Easy Cranberry Snack Cake (a.k.a. My Platonic Ideal for a Cake)
I kind of don’t know what to call this…the recipe is called “cranberry snack cake” but my waistline cannot take snacks like this. Can it be cranberry coffee cake if it doesn’t have streusel? I’ve been describing it as a cranberry vanilla cake, I guess? But that sounds boring.
Regardless of what we decide to call, it GUYS I’M SO IN LOVE WITH IT.
My sis brought this cranberry cake to Thanksgiving last year, and while most people went for the rich pies and bars, I zeroed in on this right away (and immediately begged her for the recipe).
Since then it’s gone into my regular comfort food rotation. It’s also SO easy…you can have it in the oven in about 15 minutes and using only the bowl of your stand mixer, making it a perfect no-fuss dessert or treat.
The cake can be made with either fresh or frozen cranberries. I’ve only made it with frozen (since I had them in my freezer), but it’s worth knowing that frozen berries create one big issue—it can make the batter seize up and harden. It’s totally fixable (you have to just use your hands to smoosh it into the cake pan), but good to be aware of.
I’ve made a few adjustments to the recipe, including lowering the sugar a bit and adding a little white whole wheat flour (both of which I think improves the taste a bit). You don’t have to use the whole wheat flour if you prefer not to, but I think it gives it a nice depth of flavor.
The original recipe is for a 9×9 pan, but I’ve also included ingredient amounts for a 9×13 pan…basically you’ll want to increase the amounts by 50% rather than double them. My pics below are a mixture of the two pan sizes.
Super Easy Onion Pakoras (Without a Deep Fryer)…with Tamarind Chutney
Veggie or onion pakoras are SERIOUS comfort food for me. As I mentioned with my deep kheer recipe explorations, I’m not really sure when or how this came to be since I didn’t grow up with Indian food, but now they’re one of my go-to’s when I want to indulge.
Are onion pakoras and pakodas the same thing?
Yes, pakora and pakoda are different names for the same thing (you might also see pakodi or even just “fritters”. Regardless of what they’re called, I LOVE them.
I think there are a few main differences between this onion pakora recipe and restaurant ones. 1) I refuse to use a deep fryer, and so I can’t make more of the ball-like doughy ones, 2) I’m not using a mixed veg, and 3) I’m not using fresh curry leaves because finding them in southern Indiana is…not a thing.
But from a flavor and overall experience standpoint relative to effort, these tick my boxes. And I can whip them up when a craving strikes in like 10 minutes, which is a major win for me.
I have made these at least a dozen times at this point, trying to get them perfect, and here are a few hacks I read about and tried.
- Add a little oil to the batter to help make it crispier, so it won’t absorb as much oil while frying
- Add a pinch of baking soda to the batter for extra fluffiness
I tried both of those at times, but didn’t see a meaningful difference so don’t know if it’s worth it, but mentioning in case those work well for you.
One of the main things you need to know is that, because we’re shallow pan-frying (vs. deep-frying), you want to keep them fairly small and flat rather than balls, to get them to cook through and not be raw inside. Think latke rather than hush puppy.
The Most Epic Single-Serving Molten Chocolate Lava Cake
What if I told you that you could have the most amazing delicious bittersweet single-serving chocolate lava cake…in 15 minutes??
And if I told you that it’s also naturally gluten-free and *mostly* dairy-free?? (It does have some butter and whatever’s in the chocolate, so your mileage may vary if you’re crazy sensitive…)
So, yeah, this is one of the most dangerous recipes I’ve ever made.
This is a true unicorn recipe, requiring only a few ingredients, a very short amount of time, and yielding an indulgent treat that’s the perfect texture and JUST the right amount of sweet/rich (for me, I keep mine more on the bittersweet side, but the recipe gives you options).
The texture of these single-serving chocolate lava cakes is more like a sturdier chocolate chocolate soufflé or my flourless chocolate cake rather than an actual CAKE. It’s delicate and melts in your mouth.
And while they’re perfect on their own, I also love playing around with different fillings. I think my favorite is still a dollop of peanut butter, but I’ve also tested some unique ones like my peanut butter balsamic caramel sauce and tart Morello cherry jam (with lemon zest in the batter).
The Most Addictive, Indulgent-Feeling Dark Chocolate Banana “Nice Cream”
I can feel about half of you rolling your eyes, and about half of you going, “ooooh, I’m intrigued!” And I understand both responses, because calling chocolate “nice cream” made from frozen bananas *indulgent* seems like it might be an overstatement.
EXCEPT IT’S NOT. Seriously, this dark chocolate banana “nice cream” is crazy delicious.
It’s rich, complex, and sweet enough but not sickly. And it’s exactly the thing I’ve needed for the occasional treat during this 3+-month gut health diet and protocol.
Honestly, it will be one of my go-to treats even after I can eat more normally—it’s truly that good.
You can read more about the detox (& gut health protocol) & my tips for staying sane/enjoying!
One of the keys here is using a really good dark cocoa powder—ideally dutch-process (this Rodelle is my everyday one), and use more than seems sane. If you don’t have that or don’t want to buy it, Hershey’s Special Dark is my backup for non-dutch.
Look at the color it imparts! The dark cocoa powder flavors really balance out the banana-ness so you don’t even really realize you’re eating frozen bananas.
The (IMO) Best Homemade Key Lime Pie
I’ve always loved key lime pie, and I have no earthly idea why I’d never tried making it myself. But *then* a few months ago I did an awesome roadtrip through the Florida Keys and made it my mission to try and find the best key lime pie in the Keys. I succeeded, and it inspired me to search for the best homemade key lime pie recipe.
What makes the best homemade key lime pie?
Traditional key lime pie has only six ingredients—graham crackers, butter, sugar, key lime juice, egg yolks, and sweetened condensed milk.
I am a key lime pie purist, when it comes to it. I want my filling to be a perfect balance of tart and sweet, with the lime flavor really punching through. I like a creamy custard-y texture, rather than something more solid (like a cheesecake), or super light (with a whipped texture).
Then, I want a graham cracker crust that is buttery and a little sweet, with a bit of crumble to it. Beyond that…I don’t love piling on meringue or whipped cream or whatever. I feel it detracts from the flavor, rather than enhances. But you do you.
See my ranking of the best key lime pies in the Florida Keys!
To figure out what the best homemade key lime pie recipe is, I sifted through a number of different recipes and also dug into Pancake Princess’s key lime pie bake-off. And, like her, I ended up going with the O.G. recipe, from Cooks Illustrated. Why mess with perfection??
I made this pie twice, once with fresh regular (Persian) lime juice and once with bottled key lime juice. First off, I realize it’s not *technically* key lime pie if it’s made with regular limes but it tastes almost identical and most of us can’t get fresh key limes. SO DON’T COME AT ME INTERNET!
But my ultimate conclusion was that I couldn’t tell a major difference between the two types of juice. Maybe if I’d tried them side-by-side, but generally speaking you can go with whichever you prefer. I think I have maybe a slight preference for the fresh regular lime juice, but go with your heart.
So what you’ll see through this recipe is a combination of photos from both pies. You can ignore variations of color in the photos, it was hard to get the lighting exactly right, but they were basically identical.
Because mine has 4 egg yolks, it might be a bit more yellow than some, but all key lime pies should be some shade of pale to medium yellow—never green!
I was also honestly surprised how easy this key lime pie is to make. I feel like, in my head, key lime pie was tricky (maybe because of the custard texture), which is why I never tried it before. But it is wicked easy.
