peppermint meringues

11.16.2019

I've skipped right over Thanksgiving and into Christmas.

While I normally am eager to make the switch, I feel more aggressive than normal. My excuse for decorating in November used to be that I was taking advantage of having Veteran's Day off from work.  However this year, I'm just plain aggressive. I had my outdoor decor all set up a week for about a week before I turned on the lights.

In the spirit of being extremely ready for the Christmas season, I also took care of my Christmas Cookie Swap. My friend Becca of The Salted Cookie runs a swap each year. Last year I made these matcha cookies. They were good but not really amazing. I am terrible at melting chocolate... and then the subsequent dipping of cookies into the chocolate felt clumsy. 

I can't remember where I saw this initial recipe but the person talked about how irresistible these little meringues were - and they were right. They are just sweet enough and just peppermint-y enough and just the right size... you can't resist popping a couple of these into your mouth. I challenged myself to use a piping bag for this and it was quite messy in my kitchen. I'd absolutely like to get better at piping since it would be a nice addition to my cake and macaron skills. 
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.
  2. In a large bowl beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, peppermint, and salt with a mixer on medium until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time beating on high. Beat well after each addition. Beat until stiff peaks form.
  3. Place a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip inside a large cup and fold excess over top of the cup. This will help hold the pastry bag in place making it easier to paint the stripes and fill with meringue. If desired, using a small paintbrush paint small stripes up the sides of the pastry bag. Carefully spoon the meringue into the bag. Pipe 1" diameter cookies onto prepared baking sheet about 1" apart.
  4. Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until meringues appear dry and firm when lightly touched. Remove and cool on a wire rack.
Shopping List
3 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Red food coloring (the gel kind works best)

ricotta banana bread

11.14.2019

Ricotta is often on the list of things I fail to finish in my fridge. A recipe will call for a half cup and then it'll just sit there slowly expiring with my good intentions. But - if I'm going to make budget decisions and buy generic cereal... I should also be mindful of my wasted $1.50 on the remaining ricotta.

Coincidentally, my mom dropped off some surprise bananas a few weeks ago. While my siblings will eat bananas as a snack, I only eat them baked. Brief flashback to the banana cakes from earlier this summer: banana cinnamon cake, cinnamon banana muffins, and banana hazelnut cake. Thankfully, ricotta can be used in a banana bread. Ricotta will give it a very moist result.... unfortunately I slightly overcooked this so some of the moisture wasn't there. But, I would definitely do this again.


  1. Preheat your oven to 350"F
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together the olive oil or melted butter and sugars together until creamy.
  3. Add the vanilla extract, ricotta cheese and heavy cream and whisk until everything is incorporated. Whisk in the eggs until you have a smooth mixture. Add the bananas and walnuts and gently toss to coat.
  4. In another large bowl whisk together all the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt. Make a well in the middle and pour the wet mixture inside.
  5. Using a spatula gently fold all the ingredients together.
  6. Grease a loaf pan with a dab of butter or oil and pour in the mixture.
  7. Sprinkle a few walnuts on top for garnish.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wooden cutting boar and allow to cool on a cooling rack.

Shopping list
1/2 c melted coconut oil
1/2 c white granulated sugar
1/3 c brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c whole milk ricotta cheese
1 tbsp heavy cream
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 c walnuts -roughly chopped + a few for garnish
2 bananas

green tomato walnut cinnamon bread

11.06.2019

 
I've been holding on to tomato growing season as long as I possibly could. I really pushed the limits this year.... but I also believe that I really utilized my tomatoes as best as I ever have. I have processed and canned a whole lot of sauce. It has been living in stacks on my kitchen counter since mid-September so time to divide up the winnings and store for Winter.

I worked pretty hard to ripen the most tomatoes possible but still ended up with many green ones. There are some fairly traditional recipes for green tomatoes: fried green tomatoes and relish. I didn't not have it in me to do any more canning so I turned to a 3rd option.... this green tomato bread. I think you can put it in the zucchini bread bucket if you are looking to classify it. 

