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Spinach Artichoke + Roasted Red Pepper Dip

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Christmas is nearing & holiday parties are in full swing. Traditions new + old are being celebrated with friends & family. I love this time of year – but not for all the Hallmark reasons. For me it’s a time when we gather round the table and reflect on the gifts of one another’s company. Inevitably, there’s also a lot of great food.

My side of the family has always celebrated Christmas Eve with a spread of heavy appetizers + we enjoy more time at the table than in the kitchen. A staple every year has always been this dip:: my mom doesn’t even ask me to bring it because the assumption is there that I will contribute it to the spread. It’s incredibly simple – in fact I typically put it all together the night before and refrigerate it until ready to bake. Cheesy, gooey + full of vegetables, this dip is one of my favorites & a must for any holiday gathering.

I’ve always found that it tastes best when the quality of cheeses used are fresh – but pre-shredded cheese in the bags will suit it just fine. Cheers to your upcoming celebrations + may your tables be filled with all of your favorite things and people!

Ingredients:

  • 15 oz. jar of Hellman’s real Mayonnaise with Olive Oil
  • 14 oz. can of quartered artichokes, drained
  • 1.5 cups jarred roasted red peppers, drained
  • 3 cups fresh spinach leaves
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated romano cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated gruyere cheese
  • 16 oz. bag Italian blend cheese (reserve 1/2 bag for topping the dip)
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. ground pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Grate cheeses and place in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Drain + Roughly chop the artichokes & roasted peppers; add to bowl.
  4. Add remaining ingredients (except the reserved 1/2 bag of Italian blend cheese) + stir to combine.
  5. Transfer the dip to a 2 quart baking dish. Top with the remaining 1/2 bag of the Italian cheese blend mix.
  6. Bake 30 minutes, uncovered. Serve hot with crackers, bread or raw vegetables on the side.

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Gingerbread Pancakes

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Pancakes are one of my girls’ absolute favorite meals and I’m always looking for new ways to add a little variety to them. While delicious all on their own, the basic pancake recipe is much like an empty canvas waiting for a touch of paint. Gingerbread for breakfast is my kind of art.

Christmas is just around the corner – which always leaves me thinking of growing up baking with family throughout the month of December. Some of those memories are most definitely the fondest – and my mom and grandma had a soft spot for gingerbread. My mom once told me it’s what she asked of my grandma to bring her in the hospital in the full heat of summer after delivering me: a full pan of gingerbread cake. Rightfully so, my grandma was the best baker around.

This is a fantastic way to wake up your loved ones on a cold winter morning! The flavors + aromas are delicious and sure to please any pancake aficionado in your home. Not overly sweet with all the right punches of spice and molasses…they’re bound to make Christmas morning sweeter as well.

Recipe yields 12 pancakes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all purpose, unbleached flour (I used King Arthur)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar

Method:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda + powder, cinnamon, ginger, cloves & allspice together.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, vanilla, molasses & brown sugar until well combined.
  3. Combine the wet + dry ingredients until just incorporated. Do not over mix the batter or the pancakes will be tough. There will still be lumps in the batter.
  4. Heat a large pan or griddle to medium low heat.
  5. Ladle 1/3 cup of batter atop the hot surface, leaving 2 inches of space between each cake. Wait until bubbles appear across the top of the cake & the edges appear semi-cooked, approximately 2-3 minutes.
  6. Flip each cake over and resume the cooking 1-2 more minutes.
  7. Serve hot with a side of maple syrup – or for extra decadence with a side of cinnamon whipped cream (or both!)

 

Citrus Sweet + Spicy Almonds

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Whether entertaining a large group of people or looking for something to have on hand to satisfy a nibble – you’re going to want to make these highly addicting almonds. A little bit sweet, a little salty & a little spicy, they satisfy the craving; whatever the craving of the moment may be.

When invited to a dinner party or gathering with friends, I love bringing the hosts a small, homemade gift or a bottle of wine. These are perfect to bring along to any gathering because they’ll compliment the menu be it formal or appetizers. Great for munching over drinks or leaving for the host to enjoy at a later date. Planning a DIY themed Christmas this year? These are your golden ticket.

