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Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cookies

October 17, 2014

Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cookies

Even though it’s still in the 90’s here in New Orleans, I love the fall and once summer ends, I can’t help but want to start cooking and baking my favorite comfort foods. That includes cookies – all kinds. I saw this recipe on an episode of The Pioneer Woman and it got me craving this classic cookie.

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I normally take recipes that I find online or see on TV and modify them but I followed this one pretty much to a t (I used unsalted butter and 1/2 cups less oats) and it was perfect. It’s a new favorite at my office and some of my co-workers even said it was “The best oatmeal cookie they ever had.” Now that’s saying something.

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The dark brown sugar gives the cookies a soft texture but they stay crispy on the bottom and edges. It also gives them a great sugary, vanilla flavor.

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So kudos to the Pioneer Woman for this awesome recipe. It will definitely be a go-to for me whenever I’m in the mood for oatmeal cookies.

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Recipe:

  • 2 cups packed Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) Butter, softened
  • 2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 2 Eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 2 1/2 cups old fashioned Oats

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer (or using a hand mixer), beat together the brown sugar and butter until fluffy. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl after each one.

Mix together the flour, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl. Add it into the creamed mixture in 2 to 3 batches, mixing until just combined. Mix in the oats until just combined.

Use your preferred size cookie scoop (or a regular spoon) to drop portions of dough onto baking sheets, spacing them a couple inches apart. Bake until dark and chewy, 12 to 13 minutes. If you’d like a crispier cookie, just cook a little longer!


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Basil Pesto with Pine Nuts

August 26, 2014

It’s that time of year again and my garden is overflowing with basil! I love basil  so I always plant a few varieties every spring so I will have plenty to work with all summer. For this pesto I used Sweet Basil which is the most common type you will find in the store and also my favorite. This is a very simple, classic recipe for basil pesto and it’s very versatile for all types of dishes. I love to use it as a sauce for pasta, grilled meats and spread it on bread to add to panini sandwiches.

Pesto 1

As you can see,  there is an abundance of basil in my garden. The darker green plant with the larger leaves is the Sweet Basil and the plant with the lighter colored leaves behind it with the darker stems is Cinnamon Basil. Both make great pestos using pine buts or walnuts but the Cinnamon Basil is also great in Thai dishes and stir frys.

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I hope you get as much use out of this recipe in your dishes as I do. It’s a great go-to for pesto any time.

Recipe:

  • 2 cups of freshly packed Basil
  • 2 cloves of Garlic
  • 1/2 cup of Pine Nuts
  • 2/3-1 cup Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2/3 cups Pecorino Cheese

Combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts  and cheese in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add  the olive oil through the chute of the processor and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper and pulse a couple more times to incorporate.


Bow Tie Cupcakes and Cookies

July 6, 2014

Bow Tie Cupcakes 1

A friend and colleague of mine is about to have a boy and she recently had a bow tie themed baby shower. She asked myself and our other colleague to bake cookies and cupcakes for the shower and we went all out. I made my famous chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting and golden yellow cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting.

I found free print outs on the Elli Blog, which is one of my new favorite blogs by the way, and I made bow ties to top the cupcakes. I also cut out fondant dots to add a variety of decorations and color that matched her invitation.

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My colleague Christine is the queen of iced sugar cookies and she made these beautiful works of art below. Click here to get the recipe.

Bow Tie Cookies

 

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I will share this recipe again. It’s my go-to for any form of chocolate cake from sheet cake to cupcakes and I use it in a variety of ways. And, it’s so easy! For the Butter Golden I used the a box mix and made the chocolate buttercream frosting below and added 2/3 Cup of cocoa powder.

Chocolate Cupcake Recipe:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup Cocoa
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1 cup boiling water

This recipe can be mixed by hand or with a stand mixer with the whisk attachmentMix all dry ingredients together. Add the oil, buttermilk and eggs and mix well. Pour in the boiling water and mix until incorporated. The batter will be very thin. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 min or until a toothpick can be inserted and comes out clean.

Buttercream Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Cream butter, add sugar and milk in thirds. Add the vanilla in first round of milk and sugar.


Irish Soda Bread

March 17, 2014

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As someone who is part Irish, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day is always a must for my family and in my household. Growing up, my mom would always cook up a big pot of corned beef and cabbage but now that it’s just me and my husband, we decided to start our own tradition of making an Irish feast to celebrate the luck of the Irish.

I’ve always wanted to try making Irish Soda Bread and I was surprised out how easy it was to prepare and how amazing it turned out. I found the recipe from Ina Garten and swapped out the currants with dried cranberries because I couldn’t find currents anywhere. Turns out they make for a great substitute and the bread almost tastes like cranberry scones.

