Sunday, December 26, 2021

Five Brunchmas Dishes!


I had high hopes to make a really special new Brunchmas dish this week, but time got the best of me. I was too busy doing last minute shopping, wrapping, decorating, baking, and cooking up non-blog dishes.

So, here is a recap of some of the dishes I think would be Brunchmas-worthy!

Click on the recipe title to be directed to the original post with the recipes!

Ottolenghi's Shakshuka It certainly fits the bill as far as representing all the Christmas colors, right? The red and green and front and center and the dish is healthy, light, fresh, and delicious. Plus, it's gorgeous and can be served family style or individual.

Giada's Breakfast Tart and Fruit Salad with Honey-Lime Syrup I made this breakfast tart years ago, but I still remember it fondly. Pancetta, mascarpone, Gruyere, and green onions really make a flavorful taste sensation! Plus, the recipe is kinda perfection! Giada's Fruit Salad with Honey-Lime Syrup was a wonderful accompaniment and let's face it....fresh fruit isn't what it's meant to be during the winter months so the honey-lime syrup really brings it all to life!

 Ina's Tri-Berry Oven Pancakes No one really wants to stand by the stove flipping pancakes on Christmas day, so Oven Pancakes or Dutch babies are perfect for Brunchmas! Ina Garten's recipe is the perfect choice for Christmas Day! Serve family-style or individual and have a nice selection of fruits.
Herbed-Baked Eggs These Herbed-Baked Eggs are hands down the easiest way to do any brunch, while also making something that feels special. All you need is a baking dish and some butter and cream. Crack your eggs into the dish and then top with various herbs, cheese, and garlic. These could be personalized to suit all tastes and flavor profiles! Love them!
Winter Citrus Tart w/ Rosemary Whipped Cream  Look no further if you need a special wintery brunch dessert because Curtis Stone's Winter Citrus Tart with Rosemary Whipped Cream is perfect for the holidays! I mean oranges are all the rage at Christmastime, right? They are juicy and delicious and in season! Plus, we decorate with them, we make simmer pots with them and we make desserts and cocktails with them! This is THE PERFECT and easy dessert for your Brunchmas.
Plus, it's worth mentioning that this glorious dessert takes only a mere handful of ingredients: puff pastry, orange marmalade, oranges, cream, and rosemary! It is the epitome of easy, beautiful, and delicious! Everyone will be so impressed!

I hope everyone celebrating had a wonderful and Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Ina Garten's Jam Thumbprint Cookies.


My mom and I used to make a jam thumbprint cookie like this when I very young. I believe ours were rolled in crushed walnuts before placing jam in the center. In truth, I think I like that version the best, both for nostalgia and also for taste, however these are lighter and sweeter and definitely delicious in their own right!

Ina's thumbprint cookies have a shortbread base, which goes over real well with my husband who loves all things shortbread! As mentioned above, Ina also rolls her cookies in coconut flakes before inserting the jam in the center, which really lightens things up from the typical nutty version, and I think creates an altogether different background.

Ina wrote the recipe for both raspberry and apricot jam, but I have a huge variety of jams, jellies, and preserves and with the coconut flavor in mind I wanted to create somewhat of a more tropical version so I chose some mango preserves. That combination was not for my husband, so he wanted to have just plain strawberry for his. I went with some strawberry-rhubarb perserves, but shh....don't tell him and he won't even know.

The dough has to chill and it is somewhat finicky to roll into balls, cracking and what not, but it is not that bad as the warmth of your hands makes the dough balls nice and smooth. They take a quick dip in an egg wash, then a roll in the coconut flakes, then you make an indentation with your finger and insert the jam before baking.

These cookies are light and sweet with just a hint of coconut flavor. I like both the mango and the strawberry-rhubarb flavors, but in my opinion, the mango goes so much better with the coconut. The funny thing is, my husband agreed! He said I could've made them all mango.

I think these would make for a great addition to your holiday cookie collection! So many of  holiday cookies are rich and decadent and these feel like and fruity and refreshing in comparison. These are a wonderful and welcome change.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all who are celebrating!


