Happy New Year everyone! As I’m sure many of you have also done, I’ve put together a short list of resolutions for this coming year.
- Exercise more-especially cardio (ew)
- Spend more time with family
- Set aside more time for things that are important to me-including this blog!
And of course one more added this week….
- Don’t freeze to death.
It’s a little bit unnerving to look at the weather forecast and not only see the temperature lows in the negative numbers but the highs as well! In the interest of resolutions number three and four, I’ve decided to share a recipe that makes me feel warm just thinking about it.
It might not be fancy, but if you want to be warm, full, and happy Shepherd’s Pie is a classic for a reason. There’s really not much that can beat the luscious flavor of lamb mixed in with vegetables in a tangy gravy topped with heavenly mashed potatoes. And if you have some leftover mash from dinner the night before, this dish is even easier to make. Enjoy
6 or 7 medium red potatoes
1 tablespoon butter
¾ cup milk
2 cloves of garlic
salt and pepper to taste
Approximately 1 lb ground lamb
1 medium onion
3 or 4 medium sized carrots
1-11/2 cups frozen peas
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoons flour
6 tablespoons milk
If you are using leftover mashed potatoes for this recipe, simply warm them up, set them aside, and proceed to making the filling. Otherwise, bring a pot of lightly salted water to boil. Cut your potatoes (peeling is optional) into large chunks and add to the boiling water. Cook your potatoes ten to fifteen minutes until they are fork tender. While they are cooking, peel and mince the garlic cloves.
Once the potatoes are done cooking, drain then dump them back in the cooking pot and add the butter. Using a whisk start to break down the potatoes. Add in the milk, garlic, salt, and pepper then begin whisking until everything is uniform. Set aside.
For the filling, begin by browning the lamb in a skillet. While it is cooking, chop your onion and carrots. Add the onion to the lamb, followed by the carrots, cooking until the onion is translucent and the carrots tender. Finally, add the frozen peas, Worcestershire sauce, dried thyme, and salt and pepper.
In a separate bowl whisk together the flour and milk until smooth. Pour the mixture over the lamb mixture and cook for about a minute while stirring. Remove the filling from the heat and transfer to a baking dish (I used a nine inch round Pyrex deep dish but any sort of baking dish or ramekin will work). Top the filling with the mashed potatoes. Bakes at 350 degrees for about twenty minutes or until the top of the potatoes are toasty and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool slightly before serving. To fancy it up a bit, bake in ramekins that can then be served individually whole. Either way, I hope you enjoy this hearty classic as much as I do.
Somehow it’s already November and I can’t help but feel as though fall has just blown past me. October was a blur of work, work, work and today I had the winter reality check of snow. Yup, that’s right. Snow. The sun rose today on a frosty white wonderland. Hello winter. I’m not ready for you.
To compensate, I decided to reminisce summer with some yummy tropical flavors in my baking. And what better than coconut? With that on my mind, I turned to a favorite recipe I’ve adapted from Emily Luchetti’s cookbook, “The Fearless Baker.” These macaroons combine sweet coconut with nutty roasted almonds and deep dark chocolate to make a delicious and airy treats. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
Adapted from Emily Luchetti “The Fearless Baker”
1 cup almonds
4 ounces dark chocolate
2 egg whites
½ cup sugar
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1 teaspoon almond extract
Pinch of salt
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Roughly chop the almonds and the spread them out in an even layer on a cookie sheet. Lightly toast them in the oven approximately five minutes or until just browned.
Meanwhile, place a pot of water on the stove over high heat. Place the chocolate in a heat proof bowl over the water bath. Stir the chocolate occasionally with a spatula until completely melted, then remove from heat and set aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whip attachment, start beating the egg whites until foamy. Sprinkle in the sugar while mixing a little at a time. Once all the sugar has been added, turn the mixer up to high and beat until stiff peaks form. Add in the almond extract and mix until just incorporated.
In a separate bowl, toss together the coconut, toasted almonds, and salt. With a spatula, gently fold the coconut mixture into the meringue, followed by the chocolate. Once the batter is uniform, use two spoons or a scoop to portion onto non-stick cookie sheets.
Bake the macaroons for approximately ten minutes, or until the surface looks dry. Allow them to cool completely before using a spatula to remove them from the cookie sheets. Store in a tightly sealed container.
