Cinnamon churro cupcakes? Did I say “churro” cupcakes? Like those sinfully delicious pieces of sugary fried pastry you can get (for a dollar!!!!) at Costco? Yep, just like that, but I dare say a little healthier (well, at least not deep fried). I’ve been seriously craving sugar lately (which is a little different from my usual salt cravings, and also different from my crunch cravings, and maybe even different from my ice cream cravings…never mind, my cravings may be too numerous to categorize). These cupcakes really hit the spot!…
Ahhhh, vacation. Yep, that is right, vacation. Much needed, well-deserved, greatly enjoyed. Don’t we all love going on vacation? Well, my in-laws have decided to “winter” in Arizona 5 months of the year, truly living the ultimate vacation. Unfortunately that means that they aren’t always available to celebrate my youngest child’s birthday on his actual birthday date (in February). No problem, he’s now old enough to understand that not having grandma and grandpa here on his birthday just means presents in the mail (so awesome) and another celebration at a later date (even more awesome). Who doesn’t love another celebration?…
Are you looking for a decadent dessert? Maybe for a dinner party, or maybe for Easter? Search no more. I have come to bring you what you are looking for. I was headed to a dinner at our friends’ house not too long ago, and my task was dessert. I am not much of a baker and I often struggle with desserts (although I sure do love to eat them!). My daughter, the baker in the house, was gone for the day, so no help there. I couldn’t decide what to make, but actually had a whole day to create, so I decided to make two desserts (it is just in my nature). I chose this Key Lime Cheesecake from Crazy for Crust as well as Churro Cupcakes (don’t worry- that will be a post for another day…)….
If you’re ever in need of a crazy easy dessert, this Pomegranate Lime Sorbet is most certainly a contender. The recipe was adapted from the November 2015 issue of Bon Appétit. In the magazine, they used the sorbet to make parfaits with labneh (a Lebanese strained yogurt – similar to greek style), pistachios and a drizzle of honey. As we were using the sorbet as a palate cleanser of sort for our recent dinner party, we chose to serve it simply in Meyer lemon halves, sprinkled with a dusting of lime zest….
All good dinner parties need treat bags, right? We hadn’t really considered it when first planning our menu. But it is a funny story, how these particular treat bags came to be. My 13-year-old daughter has been learning her own way around the kitchen and has discovered that baking is her forte. For her last birthday I bought her a copy of Joy the Baker’s Homemade Decadence, because really, it is never too early to start your cookbook library-even if you are only turning 13. (P.S.-If you don’t have this one, it is a must have!) My daughter has been slightly obsessed with a recipe in this cookbook for Dark Chocolate Truffle Cookies. I must admit, they didn’t look like much, so when she chose them for her weekend project several months ago, I wasn’t super excited. I’m not usually too moved by anything dusted with powdered sugar. However, when I tasted these gooey little bombs, I quickly changed my mind. Pure heaven. My daughter has now made the recipe many, many times and they definitely rise to the occasion. Every time.
When my daughter found out Holly and I were hosting a dinner party, she offered to make a batch of these Dark Chocolate Truffle Cookies for us. We already had plans for our dessert course (coming soon!), but what would be a better take home remembrance of a really fun night than a bag of cookies? We took her up on her offer. She set to work, crafting the cookies, and I set to work crafting some bags for the cookies to be packaged in. I’m pretty pleased with what we came up with, and I think our dinner guests were too!
So now that our dinner is over, I can only hope that all of our guests are happily treating themselves to some Dark Chocolate Truffle Cookies. Preferably with a nice glass of wine. I recommend you all try them too. Your friends will thank you.
And a special thanks to Joy the Baker (Joy Wilson).
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder (this can be been somewhat hard to find, you can substitute Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder which is a blend of natural and Dutch processed cocoas-this has worked fine for us)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- ⅓ cup (3 ounces) chopped dark chocolate (we have used both 70% and 72% cacao chocolate bars-both have worked well)
- 1 large egg
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar (you can likely get away with less of this as this is just to roll the cookies in)
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
- In a medium bowl ,combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
- Chop the room temperature butter into small pieces and rub into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Mix in the chopped dark chocolate.