 Jam Thumbprint Cookies

Adapted from Food Network

by Ina Garten

Makes 32

3/4 pound (3 sticks) butter, at room temperature

1 cup suagr

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

7 ounces sweetened flaked coconut

Raspberry and/or apricot jam (or any jam you like)*

Preheat the oven to 350F. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddles attachment (or with an electric mixer because you don't have a paddle attachment), cream together the butter and sugar until they are just combined and then add the vanilla. Separately, sift together the flour and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Mix until the dough starts to come together (mine didn't, probably because I didn't have the right paddle attachment, but I just used my hands and that worked too). Dump on a floured board and roll together into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough into 1-1/4 inch balls (if you have a scale they should each weight 1 ounce). Dip each ball into the egg wash and then roll it in coconut flakes. Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet and press a light indentation into the top of each with your finger. Drop 1/4 teaspoon of jam into each indentation. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the coconut is golden brown. Cool and serve.

 Land Of Sweets Theme @ IHCC

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Festive Appetizers For The Holidays!

There are so many wonderful festive holiday appetizers! I had planned to share a new one with you all today, but it just wasn't in the cards. I pulled a muscle in my back earlier in the week and it was starting to improve until Saturday night when the tornadoes wrecked havoc all over Kentucky. I woke up at 2:22 in the morning to sirens blaring and the weatherman shouting that "tornadoes were imminent and spotted nearby, moving a mile a minute." He kept shouting "seek shelter immediately." Well, it put the fear of God in me and let's just say I moved my 46 year old body way too fast, re-injuring my back somewhere in the panic of seeking shelter immediately. I can't even complain about my back though because we are all safe. There are too may who cannot say the same.

So, I will count my blessings and rest my back and share TWO FESTIVE APPETIZERS that I think would make a great addition for any holiday party! First up is Ruth Reichl's Retro Baked Cheddar Olives, followed by Ina Garten's Kielbasa with Mustard Dip. Both dishes would be the hit of any party and both would be great served warm or at room temperature!

Everyone needs some delicious and easy appetizers up their sleeve for the holiday season and these are just the thing. No fuss, no muss. Just make them, serve them, and you're golden! Click on the recipe title to be directed to the recipe!

                                                  Ruth Reichl's Baked Cheddar Olives

A retro appetizer if there ever was one, these Baked Cheddar Olives are unique and addictive! I think they would make the most wonderful festive appetizer for your holiday party. The green olive with the red pimento center brings the colors of the season to the table and baked cheddar coating is just like those cheese crackers everyone loves.These tasty pop-in-your-mouth goodies will be the talk of the party!

If you're in the mood for something a bit more substantial, or something that is rather dip-worthy, then Ina's Kielbasa with Mustard Dip is totally the move! Those savory and flavorful kielbasa nuggets go so well with the zippy mustard dip. It's like a burst of flavor in your mouth! I made these for the first time a little over a year ago and I bet I've made this 15 times since then. These would be a total hit at any get together or party!

Festive Appetizers @ IHCC!

Sunday, December 5, 2021

The Notorious Hot Buttered Rum {{It's Cocktail:30 #2}}


Have you ever drank butter? I haven't. Until today! 

I've always wanted to try the notorious Hot Buttered Rum. It just seems like THE ULTIMATE winter cocktail, both nowadays and way back when. If a drink has that much notoriety then it just has to be good.

I start with some Carta Negra rum, otherwise known as black rum. Black rum is aged in barrels, is darker in color, and some say has deeper, richer flavor. 

Then you need some butter. Yes, you are going to drink butter. Just get over it and try not to think about it. People have been doing it for hundreds of years.

Now, I did some research and there are a couple different methods for making a Hot Buttered Rum. Some melt the butter in a pan with the spices, then add the rum and the water. Others make a butter mixture, place the butter in the bottom of the glass or mug, heat the rum and water in a pan and simply pour it over the butter. I did the latter option, but I really don't see it making a difference in the end. The butter will melt either way. 

Most recipes flavor the butter with sugar or honey, cinnamon, cloves, and sometimes vanilla. I think this is something you can really make your own. Once I saw the addition of vanilla there was simply no turning back. I had to have the vanilla.


