to form a paste and the marshmallows get smaller.
Add in the chocolate and 1 1/2 tbsp of ground cinnamon and mix together thoroughly until fully melted in with no clumps.
In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream with the 2 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp vanilla extract until soft peaks form and it is thick.
Wait for the chocolate mixture to cool to at least room temperature and then fold in the cream mixture.
Pour into a pre-baked or ready-made pie crust and refrigerate for 4 hours or until it begins to solidify and voila! You’re done!
I have this sort of tendency to watch Ina Garten when I’m off from work. Yeah, I mean she can be pretentious and what not, but her food is pretty damn good.
Anywhooo. I wanted to make a chicken bake. I’m going to a Christmas party on Saturday and I wanted to try out a new recipe before I brought it to the party. I remembered one episode she made a garlic lemon-y chicken bake that sounded pretty superb ( And I bet it smelled pretty superb too). And I mean, come on, who doesn’t love garlic? Amiright? I’m pretty sure I season more with garlic than I do with pepper. That is not even a joke.
Okay. I really need to learn to stay on topic. So partially inspired by Ina’s little chicken bake, I decided I wanted to do a pesto with a garlic sauce for the chicken to bake in. Let me tell you…the smell was outta this world. Basil-y and garlic-y and and fresh. It smelled so warm and delicious. I added mozzarella on top before baking and a little parmesan. This chicken bake is perfect for your next weeknight meal or easy holiday bake.
For the Pesto: (Yields about 3/4 cup pesto)
2-3 cloves garlic
1 cup fresh basil
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 tbsp parmesan cheese
1 tsp salt
Simply blend or pulse all ingredients in a food processor for about 2-3 minutes or until mainly smooth with tiny chunks still visible.
For the Chicken Bake: (Yields 4 chicken breasts)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup white wine
1-2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt & pepper
3/4 cup pesto (see above)
8 oz fresh whole mozzarella cheese, sliced into chunks
1 medium tomato, cut into 4 slices (optional)
In a medium baking dish, pour wine, lemon juice, and olive oil and garlic.
Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and then place in the baking dish and fully coat with pesto.
Top with mozzarella on the chicken breasts and tomatoes in the dish.
Cover with foil and bake for 35-45 minutes, until chicken in cooked thoroughly.
I have been very excited to try my hand at palmiers (elephant ears) ever since I watched an episode of the Barefoot Contessa a few weeks ago where she made savory palmiers using pesto and goat cheese (Umm hell yes. Sign me up.)
That episode got me thinking; why couldn’t I do that with a homemade jam or jelly??
Now, in the meantime, I have been infusing bourbon with chai spices and a pinch of vanilla extract. I had been waiting for the right moment to try out an apple-bourbon jam and I was even thinking about giving some out for the holidays (I think I missed the bar this year!).
Let me just say, about the bourbon that had been infusing: Holy wowza. I mean, that smell, though. I could have drank that straight from the jar. (Not saying I still didn’t). The smell was a beautiful marrying of the spicy chai and the boozy bourbon.
I made the jam over the stovetop and it turned out to be just enough for the amount of palmiers I wanted to make. I basically sautéed two apples and then reduced water and the chai bourbon with cinnamon and sugar. Super easy and this jam can be multi-purpose!
For the Jam:
2 large apples (I used Honeycrisp)
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1 cup chai-spiced bourbon**
3-4 tbsp granulated sugar
1-2 tbsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup water
1 tbsp cornstarch
**I simply poured and divided bourbon into 2 mason jars with 2 tablespoons loose chai spices and 1 tsp vanilla. I sealed jars for 3 weeks and only used one jar for this recipe.
For the Dough:
2 pre-packaged puff pastry
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Peel and cut the apples into small chunks and soften in a medium saucepan over medium heat until soft.
Add in lemon zest and 1/2 cup of the chai bourbon and reduce for 5-7 minutes.
Stir in water, cornstarch, sugar and cinnamon until jam begins to thicken and add the remainder of the spiced bourbon and then remove from heat and let cool for 20 minutes.
Thaw out puff pastry dough and roll out onto a sugared surface, ensuring the surface is covered in sugar (this helps with caramelization).
Spread the jam mixture onto the dough and from either side, roll inwards until both sides touch.
