Chocolate Florentine Cookies

When I think of Christmas time, my Oma’s HUGE variety of cookies she used to make is the first thing that comes to mind. Each year right after Thanksgiving, she would make incredible amounts of cookies and place them in tins she collected over the years. Day in and day out, she would bake up batches of cookies and send them off to her friends and family.

These chocolate florentine (also known as lace cookies) were one of my favorites. Crispy, chewy and chocolaty, all at the same time.

lacecookies1When I signed up to participate in The 4th Annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap for Cookies for Kids Cancer, I knew I had to make one of her cookie recipes. Cookies for Kids Cancer raises money to help kids with cancer, and there’s nothing more important about this time of year than giving back. I sent these lacy cookies to three different bloggers, and although they aren’t the prettiest (somehow Oma always made them perfect), I knew they came from the heart.

Just a quick tip for these cookies: make sure you use quick oats! I didn’t realize I had bought regular whole oats instead of quick oats, but they really do make a world of a difference. They are more finely ground, which makes for a slightly smoother batter and less chunky cookie, but these still came out as tasty as I remember!

lacecookes2

Chocolate Florentine Cookies

  • 2/3 c. butter
  • 2 c. quick oats
  • 1 c. brown sugar (packed)
  • 2/3 c. flour
  • 1/4 c. light corn syrup
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1 bag chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet)

Preheat oven to 350F and line a cookie sheet with foil/parchment/Silpat. In a large, microwave-safe bowl, melt butter, stir in oats, brown sugar, flour, corn syrup, milk, vanilla and salt. Mix well until combined. Drop by 1/4 t (yes 1/4 of a teaspoon!) onto cookie sheet and bake for 5-8 minutes, or until slightly browned on edges. Remove from oven and let cookies rest for 5 minutes. Remove from sheet and place on a cooling rack until completely cooled. While cookies are cooling, melt chocolate in a microwave/double boiler and stir until smooth. Using an offset spatula, spread a thin layer of chocolate on half of the cookies and sandwich with blank halves.

Makes about 30 cookies.

 

 

Posted in baking | Leave a comment

Apple Cider Bourbon Cocktail

If you would have told me a few years ago I would have been interested in craft beer and enjoying a nice glass of bourbon, I would have probably laughed in your face.

Back in college, nothing could come against my beloved Corona or Miller High Life (it was the champagne of beers). Fast forward to my study abroad in London, and I discovered wheat beers, especially Hoegarden, which made me feel super fancy. Little did I know that my beer knowledge was next to nothing.

Then I met Chris and that turned around quickly. He is a beer aficionado, loves IPA’s, stouts, porters and has even brewed his own beer. We now both scope out any new beer bar we hear about and both share an intense love for pumpkin beers (as early as August) and at any time will have a few different varieties in our fridge.

1404791_10100362105669269_420033796_o

Along with beer, I’ve also come to love bourbon. It’s smooth and strong, but always goes well with some of my other favorite flavors like maple, orange and honey. Oh, and I still love wine. That will never change.

We had company over a few weeks ago and I wanted to create something fun and different to sip on, and I knew I wanted needed to include bourbon. Especially since we had a bottle of Woodford Reserve on hand. Love that stuff.

bourboncocktail1

I will say this recipe takes a little bit of time; it’s not a simple throw it in the shaker kind of drink, but it’s really, truly worth it. Warming the cider on the stove reduces it down and concentrates the flavor, plus-the smell of the combination of cinnamon sticks, orange slices and cider bubbling away will make your house smell insanely good.

Apple Cider Bourbon Cocktail

  • 1 c. apple cider
  • 1/2 orange, thinly sliced
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 6 oz. bourbon
  • Ice

Combine apple cider, orange slices and cinnamon sticks in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil over low-medium heat. Reduce to a simmer and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Transfer entire mixture (oranges and cinnamon included) to a bowl and place in fridge to cool (about 15 minutes). Once cooled, remove cinnamon sticks and orange slices. Fill a shaker with ice, pour in cider mixture, maple syrup and bourbon. Shake until combined and pour into glasses.

