Monday, May 22, 2023

Custard-Filled Cookie Cups

I was in the mood for a custardy dessert when I happened upon this recipe. And I'm so glad I did - it is delightful! And beautiful! And light and springy! 

I also like that it is portion controlled - it's the perfect size for a nice ending to a dinner - just the right amount of sweetness with a little fruit thrown in for good measure!

You start by making a simple sugar cookie batter, then scooping that into greased muffin tins. After you scoop, flatten it out a bit with your fingers (as above) 

then bake. As soon as they're baked, use a small jar (I used a small Penzey's spice jar!) to make an indentation in each, to create a cup.

While the cookies bake, you make the custard. (If you wanted to make it even simpler, you could just make a box of vanilla pudding. But this custard recipe is VERY good, so I would recommend getting all pastry-chef-ish and going all out on the homemade.) 

Then everything cools, and eventually you can assemble into these cute little individual desserts! Enjoy!

Custard-Filled Cookie Cups

Cookie cups:

  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Vanilla Custard:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla 
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks

For the cookie cups:

Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt, set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed and add egg and vanilla. Beat until combined. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined.

Using a large cookie scoop (3 Tbsp), scoop dough into greased muffin tin cups, then press down to flatten slightly. Bake at 350 for 10-12 mins or until lightly browned and mostly set.

Remove from oven and immediately use a small jar or container to press firmly down in the center to create a well. Cool in pans for 10 mins, then place on wire rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the custard: 

In a medium saucepan over high heat, cook 1 cup milk, stirring often until it just starts to simmer. Remove from heat. In a medium bowl, whisk remaining 1 cup milk, egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch.

While whisking vigorously, slowly pour about half of the hot milk into the egg mixture. Return mixture to the remaining milk in saucepan and cook over high heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens and comes to a boil. 

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Transfer to a bowl, then place plastic wrap directly on top of custard to prevent a skin from forming then place in refrigerator to cool completely.

When ready to serve, whisk custard to a smooth texture and spoon into cooled cookie cups. Top with fruit and dust with powdered sugar.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Liv for Cake

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Ginger Peanut Chicken


This amazing dish has so much flavor! It has become a super regular part of our dinner rotation, and every time I make it (no exaggeration) everyone in the family is exclaiming about "this good chicken!" It is a little unusual for a stir fry like this to not have a sauce, but don't worry! You won't miss it.

The saltiness of the peanuts, the savory garlic and ginger, the squeeze of lime at the end and (most importantly!) the coconut rice, all sing together so beautifully. I could wax on and on. It is so good.

The first step is to cut the chicken and get it marinating for about 20 minutes or longer if you can.  Then get the coconut rice going in your instant pot - it is amazing what a can of coconut milk can do for rice. It is life changing.  

Then cook your chicken, being careful to not stir it too soon - you want to let it get all carmelized on each side. Add in the peanuts and garlic, and get them all toasty, then finally the green onions, cilantro, lime juice and chopped spinach, or bok choy, or some other fun vegetable. I almost always use spinach because it cooks down so nicely and is a great way to amp up vegetable content in any dish!

Serve over the coconut rice and with your favorite sides - we love roasted broccoli or sauteed green beans especially! And get ready to stock up on chicken thighs and limes... then you'll be ready to make this amazing dish at a moment's notice. 

Ginger Peanut Chicken

1 1/2 pounds chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
1-inch piece of ginger, grated
4-5 green onions, sliced, white and green parts separated
zest and juice of 2 -3 limes (you'll use these separately)
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2 cups chopped fresh spinach 

2  cups jasmine rice
1 can coconut milk
1 1/2 cups water
pinch salt

In a medium bowl, combine the ginger, white parts of green onion, lime zest, brown sugar, salt, and olive oil. Add in the bite sized chicken pieces and stir to combine. Let the chicken marinate for at least 20 minutes. 

For the rice, add the rice, water, coconut milk and salt to the Instant Pot bowl. Set on manual high pressure for 3 minutes. When it's complete, let it naturally release for 10-15 minutes. (I just leave it til I'm ready to serve the chicken. The timing works out pretty well!)

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the chicken and marinade, and let it cook on this side for at least 3 minutes to carmelize. Then flip or stir and let cook another few minutes until it's done. 

Reduce heat to medium and add the garlic and peanuts. Continue to cook and stir until peanuts are golden and roasty, about 2 minutes. Add the cilantro, green onion pieces, and spinach, and stir until the spinach is wilted, then squeeze in the lime juice.

Serve over rice with or without additional vegetables! 

Recipe Source: Pinch of Yum

Friday, April 21, 2023

Creamy Gnocchi with Ham and Peas

If you still have ham leftover from Easter like I do, here is the perfect recipe! It is even more perfect if you live in the north like I do, and it's still freezing. I see the green lawns of my friends in the middle of the country, and I am jealous. Mine is still white. :(

But cooking and eating this amazing dish will make you forget it. It's so creamy, and so delicious, and I absolutely love the combination of ham and peas. If you need other ham and pea inspiration, check out Cheesy Ham and Noodle Casserole, Jambalaya, Bowties with Bacon, Carrots and Peas (could easily sub ham!).

