Sriracha-Sesame Popcorn

After a bit of a hiatus from RITK we are back and I have some great recipes coming up for your reading pleasure in the next few weeks. It’s been a crazy last few months with lots of cake orders, some blog construction, and just general life business. Today’s recipe is one of my favorite snacks to make for parties, I hope you enjoy it!

I’ll have a new recipe next week on the blog so, be sure to subscribe to RITK so you never miss a delicious post!

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I started making stove top popcorn as a way to make popcorn a bit healthier (this is way better than those microwave packets full of salt and fake butter!)  I love stove top popcorn with just a bit of salt but after a while I thought of ways to make my snacks more savory and spicy. Today’s recipe is one of my concoctions to keep my snacks interesting. This recipe is also great to make in large batches, store in a airtight container and pack in lunches.

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So let’s talk about the method, below I will guide you through popping kernels on the stove, this is my favorite way to make popcorn at home and the method I use even if I’m not adding this sauce. I use olive oil although you can use sesame oil or coconut oil. After the popcorn is coated in spicy sauce, it goes into the oven to dry out. Before I added this last step I was eating soggy popcorn that required a few napkins, however drying the popcorn out in the oven cuts down on the messiness and also adds some more crunch.

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Sriracha-Sesame Popcorn

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 c olive oil
  • 1 1/3 c unpopped corn kernels
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 Tbsp Sriracha

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

To pop the popcorn; I find it’s easier to do this in two batches. Start with a large-sized pot and heat 6 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat. Heat until the oil is shiny and easily coats the bottom of the pan. Add 2/3 c of corn kernels to the warm oil and stir with a wooden spoon so that the kernels are evenly coated and spread out over the base of the pot. Cover and let the kernels pop (approximately 10-12 minutes).

Stay close to the pot, if you don’t hear any popping within a 4-5 second interval it’s time to take the pot off the heat. Once the kernels are all popped remove from heat. VERY CAREFULLY, using hot-pot-holders, firmly hold the lid down on the pot while you flip it over 2-3 times. This releases the steam from the popcorn. Next pour the popcorn into 2 shallow baking pans and pick out any burned or unpopped kernels and throw away.

Next, in a small saucepan combine the hot sauce, butter, and sesame oil over low heat until well combined and makes a thin sauce.

Distribute the sauce as evenly as possible over the popped corn (I like to use a combination of a slotted spoon and my hands). Then bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Store the popcorn in airtight containers or plastic bags.

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Bruschetta Stuffed Chicken

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Today’s recipe is for Bruschetta Stuffed Chicken. In the past I’ve been weary of cooking chicken breasts, often times they take forever in the oven and I’m worried about drying out the chicken. But recently I was inspired by this chicken recipe, and I thought, why not just blast them on high heat? So, I gave it a try and presto, I got moist chicken breasts that took about a half hour in the oven.

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That being said I nee you to bear in mind, when you make this in your own kitchen that the cooking times and the amount of filling you will need is going to vary depending on the size of the chicken breasts. Mine happenend to be pretty big, so if you have some that are on the smaller side they will most definately take less time to bake.

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One more thing, this recipe is great for making ahead of time. Stuffing the chicken and letting it set, enhances the flavor the longer the filling has a chance to sit and let the flavors meld together. I even find that the leftovers taste even better than when I cook them for the first time.

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Bruschetta Stuffed Chicken

Ingredients for Stuffing:

  • 1  tomato, medium sided, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1/4 c grated cheese (Parmesean, Romano, or Asiago, or a blend of the 3)
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil

Ingredients for crumb coating

  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c grated cheese
  • 1/3 c breadcrumbs, unseasoned
  • 3 chicken breasts

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Assemble all of your ingredients for the filling into a small mixing bowl and set aside.

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Spray a baking sheet or pan with cooking spray and set aside. Butterfly the chicken breasts. I rarely do a nice job on this, so don’t worry if you butcher it a bit, they will still be tasty. Just make sure there is some semblence of a pocket to put the filling in.

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Combine the ingredients for the crumb coating (except chicken) on a plate. Take the butterflied chicken breasts and coat the outside in the breadcrumb mixture.

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Place the chicken breasts on the prepared cooking pan and spoon 1/3 of the tomato basil mixture into the pocket of the chicken. Repeat this process with all the chicken breasts.

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If I have any left over breadcrumb mixture, I sprinkle it on top of the chicken and pat some more into the sides of the breasts.

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Roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes (depending on the side of your chicken breasts). Allow the chicken to rest for 5-10 minutes before eating, this is important, because this helps the chicken breasts retain their moisture.

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Buon Appetito!

Can’t get enough of homemade Italian food? Check out my articles on homemade pasta sauce and homemade meatballs.

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Bruschetta Stuffed Chicken

Ingredients:

For the stuffing:

  • 1  tomato, medium sized, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1/4 c grated cheese (Parmesan, Romano, or Asiago, or a blend of the 3)
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil

For the crumb coating:

  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c grated cheese
  • 1/3 c bread crumbs, unseasoned
  • 3 chicken breasts

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.Assemble all of your ingredients for the filling into a small mixing bowl and set aside.

Spray a baking sheet or pan with cooking spray and set aside. Butterfly the chicken breasts. I rarely do a nice job on this, so don’t worry if you butcher it a bit, they will still be tasty. Just make sure there is some semblance of a pocket to put the filling in.

Combine the ingredients for the crumb coating (except chicken) on a plate. Take the butterflied chicken breasts and coat the outside in the breadcrumb mixture.

Place the chicken breasts on the prepared cooking pan and spoon 1/3 of the tomato basil mixture into the pocket of the chicken. Repeat this process with all the chicken breasts.

If I have any left over breadcrumb mixture, I sprinkle it on top of the chicken and pat some more into the sides of the breasts.

Roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes (depending on the side of your chicken breasts). Allow the chicken to rest for 5-10 minutes before eating, this is important, because this helps the chicken breasts retain their moisture.

Vanilla Bavarian

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Today’s recipe comes from this big ol’ cookbook, I  Know How to Cook by Ginette Mathiot. It’s an English translation of what is basically the encyclopedia of French cooking. I both like and dislike this book. I like how much it includes and the different variations of recipes, what I dislike is how short the recipes are.

