RECIPE | Best-Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies

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We had a snowy weekend here in Richmond! We had beautiful, big fluffy snow falling almost all weekend, so I made sure to stop by the grocery store on Friday after work to stock up on some essentials. Including, of course– ingredients to make cookies!

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the best baker in the world– I prefer cooking since you have a little more leeway with creativity and “winging it.” But, I’ve been trying to improve and this weekend I think I finally perfected the perfect recipe for chocolate chip cookies.

With Christmas just around the corner, I hope you’ll enjoy this ooey, gooey chocolate chip cookies as much as we did!

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt (sea salt will work, too!)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, 1 yolk at room temperature
  • 3 cups semisweet chocolate chips

 

 

Directions:

  1. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  2. In a KitchenAid stand mixer or large bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and sugar. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in 1/3 of the sifted ingredients at a time, until just blended. After dough is at desired consistency, fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Roll cookie dough into balls and place on a plate. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours.
  4. When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  5. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and set cookie dough balls about 2 inches apart.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges lightly golden. The cookies will look a little underbaked, but that’s ok!
  7. Let cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire baking rack to completely cool.
  8. Enjoy!

Makes 3-4 dozen cookies, depending on dough ball size.

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RECIPE | Lasagna with Turkey Sausage Bolognese

photoWe had this amazing from-scratch lasagna Bolognese recently and it was so delicious, I just had to share! I made a few tweaks, so here’s the original recipe from Bon Appetit if you want to stick to the classic.

Ingredients

SERVINGS: 8 TO 10

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, crushed in spice mill or in mortar with pestle
  • 1 package Aidells Organic Sweet Basil & Roasted Garlic sausage, thinly sliced
  • large garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes with basil
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 15-ounce container whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 3 cups (packed) coarsely grated whole-milk mozzarella cheese (12 ounces)
  • 1 1/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 16 6 1/2 x 3 1/4-inch no-boil lasagna noodles

Preparation

COOK: 45 MINCOOK: 1 MIN
  • Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, carrot, and fennel seeds; sauté 5 minutes. Add sausage and garlic; sauté until sausage is cooked through, breaking into pieces, 8 to 10 minutes. Add wine; boil 1 minute. Add tomatoes, 1/2 cup basil, and oregano. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Combine ricotta, mozzarella, 1 cup Parmesan, and 1/2 cup basil in medium bowl; stir to blend. Season with pepper. DO AHEAD Sauce and cheese mixture can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately; chill.
  • Place noodles in large bowl; cover with hot water. Soak until pliable, separating occasionally, about 30 minutes. Drain well.
  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Spread 1 cup sauce over bottom of 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Cover with 4 noodles, arranging crosswise. Drop 1/4 of cheese mixture over by tablespoonfuls; spread out. Top with 1 cup sauce, then 4 noodles and 1/3 of remaining cheese mixture. Repeat 2 more times with 1 cup sauce, 4 noodles, and 1/2 of cheese mixture. Spread any remaining sauce over. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan.
  • Bake lasagna uncovered until heated through and puffed, about 50 minutes. Let stand 15 to 20 minutes and serve.

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RECIPE | Roasted Butternut Squash + Gorgonzola Lasagna

Image result for roasted butternut squash gorgonzola lasagnaWe hosted our first “formal” dinner in our new home this week (I even used my VIETRI chargers underneath the plates!). We invited our sweet new neighbors and their adorable baby daughter over and had the best time. We are over the moon to have young, cool neighbors next door!

 

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Look Ma! I used my fancy plates!

 

Since they are vegetarian, I scoured the internet for the perfect recipe that would be tasty and satisfying for vegetarians and carnivores alike. I was thrilled to find this wonderful recipe from Gay Lea Foods Co-Operative. This lasagna turned out to be a wonderfully rustic, robust, creamy and delicious autumn entree — and great for serving a crowd! I’d highly recommend this whether you are vegetarian or not!