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By cutting an X in the loaf with a serrated knife before it bakes, you create a nice rustic texture for the bread that adds to the great crust.

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It was a huge hit at the party and now a new favorite of my husband’s. It would be a great recipe for breakfast or brunch or simply as an accompaniment with dinner. Happy baking!

Recipe:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for currants
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
  • 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.

With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the cranberries with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until the crust is light brown. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.

Serve warm or at room temperature.


Brown Butter Gnocchi with Butternut Squash and Kale

January 8, 2014

Brown Butter Gnocchi Butternut Squash_2

It’s 2014 and one of my resolutions is to write more blog posts! So you should look forward to seeing more great recipes, gardening tips and home ideas this year.

Now that it’s finally Winter here in New Orleans at a whopping 32 degrees today, I can finally justify making warm, hearty and seasonal winter dishes. This recipe was inspired by a dish I had at a restaurant in Birmingham, AL (forgive me for forgetting the name) and I liked it so much that I wanted to recreate it at home. Not to toot my own horn – but it turned out great! I was even pleasantly surprised!

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I love using seasonal produce in everything I cook because not only is it in season and available, but I get to experiment with new things. I started by sauteing onions, butternut squash and kale and in a separate pan made a brown butter sauce to pour over the mixture. The trick was to coat the gnocchi in the sauce first and then add the vegetables to bring it all together in the sauce. Top with some grated Parmesan cheese and you have a decadent and sophisticated winter dish! This would be perfect to impress your friends and family with at a dinner party.

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Recipe

  • 1 16 oz. package of Gnocchi pasta
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 Butternut squash, chopped into small cubes
  • 2 cups of kale
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • Parmesan Cheese

Heat olive oil in a medium skillet or saucepan and then add onions. Saute onions in olive oil until they are slightly translucent and then add the chopped butternut squash until it was tender. Add salt and pepper to mixture at this point.

While the butternut squash cooks, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the gnocchi in 3 batches and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 7 to 8 minutes. Drain the gnocchi using a slotted spoon into a  bowl.

Once the butternut squash is done, add the kale and take the pan off the heat. The kale cooks very quickly and only needs to be stirred in the hot mixture to wilt down. If you like it very wilted you can add it earlier but I like mine to still have a little bit of a crunch

In a separate saute pan, heat the butter over medium-low heat stirring occasionally until it starts to turn golden brown. Add nutmeg and another pinch of salt and stir. Continue to heat until the butter turns caramel-colored brown. Remove from heat add the gnocchi back into the pan with the butter to coat and warm the pasta. Pour pasta and vegetables into a large serving bowl and mix well to coat everything.

Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and serve!

Leftover Turkey Recipe: Mexican Turkey Soup

December 1, 2013

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I posted this soup a couple of years ago but I wanted to post it as a reminder for a great recipe to use all that leftover turkey from your Thanksgiving feast. It is so delicious and easy to make. After eating all the traditional Thanksgiving dishes, the Mexican flavors are a nice change. Don’t be afraid to be liberal with the garnishes! I love lots of avocado and cilantro!

Recipe

  • 3 Cups Shredded Turkey Meat
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chopped onions (2 onions)
  • 1 cup chopped celery (2 stalks)
  • 2 cups chopped carrots (4 carrots)
  • 4 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 1/2 quarts low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in puree, crushed
  • 1 6 oz. can whole corn kernels
  • 1 8 oz. can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 to 4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
For the garnish
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 Avocado, chopped into thick chunks
  • Sour Cream
  • Crushed tortilla chips, about 1/4 cup for each bowl

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions, celery, and carrots and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the onions start to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes with their puree, jalapenos, cumin, coriander, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the shredded turkey, corn and black beans and season to taste. Serve the soup hot topped with sliced avocado, a dollop of sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, and broken tortilla chips.

Black and Silver Halloween Table Decorations

October 18, 2013

Halloween table setting 1

I LOVE Halloween: Not only for the opportunity to dress up in any costume without being judged, but also because I love decorating my house with sparkly, spooky, cutesy and yes, cheezy decor.

But Halloween can also be very glamorous. This year I set up a clean and sophisticated table setting of black and silver for Halloween. I love shimmer, sparkles, skulls and candelabras, and these table decorations incorporate them all. Throw in some spider web place mats and mercury poison bottles and you’ve got yourself a gorgeous tablescape

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Table decorations shopping guide:

  • Spider Web Placemats – TJMaxx
  • Skulls – Marshalls
  • Poison Bottle  – TJMaxx
  • Black Candelabras – Michael’s
  • Silver Candle Sticks – Macy’s and Pottery Barn
  • Spider Globe – Marshalls