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Author: Jennifer

The Mediterranean Diet For Beginners: Eat Delicious Food And Feel Better!

The Mediterranean Diet For Beginners: Eat Delicious Food And Feel Better!

I know it’s the New Year and that’s not the reason for this post…well, for the most part. I’ve been wanting to change my diet for quite some time now. The keywords here are change my diet “lifestyle.” As in, the way I eat, from […]

Best Bone Broth Recipe

Best Bone Broth Recipe

So, here we are. Winter. At least they say it’s winter. Even though it’s a balmy and wet 62 whole degrees outside here in Georgia. I’ve noticed a lot of things lately (besides the strange weather) and it includes a lot of sniffling noses, coughing, […]

Easy Cookies: Christmas Cookies From Fellow Food Bloggers

Easy Cookies: Christmas Cookies From Fellow Food Bloggers

I’ve been doing a lot more pinning as of late trying to fit in with all the “cool kids” and thought I’d research some Christmas cookies, “Easy Cookies”. It started like any other day looking up recipes, except that day I was doing my research on Pinterest. I’d lost interest in the past with Pinterest because many of the “reviews” of the recipes were just comments like, “Looks awesome!” and “I can’t wait to try this recipe..at some point..in the unforeseeable future.” It seemed that there were no real reviews and the one recipe that I did try that one time in band camp…sucked. I mean S-U-C-K-E-D.

I was trying to find more recipes using protein powder and landed on the ol’ Pinny Pin of pumpkin muffins. They were muffins that I ended up renaming Poo Poo Pumpkin Muffins. They were just weird. The taste of pumpkin was non existent and the strange protein powder aftertaste was off putting. I mean, off pooping. And the fact that I’d wasted so much money on expensive ingredients really teed me off.

I usually like to do 2 or three different kinds of cookies with varying flavors and or textures. I came across a recipe for chocolate crinkle cookies from the blog “Gimme Some Oven.” I read through the recipe and comments and printed up the recipe. I knew I wanted to make a Christmas sugar cookie and read several recipes and finally went with, “The Best Sugar Cookie Recipe” from the blog “A Spicy Perspective.

Both recipes I followed to the letter. Otherwise how can you honestly review it? Both cookies came out great and I was actually surprised with the perfectly accurate time on the chocolate crinkle cookies. The Sugar cookies were delightfully light and delicious and not what I was expecting. It didn’t have the typical chew of cooked sugar I was expecting but rather held that great cookie dough taste that I like with a bite of sugar in the end. The chocolate cookie recipe I’d make again as well. The only thing I’d change is the amount of powered sugar used for dipping the cookies in. You literally need maybe a 1/4 cup to dust the cookies in rather than 1 full cup. Other than that? Thumbs up.

I guess my pinning days are just beginning. I find it pretty entertaining now to sort through not only recipes on Pinterest, but look up travel destinations, new workouts, hairstyles, etc. It’s one big gigantic internet cork board and the available pins are only limited by imagination.

The Best Sugar Cookie Recipe from A Spicy Perspective

Warm Sugar Cookies Fresh Out Of The Oven!

  • 3 cups all purpose flour measured then sifted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter softened (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar + extra for rolling
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375°. Mix salt, baking powder and flour together in bowl.

In separate bowl or electric mixer combine softened butter and sugar. Cream together on medium speed for about 3 minutes. Your mixture should look like this:

Turn mixture to low and add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each one to fully incorporate. Add vanilla and scrape bowl.

Keep mixer on low speed and add flour 1 cup at a time until all flour is incorporated. Scrape down bowl with spatula and mix again.

In a small bowl add about 1/4 cup of sugar. With a 1″ cookie scooper, make 1″ balls. Toss them in the sugar and roll gently in your hands before placing on a nonstick cookie sheet. Flatten gently with your hands or the bottom of a greased glass.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes until edges are slightly golden brown. Cool on cookie sheet. Deeeeelightful!

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies from Gimme Some Oven

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup mild-flavored oil (such as vegetable oil)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar, for coating the cookies

Directions:

In a medium bowl combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set to side.

In a bowl or stand mixer combine sugar and oil. Beat on medium for about 2 minutes. Add in the eggs one at a time until combined and then add vanilla. With mixer on low slowly add in flour mixture and beat on medium speed until fully incorporated.

Leave in bowl and top with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 24 hours.

Next day:

Preheat oven to 350°. Using 1″ scooper, scoop dough into round balls and roll in powdered sugar. Plop on a nonstick cookie pan and bake for 10 minutes.

Done!