Be sure to swap out the chicken broth for vegetable broth to make sure it is vegetarian-friendly! Also, next time, I might do toasted pine nuts in lieu of walnuts for a more nutty, earthy taste.

I served the lasagna with a beautiful autumn apple kale salad I found on Pinterest – here’s the recipe! We finished the meal with a spectacularly delicious (and hassle-free) apple crisp pie from the Fresh Market with caramel ice cream.

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Cut the squash into small equal-sized pieces (about 1/2-inch/2 cm). Toss the squash and onion with half the butter, the honey, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper until well combined. Spread in a single layer on parchment-lined baking sheets. Roast, turning occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes or until very tender (rotate the baking sheets halfway through cooking). Cool slightly; combine with the cottage cheese, milk, broth and Gorgonzola.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease a 9 x 13-inch (3 L) casserole dish. Spread one quarter of the cottage cheese mixture evenly into the dish. Cover with an even layer of noodles, trimming to fit. Repeat layers of cheese and noodles twice. Spread the remaining cheese mixture evenly over the noodles.
  3. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, toss breadcrumbs with walnuts, parsley, and remaining butter; sprinkle the lasagna evenly with breadcrumb mixture. Broil for 3 minutes or until golden brown. Rest for 20 minutes before slicing.

Enjoy!

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RECIPE | Quick “Skinny” Vietnamese Beef Noodle Pho

phoMy husband and I love Vietnamese food, and often will order take-out pho from one of our local Vietnamese restaurants in the winter and fall. Pho is the perfect cure for a sore throat or cold, but comforting even when you’re not sick!

Last night I tried my hand at making pho tai (beef noodle soup) at home, and it was a pretty big success! To make it a bit healthier, I substituted Shirataki noodles for the rice noodles, which is what the recipe calls for. If you haven’t tried these noodles– they are uhhh-mazing because they are ZERO CALORIES! They also soak up the flavor of whatever you’re cooking them in, so they were perfect for the pho. You can buy them in the natural foods section of the grocery store, or click the image to the left to purchase online.

So, according to MyFitnessPal, one serving of regular pho has 518 calories– this skinny pho has only 281 calories!

Anyways, here is my  super-quick, super-healthy recipe for Skinny Beef Pho. Enjoy!

Skinny Pho Thai

Serves two

Ingredients

Broth

  • 2 pho cubes (found in Asian markets or click here)
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 T low-sodium soy sauce

Pho Thai

  • 1/2 lb. round eye beef
  • 3 green onions
  • 2 Serrano peppers
  • 1 lime
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 2 bags of Shirataki noodles, divided
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves

Extras we love: Hoisin sauce, sriracha, chili garlic sauce, black bean garlic sauce

Instructions

  • With a sharp knife, cut beef into very thin slices (no more than 1/4″)
  • Finely slice your green onions and peppers, and quarter the lime
  • Wash, drain, and dry Shirataki noodles, divide into two large bowls
  • Top noodles with desired amount of beef
  • In a large pot, bring broth ingredients to a boil.
  • Pour over beef and noodles, allowing the broth to cook the beef through
  • Garnish with green onions, peppers, lime, bean sprouts, basil and desired sauces.
  • Enjoy!

Favorite Recipes for Your Labor Day Cook-Out

Happy Labor Day weekend! We’ve had a mix of low-key and high-gear activities this weekend. It’s been a busy, fun, friend-filled weekend – and it’s not over yet!

When we have friends and family in town for a holiday weekend, we love to heat up the grill and enjoy the final days of summer in the backyard. If you’re looking for a little inspiration for your Labor Day cook-out, check out some of my favorite summer-approved recipes below. They’re all easy, delicious, and pretty healthy, too!

Grilled Kickin’ Chicken Thighs with Adobo Corn

Tried this Sunday. So good!!!! New fav way to cook corn. Grilled Corn on the Cob - Easy Recipe

Summer is the perfect time to rekindle your love of grilling. This easy, delicious recipe is perfect for a summer weeknight meal, but can be easily doubled (or tripled!) if you are entertaining guests for a summer BBQ.

