One-Pot Kale & Quinoa Pilaf (…and why I’ve been MIA)

Wow, I didn’t realize how long it had been since I posted a recipe! January was gone in the blink of an eye. I was traveling the first half…first, a quick little trip down to Cancun to try and get some sun and relaxation for a few days, then Dallas to visit my bestie, and then NYC for a quick work trip. All within two weeks. Add insanely long hours at work, and my blogging and cooking hours have been few and far between.

This recipe isn’t pretty to look at, so instead here are my food adventures from Mexico. Hit and miss, to be honest, because Cancun is (as my mom pointed out) the Branson of Mexico. But we tried really hard to find more authentic local places, and stayed far away from Senor Frog’s.

I drank ALL THE PINA COLADAS and tried Mayan-style chicken and vegetables. Honestly, it was inoffensive but wasn’t a fan.

jess pina colada

We toured Chichen Itza, one of the seven wonders of the modern world. Then we chowed down on fish tacos.

jess mom chichen itza

I soaked up every ray of sunshine available on the only sunny day we had. Vitamin D, come to me! And of course, I had a pina colada and a Coke, which is my go-to beach beverage.

jess cancun beach

I took Argentinean food out for a trial run, with my first trip to Argentina coming up in just over a month! It was delicious and an OBSCENE amount of food (you can’t see the insanely huge chunk of beef staring me in the face…). Sarai and I are going to have our work cut out for us.

jess argentinean food

So, that’s all to say sorry for dropping off the face of the earth. Things have been crazy and tiring, and I haven’t been eating anything but nachos since I’ve been home, but I do have a major backlog of awesome recipes from late December that I owe you. But first, we get our kale on…

This recipe isn’t pretty to look at, but it IS fast, easy, healthy, and yummy. I’ll be honest and say that quinoa isn’t really my thing. It’s fine, but the texture is kind of weird and it’s a little bland. So for me, this recipe is good. If you love quinoa, it’s great. The flavors are fresh, tangy, and satisfying.

One Pot Kale & Qunioa Pilaf kale One Pot Kale & Qunioa Pilaf kale closeup2 [Read more…]

Espresso Chocolate Coffee Cake

There is no such thing as having too many coffee cake recipes.  That’s like having too much cheese, or too many raw sugar packets, or too many pairs of shoes.

Espresso Chocolate Coffee Cake

Honestly, I have one coffee cake recipe (a cinnamon-streusel one) that is the best in the world, and my go-to under any and all circumstances.  And I’m just now realizing that I’ve never posted it.  So…that will need remedied.  But in the meantime, this one—if you like the combo of espresso and chocolate—is definitely a keeper.

Espresso Chocolate Coffee Cake slice

The sour cream gives this a lovely moistness and a dense but somehow light crumb.  Everyone at work totally raved about the taste and the texture, so you could probably switch up the toppings if the chocolate/espresso flavor combo isn’t for you.

espresso chocolate coffee cake ready to bake closeup

The original recipe (link at the bottom) calls for you to split the topping and batter, and have a layer of topping in the middle.  Since I was using a big springform pan I definitely didn’t have enough batter or topping to make this work, but if you go the bundt or tube pan route, you may want to give this a try.  Either way, the melted chocolate, deep espresso notes, and little spikes of cinnamon make this worth getting up in the morning. [Read more…]

Drunken Cheesy Bread

Question:  what should one serve at a girls’ night with wine, tiramisu, and Magic Mike XXL??

Drunken Cheesy Bread

Answer:  drunken cheesy bread.  If you answered anything else, you’re wrong.

Drunken Cheesy Bread closeup

This recipe has been burning a hole in my Pinterest board, but I felt like I couldn’t justify making it for just myself on a random Sunday night.  So when my friend Casey came over for a long-overdue girls’ night, I knew what was on the menu.

drunken cheesy bread gruyere closeup

In addition to be delicious and decadent-feeling, it’s also deceptively-simple and easy to prepare.  It literally took five minutes to put together (and that was just how long it took to grate the gruyere), then we popped it in the oven, drank some wine, and 20 minutes later a bubbly, cheesy delight popped back out.  The flavors together are AMAZING, and the wine soaks into the bread and creates a silky, almost custard-like texture. [Read more…]

Chicken Massaman Curry

Massaman curry has somehow become my go-to comfort food.  When I’m cold, stressed, tired, or just annoyed, this particular curry—with its combination of soft and crunchy textures, its creamy sauce and slightly spicy bite—are like a warm, yummy hug.

