Archive of ‘Recipes’ category

Mustard Maple Chicken Stuffed Delicata Squash

When Chris and I lived in LA, we swore there was Fall. Yes, we may have been swimming in sweat and yes, we may have been abusing our window unit air conditioner but we pretended. We visited a pumpkin patch off of Sunset Blvd that had huge (fake) pumpkins you could stand in. I remember eating a midnight snack at Fred 62, who festively placed a pumpkin sign on top of the restaurant. Eating fish tacos and an ice cold margarita only days before Halloween isn’t exactly the way to celebrate the season for a Marylander. So the Fallish recipes began in our very small kitchen. Roasted pumpkin with rosemary and slow cooked short ribs braised in a deep, red wine sauce were only a few I became mildly obsessed with. I do remember a pumpkin ice cream pie in there somewhere, too. Can I just say something? As much as California rocks, I never want to miss a Maryland Fall ever…ever. (more…)

This! This is Fall all rolled up into a cute squash package. Mustard maple chicken stuffed squash. Need I say more? I was first introduced to delicata squash last year. I heard you don’t have to peel its skin and actually, after it has been cooked, you can eat it! Sounds like an easy dinner to me! This delightful squash is stuffed with a chicken, mushroom (sorry if you hate ’em!), and leek mixture that is doused with a mustard maple sauce. Serving everything in a squash shell makes a great presentation. I am totally tempted to make just the filling and eat it as is, but the squash really makes it feel like a meal and extra Fall-like.

Let’s meet our ingredient line up!

From Top Left to Right: Delicata squash (nice to meet you!), walnuts, chicken, maple syrup (this is not Aunt Jemima’s time to shine), leeks, a mustard combo of ground mustard and Dijon, breadcrumbs, fresh thyme, red wine vinegar, and mushrooms (sorry I’m not sorry).

The leeks and mushrooms are sauteed before added to the mixture. Almost everything is thrown into a bowl. I made my mustard sauce first then added it in. I like to taste for seasoning and make sure I don’t need more mustard or maple syrup.

Our precious squash is cooked first then filled with the stuffing. It’s mustardy, sweet, crunchy, herby, yummy? I got carried away with the y’s. Look at those colors. Don’t you just wanna?
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Just top those pretty thangs with parmesan and breadcrumbs. Use a couple of thyme stems for garnish if you like. I need this…again. It’s so simple and stunning to throw together, this could even grace your Thanksgiving table. Maybe just take out the chicken and add more veggies (chicken on turkey action? no thanks!). Happy squash making! ‘Tis the season!

Curry Fig Sweet Potato Skillet Gratin

Cozy weather calls for cozy food. That is an absolute fact. I use sweet potatoes a lot in the fall and am always trying to revamp them. Not that simply roasting them with rosemary isn’t always enough, because it is, but the sweet potato is hardly a trending item on everyone’s menu. I thought up this recipe when I was really craving a gratin, a dish that’s usually covered in cream and topped with cheese, and/or breadcrumbs and is baked in the oven. The traditional gratin is thinly sliced potatoes, cooked in cream, and baked until golden brown. The sweet potato works really well with Middle Eastern and Mediterranean spices; I dabble with a spiced sweet potato hash now and then. I’ve also had curry sweet potato fries before so I knew the flavor pairings would be a match made in Heaven. I was actually afraid the whole thing would be too sweet but with the warm spice of the garam masala, coriander, and cayenne, this needs to be a side dish at your next dinner party. Plus, serving it in a skillet makes for a great presentation. See, dinner parties are easy! I just did most of the work for you. Onward! (more…)

Our cozy ingredient line up (get used to the word cozy, I’m obsessed):

From Top Left to Right: Fig jam, spice mixture of nutmeg, garam masala, ground ginger, coriander, and cayenne, curry powder, sweet potatoes, cream (I give you permission to use coconut milk if you wish), and parsley. Totally easy ingredients.

First, we make our curry cream. That either gets you excited or it totally disgusts you. Give it a healthy stir!

This dish is all about layering. A little sweet potato, a little cream, a little spice, a little jam. The sweet potatoes are smiling at you.

