We don’t eat out a lot. We are a family of 5 and to take the entire family out at once costs an arm and a leg. On the rare occasion we brave the inevitable melt down elements it’s typically to our favorite Mexican joint (chips/salsa and a margarita the size of a fish bowl yes please). The food is good, reasonably priced and it’s so loud no one can hear our uber loud kids. Win. Win. When it’s just the two of us, we like to go where there is wine there are adults having conversation around say a cheese plate. We don’t have that in Mayberry our 2 stoplight town but a hop skip and a town over we’ve become enamored with a local restaurant called Fig.
It’s all about balance. Especially during December and into the new year where although my mind wants to tell me that all those irresistible sweet holiday treats are calorie free, sadly my metabolism tells me otherwise. Uffa. So instead of boycotting them all together (because for me that’s just not an option, have you met my sweet tooth? ) I try to balance them out. Along with all those beautiful baked goods I’ve been churning out we throw in a few healthier dishes. Like this herb crusted baked cod. Would you believe me if I told you that this could be on your table in less than 30 minutes? Yes, it’s true. Healthy and quick. Winner winner fish dinner.
Have you noticed there’s a whole lot of brownies coming out of my kitchen lately? Yes? Me too. Sorry can’t help it. I. Love. Them. We’ve shared CHRISTMAS CREAM CHEESE BROWNIES, PEPPERMINT CRUNCH BROWNIES, and now I give to you Peppermint Brownie Bars. Fa-la-la-la-la. Yes, third times a charm. These babies have four, count them FOUR layers of deliciousness. Brownie + Creamy Filling + Chocolate + Peppermint = happy happy happy. It’s true. Since December is calorie free (wink wink) you’ll be fine indulging in one of these decadent squares of dee-lite. One is pretty much all you need. They’re rich and did I mention the four layers?
Next time you’re at a holiday party go ahead and count how many dishes include cream cheese. That creamy dreamy deliciousness pops up everywhere this time of year. And with good reason. It’s SO stinking good. You could just hand me a cracker with a smidge of cream cheese and a drizzle of honey and I’m a happy camper. But let’s be honest I’m not going to turn down anything with cream cheese in there (especially dessert).
Here’s a cookie that Santa would like to take a bite of. At least I’d like to think so. Now I should clarify there is no mistletoe in these cookies. Because that would be nasty. My Mom made chocolate mint cookies during the holidays growing up (a special nod to my obsession love of thin mint Girl Scout cookies, she spoiled me I was her favorite – don’t worry my sister doesn’t read my blog tee hee) and called them Mistletoe Mint Cookies aka chocolate mint cookies. She would typically make them with Andes mints. You know those tiny little rectangular mints wrapped in the green foil packaging. Yes those. The ones that better be in my stocking or else.
One of my favorite things to do is to take an ingredient and do something unexpected with it. Like cookie dough for instance, cookies are fantastic and are getting a lot of attention right now, rightly so ’tis the cookie exchange season not to mention cookies for Santa and all, but how about taking cookie dough and turning into to say a dessert pizza just to shake things up? Now we’re talking. It’s basically one giant cookie topped with your tummies momentary desire.
I love sauces. It’s only natural since I’m fairly saucy myself. One that I think is pretty under rated is the Italian Salsa Verde aka Green Sauce. It’s bright vibrant and BOLD. There are many many versions of salsa verde depending on which family you ask or even depending on what region you’re from. Some recipes contain bread, anchovies, capers etc. This is the version that I make most often. It’s perfect on chicken, fish, pork as a condiment for sandwiches or even for dipping bread. It’s a multi-tasking work horse of a sauce.
I love mints. I’m one of the people who always have mints in their purse. I’m not particular which kind, I just love that minty fresh taste and feeling after eating them. Makes me want to whistle. Is that odd? Naturally when it comes to time to get my holiday baking on I love to mix and mash mints into anything and everything! From adding mint extracts to crushed mints to mint chocolate chips. Well you get the picture. At least we’ll have fresh breath while we’re packing on the pounds. Oh wait, December is calorie free right? *wink wink*
Who doesn’t love a bite sized dessert? These little festive bites are made from cookie dough that you bake into mini “cups”. They’re so simple the kids could even make them. Once baked and cooled (otherwise the ice cream will just melt everywhere and you’ll have a holiday shot – there’s another idea altogether) you fill them full of sundae scrumptiousness. Set out a few toppings a few ice cream flavors and let the kids (young and young at heart) go crazy!