This dish comes together really quickly - and it meets my weeknight trifecta - quick, easy, delicious. 

While the gnocchi cooks, you can make the sauce, then throw it all together. It will broil briefly in the oven, which gives you just a few minutes to throw together a salad! Perfect timing.

This is a really comforting dish, and will earn you accolades from your whole family. Or most of it at least. One teenager said, "this is really weird" and luckily another one answered, "this is really GOOD." (The texture of the gnocchi was the issue, please know. Not anything else...)

I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you stay warm. Ahem. 

Creamy Gnocchi with Ham and Peas

1 package gnocchi (16 oz to 17.6 oz), prepared according to package directions
1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. basil or Italian seasoning
2 cups diced ham
3 Tbsp. flour
1 cup half and half
1/3 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup shredded swiss cheese
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Cook the gnocchi in a large pot of salted, boiling water, as the package directs. 

Meanwhile, melt butter in a large oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and basil. Saute until onion is softened, about 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle flour on top and saute until flour is absorbed and the flour smell is gone, about 2 minutes. 

Pour in cream and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Remove from the heat, then stir in gnocchi, ham, and peas until combined. Add the swiss cheese and stir until melted. Sprinkle parmesan on top. 

Heat broiler to high, then put the skillet under the broiler until the cheese is melted and the top is lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Love As Food

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Ginger and Cardamom Pear Cake

This is a really lovely, light cake that is quick to make and sure to impress. Any time you can have fans of fruit slices on the top of the cake, it looks fancy, am I right?

Ginger and cardamom pair beautifully with pears (ooh, homonyms!) and the result is a perfectly spiced, perfectly sweet cake that would work just as well as a coffee cake or as a dessert.

I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

Ginger and Cardamom Pear Cake

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbspgrated fresh ginger, about a 3 inch piece of ginger
3/4 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
2 ripe pears, cored and sliced (no need to peel!)
powdered sugar for dusting

In an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, letting each become fully incorporated. Add the baking powder, salt, ginger, and cardamom, and mix briefly to combine.

Add the flour gradually, alternating with the yogurt or sour cream. Spread the batter into a greased 9-inch springform pan. Arrange the pear slices on top of the cake, pushing them into the batter very slightly. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the cake is puffed and starting to turn golden on top.

Allow to cool on a wire rack for about 30 minutes before removing from the springform pan. Dust with powdered sugar when completely cooled. Serves 8-10.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Fisherman's Pie

Lent is not quite over, so there's still time to enjoy some good seafood recipes. Also, where I live, winter is not quite over (ahem) so there is still time for good comfort food. This dish checks both boxes.

You don't have to be observant of Lent in order to enjoy this dish. You just have to like good food! 

There are several variations of this Irish dish (I'm just a week late for St. Patrick's Day!) and I combined what I loved about several to make my own version. I like using two different kinds of fish, plus shrimp, and I also like adding the traditional pot pie vegetables. Plus mushrooms. Mushrooms make everything better.

There are also different ways of preparation. I really liked poaching the fish in wine; I thought it added a tremendous depth of flavor to the sauce. If you don't like to cook with wine, or you don't want to open a bottle just for this 2/3 cup, you could 1) invite me over or 2) poach the fish in milk. 

Either way, you'll use the liquid to make a delicious sauce that will go over the fish, 

but under the potatoes!

This recipe has quite a few steps, but it's not difficult. You can do most of it while the potatoes cook, and then it comes together quickly at the end. It's a great meal to make on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon when you can spend a little more time in the kitchen. 

We enjoyed this with a hearty green salad, and crusty bread would be delicious as well. We also loved the leftovers the next day - it seemed like the flavors melded and deepened. Yum! 

Fisherman's Pie

1/2 pound cod filets
1/2 pound salmon filets
2/3 cup dry white wine
1 Tbsp. parsley
4 ounces sliced white button mushrooms
4 Tbsp. butter, divided
2 Tbsp. flour
1/3 cup half and half
1/2 pound peeled and deveined raw large shrimp
3/4 cup frozen peas and carrots
1 1/2 pounds potatoes, either Russet or Yukon gold, peeled and cut into chunks

Cook the potatoes in boiling water for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender. Drain and mash the potatoes with a potato masher. Add a tablespoon of the butter, a splash of half and half, and continue to mash until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

While the potatoes cook, generously season the cod and salmon filets with salt and pepper and place them in an even layer in the bottom of a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish. Pour the wine over the fish and sprinkle with parsley. Cover the dish with foil and bake at 350 for 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring pretty regularly. Remove to a bowl or plate. In the same skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. As it just begins to brown, add the flour. Cook, stirring, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low. 

Remove the baking pan with the fish from the oven, and use a slotted spoon to move the fish filets to a cutting board. Pour the liquid from the baking dish into the skillet, and whisk until the smooth. Bring the heat up to medium, and whisk constantly until the mixture boils. Add the half and half and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat. Stir in the frozen vegetables. 

