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Chocolate Almond Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup flour
1 stick butter, room temp
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp almond extract
4oz package sliced almonds (you might not use all of it)
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 tsp vegetable oil or light corn syrup

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 300F
2. Beat together butter, sugar, and almond extract.
3. Add flour to dough slowly, mixing as you go.
4. The dough will be dry, but keep mixing until it comes together. If it doesn't and stays crumbly, add 1 tsp milk.
5. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto greased cookie sheet. Press with a fork or fingers to flatten, to 1/2" thick.
6. Arrange 4-5 almond slices on top of each cookie, points toward the middle like flower petals.
7. Bake 25 minutes until set but not brown. Transfer onto rack to cool immediately.
8. In a microwave safe dish, melt chocolate chips with oil in 30 second bursts, stirring after each, until smooth.
9. Dip fully cooled cookies into chocolate as desired, you can dip half or the top or drizzle the chocolate on.
10. Lay on parchment paper for the chocolate to set.
11. Crumble some of the remaining sliced almonds and sprinkle over the chocolate before it sets.

Baked Shrimp

Ingredients:

1lb shrimp - peeled, deveined, tail off
1 stick butter, melted
1 TBSP lemon juice
1 TBSP white wine
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP chili powder
1 tsp each dried parsley, cumin, salt, pepper
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup breadcrumbs or panko

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400F
2. Whisk together butter, lemon juice, wine, garlic, chili powder, cumin, parsley, salt, & pepper.
3. Toss shrimp in to coat.
4. Add half the parmesan and breadcrumbs and mix well.
5, Pour into a greased 9x9" pan, make it even.
6. Top with remaining parmesan and breadcrumbs.
7. Bake 10-15 minutes until topping is lightly browned.

Beer Cheese Soup

Ingredients:

3 cups chicken broth
12oz bottle/can beer
1 cup cream
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
2 TBSP butter
2 TBSP flour
3 red potatoes, diced
1/2 small onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp mustard powder (or 1 TBSP dijon mustard)
2 tsp worchestershire
1 tsp chili powder
salt & pepper
1 TBSP olive oil
parsley for garnish
popcorn for garnish

Directions:

1. In a stock pot over med heat, sautee onion, garlic, and carrots in olive oil until onion is clear.
2. Add broth, beer, potatoes, and seasonings. Bring to a simmer.
3. In a small saucepot, melt butter over med-low heat and heat to bubbling.
4. Add flour to butter to make a roux - stir until it bubbles and starts to turn golden, 3-4 minutes.
5. Add cream to roux, and stir until bubbling.
6. Add cheese to cream and stir until melted.
7. Add cheese sauce to soup.
8. Stir until combined and it reaches a low simmer.
9. Serve sprinkled with parsely and popcorn.

Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake

Ingredients:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup sugar

3 - 8oz packages cream cheese
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup sugar
16oz sour cream
1/4 cup corn or potato starch
2 tsp baking powder
1 TBSP vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon juice
pinch salt

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 TBSP butter

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 300F
2. Mix together graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup melted butter, and 1/4 cup sugar. Press into the bottom of a springform pan lined with parchment paper.
3. Bake 15 minutes. Set aside on a cooling rack.
4. Beat together cream cheese, sugar, and condensed milk.
5. Beat in sour cream.
6. Add baking powder, starch, vanilla, salt, and lemon juice. Beat until smooth.
7. In a double boiler (or in the microwave) melt chocolate chips and 1 TBSP butter and stir until smooth.
8. Spread a thin layer of chocolate on top of the graham cracker crust.
9. Pour in half the cheesecake batter.
10. Pour half the chocolate on top in stripes (or a spiral) and use a knife or spatula to swirl it.
11. Pour in the rest of the cheesecake batter.
12. Pour the rest of the chocolate on top in stripes/spiral and swirl it.
13. Bake 60-75 minutes until edges are starting to turn golden and center is jiggly. DO NOT open the oven before 30 minutes or the cake could fall.
14. Turn off oven and open it a crack. Leave cake in it for another 30 minutes.
15. Remove cake from oven and set on a cooling rack for 2-4 hours until it's room temperature.
16. Cover with plastic wrap or parchement and place in the fridge for 12-24 hours.
17. Open & remove springform and peel away parchment, using a knife to separate the parchment from the cake if necessary. Gently slide onto a serving platter. Cut into 12-16 slices.

I don't use a water bath because I like the look swirled cheesecakes get when they crack, but you can, just fill a 9x13 pan with water and put it on the bottom rack under the cheesecake.

Creamy Olive Risotto

Ingredients:

1 cup Arborio rice
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup cream
24-30 (depending on size) pitted Nicoise olives, roughly chopped
1 TBSP olive juice
1 cup Parmesan or Asiago cheese, grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
a handful fresh parsley, chopped
2 TBSP butter
salt & pepper

Directions:

1. In a microwaveable 4 cup measuring cup, microwave broth for 1 minute
2. In a pot over medium heat, melt butter. Sautee rice and garlic until rice starts turning golden.
3. Reduce heat to med-low.
4. Add 1/2 cup hot broth and stir continuously with a wooden spoon until liquid is mostly absorbed.
5. Continue adding broth 1/2 cup at a time each time stirring until liquid is mostly absorbed.
6. Once all broth is added, heat cream for 20 seconds in microwave.
7. Add the cream, olives, olive juice, cheese*, parsley*, and salt & pepper to taste.
8. Stir until cream is mostly absorbed and cheese is melted in. Risotto should be loose and not stay in a mound when plated.