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Some of these recipes are rather technical, it being French cooking and all, and I find myself wishing for more instruction. I often jump into a recipe not entirely certain it will turn out or if I’m doing it right. Today’s recipe is no exception. However, my attempt was successful, and I have tried to fill in the gaps where I wish the original recipe had.

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Today’s recipe is Vanilla Bavarian (Creme Bavaroise A La Vinille), contrary to what the name says, this is not a recipe for Bavarian creme. This is essentially a creme anglaise (the custard used in creme brulee) that has been thickened. Trust me, you’re going to love it.  A decadent dessert, worth the effort, and perfect with fresh berries.

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Vanilla Bavarian

From I Know How to Cook by Ginette Mathiot

Ingredients:

  • 2 packets of unflavored Knox gelatin
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 c whole milk
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 c heavy cream

Directions:

First separate your eggs. Put the egg yolks in a bowl that can be used in a double boiler. What to do with all of those egg whites? I freeze mine individually in cupcake tins so that I can use them for other recipes in the future.

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Next get the gelatin set up; empty the three packets into a small bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of hot water. Give it a quick stir with a fork to combine and then set aside. Wash the fork immediately (trust me).

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Now it’s time to start making the creme anglaise. In a medium-sized pot whisk together the milk, sugar, and seeds from the vanilla bean. Bring to a simmer. While the milk heats up, whisk the mixture every once in a while to ensure the sugar is dissolved. Now, when I say bring to a simmer, I mean a simmer, not a boil, you do not want to get your milk too hot or it will curddle your egg yolk during the next step. You have been warned.

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Once the milk is simmering, pour it into a tall measuring cup with a spout. Start pouring the milk SLOWLY into the bowl with the egg yolks while whisking the mixture constantly. Continue whisking until the milk and egg yolks are combined and slightly frothy.

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Put the mixture on top of a double boiler over simmering water. Keep that heat low-medium (this will depend on your stove, if you have gas keep it on low, I have gas so I had my temperature set at a medium heat).

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The idea is you want to gradually thicken your creme angliase and do NOT let it boil. Stir the mixture constantly. The creme anglaise is finished when it coats the back of a spoon. Be patient with this one, it can take several minutes depending on your stove.

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Pour the creme anglaise through a fine meshed sieve into a mixing bowl. Add the gelatin to the mixture while it is still hot. If your gelatin is a solid disk like mine was, this is ok, the hot mixture will dissolve it.

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Allow the mixture to come to room temperature. While it is cooling whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form.

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Once the creme anglaise is cool, gently fold the whipped creme into the mixture. Do this slowly, working in batches of 1/3 of the whipped creme at a time.

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Once the mixture is completely combined pour it into a mold. Put into the refrigerator and chill for 3 hours. You could use small individual molds, or one large one like a round cake pan or a bunt pan. You could also put into fancy glasses.

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After 3 hours remove from the mold and serve with fresh berries.

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Vanilla Bavarian

From I Know How to Cook by Ginette Mathiot

Ingredients:

  • 2 packets of unflavored Knox gelatin
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 c whole milk
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 c heavy cream

Directions:

First separate your eggs. Put the egg yolks in a bowl that can be used in a double boiler. Next get the gelatin set up; empty the three packets into a small bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of hot water. Give it a quick stir with a fork to combine and then set aside. Wash the fork immediately (trust me).

In a medium-sized pot whisk together the milk, sugar, and seeds from the vanilla bean. Bring to a simmer. While the milk heats up, whisk the mixture every once in a while to ensure the sugar is dissolved. Once the milk is simmering, pour it into a tall measuring cup with a spout. Start pouring the milk SLOWLY into the bowl with the egg yolks while whisking the mixture constantly. Continue whisking until the milk and egg yolks are combined and slightly frothy.

Put the mixture on top of a double boiler over simmering water. Keep that heat low-medium (this will depend on your stove, if you have gas keep it on low, I have gas so I had my temperature set at a medium heat). This will gradually thicken the creme anglaise and do NOT let it boil. Stir the mixture constantly. The creme anglaise is finished when it coats the back of a spoon.

Pour the creme anglaise through a fine meshed sieve into a mixing bowl. Add the gelatin to the mixture while it is still hot.

Allow the mixture to come to room temperature. While it is cooling whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form.

Once the creme anglaise is cool, gently fold the whipped cream into the mixture. Do this slowly, working in batches of 1/3 of the whipped cream at a time.

Once the mixture is completely combined pour it into a mold. Put into the refrigerator and chill for 3 hours. You could use small individual molds, or one large one like a round cake pan or a bundt pan. You could also put into fancy glasses.

After 3 hours remove from the mold and serve with fresh berries.

Brown Chicken Stock aka Liquid Gold

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Alright folks, I’ve shared with you some of my favorite chicken recipes (Roasted Chicken Thighs and Spatchcock Roasted Chicken), but don’t throw away those bones! In fact, I always have a “bone bag” in my freezer and and as we make these dishes the discarded bones go into this freezer bag rather than the trash. Once I have a full gallon-sized zip lock bag or more and a rainy day with no plans I make this chicken stock.

Chicken stock is one of the staples I like to have in my kitchen at all times, and if you’ve got the time (and the bones) this one is seriously worth it, it really is liquid gold in my kitchen.

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Brown Chicken Stock

adapted from Bon Appetite MagazineBrown Chicken Stock

Ingredients:

  • 5 lb chicken bones
  • cooking spray
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 carrots (or 16 baby carrots), peeled, rinsed, and diced
  • 2 celery stocks, diced
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • handful of black peppercorns
  • 10 parsley sprigs
  • fresh thyme
  • fresh sage
  • 2-3 bay leaves

Directions:

Adjust the racks in the oven so one is on the bottom third of the oven, and the other is in the top third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Arrange the bones in a single layer in a large roasting pan.

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(I know it looks kind of gross but hey, sometimes cooking ain’t pretty!)

Coat a baking pan with cooking spray and place the diced vegetables in it. Set aside. I do not recommend using a 9×9 pan as pictured above, the vegetables are too crowded and take to long to roast.

