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Whenever Jordan is out for the night I like to cook things that I know he would hate. For some reason he has this aversion to squash. So since he is at the Dynamo game tonight, I decided to make something that was all about me. Whats not to love about squash in a cheesy herb sauce? This tastes so rich for being relatively low calorie. I ate it on its own but it would also make a great side dish.

Spaghetti Squash with Ricotta and Herbs
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse

  • 1 small spaghetti squash
  • 1 TB butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 TB fresh herbs (I used basil, chives and Italian parsley)
  • 1/3 cup ricotta
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Using a sharp knife, cut the squash in half lengthwise and place, cut side down, in a baking dish. Add enough water to come 1/2-inch up the sides of the baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes, until the squash is easily pierced with a paring knife. Turn squash over and cover with foil again and continue to cook another 15 minutes, until the squash is very tender. Remove from the oven, uncover, and allow to cool slightly. Using a spoon, remove the seeds and discard. Using a fork, gently pull the strands of squash away from the peel and place the squash strands into a mixing bowl.

Heat a skillet. Add the butter and saute garlic until soft. Add spaghetti squash, herbs, ricotta, salt and pepper and toss thoroughly but gently to heat and combine. Top with parmesan. Serve immediately or cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

Pizza Margherita

I have a confession, dough scares the hell out of me. Something about the yeast and how finicky it can be and the fact that bread is a science and I am more of a reckless cook. I have been dying to try my hand at making fresh pizza dough for some time. After reading food blog after food blog showing off these gorgeous pizzas I decided to throw caution to the wind and just try it. Oh my gawd. Life changing. Why have I not done this before? It is embarrassingly easy.

Pizza Margherita
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Crust

  • 1 teaspoon Active Dry Or Instant Yeast
  • 4 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • ⅓ cups Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sprinkle yeast over 1 1/2 cups warm (not lukewarm) water. In a mixer, combine flour and salt. With the mixer running on low speed (with paddle attachment), drizzle in olive oil until combined with flour. Next, pour in yeast/water mixture and mix until just combined. Coat a separate mixing bowl with a light drizzle of olive oil, and form the dough into a ball. Toss to coat dough in olive oil, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and store in the fridge until you need it. ***It’s best to make the dough at least 24 hours in advance, and 3 or 4 days is even better.

Pizza Topping

  • 1/2 cup – 3/4 cup crushed tomatoes (Use a good brand. I prefer Cento or Contadina. If using plain crushed tomato, you will want to spice it with Italian seasoning and garlic)
  • 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano & Basil to taste.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Drizzle olive oil on a large baking sheet and use fingers to coat thoroughly. Remove HALF the pizza dough from the bowl (You can  save the other one to freeze or store it in the fridge for another day). Stretch pizza dough into a large rectangle, pressing with fingers to finish forming. Dough will be very thin. Lightly drizzle a little olive oil on the dough and use fingers to spread. Spread a thin layer of tomato on the crust. You want to cover the dough but not put a thick enough layer to make it soggy. Lay mozzarella slices over the surface of the dough. Sprinkle with a little kosher salt and cracked pepper. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly. Top with fresh parmesan and basil. Remove from pan and slice with a pizza cutter. Serve immediately!

For St. Patrick’s Day, we had our good friends Leslie and John over for dinner. I made corned beef with cabbage, carrots and potatoes for dinner and these cupcakes for dessert. They stole the show!

The cake base is actually my go to chocolate cake recipe. Paired with whiskey ganache and Bailey’s frosting, they pack a powerful punch.

Guinness, Whiskey and Bailey’s Cupcakes
Source: Smitten Kitchen

For the Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes

1 cup Guinness
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Ganache Filling
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 to 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey

Baileys Frosting
3 to 4 cups confections sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 to 4 tablespoons Baileys (or milk, or heavy cream, or a combination thereof)

Special equipment: 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer and a piping bag (though a plastic bag with the corner snipped off will also work)

Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, rotating them once front to back if your oven bakes unevenly, about 17 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.

Make the filling: Chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. (If this has not sufficiently melted the chocolate, you can return it to a double-boiler to gently melt what remains. 20 seconds in the microwave, watching carefully, will also work.) Add the butter and whiskey (if you’re using it) and stir until combined.