*You can save aside a little cheese and/or parsley to use as a garnish for each serving if desired.

Chicken Fajitas

Ingredients:

Tortillas of choice
2 chicken breasts
1 medium onion, diced
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 bell pepper, seeds and membrane removed, diced
1 jalapeno, seeds and membrane removed, diced (or 1 can green chiles if you want a milder flavor)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP chili powder
1 tsp each cumin, cayenne, garlic powder, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes
handful fresh cilantro, chopped
olive oil
optional - sour cream and/or grated queso fresco for topping

Directions:

1. In a sauce pan over med heat, combine onion, tomatoes, peppers, chiles, garlic, and seasonings (except cilantro). You may need olive oil so the veggies don't stick to the pan.
2. Trim and cook chicken breasts (microwave is fastest), set aside to cool.
3. Bring veggies to a simmer and reduce heat so it continues cooking at a low simmer.
4. Shred chicken breasts and add shredded meat to veggies. Stir well.
5. Simmer for 15 minutes until veggies are cooked and chicken is well seasoned.
6. Either drain excess liquid or use a slotted spoon to serve into tortillas.
7. Top with cilantro, sour cream, cheese.

Decadent Potatoes au Gratin

Ingredients:

4 large red potatoes, thinly sliced or cut into thumbnail-sized cubes
2 cups cream
1/2 cup each fresh grated Parmesan, Asiago, aged white cheddar, and Gruyere cheeses
2 TBSP finely grated Parmesan, set aside
2 TBSP butter
1 TBSP flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp paprika
1/4 cup panko or Italian breadcrumbs
1 tsp dried parsley or handful fresh chopped
salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. In a small sauce pot over low heat, melt butter.
3. Add flour to melted butter and whisk, continue to whisk until mixture is bubbly and golden (2-3 minutes).
4. Add cream, garlic, paprika, salt, & pepper. Turn up heat to med-low.
5. Continue whisking until mixture starts to bubble again.
6. Add cheese 1/2 cup at a time and whisk until melted (except for the extra 2 TBSP finely grated Parmesan, this is for the topping).
7. Remove from heat when sauce is thick and smooth.
8. Grease a 9x9inch pan and spoon a little cheese sauce on the bottom.
9. Add a single layer of potatoes.
10. Coat with more cheese sauce.
11. Continue doing layers of potatoes and sauce until all potatoes and sauce are used up. Make sure potatoes are well coated.
12. Mix together panko, extra Parmesan, parsley, and a pinch of salt. Sprinkle this on top of the potatoes.
13. Bake for 45-60 minutes until potatoes are tender.

Luscious Chocolate Mug Cake

Ingredients:

2 TBSP each:
-melted butter
-milk
-unsweetened cocoa powder
-sugar
-flour
dash each vanilla extract and salt

Directions:

1. Combine all ingredients in a mug and stir with a fork until smooth.
2. Microwave 1 minute. If not completely done, microwave an additional 15 seconds.
3. Let cool 2 minutes.
4. Top with ice cream, whipped cream, or caramel sauce.

Tomato Sauce from Scratch

Ingredients:

3 large tomatoes, peeled and diced
2 shallots (or 1 small onion), diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2lb bacon or lardons, sauteed
1/4 cup dry wine of choice
1/2 cup grated parmesan (also if you have a parmesan rind, use a chunk of that too)
2 TBSP mixed dried herbs - oregano, rosemary, basil, taragon, parsley (or 1 cup fresh basil, chopped)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp chili powder
dash red pepper flakes
salt & pepper

Directions:

1. In a pot over medium heat, sautee shallots and garlic in bacon grease until garlic is light brown.
2. Add tomatoes, wine, and parmesan rind (if using), bring to a simmer.
3. Add herbs and seasonings. Simmer 30 minutes uncovered, stirring regularly.
4. Add grated parmesan and lardons/crumbled bacon. Simmer 30-45 minutes uncovered, stirring regularly, until sauce is thick/reduced.
5. Cover and simmer 15 minutes.
6. Remove bay leaf and parmesan rind.
7. Serve over fresh pasta with additional fresh grated parmesan on top.

Caramel Rolls

Ingredients:

1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1 cup buttermilk
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp melted butter

1 cup heavy cream
1-1/2 cup brown sugar (dark brown is best)

Directions:

1. Dissolve yeast in water with a pinch of sugar.
2. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together, set aside 1-1/2 tbsp for topping.
3. Cream the shortening and sugar mixture together in a large bowl.
4. Add buttermilk, yeast mix, salt, baking powder & soda, and 1 cup flour. Mix until smooth.
5. Switch to dough hook on the mixer. Add remaining flour and mix until a soft dough forms.
6. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-ish minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. Let the dough rest while you're making the caramel.
7. In a pot over medium heat, combine the cream and brown sugar.
8. Stir constantly for 10-15 minutes until sugar is melted and sauce starts to thicken.
9. Pour sauce into a 9x13 baking pan.
10. Roll out the dough into an 8" by 16" rectangle. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with set-aside sugar mix.
11. Starting with the short side, roll up gently. Cut into 8 sections.
12. Place the rolls in the pan on top of the caramel sauce. Cover with a bread cloth or plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm spot for 1-2 hours.
13. Bake at 375F for 25-30 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes, then invert onto a serving platter.