Happy New Year's Eve!!!
I've blogged thousands of recipes over the last 10 years. Ever wonder which ones are my favorites? The ones that I make over and over again for my family and friends? It's no secret really. You can use the categories column on the right side of the blog to search "My Favorites." You can also search Healthy Favorites, Slow Cooker Meals and Chocolate recipes!!! It's not a coincidence that a lot of the recipes in the chocolate category are also included in the "My Favorites" category. 😂🍫
Not very many of my recipes get the coveted title of a "favorite". It has to be something that's worthy of being enjoyed slowly and deliberately. Like a homemade English muffin drizzled with warm honey that begs to be savored on lazy Saturday mornings with a steaming cup of herbal tea.
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread - you had me at first bite. This extravagantly decadent, chocolate breakfast bread is exceptionally delicious. (Was that enough adjectives to get my point across?) There was never any question about whether to add this recipe to my favorites, really. And if I had a category that was favorites of the favorites - it would be there too.
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Bake 1 hour at 350. Let cool in pan 30 minutes.
Move to rack and let cool completely.
I can think of no better way to kick off a brand new decade than with a slice of this moist and delicious banana bread and a homemade cappuccino.
The feast of the seven fishes is one of my very favorite Christmas traditions. I've posted about our family fish feast in the past but it's such a cool custom that I feel like it's worth sharing again. Every year on Christmas Eve, we fill our dinner table with everything from white fish, salmon, trout and tuna to scallops, mussels, clams and shrimp, all accompanied by a giant bowl of pasta with fresh calamari sauce. It's a pescatarians dream. 🐠 At the end of this marathon meal, there's nothing left but a bowl of broken shells and a pile of very messy napkins.
When I was growing up, every year my family would gather at my grandparents house for this annual Christmas Eve feast. At some point during our fish centered meal, my brother would find the biggest piece of calamari in the bowl, hold it in his front teeth with the tentacles sticking out and make weird squid faces at me and my cousins while we begged him to stop amidst our hysterical laughing. (Good times at the kid table!) This year, my mom is hosting the feast of the seven fishes on Christmas Eve but unfortunately, my brother wont be there to turn himself into a human cephalopod. Since we've moved up to the adult table - that might not be acceptable anymore anyway. 🦑
The Feast of the Seven Fishes isn't for the faint of heart. My family spends all day preparing and eating this fishy feast. By the end of the night, my belly is filled to capacity and I end up trying and talk my body into digesting quicker so that I can squeeze some dessert into my already full tummy. Christmas Eve dessert is usually something light and small but it's certainly NOT to be missed. This year, my mom is making tiramisu!!! Who knows, maybe, I'll be able to show some restraint this year at Christmas Eve and actually save room for dessert after our feast. 💁🏻♀️
Tiramisu is one of the things that Ben and I learned to make in the cooking class that we took in Bellagio. I was somewhat surprised to learn that I'd been making tiramisu the wrong way for years. I was never dissatisfied with my homemade tiramisu but now that I've tasted it the way that the Italians make it (the way it's SUPPOSED to be made) - I'm even more obsessed with the layered custard dessert.
I did have to alter the recipe from the way that our Italian cooking instructor taught us to make it though. She had the confidence to use raw fresh eggs in her dessert and I just don't cook with that same reckless - throw caution to the wind - kind of recklessness. At the risk of compromising the light and airy texture of the dessert, I decided to cook the egg whites and the yolks to 160 degrees just to make sure that the eggs were absolutely safe for consumption. Turns out - it didn't change the texture of the tiramisu in the least. It was just as scrumptious as it was when we made it in Italy. (Well, almost)
3 eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
pinch of salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup espresso or strong coffee
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
Dutch processed cocoa powder
1 package lady fingers
Beat mascarpone into egg yolk mixture with flat beater.
Repeat layering and top with a dusting of cocoa powder.
Cover and refrigerate 12-24 hours to allow ladyfingers to soften.
You can also make this tiramisu in individual cups if you like. I made 5 of these little parfaits with one recipe of tiramisu. The first time that I made it, I tried cutting little circles out of the square pan and gently finagling them into my individual cups. (#messydisaster) The second time, I realized it would be way easier (and less messy) if I just made the tiramisu in the parfait cups. Just passing along the lesson that I learned the hard way. You're welcome.
I remember when my kids first discovered the pockets in their pants around the age of two. They were absolutely obsessed with finding things to put in them. Stones, crayons, worms, frogs - you name it - if it could be shoved inside the pocket of their denim overalls, they put it in there. It is just a natural response to a pocket I guess - if you have it - you should fill it.
I will admit that I am a girl obsessed with pockets too. I've been persuaded to buy more than one dress because of the presence of pockets. I only buy jeans with perfectly positioned, unadorned pockets and I'm super picky about my pocket book. You probably think that since pockets are so important to me, that they serve an important function in my life. Ironically, I hardly ever use my pockets to hold anything except my hands when I need a place for them when I don't know what else to do with them. If you find yourself in awkward situations as often as I do, you know the comfort that a pocket can bring. 🤷🏻♀️
So what pockets do I like even more than pockets in my clothes? Pizza pockets. Calzones are essentially large pockets of pizza dough stuffed with the meats, vegetables and cheese and baked until golden brown. There are as many ways to stuff a calzone as there is to stuff a pocket in your overalls. I've blogged several different versions of calzones but this Buffalo Chicken Calzone is different from the other ones that I've made.