We layer until the sweet potatoes are submerged. This isn’t submerged so I had to add a little more cream. I adjusted the recipe accordingly. I will admit the jam looks a leetle weird but once it’s baked, it transforms. Have a little faith in the process! PS. When heated over the stove with a little bit of water, the fig jam is a great sauce for pork or chicken.

Our gratin is baked until tender and bubbling. Bubbling should be the result of every recipe when cooking in the Fall. I wanted to give you an up close and personal shot of this gratin. The curry powder makes it a pretty yellow color.

Add a little parsley and we are in business! There is so much flavor going on here! I’m tempted to make this for Thanksgiving.

I wanted you to see the gratin in action. It’s so creamy and comforting, it’s perfect for a cozy (there I go again!) dinner at home…with friends…and wine. Happy gratin making!

Pumpkin Spiced Coconut Macaroons with Dulce de Leche

Did I say macaroon or macaron? If you ever need a conversation starter, you can use this because everyone wonders what the difference is. I’ve done my research so you can look like the Know it All at your next party. Notepad ready? It’s really not that serious, I just get carried away. Macaron is a French sandwich cookie generally made with an almond flour and filled with a cream. Macaroon (what we are making today) is a cookie comprised of egg whites, sugar, and ground coconut. I’m glad I could settle the confusion. Or maybe you weren’t as confused as I was. I dunno. What I do know is that these macaroons MUST go into your repertoire. They are the easiest cookies ever and the different varieties are endless. If I throw in the word gluten free, would that catch your attention? Because they are so you can make them for a crowd and not worry about people’s dietary needs…unless they are allergic to nuts or eggs, then these are out of the picture. (more…)

These macaroons are filled with pumpkin pie spice. If you have one of those plastic jars from the store that says “Pumpkin Pie Spice” toss it and make your own. The best part of making your own is that you control the ratios of spice. Pumpkin pie spice is usually cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Use that as a base and work from that. I like a little clove, cardamom, and allspice in mine. It gives everything a little more depth of flavor.
*Warning: Spice Rant Coming: Spices are one of those things that come in containers that you probably won’t finish by the time they lose their punch or go rancid (yes, rancid). I like to save my little spice jars but get my spices from somewhere where you can choose how much of the spice you want so you don’t have to commit to a whole bottle. My Whole Foods has this option so maybe yours does too. This helps you not spend a ridiculous amount of mulah on a spice you’ll only use once or twice a year. That being said, get yourself fresh spices for the season. It really does make a huge difference! Rant Over.* Thanks for tuning in. Now, pumpkin spiced macaroons!

Our pumpkin spiced ingredients:

From Top Left to Top Right: Egg whites, sugar, salt, sweetened coconut flakes, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice. Once you make your own spice, you will be tempted to throw it in EVERYTHING. Your morning coffee, your ice cream, your oatmeal cookie batter, your pumpkin bread, your apple crumbles, your chocolate mousse, and of course, your pumpkin pie.

Our egg whites, sugar, salt, and pumpkin pie spice are whisked until frothy. Put some muscle into it! I just love the color the pumpkin pie spice adds to this!

The coconut is added. We make delicious little mounds! Have fun with this! The mixture will feel like it’s about to crumble into your hands but with a little tenderness, your mounds will hold! Yes I just naively said tenderness and mounds in the same sentence and am now embarrassed.

As our macaroons bake, our dulce de leche thickens. Add a little cream to make it drizzable (sooo not a word). I let my macaroons cool on a rack and placed a sheet pan underneath so the pan catches the drizzles and not my dining room table.

These are sweet with that warm spice from the pumpkin pie spice. The dulce de leche makes these feel a little more indulgent. These macaroons are perfect for the season! And they are literally ready in a snap! Happy macaroon making!