I began with about a tablespoon of room temperature butter in a small bowl. I have to admit I was a little queasy thinking about drinking that tablespoon of butter in a drink, but I was committed. I added a pinch of cinnamon, a teaspoon and a half of brown sugar, and some vanilla bean paste to taste. I mixed it up and added it to the bottom of my glass toddy mug. Then I added about 1 cup of water and 1.5 ounces of black rum to a pan and heated it up until it was close to boiling. I poured the rum and water mixture over the butter, stirring with a spoon, and garnished with a cinnamon stick.

I have to admit that at first I wasn't sure, mostly because the rum was very strong. However, I am a total lightweight and pretty soon I started to feel my cheeks heat up and a rather pleasant calm settle over me. I have to admit to really loving this drink. If you're a lightweight like me, one will do!

Just like the Hot Toddy, the Hot Buttered Rum is like a giant hug, warming you up from the inside out. I'm not lying, these types of drinks will really warm a girl up!

I see many Hot Buttered Rums in my future! 

I'm going to give this 4.5/5! I think if I play around with it enough I can get it to a 5/5!



Hot Buttered Rum

Adapted from

by Jamie Oliver

Serves 1

1.5-2 ounces black rum

1-1/2 teaspoons brown sugar

3 cloves, (optional)*

small knob of butter

pinch of cinnamon, or to taste

vanilla, to taste

cinnamon stick, to garnish

freshly grated nutmeg, to garnish

Note: I chose option#2 below.

Option#1: Over a low heat, melt the butter in a pan with the sugar and spices. Turn off the heat and add the rum and stir well. Pour the contents through a sieve into a mug or toddy glass and top with hot water, to taste. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and grated nutmeg.

Option#2: Mix up the butter, brown sugar, cloves, cinnamon, and vanilla in a small bowl. Using a spoon, gather up the butter and place into the bottom of a mug or toddy glass. Heat the rum and the water (I used 1.5 - 2 ounces rum to 1 cup water). Heat the rum/water to the desired temperature and pour over the butter, into the mug, stirring to combine. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and grated nutmeg.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Naughty and Nice Cinnamon Bourbon Hot Toddy {{It's Cocktail:30 #1}}


I've decided my goal is to make the naughty list for once. I'm burnt out on being nice. It's no fun! So, for the next 8 weeks (and maybe even after), I'm making NOTHING BUT COCKTAILS! 

Over at I Heart Cooking Clubs, we are sharing ingredients that we are thankful for this week and I AM THANKFUL FOR ALCOHOL! Woohoo! Yes, I said it. This year is worse than last year and I have been weighed down with stress and anxiety lately. A well-mixed cocktail is just the thing to help you relax and unwind at the end of a trying day.

I have always wanted to learn the art of bartending, so I'm going to be researching cocktails and experimenting for the next several weeks. At the same time, my son's sports schedule has us traveling every weekend so that there is zero time for cooking and blogging all day. So, welcome to Cocktail:30 for the next 8 weeks! 

What do I mean by Cocktail:30? I just mean it's time for a drink! What are we making for our first Cocktail:30 recipe? Well, a Hot Toddy, of course! Now, I DO NOT enjoy Christmas. I don't enjoy all the money, time, and stress. I think it has become completely out-of-hand! Also, I'm a total introvert so I don't enjoy all the parties, concerts, potlucks, or secret santas.


I'm being a touch sarcastic with that mug. I am already knee-deep in wrapping paper and bubble wrap, wrapping and packaging gifts that need to be mailed now so they arrive in time. I need something to help warm me up and relax a little.

Now, I've never made a Hot Toddy before and I've never had one either! I research Hot Toddy recipes and see that it's basically a quick tea made with water, cinnamon/spices, and some kind of honey/sugar, and citrus. Then you simply add the hot water to bourbon or whisky have a Hot Toddy!

I chose Tieghan Gerard's Naughty and Nice Cinnamon Hot Toddy from her Half-Baked Harvest blog. I boil the water, the cinnamon, the citrus, and the honey. I could literally drink that on its own without the bourbon, but I add an ounce and a half of the Maker's and was pretty stout! 

I had to add a touch more honey and squeeze some more citrus into it before it was palatable for me. I think everyone will take their Hot Toddy a different way. You definitely have to customize it to your tastes. I can't say it's my favorite drink, but I would definitely drink it if I was feeling under the weather because everyone says a Hot Toddy does wonders if you're sick. I can see how it would do just the trick if you were suffering with a cold or flu. It really does warm you from the inside out.

