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While celebrating a special occasion earlier this month, I wanted a dessert that included all four of my favorite sweet-inspired things: chocolate, peanut butter, caramel, and strawberries. The final result? A chocolate lava cake with strawberries inside, topped with peanut butter and salted caramel sauce. Save this recipe for when you really need a pick-me-up.
Chocolate Lava Cake: Serves 6
10 TBSP butter
1 cup chocolate chips (a combination of bittersweet and semi-sweet works best)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
3 large egg yolks
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 medium-sized strawberries, finely chopped
-Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease ramekin or cupcake cups.
-In a medium microwavable bowl, melt chocolate chips and butter in 30 second increments until smooth, stirring in between. Add flour and sugar to mixture, mix until smooth.
-Stir in eggs, yolks, and vanilla until incorporated. Fill each ramekin or cupcake cup halfway full. Evenly distribute strawberry pieces amongst the six cakes. Top with remaining batter.
-Place cups on top of cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Edges should be firm but the center will be runny. Loosen and place inverted on plates to serve. Top with fresh strawberries and powdered sugar.
Peanut Butter Sauce
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light Karo syrup
2 TBSP butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
-Combine heavy whipping cream, sugar, Karo syrup, butter, and vanilla in a saucepan and stir over medium-high meat until all ingredients are dissolved and combined. Remove from heat.
-Let the mixture cool completely, and then add peanut butter and combine thoroughly.
Salted Caramel Sauce
2 cups granulated sugar
12 TBSP unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup heavy cream at room temperature
1 TBSP sea salt flakes
-Heat the sugar over medium-high heat until it starts to melt. Begin whisking sugar (it will clump, keep whisking). Don’t stop until the sugar is completely melted.
-Cook the sugar until it reaches a dark amber color. If you are new to making caramel, use a thermometer – you don’t want it to heat past 350°F.
-Add the butter. Whisk until it is melted. Remove the pan from heat and slowly stir in the heavy cream. Whisk until cream is incorporated and caramel is smooth. Stir in the salt, and let caramel cool for about 10 minutes in pan before serving. Can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for one month.
I love to bake, probably because I find it much more relaxing than actual cooking. It brings up all of those warm, fuzzy memories...even if you've never even made the dish before. That's what happened to me this weekend when I whipped up some blueberry donuts. I never made donuts with my family, but I was reminded of all the breakfasts we did make, mostly pancakes and canned Pillsbury cinnamon rolls. So try this recipe for baked blueberry donuts (much better than fried!) to start off your weekend.
Baked Blueberry Donuts: Yields 12 donuts
-2 1/2 cups cake flour
-2/3 cups sugar
-2 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp cinnamon
-2 large eggs, beaten
-2/3 cups buttermilk
-2 TBSP butter, melted
-1 tsp vanilla
-1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
-3 cups powdered sugar
-1/2 cup milk
-Preheat the oven to 325°F. Coat two 6-well donut pans with nonstick spray.
-In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.Set aside. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, butter, and vanilla. Add to flour mixture and mix with a rubber spatula until just incorporated. Fold in blueberries.
-Using a spoon or a pastry bag, fill each prepared well halfway full with the batter. Bake in preheated oven until donuts begin to darken around the edges, 10 to 14 minutes. Remove donuts from the pan and let cool on rack.
-While the donuts cool, prepare the icing. Put the powdered sugar in a small bowl, and add the milk a spoonful at a time. Mix thoroughly before adding the next spoonful, until the desired consistency is reached. Dunk the top half of the donuts in the icing, and let the icing harden before serving.
I grew up in a small beach town in Maine, so summer to me always meant sitting at the ice cream fountain with a chocolate malted frappe in hand. So you can guess how thrilled I was to find a recipe for chocolate malted cupcakes – taking just one bite made memories from the past come flooding back. So why not celebrate this streak of warm weather with a little summer fun? This quick recipe will make you a dozen of these precious treats.