Late Summer Salad

I like to think that at the end of a season, a better one awaits. There shouldn’t be mourning from one season to another, for we don’t know what the new season might bring. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way but transitions can be tough. Along with a new season, uncertainty, insecurity, and fear are close behind. Luckily, for me, the only major transitions right now are the seasons changing and the company I work for is moving to a new location. Both transitions are very much welcomed but I know that’s a gift. Here’s to making the best of transitions. (more…)

Ok, enough with my philosophical rant. I guess that’s what happens when I blog right before bedtime. But seriously, I love the Autumn and all that it brings. Lately, it feels like Summer doesn’t want to let go and Autumn isn’t telling her she should. With that stubborn attitude comes confusion in the kitchen. Do I roast a chicken or make a fresh salad? Do I grill or throw together that pumpkin pasta I couldn’t resist just leaving alone on the shelf? I’m very confused but one thing I know is that it’s definitely not the time for chili just yet. This salad is for those of you, like me, who love the vibrant flavors of the Summer but long for the coziness of Fall. The fennel and apple make this salad super fresh and help balance the acidity of the vinaigrette. Plus, did I mention honeyed goat cheese? No? Honeyed goat cheese.

Here is our late harvest ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: Extra virgin olive oil, red onion, apple, (I used Honeycrisp for a sweeter flavor but if tart is more your thing, Granny Smith will do just fine), fennel, lemon juice, arugula, dried cherries, shaved brussels sprouts, rosemary, Dijon, honeyed goat cheese, and apple cider vinegar.

I call this piece Controlled Chaos. We throw all of our ingredients that are not being used for the vinaigrette into a bowl. Save the goat cheese for last because it will dissolve if added in too soon. We admire this beauty and then move onto our vinaigrette.

Our vinaigrette is all sass. It’s tangy and with the rosemary, it has that subtle lemony herb flavor. We pour it over our greens and toss. Don’t add the goat cheese yet!

Sprinkle the goat cheese over individual servings or better yet, crumble the goat cheese and let your guests add it to their salad. It adds a wonderful sweetness that brings it all together. Side note: If you can’t find honeyed goat cheese, just add honey to your non-honeyed goat cheese. This isn’t a “good bye Summer” salad; it’s more of a “it’s been real Summer, now I’m going to hang with your friend Fall” kind of salad. Happy salad making!

Cheddar Crab Sliders with Old Bay

Summers on the East Coast and more specifically in Maryland, are quite a special thing. There are more traditions than just the usual cookouts with burgers and hot dogs. Let me paint a picture for you. Imagine a long, rectangle table with newspaper rustically draped to keep it covered. The table is studded with paper towel rolls, non strategically placed and are accompanied by little wooden hammers. Ice cold beer bottles, little bowls of melted butter, and a spice in a red and yellow can are the finishing touches. There aren’t any plates or utensils laid out. Just crabs, paper, and two hands are all you need. Oh and good conversation because you might be sitting there for a long time. (more…)

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Since it’s National Burger Day, I figured I should have another burger on here other than this gem. Also, my husband is allergic to shellfish (a crime, I know), so I don’t cook with it much. But to keep my “I’m from Maryland” badge, I wanted to put up a recipe that involved crab in some way. These sliders are topped with a fresh crab salad then drizzled with a cheddar, Old Bay sauce. The burger is seasoned perfectly, the sweet crab salad adds a bite of freshness, and the cheddar sauce is sharp with a little bit of spice. They are the perfect balance of surf and turf but they will make you miss Summer a little bit more than you already do. And just in crab eating fashion, all you need are your two hands, and if you have any common decency, a paper towel to enjoy.

Our Surf ‘n Turf ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: Ground beef, cheddar, milk, garlic, Dijon mustard, red onion, red bell pepper, dried oregano, Worchestire sauce, rolls, flour, lump crab meat, and that purdy little can is Old Bay. I totally forgot the butter in this pic. Sorry! Also, if you don’t have access to Old Bay in your supermarket (it’s our God given right!), Amazon sells it.

That may look like a lot of ingredients but the good news is most of them are thrown into a bowl with the beef and most of them are probably in your pantry. They make for a very tasty burger! We make little patties that match the size of our buns! Aren’t they cute?

The crab, red onion, and red bell pepper are tossed in a bowl together. They get a healthy sprinkling of Old Bay. Perfect! Make sure you taste for seasoning here. I don’t know how much Old Bay you like to get down with.

