Sunday, April 13, 2014

Avocado Feta Dip


This avocado feta dip belongs in your life. I actually feel badly that I haven't shared this with you sooner. I discovered this recipe a few months ago and have made it several times since. Yet somehow, until this last time I made it, I hadn't taken any pictures of it! So I finally made sure to snap a few quick pics so I could write a blog post about it.

If you love avocados like we do, or you're a fan of guacamole, then you really need to give this dip a try. It's a nice change-up from a traditional guacamole, yet it's similar enough that if you eat it, you feel like you're getting your guac fix. ;)

This super simple recipe comes from Two Peas and Their Pod. You can find the original recipe here. The ingredients below are the ones I use when I make this. I don't add the jalapeno or cilantro that are called for in the original recipe because they're not my favorite ingredients... BUT, if you like them, definitely add them!

Ingredients:

-2 avocados, peeled and pit removed
-1/2 cup feta cheese
-1/4 cup diced onion
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-juice of 1 lime (or 1/2 lime, depending on your taste preferences)
-salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:

In the bowl of a food processor, place the avocados, feta, onion, garlic, and lime (I'd recommend starting with juice of 1/2 lime first, then add more as you go, depending on how "lime-y" you want it to be). Blend until creamy and smooth, adding more lime if you wish. Add salt and pepper to taste; blend a little bit more. Serve with pita chips, tortilla chips, crackers, veggies, etc. Enjoy! Makes about 1 and 1/2 to 2 cups of dip.


At our house, we loooove this dip. I've brought this to friends' houses too a few times now, and they've all loved it as well. And, it's not only great as a dip with chips or veggies, but it's also great as a sandwich spread, Or, sometimes I even just simply spread some on toast for a snack! Delicious. 



 Have a great start to your week, everyone!!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Sweet Potato Bacon Hash with Fried Eggs


 Hello! I have another easy dinner (or breakfast!) recipe for you today. I just realized I haven't shared many dessert recipes with you yet in 2014. Sorry about that! Hope you don't mind. Hopefully I'll have more dessert recipes for you this spring. :)

Mike and I enjoyed this sweet potato bacon hash with fried eggs as an easy weeknight meal. However, you could certainly enjoy this for breakfast or brunch too. Eggs work for any meal, in my opinion! This recipe is incredibly simple and comes together pretty quickly (about 30 minutes, start to finish). This recipe from Lauren's Latest was the inspiration for this dish. The only thing I really did differently was add in some mushrooms and grape tomatoes to increase our vegetable intake! :) I did not, however, add the jalapeno that the recipe calls for. The recipe serves two, but you could easily increase the quantities of the different ingredients to serve more people. It's a pretty straightforward dish! And of course, you could make this meatless by omitting the bacon.

Ingredients:

-2 slices bacon
-1 Tbsp. olive oil
-1 small or medium yellow onion, diced
 -1 medium sweet potato (peeled if desired), diced into 1/4 to 1/2-inch pieces
-other vegetables (e.g., tomatoes, mushrooms), if desired
-salt and pepper to taste
-1/2 Tbsp. butter
-2 eggs

Instructions:

Cook bacon until crispy and transfer to plate lined with a paper towel to remove excess grease. In medium pan over medium heat, drizzle olive oil, and saute onion and sweet potatoes until the potatoes are fork tender and are browned, about 10 to 12 minutes. If adding vegetables that won't take as long to cook, such as tomatoes and mushrooms, add them later on during the cooking (maybe with about 5 minutes left; use your best judgment). Season veggie mixture with salt and pepper to taste (and other herbs, if desired).

In a medium nonstick skillet, melt butter. Fry eggs until yolks are done to your liking. Divide sweet potato hash between two dishes, top with fried eggs, and crumble bacon over top. Feel free to add some shredded cheese on top too! Enjoy. :)


This really is such an easy meal. And it tasted so good! We both loved it. The sweetness of the potatoes paired nicely with the salty bacon and egg. Mmmmm. 
 

I think this dish might make it into our dinner rotation again soon. It's too good not to have again!


Do you make eggs for dinner sometimes? If so, I'd love to hear your favorite egg for dinner recipes! I'm always looking for new ways to enjoy eggs. :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Spinach and Avocado Greens Pasta with Roasted Grape Tomatoes


I am obsessed with this recipe. It's by far my new favorite dinner. I've made it twice in the past few weeks, and I've had to restrain myself from making it more often...for variety's sake. But I can easily say that I'd be happy to eat this at least once a week, if not more! It's that good.

