Monday, February 13, 2012

My Favorite Chewy Caramel Popcorn

Love Jade's face in this shot...yep the Caramel Corn is that yummy! Seriously, this might be one of my favorite treats of all time! This is my mom's delicious recipe and I just live for this stuff! It has the most amazing rich, caramel flavor, and the texture is perfection! It's soft and chewy and kind of amazing actually! I almost want to cry, it's so good!

2 large bowls popcorn, popped (Pop the popcorn first and put it in the bowls so that you can pour the caramel over as soon as it is done.)

For Caramel-

Boil to a soft ball stage:

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

1 cup Karo syrup

1 cup half & half

1 cup butter

*If using unsalted popcorn, put a pinch of salt into the caramel at the end.

Instructions: Put all the ingredients into a pot and boil over medium- high heat, stirring constantly. When it starts to bubble and thicken and turn a caramel color, just start testing it. To test caramel, drop a drop of caramel in ice water until it is at the soft ball stage. (Soft ball stage is when it is soft but has the texture you would want in the popcorn, soft and chewy, but not runny or grainy) Keep testing often because it goes from undone to done to overdone FAST! When caramel is ready pour immediately over popcorn. Enjoy!

Jade is just lovingly gazing at the popcorn!

Love my silly Micah!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Stuffed Piquillo Peppers with Charred Tomato Sauce

This is a recipe that I have been wanting to post for a while because it is BY FAR the best mexican dish I have EVER made! It is beyond delicious and of course my mom is the one who introduced it to me. My mom found it on but she added a few things and we changed it to make it vegetarian, so instead of steak, we stuff them with black beans and rice. These are a lot work, but totally worth it! The whole combination is amazing but the charred tomato sauce is INSANE!


~12 piquillo peppers from a can or jar (I can only find them on (this recipe is only 12 peppers so definitely double the recipe because they are just so good, you will want leftovers!)

Charred Tomato sauce
2 dried guajillo chiles, stems and seeds removed
3 cloves garlic
1 medium onion, thickly sliced
1 jalapeno chile, stemmed, seeded, and thickly sliced
2 large tomatoes
2 cups water, can add more if necessary when you blend it
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
Freshly ground pepper to taste
I add 1-2 tablespoons of honey , a little at a time, to taste because that’s what Bobby Flay would do.

2 cans Black Beans
2 tablespoons olive oil and more if needed
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves minced garlic
3/4 cup diced peeled tomato
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Cilantro sprigs, for garnish
¾ cup Sour Cream
1 lime

½ cup Machengo cheese or cheddar cheese (or a little of both)

Stuffing: Cilantro Rice
3 cups of Rice
4 cups of water
4 tsp vegetable boullion
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 chopped onion
4 tsp minced garlic
½ bunch cilantro, chopped
1 can diced green chiles
½ tsp salt

Saute onion and garlic with butter until onion is soft. Add rice and water and all other ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and steam for about 15-20 minutes.

Remove piquillo peppers from can or jar. Drain in colander and pat dry. Set aside covered in refrigerator.

For the tomato sauce: Toast the dried chiles in a hot dry skillet over medium-low heat. Press with a spatula. Do not toast more than 1-2 minutes. You want the chiles to soften a little and give off a whiff of chile fragrance but not darken. Set aside. Use the same skillet to toast the garlic, onion and jalapeno until caramelized and blackened on edges. Char the tomatoes over a gas flame using a long fork or under the broiler. They should be completely blackened. Cut the tomatoes in half. In a saucepan, place the guajillo chiles, blackened tomatoes, garlic, blackened onion and jalapeno. Add water, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes. Cool the sauce, then pour into a blender and puree until smooth. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper as needed. Set the sauce aside while you prepare the stuffing.

For the stuffing: Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan. Add onions and saute until they are really caramelized. Add garlic and lower heat a little. Add the tomato, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper and the black beans. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Chill the stuffing for at least 30 minutes so it will be easier to work with. (OR if you want to cut out a step, you can totally just used black beans without doctoring them up- because the sauce is so amazing, just drizzle extra of that over everything!)

To assemble: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. The piquillo peppers tear easily, so handle them carefully. Hold in the crook of your hand between your thumb and forefinger, like an ice cream cone. I like to use my fingers, of other hand, to carefully place the black beans and rice into the pepper. Use about a rounded tablespoon per pepper. Lay pepper down on flat plate and press a little. As you fill the peppers, lay side by side. When ready to serve, spread a half cup of the charred sauce in a heatproof dish and lay the filled peppers on top. Grate some Machengo Cheese over the top of the peppers. Place in oven for 8-10 minutes just to heat the peppers. Return the rest of the charred tomato sauce to a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Spread a few tablespoons sauce on each plate and top with stuffed piquillos. Garnish with a sprig of cilantro and the sour cream lime sauce.

