I did it again - I hijacked another kitchen just to get some quality baking time in this month. 😅 It's like I have a quota of baking hours that I need to fulfill just to keep myself in good baking shape. 🤣 I'm pretty sure that I wont forget HOW to bake a cake in 5 weeks - but I still have an unexplainable desire to keep my baking skills sharp - despite the fact that my kitchen is currently in a state of disrepair. 🤷🏻♀️
This week, I visited my son and daughter-in-law in Ohio and they very graciously allowed me to take over their kitchen for an afternoon. Technically, I don't think I ever asked if I could use their kitchen, BUT I showed up with groceries and offered to bake them cookies while they were at work. 🍪🤷🏻♀️Who could turn down that offer?
Not only did I confiscate their kitchen space - I also made the two of them guinea pigs for a new recipe that I've been wanting to try. Luckily - they're great sports and willing to at least try my new baking experiments. My son is no stranger to test recipes and my daughter-in-law has been a part of our family long enough now, that she's learned to expect a practice recipe from time to time. I can always count on my family to act as my test subjects and give me honest feedback - even when I don't want to hear it. 🙉
This recipe for Rugelach has been in my blog cue for over a year. For some reason, I've always categorized these as a Christmas cookie. Probably because I ate one, one time, at a Christmas party. 😂🎄 One day this Fall, the kids sent me a picture of some rugelah cookies that they had gotten from a pastry shop in Cleveland. Up until then, It had never even occurred to me that I could make the rugelach recipe at other times of the year. I'm pretty sure that there's some sort of Christmas cookie code that's broken if you make a "Christmas cookie" before Thanksgiving. 😆 So at the risk of getting caught by the Christmas cookie police - I've decided to go ahead and make what may or may not be considered a holiday cookie. 😬
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 ounces cream cheese
10 Tablespoons butter, chilled
1/4 cup sour cream
2/3 cup nutella
1 Tablespoon raw sugar
Bake 30-35 minutes at 375.
Reducing food waste has been on my mind lately. I try and do my part. I always make a conscious effort to use everything edible in my kitchen but the problem with being ultra conservative with leftovers is that it conflicts with my borderline obsessive need for organization. 😬😅Keeping all of those bits and pieces of sustenance labelled and neatly stored is a struggle. #smallpantryproblems 😂
When I get a surplus of leftovers or I feel like a particular food has overstayed it's welcome and occupying too much space in my pantry - I create recipes to use them up. Have you ever wondered why I created a chicken nugget recipe using broken pretzel pieces and crushed goldfish crackers? Leftovers. 😉
Not so long ago, I found a handful of dried figs in my pantry that had been leftover from my last batch of fig newtons. I like figs but the leftover fruit was taking up valuable real estate in my pantry so I had to come up with a way to use them. My first thought was fig biscotti. #Mybrainworksdifferently. 🤣
Complex. That's the word that I would use to describe Fig and Walnut biscotti. Hints of orange, anise, walnuts and of course, plenty of figs make these crispy treats dance in your mouth. The other word that I would use to describe these - DELICIOUS! It's a little party in your mouth. 🤣
Fig and Walnut Biscotti
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon anise seed
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 cup coarsely chopped dried figs (6 ounces)
1 cup walnuts (roughly chopped)
Lay slices down on baking sheet. Bake 7 minutes on each side.
These fig and walnut biscotti are hands down - my new favorite. The recipe may have been created out of necessity but this one is a keeper, for sure. I think you're going to like them too. 😉
Ladies and gentlemen - we have water!!! 🚰 I'm happy to report that we finished up week 4 of our kitchen remodel with a fully functioning faucet and sink.. with a garbage disposal! I've never looked forward to washing dishes in the kitchen so much in my life. 😅 You don't realize how much you take the accessibility to water in the kitchen for granted, until it's taken away.