Chocolate Malted Cupcakes: Makes 12
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup malted milk powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 medium eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup chocolate covered malted milk balls, chopped
Chocolate Malt Buttercream
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, at room temperature
1/4 cup malted milk powder
1/2 TBSP unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 TBSP milk
2 cups confectioner sugar, sifted
Chocolate covered malted milk balls, to garnish
-Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Line standard muffin tin with paper liners. Whisk together flour, cocoa, both sugars, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together milk and malted milk powder until powder is dissolved.
-With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat flour mixture, milk mixture, and oil until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add sour cream and vanilla, and beat just until combined. Fold in crsuhed chocolate covered malted milk balls.
-Divide batter evently among lined cups, filling each halfway. Bake, rotating tin halfway through until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
-While cupcakes are cooling, prepare frosting. In a large mixer bowl, whip the butter and shortening for several minutes until light and fluffy. Sprinkle in malted milk powder and cocoa powder, whip for one minute. Slowly add the powdered sugar a few spoonfuls at a time, letting it incorporate until the frosting becomes thicker and stiff. Add milk, half a tablespoon at a time, and whip until combined.
-Fill a piping bag with frosting and pipe large swirls on top of cupcakes. Garnish with a malted milk ball for extra flair!
The days are longer, scarves and mittens are slowly getting boxed up, and it seems as though spring has finally arrived. The return of warm weather is at once intoxicating and terrifying – many of us are now counting down the weeks until swimsuit season returns. Don’t miss out on flavorful meals just because you’re trying to shed those winter pounds – this salad is packed with fresh fruit, vegetables, and herbs to transform a simple bed of greens into a seemingly decadent meal. But don’t be fooled – this recipe is loaded with nutrients and light on the calories. This picture doesn't do it justice...I dug in before I had time to take the photo!
Pomegranate Mint Chicken Salad
1 bunch of kale
1 turnip, cubed
1 carrot, shredded
1 pomegranate, seeds separated
1 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
1 cup mint, coarsely chopped
1 pound thinly-sliced chicken breasts
3/4 cup mint leaves, finely chopped
1/2 raspberry-pomegranate jelly
2 TBSP lemon juice
2 TBSP olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup pear-infused white balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp ground mustard
2 TBSP thyme, finely chopped
2 TBSP lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
-Prepare the chicken marinade by combining the mint leaves, pomegranate jelly, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and salt and pepper in a large bowl before adding the chicken breasts. Cover and let sit to absorb flavor – from one hour to overnight. The longer is marinades, the more tender the chicken will be.
-Dress the kale by removing the leaves from the thick center stalk, then rinsing and drying. Set aside. Combine turnips, carrots, pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seeds, and mint in a separate bowl.
-Construct the salad dressing by combining the extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, garlic, mustard, thyme, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. For best results, use a blender or a hand mixer to thoroughly emulsify the ingredients and develop a thick consistency.
-To cook the chicken, set a stove burner to medium-high heat. Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade, and cook in a nonstick pan for about 4 minutes on each side, or until done.
-Drizzle the dressing over both the kale and the vegetable slaw, separately. Toss each until thoroughly coated with dressing. To serve, first layer the plate with kale, then top with the slaw. Serve the chicken on the side.
Springtime is right around the corner, which means Easter is quickly approaching. Like most holidays, food is often at the center of it all – so plan your dessert wisely! Lori Lange, founder of popular food blog recipegirl.com, knows what it takes to wow the crowd.
After teaching for 12 years, Lori took time off to explore her two biggest passions – cooking and entertaining. She founded her blog 2006, and it holds over 2,600 original and adapted recipes. Her work has been featured in Bon Appetit, Glamour, and Ladies Home Journal, among others. Below, she shares her top picks for Easter desserts.
Classic: Meyer Lemon Loaf Cake. This recipe comes from my latest cookbook. The Meyer lemons are a bit sweeter, and the fresh flavors really shine in this classic treat. I recommend cutting thin slices from the cake and piling it high with fresh strawberries for a sweet but light snack.
Healthy: Layered Berry Trifle. This dessert is quick and easy, and you can make it as healthy as you want. Combine your favorite fruits, whipped cream, and store-bought low-fat angel food cake in a large serving dish. The berries stay light and fresh, and the whipped cream can be made with fat free cream cheese.