Cut the fish into chunks, and place them back into the casserole dish. Top with the cooked mushrooms, and then the shrimp. 

Pour the sauce over the mixture in the pan and then smooth the mashed potatoes over the top. Sprinkle with additional parsley if you like. You can also rake a fork through the potatoes if you want to make a fancy design!

Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then broil for 3-4 minutes until the potatoes are brown on top. Watch closely so potatoes do not burn.  Makes 4-5 servings.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Mushroom and Goat Cheese Phyllo "Purses"

So here's the best recipe I have for you for St. Patrick's Day. It's the closest thematic thing I had in my recent repertoire... so you just have to change the name - don't they SORT OF resemble pots of gold at the end of the rainbow? Come on, use your imagination. 

Even if you don't think they look like pots of gold, you could imagine CARRYING all your gold in these adorable phyllo "purses." There, that's it. Since you're a leprechaun, you'll carry all your gold in these delicious mushroom and goat cheese filled phyllo purses. It won't even matter that all your gold gets coated in mushrooms and goat cheese. You won't care. You will probably care that you can't stop eating your purse...then what are you going to do with the gold?

Oh my, I think we've gotten a little carried away here.

Really, all you need to know is that these are a super delicious appetizer that tastes and looks REALLY impressive. And they're not difficult.

Working with phyllo dough can be a little putsy - the sheets don't often come apart easy (I had to just throw away a couple) and you have to keep the sheets damp, and use lots of butter (that's a downside?) but it will be worth it. 

Be sure to either thaw your pastry sheets in the fridge overnight, or on the counter for a few hours. If you're thawing them on the counter, keep them covered with a slightly damp dishcloth to be sure they don't dry out. When it's time to make these, carefully unroll the bundle - it's ok if a few have broken and you have to throw them out; you'll have plenty!

You'll work with one sheet at a time, brushing it with butter, until you have three sheets stacked on top of one another, then you'll cut that into six pieces. You'll mound some mushroom mix in the middle and top with goat cheese, 

then bring up the sides and squinch together at the top to make a parcel or purse. Another brush with butter, and into the oven they go!

After baking, they are a crispy golden brown, and that outer shell is a wonderful complement to the creamy goat cheese, and the mushroom/shallot mixture. You can even make these ahead of time and then reheat for a few minutes in the oven, and they'll be just like new! 

You will have A LOT of phyllo sheets leftover, so just throw them in the freezer and start googling other recipes you can make - spanakopita bites, for one... 

Mushroom and Goat Cheese Phyllo Purses

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
8 oz. mushrooms, chopped
3-4 oz. goat cheese, plain or herbed, crumbled
6 sheets phyllo pastry
6 Tbsp. butter, melted

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat, and add the mushrooms and shallot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallot is softened and mushrooms are not releasing moisture, about 7-10 minutes. Allow this mixture to cool completely. 

Place one phyllo sheet on a large cutting board. Brush with melted butter. Place another sheet on top and brush that one with the melted butter. Add a third, and repeat with the butter! Now you have 3 sheets high. Cut this into 6 equal squares.

Repeat the process with three more sheets so that you have 12 squares total.

Place about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the mushroom filling in the middle of each square and top with crumbled goat cheese. Bring the sides of the pastry up and squeeze together with your fingers to make a seal - it should look like a little purse or money sack...

Place each parcel on a baking sheet and brush with more melted butter. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes. Serve warm.

You can also bake these ahead of time and reheat at 350 for 5 minutes when it's time to serve. Makes 4-6 appetizer servings.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Sourdough Banana Bread

Our teenager recently proclaimed, "I think I could eat this banana bread every day of my life." That's a pretty solid endorsement. And I could agree, and happily. This banana bread is SO good. 

I have found myself thankful that I have a sourdough starter, not to make sourdough bread, but just to make this banana bread. And true confessions: I make this banana bread probably 5 or 6 times to every time I make sourdough bread. You don't even need to get out the mixer; a good wooden spoon and some arm muscle will do the job just fine!

This bread can use sourdough discard or freshly fed starter, so it's easy to make it whenever the mood strikes. I buy bananas for the sole purpose of making this bread. Bananas that are ripe can be frozen, and frozen bananas can be easily thawed, either on the counter or in the microwave, to make this batter.

If you don't have a sourdough starter, you can try to get one of your friends to give you some, or you can make your own.  However you get it, make sure you use it to make this awesome banana bread. You and your family will be so happy you did. 

Sourdough Banana Bread

1 1/2 cups overripe mashed bananas, about 3 medium bananas
1/2 cup sourdough starter (fed or discard)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

In a large mixing bowl or batter bowl, stir together the mashed bananas, sourdough starter, oil, sugar, and brown sugar until well combined. Add eggs and vanilla and mix again.

Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon and stir together just until no dry streaks remain. 

Pour batter into a greased 9x5 loaf pan and bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Place the pan on a wire rack and cool for about 20 minutes. Then carefully remove from the pan and place the bread on the rack to cool completely. 

Recipe Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

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