Massaman Curry with Chicken

For years I went to the same Thai restaurant and ordered the same thing (Bangkok chicken, “baby mild”, no baby corn…it’s the BOMB), but then one day I decided that I needed to branch out, and this was the least spicy of the curries.  Plus, it didn’t have green peppers, which are truly disgusting, so that was a deciding factor.  One taste of this, with the silky avocado and the crunch of the onion, and I was in love.

Massaman Curry with Chicken cooked

I’m not sure what’s taken me so long to try making this myself.  Maybe it’s because I tend to find that ethnic dishes are just better at restaurants, so it’s worth shelling out for them on occasion.  Plus I’m lazy, and I tend to take one look at the long list of ingredients and get overwhelmed (not to mention my grocery store doesn’t just have this particular curry paste sitting around).

Massaman Curry with Chicken with Jasmine Rice

But you shouldn’t be intimidated by the list of ingredients.  Most of them are ones you already have around, and the others are easy enough to pick up once and have around for a long time (I ordered the curry paste on Amazon, because I’m also too lazy to drive around to a bunch of Asian markets looking for it).  Prepping the ingredients will take 15-20 minutes with one set of hands, but is quite easy, and then the dish comes together very smoothly.  It makes amazing leftovers, and can feed a serious crowd. [Read more…]

Salted Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Girls’ night!

Salted Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Last month we had an epic girls’ night planned—the last Hunger Games movie, followed by stuffing ourselves to the gills with burgers and fries. As is our tradition, we snuck a bottle of wine into the theater, and I brought these beauties. I’m not really into the kinds of snacks that theaters sell, but a good homemade cookie will do the trick every time!

salted dark chocolate chunk cookies closeup

I was intrigued by Smitten Kitchen’s description of these, and in particular enjoyed her indictment of cookie recipes that insist you chill the dough overnight, because seriously, who plans their cookie cravings that far ahead?! Preach, sister.

salted dark chocolate chunk cookies chopped chocolate

I’ll be honest, these are a bit rich for my blood. I had one, and that was plenty (which, on second thought, is maybe a good thing…). But they are the perfect blend of sweet, rich, gooey, and a little crisp, and they got devoured by my compatriots. They are definitely going into the cookie rotation. [Read more…]

Dark Chocolate Puppy Chow with Sea Salt

In general, puppy chow is at the top of the list of “foods I’m never, ever allowed to have in my house”.  Because I will eat it ALL—I love it.  But I think this specific recipe may literally be my favorite food in the world.  It is that good.  Life-changing, even.

Dark Chocolate Puppy Chow with Sea Salt

When I first saw this recipe on Food 52, I was obsessed, and couldn’t wait to try it out. The dark chocolate twist was right up my alley (I’m definitely dark vs. milk), and I knew the sea salt would add a perfect balance to what can sometimes be an overly sweet snack. I also made a few changes based on my own preferences…I decreased the amount of powdered sugar and increased the peanut butter (and the chocolate chips, a little) to tailor it to my exact tastes.

Dark Chocolate Puppy Chow with Sea Salt done

And I done good. Now *this* is what I call a Sunday night…

Dark Chocolate Puppy Chow with Sea Salt finished

I took this into work (okay fine, what I hadn’t already eaten the night before) and we devoured it in no time flat.  [Read more…]

Updated Recipe Re-Post: Best Soft Molasses Cookies Ever

These are probably the best cookie ever made.  Science can surely substantiate that, right?

They’ve been made by my family ever since I can remember, but I don’t know if we’re sure where the recipe came from initially.  These cookies have crispy outsides, chewy and soft insides, and just an explosion of flavor that’s definitely ginger-y, but not overwhelmingly so—rather than the bite of a ginger snap, they’re mellowed out by the cloves and cinnamon to a perfect spice combination.