Peanut Butter Balsamic Caramel Sauce
This is the caramel for people who hate caramel. *raises hand*
I’m not remotely joking…when I first stuck my finger in this peanut butter balsamic caramel and tasted it, I said out loud (to myself, and the cats) WHOAAA.
For me, caramel is usually way too sickly sweet. But the addition of the peanut butter and balsamic vinegar bring a salty umami or savory-ness plus a brightness and acidity that completely elevate this. And I am on board!!
GOOD balsamic vinegar is key here, because you want something that is really bringing flavor to the party. I used this Brightland balsamic from California that’s double fermented with zinfandel grapes and ripe Triple Crown blackberries. It is SO GOOD!!! I love their products and highly recommend!
Amazing Intense Dark Chocolate Sable Cookies
These “intensely” chocolate sables are the ultimate “don’t judge a book by its cover” experience. These cookies are like being punched in the face with rich, bittersweet dark chocolate. I felt like I had to lead with that.
Read next: The Kitchen Tools Everyone Needs
These dark chocolate sables bring such an intense flavor and it kind of explodes when you take a bite. In my opinion this is the best chocolate cookie recipe, FULL STOP. Yes, it’s unorthodox, but trust me on this.
Now, if you prefer super sweet milk chocolate type cookies, then I’ll tell you upfront that these are not the ones for you. But if you gravitate toward rich, dark, complex, bittersweet chocolate flavors that aren’t sickly sweet…then keep reading!
So a few notes about the dough for these dark chocolate sables…I have to level with you, the dough is not the easiest to work with. Rolling was HARD because the dough kept coming apart.
But that’s okay! They still turned out delicious and looked fine. I’ve found that chilling it too long made it hard to work with, and I tend to use my palms quite a bit (for warmth to make the dough more pliable, which is counterintuitive with dough, I know).
Rather than rolling it like bread dough, I made very small, light movements with the rolling pin, kind of little wiggles. My bamboo rolling pin was perfect, and then my scraper tool was critical for picking up the cut-out dough.
Roasted Sicilian Cauliflower
I’m struggling to even figure out how to best explain this Sicilian cauliflower dish to help you truly understand how delicious it is…
What makes it Sicilian?? The roasted cauliflower is paired with a classic Southern Italian combination of savory, spicy, acidic, and sweet elements for a “party in your mouth” end result.
And these are all great ingredients to keep on-hand anyway (plus fresh parsley is cheap), because pine nuts are great for pesto and tossing in salads for crunch, fresh garlic is a must-have for curries and more, and golden raisins are amazing in salads, kheer, and korma. (I buy my golden raisins in bulk on Amazon)
The original recipe calls for white wine vinegar, which works well, but I’ve been using this absolutely delish champagne vinegar from Brightland. I’m obsessed with their oils, vinegars, and honeys, and using them in all sorts of recipes.
And not only that, but it’s wicked easy as well. While the cauliflower roasts, you prep a couple ingredients to toss together with it (soak some golden raisins, quickly fry up some garlic and pine nuts), and then once it comes out of the oven…VOILA!
This has become a staple side dish a few times a week, on rotation with my brussels sprouts rubble and some charred broccoli bits with Trader Joe’s 21 Spice seasoning.
Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies (Levain Bakery Copycat)
Yeah, that’s a mouthful. But these double chocolate peanut butter chip cookies deserve all of that name and more. They probably are the best cookies I’ve had in my life.
So…this all goes back to December several years ago, when a media sales rep sent us a box of cookies at work from Levain Bakery in New York. These cookies weighed like 5 pounds each and were the size of your fist.
Now honestly I’m rarely that tempted by store-bought or bakery cookies. I’m a homemade girl all the way. But I was stressed and there were these chocolate ones with chocolate and peanut butter chips that were calling my name.
So I broke off a piece of one and took it into a meeting with me…GAME OVER. I became instantly obsessed (and I ate the rest of that cookie, duh). We decided to order more and then found out it was $75 for four cookies, which…NO. So I decided that, hell or high water, I was going to find my perfect Levain copycat cookie recipe.
And I believe I’ve gotten like 99% of the way there. I tried a couple different copycat recipes and this was definitely the closest. I also read through a lot of the comments and suggestions and found a couple that make a big difference, so I’ve incorporated them into my recipe below.
One other thing I’ve found is that I actually like them better the next day, vs. fresh. The texture sets and they become moist and amazing and dense, and a little less rich than fresh out of the oven.
Fair warning, each cookie is like 550-600 calories. But it’s definitely worth it on occasion. Trust me and make these NOW.
How To Make the Best, Creamiest Kheer (Indian Rice Pudding)
For some completely inexplicable reason, kheer is one of my ultimate comfort foods. I didn’t grow up with it at all. In fact, I didn’t grow up with any kind of rice pudding. But now it instantly transports me to a cozy happy place.
In 12 or so years of falling in love with the amazing Indian, Thai, and Chinese takeout that surrounded me in Atlanta, kheer became one of my shorthands for a “treat yo self” moment. Sadly, where I live now kheer is harder to find, as Indian takeout is an hour away roundtrip.
So I assumed it would be simple to recreate myself, and I’d been mildly offended that every single recipe and technique I tried had fallen short.
Then I stumbled upon this kheer recipe from Chetna (of GBBO fame!) on YouTube and was intrigued. After trying it a couple times, this is definitely my ONLY recipe for kheer!
How can I made my kheer thicker?
My early tries at kheer were thinner than I wanted, and the texture just wasn’t great. The way I’ve made my kheer lovely & thicker with a creamier texture came from a few techniques Chetna’s recipe gave me.
The first is crushing the rice so it’s in small even pieces, letting it thicken evenly. The second is not starting with ghee and rice, but rather by heating the milk. Thirdly, using sweetened condensed milk rather than just sugar.
There are a couple variables I’ve tested out, including trying it in both a big saucepan (like a stock pot) and a wider shallow pan (Chetna uses a giant bowl-shaped pan).
I also have played it by ear on whether or not I needed the extra milk at the end. If I’m serving it and eating it mostly right away, I don’t always use it because I do like my kheer on the thicker side. But it does really thicken in the fridge over a few days, so if you’ll be eating it mostly as leftovers you may want to add it.
I also always add a couple drops of either rose water or orange blossom water, because that’s just the flavor profile I find nostalgic…but JUST literally a drop or two.
Small-Batch Challah French Toast
Y’all, I have been converted to the cult of challah french toast! I truly don’t think I can go back to regular sandwich bread french toast after this.
This is the perfect lazy person’s brunch recipe, great on a weekend but even totally doable on a random Tuesday morning if you have leftover challah bread. The end result feels so much more satisfying than the 10 minutes it takes to make. This is what we call return on investment.
While you could technically use store-bought challah, I always find it drier, less eggy, and less flavorful than homemade, so the resulting french toast won’t be as good.
But I have great news—making your own challah is so easy! I have two different recipes, this easy soft challah, and this traditional one (that I did a 4-strand plait round on). Either works great for this, though I used the latter for this french toast recipe and it was AWESOME.
I’m sharing a small-batch recipe below (which makes french toast for one or two people), but it can easily be scaled up. It’s really straightforward, but the regular egg/milk foundation is elevated with a little cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and lemon zest. The zest and cinnamon really make this amazing!
Why is challah bread good for french toast?