Add your own favorite sauce and cheese to make this recipe your own. Don't forget to take a picture and tag me in your photos though. @delicious.monroe
Buffalo Chicken Calzones
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cups shredded Rotisserie chicken
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup blue cheese
1/4 cup Tabasco hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 pizza dough
Transfer to a wire rack to cool 5 minutes.
How do you like to stuff your calzone pockets? Do you add grilled vegetables? cured meats? chicken?
'Tis the season to be merry. Time to dust off your favorite holiday sweater, hang the sparkly decor on your windows and start preparing all of your signature holiday confections. 😬 Unfortunately, I don't own an ugly Christmas sweater, my Christmas decorations are anything but Pinterest worthy and I've been baking so many cookies that I haven't had time to make anything else. (including dinner.) 😂I don't know about you, but all of the holiday planning, decorating and cooking can make me feel less than merry.
My family theorizes that making too many Grinch cookies actually turns me into a Christmas Grinch. (They're not wrong.) It's hard to be joyful when my hands are cramped from squeezing icing bags, my neck is sore from looking down at the counter all day and my back is tight from standing in one place. I don't mean to make it sound like a miserable job because I really do love it. It's just that sometimes, my Christmas spirit gets lost in the midst of all the flour and sprinkles that blanket my kitchen.
Sometimes, taking a little break from baking and decorating cookies is all I need to launch myself back into holiday merriment. I crave savory foods after I spend a few days breathing in the sweet aroma of royal icing from morning til night. This Parmesan Potato Tart is the perfect savory treat to counteract the sugar overload. It looks elegant and fancy dancy but believe me when I tell you that it's easy as pie. (literally)
Make this by making your own pie dough or purchasing one from the grocery store. You can even make this in advance and store it in the refrigerator or your freezer so all you have to do is heat it up for a party. Like I said - easy peasy.
Potato and Parmesan Tart
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
10 Tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2" pieces
6-7 Tablespoons ice water
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pound russet or yukon gold potatoes, sliced 1/8" thick
1 shallot, sliced thin
Bake 45 minutes at 375.
After 10 minutes, transfer tart to wire rack to cool 20 minutes.
Cut into slices and serve warm.
I struggle with side dishes and this one goes great with so many dinners. Serve it with soup, roasts, chicken or fish. I served this with our Thanksgiving turkey and it was a hit.
This year my family is seriously considering banning me from any further Christmas celebrations. It isn't my fault -- really. It all stemmed from an unfortunate glitter wrapping paper debacle. (I blame the glitter - not myself.) Here's the true story. (my version) I found the cutest Christmas snowman wrapping paper on CLEARANCE at TJ Maxx. Seriously - THE CUTEST. ⛄️ Standing in line, checking out with my 4 rolls of snowman paper, I noticed that it had some sparkle to it but it wasn't until I got it home that I realized just how much glitter there actually was on this paper. (Did I mention that it was on clearance?)
After wrapping my very first gift in the now infamous paper, I realized that the glitter was jumping right off the paper and adhering to EVERYTHING within a 5 foot radius. The counter, the scissors, the tape, the gift, my hair, my eyes, my clothes - everything was enveloped with glitter. I found glitter in places that it had no business being. 😳
In retrospect, it was at this point that I should have chalked up the glitter wrapping paper as a loss and bought some new Christmas wrapping paper. I didn't. 😂 I moved my wrapping station to the back porch, so as to not cover the house in glitter, and I continued to wrap the remaining gifts. When I was finished, I hosed the glitter off of the porch and I washed, rinsed and repeated at least 3 times to remove all glitter from myself.
This is where the story takes an interesting turn. I carefully packed up all of those carefully wrapped glitter bombs and sent them off to Boston to be opened on Christmas Day at my brothers house. 😬 We all gathered in his pristine living room on Christmas morning and began to pass out Christmas gifts. You can guess what happened next. It's safe to say that after the first gift was opened, we all gave up and decided to see who could extract the MOST glitter from the reprehensible paper.
After a lot of vacuuming and endless hours of lint rolling, I'm STILL getting calls about the remnants of the glitter paper from my brother. My mom is hosting Christmas at her house this year and she's already called to tell me that under no circumstances should I try and bring glitter paper into her house. 😂 I am fully expecting my gifts to be inspected for any trace of glitter before being allowed to be placed under the tree. It looks like I won't be able to get away with any clearance Christmas paper this year. It's full price, glitter free wrapping paper for this girl.
In and effort to get back in good graces with my still angry ( and glitter covered) family - I'm considering making some brioche buns for Christmas morning this year. I'm not sure that these will make up for the explosion of glitter that blanketed my brother's house last year but it's worth a try. 😇
Drizzle warm buns with icing.
Here's hoping my family allows me back in the Christmas celebrations after the glitter bomb of 2018. 😬
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