Serves 2-3.

Bottoms up!!

Posted in drinks | Leave a comment

Sweet Potato Pie Smoothie

Does this sound odd to you? I figured. If you’ve never had a slice of sweet potato pie, you’re in for a treat. Think of a slice of pumpkin pie with a slightly sweeter undertone. Creamy and sweet with a hint of warm spice, this is the perfect post-workout treat or afternoon snack.

pumpkinsmoothie2This recipe came along when I was rummaging through the fridge trying to figure out what to eat. I have a sweet potato almost every day for lunch (I know, so boring), but they’re so filling and good for you! These little orange gems are packed with vitamin A, and are a good source of vitamin C and B6.

Anyways, I was scrounging the fridge for an interesting smoothie ingredient, and found a leftover baked sweet potato. I thought to myself, why not throw it in the blender? This was one happy accident.

You can really use any milk you like in this. I always prefer unsweetened vanilla almond milk, NOT for any sort of lactose-free reason, but I love how creamy and thick it makes smoothies, without using a higher-fat milk, like 2% or whole. Plus, even if you use skim milk, half a frozen banana makes it extra thick regardless.

For the spices, feel free to use any that you have on hand! I used cinnamon and nutmeg, which are typically found in sweet potato pie, but you could use pumpkin pie spice, throw in some ginger, whatever floats your boat.

Sweet Potato Pie Smoothie

  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1 small sweet potato (baked/boiled), peeled/cubed
  • 1/2 c. milk of your choice *I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk*
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. nutmeg

Add ingredients to blender as listed and combine until well-blended and smooth. Makes 1 medium/large smoothie.

pumpkinsmoothie1

 

Posted in drinks | Leave a comment

Apple and Pear Crisp with Bourbon and Toasted Almonds

Whew. That title is a mouthful. But honestly? How could you not want to devour anything including those ingredients? Apples and pears-yum. Bourbon-swoon. Toasted Almonds-the cherry (nut?) on top of a perfect dessert.

applecrisp1 I don’t know about you, but dropping temperatures make me crave everything cozy and warm: mashed potatoes, coffee, freshly-baked cookies and…wine. Yeah, you heard me. Wine warms the soul! In this case…it’s bourbon.

Now let me say: do NOT be afraid of the bourbon. It simply adds a rich, subtly sweet flavor to the crisp. When I added the bourbon, I decided to enhance the flavor even further, which is where a squeeze of orange juice and a pinch of zest came in. Bourbon and orange are the perfect marriage in cocktails, so I figured, why not in a crisp? Well, luckily, I was right.

I swear my mind isn’t constantly focused on alcohol, although the last two paragraphs might refute that thought.

Anyways, the apples and pears are covered with a crumble of oats, brown sugar and then…toasted almonds. If you’ve never toasted nuts before, now is the time. They taste 1000% times better and add the perfect crunch.

applecrisp2You might want to cozy up with this on the couch, in a blanket, with a cup of tea. Makes the perfect snack, breakfast or heck, dinner. I won’t judge.

Apple and Pear Crisp with Bourbon and Toasted Almonds

For the topping:

  • 1/2 c. cold butter
  • 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 c. old-fashioned oats
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 1/4 almond slivers, toasted *see note below for toasting instructions*

For the filling:

  • 1/4 c. butter, melted
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 medium orange
  • Juice of 1/2 medium orange
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 3 T bourbon
  • 3 apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin *I used 3 Gala apples *
  • 2 pears, peeled, cored and sliced thing *I used Bartlett pears*

1. First, prepare the topping. In a medium-sized bowl. Combine the oats, flours, cinnamon. Using your hands, two knives or a pastry cutter, combine the butter into the mixture until it resembles a crumb-like texture. Set aside in the fridge to chill.