Both challah and brioche (and even a Hawaiian roll) are better for french toast versus plain sandwich bread, or something like french bread or sourdough. This is because they are made from a richer, egg-ier dough (usually they have butter or oil, some sugar, and eggs). This brings a LOT more flavor to your french toast, plus a softer and more pleasant texture (and they soak up the egg/milk moisture better).
A couple tips to make your challah bread french toast extra awesome:
- I think that thick-cut slices are better. Like maybe an inch thick or just over that? Don’t make the mistake of cutting too thin!
- You’ll get a better french toast texture from day-old challah, and I recommend even slicing it ahead of time and letting it dry out a bit. This will help it soak up more egg mixture, resulting in a softer, custardier end result.
- Because challah is a little more dense and we’re doing thicker slices, do make sure that you let the bread soak up the liquid. Don’t just do a 2-second dunk…I leave each side in the liquid for like 5 seconds, just to make sure it’s picking up enough liquid.
The Best Grilled Pizza Dough (and It’s Super Easy!)
If you’d asked me a few years ago what my signature grill recipe would be, I highly doubt “pizza” would have been my response. But since I got my grill I’ve become obsessed with grilling pizza, and today I’m sharing my go-to super easy grilled pizza dough recipe.
I’ve come to love this as an easy and addictive weeknight dinner option, but it’s also what I make every year for my birthday. You can grill up just one for yourself, or feed a crowd (I get two grills going for ~10 people, just so it’s fresh and hot).
And part of what makes it amazing is using the best grilled pizza dough recipe, which I think I’ve found. Over the years my post on two different techniques for how to grill pizza has been my most popular one by a landslide, but it was LOOOOOONGG (it included this pizza dough recipe).
So now I’m just splitting it into two different posts. Here I’ll share my easy grilled pizza dough recipe and step-by-step instructions for making it, and then that post linked above has the techniques, tools, and tips for how to grill pizza (plus some awesome recipe ideas).
A few tips for getting the best pizza dough for grilling
- Make sure you keep your dough is very sticky—don’t add too much flour (when making or rolling out)!
- Dry dough will be hard to work with and won’t roll out nicely. It also has a tighter, tougher texture once grilled.
- A wetter dough will help make an amazing flavor and soft, chewy texture.
- The longer your dough rises, the more flavor it has, so you can decrease the yeast a little and let it rise longer, or rise it in the fridge overnight.
- BUT, you can also make this just a few hours ahead of dinner if you didn’t plan ahead. It’s a very flexible recipe.
- When rolling your dough out, you want it very thin. It will puff as it grills and won’t be very pleasant to eat if it’s too thick.
There are a few tools that are helpful in making pizza dough. For me, I definitely use my stand mixer and dough hook (though you can mix and knead by hand if you don’t have one). I am obsessed with my multi-purpose scraper tool when working with the dough on the counter.
And for rolling it out, this thin bamboo rolling pin is much easier to use than the old traditional one with handles I used to have.
Save for later: A Tool to Decide What Bread to Make Based On How Long You Have…
Comforting Thai Khao Soi with Chicken
I vividly remember the first time I had chicken khao soi…I was in L.A. visiting My Cheese and after a long (chilly, as I recall) day out we decided to order in Thai food.
She added khao soi to our order, and while it was quite spicy for me, I fell in love. It was just so warm and comforting, completely hit the spot.
But weirdly for years after that I couldn’t find it on Thai menus in Atlanta! Now in Louisville I actually can find it though we only have a few Thai restaurants.
But I can’t always drive an hour round-trip to get my khao soi fix, so I decided it was time to find a good homemade version. After a few different tries, I think this chicken khao soi is a winner.
What is khao soi? Also sometimes spelled khao soy or kow soi, it’s a dish served in Laos and northern Thailand. It’s a spicy broth (with noodles in it) that melds coconut milk and red curry paste. I add chicken to mine, some people add shrimp, and it could easily be made without meat or with tofu.
It actually reminds me a bit of my beloved massaman curry in terms of the comforting aspect.
The only thing about this recipe that I wish were a little different is that it only makes two (quite large) servings, but after trying multiple recipes it’s definitely my favorite…the flavor is much more intense and the sauce thicker. Because of that it’s higher-calorie, though.
There are a number of garnishes you’ll see on khao soi, but I tend not to overthink it. I just use whatever I have on hand, which is usually fresh lime, chopped peanuts, and green onions (and occasionally shallots).
Grilled Sourdough Bread with Whipped Ricotta & Toppings
That picture might be true perfection. Golden grilled sourdough bread, creamy whipped ricotta, tart berries, and a drizzle of honey?? Sign me up!
Given that I’ve been almost entirely avoiding bread for the better part of nine months for some health reasons (issues with processing carbs) and the fact that I’m not really a bread person to begin with, I’m honestly not sure why this idea took hold in my brain so much.
But I started seeing different versions of ricotta toast, avocado toast, crostini, and more all over food blogs I follow and I was just like…YESSSSS. So my sister snagged me a loaf of quite good, thinly-sliced sourdough bread from the store and I played around with it.
So what I’m bringing you here today is less true recipe and more technique + toppings. It’s so versatile, and can be customized to your whims…what’s in season, sweet or savory, what happens to be in your fridge at this very moment…you get the picture.
Shaken Iced Brown Sugar Cinnamon Vanilla Latte
When I first saw a post about a shaken iced brown sugar latte, I thought “COLOR ME INTRIGUED”. I’m known to make my own iced lattes from time to time, but had never thought to shake the mixture. And yet, it makes perfect sense and I knew I had to try it.
Why should you shake espresso or coffee? There are a few answers to that, and it’s very similar to why you shake certain types of cocktails (but not others).
First, it blends and emulsifies the ingredients so they are truly mixed and take on a kind of creamy mouthfeel even without any dairy. The shaking also aerates the mixture, which releases flavor compounds (esters??) and really highlights the different flavor notes in the coffee.
And it chills it quickly, preventing it from getting watered down—CLUTCH.
I believe without milk this would be called a “shakerato“…and it achieves a similar effect to using or “pressing” my Aeropress directly over ice cubes to make my favorite iced coffee ever (releasing flavor!).
And apparently this is a copycat recipe of Starbucks’ iced brown sugar oat milk latte (which I’ve never tried), but I feel confident that this homemade version is healthier, it’s definitely cheaper, and I’d personally hazard a guess to say it’s yummier too.
One key is to shake all the ingredients EXCEPT the milk. I tried shaking it with the milk as well, but it deadens the strong flavors of the espresso and brown sugar syrup—I was not a fan. Simply pour your shaken, foamy mixture into the milk and stir a bit instead.
The Verdant Lady (Gin & Green Chartreuse Cocktail)
I bought a bottle of green chartreuse over a year ago, and kept forgetting to try it. Finally this summer I got my act together, and gin was my first go-to…not only because it’s my true love, but because I knew the botanicals would be a great fit for the chartreuse’s herbal punch.
Finally I stumbled upon a gin and green chartreuse cocktail called the Verdant Lady, and knew it was the one. Super simple—basically a take on the gimlet—but with a great blend of flavors.
We made it when my sister and brother-in-law were over, and my bro-in-law asked what the name of the drink was. She said “Verdant Lady”. “What lady?” “Verdant.” “What?”
Both of us said at the exact same time, “Verdant, like pastures…” Lol, when bible language is your best reference….
Verdant means “of a bright green color like lush grass”. The green chartreuse definitely is that bright green, and it does bring a lushness in this cocktail—cut by the icy mint and tart lime, overlaid with herbal notes.