Creative: Banana-Carrot Cake Cupcakes. Skip the gourmet dessert this Easter and instead whip out these grab and go finger foods. Cupcakes continue to gain momentum in the culinary world – plus it takes away the fuss after a big meal and for an easy clean-up.
Decadent: Chocolate Cheesecake Cake. If you feel like going on a calorie splurge, trust me – this is worth it. I combined two layers of cake around a layer of chocolate cheesecake; while this requires more planning and takes longer to execute, your guests will be very impressed by your work. Keep it in the Easter theme by decorating it with malted milk Easter eggs.
Be sure to check out Lori’s latest cookbook, The Recipe Girl Cookbook, on sale April 15.
As I cleaned up the kitchen in my small New York City apartment last weekend, I absent-mindedly grabbed the browning bananas on my countertop with the intention of finally tossing them out. But just then, an idea came to me: banana bread. I loved my mother’s recipe growing up, but I wanted to try something new. Inspired by the no-fail combination of bananas, peanut butter, and Nutella, I decided to make a few tweaks to this classic staple.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Makes 1 loaf
2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 TBSP all spice
3 medium bananas, mashed
1/2 cup creamy natural peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup buttermilk (or 1/3 TBSP lemon juice combined with 2% milk)
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup crushed walnuts
-Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Grease an 8x4 loaf pan then line with parchment paper.
-In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and all spice. Set aside.
-In a separate large bowl, whisk together bananas, peanut butter, both types of sugar, buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredient bowl and whisk together until thoroughly combined.
-Lightly dust the chocolate chips with flour to prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the loaf. Then gently stir them into the batter.
-Transfer the batter to the loaf pan, smoothing the top into an even layer. Sprinkle the crushed walnuts over the surface of the loaf.
-Bake the loaf for about 1 hour 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before transferring it to a wire rack. Cooled bread should be wrapped in plastic wrap and eaten within five days.
Inviting friends over to your place? If so, skip the store-bought veggie dips and cookie platters and treat your guests to a home cooked specialty. The best way to hit the spot in any crowd? Bruschetta – from the traditional to the obscure. We turned this trio of satisfying appetizers into a full-blown meal with homemade bread – be sure to pick up several fresh baguettes at your local bakery.
Traditional Tomato Bruschetta
1 package cherry tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
-Halve the cherry tomatoes and place in a serving bowl. Add the minced garlic cloves, evoo, balsamic vinegar, chopped basil leaves, and season with salt and pepper. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
White Bean and Olive Bruschetta
1 1/2 cups canned white beans
3 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup chopped Kalamata olives
6 TBSP olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
-Place beans in a large saucepan on medium heat. Mix in the chopped tomatoes, chopped olives, olive oil, minced garlic cloves, and chopped basil leaves. Stir for 5-10 minutes, or until the mixture starts to warm. Remove from heat. Serve at room temperature.
Roasted Pepper and Bacon Bruschetta
3 medium red bell peppers
6 strips bacon, cooked and finely chopped
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 TBSP red wine vinegar
8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
-Prepare your broiler for cooking. Place the peppers under direct heat, rotating every 3-5 minutes until blackened and blistering all over, 12-15 minutes total. Place the peppers in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand for 15 minutes. Remove the peppers from the bowl and peel and discard the blackened skins. Discard the top and seeds, and finely chop the pepper.
-Transfer chopped peppers to a medium-sized serving bowl. Combine with bacon, olive oil, red wine vinegar, chopped basil, and season with salt. Serve at room temperature.
Presentation: Slice your baguettes into thin pieces. Lay them on a baking sheet, brush with a light coating of olive oil, and pop them in the oven for a minute or two until golden brown. Arrange bread on a platter alongside the three bruschettas, and let your guests help themselves. Add a small bowl of freshly grated parmesan cheese nearby to add to the mix.
Despite how great it feels to bite into a warm, juicy burger, we all know how bad red meat can be when consumed frequently. And although chicken is a great source of protein and very versatile, some days you just don't want to go through the trouble. The problem is that meat-free dinners can often feel too light, leaving you lying in bed hungry a few hours later. Luckily, grains can be a filling substitute. This recipe for roasted tomato risotto caught my eye several months back when I was still making the transition from vegetarian to meat-eater, and I couldn't stay away. By using fresh vegetables and rice, this dish is a healthy take on a carb-loaded pasta dinner. The roasted tomatoes add great flavor, and this meal takes very little prep time – ideal for a weeknight dinner.
