Pig Party!

My daughter adores PIGS. :) She collects stuffed pigs, reads fictional and non-fictional books about pigs, and even wrote her first research paper (in 2nd grade!) about pot-bellied pigs. To celebrate her 9th birthday, she invited over a few friends for a pig-themed sleepover party. It was perfect!

We started with a pig invitation- inviting everyone to come PIG out and celebrate. ;) It included a custom rhyme based on one of our favorite books “If you Give a Pig a Party” by Laura Numeroff.

We PIGged out eating pizza, pig cupcakes, pig pancakes, and pig cookies. We also had our traditional “Number Cookies” as well as chocolate fondue. (Which will most likely become a new tradition!)


Yes, there were a lot of sweet treats. :)

The girls also made beanie boo sleeping bags adapted from Doll Diaries.com. SO cute! :) (I cut 2 pieces of fabric 19″ x 16″ and 1 piece 11″ x 16″, with a 4″ fringe border.)

For the Yellow Cupcakes: (Recipe from The New Best Recipe All-New Edition from the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated)

Yield: 12 cupcakes

  • 7 1/2 oz (1 1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 7 oz (1 cup) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 large egg, plus 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Line a standard muffin tin with paper or foil liners. (I prefer foil-lined paper liners!)
  3. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer.
  4. Add the butter, sour cream, egg, yolks, and vanilla and beat the wet ingredients into the dry at medium speed until smooth and satiny, about 30 seconds.
  5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and stir by hand until smooth and no flour pockets remain.
  6. Divide the batter evenly among the cups of the prepared tin using a 2-oz ice cream scoop or a spoon.
  7. Bake until the cupcake tops are pale gold and a toothpick or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 to 24 minutes.
  8. Use a skewer or paring knife to lift the cupcakes from the tin and transfer to a wire rack; cool the cupcakes to room temperature, about 45 minutes.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting & Pig Decorations:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened but still cool
  • 5 T unsalted butter, softened but still cool
  • 1 T sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 oz (1 1/4 cups) Confectioners’ sugar, plus more for glaze
  • red gel food coloring
  • 6 jumbo marshmallows
  • 12 standard marshmallows
  • pink sanding sugar
  • semi-sweet chocolate chips for the eyes and piping
  • 12 sugar flowers
  1. Using a serrated knife, cut each jumbo marshmallow in half to create two smaller rounds (snouts). Cut each standard marshmallow in half on a diagonal (ears).
  2. Combine a few tablespoons of confectioners’ sugar with a teaspoon of water. Add more water as needed to create a thin glaze.
  3. Cover the top surface of the snouts and the inner surface of the ears with the glaze. Place on a cooling rack and sprinkle with pink sanding sugar to coat. Set aside to set.
  4. When the cupcakes are cool, process the cream cheese, butter, sour cream, and vanilla in a stand mixer until combined, scraping down the bowl as necessary.
  5. Add the 5 oz Confectioners’ sugar and process until smooth.
  6. Using a toothpick, add a small amount of red gel food coloring and process to combine. Continue to add small amounts until desired shade is achieved.
  7. Using an offset spatula, spread the frosting evenly over the surface of each cupcake. (I place a dollop on each cupcake before spreading to ration it evenly.)
  8. Place the snouts, ears, sugar flowers, and eyes on each cupcake. Pipe melted chocolate chips to create the nostrils on the snouts.

Note: I refrigerated these cupcakes overnight and brought them to room temperature prior to serving.

Although I thought the cupcakes were absolutely delicious, the chocolate fondue was the big hit for dessert. I prepared it in minutes and served it during the intermission of our first pig-themed movie, “Babe”.

We used marshmallows, pound cake, pretzel rods, and banana chunks as dippables. The recipe was adapted from Rachel Ray. I used a combination of Lindt milk chocolate and dark chocolate instead of all bittersweet chocolate. I also omitted the optional liqueur and the nuts. Eating fondue is FUN! :)

Chocolate Fondue
Yield: 6 to 8 servings

  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream, divided, reserve 1/4 cup to thin if fondue begins to thicken
  • 4 bittersweet chocolate bars, chopped, 3 1/2 ounces each (I used 1/2 Lindt milk chocolate & 1/2 70% Cacao Lindt dark chocolate)
  • 2 tablespoons Frangelico or Amaretto liqueur, optional
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped hazelnuts or almonds, optional