Sour Cream Lime Sauce:
I make a sauce of ¾ cup of sour cream, the juice of one lime, ½ tsp of salt and some chopped cilantro. Stir together and spoon over the peppers when you serve them. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving: Ciabatta Stuffing with Artichoke Hearts & Chestnuts

(Photo via Food network, I will add my own after the Holidays)

This is a recipe that we got from Giada, we just altered it to make it vegetarian by adding vegetable broth and substituting artichoke hearts for the pancetta. If you want to watch Giada make it, here is the link.

This is what I look forward to every Thanksgiving! It is by far the best stuffing I have ever had and I am convinced that it is the best I will ever have! Trust me! The artichokes and ciabatta make it unbelievably savory and delicious! I am "Thankful" for it!


6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter

2 large onions, finely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped

3 celery stalks, finely chopped

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves

3 garlic cloves, chopped

2 (7.4-ounce) jars roasted peeled whole chestnuts, coarsely broken

1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

1 pound day-old Ciabatta bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes

2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1 cup (or more) canned vegetable broth

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 large eggs, beaten to blend

14 oz. Jar Artichoke hearts


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Butter a 15 by 10 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Melt the butter in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, artichoke hearts, rosemary, and garlic. Sauté until the onions are very tender, about 12 minutes. Gently stir in the chestnuts and parsley. Transfer the onion mixture to the large bowl. Add the bread and Parmesan and toss to coat. Add enough broth to the stuffing mixture to moisten. Season the stuffing, to taste, with salt and pepper. Mix in the eggs.

Transfer the stuffing to the prepared dish. Cover with buttered foil, buttered side down, and bake until the stuffing is heated through, about 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the top is crisp and golden, about 15 minutes longer.

Thanksgiving: Roasted Vegetables

(Photo via Google, I will add my own photo after the Holidays)
~Brussels Sprouts, cut in half
~Sweet potatoes, cut in chunks
~Fennel, sliced
~Onions, sliced
~small colorful Carrots, whole

~Olive Oil to drizzle
~Salt and Pepper to taste
~Herbs de Provence
~Balsamic Vinegar to lightly drizzle

Lay all the vegetables on a cookie sheet. Then I drizzle olive oil all over them and add salt and pepper and sprinkle on the Herbs de Provence. (My favorite dried herb mixture!)

Then roast them in the oven at 400 degrees for around 30-45 minutes. Just check them by poking them with a fork to see if the middle is soft.

Finally, when you take them out and lightly drizzle them with Balsamic Vinegar...Heaven!!!

Thanksgiving: Pomegranate &Persimmon Salad

(Photo via Food network, I will add my own after the Holidays)
This is a salad that my mom made up it is the perfect, fresh fall salad that everyone needs to have on Thanksgiving! What is more fall than pomegranates, persimmons and pears? It is so delicious!

1/2 cup cranberry juice

1 Tablespoon Sherry vinegar

3 Tablespoons canola oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 large bunches Mache

1 small head radicchio, torn into 2-inch pieces

1 Fuyu persimmon, cut into thin slices

1 Red Bartlett pear, halved, cored, and cut into thin slices

6 fresh figs, halved

1 small pomegranate, peeled, seeds removed and separated

1/2 cup walnut halves, candied in 2 Tbsp sugar

In a small saucepan over high heat, reduce the cranberry juice until 1 to 2 tablespoons remain. Let cool. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, reduced juice, and oil and season, with salt and pepper. Place the Mache, radicchio, persimmon slices, pear slices, and figs in a bowl.

Add the vinaigrette and gently toss together. Place on individual salad plates. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and walnut halves and serve immediately.

Thankgiving: Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes

(Photo via Google, I will add my own after the Holidays)

I love Ina Garten's Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes Recipe! Yum, this is getting me so hungry! Why are they so good? I just love them! I usually skip the gravy but this year I am going to try to make a vegetarian one so I will post it if it turns out to be yummy!


  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds boiling potatoes
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


In a large pot, bring 2 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon of salt to a boil. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and cut them into 1 1/2-inch cubes. Add them to the boiling water and bring the water back to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes fall apart easily when pierced with a fork.

Meanwhile, heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan, making sure it doesn't boil. Set aside until the potatoes are done.

As soon as the potatoes are tender, drain them. Mash them with a masher and then a hand mixer, but not too much, I still like them kind of chunky. As soon as the potatoes are mashed, stir in the hot milk mixture. Add enough buttermilk to make the potatoes creamy. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and the pepper, and serve hot.

Thanksgiving: Pumpkin Cheesecake

(Photo via Google- I will add mine after the Holidays)

What I look forward to every Thanksgiving? This Pumpkin Cheesecake is easily the biggest hit of Thanksgiving in our home! It is so rich and creamy and the flavor is unbelievable! I LOVE it so!


