December 31, 2013

Top Posts of 2013

After stuffing myself with hundreds of pounds of barbecue, puffy tacos, doughnuts, and more on a culinary tour of Texas, I decided it would be a wonderful idea to review the year in recipes. Specifically, the most popular recipes I published in 2013. If you're looking for ways to start eating healthy for your 2014 resolutions, you may want to wait a few days until I start publishing new recipes. If you just want some food that tastes delicious, read on. Either way, happy New Year!

13. Raspberry Bars

12. Peach Muffins

11. Croque Poulet

10. Passover Almond Thumbprint Cookies

9. Blueberry Muffins

8. Shrimp and Chorizo Pasta

7. Chocolate Raspberry Coffee Cake

6. Honey Ginger Salmon

5. Asian Broccoli Salad

4. Blackberry Buns

3. Summer Potato Salad

2. Beer & Bacon Pecan Bars

1. Orange Ricotta Cookies

December 26, 2013

Cranberry Almond Tart

To celebrate the holidays, I decided to make a beautiful festive dessert that is actually pretty easy. It's full of juicy, tart cranberries with a hint of almond liqueur. That delicious filling is topped with crunchy almond streusel, and everything is cradled in a crisp, buttery crust. If you have extra cranberry filling and streusel like I did, just stick everything in some ramekins and bake until golden and bubbly. I'll keep this post short so that you can get right to baking and celebrating, but I hope your holidays are tasty and relaxing!

2 Cups Flour
1 1/4 + 1/6 Cup Sugar
1/6 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
1/4 tsp + Pinch Salt
1 Stick Butter, Chilled
1/2 Stick Butter, Melted
1 Egg Yolk
1 T Lemon Juice
12 oz Cranberries
1/4 Cup Blackberry Jam
2 T Almond Liqueur
1/4 tsp Almond Extract
1/3 Cup Sliced Almonds

Heat oven to 375F. Grease a 9-11" tart pan.

Pulse 1 1/4 cups flour, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/4 tsp salt in a food processor until combined. Add the chilled butter and pulse until small pieces remain. Combine the egg yolk with 1 T cold water and pulse in. Roll out to fit the prepared pan and chill until cold.

Prick the dough with a fork and press on a sheet of foil. Fill with pie weights and bake for 20 minutes or until firm. Remove the foil and weights, then bake for 3 minutes or until just golden. Leave oven at 325F.

Combine 1 cup sugar, lemon juice, and 1/2 cup water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil and add the cranberries; reduce to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the cranberries have popped. Remove from heat and stir in the jam, almond liqueur, and almond extract. Chill until cool.

Stir the remaining flour, remaining sugar, dark brown sugar, and remaining salt together. Add the melted butter and fold in the almonds.

Pour the cranberry filling into the crust. Crumble on the streusel and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden.

Makes 1 Tart

December 21, 2013


Sometimes I just want a cookie. Sometimes a plain chocolate chip cookie just won't do. Sometimes I want different types of cookies but only want one cookie. Luckily, these snickersnaps solve all those problems. If you haven't heard of a snickersnap, that is perfectly ok. But I'm guessing you've heard of gingersnaps and snickerdoodles. A snickersnap is simply a gingersnap and a snickerdoodle rolled into one delicious bite. Literally.

The gingersnap dough is very similar to the snickerdoodle dough, which is good because you bake them together. Even if you have a favorite family recipe for either cookie I would recommend using both recipes below so you have an even amount of dough and they bake together properly.

For the snickerdoodles, I make a basic sugar cookie dough and then roll it in cinnamon sugar before baking. The only difference between these and my usual sugar cookies is that I use shortening instead of butter. It makes the cookies crisp and prevents them from spreading too much. The gingersnaps have molasses and spices, too, but I keep the doughs almost identical so that they bake properly and I don't have a half-raw, half-burnt cookie. All I do after making the doughs is roll some of each together and bake them. They taste like the holidays and make amazing gifts, too.

1/2 Cup Shortening
3/4 Cup + 3 T Sugar
1 Egg
1 T Vanilla
1 1/2 Cups Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt
1 tsp Cream of Tartar
1 T Cinnamon

3/4 Cup Shortening
1 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Molasses
1 Egg
2 Cups Flour
2 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Ginger
1/4 tsp Cloves

Heat oven to 350F and line cookie trays with parchment.

For the snickerdoodles, beat the shortening and 3/4 cup sugar together. Add the egg and vanilla, then stir in the flour, baking soda, salt, and cream of tartar. Combine the cinnamon and remaining sugar. Scoop the dough into about 44 walnut-sized balls, then roll each in the cinnamon sugar.

For the gingersnaps, beat the shortening and sugar together. add the molasses and egg, then stir in the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. Roll into about 50 walnut-sized balls.

Roll one ball of snickerdoodle dough with a ball of gingersnap dough until stuck together and slightly swirled. Repeat with remaining cookie dough; there will be a few plain gingersnaps. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cooked through.

Makes 50
Recipe Adapted from Budding Baketress

December 12, 2013

Eggplant Parmesan Quinoa Casserole

It's definitely comfort food weather. I'm still craving warm, hearty, stick-to-your-ribs dishes, and I found a recipe that fills all of those requirements and it's extremely healthy. Picture the classic Italian dish eggplant parmesan. Cozy, right? Too bad it's loaded with calories. But I made a version that is so much better for you and still tastes just like the original.