I'd give it a 3 out of 5 rating.


Naughty and Nice Cinnamon Bourbon Hot Toddy 

Adapted from Half-Baked Harvest

by Tieghan Gerard

Serves 1

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon honey

1 small cinnamon stick, plus more for serving

1 orange slice, plus more for serving

1-2 ounces bourbon, depending on your taste

2 teaspoons lemon juice

In a small saucepan, bring the water, honey, cinnamon, and orange slice(s) to a boil. Boil 2 minutes, remove from the heat, and let sit 5 minutes. Stir in the bourbon and lemon juice.

Pour the toddy into a glass. Garnish with an orange slice and cinnamon stick. Enjoy!

I Am Thankful For....@ IHCC

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Dreamy and Decadent Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes with Caramelized Onions {Happy Thanksgiving}!


Do you ever have to give yourself pep talks? Frequently? 

That's me. I have to do that quite often. In the car before work. Every day at 12:30 before 5th grade Math. Before I wash the dishes. Before I put away the laundry. When I have to deal with certain people.

And....before I made this gorgeous BUT TIME CONSUMING recipe!

I had no idea when I chose this recipe that it was going to take AT LEAST 3 HOURS from start to finish, but once I had verbalized it to my family, I committed to it and it had to be done. My family has been asking me to make scalloped/au gratin potatoes from scratch for years so when I saw this recipe for Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes with Caramelized Onions on the Half-Baked Harvest site earlier this week I KNEW I HAD TO MAKE IT. I just didn't realize it was going to take so much time.

Make the caramelized onions. Slice the potatoes. Make sure you have larger potatoes that have similarly-sized slices. Grate the cheese. Make a milk mixture. It all seems easy enough. Layer everything. Layer it again. Layer it again. Bake it for about 2 hours. Remove the foil, add the cheddar cheese, and bake another 20 or so until perfectly bubbly and golden brown. It's largely all baking time, but you know....this is not the type of recipe I typically go for.  

I'm gonna tell ya....this is a total indulgence, BUT IT IS SO SO GOOD! The caramelized onions really make this dish and add so much flavor! If you're looking for a last minute dish for your Thanksgiving table this is it! It would probably be the winning dish.

I found myself frustrated because it was rainy and gloomy outside and by the time the potatoes were done it was dark so the pictures didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped. If you really want to see a good looking dish of scalloped potatoes head over to the Half-Baked Harvest site.


Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes with Caramelized Onions

Adapted from Half-Baked Harvest Blog

by Tieghan Gerard

Serves 8-10

3 tablespoons butter

1 yellow onion, thinly sliced* 

salt and black pepper, to taste

1/4 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio

1 clove garlic, chopped*

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

1 pinch cayenne

3/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

6 russet or Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/8" thick slices

Preheat the oven to 350F. Melt together the butter and onions in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until softened, about 10 minutes. At this point, you'll want to add the wine and continue to cook another 5 minutes until the onions are deeply caramelized.

Add the garlic and thyme, then season with salt and pepper. Cook another 2 minutes, then remove from the heat.

Butter a 9x13 inch casserole dish. In a large glass measuring cup, combine the cream, milk, a pinch of cayenne, salt, and pepper. Then add the Gruyere cheese. Pour 1/3 of the milk mix into the bottom of the baking dish. Layer in 1/3 of the potatoes, and 1/2 of the onions. Add another 1/3 milk mix, then 1/3 of the potatoes, and then the remaining onions. Add the remaining potatoes, then pour over the last of the remaining milk mix. Try to get the potatoes in an even layer.

Cover and bake 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours. Remove the foil and top with cheddar cheese. Bake another 20 minutes, until the cheese is golden and melty. Serve the dish warm, topped with fresh thyme.

To make ahead: Prepare and bake through step 5, but stop cooking after 2 hours. Let chill, then cover, and keep in the fridge for up to 4 days. Before baking, bring the dish to room temperature, add the cheddar cheese, and bake another 20-30 minutes.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Creamy Tortellini Vegetable Soup


I usually have a tendency to chose indulgent and decadent recipes. For some reason, when I visit the Half-Baked Harvest site, I chose every single recipe designated as lighter and/or healthier. Maybe I've turned over a new leaf, but they are just the ones that look so dang good!

