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
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