Raspberry Almond Thumbprint Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups + 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup raspberry jam

Directions:

  1. Using a handheld or stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Switch mixer to medium speed and add the sugar, vanilla, and almond extracts. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl as needed. Turn the mixer off and pour the flour into the wet ingredients. Turn the mixer on low and slowly beat until a very soft dough is formed. Press the dough down to compact it and tightly cover with plastic wrap to chill until firm.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Shape the cookie dough into balls. Mine were about 1 Tablespoon of dough per ball. Make sure they’re nice and smooth. If you find the balls of dough are sticky and/or have gotten a little soft after rolling- place the balls of dough back into the refrigerator to firm up. You absolutely DO NOT want soft dough. Make an indention with your thumb into each ball. The dough may crack slightly when you press your thumb into it. Simply smooth it out with your finger if you can. Otherwise, it’s perfectly fine to have a few cracks. Fill each with a scant 1/2 teaspoon of jam. (Or however much it can hold.)
  3. Bake the shortbread thumbprint cookies for 14-15 minutes, or until very lightly browned on the edges. The cookies will puff up and spread slightly. Do no over bake. In fact, I only baked mine for 13-14 minutes. I prefer them a little soft. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wore rack.

~Recipe from sallybakingaddiction.com

Sweet Potato Casserole

Ingredients:

Filling:

  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter, melted, plus more for buttering the baking dish
  • 3 to 4 large sweet potatoes (about 1 3/4 pounds), peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1.4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs

Topping:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter, melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Directions:

  1. For the sweet potatoes: Add 1 3/4 pounds peeled and cubed sweet potatoes to a large pot of salted water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are very tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and cool. Mash the sweet potatoes.
  2. For the filling: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 2-quart baking dish.
  3. Whisk together the butter, mashed sweet potatoes, milk, brown sugar, vanilla, salt and eggs in a large bowl. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
  4. For the topping: Combine the flour, brown sugar, butter and salt in a medium bowl until moist and mixture clumps together. Stir in the pecans. Spread the mixture over the top of the sweet potatoes in an even layer. Bake until mostly set in the center and golden on top, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve hot.

~Recipe adapted from Food Network Kitchen

Easy Sesame Chicken

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Chicken
    • 1 large egg
    • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
    • 1 pinch each salt & pepper
    • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
    • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil (for frying)
  • Sauce
    • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
    • 1 Tbsp water
    • 1/2 Tbs toasted sesame oil
    • 1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
    • 1 1/2 Tbsp rice vinegar
    • 1 inch fresh ginger, grated
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 2 Tbsp sesame seeds
    • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • For Serving
    • 4 cups cooked jasmine rice
    • 2 whole green onions

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, whisk the egg, 2 Tbsp cornstarch, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Trim any excess fat from the chicken thighs, then cut into small 1 inch pieces. Toss the chicken in the egg and cornstarch mixture.
  2. Heat a large skillet with 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is very hot (it should look wavy on the surface), add the chicken and all of the egg mixture. Cook the chicken, stirring only occasionally, until it is golden brown and cooked through (about 7-10 minutes). Drain off the excess oil, if desired.
  3. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the sauce. In a small bowl stir together the soy sauce, water, sesame oil, brown sugar, rice vinegar, fresh ginger, minced garlic, cornstarch, and sesame seeds. (You can grate the ginger & garlic with a small-holed cheese grater).
  4. When the chicken is cooked through and golden brown, pour the sauce over top. Toss the chicken to coat in the sauce. The sauce will begin to thicken as soon as it hits the hot skillet. Once the chicken is coated and the sauce thickened, turn off the heat.
  5. Serve the chicken over a bed of rice and sprinkle the sliced green onions over top.

*I used chicken breast rather than thighs.