Notes: This recipe does call for 1 cup powdered sugar to coat the cookies but I only needed (honestly less than) 1/4 cup. It is a very sticky dough so I didn’t even bother making it into a dough ball as the original recipe states. It was just easier (and less messy) to wrap my bowl and refrigerate as it were until the next day. Also, for a standard kitchen aid mixer there isn’t enough sugar and oil for the mixer arms to even reach. I had to slightly lift the bowl off the base and attach my whisk attachment to mix. The recipe says it will get light and fluffy as with creaming but that only happens with sugar and butter, not oil. So, I mixed the oil and sugar as the recipe stated for 2 minutes.

These cookies WERE awesome and yielded 20 just like the recipe stated it would. They were like little sugar coated brownie balls. I’d definitely make these again!

Both of these recipes with recipe cards can be found in the link provided above each recipe on each of the bloggers websites.

Christmas day may be over but I hope the spirit of Christmas stays around all year, or at least through the winter. The extra smiles, the overall just showing of love is what this season is all about. And even these cookies put a smile on so many faces. It really is the little things that count. Little things that let people know that you are thinking of them.

What did you do this holiday season (or have someone do for you) that put a smile on your face? Please comment below and share the love!

Quick Comfort Meals: Simple Dishes That Mean So Much More

Quick Comfort Meals: Simple Dishes That Mean So Much More

I’ll never forget when my dad was in the hospital years ago. It was a sad, stressful, and painful time. The hands on the clock that hung on the wall just seemed to be stuck in one spot, yet the days were passing so quickly […]

Cheese Board Ideas: Decadent Cheese, Fruit, and Scratch Crackers

Cheese Board Ideas: Decadent Cheese, Fruit, and Scratch Crackers

Cheese boards are a great start to a meal (sometimes even a meal on their own) and a great conversation piece at a gathering. It’s kind of the pregame for food and allows people to socialize while tasting some new cheeses and possibly try some […]

Chopped Kale Salad Recipe: Thanksgiving Kale Salad That Looks Like Christmas On Ya Plate

Chopped Kale Salad Recipe: Thanksgiving Kale Salad That Looks Like Christmas On Ya Plate

I know Kale has been through a revival of sorts for awhile now, but I never really did jump out on that train….the kale train that is. I honestly couldn’t tell you why either. Kale is a powerhouse of goodness, having more nutritional value than spinach! It’s packed full of potassium and beta-carotene and helps with digestion because it’s chock full of fiber and water. Besides all these obvious health benefits, it tastes great too!

When I was thinking of new ideas the other night for the inevitable leftover holiday turkey, kale for some reason popped in my head. It’s a versatile green (cabbage actually) that is very hearty and could stand in for the main course on any day of the week. This salad has little pops of Thanksgiving spirit spread throughout. Besides the obvious protein, turkey, it’s filled with little gems that remind your taste buds of everything holiday.

The greens are chopped and soaked in a homemade garlic balsamic dressing. Little pomegranate seeds burst in your mouth with every crunch filled bite, thanks to the roasty toasty pumpkin seeds that are nestled between the dressing soaked leaves. And what’s Thanksgiving without stuffing? That’s mirrored in this salad with the addition of crispy cornbread croutons. If you’re from the south you’ve prolly got some leftover cornbread from the day before so oil that baby up and throw it in the oven for croutons! (If not, store bought will work too:) ) The salad is finished off with a nice grating of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

If you’ve never tried using kale in it’s uncooked form here’s a few tips. Curly leaf kale is the most commonly found variety. You may also find Lacinato (or Dinosaur) kale in your grocery store, as well as Red Russian leaf kale. Kale for salad is commonly shredded or “massaged” to help break down the cellulose in the leaves before eating. For this salad I’m just doing a rough chop on the more commonly found curly leaf kale and then dressing it with my vinaigrette about an hour before dinner. The vinegar in the dressing will help to slightly break down and soften the leaves of this awesome salad before it hits the table.

The dressing in this dish is a vinaigrette made with balsamic vinegar. Even though garlic can be a sharp (and even hot) addition when added raw to any dish I’m using just one 1/2 clove grated on a microplane. The sweet tanginess from the vinegar will counter the sharp garlic flavor. We were taught in culinary school that to make a traditional vinaigrette to use the 3-1 ratio. That is, 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. I’ve always found that ratio not suiting to the palate and have always used more of a 2-1 ratio. What’s funny about that is Bon Appetit recently published an article this past August (18′) on this exact same subject and said themselves to not believe the 3-1 ratio “hype”.  The most important thing you can do for yourself (and everyone around you) is use good quality ingredients for your dressings. The dijon in this recipe acts as the emulsifier as well as add a punch of flavor on it’s own. I use cold (gooooooood) pressed extra virgin olive oil for all my dressings. It’s light, fruity, and doesn’t have an overpowering “oiliness” about it. It harmonizes with whatever else you throw in the mix..or dressing.

