Do you have one of those recipes in your back pocket that works for just about any occasion? Mine is so simple it’s almost embarrassing: Rice Krispy Treats! It’s the one thing that I always get asked to make for friends’ parties. For a recent holiday party I decided to add a fresh twist to my classic recipe and make a Neapolitan version with classic flavor layers of chocolate, strawberry and vanilla ice cream. It takes just a simple modification of the  traditional Rice Krispy Treat recipe, full instructions below:

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Following the traditional instructions to make Rice Krispy Treats, prepare the ingredients and press a layer of the classic flavor into a lightly greased baking pan. Work quickly to add the next layer so they don’t cool too much — the strawberry layer is exactly the same recipe as the classic Rice Kripy Treat, but when you’re melting the butter and marshmallows together you want to add in 4 drops of pink food coloring and 1 tsp of strawberry extract (you can usually find these near the vanilla extract in the baking aisle!). Press the strawberry mixture directly on top of the classic layer. Next, make the chocolate layer with the same classic recipe, but mix in Cocoa Krispies in lieu of Rice Krispies. Then, pour the Cocoa mixture on top of the Strawberry layer and cover with a large piece of parchment paper. Use a rolling-pin to roll over the parchment paper and press the layers down. Set them aside and let cool completely to solidify. When you’re ready to serve them, flip the baking dish upside down with the parchment paper on the table, slowly lift the dish up and reveal the compressed layers. All that’s left to do is to cut them up into squares with a serrated knife, and try not to eat them all in one sitting!

This weekend I was in major need of some comfort after a long string of holiday parties and maybe a few too many glasses of champagne (shh!).  My usual go-to comfort food is a bowl of pasta, but I decided to mix it up this time and try a savory chicken dish with a creamy sun-dried tomato sauce, lots of sautéed mushrooms and shallots, and a little crispy bacon and goat cheese just to amp up the richness. Full recipe below if you’re in need of comfort food too!
Cream Sun Dried Skillet Chicken Creamy Sun Dried Skillet Chicken 1 Creamy Sun Dried Skillet Chicken 2 Creamy Sun Dried Skillet Chicken 4 Creamy Sun Dried Skillet Chicken 3

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 large chicken breasts
  • 2 large Portobello mushroom caps
  • 2 small shallots
  • 2-3 slices of thick cut bacon
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil (reserve oil)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup of light cream
  • 1 tbsp of goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan, plus extra for garnishing
  • 2 sprigs of fresh tarragon
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions:

  • Heat a large cast iron skillet on high and drizzle with olive oil.
  • Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and brown in the hot pan on both sides.
  • While the chicken is browning, roughly chop mushrooms, shallots, bacon and sun-dried tomatoes; mince garlic.
  • Remove chicken from pan when cooked through,  add 1/2 tbsp of the sun-dried tomato oils  and 1 tbsp of butter to the pan, then toss mushrooms, shallots, bacon, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes and sauté mixture. (Scrape the pan to loosen any browned bits from the pan).
  • Lower heat to medium and stir in 3/4 cup of light cream, 1 tbsp of goat cheese, and 1/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese; stir continously to break down the cheese and incorporate the tomatoes flavors with the cream.
  • Add the chicken back to the pan while the sauce cooks and thickens.
  • Remove from heat, garnish with fresh parmesan cheese and torn tarragon leaves.
  • Try serving over pasta or a bed of spinach.