What is green chartreuse? It’s a French liqueur made with 130 herbs by monks in France, with a fascinating natural green color. Some describe it as having a “licorice bite”, others find “citrus and fresh garden herbs” when it’s icy cold (I’m in this camp).
It can take on a slightly medicinal taste if overused or warm, but when deployed with a light hand it adds amazing depth to a number of different spirit and ingredient pairings.READ THE POST
The Best, Simple Burrata Caprese Salad (…& How You’ve Been Doing Caprese Wrong)
It’s caprese season!!! One of my quintessential summer food pleasures is a really good caprese salad, particularly when the tomatoes and basil are at their peak. But once you’ve have a burrata caprese salad, you realize you’ve been doing it all wrong with boring mozzarella!
What is burrata?? For the uninitiated, burrata is a soft cow’s milk cheese and from the outside it looks kind of like buffalo mozzarella. It’s made of mozzarella and cream, and has a smooth outer skin but then a creamy, slightly tangy middle. It is REVELATORY.
That tight ball of bland mozzarella will be gone forever once you’ve had burrata. It pairs wonderfully with things like tomatoes, peaches, and melon, and many people also put prosciutto crudo with it.
It’s bomb on a good Italian-style pizza or stirred into a pasta dish. You can learn more about it here.
One thing that’s critical—the simplicity of this dish means that you need to use the highest-quality ingredients you can find to make it amazing. In particular, using really good olive oil, flavorful tomatoes, and a good sea salt will make this great.
I’m obsessed with Brightland’s olive oils, and have used the Alive, Awake, and Arise (basil-infused) on this caprese salad…I highly recommend them!READ THE POST
Authentic Ligurian Trofie Pasta by Hand (with Fresh Pesto)
Fresh pasta con pesto has long-been probably my favorite food in the entire world. Seriously.
If you visit the Liguria region of Italy, you’ll get the opportunity to experience pesto in its birthplace, and it will almost always be served with the traditional trofie pasta.
“Life is a combination of magic and pasta.”
~ Federico Fellini
I’ve talked about this more in my post on the food of Cinque Terre (one of my favorite places in the world!) but every time I visit those tiny fishing villages I look forward to gorging myself on platter after platter of trofie pasta with pesto.
If you haven’t made your own pasta before, it might seem kind of fussy and intimidating. But this Ligurian trofie pasta is really very easy, without dealing with eggs or any special equipment. All you need is a couple ingredients and your two hands!
It would even be a great activity with kids, or just a few extra people since the work will go much quicker and you can easily chat while you work.
Simple 3-Ingredient Classic Gin Gimlet Cocktail
I have a couple beloved variations of a gin gimlet on this site, but realized the other day that I’d never actually posted the O.G. And since the gin gimlet is one of the great classic cocktails, I need to rectify that.
I was doing some digging into the history of the gin gimlet and stumbled across this Chilled article that I loved…as someone who loves classic films, learning that gimlet was associated with Philip Marlowe was pretty cool.
But also wasn’t surprised to find that it somewhat ties back to the British navy and scurvy prevention (like another of my favorite gin cocktails, the “Army and Navy”).READ THE POST
Mini Pavlovas with Grapefruit Curd & Berries
For whatever reason, pavlovas feel super fancy, and I always have to remind myself that they’re actually really simple. And these mini pavlovas piled high with tart grapefruit curd, berries, and pillowy whipped cream are sheer heaven no matter the occasion.
So whether you want an easy make-ahead dessert for a dinner party, or just want to treat yourself, you need these in your life.
What’s pretty great is that they’re also naturally gluten-free, dairy-free (though you’d need to top them with something else), and unleavened. WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE???
If you’re wondering how the chemistry works in this mini pavlova recipe, here are a few things to know about it:
- The vinegar (or some recipes use lemon juice, cream of tartar, some kind of acid) helps stabilize the egg white foam, and interferes with clumping; it helps prevent the effects of “overbeating” as well, usually where the egg whites collapse and weep (boy, don’t we all). Ultimately, it helps make the meringue a little chewy.
- Adding cornstarch to the egg white foam interferes with the egg proteins and provides a buffer to prevent overcooking. But too much cornstarch can make it almost chalky and too chewy, so don’t overdo it.
- The cornstarch and vinegar both act as stabilizers and help create that soft marshmallow-y center that the pavlova is known for.
Paul Hollywood’s Chocolate Cherry Bread
I’m obsessed with this pink, shaggy mess! Ever since seeing Paul Hollywood make his chocolate cherry bread with Mary Berry on Great British Bake-Off Masterclass, I knew I needed it in my life.
I *have* thrown in the towel on trying to make my loaf look beautiful and neat, though. That shaggy mess becomes this golden, messy monster, and despite making it like 10 times at this point, nothing I do changes that.
But it is DELICIOUS and so its “informal” nature (to use a Mary Berry term) can be forgiven.
What elevates this from a basic loaf of bread is the incorporation of dark sweet cherries and a lot of dark and white chocolate.
The dark chocolate and cherries pair wonderfully, and the white chocolate ends up kind of melting away into gooey sweet pockets of sweet that burst in your mouth. I’M OBSESSED.
I have always started this in my stand mixer, but have tried mixing in the chocolate and cherries both in the mixer and kneading in by hand. Personally the mixer is way better and less messy, so I recommend going that way.
Traditional Sticky Toffee Pudding (Cake)
Despite being a massive Great British Bake Off superfan, I often find myself underwhelmed with a lot of Brit desserts (as they’re often a bit less moist than I prefer myself). But as I discovered on a trip to Scotland several years ago, sticky toffee pudding does NOT fall into that category.
In fact, I’m obsessed. This has a very “fall” feel to it (and that’s when I first made it), but this is true cold weather comfort food all winter long.
The thing is, I don’t like “toffee” at all, so I’d never paid this dessert any attention. I was excited to find that it doesn’t actually include any toffee, and instead is a moist treacly cake doused with buttery, sugary sauce.
(And even describing it like that would make me think I wouldn’t like it…BUT I DO. The world is a mystery.)
So is it a pudding or a cake?? Yes. British people call desserts “pudding”, which is baffling, and it’s definitely a cake. And if I understand correctly, it’s considered a “pudding” due to being more moist and having a sauce, rather than being super cake-like??
Brits, hit me up in the comments and help me understand…I’m reading between the lines of GBBO episode critiques.
As I’m one person and didn’t want to gain 32 pounds just from this recipe, I halved the recipe and it made 4 small ramekins. Halving is tricky with some of the amounts, but for any time I need to half a “3/4” amount, I shoot for halfway between 1/3 and 1/2.
A Home Baker Trying Out Samin Nosrat’s Ligurian Focaccia
I’ve been fascinated with the idea of trying out this Ligurian focaccia recipe ever since I watched the first episode of Samin Nosrat’s Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat on Netflix.
I’d intended to just have it on in the background, but found myself mesmerized by the gorgeously-shot slow, close-ups of bubbling dough, shiny olive oil pooling in dimples, flaky salt showering over a pan. It hooked me good.
I’d been meaning to try out this recipe for months, but stalled and hemmed and hawed…something about figuring out the long first rise time and when the final product would be ready (for dinner time, ostensibly) seemed to trip me up. I wanted to actually ENJOY making this, not feel rushed or only half paying attention.
That seems silly in hindsight. But since I had some time over the winter break period to do whatever, whenever, I “scheduled” it for one of those chilly days between Christmas and New Year’s (though I celebrate neither of those) when the time kind of blurs together.