Chopped Kale Salad With Turkey, Poms, Pumpkin Seeds, and Cornbread Croutons

 

This recipe will serve 4 small bowls of salad as a side or 2 large plates for an entree

 

*2 bunches (about 6 ounces) of Curly leaf Kale, pulled from ribs and roughly chopped

*1/2 Cup Pumpkin seeds, roastedkale lilchefchic

*1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

*1/2 cup Cornbread Croutons

*1/2 lb. Turkey, cubed or shredded

*1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano

 

Dressing:

*1/2 garlic clove, gratedvinaigrette lilchefchic

*1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard

*2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar

*5 Tablespoons Olive Oil

*1/4 teaspoon sea salt

*Freshly ground pepper

 

Make vinaigrette. In small bowl add together mustard and balsamic vinegar and grated garlic clove. Gently start whisking in olive oil and continue adding oil and whisking until emulsified. Add salt and fresh pepper and add more seasoning if necessary. Toss and gently massage kale with dressing using fingers to coat each leaf. Refrigerate for 1/2 hour to an hour.

Roast fresh pumpkin seeds (if using) and then turn heat up to 425 for croutons. Spritz diced cornbread with olive oil and place on ungreased baking pan. Bake for 4-7 minutes. Make vinaigrette. Grate garlic and stir in dijon mustard.cornbread croutons lilchefchic

Just before service taste kale for seasoning and adjust to your liking. Toss in pom and pumpkin seeds. Top with chopped turkey and sprinkle on Parmesan cheese.

Cooks Notes: If you’re using fresh pumpkin seeds rinse them, pat dry, and toss in olive oil. Spread them on a sheet pan and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast at 300 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. Scoot the seeds around on the pan every now and again to help them cook and brown evenly.

Pomegranate arils are widely available in most grocery stores now and super convenient. I still choose to buy whole pomegranates because it costs a lot less and I get a lot more….for snacking! Here’s a short youtube vid on how to cut and use a fresh pomegranate:

 

Cooks Notes II: A little tip. When you’re mixing your dressing in the bowl, wrap a kitchen towel around the bottom of the bowl like a little scarf so that you can whisk the dressing without the bowl dancing all over the counter…like this:

dressing towel lilchefchic

What, pray tell, do YOU do with all those leftovers from Thanksgiving? Casseroles? Soups? Sandwiches? Write me down below with your ideas, suggestions, recipes:)

Roasted Vegetables Recipes: Pumpkin Risotto With Seared Scallops

Roasted Vegetables Recipes: Pumpkin Risotto With Seared Scallops

It was around this same time last year that I made my Moroccan Pumpkin Soup and that’s also the time when the pie pumpkins showed up in my local store. That soup was inspired by Steve, my coworker who has since left us to join the […]

Best Fall Pies: Pies On Pies On Pies

Best Fall Pies: Pies On Pies On Pies

Pumpkin pie. Pecan Pie.  Some sort of fruit Pie. That’s typically what pops into one’s mind when they think of the Thanksgiving dessert table. Yes, table. Growing up, we visited my family in middle Georgia and for dessert there was a TABLE filled with an […]

Best Fall Dinners: Simple Grilled Pork Chops With Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Creamy Parsnip Mash, and Grilled Cipollini Onions

Best Fall Dinners: Simple Grilled Pork Chops With Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Creamy Parsnip Mash, and Grilled Cipollini Onions

This meal..inspired by onions. Not just any onion, cipollini onions (pronounced chee-poh-leen-ee). These little spaceship shaped roots are full of flavor and hale from Italy. They are known in Italy as agrodolce which translates literally to “bitter-sweet”. They are often found peeled of their thin skin and cooked through in a reduction of balsamic vinegar and served as an accompaniment to charcuterie platters (meats and cheeses). They have a higher sugar content than a white or red onion and are oftentimes compared to Vidalia onions when it comes to sweetness.

I decided to parboil my cipollines a bit to not only aid in removing the thin skin but to also partly cook them before placing them on a skewer and grilling them over coals. Instead of using a balsamic vinegar I decided to try the black vinegar I purchased awhile back for Anthony Bourdain’s Macu-style pork sandwich (which was ahhhhhmazing by the way). The vinegar when used straight from the container has a bit of smokiness about it. Once I concentrated this flavor by reducing from 1 cup to 1/4 cup the pronounced flavor of smoky anise shined through. I added a sprig of rosemary while it reduced down. Even with this herb being my least favorite, I could appreciate the herbaceous “piney-ness” it lent to the grilled pork.cipolline onions veggie lilchefchic

The pork chops here are simple. Salt. Pepper. Olive Oil. Boom. Nothing else. Nothing more.