This casserole has a quinoa base, as opposed to the pasta you would usually have with eggplant parmesan. Quinoa is basically a miracle. You could probably survive solely on quinoa for a good two or three months (except not really). Unfortunately, it doesn't have much flavor, which is why I drown it in marinara sauce; you can either make your own or use your favorite brand if you're short on time. As for the eggplant, I make sure to salt it and press it to make it less bitter and spongy before I saute it and add it to the marinara. All that's left is the cheese, and I add plenty. Since the rest of the dish is so good for you, I don't feel too bad about stirring in a few pounds or so of mozzarella and parmesan (though the deliciousness probably peaks around a cup or two of cheese).

Everything in the casserole is fully cooked, but I bake it for around 20 or 30 minutes so that the cheese melts, the quinoa soaks up the sauce, and all the flavors combine. You can broil it for a few minutes, too, so that the cheese on top gets golden brown. The dish freezes exceptionally well; I recommend freezing it after baking but before broiling so that it reheats quickly but doesn't burn.

1 Cup Quinoa, Cooked
1 1/4 lbs Eggplant, Cubed
1/2 Onion, Diced
4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
24 oz Tomato Sauce
1/4 tsp Dried Oregano
1/4 tsp Dried Basil
1 1/2 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1/2 Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese

Spread the eggplant on a few sheets of paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Place a few layers of paper towels on top and press something heavy on top of everything. Let sit for 20-30 minutes.

Heat oven to 375F and grease a 9x11" pan.

Heat some olive oil in a skillet. Add the eggplant and cook for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the onion and garlic and cook until eggplant is tender and onions are translucent, about 5 minutes more. Add the tomato sauce, oregano, and basil and bring to a simmer.

Stir the quinoa, eggplant and tomato sauce mixture, mozzarella, and parmesan together. Spread into the prepared pan and bake for 20-30 minutes or until bubbly. Broil for 2 minutes or until golden brown.

Serves 8
Recipe Adapted from The Iron You

December 7, 2013

Sausage, Bean, & Kale Stew

Now that I am definitely going somewhere freezing for college (go badgers?), I need to start embracing the cold. One of the best ways to cope is to eat and eat a lot. Stews are hearty, warm, and comforting, which makes them one of the best foods for winter, even if winter is currently 70 degrees and muggy.

This particular stew is loaded with healthy stuff: kale, beans, tomatoes, and herbs. There's also a kick from some jalapeno and some spicy Italian sausage. In addition to spice, the sausage makes the whole stew more filling and satisfying. If you want to make the recipe vegetarian or vegan, you can always use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth and omit the sausage or use a vegetarian alternative. Even with the sausage, however, this stew is still extremely good for you and your taste buds.

6 Spicy Italian Sausages
2 14.5oz Cans Diced Tomatoes
2 15oz Cans Cannellini Beans, Drained & Rinsed
2 Jalapenos, Minced
4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Onion, Diced
1 tsp Dried Basil
1 tsp Dried Oregano
1/2 tsp Cayenne
3 Cups Chicken or Vegetable Stock
5 Cups Chopped Kale

Heat some oil in a skillet and cook the sausages until brown and cooked through, about 12 minutes. Remove from skillet and let cool; slice into 1/4" thick coins.

Cook the onions, garlic, and jalapeno in the skillet until tender and fragrant, about 5 minutes.

Put the sausage, tomatoes with juice, beans, and onion, garlic, and jalapenos in a slow cooker. Add the basil, oregano, cayenne, and stock and stir until combined. Cook for 2 1/2 hours on high. Add the kale and cook for another 45 minutes.

Serves 4-6
Recipe Adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen

December 1, 2013

Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins

It's barely December, but most of you may or may not be sick of pumpkin by now. But don't worry; I have a recipe that will renew your faith! I know there's a lot of muffin recipes and a lot of cheesecake recipes and a lot of those probably use pumpkin, too. This recipe, however, combines all three of those flavors with a sweet, crunchy streusel topping. Yes, that's right. I made pumpkin cheesecake muffins.

The base is a simple pumpkin muffin: sweet, moist, and delicious. It's basically your excuse to eat cake for breakfast, and you don't even have to break out your mixer. Just combine some eggs, pumpkin, oil, sugar, and a splash of buttermilk and whisk in your dry ingredients. I found a way to make it so much better, though, because I add a dollop of cheesecake filling.

The filling is even easier than the muffin batter; I combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, and a few drops of vanilla. The whole thing is sprinkled with streusel, which is essentially sweetened, spiced butter with enough flour to hold it together. It bakes up nice and crunchy, the perfect cap to the gooey cheesecake tucked inside those deliciously pumpkin-y muffins.

2 Cups Flour
1 1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Allspice
1/8 tsp Cloves
1/8 tsp Ginger
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt
 2 Eggs
1/4 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Cup Pumpkin
1/2 Cup Oil
2 T Buttermilk
2 T Butter, Melted
4 oz Cream Cheese, Softened
1/2 tsp Vanilla

Heat oven to 425F and line a cupcake tin with paper cups.

Combine the cream cheese and vanilla, then whisk in the powdered sugar. Scoop into 15 balls and freeze until firm.

Stir 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and the melted butter together until crumbly. Chill until cold.

Sift the remaining flour, remaining cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, ginger, baking soda, and salt together. Whisk the eggs, sugar, brown sugar, pumpkin, oil, and buttermilk together. Add the flour mixture and whisk until smooth.

Scoop the batter into the prepared pan. Press a ball of cheesecake filling into the center of each cup; it may not be entirely covered by batter. Sprinkle the streusel onto each muffin. Bake for 5 minutes, lower the temperature to 375, and bake for 12 minutes or until cooked through.

Makes 15
Recipe Adapted from Culinary Couture