It’s summer! It’s summer! It’s summer! Ok, so it’s already late summer. Diving back into the culinary industry (who was I kidding about taking time off) with my new pastry chef position has caused these last few months to go by in a blur. But finally, I feel as though I can take a few deep breaths and relax a little bit more.
One awesome way I found to do that was taking time with my guy to go old-fashioned cherry picking. Luckily my parent’s neighbor had a fantastic cherry crop this year and invited me to come over to pick whatever I wanted. Let me tell you, that tree was a pastry chef’s dream. Every single branch was loaded with perfectly formed, bright red cherries.
And being who I am, once back at home I immediately began exploring the culinary opportunities. These muffins are by far my favorite idea for my spoils. I absolutely love the way the almond compliments the flavor and brightness of the cherries. Those of you with a sweet tooth might want to increase the sugar slightly, but for my slightly more savory palate they were perfect. And perhaps the best test, my guy thought they were a good enough reward for getting dragged cherry picking to even consider going back apples. Enjoy!
1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
2 cups fresh cherries, pitted and halved or quartered
2 Tablespoons almond meal
¼ cup flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons cold butter, cubed
pinch of salt
dash of nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare muffin tins by either lining with disposable muffin cups or greasing.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar. Add in the almond extract, followed by the eggs one a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl well.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk until both are incorporated.
Remove the mixer bowl from the machine and stir in the cherries by hand until they are just distributed.
Portion into the prepared muffin tins.
For the streusel topping, combine all the ingredients into a bowl. Toss the butter to coat it evenly in the dry ingredients and then rub it between your hands until crumbly (pretend you are trying to warm up on a cold day). Distribute the streusel over the muffin batter.
Bake the muffins 18-20 minutes, rotating the pans after the first 9 minutes for more even color. They should be golden brown on top and a cake tester should come out free from batter when done. Cool about 5 minutes before removing the muffins from their tins. Finish cooling completely before storing them in a tightly sealed container.Read More
Living in a rental house or apartment can be tricky when it comes to home décor. Of course you want to put a personal stamp on your living space, but within the confines of your lease and probably without spending too much money. In my current house there are a number of features I would love to change or update, but of course new kitchen cabinets or windows isn’t really possible.
However, I did find a solution to one of my biggest eyesores. My clothes closet happens to be located in my combination kitchen-dining room. That’s not the unfortunate part… the unfortunate part of this is that not only are the double closet doors hideous ancient puke brown but that a previous tenant also seems to have used them as a punching bag judging by the fist sized dent.
Luckily, pinterest brought me to a website where another renter found a way to adhere fabric to a wall in a non-permanent way, a much more inexpensive solution than temporary wall paper which can be quite pricey. I decided then and there to cover the doors in fabric as a way to not only hide their ugliness, but tie them into the color scheme of my kitchen.
So off I was to Joann to find the perfect fabric to bring the tones of light blue in a pretty pattern to my ugly closet doors. And I succeeded! Not only that, but I got the eight yards for 50% (yes I’m bragging). Depending on the area you want to cover, whether its just a wall decal or nearly a whole wall like me, you might need more or less fabric. I actually went with more fabric than I needed with the intention of eventually making matching pillows for dining chairs.
So here we go!
fabric, washed and ironed
For the adhesive:
2 cups water, divided
3 tablespoons cornstarch
Mix the corn starch with a ¼ cup of water. Put the remaining 1 ¾ cups in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling mix in the dissolved corn starch and whisk for about a minute. Remove the pot from heat and allow it to cool slightly before using.
While your adhesive is cooling, measure and cut your fabric to the appropriate size for your project, leaving about a half inch margin so you can fold the unfinished edges under.
With a paint brush, generously coat the surface to be covered, in my case the door, with the adhesive. If you are doing this over a carpeted area you may want to put a drop cloth down to catch accidental drips.
Starting at the top, line up the piece of fabric and gently press into place. Work your way down to the bottom and out to the sides, smoothing the fabric with your hands as you go. When you get to the bottom, tuck the fabric under itself, applying more adhesive if needed. Do the same for the sides working back up to the top. Once the entire piece of fabric has been adhered, gently iron it on low to medium to help dry the adhesive and smooth out any wrinkles.