A couple things in particular that I love about this dish are how healthy it is and how filling it is! And, in the grand scheme of dinner recipes, it's fairly easy too. There are several steps to make this meal, but they're all easy; I promise. Also, the dish is meatless, which is another added bonus (for me personally - I don't always love cooking meat!). And also because it's meatless, it's perfect for the Lenten season if you are someone who happens to be observing the practice of not eating meat on Fridays.

The recipe is from Annie's Eats. I only adapted the original recipe slightly. I did not add the greek yogurt to the green "sauce," although I'm sure it would be yummy. The first time I made the dish, I tasted the sauce before adding the yogurt and liked it as is, so I decided to omit the yogurt. But definitely add it if you'd like! And also, both times I've made this I've used feta cheese in lieu of parmesan cheese. Below are the ingredients I used both times I made the dish.

Ingredients:

For the tomatoes:
-1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes (halved or whole - your call)
-1 to 2 Tbsp. olive oil
-salt and pepper to taste

For the pasta:
-12 to 16 oz. whole wheat pasta (I recommend linguine)
-2 Tbsp. olive oil
-1 medium yellow onion, chopped
-3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
-1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (add more if you want a bigger spice kick)
-approx. 5 to 6 cups of loosely packed baby spinach leaves
-1 and 1/2 to 2 avocados, split and pitted
-6 Tbsp. fresh basil leaves, packed
-1/2 cup feta cheese

Instructions:

To roast the tomatoes, preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, combine tomatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper, tossing well to coat tomatoes. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, tossing once halfway through. Remove from oven and let cool.

In a large pot, bring water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, and then drain pasta. While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil over medium heat in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook 1 minute more. Add spinach to pan, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low (it's okay to add spinach in batches if it doesn't all fit at once). Stir occasionally until all the spinach has fully wilted.

In a food processor or blender, combine the spinach mixture with the avocado, basil, and feta. Adding a splash of reserved pasta water at a time, processing mixture until smooth, adding more water as needed along the way. You will likely end up needing 1/4 to 3/4 cup of water total, depending on your other ingredients and your preferred sauce thickness. Toss the sauce with noodles, and if necessary, return to stovetop to reheat the mixture over low heat. Top with roasted tomatoes and more cheese (feta, parmesan, or any other kind!), if desired. Enjoy! Makes 5 to 6 servings.





Did I mention that I love this recipe? I love this recipe. :) The second time I made this, I roasted red peppers with the tomatoes, and they were a great addition. Roast any other veggies you think might be yummy with this! Also, another great thing about this recipe? It tastes awesome as leftovers. The flavors really come together nicely on the second or third day... So it's a great recipe to make for dinner one night and then enjoy for lunch the next day!

I highly, highly recommend you give this recipe a try. It might even be fun around Christmas time with its green and red colors. :) Or, it might be a fun dinner (without the tomatoes ;)) for St. Patty's! If you have kids and are looking for new ways to incorporate veggies into their dinners, this would be a great recipe to try!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Herbed Parmesan Buttermilk Biscuits


Homemade biscuits are one of my favorite goodies to bake. When I was young, whenever we were having biscuits with our dinner, my mom enlisted my help to make them. Lucky me! Back then I got my start baking biscuits with Bisquick, so making biscuits then involved fewer steps than making them from scratch, but still, my love of baking biscuits began many years ago and hasn't faded since!

I posted a delicious recipe for garlic cheddar beer biscuits a few weeks ago, and this recipe isn't too different. It simply uses buttermilk instead of beer and parmesan instead of cheddar! Otherwise, the recipes are fairly similar.

These herbed parmesan buttermilk biscuits are everything I love in a biscuit. Fluffy, flaky, and flavorful - the three fundamental f's of biscuits, apparently. :)

The recipe is adapted from these parmesan chive buttermilk biscuits from Good Life Eats. I halved the recipe, and the half proportions are below. This makes about 8 to 10 biscuits. If you are feeding a crowd, feel free to double (or triple!) the recipe.