Suggested Dippables, choose 3 or 4 selections of the following:

  • hazelnut or almond biscotti
  • salted pretzel sticks or pretzel rods
  • cubed pound cake
  • sliced bananas (large chunks work best)
  • marshmallows
  • strawberries
  • pineapple chunks
  1. Heat 1/2 cup cream in a heavy non-reactive saucepot over moderate heat until cream comes to a low boil.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and add chocolate.
  3. Let the chocolate stand in hot cream 3 to 5 minutes to soften, then whisk chocolate together with the cream.
  4. Stir in liqueur and/or chopped nuts, if using, and transfer the fondue to a fondue pot or set the mixing bowl on a rack above a small lit candle.
  5. Arrange your favorite dippables in piles on a platter along side chocolate fondue with fondue forks, bamboo skewers or seafood forks, as utensils, for dipping.

Note: If fondue becomes too thick, stir in reserved cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, to desired consistency.

In the morning, the girls watched their second pig-themed movie, “Gordy,” while I prepared their “pig” pancakes. I used this gold standard recipe.


After… (well, almost after…)

HBD, sweetheart! <3

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pig cake

Red Lentil & Butternut Squash Soup (Shorabit Jarjir)

I absolutely LOVE red lentil soup. I have tried many versions and enjoy each one just as much as the last. This version seemed perfect for autumn with the incorporation of butternut squash. The squash added a subtle sweetness and beautiful color.

I made this wonderful velvety soup in advance to serve for lunch on Thanksgiving Day. (I am sure it freezes well!) This recipe was adapted from Saveur. I doubled the original recipe and decreased the amount of olive oil and red pepper flakes. We ate it with green salad and naan. Perfect.

Yield: Serves 12

  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 6 medium carrots, finely chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red chile flakes
  • 1 small butternut squash (about 2 lbs) peeled, seeded, cubed, and then finely chopped
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 12 cups organic chicken stock
  • 2 cups red lentils
  • finely chopped parsley, for garnish
  • paprika, for garnish
  • flatbread (naan) and lemon wedges, for serving
  1. Finely chop the garlic, carrots, celery, and onion in a food processor.
  2. Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic, carrots, celery, and onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly caramelized, 12 to 14 minutes.
  3. While the base is cooking, finely chop the cubed butternut squash in a food processor.
  4. Stir the cumin, chile flakes, squash, salt, and pepper into the carrot-celery-onion mixture; cook until squash is soft, about 15 minutes.
  5. Add stock and lentils; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, slightly covered, until lentils are very tender, about 20 minutes.
  6. Let soup cool slightly, then, working in batches, purée soup until smooth. (I used an immersion blender.)
  7. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with parsley and paprika; serve with flatbread and lemon wedges on the side.


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Scallops and Polenta

I have a soft spot for quick, easy, and pretty comfort food dishes! This dish is very reminiscent of one of our household favorites- shrimp and grits. Traditionally, we make that special dish from Charleston, South Carolina at Easter-time. Maybe this version should be our fall variation! :)

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, via The Gourmet Gourmand. We ate it with sautéed broccoli rabe and broccoli on the side. Lovely!

Yield: Serves 2

  • 1/2 cup dried polenta (I used Bob’s Red Mill brand; do NOT use instant polenta for this recipe)
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup freshly ground Parmigiano-Reggiano (I also added a little bit of shredded Gruyère)
  • 8 sea scallops, side muscle removed
  • 3 T grape seed oil
  • 1 1/2 T unsalted butter
  • 2 sprigs of fresh herbs such as oregano, parsley, and/or thyme, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice

To prepare polenta:

  1. Bring water and 1/4 tsp salt to a boil. (I used an enameled cast iron pan.) While whisking, slowly add the polenta. Whisk frequently to avoid lumps. When mixture begins to spit, turn heat down to simmer (polenta should intermittently bubble and pop, but not rapidly).
  2. Continue to cook, stirring often, for about 30 minutes, until polenta is thickened and soft and pulls away slightly from the edge of the pot. Add the grated cheese and season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and about 1/4 tsp of salt.