No one is really working, you’re not getting bombarded with emails, and you can just kind of…coast. Drink coffee until it’s time to drink gin. Watch the classic black-and-white “New Moon” for the umpteenth time. Maybe organize your closet. Lose a few hours reading. Wonder if it’s Tuesday or Friday.
Another Ligurian staple: Traditional Ligurian Trofie Pasta by Hand (with Fresh Pesto)
And between doing those things you can do the few steps it takes to pretend you’re as awesome and knowledgeable as Samin Nosrat and throw together this Ligurian focaccia. You’ll mimic her gentle movements, the dreamy glug of olive oil and sprinkles of salt.
Or, honestly, you’ll rush each step but still make sure that it has plenty of time to rise (THIS IS CRITICAL), and still end up with an addictive crunchy, salty bread. Because I learned that this recipe is so simple that if you’re only half paying attention you can still end up in the same place. It takes patience in the rising, but the actual hands-on steps are so easy.
One other important thing here is to make sure you use super high-quality olive oil. I’m a huge fan of Brightland olive oils, they’re my go-to for this type of recipe where the taste and quality really matters. I rotate between different ones for this focaccia, but their Awake oil is a staple for this.
Don’t have 18+ hours? Try this “quick” rosemary & caramelized onion focaccia
What makes Ligurian focaccia different? Many people consider Ligurian focaccia (focaccia liguria, or sometimes focaccia genovese which is where the dimples are used) to be the most traditional Italian focaccia type, though there are other regional types.
You’ll find it all of the country, sometimes by itself or with toppings, or as the basis for sandwiches as well. If you see “pizza bianca” listed on a menu, this is basically just focaccia (sometimes with a little cheese as well) so don’t be expecting a real pizza.
So let’s try this, shall we?? READ THE POST
Bittersweet & Indulgent Dark Chocolate Waffles
What could be better than bittersweet dark chocolate waffles drizzled in melted peanut butter and sweet maple syrup??
Nothing. The answer is nothing. Whether for an indulgent solo brunch, a romantic “breakfast for dinner”, or just because on a trying Tuesday morning, these waffles have your back. And they’re my new obsession.
Even though they were plenty delicious the first time I made them, I’ve fiddled with the recipe quite a bit to get it PERFECT. I made a few tweaks, both for flavor and texture as well as to slim down the calorie punch a bit.
For one, I didn’t want these waffles to be too sweet—after all, you’re putting syrup on them. So I backed off both the sugar and dark chocolate…we’re after bittersweet and indulgent (with toppings), but not rich or fudgy (which tend to make me a bit nauseous).
I also wanted to make sure the waffles got good and crisp, which the cocoa powder will fight against a bit. So after doing some research, I ended up using a little cornstarch and it does the trick nicely.
And then let’s talk simplicity…the original dark chocolate waffle recipe calls for separating the eggs and whipping the egg whites, then folding them in. Honestly, I’m lazy and rarely do that for waffles. I just haven’t seen a noticeable difference. But you do you.
Either olive oil or melted butter work in this recipe, though I tend toward butter myself. The butter should make it a little more crisp and impart more flavor, and the olive oil more moist.
Make sure you use a good quality dark chocolate, not like…Hershey’s. It really does pack a punch in this recipe so if you skimp you’ll notice it. I tend to have Ghiradelli baking discs on hand so usually use that.
And I also adapted a version of that’s single-serving, making 1-2 waffles for a perfect impromptu brunch!
“Elvis” Banana, Salted Honey, & Peanut Butter Cream Puffs + A Super Late Happy Birthday
Every year I make my own birthday cake, using it as an excuse to try something indulgent and a bit more complicated than my usual. But this year’s orange and salted honey cake was a disappointment. Just kind of meh. So about a month later I decided I deserved a re-do…and THUS these peanut butter, banana, and salted honey cream puffs were born!
This idea came out of two different things…I had wanted to to try my hand at choux pastry for quite a while. It’s an entirely new baking technique for me, and my obsession with the Great British Bake-Off had finally pushed me to needing to try it.
Secondly, the one bright spot in my sad birthday cake debacle was trying out pastry cream (custard) for the first time and falling in love with this subtle, addictive salted honey pastry cream. So I wanted that to play a role in this recipe somehow.
So then I thought, what goes with honey?? Peanut butter, of course! And if you’re a lover of the traditional “Elvis” sandwich, then banana as well. I liked that the banana brought a fresh flavor and different texture to the whole thing.
Overall, making the choux was really easy! Like, shockingly easy. Piping it was a bit tricky since I’m terrible at piping. My biggest frustration was that I didn’t have a piping tip big enough for good-size eclairs. So I mostly went with the cream puffs since those turned out awesome.
Crispy Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic-Honey Drizzle
I needed to mix up my veggie side dish game recently, because I’ve overdone it a bit on the cauliflower front, as well as being very carb-heavy (lots of sweet potatoes and butternut squash).
Enter these crispy roasted brussels sprouts with balsamic and honey…
I’m absolutely in love with this honey balsamic brussels sprouts flavor combo…the sweet-bitter taste that soaks into the sprouts and softens them a bit. That, combined with the sea salt added before roasting and the deeply charred nature of the brussels sprouts, makes this dish truly magical.
The main change I’ve made from the original recipe is backing waaaay off the amount of dressing/drizzle. I’ve found that a 1-tablespoon-to-1-teaspoon ratio works best, and even sometimes a bit less than that (I eyeball when making for myself). You don’t want it sopping wet.
Here’s my other everyday recipe: Roasted Brussels Sprouts “Rubble”READ THE POST
Amazing, Flavorful (& Easy) Chicken Shawarma
Obssssssessed. That’s what I am with this spiced (and a little spicy) easy chicken shawarma.
The first time I made it, I was first blown away by how phenomenal my house smelled while it was cooking. And then when I took my first bite, the flavors just exploded in my mouth.
The recipe is so simple that it’s hard to figure out why it’s so GOOD.
You don’t need any special equipment, or really anything in the way of special ingredients, to make this. It can be thrown together in just a few minutes of hands-on time. It’s just this magical combination of spices and cooking the meat until it’s really tender. Easy peasy.
Don’t want to turn the oven on? Try this Middle Eastern Grilled Chicken Shawarma
A couple of tips on this one…the turmeric ended up staining my non-stick loaf pan. So now I have a savory pan and a (new) pan for sweet bakes 🙂
Also, Nadiya’s original recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of cayenne which is…WHOA. But you do you. I’ve backed that off significantly in the recipe below.
Subtle & Delicious Salted Honey Custard
Y’all, I feel so fancy. After a billion hours of watching Great British Bake-Off, I actually undertook the omnipresent pastry cream or “creme patissiere” myself with this absolutely delish salted honey custard.
And here’s the thing—IT’S SHOCKINGLY EASY. (Side note, why don’t American desserts have more pastry cream?? Missed opportunities…)
Now granted, this recipe uses cornstarch (or “corn flour”, as the Brits call it), which Mary Berry seems to consider a cheat for the skill levels of GBBO contestants.
But it’s normal in most pastry cream recipes, and is definitely our friend here in achieving a thick, pipe-able pastry cream that is great for filling cakes, cream puffs, and more (you can see it trying to spill out of the cream puffs below).
And let’s talk about this flavor, which is so DREAMMMMMY. It’s sweet enough, but the salt balances it out nicely. Quite subtle. I’m not a caramel person and so have never really understood the appeal of salted caramel. Now I know that *this* is my own personal salted caramel.
