Sunday, December 10, 2023

Hot Honey Bacon Wrapped Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates


Dates are highly underrated.

I think I spent about 35 years on this planet before I ever had a date. Why? I don't know. Maybe they weren't readily available in the 80's or 90's or maybe nobody knew what to make with them. Or maybe people just overlooked them and only stumbled on delicious date recipes recently. Or maybe everyone knew and I just missed out for years.

Whatever the case, you should put dates on your holiday menu! They are like nature's candy. Sweet and chewy and they go perfectly with some tangy goat cheese all wrapped up in some crispy, salty bacon with a little hot honey drizzled over them. 

These Hot Honey Bacon Wrapped Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates are somewhat of a texture and explosion: chewy, crispy, creamy, sticky, sweet, cheesy, and salty. If you love dates, then these are for you!

Hot Honey Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Dates

Adapted from How Sweet Eats

by Jessica Merchant

Serves 10-20

2o Medjool dates

10 slices bacon

4 ounces goat cheese

hot honey, for drizzling

Preheat the oven to 400F. Slice the dates open lengthwise (do not cut the entire way through!) and remove the pits. Stuff the inside of the dates with some of the goat cheese. 

Cut each slice of bacon into half or thirds (depending on the length of your bacon). You want a length of bacon that will wrap around your dates without overlapping (overlapping bacon won't cook well). Secure with a toothpick. Place the dates on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for easy clean up.

Bake for 10 minutes, then flip the dates over using tongs and bake for 10 minutes more, or until the bacon is crispy and crunchy on all sides.

Remove the dates and drizzle with hot honey. Serve immediately! 


Festive Snacks @ I Heart Cooking Clubs

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Hot Honey Roasted Salmon

 This is such a fun and easy recipe! If you want to hop on the hot honey trend, this is a good way to do it. You don't need to buy any hot honey because you're gonna make it yourself!'s easy peasy. Just honey and thinly sliced jalapeno that simmers for about 5 minutes on the stove-top and you're all set. The honey gets a little spicy and the jalapeno slices get all candied and all kinds of delicious.

 The salmon gets seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and lemon slices, then topped with the hot honey before getting roasted and after. It's the perfect mix of sweet and spicy and those candied jalapenos are tasty as ever.

Give this one a try if you're in the mood to shake things up!


Hot Honey Roasted Salmon

Adapted from How Sweet Eats

by Jessica Merchant

Serves 4

1/2 cup honey

1 jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced

1 (2 pound) salmon filet

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 lemon, thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment. 

Heat the honey and the jalapeno in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Let the honey come to a light simmer then turn off the honey. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Strain the honey through a fine mesh sieve to remove the peppers and the seeds.

Place your salmon filet on the foil and sprinkle it with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Spoon a few tablespoons of the honey on top. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the salmon flakes easily with a fork.

Before serving, drizzle a bit more honey on the salmon and add the peppers if you wish. Serve with an extra spritz of lemon.


Sunday, November 26, 2023

Mark Bittman's Make Ahead Gravy

 Make ahead gravy is an essential part of my Thanksgiving dinner. I make a turkey stock weeks in advance, saving some drippings, so that I can make the gravy a day or two before Thanksgiving.

Once you've got the homemade stock, then the gravy is easy as can be. A stick of butter and an onion, some flour to thicken, and just whisk the gravy in until you have the consistency you desire!

The pack up the gravy, saving a little extra stock so that you can thin the gravy on the big day, and you're all set! On Thanksgiving, simply heat up the gravy in a pan, adding the saved stock to thin if necessary and you're all set.

An essential and delicious part of the Thanksgiving feast that can be made relatively fuss-free and easy as can be! I love this recipe!


Mark Bittman's Make Ahead Gravy
Adapted from The New York Times
Serves 6-8

 1 stick butter

1 chopped onion

1/2 cup flour

salt and pepper, to taste

4 to 5 cups warm chicken or turkey stock

chicken or turkey drippings

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, then add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the flour on the onions, stirring constantly, and cook until flour is golden to brown. Adjust heat so mixture does not burn.

Gradually whisk in 4 cups of stock until mixture thickens and is smooth. If it is too thick, add more stock. Cool. Cover and chill.

When ready to serve, reheat mixture over low heat, stirring. Scrape bottom of chicken or turkey pan and add drippings to gravy. Taste and adjust seasoning, then serve, adding more stock if necessary to thin.

 Pilgrim Plates @ I Heart Cooking Clubs



Sunday, November 19, 2023

Maple Brown Sugar Applesauce

If you're spending a lazy day at home, there is nothing like the smell of homemade applesauce bubbling away on the stove. The scent of fresh apple mingling with the caramel notes of brown sugar and maple syrup is so comforting.