Ingredients:

-2 cups all-purpose flour
-2 tsp. baking powder
-1/2 tsp. baking soda
-1/4 tsp. salt
-1 tsp. sugar
-1 stick (8 Tbsp.) very cold butter
-3/4 cup cold buttermilk
-1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
-2 tsp. dried herbs de provence

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Using two knives, a pastry blender, or a cheese grater, cut the butter into small bits and work it into the dry ingredients. Stir in the parmesan and herbs. Form a well in the center, and add the buttermilk, stirring until moistened. On a well-floured surface, knead the dough until it comes together well and you can easily form it into a disc (it should not be sticky). Roll the dough (you can use your hands for this) to 1/2 to 3/4-inch thickness. Using a biscuit cutter or the top of a round drinking glass, cut the dough onto biscuits. Combine the dough scraps and form more biscuits, continuing until all the dough is used. Place biscuits on prepared baking sheets, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, checking after 10 minutes. The tops should be a light-medium golden brown. Enjoy!


If you'd like, you could use half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose. Also, you're welcome to use your favorite type of cheese instead of parmesan, and the types of herbs can easily be changed up as well.


One night we enjoyed these biscuits with some beef stew I'd made in the crock pot. They go perfectly with soup or stew! And then we saved a few for the weekend to eat with our eggs. These biscuits are perfect for breakfast too. Oh my goodness. So good. The biscuits I made with the omelettes Mike made were the perfect pairing! We toasted the biscuits too - I highly recommend that!


My husband makes the BEST omelettes. As I'm writing this post, I'm getting hungry for one! And of course, I'm getting hungry for more biscuits too. I might have to make some more pretty soon. ;)



Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Mocha Chip Cinnamon Rolls


Remember a couple weeks ago when I shared with you an amazing coffee cake recipe? And I suggested that you add it to your next brunch menu? Well, I have another brunch requirement suggestion for you. Mocha chip cinnamon rolls. Holy cow are these babies delicious.

The original recipe is from Inside BruCrew Life. And an excellent recipe it is! What I love about this recipe is that it's a no-yeast, no-rise recipe. You can have these cinnamon buns on your brunch table in less than an hour!

There are some great step-by-step photos on Inside BruCrew Life's post about this recipe, so definitely check them out! Also, there is a coffee glaze that you can put on top of the cinnamon rolls should you so desire. I didn't make the glaze, and we found the rolls to be wonderfully flavorful as is and sweet, but not too sweet. If you're a glaze person though, by all means, go for it!

Ingredients:

For the filling:

-3/4 cup brown sugar
-1/4 cup granulated sugar
-2 tsp. cinnamon
-1/4 tsp. nutmeg
-1 Tbsp. butter, melted
-1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

For the dough:

-2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-2 Tbsp. sugar
-1 and 1/2 tsp. baking powder
-1/2 tsp. baking soda
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1 and 1/4 cups buttermilk
-2 Tbsp. instant coffee
-5 Tbsp. butter, divided
 
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Combine all filling ingredients in small bowl, and mix until it resembles coarse sand; set aside. Stir together the buttermilk and instant coffee; set aside.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the coffee buttermilk and two tablespoons of melted butter; mix until combined. Transfer the dough onto a well-floured surface. Knead about 10 times to get some of the extra flour incorporated into the dough. It might be sticky at first. Once the dough is easy to work with, press it (as best you can) into a rectangle about 16 by 10 inches. Spread the dough with two tablespoons of melted butter, and sprinkle evenly with the filling. Try to keep the filling away from the edge of the dough by an inch. Gently roll the dough (from one of the long sides) until it's in a log shape. Press the ends together and fold into the log. Cut into 9 even rolls.

Cover the bottom of an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 pan with one tablespoon of butter. Place rolls in the pan. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes.


Other than being very excited to share another great recipe with you, the other main reason I wanted to share this recipe is that I have a snowman mug in these pictures!!! I made these cinnamon rolls about a month ago, when at the time, we were smack dab in the middle of winter. And now spring is just a week away! Of course, just because spring is a week away on the calendar, it doesn't mean it's actually starting to feel like spring... 20 degrees and snow in Boston today!


 Although we may not be sure if winter will stick around for a while longer or if spring is coming soon, one thing we can be sure of is that these cinnamon rolls need to make an appearance in your life. ;)


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Special Valentine's Day Dinner: Chicken Cordon Bleu with Prosciutto and Gruyere


 I love my husband. Obviously. :) But one of the many reasons I love him is that he can cook! Mike is an excellent cook, and we are fortunate to love both cooking together and for each other! For Valentine's Day last month, Mike asked if he could cook dinner for me. And I think you can guess what my answer was...