Roasted Tomato Risotto: Serves 2
1 box cherry tomatoes, halved
8 cloves garlic, unpeeled
3 tsp olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 cup Arborio rice
1 TBSP tomato puree
1 can (400 g) chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 cups light vegetable stock
1 cup white wine
1 TBSP butter
1/2 cup shredded fresh basil
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
-Heat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Line a baking tray with nonstick paper, and arrange the cherry tomato halves and garlic cloves in a single layer. Drizzle with 1 tsp of oil and season with salt and pepper.
-Roast tomatoes and garlic in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the tomatoes begin to shrivel around the edges and the garlic is soft. Remove from oven, set the tomatoes aside. Squeeze the garlic from the skin, chop roughly and place in a small bowl. Set aside.
-Combine 2 tsp olive oil with 1 TBSP butter in a large pot on medium heat and fry the onion until soft. Turn the heat up slightly before adding the rice. Stir to coat thoroughly with the liquid. Add the tomato puree and chopped tomatoes.
-Add the wine and then the vegetable stock, half a cup at a time, stirring continuously throughout. All of the liquid should be absorbed before you add another half cup.
-Start tasting after about 15 minutes – it should take 20-25 minutes before it is complete cooked. The finished risotto should be moist and creamy.
-Remove the risotto from the heat and add the garlic, basil, and parmesan. Stir gently to combine. Gently fold in the roasted tomatoes. Taste the risotto and season with salt and pepper before serving.
Pamela Morgan knows her way around the kitchen. As the owner of the Flirting with Flavors cooking school, she helps women and men fall in love with the art of cooking and entertaining. Pamela is a veteran in the food industry, with over 30 years of experience as a caterer. She combines her passion for food with the importance of taking time each day to honor yourself. Watch as she puts together a beautiful carrot soup and candied walnut and beet salad, recipes provided below.
Candied Walnut and Beet Salad (Serves 1)
1 cup walnuts
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 red beet, scrubbed
1 yellow beet, scrubbed
1 bunch watercress
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
A few sprigs of fresh dill
-Set a small skillet over medium heat. Add walnuts and drizzle with maple syrup. Cook, stirring, about 5 minutes until walnuts are fully coated with the syrup and caramelized. Remove from pan and set aside to cool.
-Thinly slice beets on a mandoline (or, if you don’t have one, use a very sharp knife).
-Make sure watercress is clean and very dry. Arrange watercress on a plate. Top with sliced beets. Season with salt and pepper.
-Dress the composed salad lightly with a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil.
-Garnish with gorgonzola and fresh dill. Serve immediately.
Savory Carrot Soup (Serves 4)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped
2 apples, cored, peeled, and chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 teaspoon smoked cinnamon or cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper, to taste
A few sprigs fresh cilantro for garnish
-Heat butter and oil in a medium size soup pot over medium heat.
-Add carrots, apples, onion, garlic, and ginger.
-Sauté for 10 min or until softened. Add stock and spices.
-Let simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes, or until all ingredients are soft enough to puree.
-Purée in batches in a blender, or with an immersion blender right in the pot.
-Garnish with cilantro and serve.
–Video by Nina Giordano
For the longest time, I did not like salads. I thought they were bland and boring, and they certainly did not compare to a hot pizza or a bowl of pasta. But that was because for me, a salad was just chopped up lettuce with a few tomato wedges and cucumber slices, all slathered with store-bought dressing. Thankfully, I grew up and realized that salads can be one of the most satisfying dishes out there – if you know what you’re doing.
Now I love finding creative ways to make healthy and delicious salads. I am lucky enough to have a boyfriend who attended culinary school, and together we make some exciting dishes. This week’s creation was a potato, caper, and arugula salad with grilled chicken. The capers are high in antioxidants and give the salad just a hint of their salty flavor. But it’s the potatoes that really make this dish – warm and soft, they give the dish more substance to fill you up. We originally wanted to use fingerling potatoes for this recipe, but the store was all out; any waxy potato will do just fine.