I discovered this salted honey custard as a component in the cake I initially made for my birthday…”salted honey orange cake” sounded right up my alley. But I ended up finding that neither the cake nor the frosting really did anything for me.
This custard on the other hand was my everything, and so I did a birthday cake re-do recently—“Elvis” peanut butter, banana, & honey cream puffs with this as the filling.
Flaky, Buttery No-Yeast Flatbreads (Using Yogurt)
I interrupt this Thanksgiving recipe programming to bring you something I’ve been kind of obsessed with for the past month. With working from home, I’ve been able to play around with some easy but unique recipes for lunch or things that require a little planning ahead for dinner, and these buttery, flaky no yeast flatbreads have been a basis for several delicious meals.
The fact is that Smitten Kitchen rarely leads me wrong. I so appreciate her recipes, the clarity and detail of the steps, the tweaking to make it perfect but still super easy. And these delicious no-yeast flatbreads are no exception.
On the one hand you’ll probably look at this yogurt flatbread recipe and go “wow, that’s a lot of steps”. BUT WAIT…I know it might look fiddly but I promise it’s not. It’s just that the steps are written to be very detailed so you never feel lost. These really are easy and don’t take much hands-on time.
Save for later: A Tool to Decide What Bread to Make Based On How Long You Have…
Because I’m only cooking for one, I usually make a half batch, which is five flatbreads in total. And because I can rarely resist eating the first one out of the pan just by itself, tearing pieces off, that leaves me with two fresh and usually two as leftovers.
A couple things that come in handy (though certainly not required) are a scraper tool and a silicone basting brush. I’m also in love with my thin rolling pin, so much easier for this type of task than the traditional fat kind with the handles.
These no yeast flatbreads come together in three easy phases, over the course of a couple hours…but not much hands-on time. I literally do it in between conference calls, about 5 minutes to mix up the dough, and then about 10 to roll them out into the “snails”.
They’re amazing on their own, but the whole point is piling them high with toppings…I recommend Nadiya’s chicken shawarma or this easy Middle Eastern grilled chicken shawarma.READ THE POST
Easy, Awesome Homemade Caramel Popcorn
It’s weird because I don’t really like caramel, and I’m not super into popcorn…but I’m ALL IN on this homemade caramel popcorn.
My mom’s been making it since I was a kid, and it’s a must-have on Thanksgiving for my family. It’s just SO GOOD! She makes a massive tub and we munch on it all afternoon while playing cards and watching .
It’s also so easy…caramel can feel quite daunting. I’ve watched approximately 1,250 hours of Great British Bake-Off and caramel is always tripping up the bakers.
But the caramel we’re making today is the opposite of fiddly. And the actual hands-on portion of this recipe is quite minimal.
Addictive Peanut Butter & Jelly Babka
Y’ALL. Peanut butter and jelly babka. This is just such an all-time flavor combo, and I’m kind of obsessed with it right now to be honest (stay tuned for a boozy pb&j milkshake comin’ at ya…).
It’s no secret I’m into basically peanut butter anything, but there’s something so comforting about a classic pb&j…this peanut butter and jelly babka is basically a fancy, addictive pb&j sandwich from when you were a kid. It’s what you WISH your sandwich had been.
Don’t be put off by the seemingly-long list of instructions…I’ve been super detailed to help make everything go well, but while this needs plenty of time in rising and baking, the actual *hands-on* parts are not difficult or time-consuming at all.
There *will* be a point when you’re trying to twist the two cut parts together where everything is falling apart, jelly and peanut butter oozing everywhere, and you’re like WHAT HAVE I DONE??? But just push through, the mess doesn’t matter. It’ll be fine. Lick your fingers when you’re done.
One other note of importance, I found I only needed just over 2 1/2 cups of flour to get the right consistency, as I didn’t want to make the dough too dry and tight. Personally I often find babkas drier and denser than I prefer, so I wanted to keep this one light and soft.
So let’s dive in, shall we??READ THE POST
Amazing, Easy Grilled BBQ Chicken Pizza
It’s the worst-kept secret that I’m obsessed with grilling pizza. I’ve been experimenting with different flavor combinations, but keep coming back to this BBQ chicken pizza…I even made it for my birthday dinner this year.
Why do I love it so much?? It’s such a lovely blend of flavors and textures that feel hearty and indulgent, and makes a perfect transition from summer into fall grilling.
This BBQ chicken pizza is a FLAVOR EXPLOSION. Warm, spiced BBQ sauce, gooey cheese, a little bite from the red onion, the hearty chicken and sweetness of the butternut squash. All surrounded by the chewy pizza crust.
Basil Gin Gimlet Cocktail
Apparently I’m not the only one with a basil gin gimlet on the brain. I hadn’t even heard of them until a couple weeks ago, when I saw an article about them that intrigued me. I created a blog post draft because I have a stupid amount of fresh basil to use.
Then I tried out an awesome new restaurant last weekend and they just so happened to have a basil gimlet on their menu. Serendipity for sure. I tried out my own recipe the next day and I have to say that I AM IN LOVE.
I’ve already talked a little bit about the classic gimlet cocktail in my French gimlet post…this is an herbaceous twist on the tart and boozy classic and it’s perfect for this time of year. READ THE POST
Melty Cheesy Zucchini Baked Pasta
This zucchini baked pasta is the perfect recipe for those lazy hot days of summer as they start to slide into fall. Not too heavy, packed with bright and silky garlicky zucchini and light ricotta, but oozing with a comforting amount of gooey mozzarella.
The recipe is also super flexible and adaptable, and I did make a couple changes.
I cut back on the fresh mozzarella by a third…partly because I forgot to buy enough, but I ended up finding what I had was MORE THAN plenty. I threw in a small handful of shredded (bagged) mozzarella in the main mixture for good measure and to help bind everything together.
I also used a ton of zucchini—three medium and one ginormous. In case you’re wondering, I made my own pesto (love that fresh basil taste!) but I’m sure a jarred would work fine.
I just needed something indulgent but not *too* unhealthy, and this zucchini ziti fit the bill perfectly.
Grilled Margherita Pizza: Simple Perfection
I’m quite picky when it comes to pizza. But give me an amazing Naples-style traditional margherita pizza and I am in 100% of the time.
And make that a grilled margherita pizza?? ALL THE YES.
This pizza is perfect in its simplicity…it’s less of a standalone recipe than it is the sum of a few delicious components. The flavor and high heat from the grill help kind of approximate the crazy heat and fire of the traditional woodfire oven.
It takes my favorite easy pizza dough (or use your own, or store-bought), a no-cook tomato sauce that takes literally two minutes to make, some fresh mozzarella, and some freshly-grated parmesan.
You can whip it up on any weeknight, something that always feels like a victory. The real problem for me is that…I’m one person. So I really can’t justify eating tons of pizza, but it’s not good as leftovers, so…
I guess what I’m saying is, my clothes are tight.
Fresh Grapefruit Cake With Mascarpone Icing
This cake is a REVELATION. I’ve had the idea stuck in my head since first watching the Great British Bake-Off episode where Beca makes grapefruit cake, since I’m a complete sucker for anything grapefruit flavored.
This cake has a little of everything…light and buttery cake, tart but sweet grapefruit curd, and creamy not-too-sweet frosting. It’s spring incarnate, my guilty pleasure, and heaven on a plate.
