Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Lace Cookies {gluten free!}

I have long admired lace cookies and how delicate and beautiful they look. What I didn't realize is how easy they are to make!

I also didn't realize how amazingly delicious they are, and that they use 6 simple ingredients that you probably have on hand right now!  (I guess I had a lot to learn about lace cookies.) 

Another great thing to love about these cookies? They are gluten free! I'm not gluten free, and you may not be either, but I always think it's great to have a few recipes up your sleeve for your friends and relatives that may need to stay away from gluten. 

The most "difficult" part of this recipe is realizing how little batter you need to put on the pan. Just a TEASPOON per cookie! You want to space them out nicely, too, because they spread a lot. I just love how they turn out in such perfect circles!

If you're an overachiever, you can also use these cookies to make sandwich cookies, by filling them with nutella or melted chocolate. I did that with a few, but to be honest, I really loved the lace cookies best on their own. 

Lace Cookies

1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup almond flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. corn syrup or milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Then add the brown sugar, almond flour, salt, and corn syrup (or milk). Whisk, while continuing to cook on low, until the sugar has dissolved and the ingredients are completely combined. (If the butter separates, just take the pan off the heat, and whisk vigorously until it comes back together.)

Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla. The mixture should look grainy and shiny. Let the cookie dough sit for 10-15 minutes to thicken.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 and line three baking sheets with parchment or silpat.

Drop teaspoonfuls of batter 3 inches apart on the lined baking sheets. (Be sure you're using a teaspoon, not a tablespoon!) Bake 6-8 minutes until golden brown around the edges.

Allow cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then carefully transfer to a wire rack. Cookies will dry and crisp as they cool.

If you like you can make sandwich cookies with nutella or melted chocolate. Store cookies in the fridge or freezer.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Red Velvet Cheesecake Thumbprints

The next few weeks here are going to all cookies, all the time. So if you're looking for a nourishing main dish, salad, soup, or appetizer - please consult the index. Ha! All the new recipes will be cookies. C is for cookie, that's good enough for me. 

I've made these delicious thumbprints for a couple years now, so decided it was high time to post them. They're different than your run of the mill thumbprint - the middle is cheesecake instead of jam! And the cookie is red velvet. They are delicious!

They are also beautiful, which you know by now is also important to me! I also love that this recipe lets you be a little creative in choosing which kind of sprinkles to roll the dough in - and it's a great way to use up some sprinkles if you have some odds and ends languishing in the cupboard!

These thumbprints are pretty typical - make the dough, then let it chill. Roll it into balls, coat with sprinkles, then use the back of a teaspoon to make an indent.

Bake for a few minutes, then fill with the cheesecake filling, and then continue baking. 

These are just as delicious cold as at room temperature. I hope you enjoy these as much as we did! (and do...)

Red Velvet Cheesecake Thumbprints
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 egg yolk (room temperature)
1 tsp. vanilla 
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp. red food coloring
2 tsp. cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar sprinkles
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. vanilla 
Combine the salt, flour, and cocoa powder in a bowl and stir until evenly mixed. Set aside.
Beat together the butter, brown sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add in the dry ingredients that you set aside, and the food coloring, and mix until soft dough forms and ingredients are just combined. Place the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes (or up to 24 hours) to chill.
Scoop out the dough by heaping tablespoons and rolling them in the sugar or sprinkles before placing on a parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet (about 2 inches apart). Use the back of a round teaspoon to make a small indentation in the cookie dough.
Bake at 300 for 10 minutes, or until the edges are set.
For the filling, using an electric mixer or small food processor, beat together the cream cheese, egg yolk, sugar, salt, and vanilla until smooth.
After the first 10 minutes of baking, bring the cookies out of the oven. Use the back of a round teaspoon to deepen the indentation in the cookies, if they have flattened out. Spoon a teaspoon of the filling into each indentation. Bake for an additional 12 minutes, or until filling is set.
Let cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack. Makes 2-3 dozen

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Dinner Salads with Roasted Beets and Mandarin Oranges

This side salad is a wonder: a great combination of fruits and vegetables, TONS of vitamin C, potassium, and fiber, GREAT taste, and beautiful on the plate. 