Potato and Grilled Chicken Salad (Serves 4)
1 lb thin-sliced chicken breast
7 TBSP olive oil
Ground black pepper
1 lb fingerling/waxy potatoes
1 TBSP Dijon mustard
2 TBSP rice vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp honey
4 TBSP capers
2 cups arugula
1/4 medium white onion, diced
-Marinade the chicken in a small bowl with 1 TBSP of olive oil and liberally season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
-Place the potatoes and a tsp of salt in a medium saucepan and fill with cold water. Bring the water to a boil, and then lower to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Drain and set aside.
-In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, rice vinegar, garlic, and honey. Add the remaining 6 TBSP of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
-Heat a large cooking pan to high heat, and cook the chicken breasts about 5 minutes on each side, until cooked through the center. Slice into small pieces.
-At this time, halve the fingerling potatoes, or cut into strips if you used waxy red potatoes. If they have cooled, pop them in the oven for a minute to warm them up.
-In a large salad bowl, include the arugula, onion, capers, potatoes, and chicken slices. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad, and toss to coat evenly. Serve immediately.
We all know what it takes to make the most basic of salads – lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers coated in store-bought dressing. But why not put together a dish that is both nutritious and packed with flavor? There are some interesting salad recipes out there, combining the traditional with the unexpected. Try combining more fruits and vegetables, and experiment with protein. This recipe includes cabbage, pears, black beans, and corn – intriguing, yes? And don’t shy away from the wholegrain mustard; I’m not a big fan of the neon yellow condiment-version, but the wholegrains add a great taste and texture.
Black Bean & Pear Salad (Serves 2)
1 cup red cabbage, sliced thinly
2 pears, cubed
1 cup canned sweet corn
1 cup canned black beans
1/2 cup red onion, sliced thinly
2 tsp olive oil
2 TBSP lemon juice
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
1/4 cup sunflower or chia seeds
Salt and pepper, to taste
-After slicing the red cabbage, pears, and red onion, combine in a salad bowl with the corn, black beans, and seeds.
-Mix olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper to create the dressing.
-Toss the salad with the dressing and serve.
For protein, I added grilled chicken in a simple marinade. Mix 4 TBSP olive oil, 3 TBSP lemon juice, and 1 TBSP whole grain mustard in a bowl, then let the chicken marinade for an hour before cooking.
Want more dinner ideas? Try this flavorful autumnal salad with pears, walnuts, and dried cranberries, or whip together a salad with a little more substance with quinoa, shallots, sugar snap peas, and orange segments.
For me, the best part about the weekends has always been having the time to enjoy a delicious home-cooked breakfast. We are so busy during the week that we barely have time to grab a coffee and granola bar as we run out the door – if we even eat breakfast at all! With the holiday coming up, take the time this weekend to savor these warm pumpkin muffins right out of the oven. I promise you will have trouble stopping at just one!
Pumpkin Muffins: Yields 12 Muffins
1/2 cup softened butter
3/4 cup brown sugar (firmly packed)
1 large egg
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup molasses
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 TBSP baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground ginger
2 cups crushed walnuts
-Beat butter with an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add the brown sugar, beating throughout. Add egg, pumpkin, and molasses. Beat thoroughly.
-Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and ginger. Gradually add to the pumpkin mixture, beating at medium-low speed until just blended. Spoon the mixture into a greased muffin pan, filling each about 3/4 full. Sprinkle the tops of each with crushed walnuts. Bake at 375˚ Fahrenheit for 20 minutes; remove from pan immediately. Let cool and enjoy!
Many of us have a love/hate relationship with bread. It comes in so many flavorful shapes and sizes, but if you have just a bit too much you can feel the side effects of the carbohydrate binge for days. So instead of wasting your appetite on store-bought bread, why not bake it yourself? Not all bread recipes are difficult to make, and this focaccia recipe is doable even for a novice baker. This homemade bread is low on salt and oil but high on flavor, so you'll be full, happy, and guilt-free when all is said and done. Feel free to choose your own toppings – I went all the way and loaded mine with tomatoes, onion, garlic, and rosemary – but even just some olive oil and rosemary will do. This dish makes a great appetizer for your next family dinner or even a great gift for your closest foodie friends.