1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup melted butter

2 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp cinnamon


12 oz cream cheese

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 Tbsp flour

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup pumpkin

2 eggs + 2 egg yolks


1 1/2 cups sour cream

2 Tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

Instructions: Make crust and place in pie tin. Beat filling together and pour into crust. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Spread topping on and bake for 10 more minutes. Chill.

Thanksgiving: French Silk Pie

(Photo via Google, I will add my own after the Holidays)

This is such a crowd pleaser, it gives you that chocolate fix but it is in the form of a pie that feels more festive! You can't leave without having a slice of this yummy pie!


1 cooled pie crust

3 oz melted unsweetened chocolate

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup butter

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

3 eggs

Fresh Whipped cream

Chocolate curls (made with a Hershey bar and a potato peeler)

Instructions: Beat sugar and butter for 4 minutes until light and fluffy. Beat in melted chocolate and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating on medium speed for 2 minutes between each addition, scraping sides of the bowl constantly.

Turn into shell. Chill several hours. Garnish with cream and chocolate curls.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Eggplant Parmesan: My Current Obsession!

When I say obsession, I am not using that word lightly!!! I think about this eggplant parmesan basically everyday, and when I make it, that is all I want to eat...I could pretty much eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner! I just love it so much and it is so satisfying and delicious! And it almost tastes better to me the next day after it settles together. So, this is a must try! Even if you or your family "thinks" you don't like will love this. I slice the eggplant so thin and that gives it great texture. Trust is perfection!
So, there are a few ways to do this. If you are including roasted vegetables, then it is great to use a pan and just start layering (I often use leftover roasted vegetables from the night before so I don't even have to do that step, which is nice!) But if you are doing just eggplant, it is kind of fun and fancy to do it like a little Eggplant Napolean, pictured below. Just cook in a dish and layer the circular breaded eggplant with the sauce and cheese and then bake in the oven and each person is served there own Napolean.
If I am doing just Eggplant Napoleans, I like to lightly drizzle the breaded eggplant with balsamic vinegar and then layer and cook. It just adds an extra depth of flavor.

*I usually just throw it together so these are approximate measurements.

~1 large eggplant, sliced very thin

~For Breading Eggplant: One plate of parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, salt and pepper and fresh basil to dip eggplant in, one plate of flour to dip eggplant, one bowl of a couple eggs, beaten to dip eggplant in.

~Olive oil, for frying the eggplant

~A variety of vegetables, (roasted in the oven in olive oil, herbs de provence, salt and pepper, and drizzled with balsamic vinegar after they are done. Love it with fennel, squash, zucchini, onions, cauliflower, whatever you have) *optional

~About 3.5 or 4 cups or more of Your favorite marinara sauce recipe or just some from the store is fine, my favorite is the Trader Joe's Tuscano Marinara in the can.

~About 3 cups Shredded Mozzarella, or less if you want

~A little Smoked mozzarella, *optional (This adds an extra unique and yummy, smokey flavor)

~Parmesan Cheese

~Salt & Pepper to taste
Slice eggplant very thin, in circles or half circles. Place three plates or shallow bowls on the counter. One with a mound of flour. Two with a couple eggs, beaten. Three with a mound of parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, salt and pepper and fresh herbs, like basil.
Dip the eggplant in the flour, then the eggs, then the parmesan mixture. Then fry until golden brown in a pan with hot olive oil. Remove and place of paper towel to drain.

**Often times I don't have bread crumbs, so I just use flour and parmesan cheese. Also, I have done it for my sister-in-law who can't eat gluten, with just eggs and parmesan cheese! It all pretty much tastes the same! So this is a great *GLUTEN-FREE option!
These bits of eggplant are so yummy just like this! So make extra to snack on! My other sister-in-law just made these, brought them to a party and served them with marinara dip and ranch (kind of like mozzarella sticks). They were a hit!
Layer sauce, roasted vegetables, cheese, eggplant, sauce, cheese, etc. Then Bake in the oven at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. Let it sit for 10 minutes before you cut and serve.
Micah was begging me for days to make Eggplant "K"armesan!
I finally did and he was loving it!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Chewy Soft Pretzels

I got this recipe from my mom. Every time we have made these pretzels, they have turned out impeccably! They are even better than those yummy pretzels at the mall! And we are big fans of hot pretzels in this house, so that is saying a lot! They are hot and chewy and they have that really great pretzel flavor! Plus they are so fun to make with the kids! They LOVE it! (See picture excited!) Such a fun activity for them! It seems a little complicated but as soon as you make them once you will see how easy it is! And think, why haven't I been making these for years?
Makes 8 pretzels

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
7/8 to 1 cup warm water*
3 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 cup warm water
2 tablespoons baking soda
3 Tablespoons melted butter
Coarse salt or Cinnamon & Sugar
Place all of the dough ingredients into a bowl and beat until well combined. Knead the dough, by hand or machine, for about 5 minutes, until it is soft, smooth, and quite slack. Lightly flour the dough and place it in a plastic bag; close the bag, leaving room for the dough to expand, and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 500°F. Prepare two baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper.
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and divide it into eight equal pieces. Allow the pieces to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes. While the dough is resting, combine the 1/2 cup warm water and the baking soda, and place it in a shallow bowl or pie plate. Make sure the baking soda is thoroughly dissolved; if it isn't, it will make your pretzels splotchy.