2. Next, dry toast the almonds. Heat a small pan to medium-low heat and pour in the almonds. Stir the almonds around the pan occasionally to prevent them from burning. Let them toast in the pan for ten minutes, or until they are golden in color. Remove from heat and set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray an 9×13 pan with non-stick spray.

3. In a large bowl, mix together the apples, pears, melted butter, vanilla, orange zest, orange juice, maple syrup and bourbon until well combined.

4. Pour the apple and pear mixture into the pan and spread into an even layer. Take the topping mixture from the fridge and disperse over the top. Sprinkle the toasted almond slivers over the top.

5. Bake in the oven for 45-60 minutes, or until brown and bubbly.

 

Posted in baking | Leave a comment

Pumpkin Chicken Enchilada Bake

First and foremost, I must say this might sound like a weird recipe. Pumpkin and chicken don’t necessarily go together like peanut butter and jelly, but think less pumpkin spice and more savory pumpkin. If that makes sense.

When I was craving cheesy, gooey Mexican goodness, I was trying to think of ways I could make this healthier without sacrificing flavor. Enter the concept of including vegetables in dishes you’ve never though of!

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

 

Pumpkin is so good for you, too! When you leave out the sugar, spices and fat that’s in your standard pumpkin recipe, you’ve got a squash powerhouse on your hands. Pumpkin is full of antioxidants and fiber and can benefit your skin, hair and nails.

The pumpkin makes the enchilada sauce thick and creamy, and the filling is comprised of corn, pulled chicken, onions and garlic, but you can certainly keep it meat-free, add beans, whatever you like!

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

Pumpkin Chicken Enchilada Bake

For the filling:

  • 1/2 lb. chicken breasts
  • 1- 1.5 c. chicken stock
  • 1 t. olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1 c. frozen corn
  • 1 t. chili powder
  • 1 t. all-purpose seasoning (I used Adobo)
  • 1/4 t. cumin
  • 1/2 t. cayenne (optional, but I like things spicy!)

For the pumpkin enchilada sauce:

  • 1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce (I love Hunt’s brand)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 t. cayenne
  • 1 t. cumin
  • 1 t. garlic powder
  • 1 t. onion powder
  • 1 t. chili powder
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • Dash hot sauce

For the assembly:

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Place chicken breasts in a medium sauce pan and pour chicken broth over it, until chicken breasts are covered completely. Bring to a boil and then turn to medium-low and simmer until chicken is completely cooked through. Once cooked through, place on a plate/cutting board for chicken to cool.

2. While chicken is cooling, heat oil in a small sauce pan and add onion to pan. Add salt and cook onion for 3-4 minutes, then add garlic and cook mixture on low until softened, about 6-7 minutes.

3. Add corn to pan and cook until corn is warmed through and defrosted.

4. Shred chicken either using your hands or two forks and place in a bowl. Add onion, garlic and corn mixture, along with the chili powder, Adobo, cumin and cayenne. Stir to combine. Set aside.

5.  In a medium sauce pan, combine pumpkin, tomato sauce, cayenne, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, salt and hot sauce and whisk until combined. Heat on low for 5 minutes.

6. Pour half of pumpkin sauce into bottom of a 9 inch pan. Tear up one of the tortillas and place on top of sauce. Spread 1/3 of chicken mixture on top and sprinkle 1/3 of cheese on top. Tear up second tortilla and place on top of cheese. Continue with chicken and cheese again. After third tortilla is on top, pour remaining sauce over the top of the casserole and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

7. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is golden and bubbling. Let cool for 10 minutes, cut and serve.

Makes 6-8 servings.

 

Posted in dinner, recipes | Leave a comment

Halloween Bark

This recipe makes me so excited (!!!) For these reasons:

1. It’s delicious.

2. It’s easy.

3. It’s festive, fun and colorful and just screams Halloween!

image (1)Bark is pretty much the best thing that can happen to candy because it’s simply a delivery system for more candy in the form of chocolate.