Soft, Chewy Molasses Cookies

The reason I’m re-posting this recipe is that…

  1. It was one of the first recipes I posted, so I’m not sure that anyone actually saw it
  2. They’re the actual best
  3. I hadn’t made them in ages (probably at least a year or two) because, ever since we stopped using butter-flavored Crisco (due to health and partially-hydrogenated oils and blah blah), they just hadn’t come out right for me with butter or coconut oil or vegetable oil or whatever. But my mom recently tested out some organic shortening and it’s made all the difference here
  4. They’re the actual best

So, here’s the link to the original recipe, which I’ve updated slightly since my shortening discoveries. Note, you may need to play around with the flour amounts a little—don’t add it all to start, but see what the dough feels like. For me, because my oven’s been tricky lately, I took the temperature down to 340 F and baked for less time, but it also took less flour than usual. Chilling the dough a little doesn’t hurt either.

Full recipe for the best, softest, chewiest molasses cookies ever here…

Apple Pie Scones

I had other things I planned on posting this weekend, but I just couldn’t keep this recipe from you for a minute longer.  This recipe needs shared IMMEDIATELY.

Apple Pie Scones

I spent almost a week home with the family for Thanksgiving, and it involved a fair amount of cooking and baking.  Sabbath morning my mom asked what I’d like to make to go along with our awesome chili-cheese omelettes.  I needed something simple and fairly quick, since we were all starving, and scones felt like the simplest option.

apple pie scones wedges ready to bake closeup

I was really tempted by a cinnamon scone recipe I’ve been eyeing for months, but then this jumped at me.  I took a chance, and BOY, did I make the right choice?!

apple pie scones baked

The strangest thing about this recipe is that it doesn’t include any milk or buttermilk.  That made me nervous, and I was worried these would be dry or wouldn’t rise well, but I was totally wrong.  The shredded apples and the applesauce gave them all the moistness they needed, and the texture was perfect.  They’re pretty healthy as scones go, and have such a great flavor. [Read more…]

Baked Fontina Pasta with Brussels Sprouts & Sage Breadcrumbs

Gooey, salty goodness—that’s what this recipe is in a nutshell.  It is my sworn duty to share this amazingness with you.

Fontina Pasta with Brussels Sprouts & Sage Breadcrumbs

I’ve had my eye on it for a couple months now, but just hadn’t found the right time to make it.  I actually even started to make it one Sunday…bought the ingredients, pasta water boiling, started to shred the brussels sprouts.  And then my craving for nachos became too much and I stopped mid-chop.  Because the heart wants what the heart wants, and the heart wanted nachos.  And the knifework still hurt because of my sprained thumb, which was my excuse.

Fontina Pasta with Brussels Sprouts & Sage Breadcrumbs done

But I definitely came back to it a few weeks later when the brussels sprouts looked good.  And boy, was it worth it.  Because this is the very definition of comfort food, and it’s so easy.  It’s also surprisingly healthy for a cheesy pasta bake, since the bechamel is made with the starchy pasta water instead of the traditional milk.  The result is a slightly thinner, silky sauce that clings to every crevice of your ruffly pasta, and doesn’t leave you feeling weighed down.  And that’s a win-win. [Read more…]

Almond Cake with Fruit Compote (gluten-free)

I’ve amassed a fairly impressive arsenal of gluten-free dessert recipes over the past few years, since my friends John & Bridgette went GF.  And one of the biggest things I usually look for in these recipes is that they’re naturally free of gluten, rather than using weird ingredients to try and approximate the texture and taste of wheat recipes.

Almond Cake with Fruit Compote done

That’s why I’ve developed quite an affinity for almond meal.  It’s super yummy, plus it has an awesome grainy texture—not perfect for every type of recipe, but helps provide a “crumb” to certain cakes and pastries.  It’s also pretty easy to work with and really forgiving.  I’ve kind of been on an almond cake kick lately for myself, because the flavor is perfect for this summer-to-fall transition time we’ve been in.

Almond Cake with Fruit Compote

Which brings us to the uber-moist flavor bomb we’re talking about today…

Almond Cake with Fruit Compote sliced

This recipe is from Cookie + Kate, and as soon as she posted it, I was dying to give it a try.  The almond cake is the star, and is taken up a level by the combination of orange zest and cinnamon in the batter, and the maple syrup makes it super moist.  It’s also literally the easiest batter to throw together.  Then the slightly-sticky cake is stopped with a roasted fruit compote, which provides additional juice dripping down into the cake.  I went with pears and raspberries, which in hindsight was way too much juice to deal with.  But you can use whatever strikes your fancy.  This is awesome as leftovers, particularly for breakfast.

Don’t judge. [Read more…]

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