Has the baking frenzy begun in your house? It has in mine. I’m giving Ada (no I don’t have a maid, Ada is my KitchenAid stove – don’t you name your appliances? Tell me I’m not the only one.) no rest this month. I’m sure I’ll call Uncle before she does though. I’m impatient. It’s true. Simple is my baking mantra. These little nutty Nutella rolls couldn’t be easier unless you picked them up the bakery. I’ll be serving these as an easy dessert and as a quick and easy breakfast with a side of fruit. Double duty recipes make me happy.
Today you’re in for a treat. My super talented stalker bff Susan is stopping by with a tasty treat. She’s whipped up a batch of White Chocolate Citrus Spice Eggnog Cookies just for YOU! Why? We’re hosting a virtual cookie swap for our friends at McCormick (we have the hardest jobs don’t we). Once you’ve drooled all over Susan’s recipe. Be sure to pop over to her blog to check out my PEPPERMINT CRUNCH COOKIES! Now onto Susan’s sweet stuff…
I am kind of obsessed with making caramels. Ever since I found how easy they were I can’t stop making them. This isn’t fairing well for trying to lose those extra Turkey pounds either. I started with theNutella Sea Salt Caramels and have now graduated to chocolate covered caramels. Specifically Peppermint Pattie chocolate covered caramels. I’ll give that a minute to sink in.
Holiday baking is in full swing (at least in our house). One of the quickest and easiest things to make and share with friends and family are cookies. Dozens and dozens of cookies. Who doesn’t love cookies? I mean really. In preparation for our cookie-fest we have stocked up on all of the baking essential like: flour, sugar, butter, pure vanilla extract, chocolate in every form possible and a few fun garnishes (think nuts, coconut flakes and the like). I was a girl scout after all and we like to be prepared.
Soft chewy caramels that have that ribbon of ooey gooey sticky goodness that pulls away when you bite into them. Yes that’s a very good thing. Nutella Sea Salt Caramels I don’t even have words. I’m not sure why exactly it’s taken me so long to try making my own caramels. I honestly thought it was going to be a long drawn out process not to mention the possibility of severe burns. Hello it is candy making after all. Hot bubbling sugar mixture combined with the queen of clumbsy yes it could happen. Guess what? It wasn’t hard at all.
I’m not going to lie. This is the best pudding I’ve ever eaten in my life. I know you’re thinking Paula it’s just pudding. Oh no no no no no no no no (did you see me waving my finger and shaking my head ’cause I was). It’s Vanilla Caramel BUDINO (okay still pudding but much sexier in Italian) and my eyes rolled back into my head when I tasted this. Let me back up a bit. Sus and I took a little trip to Beverly Hills a few weekends back. We holed up at the posh Beverly Wilshire (you know the one where they filmed THE Pretty Woman) and had planned on eating as much ridiculously good food as possible.
My BABY is turning 15 this Sunday. I am not okay with this. How did this happen? She went from pig tails and tutus to stealing borrowing my clothes and shoes in what seems like 60 seconds. Now she’s traded in the tutus for sparklier things (she is my child after all). She is a beautiful smart funny and kind young woman (and no I’m not okay with the shoes thing either) that I couldn’t be more proud of if I tried. Anyone have any Kleenex? I think I’m going to need some.
For me food = memories. There are so many foods that I associate with very specific people, places or events. For instance, I can’t think of Divinity without thinking of Christmas. My Grandma. My Mom. My Grandma, who I miss dearly, was a whiz in the kitchen. She was a pinch of this, a smidge of that and “baby just look at it, it’ll tell you when it’s done.” She was one of those people who you knew you wanted whatever she was cooking. Especially when she made divinity.
I have to apologize. I haven’t posted anything Nutella in way too long (covering eyes with hands). The shame. I hope I can make it up to you with this peace offering. Cake. Who doesn’t love cake? Especially one that is a cross between a brownie and a cake and is overflowing with Nutella-liciousness. AND since it’s flour less it’s practically healthy right? If not, please don’t ruin it and tell me. I’m holding onto that one thank you.
I have to tell you straight away that I am obsessed with this soup. If I could bathe in it I would. Probably TMI but I need to convey to you how much I absolutely adore this soup. I (and you as soon as you make this) have Chef Mike to blame thank. I was in faboosh Fresno a few weeks ago with California Raisins (if you follow me on Instagram you saw all the photos but if no and why not, you can read about it in my Travel section very soon) one of the dishes we had while there was a roasted corn soup that made my eyes roll back in my head and make noises a la scene from When Harry Met Sally.
Living on or near the coast for most of my life it’s only natural that I like seafood. Shrimp anyone? While living in Savannah I was introduced to a dish/event called a “Low Country Boil”. It involves a VERY large pot (like a turkey fryer) a lot of family and friends and more food than you could shake a stick at, and okay who am I kidding a lot of beer. Not in the pot mind you. The key to a good Low Country Boil is knowing when to add each ingredient to the pot so that’s it cooked properly.