I've been wanting to make Tieghan's Healthier Creamy Tortellini Vegetable Soup for ages. A creamy soup with cheesy tortellini that is loaded with veggies and still somewhat healthy? Yes, please! It just ticks all the boxes for me!One thing I've noticed about Tieghan's recipes is that she goes total ham with the spices and flavorings. This is rather unlike every other cookbook out there because a lot of chefs go light on seasonings, causing me to doctor up recipes myself. I have not had to do this with any of Tieghan's recipes.

For example: Fresh thyme, 1 tablespoon of dried basil, 1 tablespoon of dried oregano, 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. I had about 1/4 cup of herbs and spices! This is what cooking should be. Add to that a cast of onions, carrots, celery, garlic, kale, tomato paste, broth, wine, a splash of cream, fresh herbs, tortellini, and Parmesan and you have one amazing soup! This is my FAVORITE Half-Baked Harvest recipe yet and will most likely be one of my favorite recipes of the year! If you're in need of comfort or warming up, you seriously need to make this! 

P.S. I have wanted a pumpkin casserole dish like the one in the picture for ages, but I didn't want to pay high dollar for one. I found this one at Aldi's for $14.99! If you want one, run and get one. It is very nice quality!

Creamy Tortellini Vegetable Soup

Adapted from Half-Baked Harvest

by Tieghan Gerard

Serves 4-6

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

2-4 cloves garlic, minced or grated

2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves (or 2 teaspoons dried)

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1-2 teaspoons fennel seeds, to your taste

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes

salt and pepper, to your taste

2 tablespoons tomato paste

6 carrots, chopped

4 celery stalks, chopped

1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot

6 cups vegetable or chicken broth

4-6 cups roughly chopped kale

1/2 cup whole milk or heavy cream

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

1 pound fresh cheese tortellini

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the onion and cook 5 minutes, until golden. Add the carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, basil, oregano, fennel, paprika, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook another 5 minutes, until very fragrant. Stir in the tomato paste. Add the wine, broth, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Simmer over medium heat for 20-30 minutes, until the carrots are tender.

About 10 minutes before serving, stir in the kale, cream, Parmesan, and the tortellini.

Serve the soup topped with additional Parmesan and fresh oregano, if desired.

*Instructions for cooking this soup in a slow cooker or instant pot are on the Half-Baked Harvest blog. 

*Sharing @IHCC for Warming Soups and Stews Week!

*Sharing @Kahakai Kitchen for Souper Sundays!

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Lighter Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta {Your New Weeknight Obession}!

  I feel like a see a version of Creamy Cajun Pasta at nearly every single restaurant I go to and it's for good reason, right? We all tend to love that dish. Problem is, it's a cream-based dish that's usually rather unhealthy. 

What makes this version healthier? Well, most versions of Cajun Pasta are loaded with heavy cream and other fattening ingredients. In this dish, Tieghan uses a combination of milk and chicken broth with 2 ounces of cream cheese and a 1/2 cup of Parmesan to make a luxurious and rather decadent sauce. There is no butter and the chicken breast and veggies are sauteed in olive oil. Let me tell you right'd seriously NEVER know that this was a lighter version. It tastes every bit as rich as restaurant versions!

Warning: This dish is swoon-worthy and should come with a warning: be prepared for fights over the leftovers! This kind of dish is right up our alley here in my house and I will confess that my husband and I did literally fight over the leftovers.  

Tips: One thing I've noticed is that Tieghan of Half-Baked Harvest tends to go ham with the spices and flavorings. I am all for that, but if you're not, then you'll want to scale back the Cajun seasoning in this dish and taste as you go. You can always add more, but you can't take it out! Also, my husband loved the radiatore pasta. I used radiatore because it's what Tieghan uses in this recipe and I happened to have a bag on hand. However, I think this would be so much better with farfalle pasta, or maybe even shells or penne. 

One thing I want to say is that I can totally see a shrimp version of this, a kielbasa version of this (okay, not so healthy), and also a veggie version of this. Seriously, make this your own! The point is you have a full-flavor creamy pasta dish that is easy enough and healthy enough to become your new weeknight obsession!