Feel free to spice it up a little more – these bring a subtle heat. I also made a batch of cashews with the same seasonings and it worked quite nicely as well. Just be sure to use raw, unsalted nuts – whichever variety you choose.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups raw, unsalted almonds
  • 1.5 tsp kosher salt (I used course)
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1.5 tbsp orange juice
  • 2 tsp organic, pure maple syrup Grade A medium amber
  • the zest of 1 lime

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Combine the salt, red pepper flakes, orange juice, maple syrup + lime zest in a medium sized bowl. Stir to combine.
  3. Stir in the almonds and coat with the mixture.
  4. Lay the almonds in a single layer atop the lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake 15 minutes, until golden brown. Allow them to cool completely before serving.

Raspberry + Cranberry Galette

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As the weather turns colder and the holidays approach, the anticipation of the comforts that go along with this time of the year fill me with equal parts nostalgia + excitement. The food, the company & the coziness it all brings together are pure perfection.

While it’s been said that nothing is more American as pie, (specifically during Thanksgiving & Christmas) there’s something simplistic & beautifully rustic about a galette that I cannot ignore. It’s simple in appearance, but bold in flavor – whatever the flavor may be. I also love that they are quick to make, leaving less time in the kitchen & more time spent with family.

This summer we picked 10 pounds of raspberries and froze a good portion of them. Recipes such as this one was precisely what I had intended for the frozen berries. The combination of sweet + tart are perfect for any gathering, be it holiday or not. Happy baking!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unbleached, AP flour
  • 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 6 tbsp very cold butter, cubed
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup ice water (remove the ice before adding)
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 1 cup cranberries
  • the zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp sugar


Method:

  1. In a large bowl, stir together the flour + cinnamon. Add the diced cold butter & cut in with a pastry knife or fork.
  2. add the vanilla extract + 1/4 cup of ice water (sans ice), combining together with clean hands until it forms a ball. If the mixture is too dry, add a tablespoon of water at a time until it comes together.
  3. Cover the ball in plastic wrap & refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400.
  4. On a clean surface dusted lightly with flour, roll out the chilled dough until it forms a round crust approximately 10″ in diameter.
  5. Transfer the dough to a parchment lined baking sheet.
  6. In a separate bowl, combine the fruit, lemon zest + juice and sugar together. Stir & add to the center of the dough.
  7. Gently fold over the edges of the galette & crimp the corners.
  8. Bake 35-40 minutes or until golden brown & the fruit begins to bubble. Serve warm or store up to 2 days.

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Almond + Cookie Butter Biscotti

Almond + Cookie Butter Biscotti

Morning coffee is equal parts necessary + nostalgic for me, taking me back to my grandma’s kitchen growing up. Food and drink have a strong connection with memories and I like to make them sweet. Coffee can be wonderful on it’s own, but sometimes it calls for a companion. Biscotti being the natural partner.

I created this recipe 2 years ago during my pregnancy with my second daughter, and it remains a family favorite to this day. Baking these with her now on the outside, watching the crumbs fall off her cheeks and our older daughter covered in the melted chocolate made this recipe even sweeter.

These are incredibly simple + would make a fantastic gift for the upcoming holidays. I freeze mine to lengthen their lifespan + enjoying the extra crunch the freezing process provides. Dipped in a hot cup of coffee, surrounded by friends or family and making memories – these round out some of my most favorite parts of my morning (or afternoon) routine. Recipe yields approximately 24 biscotti, depending on the width of which you cut them.

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter, room temp
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 1/2 cup cookie butter
  • 1.5 cups unbleached all purpose flour (I used King Arthur)
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped natural almonds, unsalted
  • 1/4 12 oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Almond + Cookie Butter Biscotti Almond + Cookie Butter Biscotti Almond + Cookie Butter Biscotti

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 300. Line two baking sheets with silpat liners or parchment paper.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar in Kitchen Aid mixer about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides when finished.
  3. Add eggs to butter mixture one at a time. Add almond extract and cookie butter and mix until blended.
  4. Add flours, salt and baking powder and mix until all ingredients are incorporated. Do not overmix. Stir in chopped almonds.
  5. Divide the dough in half and form two loaves, one on each baking sheet. Bake 40-45 minutes.
  6. Remove the loaves from the oven and slice into 3/4″ pieces with a sharp knife. Lay each biscotti on it’s side, leaving space between each piece.
  7. Return to the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until hardened.
  8. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or over a double boiler and drizzle atop each biscotti. Serve cooled or store in the freezer.

