Solar Eclipse // Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Have you ever watched Napoleon Dynamite? In the intro, they write all of the movie’s information on food with ketchup, mustard and mayo. The art work is beautiful and ugly at the same time.

This is a good segue to my cookie piping skills . . . which are mediocre at best. I know it, you know it. We all know it.

I’ll admit, my solar eclipse cookies are beautiful in an ugly way. Meaning they aren’t perfect, but it’s kind of what makes them cool to look at. But they are fun to make, fun to write on and fun to eat. So I’d say it’s an all around win.

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Okay, so let’s start with a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe. I got mine from here, but I tweaked it a bit to fit what I had at the house.

First, you sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and kosher salt) together.

In a separate bowl, combine melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar. Then, add your egg, egg YOLK and vanilla. Stir really good!

TIP: I used to get confused with what was the yolk and what was the egg white. Now I remember YOLK is the YELLOW part. See? They both start with the letter “Y.” Dear people like me, you’re welcome.

Use a cutting board to chop your chocolate! It looks beautiful! I am a huge fan of Lindt Chocolate, so I got one bar that was 70% dark and then a dark chocolate bar with sea salt.

TIP: The cookies should be about the size of golf balls.

While the cookies are cooking, I like to make the buttercream icing. Mix together softened butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, shortening and milk.

Tip: Heat the butter in the microwave for eight seconds . . . twice. It will come out perfectly softened!

My mom uses this icing recipe for most of her cakes! We LOVE it!

Separate the icing into three bowls and add black food coloring to one, yellow to another and then white. Put each color in piping bags (or in a ziploc bag with the end cut off) and decorate!

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I dedicate this last cookie “Where the LIGHT isn’t” to John Mayer. XOXO

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GUEST BAKER: STEPHANIE THOMAS // The Saturday Sandwich

This weekend, I’m in Nashville visiting my sister and her kiddos! My sister, Stephanie, is a lover of all things cooking and baking. But even more that, she elevates the most common of dishes into something extraordinary.

Today I’m starting a new series called GUEST BAKER. Here’s how it works: I’ll invite a friend to school me in the kitchen and then share the details with all of you.

My first GUEST BAKER is Stephanie Thomas!

Isn’t she cute?! Let’s get to know Steph in this rapid-fire interview!

Favorite Kitchen Utensil: Microplane zester.

Cook Who Inspires You: Jenny Rosenstrach of Dinner: A Love Story.

Go-to Cookbook: Anything by Mark Bitman, who will teach you how to cook everything.

Ingredient You Always Have: Eggs, because they go good in and on everything.

#1 Baking Tip: Dad put the fear of God in us about opening the oven to take a good long look at your food. I want to die whenever I see someone else doing this. It burns your food, people!

Utensil You Bought but Never Use: Most of the knives in our knife block.

Messy or Clean in the Kitchen: MESSY all the way. (Didn’t even have to ask Steph the answer to this question. . . )

Favorite Dish to Eat Growing Up: Mom’s lasagna, homemade bbq chicken pizza, dad’s burgers . . . I can’t choose!

I am in love with this kitchen. It’s absolutely beautiful, so I had to share it with you!!!

This china cabinet–and everything in it!–is my absolute favorite part of her kitchen!

On The Saturday Sandwich: For Steph and Eric, Saturdays mornings are meant to be slow and easygoing. After playing blocks or having a dance party with their two boys, Steph will head into the kitchen and see what’s in the fridge. This is the beauty behind The Saturday Sandwich–it uses up any leftover ingredients you have from the previous week!

This specific sandwich recipe is a fan favorite in their house. I tried it and absolutely LOVED it!

The Basics: This type of sandwich consists of bread, a spreadable cheese–she used pepper jack laughing cow cheese–,sliced cheese, turkey, another fatty meat, something green, a tomato, and the most important ingredient . . . chimichurri sauce

Make the sauce a few days in advance, you can even use it to pour over your veggies throughout the week. Steph adds 1/4 tsp. of coriander and a pinch of red pepper flakes to the sauce.

Look how beautiful it is!!!

The chimichurri sauce is first poured on over the meat and then again right before adding the top piece of sandwich bread.

 

GUEST BAKER’S NOTE: Covering the sandwich with a pan lid is KEY to making it taste perfect! This helps the cheese melt and mix with the chimichurri sauce.

After 3-5 minutes of cooking on each side, take the lid off and press the sandwich down really hard with a spatula. Cook for a few more minutes. This allows the cheese and sauce to seep out which makes the bread crispy.

Wah-lah, look at how beautiful it is!

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Seriously, are you hungry yet?

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I dipped mine in the chimichurri sauce and it was wonderful!

Click here to get the directions for the chimichurri sauce. (Don’t forget to add the coriander and red pepper flakes!)

The Saturday Sandwich

 

 

 

Amish Cheese Bread

In high school, I obsessed over Amish people.