He chose to make a "fancified" chicken cordon bleu recipe that was out of this world. Instead of the traditional ham and swiss, this recipe used prosciutto and gruyere. It is a recipe that contains many steps, and I'm so thankful that Mike was willing to put the time and effort into making such a special meal for me. The delicious meal and Mike's thoughtfulness made our 2014 Valentine's most memorable. ♥

Mike printed this recipe and couldn't remember where it came from. So I'm just repeating the recipe from his print out. :)

Ingredients:

For chicken:
-4 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
-4 thin slices prosciutto di Parma
-1/2 lb. gruyere, grated
-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
-salt and pepper
-1 cup panko bread crumbs
-4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
-1 clove garlic, minced
-2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
-2 eggs
-extra virgin olive oil

For sauce:
-3/4 cup white wine
-1 and 1/4 tsp. chicken broth
-1 and 1/4 cup heavy cream
-1 Tbsp. cornstarch
-dash of paprika

Instructions:

 Lay the chicken, one breast at a time, between two pieces of plastic wrap. Using the flat side of a meat mallet, gently pound the chicken to 1/4-inch thickness. Remove the top sheet of plastic and lay one slice of prosciutto neatly over the top to cover the breast and sprinkle a quarter of the cheese over the prosciutto. Tuck in the sides of the breast and roll up tight like a jellyroll inside the plastic wrap. Squeeze the log gently to seal and twist both ends tight to form a nice log. Repeat with remaining chicken.

Season the flour with salt and pepper. Mix the bread crumbs with thyme, garlic, salt, pepper, and melted butter. The butter will help the crust brown. Beat together the eggs and season them slightly with salt and pepper as well.

Lightly coat a baking pan with olive oil or cooking spray. Remove the plastic wrap from the chicken. Lightly dust the chicken with flour, dip in the egg mixture, and gently coat in the bread crumbs. Carefully transfer the chicken to the pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until browned and cooked through.

For the sauce, in a small saucepan, over medium heat, warm the wine and chicken broth. Whisk to combine. In a small cup, whisk the cornstarch into the cream until smooth. Pour the cream into the saucepan very slowly, whisking until combined. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring the mixture until it thickens. Add a dash of paprika. Pour the cream sauce over the chicken when ready to serve.

Enjoy!


This meal would be a great option if you're trying to impress a date ;) or say a special thanks to a friend or family member for all that they do.


The flavors of this dish were awesome. The gruyere cheese and prosciutto were amazing together. And the breading couldn't have been more perfect! It was a decadent meal and oh-so-worth the calories. Is it possible to fall in love with your husband even more when he cooks a dish like this? :)




Hope everyone's having a good week and month of March thus far!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Topped Coffee Cake with Vanilla Glaze


I love brunch. Egg dishes of all kinds, fruits, bacon, sausage, muffins, bagels, bread...you name it - I love it. But brunch wouldn't be brunch without coffee cake, right?

Right.

So, today I'm sharing with you my new favorite version of coffee cake: brown sugar cinnamon topped coffee cake with vanilla glaze.

Oh boy.

I made this coffee cake this past weekend for brunch with friends. Thankfully, it was a hit! 

The cake and glaze recipes are both from Averie Cooks. The original glaze recipe that goes with the brown sugar cinnamon coffee cake was a cream cheese glaze...but I decided to use Averie's buttery vanilla glaze instead. She uses that for her blueberry and jam buttermilk coffee cake (another recipe I'd love to try sometime!).

Ingredients:

For the brown sugar topping:

-1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
-1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
-3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
-1 tsp. cinnamon

For the cake:

-1 cup all-purpose flour
-3/4 cup granulated sugar
-2 tsp. baking powder
-1 Tbsp. cinnamon (not a typo - yes, 1 TABLEspoon :))
-1 tsp. ground nutmeg
-pinch of salt
-1 large egg
-1/2 cup buttermilk*
-1/3 cup Greek yogurt
-3 Tbsp. canola or vegetable oil
-2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the glaze:

-1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
-1 cup confectioners' sugar (sifted)
-3/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8x8 or 9x9 pan with cooking spray and set aside. For the brown sugar topping, combine all four ingredients in a small bowl, mixing with a fork until crumbly (some lumps will remain and that's okay).

