Welcome to my blog!

For years I’ve been known among family and friends for my various dishes, particularly desserts. So I’ve decided to start a blog to share some of the recipes and my adventures in cooking. Most of what I make is based on common recipes from the internet, cooking shows, etc. But like many, I customize them to make them uniquely my own. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

Stay at Home Cookies

So this is based of a recipe that I pulled out of a magazine years ago and had never gotten around to trying it. As we’re all in lockdown, for the most part, it’s a perfect time to give it a try. This cookie has a lot going on. I did mix it up a little, used creamy peanut butter instead of chunky and added the butterscotch chips. They’re delicious, the butterscotch really comes through and the oats add a nice bite. Be warned, they’re a little crumbly. Enjoy!

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Stay at Home Cookies

Stay at Home Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 3 cups oats
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (I use semisweet)
  • 1 1/2 cups butterscotch chips

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350º and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In your stand mixer cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the peanut butter until smooth. Add in the eggs one at a time until smooth, you probably need to scrape down the sides at least once. Add in the vanilla. Turn the mixer down to low and gradually add the flour mixture until just combined. Add in the oats next and just beat until combined. With a spatula fold in the chocolate and butterscotch chips.

Drop a generous tablespoon of dough onto your cookie sheet, about 2″ apart. Back for 12-15 minutes or until you just start to see the edges turn golden brown.  Allow to cool and then devour.

General Tso’s Chicken

I really love my Instant Pot. It makes recipes like this super easy and fast! Now ordinarily I just order out for Asian food as it’s easier. But these days it’s not as easy and I had been meaning to try this recipe anyway. One this I will say is that using dark meat chicken vs. light meat makes a HUGE difference. This first time I tried this recipe I used boneless chicken breasts. It turned out dry and not all that good. This time I used boneless thighs and it was delicious. Enjoy!

 

General Tso’s Chicken

  • 1 tbsp. oil (sesame if you have it)
  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless chicken thighs
  • 6 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 6 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger (I have a tube in my fridge)
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 3/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 4 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 green onion, chopped

Directions:

Cut the chicken into about 1″ cubes. Turn your instant pot to sauté and add the oil. Once hot brown the chicken, about 5 minutes. Cancel the sauté. In a medium bowl which together the vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, pepper flakes, hoisin, and brown sugar. Poor into the instant pot and secure the lit. Make sure the valve is closed. Set your pressure cook to manual and for 10 minutes.

When the 10 minutes is up use the quick release on the valve to quickly release the steam. Remove the chicken. Add the cornstarch to a couple tbsp. of cold water and mix well, I like to use a jar. Set the instant pot to sauté and whisk in the cornstarch. The mixture should start to thicken pretty quickly. Once it’s thick turn the pot off, and set it to keep warm, and add the chicken back in. Serve it over rice and sprinkle with the onion and sesame seeds (optional).

Bourbon Flank Steak

This recipe comes from my cooking light cookbook. I have several to go recipes in this, which I’ve deconstructed most of the time to not be so light. Oh well. This one I’ve bumped up a notch by using brown sugar bourbon instead of regular bourbon. The steak comes out as, well, basically meat candy. It’s delicious. I’ve tried it with New York strip and it’s just not the same. There’s something about flank steak that lends itself to this marinade. I also added a little crushed red chili flake to it that offsets the sweetness just a bit. I marinaded mine overnight but you could do it for less time. I don’t know how much that will affect the flavor. Enjoy!

 

Bourbon Flank Steak

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 chopped green onion
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar bourbon
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp crushed red chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 flank steak

Directions:

Combine all of the ingredients into a ziplock bag. Massage until they are all well combined and the steak well coated. Refrigerate overnight for best results. I sous vide mine at 120° for an hour. I then heated a grill pan on high, added a little oil, and seared each side for 1 minute. Let rest for a couple of minutes, carve into slices, and enjoy.

If you don’t have a sous vide, grill for 3 to 5 minutes on each side; depending on how well you like your steak done.

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

I don’t remember what prompted me to create this recipe. Probably inspired by ice cream out and about. This is a little different though as it has bits of salted caramel brickle in it. This creates great texture with those little bits giving you a nice bite. Enjoy.