Frankly it would be hard for this bread to be disappointing. It has all the components for success: butter, sugar, and cinnamon. The tomatoes are finely diced enough that they don't affect the consistency of the bread the way bananas sometimes do (which by the way I have a couple sitting on my counter waiting for me to tackle). To make this bread a little different, I added in walnuts and raisins. I used just what I had on hand but I would probably opt for golden raisins next time since I feel like they are sweeter.

This was so easy to make that I might pull a few more tomatoes off the vines before the next cold snap comes through... maybe there is another batch of green tomato bread in me before I put up my Christmas trees.

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. 
  2. Grease and flour two 9x5-inch loaf pans.
  3. Blend butter and sugar until smooth in a stand mixer. Add in eggs one at a time and blend until smooth.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine tomatoes, walnuts, vanilla extract, and salt together in a large bowl until well blended. 
  5. Mix flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder together in a separate bowl; stir into egg mixture until just blended. 
  6. Spoon batter into prepared loaf pans.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the middle of each loaf comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cool in the pans for about 10 minutes before transferring loaves to wire racks to cool completely.
Shopping List
2 cups finely diced green tomatoes
2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup raisins
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

pumpkin brown butter mac and cheese

11.05.2019

Here is another dish to sneak some veggies into your diet... also who doesn't love mac and cheese? I was hosting a small gathering for Halloween. Halloween is a big holiday in my neighborhood. Houses don't go crazy with decorations but there are endless amounts of kids running around. I buy my candy in bulk from Amazon and simultaneously pray that they come and eat it all ... and also that I don't run out.

I fell in love with this recipe from Food52 because it optimizes for crunchiness. We are a family that would fight to the death over the corner pieces from a Stouffers mac and cheese. There were some comments that it could be cheesier - and I get that. So if that is you, just amp up the cheese but honestly I loved it! You get a bit of a crunch on the bottom of the pan and on the top. The pumpkin seeds (aka pepitas) were a hit as well. My mom commented on them several times.

Here's how it goes.
  1. Heat oven to 475°F. Grease a 11x17-inch sheet pan with rimmed edges.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook for only 4 to 5 minutes, so they’re quite al dente—just soft enough that if you taste one, there's no audible crunch. Reserve 1/2 cup of cooking water and drain the pot of pasta.
  3. In the same pot you used for the noodles, brown 6 tablespoons of butter: Cook over medium heat, stirring continuously, until it foams. The foam will recede, and the butter will be golden-tan. (If your pot is dark, you’ll know it’s ready when it starts to give off a deeply appealing rich, nutty scent.) Turn the heat down to low.
  4. Add the noodles back to the pot and immediately toss so your butter doesn’t stay on the bottom and burn. Drizzle in a few tablespoons of the hot reserved cooking water. Add the salt, pepper, three-quarters of the cheddar (about 12 ounces), Pecorino, and milk, and stir until you have a homogenous, creamy sauce. Mix in the pumpkin puree, adding a little more reserved water if needed to thin slightly. Turn off the heat.
  5. Transfer to the sheet pan, and sprinkle the remaining 4 ounces of cheddar, the panko, and the pumpkin seeds over the top. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the panko is nice and toasted, and some of the cheesy noodles sticking out around the edges are tinged with amber spots.
Shopping List
2 teaspoons salt, plus more for pasta water
1 pound cavatappi (or other twisty pasta shape with lots of nooks for cheese to nestle into)
6 tablespoons butter, plus more to grease the pan
1/2 teaspoon white pepper (you can substitute black or rainbow if you prefer)
1 pound sharp cheddar, grated
4 ounces Pecorino Romano, grated
1 cup whole milk
1 can pumpkin puree (15 oz)
1 1/4 cups plain panko
1/2 cup shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas), raw

veggie baked ziti

10.24.2019

I am 100% over eating caprese salads with burrata. I go real hard on them in July and August... so when tomato season really kicks into gear I'm just tired. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of buying more burrata at Trader Joe's one day. I was feeling ambitious and also like "I still have so many tomatoes in my garden" guilty. 