Freeze the rolls for about 20-30 minutes (freezing them helps when cutting so the jam isn’t a complete mess)
Cut into 1/8-1/4 inch slices and place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or spray.
Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until dough is golden brown.
Apple cider season is nearly over! I can’t believe the holidays are upon us. I feel like this past Autumn really flew by in a whirlwind of busy days. But alas, all good things must come to an end and new seasons must start.
Not to get off on a rant or anything, butttt I kind of love all seasons. I just really enjoy the changing weather, clothes, activities and what not. I guess it’s one of the perks to living in Pittsburgh. The weather is literally always changing. I don’t think ‘consistent’ is a word that Pittsburghers are familiar with when it comes to weather. Now, I’m probably also not the first to say that the winter weather is really slushy and gross. Bottom line: It generally sucks, but there are a few days here and there with some nice crisp snow.
Anyyyywho, little rant over. Back to business. So I’ve been wanting to try my hand at meatballs for a while now. It’s kind of embarrassing to say that I’ve actually never made them. But of course, since I can’t have things normal like your regular Italian meatballs with spaghetti, I wanted to try my hand at cider-glazed meatballs. Yep, that’s right. The sweet, tangy cider with savory spiced meatballs. Ohhh yeah.
I had done some research earlier in the week about y’know, the meatball basics; what I need to bind everything together, basic savory flavors that would pair well with the tanginess and tartness of the cider, etc. This was pretty helpful, though, I gotta say. (I need to tone it down on the commas. I know.) I knew I had some frozen ground pork and so I went with that. (You can also use ground turkey for a healthier, leaner option.) It did not take me very long at all to make these little guys and they turned out exactly how I wanted them to!
Ingredients for the Meatballs:
1 lb ground pork
1 cup Panko crumbs (Italian crumbs also work well for this recipe!)
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp chili powder
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp apple cider
1 tbsp chopped green onion
1 tsp brown sugar
Ingredients for the Cider Glaze
1 1/2 cups apple cider
1 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp corn starch
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp honey mustard
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
For the Meatballs:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray two medium baking sheets.
In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the meatball ingredients and mix thoroughly with hands until well-combined.
Roll out tablespoon-sized balls and place onto the baking sheets.
Bake for 25-35 minutes, remove about 10 minutes before timer is up to pour some of the glaze on and then resume baking until cooked completely and brown all the way through.
For the Glaze:
In a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except for the corn starch and whisk well.
Over medium heat, pour mixture into a small saucepan. Add the cornstarch and bring mixture to a boil, stirring frequently, for about 5-7 minutes.
Remove from heat and pour half of mixture over meatballs and save half of mixture to pour after meatballs are done cooking.
Oatmeal is one of my go-to breakfasts. It’s easy, takes on whatever flavor you want to add to it, and you can make overnight oats and eat them cold or have the warmness of some hot oatmeal in the morning. There’s just a lot of flexibility! And I love me some flexibility with my food. Especially when you’re having a busy day. Or simply just want some oatmeal.
One thing about oatmeal that I think I would shy away from when making my own (not the store-bought flavor pack instant oatmeal) was the whole lack-of-flavor thing. Sometimes oatmeal can be very boring. And I despise boring food. Ahem. The reason for this whole blog; to make food and flavors exciting and never boring.
This time of year particularly, pears are at their sweetest. One combination that I love is pear and ginger. It’s just so yummy and underrated. Ginger really adds a different dimension to food and a little bit goes a long way. I figured pear and ginger, yes. But I was missing another element. And that’s when I thought: Raspberries! Yes, of course. The tartness from the berries really pulls this oatmeal together. It’s a delicious flavor explosion.
Ingredients: (Yields 1 serving)
1 cup almond milk
3/4 cup rolled oats (I used quaker)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp water
1/2 pear chopped
1/4 cup raspberries
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
In a small pot over high heat, bring almond milk to a boil.
Add the rolled oats, water, sugar, and salt and cook for 5-7 minutes until all milk has been absorbed.
Remove from heat and stir in ginger. Top with berries and pears and stir together.
Super easy, full of flavor, and perfect for workday mornings or even as overnight oats, which I did yesterday. To do that, just simply place all ingredients in a mason jar or container and let the oats soak overnight. I hope you enjoy! What are your favorite oatmeal combinations?