Spice Rubbed Flank Steak with Salsa

Spice-Rubbed Flank Steak with Fresh Salsa Recipe

This recipe comes from the 2013 edition of Best of Cooking Light, and is a great weekend or weeknight meal to toss on the grill. I served with French-cut green beans and herb-roasted fingerling potatoes.

Three Cheese Prosciutto + Peach Pizza with Honey Balsamic Reduction

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This is a perfect seasonal pizza recipe that is a definite crowd pleaser! It’s fun and easy to make, and all of the flavors perfectly compliment each other. Fun for a Sunday supper or weeknight meal!

Refreshing Cucumber and Watermelon Salad

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Here is one of my favorite summer salads — it’s refreshing, low calorie, and super easy! Also, because the watermelon and cucumber are so water-dense, it fills you up pretty quickly. Enjoy!

Nate’s Chicken Skin Tacos

Adapted from Nate Gutierrez, Nate’s Taco Truck, Richmond, Va.

Strawberry Basil Spritzer Cocktail

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I tried this recipe as an experiment and am beyond pleased with the results. It’s sweet (but not too!), refreshing, fruity (but not too!), and complex. Quadruple this recipe if you’re entertaining and serve in a pretty glass pitcher!

What are your favorite summertime recipes? Leave in the comments section below!

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RECIPE | Three Cheese Prosciutto + Peach Pizza with Honey-Balsamic Reduction

This is a perfect seasonal pizza recipe that is a definite crowd pleaser! It’s fun and easy to make, and all of the flavors perfectly compliment each other. Fun for a Sunday supper or weeknight meal!

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Ingredients

  • Pizza dough (pre-made or homemade)
  • 3 T olive oil, divided
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 package Prosciutto di Parma (about six slices)
  • 1/4 c. Ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 c. fresh Mozzarella, sliced
  • 1/4 c. Asiago cheese, shredded
  • 1 large peach, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups fresh basil, gently packed, minced
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 1 c. Balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher salt + pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 450.
  • In a deep saucepan, combine balsamic vinegar and honey. Cook on medium heat, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes until reduced to about 1/2 cup. Set aside to thicken and cool.
  • In a small sauce pan, heat 1 T. olive oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic, and sautée for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool.
  • Form dough in circle onto pizza stone (we love this one from Crate & Barrel). Brush approximately 3 T. olive oil across the dough, then sprinkle minced garlic evenly. Salt and pepper dough to taste.
  • Place thin slices of Prosciutto across dough, leaving about an inch on the perimeters for crust.
  • Spoon small dollops of Ricotta across Prosciutto, followed by slices of Mozzarella. Sprinkle Asiago on top of all of this.
  • Arrange peaches on top of cheese. Sprinkle fresh minced basil on top of this.
  • Bake pizza in oven for 12-18 minutes, until golden brown.
  • Drizzle desired amount of honey-balsamic reduction on pizza.

Serve warm.

What’s your favorite summer pizza recipe? Leave your recipes in the comments below!

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RECIPE | Grilled Kickin’ Chicken Thighs + Adobo Corn

Tried this Sunday. So good!!!! New fav way to cook corn. Grilled Corn on the Cob - Easy Recipe

Summer is the perfect time to rekindle your love of grilling. This easy, delicious recipe is perfect for a summer weeknight meal, but can be easily doubled (or tripled!) if you are entertaining guests for a summer BBQ.