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, yogurt, oil, and vanilla. Add the wet mixture to the dry, stirring with a spoon or spatula until just combined; do not overmix. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar topping evenly over top of the cake batter. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove cake and place on cooling rack, cooling for at least 30 minutes before glazing.

For the glaze, melt the butter. To start, add about 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar and the vanilla, and whisk to combine. Continue to add the remaining sugar and whisk until desired consistency is reached. If too thick, thin out by adding milk or cream, one half teaspoon at a time. Drizzle glaze over cake just before serving. If not serving entire cake immediately, only drizzle the glaze over the portion you are serving, and wait to drizzle the rest until closer to the time it will be eaten. If have any cake leftover with the glaze on it, store in the fridge. Makes 9 servings.

*For the buttermilk, if you don't have regular buttermilk, you can make your own with a few different methods:
Use buttermilk powder; add the powder with the dry ingredients and the water with the wet ingredients.

So if you don't have actual buttermilk on hand, have no fear! You have a few other alternatives.

Several months ago, I bought King Arthur Flour's dried buttermilk powder, and I love it. It has completely solved my problem that occurs when I buy a quart of buttermilk when really all I need is a cup...and then if I don't have time to bake something else, the buttermilk goes to waste. :(  Anyone else had that problem?! Powdered buttermilk is definitely a great solution! If you bake a lot, I highly recommend it.


Back to this cake though...  It's full of flavor, moist, sweet but not too sweet, and so, so easy to make.


This cake would make an excellent addition to any brunch table. Or, it would be a wonderful, simple breakfast on a lazy weekend morning. Served with a hot cup of coffee, I'd call this coffee cake "perfection." :)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sweet Potato Carrot Quinoa Soup

 
I've made this soup four times now. Finally, I am blogging about it and sharing it with you all. 'Bout time, I'd say! This soup is a real winner. It's easy, healthy, and filling...and oh-so-perfect for this brutal cold, snowy winter we're having!

The recipe is from Cookin' Canuck, a delightful blog with beautiful photography. If you want to see really lovely photos of this soup, check out her blog post about it!

Since I've made this a few times now, I've adapted the recipe slightly. The ingredients below are what I typically use when I make it. If you decide to make this, be sure to read the recipe through all the way first. You'll want to keep in mind that the recipe calls for a cup of cooked quinoa. So, you could cook the quinoa as the sweet potatoes are roasting, or if you have leftover quinoa from another meal, keep it and use it for this soup!

Ingredients:

-3 medium sweet potatoes
-1/2 large onion (or 1 medium), diced
-3 or 4 large carrots, diced
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-32 oz. chicken or vegetable stock (low sodium)
-1 cup water
-salt and pepper, to taste
-3/4 tsp. dried herbs de provence
-1 to 1 and 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
-shredded or grated cheese (your choice) to garnish, if desired
-pumpkin seeds to garnish, if desired

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash sweet potatoes and peel if desired (I do not peel them because I like the skin). Dice into 1/2 to 3/4 inch cubes. Do the same with the carrots (although I do peel my carrots). Place both sweet potatoes and carrots on large baking sheet and drizzle with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes.

With about 5 to 10 minutes remaining in the roast time for the sweet potatoes, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in large pot over medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic until tender. Add the potatoes and carrots to the pot, and slowly pour in chicken broth, water, and herbs de provence. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to simmer the mixture for 15 to 20 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender. If using a hand blender, blend soup right in the pot until vegetables are pureed. If using a regular blender, add soup to the blender but let it cool for 10 or 15 minutes before blending to puree it. If you find the soup to be too thick for your liking, add a little bit of water at a time and continue to blend. Return soup to pot over low heat and stir in cooked quinoa. Taste, and add salt and pepper, if desired.

When ready to serve, ladle soup into bowls and top with shredded (or grated) cheese and/or pumpkin seeds, if desired. Serve with your favorite crackers, bread, or just have the soup by itself! Makes 4 to 6 servings.



If you have time, I bet it would be yummy to toast your pumpkin seeds a bit too! We like to top our soup with both cheese and pumpkin seeds. :)


Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Spinach, Broccoli, Mushroom, and Ricotta Calzones



I have another delicious dinner recipe for you! The last one I shared was my crock pot sweet potato beef chili (in case you missed it, you should probably check it out ;)), and now I have a calzone recipe for you. 

We made these calzones last week on a night when our weekly meal plan said "pizza or calzones." Well, we haven't made calzones in quite some time, so they won out! And I'm glad they did.