Now, what should be here is a picture of the cheddar Old Bay sauce. But it’s not and I’m sorry I forgot to take a pic by itself. Just a quick encouragement about mornay sauce aka the cheese sauce. Stir that milk until it’s thick. About 3 minutes in, you might start doubting yourself. Stick with it and keep stirring. It WILL thicken.
Our delicious sliders are assembled. Bottom bun, patty, crab, cheese drizzle, top bun. These sliders are incredibly flavorful but make you hardly work for it. EAT THESE TONIGHT! If you don’t, you know you will be thinking about them until you do. Happy sliders making!

Maple Brown Butter Oatmeal Muffins

The Amish Market. Have you been? I’ve always lived so close to one you can call me one spoiled little Amish supporter. Their pretzel dogs are magic, their whoopie pies are better than whoopie (not really but I HAD to), and their sweet and humble demeanor is refreshing. They also have a restaurant that always has a line of hungry, early birds attached to it. But if you are lucky enough to catch a table before the inevitable line, you’re in for a special and incredibly simple treat. Now I’m starting to sound like I’m writing a review but I’m not. There’s a point to my long-winded story. In this restaurant, they have baked oatmeal. This baked oatmeal is served with heavy cream and then a dollop of whipped cream (a little redundant I know). The warm, crumbly, spice filled oatmeal is complimented by the smooth, thick, cold, non sweet cream. It’s true comfort for a chilly Saturday morning. I have since gotten my hands on the recipe and have tweaked it to make it even more enticing, if that’s possible. Still with me? (more…)

When the leaves start to change and the air gets crisper, I want something baked in the morning. Is there anything better than waking up to the smell of oatmeal and cinnamon permeating the house? Well, I guess bacon would be better…These muffins are so simple to pull together for a lovely breakfast with friends…or family (sorry for the unwanted pressure). The muffins themselves aren’t too sweet but still have a rich, nutty flavor thanks to the brown butter. Serve them warm with a little touch of cream poured on top or a little dollop of whipped cream for a sweeter treat.

Our ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: Whole milk (never doubt it), vanilla, maple syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, baking powder, rolled oats (old fashioned, not instant), eggs, and our butter.

This is liquid gold aka brown butter. It’s so delicious for being so simple but let’s not be that surprised that something simple and delicious came from butter. This adds a nutty, caramelly (sorry spelling check), flavor to our muffins. Pour this over pancakes or pasta or into your chocolate chip cookie batter. DIVINE!

We mix our dry ingredients.

We mix our wet ingredients. I’m obsessed with this color scheme right now!

Combine the wet with the dry. I know, hard work DOES pay off here. Hehe. Drop spoonfuls of muffin batter into the muffin tins. The liquid does separate from the oats, just make sure each muffin has equal amounts of the liquid. Time for the oven!

These muffins will make your house smell out of this world. It will make you think of every Fall you spent as a kid jumping in leaves and drinking hot apple cider (so this totally didn’t happen in my childhood but I’m kind of hoping it did for yours). These are great snacks or a fast breakfast. Or prop your feet up and enjoy that your windows can be open. I like mine with a leetle whipped cream on the side. Happy muffin making!

Brie and Beef Puff Pastry with Mango BBQ Sauce

I recently watched a video on how to make puff pastry. Did you know that there are 729 layers of dough and butter in puff pastry? Makes you respect it a little bit more, right? Let’s begin with layer 1! Just kidding. As much as I would love to make my own puff pastry and as much as I know I will when I get all of the free time in the world someday, let’s take a moment of gratitude for store bought puff pastry. Did you also know you can make the easiest but most impressive desserts and apps just by using puff pastry? It really is a lifesaver. Go out and buy yourself some. (more…)

This puff pastry snack is hearty and elegant all at the same time. It’s easy finger food with barbecue sauce. Make a pot roast or beef brisket for dinner the night before and use the leftover meat for this. Or you could use a good deli roast beef. Or you could cook a small pot roast, shred it, and use it just for this. The beef is rich, the brie is creamy, the puff pastry flaky, the barbecue sauce is tangy. Not much more needs to be said.