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Sage & Butternut Squash Crostini

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Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and I for one am beyond excited for its arrival. I love the simplicity of the holiday and what it stands for: to be thankful. It doesn’t revolve around gifts or some cutesy stuffed character who will deliver any sort of gift; rather it’s a rare holiday in which we reflect upon everything we have, be it tangible or emotional and practice gratitude. The older I become, the more I’ve found this holiday to be one of my absolute favorites.

It also is a fantastic opportunity to grub on some pretty spectacular food with the people we love.

Whether you are hosting or dining at someone’s house, this simple and flavorful appetizer is reminiscent of all things autumn, thanksgiving and delicious. No host or hostess would ever deny a guest the opportunity to contribute to the menu, why not wow them with something that will compliment the entree so wonderfully?

The puree can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator a few days early, then spread atop freshly toasted slices of baguette the day of your gathering. Top with shavings of parmesan cheese (grated would be lovely as well) and serve.

Final yield of the puree depends on the size of the butternut squash. I used an average size squash and it produced about 1 cup; plenty for spreading atop 1-1.5 sliced baguettes. Hosting a smaller gathering? Use larger bread & garnish as you would a slice of bruschetta.

Happy Thanksgiving from my kitchen to yours!

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sized butternut squash, peeled, seeded & cut into 1″ cubes
  • 4 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 2 tbsp for roasting & 2 for the puree. I used California Olive Ranch.
  • 6 medium/large sage leaves
  • 3 oz. grated parmesan cheese + shaved pieces to garnish
  • 2 tsp garlic salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1-2 baguette loaves, toasted

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 425. Peel the squash & remove the stalk. Cut in half and remove the seeds. Dice into 1″ cubes and lay out the cubes onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  2. Drizzle the squash with 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil & add the garlic salt + pepper. Toss together using clean hands and roast 45-55 minutes on the center rack of your oven. Let cool for 30 minutes.
  3. Using your food processor, blend together the roasted squash, sage leaves, grated parmesan cheese + remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil. Taste & season more per your preference with garlic salt or pepper.
  4. Slice the baguette loaf (loaves) into 1.5″ circles. Lay them onto a baking sheet and place under the broiler until toasted.
  5. Spread the puree atop each piece of bread + garnish with the shaved parmesan.

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Pumpkin Spice Caramel Rolls

Whether you’ve followed me for a brief or long amount of time, you have read about my husband’s affinity for sweets. Rolls of the caramel or cinnamon realm specifically appeal to his love language, and quite frankly my love language for him beckons me to oblige his request for such simplicities – be it verbal or not. 

This week, Minnesota is showing off from a weather perspective. Indian Summer is here and folks all over the state are out enjoying the beauty of it all. They’re more than likely drinking some sort of pumpkin coffee drink, as well. It’s what we do in autumn, and we do it well. Truth be told, the PSL had a bit of inspiration for these beauties, in addition to my husband’s sweet tooth. I’d like to think these are a far more indulgent way to enjoy autumn and all things pumpkin, however. 

I had a good amount of leftover caramel sauce from my Caramel Apple Bread (find it a few posts back here) that I adapted from The Pioneer Woman and decided it to be a great fit for topping the rolls. You could also go a traditional cream cheese frosting route if you so choose.

I may even throw caution to the wind and bake these for Thanksgiving in lieu of a pumpkin pie. My instincts, paired with careful research with a one and four year old taste tester suggest it would be a wise decision. Happy autumn, from my kitchen to yours!

