Butter Pecan Blondies

Butter pecan is one of my favorite ice cream flavors. This flavor combination is also absolutely perfect in a buttery blondie. This easy recipe uses pantry staples to create a quick dessert without even using a mixer!

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I omitted the rum and substituted an additional teaspoon of vanilla extract in its place. I baked mine long enough to achieve light golden brown color but may increase the baking time next time to heighten the depth of flavor.

  • 1 1/2 cups whole raw pecans
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted, plus more for brushing
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups light-brown sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum, optional (can substitute 1 additional tsp of vanilla extract)
  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Spread pecans on a rimmed baking sheet; toast until fragrant, 6 to 7 minutes. Let cool, then chop.
  3. Brush a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with butter (or coat with cooking oil spray), then dust with flour, tapping out excess.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and salt.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together butter and 2 cups brown sugar until combined.
  6. Add eggs to the butter and sugar mixture; whisk until combined. Add vanilla and rum.
  7. Fold in flour mixture with a spatula until just combined (do not overmix).
  8. Fold in half of nuts.
  9. Transfer batter to prepared dish; smooth top with an offset spatula.
  10. Sprinkle top with remaining nuts and 2 tablespoons brown sugar.
  11. Bake until golden around edges and a tester inserted in center comes out with very few crumbs, 22 to 24 minutes. (Watching carefully- Next time I may increase the baking time up to 28 to 30 minutes.)
  12. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before cutting into squares.

Note: Blondies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.

Variations: If you’d rather not use rum, increase the amount of vanilla to 4 teaspoons.

Flourless Cocoa Cookies

Yes! More cookies and ice cream. In fact, I have several cookie drafts waiting to be shared. All of a sudden, it just feels like it’s finally time. 🙂

These cookies are a fabulous hybrid of a fudgy brownie and a cookie. This recipe was adapted from The Fearless Baker by Erin Jeanne McDowell via The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I weighed the dry ingredients, included the cinnamon, and used 70% cacao dark chocolate chopped into chunks. Great.

Yield: about 2 dozen cookies

  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups/340 grams confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 ½ cup/106 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup/140 grams bittersweet chocolate chunks (I used 70% cacao dark chocolate)
  • Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling (I used Fleur de Sel)
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until well blended.
  3. In another large bowl, sift together confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon and salt.
  4. Whisk into eggs, changing to a spatula when the batter becomes too thick to whisk.
  5. Stir in vanilla and chocolate chunks.
  6. Use a large 2-tablespoon cookie scoop to scoop cookies onto prepared baking sheets, leaving 1 1/2 inches between them. (I baked 9 on each baking sheet.) Sprinkle with flaky salt.
  7. Bake, rotating front to back, and top to bottom, halfway through, until set around the edges, cracked on top and slightly underbaked in the middle, 10 to 13 minutes.
  8. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely on the baking sheets. Store carefully in an airtight container.

Pressure Cooker Shrimp Biryani

Pressure Cooker Shrimp Biryani

Compared to my last post, this pressure cooker biryani is an even faster version of this full-flavored Indian dish- very tasty but possibly a little less authentic.

There are a couple points to note in order for this dish to be a success. It is very important to use the largest shrimp available to prevent over-cooking. Secondly, when adding the water to the pot, it must be boiling in order for the rice to cook in the allotted time frame.