All I did was melt dark chocolate, pour it onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and top it with handfuls of whatever delicious Halloween-esque candy on top.

For the candy, I went with: candy corn, Fall-colored M&M’s, crushed pretzels, chopped Reese’s PEANUT BUTTER pumpkins. Yes, they are amazing and only sold at Target, from what I can tell. Oh, and then I went ahead and threw sprinkles all over the top. Because, well, it’s sprinkles.

Pop it in the freezer, and you have the perfect sweet, salty, chocolate-y treat. And the best part? You could totally use this recipe with any leftover candy from Halloween you might have.

image (2)

Halloween Bark

  • 1/2 lb. dark chocolate (or white, milk, semisweet, etc.) I used a bar from Trader Joe’s
  • 1 cup mixed candy of your choice (I used candy corn, MnM’s, sprinkles, chopped Reese’s peanut butter pumpkins)
  • 1/4 cup chopped pretzels

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Melt chocolate in the microwave, in increments of 20 seconds, or until smooth. Pour on top of parchment paper. Immediately sprinkle candies and pretzels on top of the chocolate, and press in slightly. Place in freezer for 30 minutes, or until completely set and solid. Remove from freezer and break into chunks of your choice of size. Store in an airtight container in the freezer.

 

image

Posted in food | 6 Comments

Spiced Chocolate Donuts with Spiced Chocolate Glaze (Gluten Free!)

I have gone donut crazy. I picked up a donut pan (the same one can be found here), and now I have about a billion recipes floating around in my head and jotted down in a notebook.

I’m super fall obsessed, like pretty much 99% of every one else in the world right now. So, why not celebrate with chocolate donuts kicked up a notch with warm autumnal spices? Sound good? Good.

pumpkin

Now, let me say one thing: I am not gluten intolerant, nor do I follow a gluten-free diet. I purely wanted to play around with coconut and almond flour. Being the baking-obsessed person that I am, new ingredients intrigue and excite me, and when I heard about these new flours, I just had to see what all of the fuss was about.

photo 3 (3)

Let me also preface this by saying coconut flour can’t be used in a one-to-one ratio with all-purpose flour. –Elana of the blog Elana’s Pantry does a great job of explaining different flours here) and her blog is amazing! Anyways, almond flour is simply blanched almonds that have been ground up to make a flour and it can be used in baking, breading for chicken and even pancakes!


photo 4 (1)

So let’s get to the donuts, shall we?

These are spicy, warm, chocolaty and perfectly soft. After being baked, they are dipped in a glaze simply made with chocolate chips, coconut oil and the same spices found in the donut itself.

The cake part of the donut is rich and chocolate-y and the spice is subtle. I decided to use dark cocoa powder to increase the depth of chocolate flavor, and honestly, I would even add more spice next time. I used maple syrup instead of sugar because I think it compliments the chocolate well and spices like cinnamon and maple syrup go hand-in-hand. Using coconut oil was a new thing for me, and I loved how soft it made the donuts; but you can certainly use canola/vegetable oil instead. All in all, this donut is spiced chocolate euphoria, and no, sprinkles are not optional.

photo 2 (1)

 

Spiced Chocolate Donuts with Spiced Chocolate Glaze

For the donuts:

  • 3/4 c. almond flour
  • 1/4 c. coconut flour
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. baking soda
  • 1 T coconut oil, melted
  • 4 T maple syrup
  • 3 T dark cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4-1/2 cup almond milk (you may need more if the dough seems dry)
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t. ground nutmeg
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 t. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/8 t. cloves
  • 1/8 t. salt

For the glaze:

  • 1/4 c. chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life chunks)
  • 1-2 T coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 T pumpkin pie spice

*This recipe makes 8 donuts, but the pan only holds 6. You will have to bake the last two donuts after the first 6 have cooled slightly and you can remove them from the pan*

1. Preheat oven to 350F and spray cavities of donut pan with non-stick spray.

2. While oven is preheating, combine all ingredients in a large bowl just until combined and until mixture is smooth *At this point, you may need to add more milk if the mixture appears dry. If so, add a tablespoon at a time*

3. Using a spoon, spread the batter in the donut cavities, only until 3/4 the way full.

4. Bake in oven for 8-10 minutes, or until baked through and toothpick comes out clean. Let donuts cool in pan for 1-2 minutes, then remove them and let them cool on a wire cooling rack.