- In a small bowl, mix together the egg and vanilla.
- Pour the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture and mix until moistened.
- Press the dough into a ball (you'll have to get your hands dirty here if you haven't already).
- Wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Put the confectioners' sugar in a shallow bowl.
- Using a tablespoon, form balls of the refrigerated chocolate mixture.
- Roll the ball in the confectioners' sugar.
- Place the sugar covered ball on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Repeat with the remaining chocolate mixture, rolling in confectioners' sugar before placing on baking sheet.
- Bake about 10 minutes leaving the cookies just a bit undercooked on the insides.
- Cool on the pan for a few minutes before finishing cooling on a cooling rack.
- These are fabulous served warm, and almost just as good eaten over the next 4 days (store in an airtight container).
The winter months are not known for their abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables. After the heavy meals of the holiday season, the arrival of the mid-winter citrus crop is always a welcome addition to my kitchen. A few weeks ago I bought a giant bag of fresh limes at Costco, and while a few wound up in gin and tonics, I was left with pounds of limes and a little inspiration. Enter: Lime Curd with a Hint of Vanilla. It’s an easy, creamy, bright and versatile treat that can be added to baked goods like tarts, cupcakes or scones, or simply eaten with a spoon (my preferred method!).
Lime curd is a careful meld of butter, sugar, citrus juice, and eggs. Gently heating the eggs in the presence of sugar allows them to stay creamy and light and keeps them from scrambling. If you’re into the science of cooking, check out this article in the LA Times (from 1998!). The beauty of a citrus curd is that its proportions are forgiving. I prefer a soft, slightly more tart version so I use whole eggs, less sugar, and a moderate amount of butter. If you want a sweeter and firmer version (for use in bars or pies, for example) you can simply increase the sugar and switch to egg yolks. The key to the recipe is really to take it low and slow and be sure to temper the eggs so they don’t scramble. Let it cool and then just try to keep from eating it all at once. It’s delicious on scones and really fantastic mixed into some vanilla Siggi’s yogurt in the morning. The curd will keep in the refrigerator for at least a week and freezes beautifully.
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup lime juice (approximately 2 large or 3-4 small limes)
- zest of 1 lime
- ¼ tsp vanilla bean paste
- Melt the butter in a non-reactive sauce pain over low heat.
- While the butter is melting, pulse together the sugar and lime zest in a food processor until combined.
- Add the lime juice, sugar and zest, to the pan with the butter and whisk until the sugar dissolves.
- Gently beat the eggs in a small bowl.
- Working one tablespoon at a time, add some of the lime juice mixture to the beaten eggs. Be sure to keep whisking so as not to scramble the eggs!
- Add the egg/juice mixture back to the sauce pain.
- over continued gentle heat, whisk the mixture constantly until a smooth curd begins to form, somewhere just below a simmer (and around 160-175 degrees).
- Remove from heat and let cool. Stir in the vanilla bean paste to taste.
I spent the weekend making Peanut Butter Cup Bars. Simple ingredients, simple recipe, no oven involved. This is one of my very favorite recipes, not only because of its simplicity, but because of the fact is that it gets my kids into the kitchen every time. In the interest of full disclosure, these particular peanut butter cup bars pictured above were actually made by my 4 year old with only some minor help from me. My journey to the kitchen was so much later in life, that I’m hoping that by getting my kids into the kitchen early in their lives, I will spark their interest in cooking.