To prepare scallops and sauce:

  1. Pat your scallops dry and season lightly with salt and pepper.
  2. Using a regular or cast-iron skillet, bring the grape seed oil to high heat. When pan is very hot, add scallops and sear for about 3 minutes. Flip the scallops and sear on the opposite side for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, or until scallops are cooked to your liking. Remove scallops and set aside.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add butter to the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until butter is lightly browned and smells nice and nutty. Turn off heat. Finish sauce with lemon juice (carefully! It will bubble and spit). Quickly pour into bowl or serving vessel to stop the cooking process. (It can be strained through a fine mesh strainer lined with a coffee filter or cheesecloth, if desired.)
  4. Serve scallops over bed of polenta, with a drizzle of the brown-butter sauce and minced herbs.

Note: Cooking the scallops in oil vs. butter allows you to sear them at a higher temperature for optimal sear marks and will give you more control over creating your browned butter sauce without burning the butter.

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Penne with Radicchio

In my house, no one is a huge fan of bitter radicchio in their salad. Cooking it not only decreases its bitterness, but also creates a rich and wonderful pasta sauce in this dish along with pancetta and cream. It’s great way to use this special autumn CSA box treat.

This recipe was adapted from Giuliano Hazan’s Thirty Minute Pasta via giulianohazan.com. I modified the proportions of many ingredients, incorporated whole wheat pasta, and used leeks instead of sweet onions. Yummy.

Yield: Serves 2 to 3

  • 2 leeks, sliced into half moons, soaked and drained
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces pancetta, cubed
  • 1/2 pound radicchio, finely shredded
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3-4 sprigs flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped (about 2 T)
  • 1/2 pound whole wheat penne or fusilli
  • 6 T  heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup grated freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


  1. Fill a pot for the pasta with about 6 quarts of water, place over high heat, and bring to a boil.
  2. Put the butter in a 12” skillet and place over medium high heat. When the butter begins to melt, add the clean leeks and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. While the leeks are sautéing, remove any bruised leaves from the radicchio, cut it in half lengthwise and cut off the bottom of the root. Finely shred the radicchio. (I used a food processor.)
  4. When the leeks are soft, add the pancetta and cook until it loses its raw color 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add the radicchio and season with salt and pepper. Add about 1/4 cup water, lower the heat to medium, and cover the pan.
  6. Cook until the radicchio is very tender, about 20 minutes. Check it periodically and add more water if the liquid evaporates before the radicchio is tender.
  7. While the radicchio is cooking, finely chop enough parsley to measure about 2 tablespoons.
  8. After the radicchio has been cooking for at least 15 minutes, generously salt the boiling pasta water, put in the penne, and stir well. Cook until al dente.
  9. When the radicchio is tender, uncover the pan, raise the heat and let any remaining moisture evaporate. Add the cream and parsley. Cook until the cream has thickened and reduced by about one-third.
  10. When the pasta is done, drain well, toss with the sauce and cheese. Top with additional grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and parsley, as desired. Serve at once.

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Apple & Pear Galette with Walnut Streusel

Nothing is better than having a Happy Birthday Galette after Happy Birthday Mushroom Soup! :) I made this delicious free-form galette for my mom’s early birthday dinner celebration. Today is my mom’s actual birthday, so I felt like it was about time I posted it! Happy Birthday, Mom! <3

This recipe was adapted from a Food and Wine “staff favorite” recipe, contributed by Justin Chapel. I loved that the fruit was left unpeeled. It would also be absolutely fabulous for Thanksgiving.

I haven’t joined a link party for some time, so I’m sharing this deliciousness at Throwback Thursday and Fiesta Friday this week! Woo hoo! Enjoy. :)

Yield: Serves 12

For the Crust:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1/2 cup ice water

For the Streusel:

  • 2/3 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed

For the Filling:

  • 2 Granny Smith apples—halved, cored and thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 2 firm Bartlett pears—halved, cored and sliced lengthwise 1/4 inch thick (I used Red Bartlett pears)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water
  • turbinado sugar, for sprinkling the crust
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting, optional
  • freshly whipped cream, for serving, optional


Make the Crust:

  1. In a food processor, pulse the 2 cups of flour with the salt. Add the butter and pulse until the pieces are 
the size of small peas.
  2. Sprinkle the water on top and pulse until the dough just comes together.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather up any crumbs and pat into a disk. (I turn it out onto a large piece of plastic wrap to decrease the mess.) Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until well chilled, 1 hour or up to overnight.