You’ll need a few pink grapefruit for this recipe, because it’s a more subtle flavor and you really want to pack it in.
Paul Hollywood’s Chelsea Buns
It’s hard to tell you how magical these chelsea buns are. Fragrant spices, tart and chewy fruit with a whiff of bourbon, citrus tang. Soft, pillowy dough. Sweet icing. It was truly revelatory.
I’ve wanted to try these out, and decided that Paul Hollywood’s recipe had to be where I start…I only know about them from the Great British Bake-Off, so feels fitting.
What is a chelsea bun?? Chelsea buns aren’t really a thing in the U.S…at least as far as I’m aware. I’d certainly never heard of them before I started watching the Great British Bake-Off.
They are a currant sweet bun from the 1700s, once favored by royalty. Made basically the same way as a cinnamon roll, but stuffed with dried fruit instead and usually with some citrus zest in there. They’re a real British staple.
(Side note, I just went down a rabbit hole about the difference between currants, raisins, and sultanas, soooo…)
And I’m so glad I’ve tried them out, because they were so worth it!
If you’re looking at the ingredients list and thinking “whoa, that’s intense!”…don’t be put off by it. It’s not nearly as complicated or intense as it looks, I promise. I just like to write detailed instructions because I think it makes life easier…and I have step-by-step photos throughout the post so you can see how everything should look.
“If Egg Nog Was Good” Bourbon Milk Punch Cocktail
A few months ago, if anyone had told me I’d be obsessed with a cocktail that includes bourbon and dairy (with the exception of a boozy milkshake), I’d have thought they were crazy.
But here we are…
What is a milk punch?
So apparently “punch” is from the Sanskrit word pañc, which means “five”…five ingredients, in this case. I can neither confirm nor deny but that sounds pretty cool. A milk punch is a classic but flexible cocktail formula: generally including liquor, sweetener, milk and/or cream, and vanilla, usually with a nutmeg garnish. There’s more fascinating milk punch history here.
Apparently we’re in the midst of a milk punch revival. I’d never really heard of them until recently, and then all of the sudden started to notice them on menus. I first tried a clarified milk punch (having a major moment) at George’s Bar in Louisville, and it was amazing! I am, however, too lazy to clarify milk myself…
You might also like: Gifts for the Cocktail Lover & At-Home Mixologist
The Most Amazing, Moist Lemon-Orange Pound Cake
We’ve reached that point in the late-winter-almost-spring-dear-goodness-let-it-be-spring where I desperately need warmth and sunshine. And this lemon orange pound cake is basically the pastry embodiment of sunshine, so it will just have to do.
I’ve adapted this recipe from a lemon pound cake that A Beautiful Plate posted. While I love lemon with my whole heart, I thought that the addition of orange would bring a balance with a milder and sweeter citrus. And boy, does it ever! I also upped the citrus in the glaze in particular.
Besides the amazing flavor, the other thing to love about this cake is the texture—it’s so moist! In my experience, pound cakes are denser and drier, but the greek yogurt helps keep this super soft and fluffy. Basically, this cake is a winner!
(On a side note, I absolutely love the stunning Magnolia bundt cake pan I made this in…was my first time trying it out!).
Apple Butter Cinnamon-Sugar Babka
This is one of those places where I cram a lot of my favorite things into one recipe and see how it comes out. Apple butter, check. Cinnamon-sugar, check. Soft delicious challah dough in a twisty babka bread?? Check.
And I’ll be honest…halfway through making this I was pretty sure it was going to be a disaster.
I can’t remember what gave me this particular brainwave, but it was very likely when I made a new batch of my amazing homemade apple butter and was thinking of all the different ways it could be used.
I’d been browsing challah and babka recipes including peanut butter and jelly, tahini and pistachio, and so many more, and thought…why not apple butter??
This babka would make amazing small-batch french toast!
So I started looking for apple butter babka recipes and really kind of came up empty. Which I found surprising, because it feels like such a logical and beloved flavor combo. So after finding a few different things that were in the right direction, I set out to figure out something on my own.
I think you’re going to like it…
A Fall Classic: The Best Homemade Apple Butter Ever
The very first time I made this recipe was many years ago, when the leaves were turning all shades of fiery red and orange, signaling a gorgeous Georgia fall. There was a chill in the air, co-workers arguing over SEC football, and comfort food cravings were haunting me.
You know what else says “fall”? Apple butter. Well, technically anything apple + cinnamon, but apple butter is definitely high up on the list. My mom had shared a homemade apple butter recipes from our family friend, Louise, and I decided to give it a try…and it’s become one of my favorite recipes of all time.
Since that time many years ago, making this apple butter has been a rite of fall. I’ve made it, without fail, every single year for going on a decade. I share jars with friends, co-workers, family…this stuff is legendary. And all the better because it’s so easy.
One of the best parts?? No peeling necessary–you keep the peels on your apples, because the pectin in the peels helps it thicken up. The combination of spices and brown sugar makes for a complex and warm flavor, completely adaptable to your own preferences. This is one of those great things that bubbles away on the stove, but takes very little hands-on time and effort.
I’ve posted the original homemade apple butter recipe as I was given it below, but when I make this I make one major tweak—the amount of sugar it called for seemed extreme, so I decrease it significantly. It lets the natural sweetness of the apples as well as the spices shine through, and makes it healthier overall.READ THE POST
Rosemary Olive Oil Bread With Sea Salt
Y’all, this is probably the best bread I have ever made. One of the best breads I’ve ever eaten.
I know, I know—that’s a bold statement. But I’m being completely serious. As I’ve said previously on this blog, I’m not a huge bread person. I can take it or leave most bread, and would rather have dessert or wine or even a good veggie side dish. But this bread changed my mind.
I first tested out this rosemary olive oil bread many years ago on Thanksgiving weekend, trying to come up with new ways to feed a bajillion people. It’s become a family favorite and staple at Thanksgiving and even normal weekend family events.
One thing I like about it is that it’s really flexible. The first time I made it, I was under the gun time-wise and so had to cheat and force the timings a bit for both the first and second rise. But it’s a very forgiving recipe and has always turned out well. What I’ve laid out here are ideal timings, but don’t be put off by them.
I’ve made a few tweaks to the original recipe, like adding sea salt on top (rather than the dried rosemary it called for). I do believe that fresh rosemary in the dough makes a huge difference, so strongly recommend you use it if at all possible.
The bread flour called for is nice and adds a great chewy texture, but if you don’t have bread flour then just substitute more regular flour. I quite like this using mostly white whole wheat flour, but that’s your call…all-purpose works fine as well.
Save for later: A Tool to Decide What Bread to Make Based On How Long You Have…READ THE POST
Grilled Gorgonzola Potatoes
The grilling extravaganza continues! And this time we go a little fancier—gorgonzola grilled potatoes. My love of grilling recipes is well-documented, partly because grilled food is delicious, but also because it’s often healthier, easier, and requires less cleanup.
I’ve been in love with my grilled cheddar rosemary sweet potatoes for like a year now, and this is a similar idea, just taking it up a notch.
Now, obviously strong blue cheese is a polarizing thing. I truly adore it, but realize not everyone does. If you hate it, then I’d say move on, this isn’t for you. But if you’re kind of on the fence, then I’d recommend giving this a try…melting the gorgonzola crumbles and the thin coating it makes over the crispy potatoes and herbs really mellows out the flavor and makes it less in-your-face.
This is a perfect weeknight side dish for one person (hello!), but also could be a great fancy-feeling (and low-effort) side for a dinner party.