It seems I’ve still got maple syrup on my mind this week. No wonder – I was lucky enough to get a jar of syrup from a family friend who tapped his trees this year. No offense Aunt Jemimah, but the store bought imitation stuff doesn’t hold a candle to the rich flavor of real maple syrup!
Moving on from the maple sage shortbread of last week, I decided to try something similar to this blondie recipe I found from Martha Stewart. I’ve never been a huge fan of blondies (really, what’s the point when there are dense, chocolate-y brownies in the world). However, the idea of combining maple and pecan into a bar was too mouthwatering to resist. Gotta say it’s a classic for a reason- the maple and pecans compliment each other delightfully in these chewy little guys!
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Yield: 8×8” pan
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
1½ cups light brown sugar, packed
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup maple syrup
2 cups all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ cups pecans
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8×8 baking dish and line with parchment.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add the eggs one a time, followed by the vanilla. With the mixer running, stream in the maple syrup. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom with a spatula to make sure everything is well incorporated- especially the sticky syrup.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stop the mixer and add in the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined, making sure the batter is consistent.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly with a spatula. Bake approximately 18-20 minutes, rotating after the first ten minutes. Insert a skewer or paring knife to test for doneness. Be careful to not over bake them so they don’t dry out.
Cool completely before turning the blondies out of the pan and cutting. These are great eaten plain or with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!
Today I was sitting in my kitchen thinking about some of my favorite recipes from restaurants I have worked in. Brownies with fresh raspberries, banana bread pudding and coconut sorbet, beignets rolled in vanilla sugar… there have definitely been plenty worth remembering.
One of my personal favorites is actually a maple sage ice cream that was made for a savory dish. I absolutely love the flavor combination of maple syrup and fresh sage, especially when combined with the richness of the ice cream base.
In honor of that delightful sensory memory, I decided to make maple sage shortbread cookies. Although I had never tried this variation of shortbread before, I thought if it is good in creamy ice cream, why wouldn’t it be good in a buttery cookies?
Luckily I was right. I hope you enjoy these cookies as much as I have!
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon sage, chopped finely
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
Sugar in the Raw
3-4 sage leaves
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In the bowl of a standing mixer cream the butter and powdered sugar. Stream in the maple syrup, then vanilla extract, and mix until well combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and chopped sage. Add into the stopped mixer at once and mix on very low until the dough is uniform.
If the dough is soft, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for approximately 20 minutes.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough between 1/8” to a ¼” thick. Cut with a cookie cutter and evenly space on a baking sheet. Scraps can be re-rolled once or twice, but be sure to dust off the excess flour before re-rolling the dough to prevent it from becoming too dry.
For the garnish, chop the sage leaves and combine them in a small bowl with the sugar. With your finger tips, rub the sugar and sage leaves together to release the sage’s oils. Sprinkle on top of the cookies immediately before baking. Bake 6-8 minutes, rotating after the first 3 minutes, until lightly brown.
Winter doesn’t seem to want go give up its hold on Wisconsin this year. I can’t help but daydream of warm spring days where I can wear a pair of cute capris or even a sundress! But judging by the weather forecast, that’s not going to happen anytime soon.
So that leaves me with the task of finding a new way to wear the same tired, old sweaters. Once again I must thank pinterest for bringing me this tutorial for a ribbon shoulder sweater as inspiration. Following the idea, I attached a pretty robin’s egg blue ribbon to one shoulder of my sweater and made a corresponding flower for my hip. So far I’m loving the touch of spring on my boring black sweater!
Please forgive the photography…with no one to help out I had to get a bit creative with my camera and lovely antique bathroom mirror!
Small piece of felt
Hot Glue Gun or fabric glue
Cut an eight inch slit down one shoulder of a sweater. Fold the edges over and sew them in place. Cut two fifteen inch lengths of ribbon and sew to each side of the sweater. Tie into a pretty bow.
For the ribbon flower, cut a piece of felt (or fabric scrap) into a circle the size of the flower you want. Mine was about the size of a silver dollar, but you can definitely go bigger-just allow for more ribbon. Hold the end of your remaining ribbon in the center of the circle and glue into place. Twist the ribbon in an outward spiral, gluing as you go.Once the glue has dried, sew the flower onto your sweater using corresponding thread.