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Brickle:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt

Ice Cream:

  • 2 1/3 cups whole milk
  • 2 1/3 cups heavy cream, divided 1 1/2 & 2/3
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sugar, divided 1 1/2 & 1/2
  • 7 eggs, 3 whole & 4 yolks

Directions:

For the brickle, in a heavy sauce pan (I use my Dutch oven) spread the sugar in an even layer. Line a cookie sheet with a silicon baking mat or brush sparingly with unflavored oil. I recommend the silicone baking mat as it’s so much easier to break the brickle.

Heat the sugar over medium heat until the edges begin to melt. Use a heatproof utensil to gently stir the liquefied sugar from the bottom and edges towards the center. Stir gently until the sugar is completely dissolved and a golden brown. Be careful as it can burn easily. Don’t be afraid to turn down the heat. Once it’s completely melted pull it off the heat and dump in the sea salt. Pour carefully (it’s molten hot!) onto your cookie sheet. Allow to completely cool and then break it into little bits, about 1/4″ or smaller.

For the ice cream, in a heavy sauce pan (I use my Dutch oven) spread 1/2 up of sugar in an even layer. Heat the same as the brickle above. Once it’s completely melted, whisk in the butter 1 tbsp. at a time. Once the butter is completely melted whisk in the sea salt. Remove from the heat and whisk in 2/3 cup of heavy cream. Be careful here as it will steam up and bubble fiercely. Once it has subsided put it back on the heat and whisk in the remaining cream and the milk. Bring it to a gentle simmer.

In a medium bowl beat the eggs, yolks,  remaining sugar, and vanilla until thick and smooth. It will be pale yellow in color and similar to mayonnaise.

Slowly whisk in some of the hot milk mixture, a ladle full at a time. You want to slowly bring the eggs up to temperature without cooking them, otherwise you’ll get scrambled eggs. Once you’ve incorporated about 1 1/2 cups of the hot liquid add the egg mixture into the milk mixture and bring up to a gentle boil. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium-low heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. You’ll know when it’s done when you can dip a spoon in, run your finger down the back, turn it sideways, and it doesn’t run back down the spoon erasing your swipe.

Pour it into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap so that the wrap is on the surface of your mixture. This will prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cold.

Take you chilled mixture and put it into your ice cream maker. Once it’s pretty thick add in your brickle bits, do this just before you’re going to put your ice cream into your containers.

 

Jam Cookies with Streusel

So recently Costco had some delicious shortbread cookies with a jam and streusel topping. But they were, I thought, a little skimpy on the jam part. So I decided to recreate them. I did mix it up a little in that instead of using a shortbread cookie base I used a somewhat softer base made with cream cheese. The didn’t turn out too bad. I may try again but with the shortbread base to see how they compare. Enjoy.

 

Jam Cookies with Streusel

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temp.
  • 1 8oz package of cream cheese, at room temp.
  • 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour, divided 2 cups & 1 cup
  • 1 cup jam (I used raspberry)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 fine kosher salt
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

Directions:

In a stand mixer beat together 2 sticks of butter and the cream cheese until smooth and fluffy. Blend in the flour. Form into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least an hour.

Roll the dough out until it’s about 1/4″ thick and use a biscuit cutter to cut out the cookies. Place them on a cookie sheet that’s been lined with parchment paper. If the dough starts to get too warm chill it for 20 minutes or so.

Spread about a tbsp of jam on top of each cookie.

In a small bowl combine the remaining cup of flour, brown sugar, salt, and remaining stick of butter. It should be crumbly and about the size of large peas. Top the cookies with the streusel.

Preheat your oven to 350° and bake the cookies for about 15 minutes. The sides will start to lightly brown. Cool and eat.

Tuscan Olive Bread

This recipe comes from a bread recipe book that I picked up oh so many years ago. Now I haven’t really modified this recipe as bread is not very forgiving if you don’t know what you’re doing. And I will be the first to admit that I don’t, I don’t have the science background to get away with it. But with the stay at home initiative, I’ve had plenty of time to watch lots of cooking shows. I just haven’t been making a lot as I have nowhere to take it and I don’t want to throw it away. Anyway, one of the new techniques I learned was baking your bread in a Dutch oven. And boy did it make a huge difference! I’ve made this bread plenty of times before but never has it turned out so light and fluffy! Not to mention the size! Enjoy.