This recipe was adapted from The Complete Indian Instant Pot Cookbook by Chandra Ram via The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I increased the amount of garlic, omitted the curry leaves, and used a stove-top pressure cooker instead of an Instant Pot. Nice.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 2 cups Basmati rice
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 Serrano chile, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (I used 4 large cloves)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon Chile powder, preferably Kashmiri (I used Ancho)
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 10 fresh curry leaves, torn into pieces, optional (if available)(can substitute curry powder, to taste)
  • 1 ½ cups boiling water
  • 1 ½ pounds jumbo shrimp (16 to 20 or fewer per pound, see note), peeled and deveined
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice, plus more wedges for serving
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Place the rice in a bowl and cover with 2 cups water. Let stand for 20 minutes, then drain and rinse.
  2. Heat oil in the pot of a pressure cooker (set to the sauté function set on high in an electric pot), until oil is shimmering.
  3. Add onion; cook for about 4 minutes, until softened.
  4. Stir in Serrano chile, ginger, garlic, salt, chile powder, turmeric, paprika and curry leaves (if using); cook for about 1 minute, until fragrant.
  5. Stir in boiling water; using a wooden spoon, stir, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot.
  6. Stir in soaked rice, shrimp and tomatoes (with juice).
  7. Secure the lid and cook on high pressure for 3 minutes. Quick-release the pressure (on my pot, I rotate the release valve 90 degrees), stir lime juice into the rice, then cover the pressure cooker with a kitchen towel and the lid; let it sit for 5 minutes.
  8. Give rice another stir, then taste and add more salt, if needed.
  9. Transfer to a platter, garnish with cilantro and serve with lime wedges on the side.

Note: Make sure to use jumbo shrimp or larger for this recipe. Look for “16/20” or “U/15” on the package; this indicates how many shrimp there are per pound.

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta & Balsamic Vinegar

Brussels sprouts are an essential part of my Thanksgiving weekend menu because my mom and mother-in-law are here to gobble them up with me. 🙂 In this dish, they are sweetened- and darkened- with balsamic vinegar.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Amanda Hesser. I significantly reduced the amount of breadcrumb topping. It was a nice side dish to serve on Thanksgiving because it comes together quickly and requires minimal oven time.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs, preferably fresh
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves
  • 4 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 2 lbs baby Brussels sprouts, washed and trimmed (cut larger ones in two)(I used an entire stalk of sprouts)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces pancetta in small dice (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3 T minced shallots
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup veal stock or rich chicken broth, more if needed
  • 2 T chopped parsley, for garnish
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. In a bowl, mix bread crumbs and thyme with 2T olive oil, and spread on a cookie sheet. Toast, tossing frequently, until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes.
  3. Heat butter and remaining 2 T olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until foamy.
  4. Add brussels sprouts, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and sauté, tossing frequently, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add diced pancetta, and sauté, tossing frequently, until sprouts are well browned and softened slightly, and pancetta is crisp, about 10 minutes more.
  6. Reduce heat, add shallots and garlic, and sauté until fragrant, 2 minutes.
  7. Increase heat to high, add balsamic vinegar and stock, and cook, tossing frequently, until sprouts are glazed and tender, about 10 minutes; add more stock if needed.
  8. Taste, adjusting seasoning if necessary.
  9. Transfer to a warm serving bowl and scatter bread crumbs and chopped parsley on top.

Red Lentil Soup with Lemon

I have two hearty soups to share. Perfect to serve for dinner on a chilly night. This red lentil soup is healthy, delicious, and quick to prepare.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I doubled the recipe, modified the proportions, and puréed the finished soup to create a uniform texture. I served it with warm naan and green salad.

Yield: 8 servings

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, more for drizzling
  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt, more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground Chile powder, more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne, more to taste
  • 2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock (I used 1 quart of homemade turkey stock & 1 quart of chicken stock)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon, more to taste
  • 6 T chopped fresh cilantro, more for garnish
  1. In a large pot, heat oil over high heat until hot and shimmering.
  2. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes.
  3. Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, black pepper, chili powder, and cayenne, and sauté for 2 minutes longer.
  4. Add stock, water, lentils and carrots. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover pot and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes.
  5. Taste and add salt if necessary.
  6. Using an immersion or regular blender or a food processor, purée the soup then add it back to pot.
  7. Reheat soup if necessary, then stir in lemon juice and cilantro.
  8. Serve soup drizzled with good olive oil and dusted lightly with chili powder, if desired. Garnish with additional minced cilantro as well, if desired.

