‘Tis the Season to be Baking!

Looking for some last minute cookie recipes?  Here are my 4 favorites to make during the holiday season.  Just click on the highlighted names to be directed to the recipes.

My White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies with Sea Salt are hands down my most requested cookie recipe.

Two I love to make this time of year are my Soft and Chewy Gingersnap Cookies and The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies.

And no Christmas is complete for me without sharing my favorite cookie from childhood, My Auntie Kate’s Cream Cheese Cherry Cookies.

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Talking “Leftovers” on THE TALK…

Watch “THE TALK” Monday on CBS!!!

This is gonna be fun!  I’ll be cooking on THE TALK this MONDAY on CBS sharing some great recipes for Thanksgiving!  Oh, and ladies… Matthew McConaughey will be there too!

 

 

 

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National Chocolate Day!!!

This recipe comes from Bon Appétit Magazine with a warning attached- “YOU WILL EAT THE ENTIRE TRAY.”  They weren’t kidding- it was next to impossible for me to snap these photos without eating all of my props!

I love the browned butter in this recipe.  It adds a rich nutty flavor to this super fudgy brownie.  And the recipe couldn’t be simpler- all the ingredients are mixed together in one pot!

P.S.  I also made a batch with no nuts (see picture below) and they were equally as dangerous!

Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts

Adapted (very little) from Bon Appétit Magazine

Servings: about 16

Ingredients:

Nonstick oil spray

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1- inch cubes

1 1/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon (generous) salt

2 large eggs, chilled

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour

1 cup walnut pieces, toasted (optional)

Directions:

Position rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line an 8x8x2-inch baking pan with foil, pressing foil firmly against pan sides, leaving a 2-inch overhang.  Coat foil with nonstick spray.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.

Continue cooking until butter stops foaming and browned bits form at bottom of pan, stirring often- about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately add the sugar, cocoa, water, vanilla and salt.  Stir to blend.

Let cool for 5 minutes (mixture will still be hot.)

Add eggs to hot mixture one at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition.

When mixture looks thick and shiny, add flour and stir until blended.  Beat vigorously for 60 strokes.

Stir in the nuts and transfer batter to the prepared pan.

Bake brownies until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs attached), about 25 minutes.

Cool completely in pan on a rack.  Using foil overhang, lift brownies from pan.  Cut brownies into squares.

Brownies can be stored airtight at room temperature for up to 2 days or you can freeze them for up to 1 month in a freezer safe container or freezer safe ziplock bag.

*How to toast nuts:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread nuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake for 5-10 minutes.  Halfway through toasting, give nuts a little toss for even cooking.  Watch them like a hawk for the last few minutes of toasting so that they don’t burn.  Nuts are done when they smell toasty and have a deeper more concentrated flavor.  Cool completely before using in recipe.

Here’s a batch I made without nuts.  Ridiculously fudgy and good!  These were gobbled up faster than the first tray.  (I had help in eating these- I swear!)

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Harissa Roasted Chicken with Spinach and Peas

chicken-harissa

Harissa is one of my favorite exotic ingredients to use.  Available at most supermarkets in the form of a spicy paste or hot sauce, harissa is very popular in North African and Middle Eastern cookery.  It’s often served with couscous and pairs beautifully with beef, chicken and lamb dishes, roasted potatoes and vegetables.  Personally, I LOVE to add a dollop to my scrambled eggs!

Harissa Roasted Chicken with Spinach and Peas

Serves 2

This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled.  Just be sure to use a bigger sauté pan.  You can serve it over rice or couscous but it’s also terrific just on its own.  Not a fan of peas or spinach?  Omit them- or add something else like kale, broccoli, corn or asparagus.

Ingredients:

4 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs

salt and pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1/4 cup harissa paste or sauce

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup fresh or frozen peas

2 heaping cups of fresh spinach (or 1 cup frozen)

1/2 cup chicken broth

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Dry chicken thighs with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper.

In a cast iron skillet or medium to large saute pan, heat pan over medium- high heat.   When hot, add olive oil.  Place chicken thighs skin side down and cook for 5 minutes until skin is nice and golden.  Turn over and cook for 2 minutes.  Remove thighs from pan and transfer to a plate.

With pan drippings still in pan, on medium heat, add onions and garlic and cook for about 3 minutes until softened.  Stir in harissa and tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.

Add peas, spinach and chicken broth and simmer until spinach is wilted- about 3 minutes.

Remove pan from heat and place chicken thighs back in the pan skin side up.  Turn thighs once or twice so that each piece is covered in the sauce.

Place pan in oven, uncovered, and cook for about 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked all the way through.