This is an autumn-spiced applesauce with a good dose of cinnamon, clove, ginger, and nutmeg. It's perfect for enjoying all on it's own, with oatmeal, or even with vanilla ice cream and/or yogurt for dessert! 

Maple Brown Sugar Applesauce

Adapted from How Sweet Eats

Serves 4-6

4-6 apples, chopped

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1/8 - 1/4 cup maple syrup*

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of ground cloves

pinch of ground ginger

pinch of nutmeg

vanilla ice cream, if you wish

Notes: I used 6 mini Honeycrisp apples for this, but feel free to use any apple you like. I also decreased the amount of maple syrup by half, but feel free to use the whole 1/4 cup, if you like!

Add chopped apples to a pot and just cover with water. Add sugar, syrup, lemon zest, vanilla and spices and bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered until apples are mushy, about 45-60 minutes. Add more water if needed. Turn off heat and mash apples. Serve as is or with vanilla ice cream.

 Comfort Food @ IHCC

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Sweet Potato Chili Cheese Rounds

  I have been living off of sweet potatoes and chili this fall, so when I saw this dish these Sweet Potato Chili Cheese Rounds it's like it was just made for me!

Jessica of How Sweet Eats mentions that she always seems to have lots of chili in her freezer. Me too! In fact, I had some of her Maple Turkey Chili in my freezer so I thawed it and set about making this recipe. I thought the maple in the chili would be a perfect pairing with the sweet potato rounds, and turns out it was.

If you happen to have chili on hand, then this is a really easy dish. You simply cut and saute some sweet potato rounds until they are golden brown and cooked through. Then you place them into a skillet, top with cheese, broil until the cheese is melted, then top with the warmed chili and toppings. 

It is fast, it is healthy, and it is really delicious and satisfying! I loved this and will be making it again!

Sweet Potato Chili Cheese Rounds

Adapted from How Sweet Eats

by Jessica Merchant

Serves 2-4

2 large sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch rounds

2 tablespoons oil

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

6 ounces mozzarella, grated

1-1/2 cups leftover chili, warmed

1 avocado, sliced

1/3 cup plain greek yogurt

3 green onions, sliced

 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro

Note: You can feel free to make this recipe your own. The recipe was written using fontina cheese, but I used mozzarella. Originally the dish was topped with avocado, greek yogurt, green onions and cilantro but I was working with what I had and just used greek yogurt and chives.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the oil. Place the sweet potato rounds in the oil and cook until crispy, about 6-8 minutes per side. Remove the potatoes from the skillet and place them on a paper towel to remove any excess oil. Season them with the salt, pepper, and paprika.

 Turn on your broiler in your oven. Layer the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet or in a skillet and cover them with the cheese. Broil them until the cheese is golden and bubbly, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately top with the chili, avocado, yogurt or sour cream, green onions and cilantro and serve!

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Puff Pastry Pepperoni Pizza {So Good It's Scary}!

Did you know that you could make pizza with puff pastry? If not, you've been missing out. It is SCARY good how delicious a puff pastry pizza crust is: puffy, flaky, crunchy and oh so easy! 

All you need to do is thaw the puff pastry and then slather it with toppings: pizza sauce, cheese, pepperoni, seasoning, and then some Parmesan! It couldn't be easier! Throw it in the oven at 425 for about 20 minutes and you have a quick and delicious meal that everyone will love. 


Jessica Merchant's blog, How Sweet Eats, is full of different versions of her puff pastry pizzas. There is a breakfast version, a pesto version, one for pickle lovers and my favorite -her Zucchini, Lemon and Goat Cheese Puff Pastry Pizza that I made several times this summer. They are all delicious and quick - perfect for busy weeknights!

Puff Pastry Pepperoni Pizza

Adapted from How Sweet Eats 

by Jessica Merchant

Serves 4-6

2 sheets puff pastry, thawed

1 cup tomato or marinara sauce, your favorite

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

1 cup freshly grated mozzarella cheese

a bunch of pepperoni, to your liking

1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 425F. Place the thawed puff pastry on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.

 Spread the tomato sauce evenly over top, leaving a small border at the edges. Sprinkle on the herbs and garlic, evenly between both sheets. Cover with the cheese and pepperoni. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until super puffed and the cheese is golden. The pastry will look crazy puffed up, but then it will deflate once it is out of the oven. Cover with Parmesan and cut each pastry into 6 slices. Serve! 


Spooky Soiree @ I Heart Cooking Clubs!

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Quick and Easy Maple Turkey Chili

 Have you ever put maple syrup in your chili? I hadn't and guess what? Turns out I had been missing out because the maple syrup adds a depth of sweetness that pairs very well with the savory smokiness of chili! 