Pad See Ew (Thai Stir Fried Soy Sauce Noodles)

This is my fourth attempt to replicate my husband’s favorite Thai restaurant dish. This version may have been the closest so far! Apparently, he is not alone… Pad See Ew is one of the most popular noodle dishes at Thai restaurants in Western countries.

The genius part of this recipe is that the noodles are sautéed in the sauce in the absence of the other ingredients. This way, they absorb more of the sauce and caramelize on the edges. This difference in the finished dish seemed more similar to a restaurant version. Genius.

This recipe was adapted from RecipeTinEats.com. According to the site, the original source of the recipe may be David Thompson, an Australian chef dedicated to mastering Thai cooking. I doubled the recipe and used fresh wide rice noodles and my CSA bok choy. I incorporated the water but may consider reducing the amount next time.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

Noodles:

  • 24 oz fresh wide rice noodles or 14 oz dried wide rice stick noodles

For the Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup dark soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup oyster sauce
  • 4 tsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tsp white vinegar
  • 4 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water

For the Stir Fry:

  • 6 T peanut or vegetable oil, divided
  • 5 cloves garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 4 to 5 cooked boneless, skinless chicken thighs, sliced or shredded
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 to 4 baby bok choy or 8 stems Chinese broccoli

To Prepare the Ingredients:

  1. If using baby bok choy, cut the tender leaves into 2″ thick ribbons and cut the stems crosswise into 1/2″ pieces. (If using Chinese broccoli, trim ends, cut into 3″ pieces. Separate leaves from stems. Cut thick stems in half vertically so they’re no wider than 1/4″ thick.)
  2. If using fresh wide rice noodles, rinse in cool water and separate into large pieces. (If using dry rice noodles, prepare according tot he package directions and drain immediately before incorporating into the dish.)
  3. To make the sauce, combine the ingredients in a measuring cup and stir until the sugar dissolves.
  4. Shred or slice the cooked chicken.
  5. Thinly slice the garlic.

To Cook the Stir Fry:

  1. Heat 2 T oil in a very large heavy based skillet or wok over high heat. (I used a 14″ stainless steel skillet.)
  2. Add garlic, cook 15 seconds.
  3. Add chicken, stir.
  4. Add bok choy or Chinese broccoli stems.
  5. Add bok choy or Chinese broccoli leaves, cook until just wilted.
  6. Push everything to one side, crack eggs in and scramble.
  7. Remove everything onto a plate (scrape the pan clean).
  8. Return pan to stove, heat remaining 4 T oil over high heat.
  9. Add noodles and sauce. Toss as few times as possible (to minimize breakage), dispersing the sauce and caramelizing the edges of the noodles.
  10. Quickly add chicken and vegetable mixture back in, and toss to disperse. Serve immediately.

One-Pan Shrimp Scampi with Orzo

This is an incredibly full-flavored one-pan dish. I made it when my mom was visiting because she is such a fan of shrimp. She loved it! 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Ali Slagle. Fast and fabulous.

  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined, patted dry
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced, divided
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup orzo
  • cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups boiling water, seafood stock, or chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the shrimp, 1 tablespoon olive oil, the lemon zest, red-pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and half the garlic. Set aside to marinate (this step can be done up to 1 hour in advance).
  2. To a medium skillet, add the butter, the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and remaining minced garlic; heat over medium.
  3. When the butter starts to bubble, add the orzo and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring often, until the orzo is toasted, about 2 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary to prevent the garlic from burning.
  4. Carefully add the wine (it will bubble) and stir until absorbed, about 1 minute.
  5. Stir in the water or stock, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until the orzo is al dente, about 12 to 16 minutes.
  6. Add the shrimp in a snug, even layer on top of the orzo, cover, and cook until all the shrimp is pink and cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, 2 minutes.
  8. Sprinkle with parsley and lemon juice, season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

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