If you need a last minute addition to your Thanksgiving line up, or any dinner, this is a fantastic salad. Tangy vinaigrette, sweet berries and oranges, tart goat cheese, savory beets... this is making me want to quit describing it and go get one. (And I haven't even had breakfast yet! ha!)  This recipe makes 6 salads - just adjust the measurements up or down depending on how many you're making. (Note that the dressing makes quite a bit, so you won't need to make extra of that.)

I include a recipe here for a creamy balsamic vinaigrette, but honestly, most of the time, I use the organic balsamic from Aldi. It's so good. I should aspire in the New Year to make my own dressing more often; it's certainly not difficult! So, do whatever is easiest for you. Since we're roasting beets here, this salad needs a little more prep time than most, but you can also roast the beets earlier in the day, or the day before, and just bring them to room temperature before you assemble the salad. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dinner Salads with Roasted Beets and Mandarin Oranges

Balsamic Vinaigrette: (this will make a lot more than you need for this salad)

3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. Honey
1 tsp. Dijon mustard


6-8 cups spring mix (depending on how large you want the salads)
2 small beets, peeled and chopped
1 tsp. olive oil
3 mandarin oranges, "cuties"
1 6 oz. package blackberries
2 oz. goat cheese or honey goat cheese, crumbled

Toss the chopped beets with the olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Spread the beets on a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely. (You can do this earlier in the day or the day prior. Refrigerate the roasted beets and then bring them to room temperature before assembling the salads.)

Make the dressing by combining the oil, vinegar, mayo, honey and mustard in a measuring cup. Whisk well to combine the oil and vinegar. Taste, and adjust ingredients as necessary. (Some vinegars are more potent than others; you may need a bit more honey, or you may prefer a bit more mayo if you like it extra creamy.)

Place the salad greens in a large bowl and drizzle vinaigrette over, a few tablespoons at a time. (You will only use part of the dressing). Toss to coat all the leaves. 

Divide the spring mix among six plates, then top with beets in the center. Peel and section the mandarins, and arrange those and the blackberries around each salad. Top each salad with crumbled goat cheese.  Serves 6.


Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Harvest Skillet {Chicken, Sweet Potato, Apples, and Brussels Sprouts}

It is a glorious 60 degree day here, and I will take it! And I will also take delicious dinners like this that are a snap to make, are beautiful, delicious, and super fall-like, even though the temperature is not fall-like. (Not a complaint - I'm loving the warm temps this week!) 

This simple skillet dinner features some of my favorite things - brussels sprouts, sweet potato, apples - and the bacon is just a bonus. 

Chicken provides good protein, and thyme, cinnamon and craisins just add to the autumn appeal. This would also be great to make with leftover chopped turkey... file that somewhere...

The best part? One pan is dirtied, and supper is ready within 30 minutes!! Winner, winner, harvest skillet dinner!

Harvest Skillet {Chicken, Butternut Squash, Apples, and Brussels Sprouts}

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
3 cups Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered (about 3/4 pound)
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 8 ounces)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 3/4 inch cubes
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup chicken broth, divided
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1/3 cup craisins
1/4 cup pepitas

Heat the olive oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add the chicken, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Cook until lightly browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Reduce skillet heat to medium low. Add the chopped bacon and cook until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and discard all but 1 1/2 tablespoons bacon drippings from the pan.

Increase skillet heat back to medium high. Add Brussels sprouts, sweet potato, onion, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender and the onions are beginning to look translucent, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the apples, garlic, thyme, and cinnamon. Cook 30 seconds, then pour in 1/2 cup of the broth and the maple syrup. Bring to a boil and cook until evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add the reserved chicken and remaining 1/2 cup broth. Cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Stir in reserved bacon, pepitas, and craisins and serve warm.

Friday, November 3, 2023

Udon noodles with Beef and Bok Choy

Noodley stir fries are always a big hit in our house, and when I recently had some bok choy to use up, I came up with this variation. I like beef and bok choy together, and the peanuts and soy/chili sauce really tie it all together. 

One of the best things about this meal is that it's made in ONE skillet. (You do have to cook the noodles in another pot, but if you find fresh or frozen udon noodles you could save that step.) 

After a quick stir fry of the beef, and then the veggies, you sauce up the noodles and then you're all set. This is very quick, very easy, and very delicious. That's my weeknight trifecta!