5. While the donuts are cooling, make the glaze. For this, melt the coconut oil in a small, microwave-safe bowl in the microwave for about 20 seconds, or until coconut oil is melted. Then stir in the chocolate chunks and the spices.

6. Dip each donut in the glaze and top with sprinkles, if desired. The donuts will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Posted in baking | 2 Comments

Health(ier) Buffalo Chicken French Bread Pizzas

Welcome to the childhood food of your dreams. (What, you didn’t love hot sauce on your french bread pizzas growing up?) Or the next addition to your football Sunday feast. Or these make a great weeknight dinner! Paired with a salad, or beer. It’s all about balance, people.

photo 2

This isn’t your typical french bread pizza. In fact, it pretty much tastes like buffalo chicken dip on a piece of crusty bread. The beauty of this dish is that it’s easy, and can be adjusted to your tastes. Don’t like buffalo sauce? Mix in some BBQ sauce with your chicken. Not a fan of cheddar? Top it with feta or blue or ANY cheese for that matter. My one requirement? Make sure you slather the homemade Greek yogurt cheddar Ranch on the bread. YUM.

photo 3

So, make these. STAT. Everyone on Football Sunday will thank you.

Health(ier) Buffalo Chicken French Bread Pizzas

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 c. chicken stock
  • 1/2 T cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 c. buffalo wing sauce (I used Frank’s)
  • 1 c. fat free plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 t. dried dill
  • 1 t. garlic powder
  • 1 t. onion powder
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 t. black pepper
  • 2 wedges Laughing Cow white cheddar
  • 1 whole grain french baguette, sliced in half and cut into pieces
  • 1/2 c. reduced-fat cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350F. While oven is preheating, combing cayenne pepper, chicken stock and chicken breast in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower heat and simmer until chicken is completely cooked through. Remove chicken from stock and let cool on a cutting board.

2. While chicken is cooling, combing yogurt, dill, garlic and onion powders, salt, pepper and Laughing Cow white cheddar in a sauce pan and cook on low until smooth, whisking occasionally.

3. When chicken is cooled, shred with hands or fork and combine in a bowl with buffalo wing sauce.

4. Place baguette pieces on a cookie sheet and divide and spread the Greek yogurt mixture on each piece of baguette. Divide the chicken between each of the baguette pieces. Sprinkle with cheese.

5. Bake until cheese is melted and bread is crisp, about 15 minutes. Serve!

Posted in food, recipes | Leave a comment

Simple Herbed Quinoa

I’m all about simple meals. Let’s hope-considering simple is the title of my blog! I’m almost embarrassed to call the below a “recipe,” but quinoa is one finicky little ingredient and it can very well go from soupy to crunchy and burnt in a matter of minutes.

BUT, I’m here to change all that. No more throwing an already-expensive grain in the trash. Grains and rice can be pretty bland, but herbs make all the difference. This turns quinoa from boring and blah to fresh and flavorful.

Also, please be patient with my photos…still learning the ropes of a fancy camera! (Yes after years of having this blog, I’m still camera inept).

 

015

 

Here’s the recipe, step by step.

1. Using a sieve, rinse and drain one cup of quinoa and pour into a medium-sized pot. Next, add two cups of chicken stock and stir to combine.