Fill the cupcakes: Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped (the fridge will speed this along but you must stir it every 10 minutes). Meanwhile, using your 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer, cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes. You want to go most of the way down the cupcake but not cut through the bottom — aim for 2/3 of the way. A slim spoon or grapefruit knife will help you get the center out. Those are your “tasters”. Put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.

Make the frosting: Whip the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, for several minutes. You want to get it very light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time.

When the frosting looks thick enough to spread, drizzle in the Baileys (or milk) and whip it until combined. If this has made the frosting too thin (it shouldn’t, but just in case) beat in another spoonful or two of powdered sugar. Ice and decorate the cupcakes.


This recipe was so good that it had to be blogged rightthisverysecond. I admit, up until a year ago I absolutely HATED tomatoes. Fast forward to now and I just can not get enough of them. I crave bruschetta at least once a week. This will most definitely be going into our dinner rotation.

Mozzarella-Stuffed Bruschetta Turkey Burgers

Burger mixture:

  • 1 lb  ground turkey breast (I used 85/15 so the burgers would not be dry)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Fresh mozzarella (bocconcini aka the little small ones)
  • Burger buns

Bruschetta mixture:

  • One pint cherry tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • Salt to taste

Pesto Mayonaise

  • 1 tsp prepared pesto
  • 2 tsp mayonnaise

For bruschetta,  combine all ingredients, and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly. Combine pesto and mayonnaise and refrigerate until ready to use. In a large bowl combine turkey, salt and pepper. Form mixture into large thin patties and place two balls of fresh mozzarella in the center of the meat. Form the turkey mixture around the mozzarella so the cheese is completely in the middle. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat Add burgers and cook, turning once, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 165°F, 8 to 10 minutes total. Toast buns and spread with pesto mayo. Assemble burgers on buns and top with bruschetta mixture. Die of deliciousness.

Mexican Coleslaw

I have never been a fan of coleslaw.  Nothing about it appeals to me. Soggy cabbage swimming in mayonnaise? Gross. And yet on every summer menu it somehow makes an appearance. The first time I tried this slaw I was skeptical. But the tangy, crisp flavor had me hooked at first bite.

Mexican Coleslaw
Recipe from EatingWell.com

  • One large bag coleslaw mix (mix of cabbage and carrots)
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons good quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Whisk dressing ingredients together. Toss with coleslaw mix. Adjust seasonings to taste. Refrigerate for one hour. Can be prepared up to one day in advance.

The will of God will never take you,
Where the grace of God cannot keep you,
Where the arms of God cannot support you,
Where the spirit of God cannot work through you,
Where the wisdom of God cannot teach you,
Where the army of God cannot protect you,
Where the mercies of God cannot sustain you,
Where the peace of God cannot calm your fears,
Where the comfort of God cannot dry your tears,
Where the word of God cannot feed you,
Where the miracles of God cannot be done for you.

Everything happens for a purpose. We may not see the wisdom of it all now but trust and believe in the Lord that everything is for the best.

Classic

Sometimes, it is the simplest recipes that blow me away. A great loaf of homemade bread. A rich alfredo sauce. A tomato and mozzarella salad. Classics. This recipe, is one of those.

Butter-Pecan Shortbread
Source: Better Homes and Gardens,  New Cookbook: Bridal Edition

  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 TB brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 TB finely chopped pecans
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325F. In a medium bowl stir together flour and sugar. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs and starts to cling. Using your hands, shape the mixture into a ball and knead until smooth.

On an ungreased cookie sheet, pat or roll the dough into an 8-inch circle. Make a scalloped edge using your fingers to carefully crimp the edges of the dough. Cut dough into 16 wedges in the circle. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until bottom just starts to turn brown and center is set. Cut circle into wedges again while warm. Cool on cookie sheet for five minutes. Transfer to write rack and let cool. Makes 16 cookies.

*To make shortbread strips, on a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 6×4-inch rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. Using a utility knife, cut rectangle in half lengthwise, then crosswise into 16 pieces. Bake as directed.