Udon noodles with Beef and Bok Choy

8 oz. thinly sliced beef (like sirloin steak)
4 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced
12 oz. udon noodles or rice noodles
10 oz. baby bok choy, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 green onions, sliced
3 Tbsp. sweet chili sauce
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
3 Tbsp. roasted salted peanuts, chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil, divided

Cook the noodles according to the package directions.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and 1 1/2 Tbsp. water. 

Heat 2 tsp. olive oil over medium high heat. Season the beef with salt and pepper, then stir fry until cooked through. Remove to a plate. (Leave the pan as is, don't clean it up!)

Add another teaspoon of oil to the pan, then add in the bok choy (white parts only!), white parts of the green onions, and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the mushrooms and cook for another minute. 

Reduce the heat to medium low. Drain the noodles, then add them to the pan, along with the sauce, and stir well to break up any pieces stuck to the bottom of the pan. Cook and stir until most of the sauce is absorbed, then add the green parts of the bok choy and the beef. 

Garnish with chopped peanuts and the green parts of the onions.  Serves 4

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Creamy Sausage and Peppers Pasta

This has become such a popular dish at our house that it has been requested for two birthday dinners! And it's no wonder - it's everything you want in a celebratory dinner - creamy, colorful, delicious, filling! 

I love that there are lots of veggies included and that it's a one-pot dish (besides the pasta cooking...so 2 pots technically, still easy!). 

I also love that it combines amazing flavors of sausage, peppers, cream sauce... and I would probably add mushrooms, but in my family, that would spoil some people's birthdays... ahem. Seriously, what is not to love about mushrooms?

Mushrooms or not, this is a super delicious dish and worthy of a place in your rotation. I serve it with a big green salad and garlic knots or garlic bread. Even if it's not your birthday, I hope you'll try this pasta!

Creamy Sausage and Peppers Pasta

12 ounces spaghetti or bucatini
1 pound Italian sausage
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 Tbsp. butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. flour
1 cup half and half
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
3 cups baby spinach
salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese

In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente.

Meanwhile, brown the sausage in a large skillet over medium high heat. Remove from the pan once it is cooked through.

Add oil to the skillet, then add the peppers and onions. Cook until they are softened, about 5 minutes. 

Reduce the heat to medium, then add the butter and garlic to the peppers and onions. Once the butter is melted, sprinkle with the flour.

Stir in the half and half and mustard, and whisk well to ensure there are no flour lumps. Whisk until slightly thickened, but only for a minute or so.  Add in the sausage and stir together. Add in the spinach, then add a couple tablespoons of the pasta water into the skillet, especially if the sauce seems too thick.

Drain the pasta, then add it to the skillet, tossing until the spinach is wilted and all the pasta is coated. Season with salt and pepper and serve with Parmesan.  Makes 6-8 servings. 

Recipe Source: Adapted from Salt and Lavender

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Fresh Pear Cake with Cardamom Icing

Bundt cakes are so fun to make. They just look so impressive and are perfect for any kind of celebration. I especially love fruit-studded cakes, and this one is perfect for fall. 

This cake is so easy to throw together - you wouldn't even need to use a mixer. And pears have such thin skin that you don't even need to bother peeling them. You can have a show stopper of a cake in no time at all!

I think what really makes this cake special is the cardamom-laced icing. If you don't have cardamom on hand, don't worry - still make this! - but if you have some, it adds such a nice flavor depth to the "regular" powdered sugar icing.

I made this cake for a birthday celebration at work and it won rave reviews. Friends had given me a lot of pears from their trees, and this was the best use of them!

Pears bake up so beautifully, similar to apples, but have a slightly different flavor profile. They are wonderful to include in muffins, breads, cakes and tarts. Take advantage of the pears this fall and have some cake!

Fresh Pear Cake with Cardamom Icing
4 cups chopped pears
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
3 eggs
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla 
1 cup powdered sugar
4 or 5 Tbsp. milk or half and half
1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
1/4 tsp. cardamom

In a large bowl, beat eggs on medium speed. Gradually add sugar and oil; beat thoroughly. 
Combine the flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda; add to egg mixture and mix well.
Stir in pears and vanilla. (The batter will be stiff.) Spoon into a greased and floured Bundt pan. Bake at 350° for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely. 
For the icing, in a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar, vanilla, cardamom, and milk; beat until smooth. Add more sugar, or more milk, to get to a consistency you like. Drizzle over cake. Makes14-16 servings.
Recipe Source: Adapted from Sweet Southern Blue
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