Ingredients:

(For the Dough)

  • 1 1/4 cup warm water (not hot water, as it will kill the yeast)
  • 1/4 cup raw, organic honey
  • 1 packet quick rise yeast
  • 1/3 cup pure organic pumpkin
  • 3 cups AP unbleached flour, plus more for rolling the dough (I used King Arthur)
  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour 

(For the Filling)

  • 1/2 cup pure organic pumpkin
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon

(Sprinkle atop the rolls prior to rising)

  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

(For the Caramel Sauce)

  • 1 packed cup brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp. organic butter
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

Method:

  1. In your Kitchen-Aid mixer fitted with the hook attachment, add the warm water, yeast and honey. Let sit 5-10 minutes until the yeast activates/foam appears.
  2. Add the pumpkin and flours and knead for 5 minutes. The dough should be tacky to the touch, yet doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl when mixing.
  3. Lightly brush the bottom of the bowl with olive oil, place the dough in the bowl and cover with a towel to allow the dough to double in size for one hour.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 350.
  5. In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the filling. Set aside. 
  6. In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.
  7. On a clean, lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a large rectangular shape, approximately 10×14.
  8. Thinly spread the filling from edge to edge and tightly roll the dough from one edge to the other, horizontally.
  9. Grease a 9×13 glass pan and cut the rolled dough into 1.5-2″ sections. Place them 4×3 in the pan and cover for 15-20 minutes to let rise again. 
  10. Sprinkle with the sugar/pumpkin pie spice mixture and bake for 20-25 minutes. 
  11. Generously pour the caramel sauce over each roll and serve warm or allow to cool and store for up to 2 days.

Caramel Apple Bread

I remember making caramel apples as a child with my mom in the kitchen. Unwrapping what seemed like an endless pile of caramels, dipping large green apples into a gooey bowl of it melted down, and finally adding whatever toppings to them that suited the mood at the time. Caramel apples are a treat synonymous with autumn and found in every orchard or grocery store around this time of year. 

While the real deal will always remind me of childhood – there’s something to be said about putting all of those flavors into a loaf pan and enjoying the fragrance of it baking away in the oven. The house smelled like an apple orchard for hours – a complete added bonus. 

I wanted to make a bread that looked as pretty as the inspiration, so I thinly sliced the apples and placed them upright in the batter prior to baking. When the cooled bread is sliced, the upright apple slices look so cozy nestled into a piece of the bread and the caramel sauce completes the package. This truly does taste like a caramel apple, and is an acceptable form of eating one for breakfast. Or any other meal of the day.

The sauce is an adapted recipe from The Pioneer Woman’s caramel sauce, found here.

Rather than using half & half, I substituted whole milk. The sauce is incredibly simple and exactly the right sauce for this bread. 

As an added bonus, this bread is refined sugar free if you omit the caramel sauce.

Happy baking, and thanks for stopping by!

Ingredients:

(For the Bread)

  • 1/2 cup room temp organic butter (I used Hope Creamery)
  • 1 cup organic, Grade A light amber maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 organic eggs
  • 1 tbsp whole milk
  • 8 oz all natural, no sugar added applesauce
  • 2 cups unbleached, AP flour (I used King Arthur)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 honeycrisp or granny smith apples, cut width wise in 1/4″ sections

(For the Caramel Sauce)

  • 1 packed cup brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp. organic butter
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 325.
  2. Wash the apples and cut 1/4″ slices width wise on either side of the core. This will yield two quarters of each apple unused. Go ahead and enjoy those pieces while the cake bakes! (See above photo)
  3. In a large bowl or Kitchen-Aid mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine all wet ingredients. Slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  4. Add the batter into a greased loaf pan. Gently nestle in each apple slice across the batter. Depending on the size of the apples, the tops may sit above the batter. Bake 50-60 minutes until a tester comes out clean.
  5. While the bread is baking, in a medium sized pan atop your stovetop, add the brown sugar, butter, milk and salt to the pan and gently whisk over medium heat for 5-7 minutes until the sauce thickens slightly. Add the vanilla and whisk another minute. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Place the sauce into a glass container and allow to cool further in the fridge. 
  6. Allow the bread to cool completely before removing from the loaf pan! Drizzle with the caramel sauce and serve the remaining sauce on the side for yourself (ahem, I mean your guests.)