Let’s check out our ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: puff pastry, egg, mango chutney, garlic, brie, shredded beef, worchestire, soy sauce, fresh thyme, and ketchup.

We first make our mango barbcue sauce. Let that baby simmer.

Our puff pastry dough is rolled out to become thinner. I need to tell you something. I don’t own a rolling pin. I own an empty Prosecco bottle with a sweet Christmas design on it. That bottle has rolled out many a pie dough just fine. Plus, it gives you an excuse to drink a bottle of wine…with friends, of course!

We top the pastry with sauce, beef, and brie. Notice the imperfect edges. I left them just like that and you should to. No one judges appearance when it’s puff pastry in front of you. When it bakes up, it looks less imperfect. Just trying to keep it easy peasy for ya.

The top sheet of puff pastry is placed on top and is given the egg wash treatment. Cut a few slits in the dough for steam to release.

It bakes up nice and brown. Look at that beauty. We cut this up into squares for serving. Oh, and don’t forget to pour the rest of the sauce in a bowl for dipping!

Wanna take a look inside? Perfection. I hope you try this and even make your own version. Happy snack making!

Slow Cooked Brats with Onion and Apple Sauerkraut

Did anyone else enjoy their first football weekend of the season? In our house, we are divided. Some of us root for the Ravens (go B-more!), and some of us root for the Steelers (I won’t name names). Rivalries are fun; especially when fun bets are placed like a new cutting board or a criterion DVD. There’s something in the air that makes football Sundays extra delightful. Carbs are always available. Naps should always be taken. Everything should be finger food. No one wants to watch a game having to fork and knife something on their laps. Too stressful. Too. Much. Work. I don’t know if you have noticed but I’ve been trying really hard (like really, really hard) to come up with football friendly recipes. As a kid, my mom would always lay out a beach blanket in front of the football game and bring us picnic food. It was brilliant. Let’s keep that tradition going. Nothing too complicated, just simple, eat with your hands, kind of food. You get it. (more…)

Now, these brats were delish. BUT, these brats were also hard to photograph. I need grace here. Thank you. Back to the brats! There was so much flavor going on and the best part is: they hang out in a slow cooker all day until they are ready for some football munchin’, beer drinkin’, love. They are so tender, you wouldn’t need to give them the fork and knife treatment if you didn’t want to eat them with buns. But, buns make these finger food friendly so I highly recommend eating these on buns. Oh! Don’t forget the yellow mustard! Or spicy brown if that’s more your flow!

Our ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: Bratwursts, sauerkraut, fresh thyme, onion, maple syrup, brown sugar (mine started to melt and I have no idea why), apple, and buns.

Our onions and apples are cooked. The sauerkraut is added. Then here comes the hard part: throw it into the slow cooker.

Then, we sear our brats for color. I’m sorry if this photo is too provocative for you. Brats also go into the slow cooker and, are, you guess it, slow cooked.

These brats are great for game day. Start ’em early and keep them warm in your slow cooker until ready to eat. They are sweet and savory with that wonderful fermented sauerkraut flavor. Happy brats making!

Sicilian Spaghetti

It was the summer of our venture as newly weds. We weren’t your typical newly weds where we both had jobs and a family to come back to after the honeymoon. No, we decided to leave everything we had known and move straight across the country. Maryland to California, 3 days after our much anticipated wedding. After learning more than enough about the other person in just 7 short days, we settled into our first apartment together in the heart of Los Angeles. It was a quaint and cozy classic with not much room to spare but to us, it was perfect. One night, after stressing about this new life, I had realized I should better learn how to somewhat cook (does throwing a can of Cream of Mushroom over some chicken count as cooking? Boy, I’m glad those days are long gone!). We were extremely poor with not much in the pantry so I pulled together this delicious pasta dish. It’s unusual when you are used to those delectable creamy pasta dishes. But, Chris will hound me if I don’t make this at least once a month. (more…)