Roll each piece of dough into a long, thin rope (about 28 to 30 inches long), and twist each rope into a pretzel. Dip each pretzel in the baking soda wash (this will give the pretzels a nice, golden-brown color), and place them on the baking sheets. Allow them to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Bake the pretzels for 8 to 9 minutes, or until they're golden brown. I only bake one baking sheet at a time and let the other rest while the first is in the oven.
Remove the pretzels from the oven, and brush them thoroughly with the melted butter. Then sprinkle on the kosher salt or cinnamon & sugar! And Enjoy!

*Use the greater amount in the winter, the lesser amount in the summer, and somewhere in between in the spring and fall. Your goal is a soft dough.

Jade's Heart Pretzel

Lemon-Artichoke Orzotto

This is one of my favorite "go to" recipes. It's easy, fast and really delicious! And it is one of Mitch's favorites, he loves the texture of orzo! It is one of those recipes that you can pretty much substitute whatever you have in your kitchen and it will still turn out beautifully! I love it with mushrooms, roasted fennel, squash, pretty much anything! The way you cook it is risotto style, but orzo isn't as temperamental, and I actually prefer the mild pasta flavor as opposed to the rice. So, you get the same depth of flavor cooked into the pasta, but in a much easier, fail-proof way! This recipe is adapted from a Kelsey Nixon recipe and I just love it!

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 cups orzo
3 cups vegetable broth (made from knorr vegetable bullion)
1 can artichoke hearts, chopped
a handful of chopped sundried tomatoes
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 Tbsp butter
Juice of 1 lemon
A couple Tablespoons of Heavy Cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, add garlic. Add the orzo and toast for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes and sauté for a few minutes. Gradually add the vegetable broth and cook until absorbed.
Bring to a simmer, lower the heat, and cover. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until the liquid is almost absorbed and orzo is tender. Remove from the heat.
Stir Parmesan, fresh basil, lemon zest, butter, and lemon juice. Season the orzo with salt and pepper, to taste, and serve. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Chocolate and Coconut Milk Cake

This is not my recipe or photo for that matter, but I made this cake with my mom and it was insane!!! So so good! I love coconut and I love chocolate and this is just a little piece of heaven! I got the recipe off my friend, Rachelle's blog, who I trust like no one else when it comes to delicious treats, and she got it off of this blog.

Chocolate and Coconut Milk Cake

2 ounces semisweet chocolate
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup boiling water
6 TBS butter, melted
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup coconut milk
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
toasted coconut (for topping, optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Line bottom of 9" pan with round of parchment paper, butter paper, and sides of pan.

Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot water and cocoa powder. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

In a bowl add flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat butter and sugar until combined. Add eggs (adding one at a time) until thickened slightly and light colored (about 3 minutes). Slowly add coconut milk, and melted chocolate mixture, beating until combined well. Add flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined.

Pour batter into pan, and bake in middle of oven until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes.

Cool cake completely before frosting.

Chocolate Coconut Buttercream
3/4 cup butter
2/3 cup cocoa powder
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2c-3/4 cup coconut milk,
1/2 tsp - 1tsp pure coconut extract

Beat butter, cocoa, powdered sugar, and coconut extract, and add coconut milk a little at a time until you reach a consistency you like.

Top with coconut flakes and toast it for a few minutes at 450° if you like.

Tomato Basil Soup

I just LOVE fall! And one thing I always look forward to is this comforting tomato basil soup on a brisk evening. And I could eat this soup for dinner at least once a week in the fall, it is just so delicious!!!


4 carrots, chopped

1 stalk of celery, chopped

1-2 large onions, chopped

3 tsp. minced garlic

1 Tablespoon dry basil

1/3 cup olive oil

3 – 28 oz cans Italian-style tomatoes

1 – 14 oz vegetable broth

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

4 Tbsp fresh basil

a dash of cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper

Chopped Fresh Basil to top

Fresh Grated Parmesan to top

Instructions: In a large pot, sauté the olive oil, carrots, and onions at medium heat for 12 minutes.

Add the dry basil, salt, pepper, and tomatoes and bring to a simmer, simmer 20 minutes. Add the broth to the pot, bring to a boil, and then simmer for 45 minutes. Puree in a blender while adding the fresh basil, add cream and simmer. Enjoy!!!