Restoring the water was a big step in our kitchen remodel project. And I'm excited about ticking some of these big things off the list because that means that we're getting closer and closer to having a fully useable cooking space again. But while we wait (patiently🥴) on our new and improved space to be finished - we're trying to make the most of our time. The busy holiday season will be here before I know it so I'm doing my best to embrace the calm before the storm. 😂
I have to say that our contractor has made our remodeling process as painless as possible. When I start to feel overwhelmed, he kindly reminds me that the chaos and clutter are both necessary and temporary. Going through this process has also taught me that taking a break from the construction zone by leaving the premises is a necessary component to maintaining my sanity. So... we escaped the Georgia mountains last weekend. The weather was glorious, the company was exceptional and the food and wine were extraordinary. 🍁 There's no better time to visit the mountains than on a crisp, Fall day. ⛰
I can see the finish line on this kitchen project and I'm getting anxious to start using my two ovens and stocking my new, and improved, pantry. I can almost taste the pies that will soon be baking in the ovens. 🥧 There will be no pies this week though - we've all had to evacuate and let the floor guys take over the space and work their magic. 😁
Since we can't even be in the house this week while they sand and stain our floors, there won't be any cooking going on so I thought I'd share a recipe from a few weeks ago. This slow cooker enchilada pasta was a huge hit with my family. The recipe called for orzo pasta - and my orzo had been packed away so I substituted this ditalini pasta. And I'm just going to go ahead and blame the lack of cilantro on the remodel, even though I really just didn't have any of that either. 😜
Slow Cooker Enchilada Pasta
14.5-ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
10-ounce can mild enchilada sauce
4.5-ounce can chopped green chiles, drained
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 cup corn kernels, frozen
1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 ounces cream cheese, cubed
2 cups uncooked pasta
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
Pour mixture into slow cooker. Top with cream cheese.
Cover and cook on low 7-8 hours.
Uncover and stir in orzo. Cook on high 15-20 minutes. Add more broth if needed to adjust consistency.
Garnish with cilantro and serve with tortilla chips - if you have them. 😉
Last month, in a rare moment of bravery, I posed this question to my daughter: "What do you think I should make for dinner this weeK?" 😬 Anyone else fear this question as much as me? 😅 I've learned that while I value their input, I really need to prepare myself for the answers because I just never know what they're going to come up with. One year I told my daughter I would make her whatever her heart desired for her birthday dinner... she requested meatloaf. 😅😅 #meatloafischeaperthanlobster 🤷🏻♀️
Why do I put myself through this torture, you ask? Well, when I feel like I'm in a cooking rut - I find that it helps to ask for another opinion. 22 year olds look at meals through an entirely different lens than I do. Her fresh perspective is exactly what I needed to bring some new life to our meals.
In response to my request for dinner ideas - my meat loving daughter came up with two different gnocchi recipes. Baked Gnocchi with Sausage and Gnocchi with Broccoli. Full disclosure: I've never actually made gnocchi. With that being said - it really shouldn't have surprised me when my child informed me that she had never even tasted gnocchi. 🤦🏻♀️ I was disappointed in myself, both as a parent and as an Italian. 🤣
Even though I can't seem to convince her of this, it was never my intent for the girl who suggested the Baked Gnocchi recipe to make the recipe as well. 😬🤣 I'm not really sure how it happened but needless to say - she did a fantastic job. And I realize that it's long overdue but, now that it's been brought to may attention - I'm attempting to correct the injustice of depriving my family of gnocchi for so long. Davis family - meet baked gnocchi.
1 lb Italian sausage
2 - 1 lb packages gnocchi
8 oz ricotta
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp fennel seeds
25.5 oz jar marinara sauce
8 oz mozzarella, grated
2 Tbsp fresh parsley
Check out out that super fancy, disposable, Styrofoam plate. #renovationlife 🤣
Today marks the start of week 4 of kitchen renovation. All things remodel seem to be going along as planned - everything that used to be normal, is out the window at this point. 😅I'm starting to get used to people buzzing in and out of what used to be a VERY quiet house, all day. Washing dishes in the laundry room is even starting to feel like normal. And I've totally embraced the dust and given up on cleaning anything until we're officially out of this remodeling season. 🤷🏻♀️ 😂
As you can imagine, making meals is anything but "normal" since starting this project. Just to give you a visual - picture me juggling a bowl and a whisk in one arm, flipping pancakes on the stove with the other hand and balancing a plate on which to place said pancake on a 3" ledge with my knee. 😅 Heaven help the person who mentions the word blueberries. 🤣
Obviously, there's no bread baking going on in this house right now. For reasons that I cannot explain, making bread is therapeutic for me and it's one of the things that I'm really missing. Getting my hands in the dough and kneading out my frustration, the smell of fresh bread lofting through the house and of course sampling the comforting still warm loaf. Pure joy. 🥖
I love baking bread but I know that it can be intimidating if it's not something that you're familiar with. If you've never tried to make a loaf of homemade bread - and you want to learn - this recipe is for you. It's super simple and it's almost fool proof. Use my pictures to help you through the process and if you've got any questions - send me a comment. I'm here to help.
3 1/4 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 and 1/2 cups cool water
Place bread above pan with boiling water and bake 20-25 minutes.
Slice when bread is cool.
I hope that by sharing my love for baking bread, I can make bread makers out of at least a few of you. The art of bread baking is so satisfying and deliciously rewarding. I think you're going to love it too.
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