Focaccia: Yields 1 loaf
2 teaspoons rapid-rising dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
3 1/2 to 4 cups flour
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1/4 cup olive oil
Cornmeal, for dusting
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tomato, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
1 tablespoon coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
-Using the dough hook of either a stnading or handheld mixer, proof the yeast by combining it with the water and sugar. Stir gently to dissolve. Let mixture sit 3 minutes until a layer of foam appears. Turn the mixer on low and slowly add flour to the bowl, mixing throughout. Dissolve salt in 2 tablespoons of water and add to mixture. Add 1/4 cup olive oil. When the dough starts to stick together, turn the mixer on medium speed. Stop mixing periodically to scrape down the dough hooks. Mix until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Add more flour if necessary.
-Place dough on work surface and fold over itself several times. Form the dough into a round ball and place in a well-oiled bowl, turning to coat the ball evenly with oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it rise in a warm area until it doubles in size, about 45 minutes.
-Coat a sheat pan with olive oil and corn meal. Once the dough has doubled in size, turn it onto the counter. Roll and stretch dough into an oval shape about half an inch thick. Lay the dough on the pan and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for 15 minutes.
-While the dough is still, saute the onions in olive oil over low heat for 15 minutes until they caramelize. Preheat the over to 400 degrees F. Uncover dough and brush the surface with more olive oil before adding your toppings. Bake on the bottom rack for 15-20 minutes, depending on how soft or crunchy you prefer your crust.
-Let cool, cut, and serve. Enjoy!
If you've given up bread -- whether by choice or for medical reasons -- have no fear. Watch former Top Chef contestant whip up some healthy veggie-focused meals, or try your hand at this festive pistachio and pomegranate semifreddo for dessert.
Our food habits often change with the seasons. In the summer, all we want are light, healthy snacks that will get us through the day without feeling full in the hot weather. But now that winter has arrived, it’s time to take advantage of the cooler temperatures and fill your plates with hearty meals that will warm you from the inside out. Nothing matches that description more than one of my personal favorites, risotto. This Italian classic is versatile—feel free to mix and match with whatever veggies you please. For this dish, we went the traditional route and incorporated mushrooms, lentils, parsnip and pancetta to add full, earthy flavors. And while the risotto makes a perfect meal on its own, don’t hesitate to add a piece of grilled chicken on the side for some extra protein. And for any who haven’t made risotto before, be prepared to give your arm a workout!
Risotto with Mushrooms, Lentils and Pancetta
Serves 4-6; 90 minutes to prep and cook
2 cups Arborio rice
2 TBSP freshly plucked thyme
3/4 cup canned lentils, drained and rinsed
1/2 a medium onion, diced
1/2 pound of pancetta, diced
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 TBSP olive oil
1/2 cup dry red white
1 quart stock (vegetable or chicken works best)
2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano
Salt and pepper, to taste
-Sauté the onion, garlic, thyme, parsnip and mushrooms in half the butter and the olive oil in a saucepan. As soon as the garlic begins to color, add the pancetta to the pan and continue to cook, stirring things about.
-After a couple of minutes, add the rice; cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring, and then add the wine.
-When the wine has evaporated, begin to add the stock, 1/2 a cup at a time and cook, stirring vigorously throughout.
-After 8 minutes, add the lentils and continue stirring, adding stock as it is absorbed, until the rice reaches the al dente stage.
-Check the seasoning; stir the remaining butter into the risotto, as well as 1 cup of grated Parmigiano.
-Serve dusted with the remaining Parmigiano.
The key to good risotto is the stirring—you should be stirring vigorously throughout and your arm should ache by the time you’re done. It’s a labor of love. If you want to partner it with grilled chicken, try a simple but flavorful marinade of balsamic, olive oil, white wine vinegar, onion, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper.