The recipe I semi-followed is from Two Peas and Their Pod for kale, mushroom, and ricotta calzones. I ended up adding a couple more veggies to the mix when I made these, but in general, I followed their technique for the most part. It's definitely a versatile recipe. Add whatever vegetables (and perhaps meat?) that you and your family like! The ingredients below are roughly what we added when we made our calzones.

Ingredients:

-1 pound fresh pizza dough (homemade or store bought)
-1 Tbsp. olive oil, plus additional for brushing
-1/2 yellow onion, diced
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-2 cups fresh baby spinach
-8 oz. sliced white mushrooms
-1/2 large red pepper, diced
-1 small head broccoli, florets cut in halves
-1 cup ricotta cheese
-1 cup shredded three-cheese blend (asiago, fontina, parmesan)*
-1/4 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
-1/2 tsp. dried herbs de provence
-1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
-small pinch crushed red pepper flakes
-all-purpose flour for rolling pizza dough
-marinara/tomato sauce or diced tomatoes, for dipping

Instructions:

Make sure pizza dough is already at room temperature. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. For the calzone filling, saute olive oil and diced onion over medium heat on stove, 3 to 4 minutes. Add minced garlic. Add the mushrooms, red pepper, and broccoli, sauteing for 5 to 7 more minutes. Add the spinach and cover pan; cook for 2 more minutes or until spinach is wilted. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, shredded cheese, and pecorino romano. Stir in the vegetable mixture, and then add all the spices.

Divide the dough into four equal portions and shape each portion into a ball. On your workspace, sprinkle flour. Roll each ball of dough out into a circle or oval, about 7 inches in diameter (just do the best you can with this!). Lightly brush the edges of each circle with water. Place desired amount (about 1/2 to 2/3 cup) of cheese/vegetable mixture on half of each circle, leaving an inch around the border. Gently fold the dough over so the edges meet, and press down around the edges with your fingers or a fork. Pierce the top of each calzone with a fork, and brush the top of each with a little extra olive oil. Repeat until the filling is used up.

Bake calzones for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving with warmed marinara/tomato sauce or diced tomatoes for dipping.


For dough, we used Whole Foods' whole wheat dough, which we love. We also love their multigrain dough, but they were all out when I went to buy it. Use whichever dough is your favorite - store bought or homemade! And you can certainly use your own favorite types of cheeses as well. The original recipe calls for shredded mozzarella, but we used a three-cheese blend that we buy at Whole Foods all the time. I do think that the ricotta is a necessary type to add to the calzones though. It made the calzones feel much more authentic to me for some reason...

Also, I did not do the best job ever of shaping the pizza dough to be as thin as I would have liked. As you can see in the pictures, the edges of the dough were a bit thick in spots. As I said above though, just do the best you can with your dough. These calzones will taste excellent, no matter the thickness of your dough! Pizza dough is pretty great in any size, shape, or form, in my opinion!

Adding some marinara sauce for dipping the calzones is a great idea. The reason I used diced tomatoes for dipping is simply because we had some leftover from a different dish we'd made earlier in the week. We definitely liked the addition of some tomato "sauce" for dipping and would highly recommend it. Although, as you can see from the photos, we didn't really dip...we put the tomatoes on top of our calzones... You get the idea though. Tomato "sauce" + calzones = a good thing. :)


Such an easy weeknight meal! We served these with side salads and were completely satisfied. I can't wait to make them again!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Soft and Chewy Brown Sugar Cinnamon Cookies




When I was a kid, I used to loooove brown sugar cinnamon pop tarts. I mean, LOVE. Although my pop tart eating days are long gone (I can't even remember the last time I ate one), I still adore the flavors of brown sugar and cinnamon together, especially when they're in a homemade baked goodie. :)

This recipe for brown sugar cinnamon cookies is from Sally's Baking Addiction. I've made several of her recipes before, as you may know, and they are always wonderful!

Ingredients:

-2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 tsp. baking soda
-1 and 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
-1 tsp. ground cinnamon
-1/4 tsp. salt
-3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
-1 and 1/4 cups dark brown sugar (light brown is okay)
-1 large egg, room temperature
-2 tsp. vanilla extract
-1/3 cup granulated sugar (for rolling)
-3/4 to 1 cup cinnamon baking chips (optional)

Instructions:

Melt the butter and set aside to cool slightly. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the melted butter and brown sugar until no brown sugar lumps remain. Whisk in the egg, followed by the vanilla extract. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and mix together with a spatula or large spoon. If using, mix in the cinnamon chips. The dough will be soft and thick. Cover the dough and chill for 2 hours or overnight (or up to 3 days). You must chill the dough; do not skip this!