Thankfully, I scrolled past this baked ziti recipe on Instagram one day and was saved. It would be a home for so many things from the garden: tomatoes, basil, and peppers. Plus, it would be a very different use for burrata. 

If you are ever looking to sneak vegetables into a dish, this one is for you. I barely even noticed the carrots and mushrooms when I was eating. That being said, it was not as creamy as I would like. I might recommend adding like 30% more if you make it. But also it was totally fine! I just had a slightly more sinful and gooey image in my mind when I was chopping away.

Also, if you aren't into burrata... no big deal. I ate some of my leftovers last night sans burrata and it was just fine. The burrata adds a wonderful creamy-ness to this dish that just about anyone can get behind.
  1. In a medium saucepan, set over medium heat, add the olive oil. Add the carrot, red bell pepper and diced mushrooms. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. 
  2. Add in the minced garlic, marinara sauce, salt and crushed red pepper and 1/4 cup of water. Bring the sauce to a simmer and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until the sauce has thickened, about 7 to 8 minutes. When the sauce has thickened, add the mozzarella and ricotta and mix it until combined.
  3. Meanwhile... cook the ziti and cook until al dente. Drain and add to the pot with the sauce and mix until the ziti is thoroughly coated in sauce.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Add the ziti to a 8x8 baking dish. Top with a small sprinkling of mozzarella. Transfer to the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  5. At the 20 minute mark, remove it from the oven. Add the burrata to the top of the dish. Think like half a ball for each person.
  6. Place it back in the oven to bake for 3 minutes longer, just until warm. Garnish with a bit of crushed red pepper and basil.
Shopping List
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small carrot, peeled and diced
1/4 red bell pepper, diced
3 cremini or button mushrooms, stems removed and diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes , plus more for garnish
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella, plus more for topping
1/3 cup ricotta
1 ball of burrata
1/2 pound ziti
Basil leaves, for garnish

harvest loaf with maple butter

10.15.2019

Technically this is a pumpkin loaf... but I don't want to call it that.

I'm not a huge pumpkin flavor person. I've never been one for a pumpkin spice latte. Pumpkin pie? No thanks. I do get on board with other seasonal flavors. Gingerbread, peppermint, etc. It feels like there are others but I can't think of them right now.

I came across this recipe on Twitter and it won me over. I think because it was not screaming "I'm a pumpkin loaf". The most amazing part of it was that I only needed two things to make the whole recipe happen. The end result is incredibly delicious. The ginger cuts the traditional pumpkin flavor into an unexpected harvest flavor. Does that make sense? Maybe not. You'll just have to make the loaf and see.

I was feeling particularly ambitious on this occasion so I decided to make my own butter as well. While that might sound aggressive, homemade butter is very easy. It only requires patience, a stand mixer and heavy cream. Here is a link to the recipe that I have used. I flavored this batch with maple syrup and sea salt.

Key tip? Do not skip the pumpkin seeds and sugar on the top. It gives a lovely little crunch.
  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Lightly coat a 9x5" loaf pan (or two smaller pans) with nonstick spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment, leaving a generous overhang on both long sides.
  2. Whisk flour, cinnamon, kosher salt, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and cloves in a medium bowl.
  3. Whisk eggs, pumpkin purée, ginger, and 1½ cups sugar in a large bowl. Stream in oil, whisking constantly until mixture is homogeneous. Gently fold half of dry ingredients into egg mixture until no dry spots remain. Repeat with remaining dry ingredients.
  4. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Scatter pumpkin seeds over batter. Sprinkle seeds with remaining 1 Tbsp. sugar. 
  5. Bake bread, rotating pan once halfway through, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 80–90 minutes for larger pan or 50-65 minutes for two smaller pans.
  6. Let cool slightly, then run a knife or small offset spatula around pan to help loosen bread. Using overhang, transfer bread to a wire rack and let cool.
Shopping List
loaf
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
⅛ tsp. ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 15-oz. can pumpkin purée
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp finely grated ginger (from about one 3" piece fresh ginger)
1½ cups plus 1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup raw pumpkin seeds