Salads are a great choice for lunch or dinner–they are easy to make and great for you, too. So why do so many people steer clear of them? Because they don't know how to vamp up the standard (boring) garden salad. Old veggies and storebought dressing can bring down both the healthiness and the taste of your greens, so change it up with some fresh fruit, nuts and homemade vinaigrette. This is a very quick and easy recipe to follow, and you can even add some grilled chicken to add more protein to your meal.
Pear & Walnut Salad (Serves 2)
-4 cups mixed salad greens
-12 cherry tomatoes, halved
-1/4 onion, diced
-1/4 cup dried cranberries
-1/4 cup walnuts
Lemon Honey Vinaigrette (Makes 1/2 cup)
-1/4 cup lemon juice
-1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
-1 TBSP Dijon mustard
-1 TBSP honey
-1 clove garlic, minced
-Salt and pepper, to taste
-Core the pear and cut into slivers. Rub the exposed fruit with lemon to keep from turning brown.
-Combine lemon juice, EVOO, honey, garlic, salt and pepper in a small tupperware. Add the Dijon mustard, put a lid on the tupperware, and shake to blend the vinaigrette.
-Mix greens, tomatoes, onion, pear, cranberries and walnuts in a salad bowl. Dress with vinaigrette and toss.
What's better than apple pie? This Thanksgiving dinner staple is more American than a baseball game or walking a golden retriever through a park on a cool autumn afternoon. But like any great dish, the key to success is reinventing a classic into something new. Below I have included my favorite apple pie recipe to date. The addition of caramel makes the pie melt in your mouth, while the pecans still add a satisfying crunch. If you're good at planning ahead (not my thing), a homemade crust will take this pie to a whole new level. But if you're stressed for time (which I usually am), store-bought pie crust works just fine.
Caramel Apple Pecan Pie
2 9in deep-dish pie crusts (homemade or store-bought)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup all purpose flour
5 cups thinly sliced apples
2/3 cup white sugar
3 tbsp all purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp milk
1/2 cup caramel sauce
1/2 cup chopped pecans
-Preheat oven to 375˚ F.
-Mix the brown sugar, melted butter and 1/3 cup flour in a small bowl. Set aside.
-Place apples in a large bowl. Add white sugar, 3 tbsp flour, cinnamon and lemon juice. Toss until apples are thoroughly covered.
-Spread the pecans on a cookie sheet and pop in the oven for 3-5 minutes to roast. Remove and let cool.
-Spoon half of the apple filling into the pastry-lined pie pan. Top with 1/4 cup caramel and sprinkle with a 1/4 cup chopped roasted pecans. Repeat process with remaining apples, caramel and pecans.
-Place top pastry over filling and seal well (this is important!). Cut or poke steam vents into the top crust (also important!) and lightly brush crust with milk or light cream.
-Cover pie with foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil from pie and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, until crust is golden. Serve warm.
My personal recommendation? Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side and a small dollop of whipped cream on top. Trust me, your guests will be asking you for the recipe.
Between the demands of your career and your home life, you don’t have hours to spend preparing a feast. Your turkey’s oven time may be non-negotiable, but just about everything else can be given an efficiency makeover. Here are a few ideas from around the web to help you pull together a memorable holiday meal in no time flat.
Breakfast. Thanksgiving morning is for lounging with family, watching the Macy’s parade…and getting started on dinner, of course! Avoid both stress and cereal by whipping up this breakfast apple crisp the night before. Serve it cold from the fridge and top with a scoop of yogurt for a sweet but wholesome start to the day.
Appetizers. Don’t drive yourself crazy trying to do it all from scratch. Your family and/or guests will be thrilled to munch on cheese, charcuterie and crackers (or a baguette from the local grocery store). If you want to try your hand at something more festive, candied nuts are an easy addition—or how about a platter of savory sweet potato skins (save the insides for a sweet potato casserole).
Sides. Veggies slow-roasted at high temperatures develop a deep, caramelized flavor all on their own. Fill a baking dish with your seasonal selection of choice – squash, onions, brussels sprouts – and toss with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper before roasting at 400º for 45-60 minutes. More ambitious chefs can try their hand at green bean bacon bundles, brown butter mashed potatoes or fresh cranberry orange sauce, none of which take over half an hour (the sauce can also be made in advance).
