food

Margherita Grilled Cheese

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We had warm enough temperatures this past weekend that it no longer felt like winter. I wanted to make something for dinner that would make me feel like I needed to be warmed up from a winter chill (despite the 70 degree weather). I knew I wanted tomato soup, but decided to get adventurous with the pairing. That’s when I found this recipe for Margherita grilled cheeses – it’s like eating a pizza in a sandwich. If you like either pizza or grilled cheeses, I suggest you try this tonight. Its amazing.

Ingredients

french bread

pizza/tomato sauce

fresh basil

1-2 pinches garlic powder

2-3 slices mozzarella per sandwich

olive oil

Recipe

Cover each piece of bread with pizza sauce. Sprinkle fresh basil and a pinch of garlic powder on top. Cover with cheese, and close sandwich.

Cover both outsides of the sandwich with olive oil. Coat a grill pan with olive oil, and place over medium heat. Toast both sides of sandwich until golden brown. Enjoy with a bowl of tomato soup.

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Crumb Cake

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One of my favorite treats to have growing up was crumb cake. It was usually something we had on the weekend, when we could just take our time enjoy a slice. I’ve had a few days off for the holidays, so I woke up one morning feeling like I needed to recreate those leisurely mornings from my childhood. I found this recipe on Pinterest, and it may be even better than the boxed kind I used to eat. The touch of almond extract really adds extra flavor, and it is extra crumbly.

Ingredients

Crumb Topping:

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 1/2 ounces)

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon almond extract

Cake:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup sour cream

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

Recipe

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix dry ingredients for crumb topping together in a large bowl. Create a well in the center and set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together butter, vanilla, and almond extract for crumb topping. Pour into well of dry ingredients. Pull dry ingredients into wet with a fork, and begin to form crumbs. You want some larger and some smaller, but no larger than a 1/2 inch. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugar for cake until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and mix well. Add in vanilla extract and sour cream, scraping sides to make sure it is well combined. In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Add mixture to butter mixture, and beat on low until just combined.

Pour cake mixture into a greased 9×13 inch pan and spread evenly. Pour crumb mixture on top, and bake for 30-35 minutes.

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White Chocolate Dipped Pistachio + Apricot Cookies

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One of the easiest homemade gifts to give at the holidays is something baked from scratch. Whether it be an old family recipe, a personal favorite, or just a simple batch of cookies, putting the extra effort into a gift goes a long way to show you care. I pulled this recipe from one of my favorite books, TrEATs, by April Carter, and haven’t been able to stop eating them! They are easy to make, and a nice festive option to wrap up and give out as gifts this holiday season.

Ingredients

1 stick unsalted butter

1 c caster sugar

1 large egg

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 tsp baking powder

3 3/5 c flour

5 g dried apricots, roughly chopped

5 g pistachios, roughly chopped, plus extra for topping

7 oz white chocolate

Recipe

Preheat oven to 340 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in egg, mix well, then add vanilla, and mix until well combined.

Add in half of the flour mix and combine well, then stir in apricots and pistachios. Add second half of flour mixture, beat until just combined.

Remove dough from bowl, and knead slightly. On a floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4″ thick. Using a circle cutter, cut out cookies. Place on baking sheets, and place in freezer for about 10 minutes prior to baking.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, and let cool completely.

Meanwhile, melt white chocolate in a double boiler. Immediately dip cookies into melted chocolate, and sprinkle with pistachios. Can be stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

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Cranberry + Lemon Dutch Babies

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I have a true addiction to breakfast foods – especially the sweet ones. If I could eat pancakes, french toast, or waffles for every meal, I may just be okay with it. Today is the first day of my mini-vacation, and I started my day off by making these adorable dutch babies. I added some cranberries to make them a bit more festive (as I also decorated for Christmas this morning). They taste as good as they look – it’s a gigantic, thick and fluffy pancake, and takes much less work and time. Here’s my variation of the recipe I used (original found here).

Ingredients

2/3 c sifted flour

2/3 c whole milk

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 stick butter, sliced

Handful of fresh cranberries

Powdered sugar and lemon zest for seasoning

Recipe

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place 10″ cast iron pan in oven.