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1-2-3… Peanut Butter Cookies

peanut-butter-cookies

Here’s a great recipe when you’re craving a quick treat.  Only THREE ingredient cookies and perfect for my gluten-free readers!  For a healthier version, I like to use natural peanut butter and sub the sugar with honey- but do keep in mind, this will make your dough a bit stickier.  You can refrigerate the dough for about 30 minutes to help with that.

3-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

Makes about a dozen cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy depending on your taste)

1/2 cup honey (you can also use 1/2 cup white sugar)

1 large egg

Ok… I cheat a bit and add a 4th ingredient! A tiny pinch of sea-salt on each cookie before baking. Not a must, but I do think it takes this easy-bake cookie to the next level!

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large bowl, combine first three ingredients and mix with a large spoon until well combined.

Scoop about a tablespoon of dough per cookie, and roll into a ball.   You may find the dough is too soft (especially if you are using natural peanut butter) -if so, chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to stiffen up before rolling into balls.

Gently press down on each cookie with a fork in a criss-cross pattern.  Dip fork in water in between presses if dough gets sticky.  Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt if you are using the magical fourth ingredient!

Bake for 10-15 minutes.  Cookies will still be soft on the inside.

*Cookies can be frozen in a freezer-safe container for at least 1 month.

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Turkey Bolognese with Roasted Eggplant

Now that the weather is getting cooler I’m craving some warm comfort food.  This hearty sauce, full of protein and veggies, hits the spot!  Use whole wheat pasta for a healthier version and feel free to substitute the turkey with ground beef, chicken or bison.

turkey-bolognese-eggplant

Turkey Bolognese with Roasted Eggplant

Serves 4

Ingredients:

olive oil

1 large eggplant

2 medium size onions, diced small

2 celery stalks, diced small

1 carrot, shredded

4-5 garlic cloves, sliced thin

1 six-ounce can tomato paste

1 pound ground turkey (preferably dark meat)

salt and pepper

2 28-ounce cans of tomatoes and their juices

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 bay leave

2 thyme sprigs

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

3/4 cup basil leaves, chopped (plus some whole leaves to garnish with)

1 pound pasta of your choice

Grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut off stem and ends of eggplants and then cut the eggplant lengthwise into approximately 1/2-inch thick slices.  Then cut into 1/2-inch bites.  Place in a large roasting pan single file.

Salt eggplant and drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Roast for 20-30 minutes until soft all over and browned in some spots.

While eggplant is roasting, heat up a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the onions, celery, carrot, and garlic until softened- about 8-10 minutes.

Stir in tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.

Increase heat to medium-high and add the ground turkey, stirring to mix and break up the meat, and cook until starting to brown and no longer pink.  Season mixture with salt and pepper.

Add canned tomatoes and their liquid, red pepper flakes, bay leaf, thyme sprigs and balsamic vinegar.  Break up tomatoes with spoon, bring sauce to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes partially covering the saucepan with cover.

Gently stir in chopped basil and eggplant and simmer while cooking your pasta.

Prepare pasta according to package directions.

Toss sauce with pasta, divide into bowls and garnish with a couple of fresh basil leaves.

Serve pasta with parmesan cheese and fresh black pepper.

bolognese

 

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Fish Sticks with Tarter Sauce

fish-sticks

Not your elementary-school-cafeteria fish sticks (although I can’t be the only one who thought those were delicious, right?) this dish combines the best of children’s comfort food along with culinary sophistication.  I like to pair it with some roasted broccoli or corn, maybe a butter leaf salad and a Rosé or Sancerre white wine.

Fish Sticks with Tarter Sauce

Makes 4 servings

Tarter Sauce Ingredients:

3/4 cups mayonnaise

3 tablespoons pickle relish or finely chopped up pickles (sweet or dill both work great)

3 tablespoons drained capers

3 tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Tarter Sauce Directions:

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, cover and chill until ready to use.

Fish Stick Ingredients:

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

1 1/2 pounds firm-flesh whitefish like halibut or cod, about 3/4 inch thickness cut into 3 by 3/4  inch strips

salt and pepper

1/4 cup olive oil, divided (2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons)

Fish Stick Directions:

Whisk eggs in a medium bowl with a fork and set aside.

Spread out panko breadcrumbs on a plate.

Season fish with a small amount of salt and pepper.

Working in 2 batches, coat fish slices in egg followed by panko breadcrumbs.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add half of the fish sticks and cook, turning often, until crust is a nice golden brown color on all sides and fish is opaque in the center- about 3-5 minutes total frying time.

Transfer fish sticks to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm while you repeat these steps to make the second batch.  If needed, return the first batch to the pan when ready to serve to warm them up.

Serve fish sticks immediately with tarter sauce.

 

 

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