I have 2 kids, currently aged 13 and 4, and when it comes to food and kids in the kitchen, I have learned a lot of lessons between number 1 and number 2. When my now teenager was tiny, I was in the throes of my education and training. That meant long days, long nights and meals that involved the path of least resistance. Our then toddler wanted butter noodles for dinner 7 nights a week? Sure-we could handle that, we had a fast casual Italian joint down the street. I’m not sure I knew where my kitchen was back then, and I’m pretty sure that even if I could have found my kitchen, I wouldn’t have known how to make noodles anyway! No surprise that food rapidly became an issue with my firstborn, as her preferred menu involved very few types of foods and none of them could be considered nutritious.
When I started my full time job, one of my new colleagues asked me what we liked to eat for dinner. Unfortunately, my honest answer did not impress her, to say the least. Who would be impressed by our crazy array of fast food dinners? From that day forward, my colleague (now one of my great friends) vowed to teach me how to do better. She encouraged me to cook, encouraged me to try new recipes (even if they were simple desserts like these Peanut Butter Cup Bars) and encouraged me to do a better job of feeding my family. In my free time, I took some demonstration cooking classes, tried tons of new recipes and read cookbooks like novels (I’ve actually developed quite a cookbook addiction, but that it is a whole other conversation). I rapidly improved my skills and discovered a true passion for cooking.
When I had my second child, many years after the first, I was in a different place in my life. I had more time, more energy (it’s all relative, right?) and much more in my repertoire. I got smart, and fed my youngest child whatever we were eating, and what we were eating had vastly improved by then. He greedily ate everything including the garlicky pureed beef stew I fed him, the beet borscht his Polish nanny fed him, and the various vegetables we insisted he have at every meal. I also learned that getting my kids into the kitchen with me was a great way to get them enthusiastic about trying new foods. There was so much they could help with-dumping, mixing, spreading, crushing. My 13 year old, initially very finicky, is now exploring her own talents in the kitchen and her palate has greatly expanded (she now orders salmon everywhere we go-and together we can make a fabulous salmon at home!). My 4 year old tells people he’s going to be a “daddy chef” and asks me to put his apron on him so he can help me cook. Now, this Peanut Butter Cup Bar recipe certainly isn’t a healthy recipe, and it certainly won’t give your kids any nutrition, but it is so easy and gives my 4 year old such a sense of accomplishment to be able to make a dessert that everyone enjoys. It is a great recipe to start getting your own kids into the kitchen with you! And who knows, maybe if you get them interested in making dessert, helping you make vegetables will soon follow!
- 1 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
- 1 Cup Butter
- 2½ Cups Powdered Sugar
- 2 Cups Crushed Graham Crackers
- 1½ Cups (12 ounces) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
- Mix peanut butter, melted butter and powdered sugar in a large bowl.
- Stir in crushed graham crackers.
- Spread peanut butter mixture in a 9 x 13 pan.
- Melt chocolate chips, stirring frequently to ensure the chocolate doesn't burn. (This can be done using a double boiler over low heat, or using a microwave on medium power, stirring every 30 seconds until melted)
- Spread melted chocolate over peanut butter mixture.
- Refrigerate until chocolate is hardened.
- Cut into squares, serve and enjoy!
Ya’ll. This pie is the stuff that holiday dreams are made of, I promise. A twist on the classic pecan pie, it is made with walnuts instead of pecans, and peppered with chocolate and a hint of bourbon. I was first introduced to it as a kid at our annual Thanksgiving celebration we shared with good friends (Hi Pam!). The mother of the family we celebrated with used to make a pie for every child present, each with our own can of whipped cream. While I don’t recommend the pie-per-person serving size (this pie is really quite rich!), I do recommend you make more than one if you are planning a gathering of more than three or four people. …
Every year on my birthday, my mom brings me an angel food cake with the most delicious frosting. She got the recipe from a neighbor when I was a child. It’s not a fancy recipe, and in fact, the ingredients might strike some foodie-types as a bit low-brow (Pudding! Cool Whip!), but I love it. A blend of whipped topping, pudding, and malt powder, it is light, creamy, and just a bit sweet. It works beautifully with a simple angel food cake. Best of all, it comes together in about five minutes and requires nothing more than a sturdy bowl and a mixer of some type.