I loved how they created everything with their own two hands. Blankets, clothes, houses, barns, meals, you name it they make it. Even their bread is made from scratch. #praise

Let’s be real, store-bought bread isn’t real bread. Real bread starts with a few ingredients and is kneaded by the person who wants to eat it. Real bread takes its time rising. Then, after hours of waiting… it’s baked and slathered with melted butter. Anyone hungry?

Which brings me to today’s recipe: Amish Cheese Bread.

This is my go-to recipe when I’m invited to a party. I originally found the recipe from here, but after a few tries I tweaked it a bit and made it my own.

It takes around 2.5 hours to make, but it’s so simple and most of the time is spent waiting for the bread to rise.

How beautiful is this?

The recipes starts off with warm water, sugar and yeast. Then you add in oil, salt and bread flour. Easy, right?

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NOTE: I use Pillsbury’s bread flour because it tastes better than any other brand I’ve tried. Also, I use kosher salt for everything! But if you only have regular salt, then use it!

Active Dry Yeast can be found in just about any store! Usually it’s located right above the flour.

After everything is combined, it’s time to knead the bread. Kneading sounds scary, like one wrong movement could mess up the entire recipe. But I promise, Amish Cheese Bread is hard to mess up. Only spend a few minutes kneading, it will end up looking a lot like the picture above!

Then, you place the bread in an oiled bowl and cover it with a warm towel. Wah-lah! An hour later, you’ll have bread dough that looks more like this.
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Divide the dough into two loaf pans, then sprinkle on garlic powder, Italian seasoning and sharp cheddar cheese.

Bake on 350 for 30 minutes and once it’s done, slather some melted butter on top. NOTE: My family loves crispy cheese on everything, so I recommend broiling the top for a minute or two!

Isn’t it gorgeous?!

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Amish Cheese Bread

 

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

My favorite time is when I’m alone in the kitchen. It’s then that I take a breath and recharge from a long day.

Creating a dish or a dessert by myself is stressful, exciting and calming all at once. (S/O to my mom for always helping me through the stressful bits, haha. Also, sorry mom.)

Today, I wanted something sweet but not too sweet. You know the feeling?

A few weeks ago, my niece and I had a tea party. I found a brownie recipe online for us to whip up. It was simple and had the basic pantry ingredients, so we didn’t have to run to the store. (My favorite kind of recipe!!)


I knew this recipe would be perfect to make today! I altered it a bit, making it my own. Instead of regular cocoa powder, I switched it out for Special Dark Cocoa. I also added one bar of Lindt’s Smooth Dark Chocolate (70% Cocoa). It makes it so delicious!!!

FYI: The peanut butter swirl is my favorite thing to do! Beware of over-mixing the peanut butter, because it will lose its beautiful design!

NOTE: This batter is extremely thick. I was super worried about it the first time! But, don’t stress. It will turn out perfect. Expect a very moist, thick brownie and with a little bit of a fudge texture.

The not-so-sweet craving you have will be satisfied with this recipe!!

Dark Chocolate Brownies with a Peanut Butter Swirl

 

 

 

 

Hanger Management: Jamaican Jerk Chicken Bowl with Mango, Black Beans and Rice

Hello baking world!

Have you ever craved something so much you taste the food before you’ve even started cooking? Last night, I wanted something fresh, bold and spicy. My mouth started daydreaming of mangoes, black beans, rice and some kind of chicken with a kick.

Jamaican food.

Unfortunately in Alabama, this kind of cuisine isn’t readily available. As I googled recipes, I discovered that Jamaican Jerk Chicken typically needs to be prepped hours in advanced. But I was feeling hangry and needed food fast! Plus, the ideal route of cooking involved a grill– which we currently do not have. After almost thirty minutes of searching, I couldn’t find a solid recipe that could be cooked on a pan with some olive oil!

But I didn’t give up!

Instead I combined a few recipe ideas and made it my own (As all the judges on American Idol used to say. Randy and Paula would be proud.)

It was so simple and SUPER easy! We already had the chicken and rice, so I only spent a whopping $4.77 on dinner for four people!

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The longest part of this process was waiting on the chicken to marinate (around 30 minutes.) So I used that time to cut the cilantro, limes and mangoes and to drain the black beans. The actual cooking of the chicken only took 10-15 minutes! Oh it smelled so good while it was cooking!

Wah-lah! A meal that typically takes four + hours to make was done in under one hour! This is a hanger management kind of meal. Plus, it was delicious and looked beautiful in its bowl. My family went on and on about it.

The rub seasoning originally came from Bobby Flay, I added a few teaspoons of olive oil to it and made it more like a paste. #creditwhereitsdue Also, a long list of seasonings can be daunting, but it only takes a minute to combine them and they add so much to the dish! So don’t be afraid to try this one out!

Jamaican Jerk Chicken Bowl (1)