Make the Streusel:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°, on convection. Spread the walnuts in a pie plate and bake for about 5 to 8 minutes, until lightly browned. Let cool, then chop.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the brown sugar and salt. Add the butter and, using a pastry blender or your fingers, pinch it into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  3. Add the walnuts and pinch the streusel into clumps. Refrigerate until chilled, about 15 minutes.

Make the Filling:

  1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the apples with the pears, 1/4 cup of granulated sugar, the salt and lemon juice.
  3. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to a 19-by-13-inch oval. (I roll the dough out on a piece of parchment paper fitted to the baking sheet.) Ease the dough onto the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Mound the filling in the center of the oval, leaving a 2-inch border. IMG_1019
  5. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the fruit and fold the edge of the dough up and over the filling. IMG_1020
  6. Brush the crust with the egg wash and sprinkle evenly with turbinado sugar.
  7. Bake the galette for 37 to 40 minutes in a convection oven, or up to 45 to 50 minutes in a standard oven, until the fruit is tender and the streusel and crust are golden brown.
  8. Let the galette cool. 
Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if using, before serving. Serve with fresh whipped cream, if desired.

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Throwback Thursday #15 is hosted by Mollie @ The Frugal Hausfrau and Quinn @ Dad Whats 4 Dinner.

Fiesta Friday #94 is hosted by Judi @Cooking with Aunt Juju and Stef @The Kiwi Fruit.

Balthazar’s Cream of Mushroom Soup

I was agonizing over what to make my mom for an early birthday dinner celebration. She is the most gracious guest and always says she likes everything she is served- but I wanted to make sure that she was truly pleased. Finally, I just asked her what she would like! (That was simple enough.) “Soup and salad. Perfect in the colder weather. Mushroom soup would be wonderful,” she said. I was happy to find this fabulous recipe from the Balthazar. We ate it with a sourdough baguette and green salad- of course! A Birthday pear and apple galette was our celebratory dessert. Perfect. :)

This recipe was adapted from The Balthazar Cookbook via Smitten Kitchen. I decreased the amount of sage, olive oil, and cream, increased the garlic, and modified the amount of each type of mushroom. Earthy and special. Happy Birthday, Mom!! <3

  • 1 ounce dried mushrooms (porcini, morels, or shiitakes)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • 2 large sprigs of sage
  • 1 large yellow or sweet onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 6 large garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 20 oz white button mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 12 oz shiitake mushrooms stemmed, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 6 cups organic chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  1. Soak the dry mushrooms in 1 cup of warm water for 20 to 30 minutes, until plump.
  2. Strain the soaking liquid through a coffee filter to remove grit and reserve, along with the reconstituted mushrooms, until needed.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over a medium flame. Bundle the rosemary and sage together and tie with kitchen twine. When the oil is hot, add the herb bundle and sizzle for a few minutes on both sides to infuse the oil.
  4. Add the onion, garlic, salt and pepper and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent but not brown.
  5. Turn the flame to medium high to high and add the white mushrooms and shiitakes.
  6. Cook for 10 minutes, during which the mushrooms will give off their liquid (which should evaporate quickly due to the high heat) and deflate significantly. Stir occasionally.
  7. Add the chicken stock and the dried mushrooms along with the soaking water.
  8. Simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the herbs, then add the cream and butter.
  9. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth. (I used an immersion blender.) Return to the pot and keep at a very low simmer until ready to serve.

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Soft Baked Snickerdoodles

I am drawn to recipes promising soft-baked and perfectly puffy cookies because I love the texture. BUT… I think it’s me… My soft-baked cookies are soft and delicious, but never as puffy. It’s weird! (and disappointing…) I’m blaming every oven I’ve ever had. :) It just can’t be me! ;)

Snickerdoodles just seem like the perfect autumn cookie. The cinnamon sugar topping is really season-less, but it just speaks to me this time of year. Most recipes seem to include shortening which is an ingredient that I completely avoid. This wonderful shortening-free recipe is from Buttercup Baking. Her cookies were SO puffy!! Mine were a little flatter (as you now know!) but super tasty.