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Roast the bones for 15 minutes on the bottom rack of the oven. After 15 minutes place the vegetables on the top rack of the oven and roast for 20 minutes (let the bones continue roasting in the oven). Remove the vegetables from the oven and coat them in the tomato paste.

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Return to the oven and roast for an additional 10-15 minutes. The bones and vegetables should be a nice deep brown color (and smell amazing).

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Place the bones and the roasted vegetables into a large pot. While the roasting pan that the bones were in is still hot pour a cup of water in and scrape the brown bits up from the bottom of the pan. Pour the mixture into the pot with the bones and vegetables.

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Add 16 cups of water, and all remaining ingredients to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and allow the mixture to simmer for 3 hours.

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Now for the fun part! Remove the stock from heat and using a slotted spoon remove the solids.

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Once the big pieces are out of the way, strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve.

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Return the stock t0 medium-low heat and simmer for an additional 1 1/2 hours.

Remove the stock from the heat and allow to cool. Once cool, spoon off the excess fat.

The stock will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months or in the refrigerator for 3 days, I like to store it in quart-sized zip lock bags. I typically put about 3-ish cups of stock per a bag and let them freeze flat so that once they are frozen solid I can stack them or stick them in small places in the freezer. To defrost them place the bags in a sink of hot water.

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Brown Chicken Stock

Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 5 lb chicken bones
  • cooking spray
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 carrots (or 16 baby carrots), peeled, rinsed, and diced
  • 2 celery stocks, diced
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • handful of black peppercorns
  • 10 parsley sprigs
  • fresh thyme
  • fresh sage
  • 2-3 bay leaves

Directions:

Adjust the racks in the oven so one is on the bottom third of the oven, and the other is in the top third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Arrange the bones in a single layer in a large roasting pan.

Coat a baking pan with cooking spray and place the diced vegetables in it. Set aside. Roast the bones for 15 minutes on the bottom rack of the oven. After 15 minutes place the vegetables on the top rack of the oven and roast for 20 minutes (let the bones continue roasting in the oven). Remove the vegetables from the oven and coat them in the tomato paste. Return to the oven and roast for an additional 10-15 minutes. The bones and vegetables should be a nice deep brown color (and smell amazing).

Place the bones and the roasted vegetables into a large pot. While the roasting pan that the bones were in is still hot pour a cup of water in and scrape the brown bits up from the bottom of the pan. Pour the mixture into the pot with the bones and vegetables.

Add 16 cups of water, and all remaining ingredients to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and allow the mixture to simmer for 3 hours.

Next, remove the stock from heat and using a slotted spoon remove the solids. Once the big pieces are out of the way, strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve. Return the stock to medium-low heat and simmer for an additional 1 1/2 hours.

Remove the stock from the heat and allow to cool. Once cool, spoon off the excess fat.

The stock will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months or in the refrigerator for 3 days, I like to store it in quart-sized zip lock bags.

The Bird is the Word

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It all started this past November a few days before Thanksgiving. First of all, if you don’t already know this, you should; Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love, love, love it. I love all of the cooking/baking/love that goes into it. This year I was able to host my very first Thanksgiving, and even though I’m pretty sure I drove my husband crazy, I loved it. But I was spending so much time focusing on which side dishes to prepare (See: Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese, Roasted Mushrooms, and Buttermilk Biscuits ) that I really kind of forgot the turkey. I know, I know, that’s crazy talk.

So a few day before Thanksgiving, I started looking at different recipes for roasting a turkey. That’s when I came across various claims that spatchcocking a turkey is the fastest and greatest way to roast a turkey. So let’s back up, today’s word of the day is spatchcock. This is a cooking technique for poultry where the back bone is removed, the bird is pressed flat, and then cooked. Basically it’s a fancy word for butterflying a whole bird.

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Let me just say, this blew my mind. I had never heard of it before and I was kind of fascinated by a technique that claimed to cut cooking down significantly and produce a juicy turkey with a crispy outside. But this was days before Thanksgiving, and I was not brave/crazy enough to experiment with this technique for the very first time on Thanksgiving.

Now let’s fast forward to a few weeks ago. My time had come, and I was ready to try this whole spatchcocking thing for myself. I bought a 4 lb chicken, brined it, and gave it a try. OH MY GOODNESS. It was magnificent! It was delicious! It was more than I dreamed it would be. Thankfully my husband called to say he would be working late that night because I almost ate the whole chicken myself. I have no regrets.

So without further ado, I give you my recipe for a fool-proof roasted chicken. Be brave! This yields awesome results and I will most certainly be doing this the next time I host Thanksgiving.

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Spatchcock Roasted Chicken

Ingredients:

  • brine for the chicken
  • 4 lb roasting chicken
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 lemons
  • cooking spray
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp bacon fat (optional)
  • salt
  • pepper

Step 1: Brine the bird

You can use any brine you like. I halved this recipe from Pioneer Woman. I like this one in particular because it gives the bird sweet and savory flavors. I swear by brining whole birds before roasting, you’ll never have a dry roasted bird again! I recommend brining for at least 16 hours, or up to 24 hours before roasting.

Step 2: Spatchcock

Take the chicken out of the brine and allow it to drain for a few minutes.

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Place the chicken on a cutting board and pat dry with a paper towel.

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Using kitchen scissors, cut vertically along the backbone of the chicken on both sides and remove entirely.

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Flip the chicken over and press the bird as flat as you can.

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Step 3: Roast the chicken

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place a cooling rack in a flat baking pan and put in the oven while it is preheating. Slice the lemons and oranges into thin round slices and set aside. Melt the butter (and bacon fat if using) in the microwave and set aside.

Once the oven is up to temperature, remove the hot pans from the oven. Carefully, spray the cooling rack with non stick cooking spray and arrange the lemon and orange slices on the the rack.

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Place the chicken on top of the citrus. Brush the skin with the melted butter (and bacon fat) and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

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Roast for 50-60 minutes until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before cutting up and eating.

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Just look at that beauty.

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How you doin?

Sorry, I’ve been watching a lot of Freinds reruns lately. I regret nothing.