Cranberry Apple Sauce

Autumn in Minnesota this year has been incredible. The colors, the smells & the weather have all collaborated so perfectly – it’s truly one of the best I can recall. Another part of what makes autumn so great is the bounty of local harvesters. We recently joined a co-op and have enjoyed so much local produce, and we love knowing we are supporting as many local (or regional) growers as possible.

Last week I picked up some organic cranberries, and decided to pair them with some of the best apples Minnesota has produced in its time: Honeycrisp. The combination is perfect. A bit sweet, a bit tart and bursting with flavors of fall.

This is good food, simply made in under 30 minutes. If you love these seasonal items as much as we do, you’ll love this cranberry apple sauce. Prep time is about 10 minutes, and cook time 15-20. The recipe yields 2 pint sized jars.

Ingredients:

  • 5 large Honeycrisp apples, peeled and roughly diced (approximately 5 cups)
  • 1.5 cups fresh, organic cranberries
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 cup grade A, light Amber organic maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • The juice of 1 medium sized lemon

 Method:
  • Combine all ingredients in a medium sized pot on stovetop and bring to a simmer over medium low heat. Simmer 20 minutes until the fruit is soft and thickens.
  • Mash to desired consistency with a potato masher or food processor.
  • Store in 2 mason sized pint jars & refrigerate once cooled.

Chicken & Vegetable Potstickers

Potstickers. No, seriously:: POTSTICKERS! What day couldn’t be turned around by inhaling aaaaaaaall the potstickers? There’s a reason why these little pillows of flavor are so good; they are a complete labor of love. That being said, they are completely worth the time. 

Because they are so tedious, I make them in huge quantities. This recipe makes 48 potstickers. Forty eight little individually wrapped presents for you to eat. Share them if you want to. Or don’t.

Part of the reason why I take the time to make my own is that I really haven’t found a takeout restaurant in the ‘burbs that makes a good potsticker. Another is that one order typically yields around five, which creates an awkward scenario if you’re sharing them with another person. Who gets the odd-numbered potsticker? Do you split it? Who gets the filling when you cut it in half and it doesn’t split equally? First world takeout problems solved – make these and you’ll have enough for everyone (ooooor, yourself.)

They heat up nicely in the oven and create an additional crunchiness – or they can be consumed cold if you lack the patience. Like me. 

Feel free to substitute any ingredients you’d like – ground pork would be lovely as well.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground chicken 
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped carrots (make it easier on yourself and purchase the matchstick bagged version)
  • 3/4 cup finely diced red cabbage
  • 1/2 cup (approximately 6) diced green onions
  • 2 tbsp grape seed oil
  • 1.5 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1 package of wonton wrappers (contains 48 wrappers)
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 egg + 2 tbsp water for egg wash 

Method:

  1. Add the ground chicken, grape seed oil, diced vegetables and all seasonings in a large bowl. Combine ingredients with a fork. 
  2. On a clean surface, lay out a few wonton wrappers at a time and spoon 1 tsp of the filling in the center of each wrapper. Whisk together the egg & water in a small bowl and brush the four inner edges of the wrapper with egg wash using your finger.
  3. There are undoubtedly multiple ways (most prettier than mine) to fold a potsticker. The method I used was what made sense to me and relatively quick and simple. I folded it into a triangle, then folded each corner over and crimped all the edges with a fork. I completed the process until all 48 were complete and put them in a dish so that I could fry them in large batches.
  4. In a large skillet on your stove top, add 3 tbsp of vegetable oil on medium heat. Once the oil has become hot (drop a small amount of water to the oil, if it sizzles the oil is ready) add the potstickers to the pan. I did mine in batches of 10.
  5. Saute on both sides about 1 minute, or until a light golden brown color appears. 
  6. Add 1/3 cup water to the hot pan and put the lid atop. Let steam for 3-4 minutes and remove from the pan. Complete the process until all dumplings are cooked. Consume. Eat happy!

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