Tuscan Olive Bread

  • 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 cups water (110° to 115°)
  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 cup coarse-grind whole wheat flour
  • pinch of sugar
  • 2/3 cup rough chopped olives (I use Kalamata)
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • Olive oil
  • Flake sea salt (optional)

Directions:

In your stand mixer bowl combine the yeast, water, 1 cup of the bread flour, the whole wheat flour, and a pinch of sugar. Whisk hard to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until bubbly, about an hour.

After it is bubbly, fit your mixer with the paddle attachment. Start adding the flour at low speed 1/2 a cup at a time. After about 1 1/2 cups in add the salt and olives. Continue to beat until smooth and it starts pulling away from the sides. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and kneed for about 10 minutes. The dough will be slightly sticky but you don’t want to add too much flour in or your bread will be tough.

Lightly oil a large bowl. Form the dough into a ball, place it into the bowl, swirl around to coat the top, and then turn it over. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until it’s doubled, between 1 hr to 1 1/2 hrs.

Punch the dough down and turn it out onto your board. Form it into a tight bowl. Take a piece of parchment paper and spray it with non-stick cooking spray. Line your dutch oven with it and place your dough inside. With a sharp knife score the top, I do 1 long cute about 1/4″ deep. Lightly dust the top with flour.

Preheat your oven to 425°. Once it’s hot place your dutch oven with the lid on into the oven. After 30 minutes remove the lid, sprinkle with the flake sea salt (optional), and bake for another 30 minutes.

Pickled Mushrooms

Now this one may seem odd to a lot of people. Growing up my Mom would make pickled mushrooms all the time. I loved them! Unfortunately, like a lot of things she used to make when I was growing up, she didn’t have the recipes written down. So when she passed they were lost to me. Recently I had a hankering for them so I turned to my friend Google for help. I found a recipe that I kind of liked and thought was close and then modified it. The thing with the mushrooms that my Mom would make was that they had  a kick to them, they were spicy! But not cayenne spicy per se, more a shit ton of garlic spicy.

So I gave it a whack, waiting 30 days and then tried them. I’ll tell you I was disappointed and thought I’d have to try again. So I put them back in the refrigerator and forgot about them for a couple more month. Well this last week I was needing to clear out space to stock up on groceries, and no I was not hoarding! So I pulled them out and was going to dump them. But before I did so, I gave them another try. Oh so much better! I clearly had not let them set long enough the first time I tried them. They are pretty close to what my Mom used to make. Enjoy!

 

Pickled Mushrooms

  • 2 – 3 pounds of mushrooms, I used crimini and the smaller the better
  • 3 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 2/3 cups water
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 1/2 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp red pepper chili flakes
  • 1 bulb of garlic (or so)
  • 4 pint jars with lids or 2 quart jars with lids, sterilized

Directions:

If you got small mushrooms you’re set, if they’re on the large side you’ll want to halve or quarter them so they fit in your jars. Make sure they’re clean and there is no residual dirt.

In a large pot combine the vinegar, water, and salt. Bring to a boil. Once it’s come to a boil reduce it to low and add in your mushrooms. simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

While they are simmering, divide the bay leaves, peppercorns, chili flakes, and garlic equally between your jars. I cut my garlic into chunks for more surface exposure.

Add in the mushrooms until the jars are full, use a chop stick or spoon handle to poke them down and as you fill the jars up with the liquid from the pot until the jars are almost full and have no air bubbles. Allow to cool before refrigerating. They’re good in 30 days or wait longer for more full flavored mushrooms. Enjoy!

 

Raspberry Layer Fudge

This was another recipe that I came across where the final product looked delicious. However, in making it; it was a huge pain! But it was delicious even if it wasn’t as pretty as I’d like. The problem is the original recipe had you layering and swirling and it just didn’t work. The chocolate and the raspberry would just blend together. If I make it again I’ll do one layer and a time, refrigerating between to make them set. None of the swirling. It’s very tasty though. The only modification I made was to add a little framboise brandy to heighten the raspberry flavor. Enjoy!