The wings and thighs are my favorite, and I love using the juicy meat from the breasts in sandwiches and soups. After carving the chicken, save those bones! Later this week I will share with you my absolute favorite recipe for brown chicken stock.

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Enjoy and let me know how your chicken turns out.

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Spatchcock Roasted Chicken

Ingredients:

  • brine for the chicken
  • 4 lb roasting chicken
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 lemons
  • cooking spray
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp bacon fat (optional)
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions:

Step 1: Brine the bird. You can use any brine you like. I recommend brining for at least 16 hours, or up to 24 hours before roasting.

Step 2: Spatchcock

Take the chicken out of the brine and allow it to drain for a few minutes. Place the chicken on a cutting board and pat dry with a paper towel. Using kitchen scissors, cut vertically along the backbone of the chicken on both sides and remove entirely. Flip the chicken over and press the bird as flat as you can.

Step 3: Roast the chicken

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place a cooling rack in a flat baking pan and put in the oven while it is preheating. Slice the lemons and oranges into thin round slices and set aside. Melt the butter (and bacon fat if using) in the microwave and set aside. Once the oven is up to temperature, remove the hot pans from the oven. Carefully, spray the cooling rack with non-stick cooking spray and arrange the lemon and orange slices on the the rack.

Place the chicken on top of the citrus. Brush the skin with the melted butter (and bacon fat) and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast for 50-60 minutes until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before cutting up and eating.

Poached Pears in Red Wine

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A few years ago when I was living and working in Boston I noticed a small free magazine called Lola Magazine. It was with all the other free publications near the T stops. It turned out to be a just adorable magazine geared towards the women of Boston.  I liked this magazine because it reminded me of a smaller version of Real Simple Magazine. It had some interesting articles in it that featured local business women, there was always a piece on a local charity, and my favorite part; 2-3 recipes.

I have no idea how long the magazine had been around, but I found myself starting to look forward to the beginning of each month when I new magazine would be out there waiting for me on my way to work. Then one day, at the beginning of the month I went to grab a new issue, and there was none to be had. Last months issues still sat there in the dispenser untouched. I checked again the next day and the day after that. Lola magazine disappeared almost as quickly as I had found it. Unfortunately, I’m sure this is a very common story for free print publications. I don’t have any copies of Lola Magazine saved (I’m not one to hang on to magazines for long), however I’m glad I did tear a few recipes from the magazine and save them in my enormous binder full of stray recipes I’ve collected over the years.

Today’s recipe, Poached Pears for Two is one of those recipes I saved from Lola Magazine. The last time I made these my parents were visiting me for Easter and I was looking to make them a unique dessert. I had never heard of poaching fruit and I remember being so impressed how we transformed the flavor of a cheap red wine into this delicious cooking sauce. I like this dessert a lot, and I have a sneaking suspicion you will too. So take a look, and give a try, you won’t be sorry!

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Poached Pears in Red Wine

Recipe originally appeared in Lola Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 2-6 firm but ripe Bosc or Bartlett pears (one pear per person)
  • 1 bottle of red wine (no need to get anything fancy, just a cheapo bottle will do)
  • 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • the peel of 1 orange
  • 1 vanilla bean, sliced in half
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • whipped cream or mascarpone (to top the finished pears, vanilla ice cream works too)

Directions:

In a medium-sized saucepan (large enough to hold the cooking liquid and pears) combine the wine, sugar, orange peel, vanilla bean, and cinnamon stick. Over medium heat bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. This will honestly, make your kitchen smell just heavenly.

While the wine sauce is coming up to a simmer, peel the pears. I recommend cutting off the bottom of the pear to create a flat surface. This way, the pears can stand up in the pan if needed, and also this will make for a dramatic presentation when the dessert I finished.

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Once the sugar is dissolved and the wine is simmering, gently place the pears into the mixture. The pears should be mostly submerged in the mixture. If the pears are mostly sticking out add some water to the mixture so that they are mostly covered in liquid. Simmer the pears over medium heat for 25 minutes. The pears should be tender when pierced with a knife (the pears might take 10-15 minutes longer if they are not very ripe).

Remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool in the poaching liquid. Once they are room temperature, store the pears (in the poaching liquid) in the refrigerator, and let them sit for at least several hours and as long as three days (I like to let mine sit for 24 hours).

When you are ready to serve the pears, take them out of the liquid and allow them to come up to room temperature. While they are warming up, strain about 1/2 of the poaching liquid into a pot and bring up to a boil over high heat. Boil the liquid for 15-25 minutes until the wine sauce cooks down a bit and thickens. It should be the consistency of warm honey. Allow the wine sauce to cool slightly.

When you are ready to plate the pears, you can leave them whole for a dramatic presentation, or if you have a misshapen pear you can cut it up (although mine kind of looks more like sushi in this picture than a pear).

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Drizzle the pears with some of  the cooked pan sauce.

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And lastly, top with a healthy dollop of whipped cream (or whatever you have decided to top the pears with).

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I just love the color of the pears after they have been sitting in the wine sauce. Yum! I hope you enjoy these as much as I did.

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Poached Pears in Red Wine

Recipe originally appeared in Lola Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 2-6 firm but ripe Bosc or Bartlett pears (one pear per person)
  • 1 bottle of red wine (no need to get anything fancy, just a cheapo bottle will do)
  • 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • the peel of 1 orange
  • 1 vanilla bean, sliced in half
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • whipped cream or mascarpone (to top the finished pears, vanilla ice cream works too)

Directions:

In a medium-sized saucepan (large enough to hold the cooking liquid and pears) combine the wine, sugar, orange peel, vanilla bean, and cinnamon stick. Over medium heat bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.

While the wine sauce is coming up to a simmer, peel the pears. I recommend cutting off the bottom of the pear to create a flat surface. This way, the pears can stand up in the pan if needed, and also this will make for a dramatic presentation when the dessert I finished.

Once the sugar is dissolved and the wine is simmering, gently place the pears into the mixture. The pears should be mostly submerged in the mixture. If the pears are mostly sticking out add some water to the mixture so that they are mostly covered in liquid. Simmer the pears over medium heat for 25 minutes. The pears should be tender when pierced with a knife (the pears might take 10-15 minutes longer if they are not very ripe).

Remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool in the poaching liquid. Once they are room temperature, store the pears (in the poaching liquid) in the refrigerator, and let them sit for at least several hours and as long as three days (I like to let mine sit for 24 hours).

When you are ready to serve the pears, take them out of the liquid and allow them to come up to room temperature. While they are warming up, strain about 1/2 of the poaching liquid into a pot and bring up to a boil over high heat. Boil the liquid for 15-25 minutes until the wine sauce cooks down a bit and thickens. It should be the consistency of warm honey. Allow the wine sauce to cool slightly.

Drizzle the pears with some of  the cooked pan sauce before serving and top with a healthy dollop of whipped cream or mascarpone.

Skip the Chalky Conversation Hearts This Year

It’s true, I’m not really that into Valentine’s Day. It’s too over the top, too pink, and in general, just too much. However, Valentine’s Day happens to be a great excuse to bake adorable treats and share them with friends. Which, coincidentally, is something I really enjoy doing.

So this year, as I’ve done in the past, I’m skipping the paper valentines and cards, I’m skipping the candy and chocolate from the stores, and I’m making something tasty and sharing it with friends. How better to show my love than to share these tasty treats? With this spirit in mind, I’ve got two lovely desserts that I will be sharing with you. The first, are these adorable sugar cookie sandwiches with a brown sugar icing. The second will be a post on poached pears, which will be up next week.

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These are so much fun to make. Below is my go-to sugar cookie recipe but feel free to use any you like. I’ve paired it with this absolutely heavenly brown sugar icing, but any kind of frosting or your favorite jam will do. So, let me ask you, do you like sugar cookies? Do you like icing that tastes of marshmallows? Oh, you do? Then these cookie sandwiches are for you! Forget the sweets at the store, homemade goodies that come from the heart are always better.

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My Favorite Sugar Cookie

Slightly adapted from Bake at 350

Ingredients:

  • 14.5 oz (3 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract or 2 vanilla beans

Directions:

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small mixing bowl and set aside. Using a stand or hand mixer cream the butter and the sugar together until well incorporated and fluffy. Add the eggs and extracts into the mixture. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Mix on a medium speed until well combined.

Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and gradually add the dry ingredients. Increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough comes together. The dough might be a bit crumbly, but it will come together after some kneading by hand.

Now for the fun part! On a floured surface roll out the dough to 1/8 in thick. I roll these pretty thin since they are to become cookie sandwiches. Use any cookie cutter you like. I wanted something with fun edges so I decided to use these mini tart pans I got from my Nana. I liked the frilly edges, the variety of shape, and they are the perfect size.

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Arrange the dough on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper or a baking mat. Cut out a heart (or any other shape) to create a window in half of the cookies. These will be the tops of the sandwiches. Place the cookies sheets in the refrigerator and let them chill for 10-15 minutes. This will help the cookies keep their shape when they are baking.

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While the cookies are chilling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the cookies for 7 minutes. Bake the mini hearts from the center of the cookies for 6 minutes.Allow them to cool on the pan for about 5 minutes before carefully transferring them to a wire rack for cooling.

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While the cookies cool, make the frosting you would like in the center of the sandwiches. I made a small batch of this brown sugar icing. It is fluffy and delightful and I’ve been wanting to try it out for a while, and now seemed like a good time to do so. You can use any frosting you like for the center of the cookie sandwiches, you don’t even have to use frosting at all. Jam is beautiful and tasty in between these cookies.

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After the cookie have cooled completely and your frosting is ready, it’s time to assemble the cookies. Separate the cookies onto two baking sheets or trays, placing the cookies without a cutout in the center on one tray and the other half of the cookies on the other tray. The cookies that are the bottom of the sandwich get a dollop of frosting (or jam). The cookies that are going to be on top get dusted with powdered sugar.

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Now assemble the cookies. Sprinkles optional.

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I love how dainty these cookies look, like they should be enjoyed while sipping on a hot cup of tea and discussing literature with a British gentleman who wears a monocle. Too much? Just enough.

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Anyway, I hope you enjoy these adorable cookies. Make them, share them with those you love (and/or you choose to tolerate but it would rude not to include).

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P.S. look at how adorable these little heart cut outs are? I could eat, like 20 of these!

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My Favorite Sugar Cookie

Slightly adapted from Bake at 350

Ingredients:

  • 14.5 oz (3 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract or 2 vanilla beans

Directions:

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small mixing bowl and set aside. Using a stand or hand mixer cream the butter and the sugar together until well incorporated and fluffy. Add the eggs and extracts into the mixture. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Mix on a medium speed until well combined.

Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and gradually add the dry ingredients. Increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough comes together. The dough might be a bit crumbly, but it will come together after some kneading by hand.

On a floured surface roll out the dough to 1/8 in thick. I roll these pretty thin since they are to become cookie sandwiches. Use any cookie cutter you like.

Arrange the dough on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper or a baking mat. Cut out a heart (or any other shape) to create a window in half of the cookies. These will be the tops of the sandwiches. Place the cookies sheets in the refrigerator and let them chill for 10-15 minutes. This will help the cookies keep their shape when they are baking.

While the cookies are chilling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the cookies for 7 minutes. Bake the mini hearts from the center of the cookies for 6 minutes. Allow them to cool on the pan for about 5 minutes before carefully transferring them to a wire rack for cooling.

After the cookie have cooled completely assemble the cookie sandwiches; spread brown sugar frosting or jam between two cookies and top with powdered sugar.

 

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Brown Sugar Frosting

From I Wash You Dry

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup corn syrup
  • 4 egg whites
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Directions:

Mix brown sugar, water and corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Bring to a full rolling boil. (Be careful, as it will rise, so make sure the sides of your pan are taller). Let it boil at medium to medium high until the syrup drops like a hair from spoon (approximately 10 minutes). Remove from burner and set aside.

Meanwhile, beat egg whites until stiff.

SLOWLY pour the hot syrup in a THIN stream into egg whites, beating constantly. Beat until icing holds peaks, then blend in vanilla.