Lighter Healthier Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta

Adapted from Half-Baked Harvest

by Tieghan Gerard

Serves 4-6

1 pound short-cut pasta

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 pound chicken tenders, cut into bite-size pieces

1 tablespoon, plus 1-2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning

salt and black pepper, to taste

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 bell peppers, chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated

crushed red pepper flakes

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup milk

2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, or other herbs

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta al dente, according to package directions. Drain.

In the same pot set over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the onion, chicken, and 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning. Cook until browned all over, about 5 minutes. Spoon the chicken onto a plate.

To the pot, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the bell peppers, and garlic. Cook another 5 minutes until the peppers are soft. Stir in 1-2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning. Add a pinch each of red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Cook another minute, until the spices are fragrant, then pour in the broth and milk. Add the cream cheese. Whisk until smooth. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and cook 5 minutes, until thickened slightly.

Stir in the parmesan. Then toss in the pasta and chicken and cook 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat an stir in the basil. Serve immediately topped with additional basil. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Brown Butter Pumpkin Alla Grigio Tortellini {Happy Halloween}!!

I really wanted to make Half-Baked Harvest's Sage Browned Butter Chicken Pot Pie this week, but necessity and time dictated otherwise. You see, I have this superpower called hoarding and it gets me into trouble. I had no business buying more food until I used up the hoards of Costco-sized tortellini, can after can of coconut milk, can after can of pumpkin, packet after packet of sage, and bag after bag of Parmesan.

True story. At the beginning of the pandemic I was afraid of running out of regular cow's milk, so I found myself buying can after can of coconut milk, 12 cans to be exact. When I hoard things, I don't play around. It's kind of a problem, unless of course, there really is an apocalypse. I will not be caught without.

Interestingly enough, I had obviously thought of coconut milk as a replacement for regular milk, but I HAD NOT thought of it as a replacement for heavy cream, until I read Half-Baked Harvest's post for Brown Butter Pumpkin Alla Vodka Tortellini and she mentioned it and then bang....I was fueled with ideas for using up my hoards of coconut milk.

So, thanks to my hoarding abilities, this glorious and spooktacular dish was able to grace my table on a day when ghosts and goblins came to town and candy was passed out at a spectacular rate. It is a hearty and wonderfully creamy and comforting meal for any day of the week, but would make for a great weekday meal on a busy night. I actually loved it to pieces and can't wait to eat the leftovers for lunch throughout the week.

Tip#1:This recipe was originally made with vodka, but I didn't have any of that so I subbed white wine and changed the title to Brown Butter Pumpkin Alla Grigio Tortellini. I don't really know if that works or not, because my wine didn't have a screw on lid so I felt compelled to drink it all. Which leads me to tip #2.

Tip#2:If you only plan on cooking with wine (and not therefore drinking it) please make sure you get one with a screw top lid so you can keep it for further cooking. This will prevent you from imbibing a touch too much.

Tip#3:I have cooked with pumpkin more this season than any other season and I have some tips concerning leftover pumpkin. DON'T LET IT GO TO WASTE! I have found that leftover pumpkin works very well added to the custard portion of french toast. Doesn't really matter how much you add, it'll be fine! Another way to use up that leftover pumpkin is to simply stir it in to any cream sauce and it'll pair wonderfully! You can also stir that leftover pumpkin into chili.


Brown Butter Pumpkin Alla Vodka Tortellini

Adapted from Half-Baked Harvest

by Tieghan Gerard

Serves 6

3 tablespoons salted butter

 8 fresh sage leaves

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 shallot chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/4 cup vodka, or white wine

1 cup pumpkin puree

salt and black pepper

1/2 cup heavy cream or canned coconut milk

1 pound cheese tortellini

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

In a large skillet, melt together 2 tablespoons butter and the sage. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter is browning and the sage is crisp, 4 minutes. Remove the sage leaves from the butter and set aside.

To the skillet, add the olive oil, shallot, garlic, and oregano. Cook until the shallots begin to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the tomato paste, pumpkin, and red pepper flakes, cook 4-5 minutes, until thickened. Stir in the vodka, or white wine, cook another 2 minutes. Stir in the cream, 1 tablespoon butter, and the parmesan. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm over low heat.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the tortellini and cook according to package directions until al dente. Just before draining, remove 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain.