 

004

 

2. Bring quinoa to a boil and then cover tightly. If your cover is too big or doesn’t seal tightly, here’s a tip: place a piece of foil in between the pot and the lid, and your pot will be completely sealed. 007

3. Simmer on medium-low for about 20-30 minutes. It’s best to start on low heat to be on the safe side, and check it after 15 minutes. If it’s still quite watery, turn the heat up and put the lid back on to continue cooking. While the quinoa cooks, chop up your herbs. You can use any mixture of herbs you’d like. I love scallions, parsley, basil and cilantro. You can use any combination, but in this recipe, I stick to scallions and parsley. Chop about 1/2 cup of each herb of your choosing.

006

4. Next, this quinoa needs some seasoning! Again, this can be any seasoning you choose, but I prefer 1/2 teaspoon each of Adobe all-purpose seasoning, black pepper and cayenne pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt.009

5. When the quinoa is finished cooking, the liquid should be completely absorbed and you should see small holes on the surface. Once it’s cooked, fluff with a fork and stir in the spices.008

6. Lastly, stir in your chopped, fresh herbs and the best part? A squeeze of lemon juice (I usually use an entire lemon for one pot of quinoa). The lemon juice really brightens up the quinoa and compliments the herbs nicely.

012

013

This is perfect with chicken, salmon, shrimp, pork chops. I have a feeling this will be your go-to side dish!

Simple Herbed Quinoa

  • 1 c. quinoa, drained and rinsed
  • 2 c.  chicken/veggie stock
  • 1 c. chopped herbs (1/2 c. each chopped scallions, parsley, basil, cilantro)
  • 1/2 t. Adobe all-purpose seasoning
  • 1/2 t. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 t. black pepper
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • Juice of one lemon

1. Combine quinoa and stock over medium heat and bring to a boil.

2. Once boiling, tightly cover and bring to a simmer on low-medium heat.

3. While quinoa is cooking, chop fresh herbs and lemon.

4. Once quinoa is cooked, fluff with a fork and stir in herbs, seasoning and lemon.

016

Posted in dinner, food, recipes | Leave a comment

Carrot Cake Pancake Muffins

Fall is finally here. Thank goodness! My absolute favorite season is the best one for so many reasons:  hot chocolate, hot cider, apple picking, pumpkin picking, piles of amber and golden leaves, crisp, cool air and every type of comfort food imaginable.

It’s 57 here in New York and I’m already under a blanket, but that doesn’t say much since the 70’s is cold for me. I’m pathetic.

This recipe I actually dug up from the summer- on one of those days where I likely suddenly got nostalgic for the holiday season and wanted the 90-degree weather to turn into the fall. So naturally I turned on the oven and whipped up some muffins.

 

Carrot Cake Muffin

These muffins are a cinch to make, specifically because of the use of this:

Pancake Mix

love this pancake mix. I’ve seen it pop up all over the blog world, and while on a shopping spree at Target, I spotted it and immediately threw it into my cart. It’s slightly sweet and hearty at the same time thanks to the mix of whole wheat and oats.

I’ve never made homemade carrot cake, but I had a TON of carrots hanging out in my crisper and I figured they would add a pop of color and increase the moisture level of these muffins. Plus, carrot cake always includes warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, so I knew it would be a win win for my fall-obsessed self.

These are perfect for fall (or any morning!) for a quick, on-the-go breakfast and they taste even better the next day as all the spices further develop. Slather one of these in peanut butter and you’ll be in heaven; or pair it with a smoothie or yogurt for a filling breakfast.

Either way, these are the perfect taste of fall any time of the year!

Carrot Cake Pancake Muffins

  • 1 egg
  • 2 c. pancake mix
  • 1/2 c applesauce
  • 2 T honey
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
  • 1/2 t pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 c finely grated carrot

Preheat oven to 375F. Either spray the cavities of a muffin tin with non-stick spray or line with muffin liners. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well until smooth and divide batter evenly among muffin tins. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

015

 

Posted in baking | 6 Comments