My husband has always had the unique job of being the first person to taste test all of my new recipe creations. I don't ask him for feedback. I don't have to. I've become an expert at reading his face while he's eating. 😅 I can learn everything that I need to know from his expressions. #hehasnopokerface 😆
It helps that I've had 30 years of marriage to learn his food preferences. I know that he's probably going to be a fan of my meat and potato creations but is likely to turn up his nose at anything spicy.🌶️ He's also not a fig or goat cheese fan so I didn't even bother to run these peppery, goat cheese and roasted fig tartlets by him, the first time that I made them.🐐
I'm pretty good at predicting the foods that my husband will like and dislike but I'm not as good at guessing how foods will be received by the rest of the population. Food is a funny thing. I've served stuffed dates at several parties recently and some guests have raved about how amazingly delicious they were while other guests, at the same event, take a single bite and leave the rest on their plate. 🤷🏻♀️
No single food is ever going to appeal to every person. When I host (or cater) a party, I always try and serve a variety so my guests can find at least one thing that they'd like to eat. Options for meat lovers, healthy eaters, some sweet treats and some savory choices. I've hosted my fair share of parties and I'm still surprised by the food that my guests like the most.
I liked these Goat Cheese and Roasted Fig Tartlets so much that I served them at 2 parties recently. What I never predicted how popular they would be with my guests. I prepared trays of charcuterie, short rib crostini, antipasta and sweet creations but several of my guests commented on how these goat cheese tarts were their favorite.😳 One of them was a 4 year old!! I'll take that as a win.
Goat Cheese and Roasted Fig Tartlets
10 Mission figs
¼ tsp cracked black pepper
2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons sherry or brandy
Herbed Goat Cheese Filling
8 oz goat cheese, softened
2 Tablespoons chopped chives
2 - 4 Tablespoons whipping cream
2 teaspoons lemon zest
Cracked black pepper
For the Tartlets
20 mini phyllo cups baked
Pipe filling into phyllo cups.
Top each with a roasted fig half.
Drizzle with honey and serve.
White Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti
Have you ever seen a pistachio tree? I probably should not admit this but I didn't even know that pistachios grew on trees until I saw one for myself.😅😬🌳 My knowledge of tree nuts is limited - to say the least.
On our trip to Greece last Fall, my husband and I took a day trip to the island of Aegan.🇬🇷 It was just as beautiful as you might imagine. As we disembarked from our ferry from Athens, we were greeted by street vendors selling the islands famous pistachios to weary travelers. We sampled some, we bought some and then we headed out in search of the famous Aegan pistachio trees on the island.
Maybe it's because I didn't really know what I was looking for OR the fact that the fruit on the tree didn't look at all like the pistachios that I buy at the grocery store but it took us way too long to identify these trees as the pistachio trees. 🤣
The pistachios that we ate in Greece were next level good. Maybe it was the atmosphere or maybe it was because it they were harvested and packaged right there on the island but they were seriously delicious.
It's not uncommon for me to grab a handful of pistachios and a wedge of cheese for lunch on busy cooking days. I eat them as a snack, as a meal and I add them to my cooking and baking. They're so versatile that I can to a salads for a nice, salty crunch, to baked fish for a crispy topping and to baked treats where their flavor can really shine. These white chocolate pistachio biscotti are the perfect way to highlight these amazing nuts.
White Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti
½ cup butter, room temperature
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped white chocolate
½ cup unsalted roasted pistachios, roughly chopped
Dip bottoms of biscotti in white chocolate and lay flat to dry.
Chicken and Pasta Salad
Spent last weekend in the trees. Literally the cutest little treehouse - ever. 🌳
Our two bedroom treehouse was pretty amazing but so were some of these other treehouses that were also available to rent.⬇️
There's just something calming and peaceful about being in the woods - especially when I don't have to sleep on the ground.🤣🛌 It's even better when you have friends who do all the leg work to find great treehouse weekend getaways and invite you to come along.
Our beautiful treehouse rental was the perfect spot to rest after a day of hiking in Smoky Mountain National Park. We also used it as a home base to do a little refueling. Hearty breakfasts and energy boosting pasta dinners are a must when one spends a weekend hiking the trails. 🍳🍝
There are times when grocery shopping on vacation is unavoidable. It's not my favorite thing to do on vacation but sometimes - it's just practical. But on our trip to Gaitlinburg - I was able to pack all of the food and supplies that we needed for the weekend in a cooler so I didn't have to spend my vacation time in the grocery store.