Let cool to room temp, then store covered in the fridge until ready to use.

 

 

Roasted Apples with Homemade Butterscotch Sauce

A happy new year to all of my Reckless Readers! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and you are ready for a dessert that is so delicious it will knock your socks off! Seriously, this one is absolutely amazing and I’m going to eat all of it. Send help.

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It all started when I was going through one of my favorite cookbooks (What’s a Cook to Do? by James Peterson) and brainstorming on what I wanted to blog about this month. I saw a recipe in there for homemade butterscotch sauce. I know how amazing homemade caramel sauce tastes since I used to make it when I was working at Dixie, I could only imagine how amazing homemade butterscotch sauce tasted.

After I decided to definitely write about this recipe for the mere fact that I would then have an entire jar of butterscotch sauce in my house, I saw a note at the end of the recipe suggesting to pair this sauce with roasted fruit. Roasted fruit! What an excellent idea, James Peterson! (Seriously guys, this is my favorite cookbook)

I love roasted fruit, because the roasting process amplifies the flavor of the fruit and makes for a seemingly fancy (but super easy to make) dessert.

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I could barely wait to get started, and I’m pleased to report that the result was addictingly good. As I sit and type this now I am eating the leftovers and all I can say is, I’m thankful that no one is here to watch me lick my plate clean.

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SO, without further ado, here is the recipe;

Roasted Apples

Slightly adapted from What’s a Cook to Do? by James Peterson

Ingredients;

  • 4 apples, peeled, cored, and cut in half*
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp sugar

*A Note on ingredients; use a harder apple that is good for baking (Braeburn, Cortland, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Empire, Jonagold, McIntosh). I used Honeycrisp apples.

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut up the butter into small pieces. Scatter half of the butter on the bottom of a heavy bottomed, oven proof pan and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar over the butter and bottom of the pan.

Place apples on top of the butter and sugar. Arrange the rest of the pieces of butter on top of the apples, and sprinkle the entire pan with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar.

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Bake for 25-35 minutes, until the apples are easily pierced with a fork and the butter on the bottom of the pan has browned slightly.

Heavenly Butterscotch Sauce*

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Recipe from What’s A Cook to Do? by James Peterson

Ingredients:

  • 1 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c water
  • 8 tbsp (1 stick) butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract

*This recipe makes 1 1/2 c of butterscotch sauce, store at room temperature. And by the way, I think this sauce would make and excellent gift if you happen to be looking for a diy gift for any occasion.

Directions:

Pour sugar into a heavy-bottomed sauce pan over medium heat (if using a gas stove top use medium-low heat). It is helpful if the bottom of the pan is shiny, rather than dark on the bottom so you will be able to see the changes in color.

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Allow the sugar to melt, stirring frequently.

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The sugar has caramelized when it is a dark reddish brown and has completely melted with no lumps.

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Add the water to the mixture and boil until the mixture is evenly combined. Next, add the butter and boil until the syrup is frothy, changes to a deep brown color and has a nutty smell to it (5 minutes or so).

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Carefully, add the heavy cream, stir to combine, and allow to boil for a few seconds.

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The mixture should be a smooth sauce, remove from heat and allow to cool.

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Dessert Assembly:

Remove the roasted fruit from the pan and place individual servings on plates (or bowls).

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Drizzle with the butterscotch sauce.

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Add a healthy dollop of whipped cream on top.

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Serve while the fruit is still warm.

Enjoy!

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Roasted Apples

Slightly adapted from What’s a Cook to Do? by James Peterson

Ingredients:

  • 4 apples, peeled, cored, and cut in half*
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp sugar

*A Note on ingredients; use a harder apple that is good for baking (Braeburn, Cortland, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Empire, Jonagold, McIntosh).

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut up the butter into small pieces. Scatter half of the butter on the bottom of a heavy bottomed, oven proof pan and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar over the butter and bottom of the pan.

Place apples on top of the butter and sugar. Arrange the rest of the pieces of butter on top of the apples, and sprinkle the entire pan with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Bake for 25-35 minutes, until the apples are easily pierced with a fork and the butter on the bottom of the pan has browned slightly.

 

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Butterscotch Sauce*

Recipe from What’s A Cook to Do? by James Peterson

Ingredients:

  • 1 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c water
  • 8 tbsp (1 stick) butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract

*This recipe makes 1 1/2 c of butterscotch sauce, store at room temperature.

Directions:

Pour sugar into a heavy-bottomed sauce pan over medium heat (if using a gas stove top use medium-low heat). It is helpful if the bottom of the pan is shiny, rather than dark on the bottom so you will be able to see the changes in color.

Allow the sugar to melt, stirring frequently. The sugar has caramelized when it is a dark, reddish brown and has completely melted with no lumps.

Add the water to the mixture and boil until the mixture is evenly combined. Next, add the butter and boil until the syrup is frothy, changes to a deep brown color and has a nutty smell to it (5 minutes or so).

Carefully, add the heavy cream, stir to combine, and allow to boil for a few seconds. The mixture should be a smooth sauce, remove from heat and allow to cool.

 

Chocolate Bark

I love working with chocolate. The possibilities are endless, and let’s admit it, a chocolate drizzle makes everything better. Because I just love playing with chocolate so very much, I have 2 chocolate bark variations in this post. They are easy and fun to make, and if you need a last-minute “cookie” for a cookie swap or holiday party, these are always a big hit. Also, as far as DIY gifts go, these are pretty awesome. So make one, make them all, and for the love of my girlish figure, someone please come over and eat all of these!

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Before I get started on these beauties, let’s have a quick chat about melting chocolate. For these recipes and for melting chocolate in general, I recommend using baker’s chocolate or melting chips, rather than say a solid chocolate bar, or white chocolate chips. The reason for this is that I’ve been burned before, or more accurately I’ve burned chocolate before. A lot actually. It’s so easy to do. Especially white chocolate, so that’s why I recommend using a chocolate that is intended to be melted. Also, white chocolate can totally be a pain in the butt, and some white chocolates actually need some oil added to them, so really save your sanity and buy melting chips or baking chocolate, it melts nicely and nothing needs to be added to it.