Add the tortellini to the vodka/wine sauce, tossing to coat. If needed, thin the sauce with pasta cooking water. 

Divide the tortellini among plates and top with crispy sage and parmesan. Enjoy!

Spooktacular Suppers @ IHCC!

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Potato Chip Chicken {Family-Friendly and Gluten-Free}

My son and I have been binge watching the latest season of Locke & Key on Netflix. We have literally been waiting years to catch season 2, thanks to the pandemic. Let me just say, if you have older teens, this does not disappoint. 

I wanted to make something quick, but also something we could watch while binging episodes. Half-Baked Harvest's Potato Chip Chicken fits the bill. It couldn't be any easier, it's kid-friendly, it's delicious, and it's perfect for dipping and dunking while you watch TV.

All you need to do is dip chicken tenders in melted butter, then coat them in a finely crushed combo of cornflakes and potato chips and bake! I love the idea of using various kinds of chips: tortilla chips, BBQ chips, sour cream n' onion name it! 

We loved these potato chip chicken tenders served with some steamed broccoli and some super cheesy and comforting au gratin potatoes. The potato chips give the chicken a light and flaky crispety-crunchety delicious flavor. They are SO GOOD! This is one of those meals that will go on repeat! 

Potato Chip Chicken

Adapted from Half-Baked Harvest Cookbook

by Tieghan Gerard

Serves 6

1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, melted

2 cups finely crushed potato chips

1 cup finely crushed cornflakes

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken tenders

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 375F. Put the melted butter in a shallow medium bowl. Put the potato chip and cornflake crumbs in a separate shallow medium bowl and stir to combine.

Working with one piece at a time, dip the chicken in the butter, allowing the excess to drip off, then dredge through the potato chip-cornflake crumbs, pressing gently to adhere. Place the coated chicken on a baking sheet as you work. Season with seasoned salt and pepper.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the crumbs are golden and the chicken is cooked through. Serve warm. 

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Half-Baked Harvest's Baked Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls

Everyone in my house loves every single buffalo chicken recipe. Buffalo chicken wings, buffalo chicken tacos, buffalo chicken dip, buffalo chicken pizza, and Baked Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls!

These are the perfect tailgate recipe for football season and guess what, they are really pretty healthy! Tieghan of Half-Baked Harvest packs the buffalo chicken filling with TONS of flavor! It starts with shredded chicken and then she adds buffalo sauce, greek yogurt, and lots and lots of herbs like: chives, dill, onion powder, garlic powder, and parsley. Then there's cheddar cheese and blue cheese. I'm telling you, that filling is like a flavor bomb! 

Then you just place some filling in the egg roll wrapper and wrap it up! It's easy peasy. Tieghan bakes her egg rolls, making them much healthier (and every bit as crunchy) as fried egg rolls. These turn out so delicious and flavorful and are great dunked into some more buffalo sauce and/or some ranch.

Best of all, the egg rolls stay hot/warm for a really long time. They are best served straight from the oven while still hot, but they are still delicious when warm or at room temp. We loved them!

Baked Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls

Adapted from Half-Baked Harvest

by Tieghan Gerard

Makes 20-22 egg rolls

1-1/2 cups cooked shredded chicken

1/3 cup plain greek yogurt

1/2 cup buffalo sauce, plus more for serving

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

2 tablespoons dried parsley

2 teaspoons dried dill

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

20-22 square egg roll wrappers

Preheat the oven to 425F. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets. 

In a bowl, combine the chicken, yogurt, buffalo sauce, chives, parsley, dill, onion powder, garlic powder, and a pinch of salt. Stir in the cheeses.

To assemble, spoon 2 tablespoons of filling onto each wrapper. Brush water around the edges of the wrapper, then roll up and place on the baking sheet. Brush each roll lightly with olive oil. Transfer to the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, then flip and cook another 8-10 minutes more, or until the rolls are crisp.

Serve the egg rolls with fresh herbs, buffalo sauce, and plenty of ranch for dipping.

Tailgating Treats @ IHCC

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Pumpkin Spice French Toast with Cider Syrup {Cooking w/ Tiegan Gerard @ Half Baked Harvest}!