Yield: 3 dozen cookies

For the Cookie Dough:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp coarse salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

For the Cinnamon Sugar Topping:

  • 2 T granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time and mix.
  4. Whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, cinnamon, and baking soda.
  5. Add the salt after sifting and add the flour mixture slowly to the butter mixture. Mix until just incorporated.
  6. To Make the Topping: In a small shallow bowl, mix 2 T of sugar and 2 tsp of cinnamon.
  7. Using a large cookie scoop, make equally portioned balls of dough, about 3 dozen.
  8. Roll the balls of dough into the cinnamon sugar topping and place on baking sheet lined with a silicone baking sheet or parchment paper.
  9. Bake in oven for 8 minutes on convection or up to 10 minutes in a standard oven (do not overbake). Let sit on baking sheet for 3 minutes before moving to cooling rack. The cookies will continue to cook on the baking sheet (so do not be tempted to put them back in the oven).

Note: These cookies are best eaten within a few days. For best taste, store in an air-tight container with a slice of white bread to absorb excess moisture.

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Garlic Parmesan Chicken Lasagna Bake

I love dishes that use rotisserie chicken meat. Not only is it a time-saver, but the meat is really flavorful. This cheesy casserole is a cross between a lasagna and a chicken pot pie… basically combining the two ultimate comfort food dishes. It was great! :)

This recipe was adapted from A Pinch of Yum, via The Richmond Avenue. I used Herbes de Provence instead of poultry seasoning, increased the amount of garlic and chicken, and used panko instead of seasoned breadcrumbs.

It would be wonderful with a green salad on the side. We ate it with roasted asparagus!

Yield: Serves 8

For the Lasagna:

  • 15 no-boil lasagna noodles, or more, if necessary
  • 3 to 4 cups shredded rotisserie chicken meat
  • 12 ounces frozen organic peas
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup coarsely grated Swiss or Gruyere cheese
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • fresh thyme or parsley, for the topping, optional

For the Sauce:

  • 6 T butter
  • 8 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 6 T all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp Herbes de Provence
  • ¾ tsp coarse salt
  • 5 cups milk (I used a combination of 1% & 2%)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. (Stir continuously to avoid burning because burnt garlic will taste bitter.)
  4. Add the flour, Herbes de Provence, and salt. Whisk and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add the milk, one cup at a time, whisking after each addition and allowing it to thicken slightly each time before adding the next cup. When the sauce is smooth and thick, remove from heat and set aside.
  6. Grease a 9×13 pan with cooking spray. (I used a ceramic pan.)
  7. Cover the bottom of the pan with (about 5) broken lasagna noodles, half of the chicken, half of the peas, ¼ cup Parmesan, ⅓ cup water, and 1 1/2 cups sauce.
  8. Repeat this layer once more.
  9. Lastly, top with a third layer of broken noodles, ⅓ cup water, 1½ cups sauce, and ½ cup Swiss cheese.
  10. Spray the underside of the foil with cooking spray. Cover the casserole with the foil and bake for 40 minutes.
  11. Remove foil, sprinkle evenly with breadcrumbs, and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and bubbly.
  12. Sprinkle with fresh thyme or parsley, if using. Let stand 10 minutes or more before cutting and serving.

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Slow-Cooker White Bean Chicken Chili with Salsa Verde

My slow-cooker is really underutilized. When I saw this recipe on one of my favorite blogs, Dave Bakes, I fell in love with it. It had SO many of my favorite flavors. I loved that the chicken thighs and beans actually cooked in the salsa verde. The salsa imparted such a fabulously tangy and spicy flavor. What a wonderful slow-cooker meal!

A while ago, Dave of Dave Bakes convinced me to get a Pullman loaf pan… so I had to make a Pullman loaf of cornbread to accompany this meal. It was only fitting. ;) Spicy and Great!

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 12 to 16 ounces chicken sausage (about 5 links), such as chicken apple sausage or chicken other smoked chicken or turkey sausage
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 8 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans (about 16 ounces each) organic Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2- 12 oz jars tomatillo salsa, about 1 1/2 cups
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes with juice, fire-roasted, chili-style, or plain
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 2 T finely chopped jalapeno peppers, or mild chile peppers (I used canned fire-roasted jarred green chilies)
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • dash cayenne pepper, optional
  • sour cream, creme fraiche, or plain Greek yogurt, for serving, if desired
  • fresh cilantro, for serving, if desired
  • lime wedges, for serving, if desired
  1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, diced chicken, and sliced sausage; sauté until onions are tender and chicken is cooked through.
  2. Put the drained beans in a 4 to 6-quart slow cooker; add the skillet mixture and all remaining ingredients except the garnishes (sour cream (etc.), cilantro, and lime wedges).
  3. Cover and cook on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours or LOW for 6 to 8 hours. (I cooked mine on low for 7 hours.)
  4. To serve, top with a dollop of sour cream/yogurt/creme fraiche, sprinkle of chopped cilantro, and a lime wedge, as desired.

