Chocolate Stout Cake with Ganache…Birthday Celebration Part 2!

Let me start by saying that this cake is way easier than it sounds. There’s something about “ganache” that sounds so fancy and unattainable.

Chocolate Stout Cake with Chocolate Ganache

This was the birthday cake I picked out this year, something kind of fancy but also quite simple—just good chocolate and good beer. (Although I’m sensing a theme of chocolate + alcohol birthday cakes…). This is a Smitten Kitchen recipe and it’s basically perfect. The cake itself has a dense richness, a little bittersweet from the combination of the stout and the darker Dutch-process cocoa. I also went a little scant on the sugar so the sweetness wasn’t overwhelming. I went ahead and frosted mine right away, which made the inside moist and fudgy, which is how I prefer my cake.

Chocolate Stout Cake finished

I’d never made a ganache before and thought it was going to be complicated and temperamental, but it was really quite simple and very fast. You want to use good quality chocolate to get the smoothest, creamiest texture and rich flavor. Overall, I would make this cake again in a heartbeat!

chocolate stout cake jamie bottle

And then there was this gloriousness. That’s right, my co-worker wrapped my birthday wine bottles with the one and only James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser. They get me. They really get me.

*sigh*

Chocolate Stout Cake w Chocolate Ganache

Okay, back to the cake… [Read more...]

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Smitten Kitchen’s Whole Lemon Tart…Birthday Celebration Part 1

A few years ago I decided that, for my birthday, I’d make myself a dessert that’s just a little fancier than normal. Something I’ve been lusting after but required more time or effort than I’m typically willing to put into things. Since I don’t tend to like store-bought desserts that much, it was a way of making sure I got something I’d really like. And, boy, has it produced good results so far?! Two years ago I made these amazing vanilla almond cupcakes with peach jam filling, and last year I tried out Smitten Kitchen’s red wine chocolate cake.

Whole Lemon Tart

This year, since it’s a “technicolor” birthday (as my co-worker says), I decided that I didn’t have to pick between the two desserts I was eyeing. So this is part one of 30th birthdaypalooza, and Smitten Kitchen has once again done me a solid.

Whole Lemon Tart done

This lemon tart is absolutely jam-packed with flavor. While I love lemon things, I am often turned off by lemon flavor that’s cloying or fake tasting, which is always a danger. But this tart is so bright and fresh and in-your-face with its real lemonness. Lemon-ity?

whole lemon tart lemon slices

What’s also fascinating is that you throw the entire lemon into the filling (not whole, that would be weird…). I don’t know why that makes a huge difference, but it does. And while it looks like there are a million steps in the recipe below, it’s really not that difficult or time consuming. As long as you have time during a couple parts of the day (so you can make the tart crust and let it chill, then freeze a little, then bake), you’re golden. And the butter—oh, the butter! This tart is lemon-y, creamy, tangy, rich, custardy goodness. [Read more...]

Chocolate Chip Granookie

I did it all for gra-nookie!

Granookie

Yeah, I couldn’t resist.

Basically, this is just a giant, semi-healthy cookie. One cookie. Or, if you’re super nice, one you can share with your friends. (Spoiler alert: I’m not nice)

Granookie done

The cookie base is coconut oil and a little butter, then the main ingredients are granola and whole wheat flour. So while it’s a dessert, it’s full of whole grain, fiber-y goodness and can be a nice breakfast treat to get you through the week. You can also customize it however you want—I used vanilla granola and dark chocolate chips and peanut butter chips. But the sky’s the limit. You could use banana nut granola and peanut butter chips, mocha granola and milk chocolate chips. If you can dream it, do it. [Read more...]

Pan-Caramelized Salmon

Salmon is one of my favorite simple, healthy dinners. It cooks quickly, is super versatile, and is such a nice break from boring chicken.

Pan Caramelized Salmon

This recipe can be made either entirely on the stove or finished off with a nice broil in the oven. Besides the salmon, everything else in this recipe is a pantry staple, and you can throw it together in like 10 minutes total. [Read more...]

Peanut Butter & Jelly Ice Cream

I found a way to make something awesome EVEN BETTER.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Ice Cream

I raved about the peanut butter, honey, & sea salt ice cream I made a few weeks ago. It is seriously the best. So naturally, peanut butter & jelly was the logical next step. Take sweet, peanut butter-y creamy goodness and cut strips of tangy strawberry jam through it, and you have the world’s best lunch update. [Read more...]

Kale & Feta Breakfast Casserole

Every Friday morning our department eats breakfast together. We wander in at different times, sit down, heap up a plate, and talk about our weekend plans, Betsy’s newest crazy celebrity gossip, and (in the fall, since you can’t get away from it) what SEC teams are playing that weekend.┬áIt’s a lovely, longstanding tradition, and part of it is that every week it’s someone’s turn to provide the food. We all take turns, and usually I try to cook something for the crew.

Spinach, Kale, & Feta Egg Casserole

Now, if it were up to me, I’d make pancakes or a coffee cake and call it a day. But my co-workers tend to prefer things a little more on the savory side. Since I don’t eat ham or pig bacon or sausage, it narrows my options a little. I’ve done a few breakfast casseroles, though most breakfast casseroles take a million ingredients, have way too many steps, and are EXPENSIVE!