*Gluten Free Substitute for Soy Sauce: Liquid Aminos

Recipe via budgetbytes.com

Eggplant and Mushroom Polenta Bake

**First picture from original source of recipe (the inside of mine didn’t come out as pretty).
Difficulty: Easy
Total time: 1hr 45 minutes
Serves: 6 to 8

Ingredients:

  • For the filling
    • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 1/2 pounds Japanese eggplant, large dice
    • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed and mushrooms quartered
    • 1/3 cup dry red wine
    • 1/2 medium yellow onion, small dice
    • 1 teaspoon dried oragano
    • 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    • Kosher salt
    • 5 medium garlic cloves, minced
    • 1/2 cup green olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
    • 1 (14 1/2 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
    • 1 cup water
    • Freshly ground black pepper
  • For the polenta and to assemble:
    • 3 cups water, plus more as needed
    • 2 cups whole milk
    • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
    • 1 1/2 cups polenta (or coarsely ground cornmeal)
    • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 ounces)
    • 1 1/2 cups shredded fontina cheese (about 5 ounces)

Directions:

  1. Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Place a large, well-seasoned or enameled cast iron skillet in the oven while it is heating.
  2. Once the oven is heated, carefully drizzle 1 Tablespoon of the oil into the hot skillet and let it heat up for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the eggplant to the skillet and arrange it in an even layer. Roast until tender and starting to brown, stirring halfway through, about 25 minutes. Using a dry kitchen towel or potholder, carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven by its handle and place it on the stovetop. Use care when hadnling the hot skillet on the stovetop.) Using a spoon, transfer the eggplant to a medium bowl; set aside.
  3. Add 1 Tablespoon of the oil to the skillet and place over high heat until shimmering. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring rarely, until browned, about 8 minutes. Add the wine, stir to combine, and cook until the liquid has completely evaporated. Reduce the heat to medium low and, using a spoon, transfer the mushrooms to the bowl with the eggplant.
  4. Add the remaining 1 Tablespoon of the skillet and heat until shimmering Add the onion, orangano, and red pepper flakes and season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened and is just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute more.
  5. Add the olives and reserve eggplant and mushrooms, along with any accumulated juices in the bowl, and stir to combine. Add the tomatoes and water, season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, begin making the polenta. (When the eggplant and mushroom mixture is ready, remove from the heat, taste, and season with salt and pepper as needed; keep warm until the polenta is ready.)

For the polenta and to assemble:

  1. Place the measured water, milk and salt in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and, whisking constantly, slowly pour in the polenta in a thin, steady stream until all of it is incorporated and there are no lumps.
  2. Cook, whisking or stirring with a spoon every few minutes, until the polenta pulls away from the sides of the pan and the grains have softened, about 20 minutes. (If the polenta starts to get too thick before it’s done, add water 1/4 cup at a time as necessary.) Stir in the Parmesan cheese and set aside. Heat the oven to broil and keep the rack in the middle.
  3. Pour the polenta over the eggplant and mushroom mixture and spread it into a smooth, even layer. Evenly sprinkle the fontina over the polenta. Place the skillet in the oven and boil until the cheese is browned and bubbling, about 4 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit 5 minutes before serving.

*I don’t have a cast iron skillet, so I used a oven safe pan. If your pan has a plastic handle wrap it with foil to make it oven safe.

~Recipe from Chow.com

Bacon Wrapped Dates

Always a hit at any party! A great snack & easily reheat-able

Prep. time: 20 min

Cook time: 16 min

Ingredients:

  • 20 Medjool pitted dates*
  • 1 pound aged Manchego cheese, cut into 20 blocks
  • 10 slices bacon, cut in half

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Make an incision on one side of each date and insert a block of Manchego. Squeeze the date shut in your hand to secure. Wrap each date with a bacon strip and secure with a toothpick. Place all the dates on a sheet tray lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Roast the dates in the oven until the bacon on top is starting to crisp, 5 to 6 minutes. Turn the dates over and cook the other side until the bacon crisps, roughly another 10 minutes.

*I’ve started to replace the cheese with an almond, which makes them dairy free and adds a bit of a crunch.

*I often get dates with pits in them and de-pit them myself with needle-nose pliers. By cutting the tip of the date off and pulling out the pit.

~Recipe is based on Anne Burrell’s from foodnetwork.com