Take the dough out of the fridge and allow it to sit at room temperature for 10 or 15 minutes if you've had it chilling for 2 hours or more. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Pour granulated sugar into a shallow bowl. Take 2 tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball, and then roll in the sugar until coated. Place on cookie sheet. Continue until all the dough is used. Bake cookies for 8 to 9 minutes; remove from oven and press down very slightly with the back of a spoon or your fingers (this will help create a crinkle on top of your cookie). Place back into the oven for 1 to 2 more minutes. The cookies might look slightly underdone, but that's okay. Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheets for 10 minutes before placing on cooling racks to cool completely. Store in airtight container. Cookies will keep for 7 days. Makes about 20 to 24 cookies.


These cookies are SO soft and chewy! Oh my goodness. And they practically melt in your mouth too. I think we finished these within 4 days, and by the fourth day, they were still super soft! 

A few notes for you if you make these...  The 3/4 to 1 cup of cinnamon chips is the amount I'd recommend for the entire batch of dough (Sally's original recipe did not call for the chips). I, however, made half of my cookie dough without the cinnamon chips and half with them, so I used closer to 1/2 or 2/3 cup, probably. Also, the original recipe only calls for 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon, but Sally recommends upping the amount to 1 tsp. if you like cinnamon. And since I love cinnamon, I added a whole teaspoon. Obvi. ;)

Finally, my cookies turned out to look quite a bit flatter than Sally's, and I can't figure out why that might be! I chilled the dough for a day and a half before baking it, so I don't think it's that. Hmmmm. Anyone have any thoughts for me??




Oh, and I highly recommend getting your hands on King Arthur Flour's Sparkling White Sugar. Love the stuff! I use it whenever I make cookies or goodies that are rolled in sugar. The bigger granules are awesome. And they sparkle too. What's not to love? :)

If you're snowed in this weekend or just don't want to go outside because it's soooo cooooold, I suggest you stay inside to bake these cookies. You'll be glad you did!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Crock Pot Sweet Potato Turkey (or Beef) Chili and Garlic Cheddar Beer Biscuits


Are you experiencing the same frigid winter temperatures that we're experiencing in Boston (aka Polar Vortex 2)? If so, this slow cooker chili is for you! Side note: as I just typed, "slow cooker," I actually typed "cookie" instead of cooker. Guess cookies are always on my mind. :)

Aaaanyway, back to the slow COOKER chili. This recipe is a breeze! I made it twice in December but am only now getting around to blogging about it. I wanted to make sure to share it with you while there is still plenty of winter weather ahead of us. And in New England, we have at least two more months of it. ;)

This recipe is from a blog, Catz in the Kitchen. This is a great recipe to enjoy on a weekend day when you're busy running errands or getting household chores done...or, on a weekday when you've had a long day of work and don't have the time to cook dinner! Crock pots are seriously the best, aren't they?

Ingredients:

-1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
-1 can (14 oz.) diced tomatoes, with liquid
-1 can (15 oz.) black beans, with liquid
-1 can (15 oz.) kidney beans, with liquid
-2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
-1 medium onion, chopped finely
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-1 lb. ground turkey or beef, browned
-2 Tbsp. chili powder
-1 Tbsp. ground cumin
-2 tsp. smoked paprika
-1 Tbsp. brown sugar
-1/2 tsp. salt

Instructions:

In a medium-large skillet, brown the turkey or beef until cooked through. Pour into crock pot (a 5 or 6 qt. crock pot will do). Add the rest of the ingredients in the crock pot and stir until well combined. Place lid on crock pot and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. The chili will be done when the sweet potatoes are soft and fork tender. Makes 8 to 10 servings.



I served this chili with some amaaazing garlic cheddar beer biscuits. Although these biscuits can't be made in the crock pot (darn!), they are incredibly easy and pair very well with this dish. So if you have the time, I highly suggest whipping up a batch of these biscuits to enjoy with this warm, hearty chili.