Dessert. Forget fussy crusts. Pumpkin pie is all about the innards, so put them on display in a simple pumpkin and sour cream pudding. Alternately, use day-old bread to make a pumpkin bread pudding that comes together in about as much time as a box of brownie mix. Pecan lovers can get their fix with a slab of sweet and salty pecan bark, which also makes a lovely parting gift for guests—only hard part is waiting for it to cool!
Don’t let the stress of cooking keep you from making beautiful holiday memories. Plan in advance, enlist help…and don’t you dare get roped into doing the dishes alone. Happy holidays!
—Emma Aubry Roberts
The best meals are the ones that take the least amount of time for the most amount of flavor, and lamb burgers win both categories. This recipe includes a lot of ingredients—most you may already have on hand—but is easy to follow and creates a delicious final product. Below are the recipe and instructions for the burger, and feel free to add a small salad on the side. Enjoy!
Lamb Burger: Recipe yields 4 servings
1 pound ground lamb
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped (feel free to add more, we always do!)
1 teaspoon sherry/brandy
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar (red works fine too)
1 teaspoon molasses
1 teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon allspice (or a dash of nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves)
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
All you have to do to prepare is mix all of the above ingredients in a large bowl, and once combined shape the lamb meat into four equal sized patties. Set the grill or stove top to medium heat and cook on both sides until the burger is cooked through. I recommend serving on a thick roll topped with tzatziki sauce, lettuce, tomato and onion.
There’s nothing like a time-consuming, side-splitting holiday feast...and nothing like kicking back and cleaning out your fridge in the days to follow. We’re guessing you thought of ham sandwiches already, but here are a few more simple ideas to make leftover dinner a crowd-pleasing winner in its own right.
Chef’s salad. A heap of greens makes the perfect base for chopped ham, deviled eggs, and whatever is lurking in your crisper drawer. It may not be the most sinless salad you ever consume, but a bed of greens is a step up from yesterday's scalloped potatoes, right? Drizzle a homemade dressing over top for maximal impact with minimal effort.
Split pea soup. Sunny spring is in full swing, but chilly nights still call for a meal that warms from the inside out. You can throw together a rich, filling soup using a leftover ham hock for flavor. Try this slow-cooker recipe—just load up your crock pot before you leave in the morning, and come home to a hearty bowl of comfort food you can repeat for lunches all week long.
Pizza. Who doesn’t love pizza night? Leftover ham pairs perfectly with tart pineapple chunks, crisp green peppers, and salty olives. Go for the full pie, or set up a “make-your-own" pizza bar using whole wheat pitas or English muffins for a customizable, portion-controlled alternative.
Quiche. Don’t be intimidated—whether you attempt granny’s famous pie crust or substitute a store-bought alternative (or even go crustless), quiche is just a fancy French word for egg casserole. This recipe incorporates peak-season asparagus for added fiber and flavor. Not up for the assembly (or too hungry to wait an hour for it to bake)? Eggs and ham are a match made in heaven—whisk bite-size chunks into an omelet or egg scramble. Breakfast for dinner is served.
Extra Credit: Easter candy pound cake. No need to let those chocolate bunnies and robin’s eggs go stale on your countertop! We love this idea to bake leftover candy into a festive bundt cake. After all, it's a lot harder to put away half a cake in one sitting—and a lot easier to give away home-baked treats at the office. Most popular co-worker, anyone?
—Emma Aubry Roberts
Thanksgiving is just around the corner — a tried and true tradition of the holiday is pumpkin pie. We met Jennifer Appel, a clinical psychologist turned baker who opened Magnolia Bakery with a business partner in 1996 (you may have seen it on "Sex and the City"), she struck out on her own, founding Buttercup Bakeshop in 1999.
Appel's old fashioned American desserts have made her a New York City staple. She showed us how to make a classic pumpkin pie that is sure to impress. Take a look.
Video Editor: Christina Raia
2 cups pumpkin puree
3 large eggs (at room temperature)
¼ cup sugar
¾ light brown sugar (firmly packed)
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ cup milk
¾ cup evaporated milk