Grilled Kickin’ Chicken Thighs + Adobo Corn

Serves 4

Ingredients — Chicken

  • Four chicken thighs
  • 1/2 cup Crystal hot sauce (can be replaced with your favorite hot sauce)
  • 4 T Weber Kick’n Chicken Seasoning
  • 1 gallon-sized Ziploc bag

Ingredients – Corn

  • Four ears of corn, husked
  • Four pads of butter, separated
  • 4 t Adobo seasoning (I use the seasoning blend from Wildtree)
  • Aluminum foil

Directions

Combine chicken, hot sauce, and seasoning in gallon Ziploc bag. Gently shake to cover all chicken thighs. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

Prepare corn by placing one ear on square of aluminum foil. Add pad of butter to top ridge, and sprinkle with 1 t of Adobo seasoning. Gently wrap corn and secure the ends by twisting into small handles.

Preheat oven to 350-400 (medium high heat). Add chicken and corn to the grill. Corn should be turned frequently, and cooked for 18-20 minutes.

Chicken should cook 8-10 minutes on each side.

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RECIPE | The Perfect Pesto

Pesto is one of my absolute favorite things on the planet. I would eat it with a spoon from the jar if it wasn’t frowned upon.

I’ve been making my own pesto for a while now, slightly altering the recipe each time trying to perfect it. And yesterday, I think I did.

I think the secret to this pesto is simple: toasting the pine nuts before they’re blended into the sauce. By toasting them for a few minutes, it released a much fuller, more flavorful taste, which subtly influenced the personality and profile.

Here’s my (finally) perfected pesto recipe!

Sweet Caroline’s Perfect Pesto

Equipment

Food processor (or mortar & pestle if you’re really ambitious)

Ingredients

6 cups fresh basil, gently packed
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Once oven is preheated, toast pine nuts in a shallow baking pan for 3-4 minutes. After removing them from the oven, let cool for 10-15 minutes.
  • In a food processor, combine basil, Parmesan, garlic, salt and olive oil. Pulse until mostly smooth.
  • Slowly add pine nuts, pulsing until mixture is smooth.
  • Spoon pesto into mason jar. Store in refrigerator.*
  • Enjoy!

*Note: Homemade pesto can be stored in refrigerator for 5-7 days, and 3-4 months in the freezer. 

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RECIPE | Gambas al Ajillo (Garlic Shrimp Tapas)

My husband and I recently took a trip down to the South Carolina Lowcountry for our one year anniversary. We stayed at the darling Rhett House Inn in Beaufort, SC, and had one of most amazing dinners ever at Old Bull Tavern.

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old bull tavern | beaufort, sc

Everything we ate was amazing that night, but our absolute favorite was a shrimp appetizer in a garlicky, sherry broth served with grilled baguette. We haven’t been able to stop thinking about it! So, when we got home, I messaged the restaurant and asked for the recipe — or at least a point in the right direction.

Super simple … look up any Spanish recipe for Gambas al ajillo

So, we did!

Here’s the recipe I used, and it was amazing. Enjoy!

Gambas Al Ajillo

Ingredients

    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 1/4 cup butter
    • 1 1/2 lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined
    • 4 -6 garlic cloves, minced ( more if you are a garlic lover)
    • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
    • 1 teaspoon paprika
    • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes ( to taste)
    • 4 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
    • salt
    • fresh ground pepper

Directions

  1. In a wide, shallow sauté pan over high heat, warm the Olive Oil and the Butter; add the Shrimp and Garlic and sauté quickly for about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the lemon juice, paprika, pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. Adjust seasonings to your liking.
  3. Transfer to a warmed serving dish, sprinkle with the parsley and serve at once.

Five Hearty Soups to Warm You Up

There’s nothing more comforting on a chilly winter night than a piping hot bowl of hearty soup. Here are five of my favorite recipes to keep you warm and toasty!

1. Hearty + Healthy Lasagna Soup

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Click here for the recipe!

2. Chicken and Brisket Brunswick Stew

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Click here for the recipe!

3. Beef and Veal Osso Bucco Soup with Barley

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Click here for the recipe!

4. Mushroom and Farro Soup

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Click here for the recipe!

5. Rustic Tomato Soup

Click here for the recipe!

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