This weekend I was busy testing some recipes for Thanksgiving ideas (and blog posts!) and the best thing ever that can happen when you’re cooking occurred: I had leftover stuffing. My family has a special little trick for leftover stuffing, we use it to make a little breakfast hash. It’s barely a recipe, which is just how breakfast should be made: add a tiny pat of butter to a hot pan and throw in the stuffing and, if you have it, some chopped onions, sausage, bacon — you can’t mess it up! After the mixture cooks together for a few minutes push it the sides to make an opening in the center of the pan. Crack in egg in the center of the stuffing and let it fry up, then slide that whole thing on a plate and dig in! I garnished mine with some fresh chopped green onions, and let me tell you, it was tasty. IMG_4918.JPG

Ready for this little sweet-treat mash-up? I was scheming up something to bring to a birthday party this weekend and saw The Faux Martha’s recipe for apple cider baked donuts.  I wanted to try the recipe out so I decided to make a batch of mini-donuts and pop them on top of classic vanilla cupcakes (I used a box mix for those, no judging!). In case you were curious if topping cupcakes with donuts was a good idea, let me tell you: it was a great idea. And a few leftover donuts for breakfast the day after weren’t too bad either. IMG_4673.JPGIMG_4678.JPGIMG_4680.JPGIMG_4677.JPG

I’ve been trying to be better lately about not wasting food. Cooking for two means we unfortunately sometimes end up tossing out lots of leftovers, so I’ve been challenging myself to be creative with what’s in the fridge and use as much as I can. We had a roasted chicken for dinner this weekend so I was brainstorming ideas for what to make with the extra meat. I whipped up a batch of chicken stock with the bones from the chicken and decided it would make a pot-pie, but in order to use more of the stock and chicken, I made it into a soup instead. I even added a fluffy biscuit for dipping to get the crust flavors. Full recipe below:

Chicken Pot Pie Soup 1
Chicken Pot Pie Soup 3 Chicken Pot Pie Soup 4 Chicken Pot Pie Soup 5

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 small red potatoes
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 yellow onion
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 3 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 cup of half and half
  • 1.5 cups roasted chicken, shredded
  • 1 cup of fresh corn
  • 1/2 cup of frozen peas

Instructions:

Dice red potatoes, carrot, and onions. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Add roasted mixture to a large pot with 1 tbsp of olive oil. As the mixture heats up, stir in flour until it dissolves and coats the vegetables. Add chicken stock and half and half and bring the soup to a low boil. Reduce to medium heat and add in chicken, corn, and peas. Simmer for 15 minutes to blend flavors; add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a warm biscuit for dipping.

I’m super lucky to work so close to Flour Bakery — when I go there for lunch, which is often, I tend stick to the same order each time. This week though, a quiche on their weekly specials board caught my eye: sweet potato and blue cheese. These are two of my favorite flavors, but I never thought to put them together until I saw them on the menu. I ordered the quiche — it was amazing — and left with determination to use this flavor combination in a dish of my own soon. My spin on the Flour Bakery quiche is a sweet potato blue cheese frittata — full recipe below:

Sweet Potato Blue Cheese Frittata 7Sweet Potato Blue Cheese Frittata 1 Sweet Potato Blue Cheese Frittata 2 Sweet Potato Blue Cheese Frittata 3 Sweet Potato Blue Cheese Frittata 4 Sweet Potato Blue Cheese Frittata 5

Ingredients:

  • 1 Large sweet potato
  • 1 Small yellow onion
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1/3 cup of crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Peel sweet potato and dice into small cubes, thinly slice yellow onion and toss with sweet potatoes in a pie dish with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, tossing mixture at the halfway point. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before crumbling 1/3 cup of blue cheese over the roasted mixture. In bowl, whisk 6 eggs with 1/2 cup of milk and 1 tsp of fresh thyme leaves, salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture over sweet potatoes in pie dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

On a recent trip to the farmer’s market, I spotted the cutest little mini eggplants (I learned they’re called fairy tale eggplants) and had to scoop some up to experiment with. Given the warm weather recently, I decided to use them in a summer-temperature-friendly appetizer — eggplant caprese bites. I washed the eggplants and sliced them into thin, 1/4 rounds, then dunked them in a whisked egg batter and dredged them lightly in Italian bread crumbs. Using a large skillet, I browned the eggplant in olive oil, and then let them come up to room temperature while resting on a clean paper towel to remove some of the oil. Then comes assembly time — on a toothpick I stacked up tomatoes, eggplant rounds, halves of mini-mozzarella balls, and fresh basil leaves. Right before I served them I sprinkled the bites with sea salt for a little extra flavor. Aren’t they so bright and cheery?