But last time I was super pressed for time and had to figure out something the night before, then found this recipe. I loved that it only took a few ingredients, and the idea of feta in the casserole. I decided to give it a try and was surprised by how good it was. It got scarfed, and it’s definitely going into the regular Friday breakfast rotation! [Read more...]

Roasted Apricot & Honey Ice Cream

I’m on an ice cream kick. I’ve tried like four different recipes in the past few weeks, all with this super easy coconut milk base. Because it’s been HAWT!

Roasted Apricot Ice Cream wiht Coconut Milk

I had seen several recipes for roasted plum ice cream, which I found super intriguing, but when I went to the store they were out of plums. And then these beautiful, firm apricots just jumped out at me.

Roasted Apricot Ice Cream

Apricot is such a strong flavor that I couldn’t think of a good spice complement (I’d planned to do cardamom with the plums), so I just kept it super simple—honey, vanilla, and a little bit of sea salt.

roasted apricot ice cream apricots

While it was a bit tart for my taste (I was trying to go easy on the honey but probably went a little TOO light), it was refreshing and delicious! [Read more...]

Easy Pad Thai

I never expected pad thai to become my Everest…

Easy Pad Thai

Pad thai is such a great, uncomplicated dish. Simple flavors, not too many extras mixed in—it’s basically thai comfort food. Recipes vary, many more on the authentic route using tamarind paste, fish sauce, and other Asian staples. Others, like this one, stick to the basics. I’ll be trying the more complicated ones later [update: tried, hated, sticking with this one], but this one is a great place to start.

easy pad thai assembled

The sauce calls for only three ingredients—brown sugar, soy sauce, and lime juice. And maybe a squirt of sriracha if that’s how you roll. The first time I made this recipe, it came out pretty great. “This is so easy!” I thought. “But honestly I’d like it to have a little more sauce, it’s a little dry. I’ll try it again.”

Cue descent into madness…

easy pad thai green onions

I don’t know what was wrong with me but the next few times I made it, something went terribly wrong. First of all, I am the WORST at reading directions, so I had to throw like three different batches of sauce away because I accidentally added the oil to it instead of to the pan. (Don’t be like me, boys and girls.) And then one time I soaked my noodles exactly like I had before and when I added them to the pan they were still super tough and gross. Had to throw the entire pan of food away.

easy pad thai noodles sauce closeup

However, I finally got my act together and here you go. It really is a simple recipe, I have no idea why I had to make things so hard. So without further ado, I submit your next favorite 30-minute meal… [Read more...]

Thai Peanut Noodles with Chicken & Veggies

Any time I’m home to visit my family, we’re always feeding a big crowd. Generally we stick with what we know—grilled burgers or chicken, taco salad or nachos, soup and chili, or something similar. But every so often my sisters and mom and I put our heads together and come up with something different.

Thai Peanut Noodles with Chicken & Veggies

When I was home in July, we had one night where we were only going to have like 15 people—a considerably smaller crowd than our usual 25 or more. My sister and I decided we were really craving Thai food, so quickly had Mom poke through her cabinets to see if we had the makings for a Thai peanut sauce pasta. Since my mom’s cabinets are better stocked than most small grocery stores, we had almost everything we needed.

Thai Peanut Noodles with Chicken and Veggies

Beyond the basics of the sauce recipe, we totally winged it (wung it??), adding all the delicious flash stir fried veggies we could find, chicken, and whole wheat noodles. This dish was meat, carbs, and veggies in one, so we knew we had to make enough to get the whole hungry horde through dinner.

Thai Peanut Noodles with Chicken & Veggies done

And it was definitely a hit! There wasn’t even a spoonful left after supper, the pan was scraped clean. Combined with the moist strawberry shortcake I made for the big group, I think everyone was stuffed. [Read more...]

Heirloom Tomato Risotto

Heirloom tomatoes in season are seriously one of my favorite foods. In fact, I got to have a fancy dinner last night and there was an heirloom tomato and burrata salad that I could have eaten gallons of. I was in paradise.

heirloom tomato risotto tomatoes & basil

So last week at the farmer’s market when I saw these gorgeous big lumpy heirloom tomatoes, I had to get my paws on them immediately. Thoughts of juicy chunks of tomato swimming in creamy, salty ricotta and tossed with al dente pasta danced through my head. I had plans.

Heirloom Tomato Risotto

Then plans changed, and I had friends coming over that night, last-minute. Since they’re gluten-, dairy-, and egg-free, I had to make some adjustments to my master plan.

Heirloom Tomato Risotto finished

I racked my brain to find something that they’d be able to eat and would still do these beautiful tomatoes justice. I landed upon a simple risotto, with a few adjustments to accommodate their health challenges (namely, I left out the butter and parmesan—sad, but necessary). I was worried it wouldn’t be nearly creamy enough, but it was still totally delicious.

heirloom tomato risotto tomato

My love of risotto is legendary, and I’ve never understood why people are so scared to make it. Yes, it’s time consuming and takes a little TLC, but it’s also very straightforward, not difficult at all. It’s the perfect dish to put on the stove when you already have people over and want to just stand there and drink wine and chat and stir constantly. Or heck, make your guests stir and drink wine and chat while you put the rest of the meal together. This version lets the tomatoes be the star, with a supporting cast of fresh basil and balsamic vinegar to add just a little extra. [Read more...]

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