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seasonal recipes

Food, Recipes

Heart Shaped Peanut Butter Cookies

It is officially the month of amore, with Valentine’s Day lurking just around the corner and it makes us all go a little heart shaped crazy. Not everyone is a fan of Valentine’s Day. It can be a bit commercial and overdone, but what I love about these cookies in particular is that you really don’t necessarily need a Valentine to make and enjoy these cookies. Go ahead and make them for yourself…self love, am I right?!

I always look at Valentine’s as a time to show just about anyone I love how much they are appreciated. I don’t like a whole lot of fanfare and grand gestures, but these cookies are an inexpensive and touching way to show you care. I pick up a heart shaped container from the Dollar General store, along with a bag of Valentine’s Day edition M&M’s, make a batch of these cookies and call it a day.

I always like to use a good peanut butter dough for this recipe, because it has some heft and will hold its shape really well for these particular cookies. You want them to look like hearts once they are baking, as opposed to amorphous blobs, and consistency of peanut butter cookie dough allows this to happen. This also means that you do not need a cookie cutter or any fancy tools, just your own two hands. The result is a really cute, rustic and homemade shaped heart that I find particularly endearing.

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Food, Recipes

Classic Strawberry Shortcake

I love strawberries. Anytime that they come into season, or taste sweet enough to eat, the chances are good that you will find several cartons lying in wait in my refrigerator. Although delicious on their own, I love visiting different dessert recipes featuring these beautiful, vibrant berries.

One that has stood the test of time for me is the classic Strawberry Shortcake. Equal parts dense, buttery cake, mixed with light, fluffy whipped cream, and sweet, tart strawberries, it is one of the most perfect and refreshing desserts in my book.

Recently, strawberries have been popping up everywhere in the grocery store and they have been super sweet and delicious, leaving me with a hankering for a good helping of this sweet treat. If you find yourself in the same boat, here is a super easy, one-bowl recipe that you can whip up quick as can be, and have a dessert on the table in no time at all.

This recipe is a visual stunner that will leave you looking like a baking pro. Little effort with big results…one of my favorite baking combos! If you haven’t ever tried making a homemade version, then you must give it a try. It is one of the easiest recipes you will find, and virtually foolproof.

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Perfect Golden Potato Latkes

Few things in this world bring me as much joy as the simple, crispy, golden potato latke. We are in the midst of Hanukkah and this simple recipe is one that is mired in Jewish tradition. I grew up on the shores of Long Island, NY, and although I am not of Jewish descent, I grew up celebrating its many traditions with friends, as Hanukkah is celebrated as vibrantly as Christmas there.

I can remember the lighting of the candle each night and the prayer that was recited. I just love traditions of any kind, and as with any culture, there is always a food involved when it comes to the holidays. I have yet to meet a Jewish friend whose family doesn’t have its very own latke recipe. The goal is always to get them “just like Bubby (Grandma) made them,” and you could get into a very heated debate about the proper way to make them.

I could eat these crispy little morsels by the dozen. If you have never had one, think of it as a small, pancake shaped hash brown patty. I have eaten plenty, but realized recently that I have never made one, so I felt this would be an appropriate time to try. I had bag of russet potatoes and a few onions left over from Thanksgiving, so all of the stars aligned.

I searched for the most traditional latke recipe and landed on one I found on The Kitchn website, as it stuck to the original methods the closest. made mine with what I had handy, so I used vegetable oil for frying and plain breadcrumbs as a thickening agent. I have to admit I winced a little. Traditionally, latkes call for crushed Matzoh (a dry unleavened cracker) to be used, as most Jewish households have some leftover from Passover, so it is handy.

I LOVE Matzoh, but didn’t have any available in my pantry, so this time around I used breadcrumbs. Tradition also calls for using schmaltz as the frying agent, which is rendered chicken fat. This is also a staple in traditional Jewish cooking. I did not have this handy, so I went with my trusty vegetable oil. Someday I will try the full traditional recipe, but these turned out to taste simply amazing.

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Food, Recipes

Red-Wine Braised Short Ribs

When I first started this blog in Washington, D.C., way back in 2011, I came across a recipe in Bon Appetit magazine for Red-Wine Braised Short Ribs. It was the stuff of legends. I made the recipe and it was utterly phenomenal. I carefully clipped it from my copy of the magazine and placed it in a plastic sheath divider and tucked it away carefully to revisit for years to come. It is quite honestly one of the best recipes I believe I have ever made. I even surprised myself, it was so tasty, just by following the recipe to a tee.

Fast forward to present time, many moves later that have landed me in South Carolina, I either lost track of my recipe book where this recipe was located, or it was a victim of a feng shui attack somewhere along the way. I have since searched high and low in the hopes that someday I would open the right box or drawer and it would be there atop the pile, glowing with a magical, glimmering light.