Trust me, we loved it! Plus, this is the perfect chili to top your baked sweet potatoes with because the sweetness of the sweet potatoes pair perfectly with the sweetness of the chili!

If you're in the mood for a quick weeknight chili with a touch of sweetness, give this a try! I would definitely make it again!

Quick and Easy Maple Turkey Chili

Recipe adapted from How Sweet Eats

by Jessica Merchant

Makes 4

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt and  pepper

1 pound lean ground turkey

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 (14-ounce) can fire roasted tomatoes

1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 to 3/4 cups chicken stock

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions, peppers and garlic with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add in the ground turkey and another pinch of salt and pepper. Break it apart with wooden spoon and brown it, about 6 to 8 minutes. Once the meat is browned, add in the chili powder, paprika, oregano, cumin and red pepper flakes. Stir and cook for 2 minutes.

Add in the tomatoes, beans, stock, and maple syrup. Bring the mixture to a b oil then reduce it to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips, avocado, sour cream or whatever you love on your chili! 

Chili Cook Off @ I Heart Cooking Clubs+

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Ina Garten's Maple Roasted Honeynut Squash {The Best Autumn Side Dish}!


It turns out my new love is these precious baby honeynut squash. Wowza! They are so delicious...sweet and creamy and just so savory and comforting! I've been eyeing these little honeynut squash in cookbooks for awhile now, but I just saw them at Costco yesterday and I might've squealed. They're so little they fit in your hand and well, I knew instantly that I was making Ina's Maple Roasted Honeynut Squash!

Be careful cutting them in half lengthwise, because it is quite difficult and we don't want any accidents. That would just get in the the way of your complete and total enjoyment of these little precious gems!

 I've seen recipes where you can top these beauties with toasted nuts and/or seeds, cheeses, and all things spicy like chipotle or red pepper flakes. HOWEVER, I would urge you to try Ina's recipe, made simply with: the squash, butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, and salt and pepper. It simply can't be beat. These are just so dang good. They're like addictive good. Sweet and savory, creamy, and just oh so comforting. The little squash cavity holds all the buttery brown sugar goodness and you can just spoon bites and dunk it away. It is insanely delicious. Trust me, because I was meant to eat one half and I ended up eating two halves, or one whole baby squash. If you're a squash lover, please get your hands on these babies and try this recipe. It's heavenly!

Maple Roasted Honeynut Squash

Adapted from Food Network

by Ina Garten

Serves 6

3 honeynut squash (2-1/2 to 3 pounds total)

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, small diced

4 tablespoons light brown sugar

salt and freshly ground black pepper

pure maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 400F. Cut the squash in half lengthwise through the stems. Scoop out and discard the seeds. Place the squash halves on a sheet pan, cut-sides up, distribute the butter and brown sugar evenly among the cavities of each and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, until tender. Drizzle with maple syrup and serve hot. 

Pumpkin Party @ IHCC

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Sheet Pan Suppers #1: How Sweet Eats Tomato Basil Gnocchi


Now that school has been back in session for about a month,  I'm looking for quick, easy, and yummy meals during the week. Sheet pan meals can be tricky since not everything cooks in the same amount of time, but this Tomato Basil Gnocchi from How Sweet Eats is an example of how a sheet pan supper can come together wonderfully!

This Tomato Basil Gnocchi is my formal goodbye to summer. As the temperatures take a big dip here on the east coast, we are harvesting the last of our tomatoes and herbs and getting ready for sweater weather. I gather the last of my basil to make some fresh homemade pesto. 

In ten minutes I can put together this Tomato Basil Gnocchi. All I need to do is toss my gnocchi with the cherry tomatoes and pesto and add some extra virgin olive oil, oregano, basil, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and Parmesan. Give it all a toss and roast it in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

I am always ready for autumn, but it is always hard to let summer go. This recipe has all the flavors of summer with the tomatoes and basil. It also manages to taste both fresh from the tomatoes and herbs but satisfying with the comforting gnocchi. A real winner! I could see myself making this again, maybe even before next summer!

Tomato Basil Gnocchi
Adapted from Everyday Dinners
by Jessica Merchant
Serves 2-4
1 (16-ounce) package uncooked potato gnocchi
nonstick cooking spray
1-1/2 cups grape tomatoes, some cut in half
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pesto
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, plus extra for garnish
1/4 cup freshly shaved Parmesan cheese, for topping
Preheat your oven to 425F. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray. Spread the gnocchi and tomatoes out on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with the olive oil and toss. Spoon on the pesto and toss until everything is coated. Sprinkle with the garlic powder, salt, pepper, oregano, dried basil, and red pepper flakes and toss well to combine everything. Make sure everything, especially the gnocchi, is seasoned well.
Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, tossing once during cook time. Serve the gnocchi immediately. Sprinkle with the Parmesan, additional red pepper flakes, and fresh basil.