Also, I do not like melting chocolate in the microwave. If this is your preferred method, you have my blessing, but if you, like myself, belive your microwave is an inconsistent appliance out to get you, set up a double boiler.  You don’t need any special equipment for this; all you need is a pot with about and inch or two of water in the bottom and a heat proof bowl that can put on top of the pot so that it receives the heat from the steam but is not directly in the pot.

Put the pot on your stove top and put on medium heat. Break up the chocolate you are melting into medium-small pieces. Set aside 1/4 of the amount and save for later. Put 3/4 of the chocolate in to the bowl resting on top of your pot.

Depending on the amount of chocolate you are melting and how large the pieces are, this could happen pretty quickly so keep a close eye on your chocolate. Stir the chocolate gently as it begins to melt. Once it is about 75% melted remove the bowl from the heat. Add the reserved un-melted chocolate and stir to combine for 30-60 seconds.

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Put the bowl back over the pot, and let the mixture continue to melt. Once the mixture is almost melted, but still has some small lumps, remove from the heat. Stir the chocolate until smooth.

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Melt your chocolate like that and you will not burn it, and it will be just lovely to work with.

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Christmas Bark with Cranberries and Pistachios

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz chocolate (any kind you like, white, milk, dark, etc)
  • 1/4 c pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 c dried cranberries, roughly chopped*

*Don’t like cranberries? Try dried cherries, or freeze-dried strawberries

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Directions:

Melt the chocolate per the instructions above. Pour the melted chocolate onto a flat pan lined with parchment paper.

Spread the melted chocolate out to the desired thickness.

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Or using a large spoon dollop chocolate onto the parchment paper to form bite-size circles.

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While the chocolate is still warm top with the nuts and dried fruit.

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Allow the bark to cool and harden at room temperature.

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This will take some time, but if you put it in the fridge the chocolate will most likely bloom (bloom= unsightly white circles and dots will form on your chocolate). Once the chocolate has cooled completely cut up into smaller pieces (if desired).

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Aren’t these just lovely? So festive, I love it!

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Peppermint Bark

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz white chocolate
  • 8 oz dark chocolate
  • 1/4 cup crushed candy canes

Directions:

First, melt the white chocolate and pour on to a flat pan lined with parchment paper. Spread the melted chocolate out to the desired thickness. Allow the white chocolate to cool and harden. Once the white chocolate is mostly dried, melt the dark chocolate, and pour on top of the white chocolate. While the dark chocolate is still warm sprinkle the candy canes on top.

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Allow the chocolate to cool and harden completely before cutting.


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Christmas Bark with Cranberries and Pistachios

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz chocolate (any kind you like, white, milk, dark, etc)
  • 1/4 c pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 c dried cranberries, roughly chopped*

*Don’t like cranberries? Try dried cherries, or freeze-dried strawberries

Directions:

Melt the chocolate per the instructions above. Pour the melted chocolate onto a flat pan lined with parchment paper.

Spread the melted chocolate out to the desired thickness, or using a large spoon dollop chocolate onto the parchment paper to form bite-size circles.

While the chocolate is still warm top with the nuts and dried fruit. Allow the bark to cool and harden at room temperature. This will take some time, but if you put it in the fridge the chocolate will most likely bloom (bloom= unsightly white circles and dots will form on your chocolate). Once the chocolate has cooled completely cut up into smaller pieces (if desired).

 

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Peppermint Bark

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz white chocolate
  • 8 oz dark chocolate
  • 1/4 cup crushed candy canes

Directions:

First, melt the white chocolate and pour on to a flat pan lined with parchment paper. Spread the melted chocolate out to the desired thickness. Allow the white chocolate to cool and harden.

Once the white chocolate is mostly dried, melt the dark chocolate, and pour on top of the white chocolate. While the dark chocolate is still warm sprinkle the candy canes on top.

Allow the chocolate to cool and harden completely before cutting.

Braised Short Ribs; A Guest Post

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For the first time ever, I have a guest post for you! Check out the article below as my husband Joe writes about making Braised Short Ribs that will knock your socks off!

Don’t forget to subscribe Recklessly to receive emails every time an article is posted, so you never miss a recipe!

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So, let’s just admit that we’re all human. Seriously, take a moment or two and think about it. Don’t worry, I’ll wait. Got it? Good. One of the dirty little secrets about being human is that we desire recognition for the things we do well. Don’t even bother trying to argue against it, you do. We all do. It’s just part of the deal. We get to have thumbs, too, so its a fair trade in my book. We’ve all had those grand dreams of impressing our friends and loved ones beyond belief over something we’ve done. Maybe you save a bus full of school children from falling off a cliff. Maybe you cure cancer while setting the world record for spinning a basketball on your fingertip. Or maybe you run a marathon… while carrying a live brown bear. As impressive as these feats are, they seem really hard. This is a much easier way to impress those friends and loved ones, and with a far smaller chance of getting mauled. By a BEAR. This is really just an ever so slight adaptation Anne Burrell’s recipe that was posted to Food Network’s website, but it is really, really good.

Here’s what you’ll need (serves 8):
About 5 hours of time (hands on: 90 minutes)
About 5-6 pounds boneless Short Ribs
Kosher salt
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 ribs celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled, cut in 1/2 lengthwise, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 1/2 cups tomato paste
2 to 3 cups hearty red wine
2 cups water
1 bunch fresh thyme, tied with kitchen string
2 bay leaves

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In this post, I have halved the recipe since Clara and I don’t have any kids. Or friends. It easily reduces down to serve 4. Here is the halved version, for those who aren’t too good much fractions:

About 2.5-3 pounds boneless Short Ribs
Kosher salt
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 large Spanish onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 rib celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 carrot, peeled, cut in 1/2 lengthwise, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 clove garlic, smashed
3/4 cups tomato paste
1.5 cups hearty red wine
1 cups water
1 bunch fresh thyme, tied with kitchen string
1 bay leaf

One last note about this slight adaptation: we used boneless short ribs because they are cheaper for some reason on base than their bone-in brethren. If you use the bone-in variety, which are probably less expensive under most circumstances, nothing really changes. Just be sure to adjust for the weight of the bone when planning your serving sizes. And you don’t need to brown the bone. Just saying.