Meanwhile, whisk together flour, milk, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Remove cast iron pan from oven, and place sliced butter in it. Swirl it around to ensure the entire pan is coated. Pour in batter, sprinkle cranberries gently on top, and place immediately back in oven.

Bake for about 12 minutes, until edges are golden brown. Remove from oven, sprinkle with powdered sugar and lemon zest, and serve immediately.

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Thanksgiving #3: Eclectic Eats

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Pumpkin Creme Brûlée :: Butternut Squash Risotto with Bacon :: Roasted Stuffed Onions :: Creamy Farro Pilaf with Wild Mushrooms :: Caramel-Pecan Hand Pies :: Roasted Pears + Red Onions :: Sweet Potato Cake with Molasses Buttercream :: Roasted Pork Loin with Rosemary ::  Bacon Wrapped Green Beans 

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve put together different selections of Thanksgiving menus, and this week I’m wrapping things up with something totally different. For this menu, it’s not what you would expect. Thanksgiving is so traditionally turkey, gravy, and stuffing, but if you’re looking to break out of the mold – this menu is for you. It chooses to swap out the traditional turkey for pork loin, and serve squash with bacon and pilaf with mushrooms. It’s full of savory flavor – and is definitely something that will catch your guests off guard – in the best way.

Maple Frosted Donuts

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When I bought my donut pan months ago to make these, I promised myself donuts wouldn’t become an addiction. I swore I’d only make them every so often, on special occasions, or if I was having a bad day. To avoid the temptation, I put the pan in the very back of my cabinet. And well, it worked. It wasn’t until I was cleaning the other morning that I remembered I even had the pan. I looked up a fall inspired recipe, and found this recipe for maple frosted donuts.

Here’s the thing – these donuts are amazing highly addictive. I can’t stop eating them. If you don’t want to become a full-fledged donut addict, I highly suggest not making these. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Ingredients

MAPLE GLAZE

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter

  • 1/2 cup  pure maple syrup

  • 1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon maple extract (optional)

SPICE DONUTS

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1 large egg

  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar

  • 1/4 cup milk

  • 1/4 cup yogurt

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Recipe

Make the glaze first. Melt butter and maple syrup together in a saucepan over low heat. Once melted, remove from heat and sift in confectioner’s sugar. Whisk until well combined. If you desire a stronger maple flavor, add maple extract.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, brown sugar, milk and yogurt until well combined. Add in milk and yogurt, and mix completely. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, and combined until just mixed. Batter will be thick, do not over mix.

Pour batter into a piping bag (or ziplock bag with the corner cut out) and fill donut molds 2/3 of the way full. Slam against counter a few times to get it evenly spread, and then make for 9-10 minutes.

Remove from oven and let sit for a few moments before transferring them to the cooling rack. Allow to completely cool before dipping them into the maple glaze. Donuts stay fresh for two days, or freeze for up to two months.

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Thanksgiving #2: Healthy Edition

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Maple Glazed Carrots :: Roasted Turkey Breast with Maple Bourbon Glaze :: Apple Cranberry + Walnut Salad :: Celery Root + Cauliflower Puree :: Baked Pears with Walnuts + Honey :: Root Vegetable Medley ::  Sweet Potato Pie :: Creamed Kale

On the day of the year that is all about indulging, it seems sort of contradictory to plan a healthy meal. However, this week’s Thanksgiving menu proves it can be done. There are ways to enjoy all of your classic favorites (plus a couple new dishes) without going over the top and being totally unhealthy.

This week’s menu has savory carrots and a coordinating maple bourbon turkey, and sides ranging from a colorful, yet healthy vegetable medley, and creamed kale – because whats Thanksgiving without a little bit of cheese? To finish off the meal (because everything Thanksgiving needs dessert), there’s a sweet potato pie and baked pears with walnuts and honey. While this meal isn’t exactly healthy on a normal day, it certainly can pass as an attempt to eat healthier this Thanksgiving.