Each and every single time Tieghan Gerard of the Half Baked Harvest fame posts something, I pretty much want to stop everything I'm doing and make that recipe right then and there! I own both of her cookbooks and pretty much stalk her on social media, waiting for the next new recipe.

I am so happy we will be cooking along with Tieghan at I Heart Cooking Clubs for the next six months because it will give me the push I need to cook some of the recipes I've bookmarked over the years. You see, I bought both of Tieghan's cookbooks and I've pinned tons of her recipes on Pinterest, but I haven't really made any. I'm somewhat of a procrastinator like that. I kinda need a deadline.

I fussed and fussed over which recipe to choose to share first. Tieghan loves burrata cheese and I pretty much live for burrata so at first it was going to be something burrata. Then I was going to make one of her festive and amazing fall cocktails, like this "I Put a Spell On You" Poison Apple Martini ('s the edible gold glitter for me). I was even tempted to make one of her pasta dishes. But then I got around to looking at her breakfast recipes and well, breakfast is my very favorite.

Everything was making me swoon in total delight, but it's October, and I'm nearing the end of my Fall Break from school, so some celebratory breakfast was in order. Pumpkin Spice French Toast with Cider Syrup....yes, the french toast is stuffed with cream cheese. Yes, it is a total splurge. Yes, it is totally knock-you-out delicious and worth every single last bite.

I made my annual fall trip to Trader Joe's a week or so ago and I bought all the fall things, including a can of pumpkin and their brioche bread. I like to keep that brioche in the freezer for the sole purpose of making french toast. Now, I don't know about you, but I keep apple cider stocked in my fridge all fall season. So I had all the things I needed to make this french toast. I guess it was fate.

I started by making the apple cider syrup. I was a little worried it wouldn't cook down to a syrup consistency but it did. It's so good. I wish I would've doubled the recipe. If you make this, go ahead and double the recipe. I definitely will from now on.

Then I mixed up the custard for the french toast: eggs, milk, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt. Tieghan says that you can cut into your french toast and stuff it with cream cheese prior to dunking in the custard and frying, but I chose to spread the cream cheese (needs to be room temp) on top of one piece of french toast and then sandwich it with a second piece. Either way, you can't go wrong.

THIS PUMPKIN SPICE FRENCH TOAST WITH CIDER SYRUP WAS INCREDIBLE! It had a lot going on: sweet, tangy, creamy, a little salty, and a little crispety-crunch on the edges. I ate both pieces and then I had to have a third piece. I HIGHLY SUGGEST you make this sometime this season! It's a 10!

Cream Cheese Stuffed Pumpkin Spice French Toast with Cider Syrup

Adapted from Half Baked Harvest

by Tieghan Gerard

Serves 6

French Toast

1 loaf brioche bread, sliced into 1" thick slices

8 ounces cream cheese (optional)

4 eggs

1-1/2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1 tablespoon vanilla

1-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

butter, for greasing

Cider Syrup

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1 cup apple cider

2 tablespoons salted butter

Note: You definitely want to double the cider syrup recipe! It is so good! Also, you can cut into your french toast and stuff it with cream cheese, but that is a lot harder than simply spreading it onto one cooked piece of french toast and topping with another. I do it using the later method because I like easy!

For the french toast: If using cream cheese, slice 3/4 of the way through the bread to create room for the cream cheese, leaving the top portion of the bread whole. Gently smear the cream cheese inside, then gently push down to seal. It does not have to be perfect.

In a shallow, medium size bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin, milk, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and salt until combined. Dip the stuffed bread into the egg mixture, allowing each side to sit for 1-2 minutes in the egg mixture. The bread can sit in the egg mix up to overnight, if desired (this overnight stuff never works well for me).

When ready to cook, heat a large skillet over medium heat and coat with butter. When the skillet is hot, cook the bread in batches (do not overcrowd) until golden and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove and serve immediately drizzled with the cider syrup. 

Cider Syrup: Add the maple syrup and apple cider to a medium size sauce pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the mixture has reduced by half and is syrupy. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Keep warm until ready to serve or store in a glass jar and warm over the stove before serving with the french toast. 

Welcome Half Baked Harvest!