Ingredients:

-2 cups self-rising flour*
-1 tsp. garlic powder
-1 tsp. baking soda
-1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into small cubes, chilled
-4 oz. sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
-8 oz. beer (pick your favorite!)**
-4 Tbsp. butter
-2 tsp. garlic powder

*Note: If you don't have self-rising flour, don't worry! You can make your own; that's what I did. Just follow this method from King Arthur flour of mixing all-purpose flour with baking powder and salt.

**Also, if you prefer not to use beer, you can substitute milk.

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine the self-rising flour, 1 tsp. garlic powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Using a pastry cutter or fork, cut in the chilled butter until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Stir in the cheese until well incorporated, followed by the beer.

Turn the mixture out onto a well-floured surface and knead for about 1 minute or until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky. Form into a round ball and roll or pat it down into a large circle about 1/2-inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter to cut dough into biscuits, and place them onto prepared baking sheets. Roll out scraps of dough again, and continue forming into biscuits until all dough is used.

Melt the additional 4 tablespoons of butter, and mix in the two teaspoons of garlic powder with the butter. Using a pastry brush, give each biscuit a generous coating of the garlic butter. Bake for 10 to 11 minutes or until edges are lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and serve warm biscuits with chili.


We LOVED these biscuits. They were soft, flakey, and full of wonderful flavors. A perfect accompaniment to the delicious chili! 


Please, please make this chili and these biscuits. You won't regret it! It's a meal your whole family will love, and it will both fill and warm you up on a cold winter's night. I promise. :)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Cookie Butter White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies



Biscoff. Cookie Butter. Speculoos. I talked about this amazing product last summer on the blog when I made my chocolate and cinnamon chip cookie butter cookies. Do you remember? Well, if not, you should go back and take a look at that post. I go on and on and on about how much I love cookie butter. If you don't yet know it, you need (noticed how I bolded, italicized, and underlined that? :)) to get to know it! 

This recipe is adapted from the ever wonderful, Sally's Baking Addiction. I've made several of Sally's recipes thus far, and they're always excellent!

Ingredients:

-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
-1/4 tsp. salt
-1/2 tsp. baking soda
-1/2 tsp. baking powder
-1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
-3/4 cup dark (or light) brown sugar
-1 large egg
-1/2 cup cookie butter/Biscoff/speculoos spread (creamy or crunchy)
-2 tsp. vanilla extract
-2 cups quick oats (do not use regular oats)
-1 and 1/4 cups white chocolate chips or chunks 

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Melt the butter in the microwave or on the stove and let cool slightly. In the meantime, whisk the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder together in a large bowl; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and brown sugar until no lumps remain. Whisk in the egg, followed by the cookie butter spread, until combined. Finally, whisk in the vanilla extract. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and stir together with a spatula. Fold in the oats and 1 cup of the white chocolate chips. The dough will be thick and heavy.

Form dough into balls (about 2 to 3 Tbsp. of dough each), and place on cookie sheets, two inches apart. Bake cookies for 11 to 12 minutes. The cookies will look soft and slightly underbaked; this is okay, as they will bake a little more while on the cookie sheets. If desired, press down the cookies slightly to flatten them out (I did not do this). Also, if desired, press remaining 1/4 cup of white chocolate chips/chunks into top of cookies (also, I did not do this step). Allow cookies to cool for 10 minutes on cookie sheets before removing to cool completely on cooling racks. Store in airtight container for up to 1 week. Makes 18 to 20 cookies.


These cookies are sweet but not overly so. The white chocolate chips add to the sweetness. And the cookie butter flavor lends a nice change of flavor from a more traditional cookie. The cookies have some great gingerbread and cinnamon flavor notes. And the oats? Well, they make these a healthy cookie, of course! ;)


I loved the texture of these cookies, too. Chewy and airy with an ever so slight crunch around the edges. Cookie texture perfection!

If you end up trying these cookies, be sure to use quick, not regular oats. But what if you only have regular oats in your pantry? No problem! Pulse those regular oats a few times in your food processor, and voila, you'll have yourself quick oats. As Sally notes in the original blog post, the finer quick oats act more like a flour in this recipe and are important to the way this dough comes together; regular oats won't allow the dough to bind together as it should.


Cookie Butter. Go get yourself some. ASAP.

But a warning if you have this in your house: you may want to eat it by the spoonful.

Don't say I didn't warn you!!


Just realized it's been 17 days since my last post. OOPS! Hopefully I'll get back to posting once or twice a week again soon. In the meantime, hope everyone has been enjoying some delicious goodies in their own kitchens. :)