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Buttermilk Biscuits

These wonderfully flaky biscuits are such a classic and simple indulgence. They make any meal just a little bit more special. :) We ate them warm from the oven with Classic Split Pea Soup.

This recipe is from Everyday Food. I cut the recipe in half and reduced the baking time for a convection oven. Perfect!

Yield: About 12 biscuits

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling and cutting
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into bits, plus 2 T melted
  • 3/4 cups low-fat buttermilk
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. In a food processor, pulse flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt to combine.
  3. Add cold butter; pulse until mixture is the texture of coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining.
  4. Add buttermilk; pulse just until dough is moistened, 2 to 3 times.
  5. Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface; knead just to combine (do not overwork). (I placed the dough on a sheet of parchment paper to reduce the mess.)
  6. Pat with hands to a 3/4-inch thickness. Cut out rounds with a floured 2 1/2-inch round biscuit cutter. (Re-roll scraps only once.)
  7. Transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, 1 1/2 inches apart.
  8. Brush top of rounds with melted butter. Bake until biscuits are puffed and golden, 10 minutes on convection or up to 12 to 15 minutes in a standard oven. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Jacques Pepin’s Chicken in Mustard Sauce

One reason to welcome cooler weather is that it’s mustard chicken season! :) This saucy dish is an absolute favorite in our house. I had to try Jacques Pepin’s version, of course. It was quick and elegant.

This recipe was adapted from the New York Times. I used chicken tenders instead of chicken breasts and reduced the cooking time. I will have to admit that next time I would make it with chicken thighs instead- just our personal preference.

We ate it with roasted potatoes and beets as well as Browned Butter Green Beans with Slivered Almonds. It would also be great with rice to soak up the sauce. Healthy and tasty.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 pounds of chicken breast tenders or boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • ½ tsp coarse salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 ½ tsp dry mustard
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  1. Sprinkle the chicken with the salt and pepper.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it is hot, brown the chicken for one minute on each side, just to brown.
  3. Mix in the onion and continue cooking for one minute.
  4. Sprinkle the flour on the chicken pieces, turning them so that all the pieces are coated. Cook one minute to lightly brown the flour.
  5. Add the water and stir to dissolve the flour until the mixture comes to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the skillet and boil gently for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Remove the meat to a serving platter and keep warm.
  7. Cook the sauce to reduce it to about one-and-a-half cups.
  8. Mix the dry mustard with the Dijon mustard and stir until smooth. Stir the mustard mixture into the sauce and heat, but do not allow the sauce to boil after the mustard has been added.
  9. Place the chicken pieces in the sauce and warm over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes to develop the flavor.
  10. Serve the chicken with the sauce.

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Browned Butter Green Beans with Slivered Almonds

I made this side dish in an attempt to make my non-green bean appreciating husband a convert. Who wouldn’t gain appreciation for anything once covered in browned butter? Well, I think you can guess. ;) I liked it though! The following night I sautéed collards and kale with bacon and red onions… Do you see what I’m dealing with? :) He did enjoy that one.

This recipe was adapted from Fine Cooking.com. I reduced the amount of butter and almonds.

  • 2 to 3 T unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 2-3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  1. Melt 1 1/2 T of the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the almonds and cook, tossing frequently, until they’re light brown and toasted, 3 to 4 min. Transfer them with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels.
  2. Add the green beans, garlic, and 1/4 tsp salt to the pan. Toss to coat the beans with the residual butter.
  3. Add the water and simmer gently, tossing occasionally, until the beans are fork-tender and fully cooked (taste one to check), about 15 min. The liquid should be reduced to about 1/4 cup or less; if there’s too much liquid, increase the heat to a boil and let it reduce briefly.
  4. Add the remaining 1/2 to 1 1/2 T butter (as needed/desired) and toss to coat the beans and emulsify with the liquid.
  5. Add the pepper, toss, and adjust the seasonings as needed.
  6. Scatter the slivered almonds over the serving platter or over each serving.

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

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