I packed chicken and Pasta Salad for our mid-day meal on our second day in the woods. It's got lots of lean protein and a healthy dose of fresh vegetables. Fresh tomatoes and basil add lots of fresh flavor to this yummy salad drizzled with the most delicious honey vinaigrette that you've ever tasted. Best of all, its good warm OR cold so you can enjoy it while hiking in the woods or serve it to guests at your kitchen table.
Chicken and Pasta Salad
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
1 pound whole grain penne pasta
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, grilled and diced
6 strips turkey bacon, cooked and chopped
2 1/2 cups halved grape tomatoes
3 green onions, sliced
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
Add the cooked chicken, bacon, tomatoes, green onions, Parmesan cheese, and basil.
Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. OR pack the dressing separately and dress just before serving.
Fig Jam Biscotti
Anyone who's been to a party at my house within the last few years, knows that I love charcuterie boards. I can come up with a board for every occasion: casual get togethers with friends, birthdays, anniversaries, 4 of July, brunch!🤪 Mini jar-cuterie, charcuterie cones and giant boards filled with meat, cheese, fruit, nuts and crackers.🧀🍇🥜 Sweet boards with donut holes, cookie dippers, mini pies and chocolates are my favorite though.🍩🍪🍫
I've never made the same charcuterie board twice and I think that's what I love about them. Each one is unique and different and an expression of what I'm feeling that day. Different themes, different foods, different boards. There are a few favorites that find their way into a lot of my boards though. I love pistachios and grapes, gruyere cheese, sliced turkey and fig jam - they're my favorites so why not serve them to my guests?
Fig jam is becoming a signature treat on my charcuterie boards. I love it but for some reason I only justify the indulgence when I'm making charcuterie. The deliciously sweet spread is the perfect compliment to the savory meats and salty cheeses. It's delicious on crackers, on crostini and by the spoonful.😅
My affection for crispy crackers smeared with fig jam, topped with a thin slice of turkey and wedge of cheese might not be as universally adored as I suspected though. Sometimes the jar of jam that's tucked neatly onto my boards is hardly even touched. That doesn't discourage me from trying to get my guests to jump on the fig spread bandwagon.😅 And until that happens - I can usually count on having some leftover fig jam after a charcuterie party.
I've actually created some really tasty dishes in the name of trying to use up half full jars of fig jam after a party. Balsamic Fig Glazed Chicken, Fig Newtons and Chicken with Figs.😋 My latest fig jam creation - fig jam biscotti.
Fig Jam Biscotti
6 Tablespoons butter, room temperature
⅔ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons vanilla
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup fig jam
Chocolate Espresso Biscotti
If I ever needed proof that our Creator formed and made each one us unique from the beginning - I don't need to look any further than my own family. My two children - from the same two parents - could not be more opposite. They're both wonderful and amazing and I'll always be their biggest fans but they're as different as peanut butter and jelly.
When our kids were small and just starting to grow into their personalities, we used to say that my son looked just like my husband but inherited way more of my personality than his dads. My daughter was the opposite. She looked like my mini-me but she acted just like her dad. She also inherited his sense of humor and an appreciation of corny dad jokes.🤪 They're all grown up now and very much their own individuals and both unique in the ways that they look at, and approach life.
From a very early age, my son was all about sports and basically, any activity that involved danger.🤣 My daughter was much more artistic, creative and expressive. Of the two of them, growing up, she was the only one to show any interest in helping in the kitchen. But, now that he's in his mid twenties, my son has started to take an interest in baking. Specifically - baking biscotti.🙌🏻 He does a lot of things that make me proud but the baker in me is kind of thrilled that he's taken up biscotti baking as a hobby.🧑🏻🍳
My son has brought it to my attention, because he's been scrolling through the recipes on my blog, that I have an excessive number of biscotti recipes. I have 55 biscotti recipes. 8 of them are chocolate biscotti. Maybe he has a point.🤣 But the thing is - I love to make biscotti though and I love chocolate sooooo... the chocolate biscotti recipe collection continues to grow. In case you need a new one too - give this chocolate espresso biscotti recipe a try.
Chocolate Espresso Biscotti
2 1/2 cups flour
¾ cup + 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1¾ cups brown sugar
⅓ cup sugar
4 Tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon double-strength brewed espresso
4 large eggs
1 mini chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons raw sugar
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