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After what feels like dozens of hot nights in our apartment, it finally cooled down enough this week that turning on the oven was an option. Getting back into the kitchen was such a good re-charge for me this week, especially with all of the amazing seasonal produce available to play with! I needed some comfort food after a long weekend of partying it up at a friend’s wedding so I went with a pasta dish — something quick and simple. I roasted a small eggplant, a container of quartered grape tomatoes, and two heads of garlic with some EVOO and salt and pepper at 425 degrees for 25 minutes. While that cooked, I made angel hair pasta and tossed it with half a lemon’s juice, torn basil leaves, about a tablespoon each of olive oil and butter, and some parmesan cheese. Once the vegetable mixture was well roasted, I pulled the cloves out of the garlic heads and smash them up with the tomatoes and eggplant, and tossed all of the ingredients together with the pasta and a few tablespoons of reserved pasta water. It totally hit the spot — the roasted garlic infused the eggplant and tomatoes with so much flavor, and all of the ingredients came together for a fresh but hearty meal. 20140729-075547-28547218.jpg20140729-075543-28543386.jpg20140729-075545-28545209.jpg20140729-075544-28544309.jpg20140729-075546-28546026.jpg20140729-075548-28548272.jpg

 

 

I have started a fun little summer challenge: on Tuesdays and Fridays I have been hitting up the Copley Square Farmers Market on my lunch break and try to make a dinner completely out of ingredients from the vendor stands. There is one particular vendor that makes amazing fresh pastas which has been a great base to feature all of the delicious crisp veggies I have been able to get at the market. So farmers market pasta is becoming a new staple.20140713-193838-70718068.jpg

It’s the same process each week: boil water for the pasta and steam the veggies on top. Then in a pan, melt 1 tbsp of butter and sauté the veggies and a few minced shallots: add 1/4 cup of white wine and reduce the mixture. Then toss the pasta in with a few tablespoons of the pasta water and coat with the sauce and vegetables. Then top with a fresh squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper, and Parmesan cheese. This week I made it with English peas, heirloom carrots, and yellow summer squash, but have also tried garlic scapes, zucchini, and broccoli. It’s healthy, local and so tasty! 20140713-193835-70715137.jpg20140713-193836-70716109.jpg20140713-193837-70717091.jpg

A  few weeks back I popped into Olives & Grace in the South End and stumbled upon Sfoglini pastas in the shop. My siblings and I essentially considered everything bagels our main food group for most of our childhood, so I had to grab a bag when I saw they made an everything bagel-flavored pasta. Fast forward to my crawl along the Vermont Cheese Trail a week later when visiting the Cabot tasting room I secured some everything bagel cheddar cheese. It was carb and cheese kismet — frankly it would have been irresponsible not to dream up a way to combine these two everything-bagel-flavored treats.  Sometimes a great idea just presents itself to you, and Everything Bagel Mac & Cheese was one of those great ideas. I modified my usual mac and cheese recipe, and just swapped in the everything bagel flavored ingredients (and just because that wasn’t enough, I crushed up bagel chips in lieu of bread crumbs). I’m a certified crazy person for even thinking something like this up, but oh man was it tasty. (Full disclosure: next time I’d probably hold back on the bagel chips because it tasted a little bit like mac and cheese combined with stuffing due to their texture — not that mac and cheese stuffing sounds like a bad thing). So, there you have it. In case you thought making donuts into s’mores was the fattest idea a person could ever have — I’ve topped myself once again. 20140625-193739-70659660.jpg20140625-193737-70657713.jpg20140625-193740-70660538.jpg20140625-193738-70658704.jpg20140625-193741-70661319.jpg