Well, needless to say, this never happened. And, unfortunately, I deleted the content from my old blog to start it fresh, so I lost the original blog post where I reviewed and posted the recipe. After some time, I finally succumbed to the idea that it was a fruitless effort and threw in the towel on the idea of finding the recipe.

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Food, Recipes

Hearty Hamburger Soup

I recently caught this recipe for Hamburger Soup on an episode of Pioneer Woman and I was highly intrigued. The idea of hamburger soup had me a bit bewildered at first, but this comfort food actually reminds me a bit of that delicious and nutritious minestrone soup you may have gotten in the cafeteria in elementary school, with the addition of ground beef. It has undertones of a rich pot roast as well. It is literally a meat and potatoes recipe, chock full of so many vegetables, making it is a hearty one-pot meal with super classic flavors.

What I reeeeally loved about this recipe, is it calls for basic ingredients and allows me to use up the celery and carrots in my fridge, along with the meat from my freezer. I absolutely loathe the idea of wasting food, so it is all about finding recipes that inspire you to use up all of what you have. That is what makes cooking and recipe hunting so much fun! It is a nerdy little game that I like to play to try new things and avoid any waste in the kitchen.

All that said, I decided to give this new concoction a whirl, and boy is it good. The weather is just starting to turn here in SC, and while I love a good pot of chili, there is also something about a pot of soup that gives me the feels. If you cook for someone who isn’t too keen on beans, this is the perfect substitute for chili on a cozy winter day. Plus, it is chock FULL of veggies along with the beef, so it is a full meal in a pot.

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Food, Recipes

Roasted Tomato & Grilled Cheese Soup

One of my favorite chilly weather combos ever is a good cup of creamy tomato soup with a crunchy, gooey grilled cheese. I have always gone the traditional route of dunking the sandwich into the soup, which will always be a classic move, but I recently stumbled across this unique recipe from Grace Elkus that was featured on The Kitchn website (one of my favorite all around cooking resources) and it had me intrigued. It is quite genius really, why not combine these two treasures in one convenient and heart pot.

To get a feel for it, picture French onion soup meets tomato soup vibe. It has layers of stretchy cheese and the crunch of the croutons fresh from the broiler on top, with pillowy soft bites of tomato soaked bread swimming below. This is a rustic and hearty soup packed full of flavor.

This soup is deceptive because it gives the appearance, heft and mouthfeel of a creamy soup, only it doesn’t call for any heavy cream. Isn’t it just the best when that happens?! Aside from the cheese, which you can adjust the amount to your liking, this recipe includes an assemblage of healthy ingredients.

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Food, Recipes

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer

I know it’s basic Betty territory, but I really do love it when pumpkin spice latte season rolls around each year. I think for me, it signifies the turn of the seasons and signals the official end to summer. Nothing against summer, but fall, and the months leading into the holidays, equal my wheelhouse for joy.

In my defense, I have always loved the coffee portion of this craze the most for this seasonal treat. I will admit it has gotten a bit out of hand with pumpkin spice eeeeverything, but if you are like me and go cuckoo for that creamy flavor mixed with your morning java, you have to give this a whirl.

It is super easy to make your own pumpkin spice creamer at home. You can mix this with your own choice of coffee, and nowadays, you can get a fairly priced espresso maker and get down to the business of making your very own legit lattes.

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Food, Recipes

Autumn Apple Bundt Cake

Ahhh the beginning of fall. That magical time of year when the air feels crisper, giving us that first little shiver in the morning to tell us that the end of summer is drawing near. The leaves begin to turn and shimmy from the trees to the ground and we have that first inkling to reach for an extra sweater to ease the chill in our bones.

It brings me a thrilling sensation. I am a lover of baking. This is the time of year when all things come to life in this realm of my life. Warm, hearty pies, spongy cakes to accompany an evening tea. There is something that is so lovely and comforting about it all.

The stars of the autumn show when it comes to the baking game are obvi pumpkin and apple, accompanied by their spicy cousins, cinnamon and nutmeg. Naturally, as soon as the first cool breeze hits me, I am off and running to the store for my first batch of fresh, seasonal apples. This is their prime time to shine.

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Food, Recipes

Easy Fresh Fig Jam

South Carolina is ripe with fresh local figs in the month of July and August. If you haven’t tried a fig, or you just aren’t quite sure of what to do with them, there are recipes galore for cookies, breads, oatmeal bars…the sky is the limit for this tart, sweet fruit in terms of preparation.

One of my very favorite uses for figs when they are in season is, hands down, FIG JAM. If you haven’t had it, I will venture to say you are just plain missing out. Pairing fresh fig jam with a freshly baked baguette, good creamy goat cheese and a drizzle of fresh local honey on top is a can’t miss combo.

And, if you are a fan of the latest charcuterie board craze and find yourself assembling your own decorative platters, fig jam is a must have. It pairs well with a variety of cheeses, breads and crackers and offsets the sharpness of your stronger cheeses beautifully by providing just the perfect hint of sweetness.

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