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Raspberry Layer Fudge

  • 12 oz while chocolate (chips or chopped)
  • 12 Oz semi-sweet chocolate (chips or chopped)
  • 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk, divided
  • 2 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup pureed raspberries
  • 2 tbsp. framboise
  • 2 tbsp. water (divided)

Directions:

Puree the raspberries with the framboise in a blended. Refrigerate until it’s thickened, about 30 minutes.

Line a 8″x8″ pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

Put the chocolate and white chocolate in to two microwavable bowls with half of the condensed milk and water in each. Nuke for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in-between, until completely melted and smooth.

Add 1/2 of the chocolate and smooth out. Then add 1/2 of the raspberries and smooth out. Add 1/2 of the white chocolate and, you guessed it, smooth it out. Repeat. Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.

Use the parchment paper hanging over the sides to lift it out. Peal it off and cut it into squares and enjoy!

No Bake Chocolate Tart

It’s not often that I will try making a recipe that’s specifically labeled “healthy”. Let alone one that is vegan, gluten free, and paleo! All of those, at least in my mind, make the dish sound tasteless. But I do try to keep an open mind and get over myself. So when I came across this recipe I almost went next but the picture that accompanied the recipe made me stop. It looked absolutely delicious. So I looked it over and all of the ingredients seemed good and figured I’d give it a try. I was really looking for something that was dairy free at the time and can always use a gluten free dessert as well. I will say that I did modify the original recipe slightly. Who ever wrote it was either using commercial equipment or lied. It looks really dense, like a flourless chocolate cake but it actually is pretty light. Enjoy!

No Bake Chocolate Tart

Crust:

  • 1/2 cup chopped dates (about 8)
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 oz dark chocolate, melted (use good quality)
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup lot water
  • 2 tbsp. chocolate liqueur (I used chocolate whiskey)
  • pinch of fine sea salt

Filling:

  • 1 13.5 oz can coconut cream (make sure you get cream, not milk)
  • 4 oz dark chocolate, melted
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates (about 8)
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 2 tbsp. chocolate liqueur (I used chocolate whiskey)
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract

Topping:

  • Fresh berries
  • whipped cream (I used coconut whipped cream)

Directions:

Put the dates in a bowl with the hot water and liqueur and allow them to soak for at least 15 minutes. In your food processor, pulse the almonds until fine. Add in the dates and pulse again until well combined. Add in the melted chocolate, coconut oil, and salt. Pulse until well combined. Press into a 9″ round tart pan, I greased mine with a little coconut oil so it would come out easier. Allow to chill for 30 minutes.

Clean your food processor. In a microwave proof bowl, heat the coconut cream, chocolate and coconut oil until completely melted and smooth. About 30 seconds at a time, stir, repeat. Add the dates to your food processor and pulse until smooth. Add in the chocolate/coconut mixture and pulse again until completely smooth. Fill the chilled tart shell and chill again until set, about 2 hours.

Before serving top with berries and whipped cream. I also dusted a little powdered sugar and some additional grated chocolate. Enjoy!

Bacon Jalapeno Cheddar Bread

This recipe intrigued me. It contains several things I love; cheddar, bacon, jalapenos, and beer. And it was super easy to make! The jalapenos add a subtle flavor and not really any heat to it. So if you like it hot you’ll want to up the amount you put in. Enjoy!

 

Bacon Jalapeno Cheddar Bread

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 6 slices of crispy bacon, chopped
  • 3 tbsp. jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 2 1/4 cups grated cheddar
  • 1 12oz beer (I used a brown ale)
  • 3 tbsp. butter, melted

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350° and spray a loaf pan with non-stick spray. I lined mine with parchment paper as well, then re-sprayed; this makes taking the loaf out super easy.

In a large bowl; sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, garlic powder, cumin, and sugar. Add in the bacon jalapeno and cheese. Pour in the beer and mix until just combined, don’t over mix it! Spoon into the loaf pan and pour the melted butter over the top. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick come out clean from the center.

Allow to cool and enjoy!