butter1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup maple syrup
sea salt

turkish-style beef and eggplant stew

This weekend I very intentionally flipped through several of my recipe books to find a new recipe to make. After a couple books, I found things that I would want to make some day but not right now. While I don't have a million cookbooks, I certainly have enough that it would be great to find some inspiration from them in the kitchen as opposed to just for decor.
I ended up finding this recipe in a fall edition of Real Simple magazine. It was not lying when it said 20 minute prep time. I barely did any work here. In fact I did more work taking pictures of the meal cooking over 6 hours than I had done preparing it.

In short, I highly recommend this for people who are busy or just want to be surprised by a tasty meal on their counter 6-8 hours later. I will say it has certain "intensity" or "heat" to it that might not be super suitable to kids? I'm not sure what kids eat. I'm not a person that loves hot flavoring but you could just cut back on the crushed red pepper.

Bonus for this meal? The eggplant came from my garden and the peppers came from my Dad's. I love when a meal that isn't a caprese salad can be made from our gardens. The eggplant variety is called "patio baby eggplant" which is why they are so tiny. I love them for that - perfect for recipes and sharing with friends and neighbors.
  1. Combine vinegar, tomato paste, cumin, Aleppo, salt, black pepper, and ¾ cup water in cooker. 
  2. Add beef, eggplants, bell peppers, and onion; stir to combine. 
  3. Cover and cook until meat is very tender, 6 to 7 hours on low or 4 ½ to 5 hours on high. 
  4. Serve stew over couscous, garnished with oregano.
Shopping List
⅓ cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1½ teaspoons crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 2-in. pieces
3 small Italian eggplants (1¾ lb.), sliced into ½-in. rounds
3 medium-size red bell peppers (1½ lb.), seeded and sliced
1 large yellow onion, chopped
Cooked couscous and fresh oregano leaves, for serving

amazing chocolate chip cookies

10.09.2019

Does actually sifting flour make a difference in cookies? Maybe. 

All I know is these cookies are delicious. They are beyond simple. Just a chocolate chip cookie. I refuse to compare the recipe to another one because I need to believe the recipe is a little bit of magic.

In full disclosure, this recipe is from The Gilded Hotel in Newport. I stayed there earlier in the Fall for a birthday weekend. The place was super cute but they also served chocolate chip cookies nearly on command. There were cookies at 4pm when we were getting ready for dinner.... and again at 1:30 AM when we got home for the night.

Did I eat a chocolate chip cookie in bed? No. I ate two.

When we were checking out the next morning, I casually asked if they ever gave out the recipe. Without even a second thought, they gave it up. I love when people share like that. Why keep all the good stuff for yourself? I'm still busy telling everyone how amazing the all the food was at this hotel.

One night this week I finally got around to making these cookies for myself. I made the whole batch but only baked 6 cookies - thankfully. Were they the same as The Gilded? No. Not quite. I think they use more dough per cookie... and as a result they have a little more volume. But I did eat all the cookies I made in 1 day. And if we are being honest, I've eaten a little bit of the dough several times.
Here's how it goes.
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheet with parchment 
  2. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt 
  3. In mixer, combine butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar. Beat until combined. Add egg and vanilla. Add in dry ingredients bit by bit, mixing until combined. Add in chocolate chips. 
  4. Drop cookies onto baking sheet using a cookie scoop or ice cream scoop. Bake cookies until golden brown, 12-14 minutes. Top with sea salt. 
Shopping List
1 ¼ c flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ c butter, room temp
½ c packed brown sugar
6 tbsp sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 c semisweet chocolate chips
Sea Salt 
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