Do you remember when you were a kid or even a teenager and you had to ask your parents for something you knew they wouldn’t give to you? It came down to your approach. There was a certain way to sound and look while asking, that almost ensured your success. Well, I am going to attempt to do the same thing with you…now. This pasta is full of flavor! Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, fresh parsley, cough**anchovies**cough, olive oil. See, easy, not so scary ingredients. In all seriousness, you will never find me munching on some pizza covered in anchovy fillets. I can’t do it. But, what anchovies add to dishes in terms of flavor, is remarkable. So if you or someone you know doesn’t like anchovies, still make this. You don’t taste anchovy as much as a salty flavor. Also, since there aren’t a lot of ingredients, try to reach for premium quality products. It will always make whatever you’re eating so much more delicious.

Our ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: Those anchovies we aren’t scared about, extra virgin olive oil, spaghetti (this was a brown rice spaghetti), crushed garlic or garlic paste, fresh parsley, black pepper (I know I usually don’t put salt and pepper in the ingredient line up but it’s soooo necessary here), breadcrumbs (fresh is best if you can), and parmesan.

As our pasta is boiling away, we make our sauce. I know it’s not the most appetite invoking sauce but once it’s tossed with our pasta and breadcrumbs, you will believe in this pasta once more.

We combine our pasta with our sauce. Magic is about to happen. It really is. See that black pepper, it needs to get in here…now!

Toss that pretty thing until it’s nice and mixed through. Make sure you don’t overcook your pasta. Since there is so much tossing happening here, it will fall apart. Cooking it to al dente will make a perfect spaghetti!

I like to add sausage to this but it’s yummy on it’s own. The ball is in your court!

One more pic for good luck! Happy ‘sghetti making!

Mini Niçoise Tuna Melts

These are your childhood meets elegant. I love taking a classic and making it new. Not totally new where you can’t recognize it anymore. Just new enough that you taste the classic flavors but in a new way. That’s what gets me going. Tuna melts have my heart. They’re part of that special group of meals that you forget about until you eat them and then furiously wonder why it’s taken you so long to get here. Why don’t I make these more often?! That’s what goes through my head when I eat a tuna melt. And I bet I’m not the only one…or am I? Queue in the X-Files theme song. (more…)

Have you ever had a niçoise salad? It’s a salad composed of tomatoes, eggs, olives, and anchovies and dressed with a vinaigrette. Usually, fresh tuna is also added to make it a complete meal. In these melts, I make some changes from the usual: sun dried tomatoes instead of fresh, no anchovies (not because I don’t like them but because I didn’t want to get my blender dirty), and the biggest change of all: no mayonnaise. Yup. I’m sorry. But that is what takes these to the next level. Instead of a mayo based dressing, we make a vinaigrette that would normally be paired with the niçoise salad. BUT the creaminess of the gruyere and eggs make up for the lack of creaminess from the lack of mayo. Not confusing at all.

Our French ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: Baguette, sun dried tomatoes, parsley, gruyere cheese, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, Dijon mustard, olives, tuna, hard boiled eggs (look at those yellows), and shallots.
*Just a little tip when buying canned tuna. Make sure the can says dolphin safe or pole caught. It’s a better way to fish for tuna that won’t hurt dolphins in the process. Fishing can be a tricky thing!

We first make our vinaigrette. Can you guess how many times I had to google vinaigrette for spelling? Don’t. Just Don’t.

Then, we begin our niçoise madness. If I had a dollar for every can of tuna I have opened in my life, well, I’d have a lot of dollars. Does that saying ever go anywhere? Am I missing something or just not witty enough? I dunno. Our vinaigrette meets our tuna niçoise ingredients.

Time to top our cute little bread slices with some niçoise love. Oooo lala.

The gruyere is sprinkled on top. These are tuna melts afterall.

All we do is place them under the broiler for a couple of minutes. Easiest appetizer ever. This would also be a great tuna salad if you don’t do the cheese thing.

I love these. I really do. These would be great to kick start any football season. Oh and if you don’t like olives, I would encourage you to still add them. I don’t like them at all but loved them in this. The amount I have added makes then barely noticeable but essential! Happy melts making!

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