Welcome How Sweet Eats @ IHCC!

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Ruth Reichl's Stuffed Pumpkin

 Tis the season for stuffing pumpkins! In the past few weeks I've seen pumpkins stuffed in all sorts of ways, this one is stuffed with bread, cheese, cream, chicken broth, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and baked in the oven for an hour! Some would liken it to a pumpkin soup, while others would think it was more like a gratin of sorts.


The is really more of a method than a true recipe. The amount of filling is truly based on the size of your pumpkin or the number of pumpkins you stuff. Honestly, the main idea is to clean out the pumpkin, stuff it with toasted bread, Gruyere cheese, more bread, more cheese (in layers), and then pour a mixture of chicken broth and cream over the bread and cheese. You need about half an inch of room left at the top for things to expand and you're ready to go in the oven.


This is a very fun and festive autumn project to enjoy on the weekend. Most of the time is is spent with the pumpkin baking away in the oven. 

The pumpkin, bread, and cheese compliment one another perfectly. This is very tasty and comforting, but extremely rich so one small pumpkin would serve 4-6 easily. I can see topping this with some toasted walnuts or maybe some cooked and crumbled sausage. A very pretty fall dish that is fun for the whole family!

Stuffed Pumpkin


by Ruth Reichl

Serves 2-4, depending

1 pie pumpkin (about 4 pounds)

good loaf French bread

Gruyere or Swiss cheese

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup cream

salt and black pepper

*nutmeg, if desired

neutral oil, for coating pumpkin

Buy a fairly small pumpkin (a pie pumpkin is perfect - about 4 pounds) with a flat bottom. Cut off the top, as if you were going to carve a jack-o-lantern, and hollow it out. Spread the seeds out and dry them to eat later.

Now get a good loaf of French bread, cube it, put the cubes on a baking sheet and toast them lightly in a 350 degree oven for about 9 minutes. Leave the oven on.

 Grate a good amount of the one of the Swiss cheese - Emmenthaler, Gruyere or Apppenzeller (the amount you need depends upon the size of your pumpkin. Layer the bread and cheese inside the pumpkin until it's almost full (leave a half inch on the top because the filling will expand a bit).

Mix 1 cup of chicken stock into a cup of cream. Add a teaspoon of salt. Grind in some black pepper and grate in some nutmeg. Then fill the pumpkin almost to the top with as much of this mixture as you need, replace the top of the pumpkin, brush the outside with neutral oil, set it on a baking sheet, and bake for about 2 hours.

Bring the whole pumpkin to the table. When you serve it be sure to scoop out the pumpkin flesh with the cheese and the cream.

September Potluck @ I Heart Cooking Clubs

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Ina Garten's Baked Sweet Potato Fries with The Best Sweet Potato Dipping Sauce


 Dear Ina,

Thank you for your excellent recipe for Baked Sweet Potato Fries. I will be eating them regularly from now until Kingdom Come. It is an excellent recipe that is seasoned well and I LOVE THEM big time!

The reason for my letter is to ask if you've ever dipped your sweet potato fries in this amazing sweet potato dipping sauce. The sauce is a creamy, smoky, and spicy combination of three simple ingredients: mayonnaise, paprika, and Sriracha. The sauce is simply heavenly and pairs perfectly well with your sweet potato fries. Your fries and this sauce = perfection!

Trust me, I should know because I ate the entire batch of sweet potatoes all by myself, dipping and dunking away in complete bliss. Then I turned around and made another batch! Yes, your sweet potato fries with the dipping sauce is that good!

If you don't like things too spicy Ina, then cut back a little on the Sriracha, but do try the sauce. It really is ALL THAT and more. Who knows...this sauce could be all the rage at your next party in the Hamptons! It certainly was a big hit here in Georgetown, Kentucky!

Love and Gratitude,



Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Recipe via Food Network

by Ina Garten

 Serves 3-4

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled

2 tablespoons good olive oil

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for sprinkling

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450F. Halve the sweet potatoes lengthwise and cut each half into 3 long spears. Place them on a sheet pan and toss with the olive oil. Spread the potatoes in one layer. Combine the brown sugar, salt, and pepper and sprinkle on the potatoes. Bake for 15 minutes and then turn with a spatula. Bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, until light browned. Sprinkle lightly with salt and serve  hot. Note: You may wish to bake these on a parchment as the sugar turns dark and sticky and is a little difficult to clean. 





Add everything into a mixing bowl and whisk together until combined.

*Dipping sauce recipe courtesy of The Big Man's World

 Fall Flavors @ IHCC