Umm. I think this is the best thing I’ve ever made. No, really. This is that good. I like chocolate mousse. I don’t love it, but I like it just the same. I think, again, I just need tons of flavor in anything I make or enjoy. So for me, I prefer a richer, darker chocolate mousse. And this peppermint mocha mousse does just the trick!
A few weeks ago, I had gotten this idea for a festive, December-y, winter-y dessert. Now, I had never tried my hand at making my own mousse before, but I figured that it’s always fun to try something new and if it doesn’t work the first time, always consult a cooking guide book or ask an expert. I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but this mousse was pretty damn good on the first try. And just in time for the holidays, amiright?!
I think you’re going to love this peppermint chocolate mousse just as much as I do!
Ingredients: (Yields 6 individual servings)
8 ounces 60% or more cacao chocolate. (I used Ghirardelli)
2 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
2 tbsp water
3 tbsp cold-brewed coffee (or just coffee leftover from the morning!)
1 tbsp coffee grinds or instant espresso
2 eggs, separated
2 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Finely chop the chocolate into 1/4 inch strips on a cutting board.
Using a double-boiler (or a medium pot with a medium frying pan), bring the bottom pot to a boil. In a separate mixing bowl, whip egg yolks with 1 tsp sugar. Place egg white in a separate bowl.
Place the chocolate, peppermint extract, water, coffee, and grinds in the frying pan and let the heat from the boiling pot melt the chocolate all while stirring to prevent clumps.
Once chocolate and ingredients are smooth, remove from heat and pour into a medium mixing bowl with whipped egg yolks and and 1 tsp sugar.
Whip egg whites until they are foamy and form peaks, about 5-7 minutes, and then fold into the chocolate mixture.
Whip the heavy cream in a separate bowl until it thickens and forms soft peaks. Fold the heavy cream into the chocolate mixture and immediately pour into small ramekin dishes or small glass cups and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
Chili is one of those “throw it all together in a pot and it’s gonna be great!” kind of hearty meals. I’ve recently developed an enjoyment and appreciation for chili. It’s so easy, flavorful, and you can take it in for lunch the next day (my favorite!).
So this chili definitely wasn’t what I had envisioned in my mind. Not even close. I originally wanted to do a hearty, meaty chili with lots of beans. This was pretty far from that idea. But I still think it was fantastic! (And if you don’t trust me, I even had an audience approval for it.)
Nevertheless, I opted for a lighter, ground turkey chili. I knew I wanted to involve butternut squash somehow, seeing as though it’s a perfect end of Autumn/early Winter vegetable. I checked my pantry, and of course: No black or kidney beans. Bummer. BUT I did find some garbanzo beans! Now, you’re probably thinking, “ummm that sounds pretty weird”. Trust me, it was a great cooking decision. I spiced everything thoroughly with chili powder, chipotle powder, paprika, cumin, and a tiny touch of cinnamon and this chili was mighty tasty. The flavors really worked well together and the sweetness of the butternut squash was very prevalent despite all the spice. Now that, my friends, is what I like to call a win-win. This was such a nice, healthy meal.
What are some of your favorite flavor combinations with chili? Any other healthy but hearty suggestions?
Ingredients: (Yields 4-6 servings/bowls)
1 lb ground turkey
1 white onion, finely diced
2-3 tsp minced garlic
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 medium yellow pepper, chopped
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas!)
20 ounces chicken broth
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cut and peel the butternut squash. I cut off about 1/2 inch from both ends and then I peeled the entire squash with a potato peeler. Then I sliced approximately 1/2 inch circles and then chopped each cube. Pro tip: You will definitely want a large chef’s knife for this job!
Season ground turkey with 1 tsp chili powder, salt and pepper.
In a medium stockpot over medium heat, add ground turkey and minced garlic and simmer until brown, about 5-7 minutes. Tip: Add some Extra Virgin Olive Oil to help the turkey from not sticking and burning.
While turkey simmers, dice onion and yellow pepper and add to the pot along with the cubed butternut squash. If your pot has a lid, cover and let the vegetables cook for about 7-10 minutes, increasing heat slightly. If uncovered, stir frequently and allow for 5 extra minutes of cooking time.
Add diced tomatoes, garbanzo beans, and remaining spices and stir.
Add the chicken broth and bring chili to a boil. Reduce heat, stir for a few minutes, then remove from heat and serve.