Grill.

The Parsnip Mash just reminds me of Fall and all the wonderful little roots that are making their way out of the ground and onto our plates. I only added one half pound parsnips to one full pound potatoes to lend subtle sweetness and parsnip zip to this mash. It of course has plenty of butter and just a dash of nutmeg (optional).

The brussels sprouts are simple as well. They are just quartered and then tossed in bacon grease and a glug of olive oil with salt and freshly ground pepper. They only take about 15 minutes to roast in a preheated oven.

 

This dinner was comforting and an open invitation for the upcoming cooler weather. The zingy onions I playfully added to the tops of each plate added a zippy tangy bite to this dish. I hope you enjoy this Fall dish and this wonderful season. The following recipes are for four servings.

Cipollini Onions:

*10 ounce package Cipollini Onions

*1  cup Black Vinegar

*2 Tablespoons Dark Brown Sugar

*1/2 sprig Rosemary

 

Soak 4 wooden skewers in water for 20 minutes. Bring small sauce pot of water to a boil. Add rinsed onions and parboil for 3 minutes. Remove onions to ice bath to cool. Remove to plate once cooled.

Bring remaining ingredients to a boil and then immediately turn heat down to simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Reduce down to 1/4 cup. It will have the consistency of syrup and coat the back of a spoon nicely. Remove from heat and hold. This video should give you an idea of what you’re looking for:

 

Cut off stem ends of onions and remove peels. Place onions on skewers and place on hot grill with chops. Turn every 3 or so minutes making sure each side is browning. Cook until able to pierce with a knife easily. These take 12-15 minutes. Once these are done use a basting brush to paint on the vinegar reduction like a barbecue sauce. Cook another 2 to 4 minutes brushing each side and turning to coat. These make four skewers with 3 -4 onions per skewer.

 

Brussels Sprouts:

*1 Pound Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and quarteredbrussels lilchefchic

*2 slices Thick Cut Bacon

*1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

*Salt and Pepper to Taste

 

Turn oven to 400°. On a non stick baking pan cook bacon for 15 – 18 minutes. Remove bacon and hold. Remove grease from pan except for 1 Tablespoon. Add 1 tablespoon Olive Oil and toss sprouts in fat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and roast in oven for 15 minutes or until fork tender. Crush bacon with hands and sprinkle over cooked sprouts and serve.

 

Pork Chops:

*4 bone-in Center Cut Pork Chops, about 1″ thickpork onions lilchefchic

*Olive Oil To Coat Chops

*Salt and Pepper to Taste

 

Salt and Pepper chops liberally and drizzle with olive oil. Place on heated grill and cook on each side about 5 to 8 minutes depending on degree of doneness. I like my chops at 155° which after resting for a few minutes will be about medium. My family (on the other hand) still refuses to eat anything pink, so pork in their eyes should be cooked til it’s white-or 300° (j/k…like chicken for them, so 165°).

parsnip mash lilchefchic

Parnsip Mash:

1/2 lb. Parnsips, peeled and chopped

1 lb. Russet potatoes, peeled and chopped

1/2 stick Butter

1/2 cup milk

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)

 

Bring large pot of water to boil. Salt water to taste like the sea with kosher or table salt. Boil potatoes for 5 minutes and add parsnips (they cook faster). Continue to boil til tender, about 15 minutes. Drain into colander. Place back in pot and mash with potato masher until smooth. Add salt and  Pepper to taste and add optional nutmeg. Add butter and stir in milk. Add more milk if desired until creamy and smooth.

 

Everyone raved about these flavors. My dad had never had cipollini onions before and loved how they paired with all the other sides. My mom actually cleaned her plate…of course after making sure that the pork chops were well done.

Family..what more can ya ask for?

What are your favorite dishes for this season? When you and all your family are able to come together, what dish is the most coveted? Who makes what? Who’s the grill master? The baker? The cleaner upper of all dishes?

Comment below:) And thanks for reading!

 

Quick Easy Rice Pudding: Drunken Cherry Not So Hidden Orange Rice Pudding

Quick Easy Rice Pudding: Drunken Cherry Not So Hidden Orange Rice Pudding

Usually the farmers market, a culinary magazine pic, or rando food network show will inspire a food post for me….but not this time. This time it was BOGO dried fruit at my local Publix grocery store. If you’re not familiar with BuyOneGetOne then you are […]