The Process
-Season each short rib generously with salt. Like, for serious. This salt layer will help create a crust on the outer layer of the ribs, which is critical to lock in the flavor of this whole process. This recipe is not for the faint of heart, or the health conscious. This is a treat meal. It is not healthy by almost any standard, but trust me, it is delicious. And I guess it has a lot of protein. So there’s that!

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-Coat a pot large enough to accommodate all the meat and vegetables with olive oil and bring to a high heat. For the full version, a large soup pot will do just fine. Extra space isn’t a problem, but not having enough space certainly is. For the halved version, we are using a very large cast iron pan with a cover. You NEED a cover, so make sure you have one that fits the pot/pan you choose.

-Add the short ribs to the pan and brown very well, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Do not overcrowd pan. Cook in batches, if necessary. This is a marathon, not a sprint. They have to go in the oven for like 3 hours anyway. Taking an extra 10 minutes to do this right isn’t a big deal. Each side should look very, very brown, but NOT black or burned.

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-Preheat the oven to 375F. This can be done first thing, if you so choose, but it will be awhile before you need it. Just trying to save a few cents on that electric/gas bill.

-While the short ribs are browning, puree all the vegetables and garlic in a food processor until it forms a coarse paste. This will form a large part of the flavor base for the braising liquid. While the short ribs will be the star of the show, the veggie base will be the, uh, well trained stage crew that does all the little things behind the scenes to let that star shine so bright. Hooray for long analogies!

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-When the short ribs are very brown on all sides, remove them from the pan. Drain the fat, coat the bottom of same pan with fresh oil and add the pureed vegetables. DO NOT wash out that pan if you can avoid it. Drain the fat, and leave whatever else you can; those browned bits will add some serious flavor later on.

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-Season the vegetables with salt and brown them until they are a nice light brown and a slight crud layer has formed on the bottom of the pan, approximately 5 to 8 minutes. Yes, yes, I know what you are thinking: crud is actually an acronym that stands for “Chalk River Unidentified Deposit”, relating to the strange, radioactive particulates found downstream of the Chalk River Nuclear Laboratory near Ottowa in the 1950’s. Please let that slide for just a moment. When the semi-colorful paste starts turning brown, good things are happening.

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– Scrape the crud and let it reform (Brown food is good food!). Scrape the crud one more time and add the tomato paste. Brown the tomato paste for 4 to 5 minutes. I use the term “brown” pretty liberally here. If it goes full on brown, that’s fine. If it just turns a deeper red, that is also fine. Just let it cook for those 4-5 minutes to let all those flavors blend together. (The original recipe calls for the more full on brown. Feel free to cook the tomato paste longer to achieve that color. I’m paranoid about burning things.)

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-Add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan once again. Lower the heat if things are starting to burn, as we are in the home stretch now. Brown is good, black is bad! Continue cooking and reduce the mixture by about half. Remember, lowering the heat at this point is OK! If you have seen a few black bits in your crud layers, lowering the heat is recommended. At this point, we are just waiting for the alcohol to cook off. As long as you see some steam coming off the mixture, all is well. It might just take a little bit longer.

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-Return the short ribs to the pan and add water until the water has just about covered the meat. Add the thyme bundle and bay leaves. Cover the pan and place in the preheated oven for 3 hours.

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-Check periodically during the cooking process and add more water, if needed. Again, we want the ribs not quite covered, but you also don’t want the liquid level to get too low. Turn the ribs over halfway through the cooking time. I have never had this problem, at least until the halfway mark. If you have cookware you can trust, just set it and forget it for the full 90 minutes until the halfway point and re-evaluate the water level while you are flipping the ribs.

-Remove the lid during the last 15-20 minutes of cooking to let things get nice and brown and to let the sauce reduce down a bit. When done the meat should be very tender but not completely falling apart. Stick a fork in it and pull it back out. It should just slide right back out without taking the short ribs with it. Serve with the braising liquid, and a side of your choice.

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A nice creamy side works well to enhance the texture of this dish. Pair this with your favorite mashed potato, and everybody will be pretty darn happy. Unless your favorite mashed potato sucks. We’ve also tried this with polenta, which was even better, in my opinion.

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Braised Short Ribs

Slightly Adapted from FoodNetwork.com

Ingredients:

  • About 5-6 pounds boneless Short Ribs
  • Kosher salt
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large Spanish onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 ribs celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 carrots, peeled, cut in 1/2 lengthwise, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato paste
  • 2 to 3 cups hearty red wine
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme, tied with kitchen string
  • 2 bay leaves

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Season each short rib generously with salt. Coat a large oven-safe pot (that has an oven safe cover) with olive oil and bring to a high heat.

Add the short ribs to the pan and brown very well, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Do not overcrowd pan. Cook in batches, if necessary. Each side should look very, very brown, but NOT black or burned.

While the short ribs are browning, puree all the vegetables and garlic in a food processor until it forms a coarse paste. When the short ribs are very brown on all sides, remove them from the pan. Drain the fat, coat the bottom of same pan with fresh oil and add the pureed vegetables. DO NOT wash out the pot.

Season the vegetables with salt and brown them until they are a nice light brown and a slight crud layer has formed on the bottom of the pan, approximately 5 to 8 minutes.

Scrape the crud and let it reform (Brown food is good food!). Scrape the crud one more time and add the tomato paste. Brown the tomato paste for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan once again. Lower the heat if things are starting to burn, continue cooking and reduce the mixture by about half.

Return the short ribs to the pan and add water until the water has just about covered the meat. Add the thyme bundle and bay leaves. Cover the pan and place in the preheated oven for 3 hours.

Check periodically during the cooking process and add more water, if needed. You want the ribs almost but not completely covered in liquid. Turn the ribs over halfway through the cooking time.

Remove the lid during the last 15-20 minutes of cooking to let the sauce reduce down a bit. When done the meat should be very tender but not completely falling apart. Serve with the braising liquid, and a side of mashed potatoes or polenta.