How To Make Amazing Grilled Pizza (& My Go-To Dough)
Ever since I got a proper gas grill, I’ve been working on becoming a total grillmaster. That means all the usual things like learning how to make moist and flavorful chicken, steak, fish, and vegetables…but one of my favorite things to experiment with has been grilled pizza.
So I wanted to share what I’ve learned and provide my best tips for how to grill pizza dough (along with some of my favorite grilled pizza recipes).
The beauty of grilled pizza is how versatile it is…you can seriously top it with just about anything, as long as it’s already cooked or mostly cooked. From veggies to protein to fruit to cheese to chocolate, you can’t go wrong.
I’m sharing two different techniques for how to make grilled pizza, both of which I’ve used extensively, are easy, and work well. Part of it depends on what you prefer, and also what kind of end result you’re looking for…technique #1 has a little more of a flatbread feel and #2 is more traditional style with a puffy outer crust.
Heavenly Dark Chocolate Orange Babka
Even though I made this at least a month ago, I’ve been dreaming about it ever since. And forcibly restraining myself from making it again. Because this chocolate orange babka is what dreams are made of.
As a flavor combo, chocolate and orange will always be a winner—particularly this kind of dark chocolate. One thing I really love about this recipe is that it uses a challah dough as the base, which makes the final result lighter and softer. I often find babkas a bit denser and drier than I like, so I was drawn to this particular recipe.
This is my happy place…
Almond Pavlova With Balsamic Berries & Whipped Cream
I feel a little like a superhero on this one. Like I’ve tackled something a proper baker would do with ease.
Or maybe I’ve just been watching too many Great British Bake-Off episodes…which is probably true anyway, but my point is that they are ALWAYS using meringue of some sort and getting all fancy, but it’s always felt like something a bit too complicated and fiddly for regular ol’ folks. However, I’m here to tell you that it’s amazing and delicious, and we all need to go out and make pavlovas RIGHT THIS SECOND!
See, I’ve never been a huge fan of meringues…like those hard little cookies that are like styrofoam? So this was a baking technique that I wasn’t quite rarin’ to try. But what I discovered was that there is a key difference between a meringue and a pavlova.
What makes a pavlova magical is that, after you’ve whipped the egg whites and added all the sugar, you add a tiny bit of vinegar and cornstarch. This is chemistry sorcery, and results in an amazing marshmallow-y center with the meringue’s crispy outside. As a bonus, this is naturally gluten-free, so can be a fancy but still easy dessert to make when you need something GF.
These are so versatile and can be topped with all sorts of things. You definitely want something sharp or tart to offset the intense sweetness, and I’m looking forward to experimenting with some more “out there” flavor combinations. But for this one, I went with one of my favorite combos of all time—almond and berry. Because I thought, “What can make this even better?? Easy: almond pavlova!” This is kind of like a posh strawberry shortcake, and you’ll be wow-ed by the lush, pillowy textures, the chewiness of the meringue, and the way all the flavors explode in your mouth.
A Flourless Chocolate Cake…That’s NOT Too Sweet Or Rich
This is a story of me falling in love with something I’ve spent my whole adult life telling people I don’t like. That most cliche of fancy restaurant dessert menu features—the flourless chocolate cake.
I’ve always found flourless chocolate cakes FAR too rich and sweet…like eating fudge. No complexity, no real textural interest, just nauseating sweetness. But as I tried to figure out a dessert to make for our Night to Be Much Observed (Passover) meal this year that was also gluten-free, I decided it was my best option for a crowd, even if I didn’t love it myself.
But *this* recipe totally won me over. I used dark chocolate (around 72% cacao), went a little scant on the sugar, and added a dash of orange extract to deepen the flavors a bit.
The result is a more bittersweet chocolate flavor that’s interesting not cloying, and a nice kind of crackly exterior rather than just pure fudge.
You might also like: The Best Ever Single-Serve Molten Lava Cake (GF)
And I haven’t even told you the best part—it only takes 10-15 minutes to whip up, and then less than a half hour to bake. It’s such a low-maintenance dessert that feels so fancy, now I get why restaurants the world over insist on featuring it!
Addictive Dark Chocolate, Peanut Butter, & Tahini Bark
I haven’t been quite this obsessed with something in quite some time.
And of all things it’s a *bark* recipe, which I am historically just “meh” on. But this delicious blend of rich, bittersweet chocolate and punchy peanut butter chips, lifted up slightly by nutty tahini and a crunch of sea salt, is like amazing not-actually-that-bad-for-you crack.
The most critical thing in making this amazing is to use a high-quality dark chocolate. Since the chocolate is the base and the entire carrier of this recipe, using a cheaper and lower quality kind will definitely result in a mediocre product. That doesn’t mean you need something insanely expensive, just more along the lines of Ghiradelli vs. Hershey’s. Trust me, it’s worth it!
I love this so much that I’d love to find a way to make it just as yummy, but using a healthier alternative to peanut butter chips. The actual chemistry of how bark sets isn’t really my area of expertise, so I’m going to do some fiddling and researching to see if this is feasible…as much as I love peanut butter chips, they’re not super great for me and this would be quite a really nice healthy indulgence.
Whole Wheat Cranberry Pistachio Orange Shortbread Cookies
A couple years ago, my sister sent me an email out of nowhere with this recipe and a note that said “This has to be on your blog!” And I’ll be honest…it kind of took me a while to get to it.
But I played around with the recipe, making for a co-worker on maternity leave, for my own personal consumption, and then to take to work. And somehow never got around to posting the final version that I love dearly.
And guys, these cookies are weird. They have no leavening agent and no eggs…which shouldn’t work, but it totally does. In fact, they could be vegan if you substituted coconut oil for butter (though I haven’t tried that from a texture standpoint).
Side note, this cookie dough is AMAZING. Like, try not to eat it all raw before baking it, I DARE YOU. And because there are no eggs, you don’t have to worry about raw egg in it (which…I don’t, but I know some people do).
One of the great things about this kind of recipe, where you make the dough into a log and then slice pieces off, is that you can make parts of it at a time super easily. So the last time I made this, I baked up about half the dough right after dinner, and then two days later sliced up the rest and baked it when I had my whole family over for dinner again. Bonus points because they’re really quite healthy.
Apricot Balsamic Rosemary Chicken
I’ve been accidentally keeping this recipe a secret the last couple months. I know, I’m sorry…that’s not what friends do.
It wasn’t not on purpose. It’s just that life’s been so crazy, and this chicken has been one of the things getting me through. As the weather has gotten too cold for my normal nightly grilling, I had to try and find something else super easy but still healthy to have regularly. And once I tried this once, I was totally hooked.
This apricot balsamic chicken recipe comes courtesy of Joy the Baker (link at the end of this post), and it’s so simple but feels kind of fancy. The original recipe calls for chicken thighs, and it probably is best because thighs stay more moist and bring more flavor.
But I use chicken breasts sometimes, just because I struggle with the texture of thigh meat and don’t typically have it on hand. Chicken breasts work just fine, and my biggest tip is to make sure they’re sliced or pounded thin and even, so they cook quickly without drying out (also, try brining them first). I also swapped out the thyme the original recipe calls for and added rosemary instead, which I think gives it a punchier flavor.
This is the kind of recipe you can actually whip up on a weeknight after a frantic day of work in less than 30 minutes, then sit down with a glass of wine and take a deep breath.
You know you know what I’m talking about.