White Chocolate Pistachio Cranberry Pretzel Bark

Perhaps the longest recipe name ever, but it’s descriptive so….ok.

white chocolate bark

Look at those colors! Maybe the prettiest bark I ever did see.

This is one of those non-recipe recipes, but I do provide measurements in case you need a guideline.

White Chocolate Pistachio Cranberry Pretzel Bark 
2 bags white chocolate chips
1/3 c. shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
1/2 c. pretzels, broken
1/3 c. craisins
Line a cookie sheet with sides with wax paper (I used a 9×12 for thick bark; larger will just produce a thinner chocolate layer). Melt the white chocolate according to package directions, then pour and level in prepped cookie sheet. Sprinkle toppings over chocolate and lightly press down toppings to help secure in chocolate. Let the chocolate set on the counter or in the fridge for a couple hours until completely cooled and hardened; break/cut into pieces.
white chocolate bark 5
white chocolate bark 3
It’s a tasty as it is pretty. Creamy, sweet white chocolate, tart and salty.
This “recipe” is so forgiving, as any bark recipe is. It’s basically: melt chocolate, put yummy things on top, cool, break, eat. I wanted a thick chocolate base so I used two bags of chips and my smallest sheet pan, but either use less chocolate chips or a larger pan for a thinner base. The amount of the toppings is totally dependent on the size of the pan you use and how covered you want your chocolate to be – though too many toppings will not stick into the chocolate, eventually. The measurements I provided are pretty accurate to what I used, and after they were all on I lightly pressed down on the top-most toppings to help secure them in the chocolate. Some still got loose when I was cutting it up, but I’m not ashamed to say I was then able to pour the leftovers into my mouth via the wax paper afterwards. Ok, so I’m maybe a little ashamed – the baby made me do it.
white chocolate bark 4
white chocolate bark 2
Almost too pretty to eat – but not quite. Just take a picture – it will last longer 🙂
Enjoy!
{Justine}

quinoa cakes

well hello. today i actually have a recipe for you! it’s been a while. the truth is i haven’t been in the kitchen much, luckily ryan is a good cook and keeps us fed at dinner time. though i make the occasional dinner and make some desserts (because you have to have a full cookie jar), i spend the most time in the kitchen making sure henry is having healthy and good tasting food.

veggies and fruits i have down pat, but incorporating whole grains that taste good is a challenge for me, for both mine and henry’s diets. we’ve had a big bag of quinoa from costco in our pantry for forever now, as we haven’t quite found the best (tasty) way to eat it. quinoa is quite a trendy food right now, for being a whole grain that is high in both protein and fiber, so i wanted to figure out how to get it in henry’s diet – and figure out how he can pick it up since it’s so tiny. i thought i would make it into a cake – a  quinoa cake! and i would add veggies to it as well, for taste and health benefits.  this straight from my head, no recipe, which is something new (and scary) to me. i’m sure it’s been done before, but i was on a nap time limit and didn’t have time to look one up, so i winged it.

the result was surprising (since i made this up and it was quinoa) – it was good! not only for henry (who likes things to taste good, but he likes peas, people, peas. therefore he’s not too picky), but for me to eat as well! in fact, i had one as my side dish for dinner that night, and steal bites of his when he eats them. it’s jam packed with whole grain and veggie goodness, but still tastes great.

quinoa cakes recipe

quinoa cakes

1 cup cooked quinoa
1 bell pepper, diced
1 carrot, shredded
2 tablespoons onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 eggs, whisked
1 cup bread crumbs (i used italian)
2 tablespoons olive oil

mix all ingredients together – except for the oil – in a large bowl until well incorporated. form into patties, approximately 2-3 inches wide by 1/2 inch tall. heat one tablespoon of oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat; add half the patties. carefully flip when golden, approximately 2-3 minutes, and cook until the other side is golden as well. remove from pan; add the remaining tablespoon of oil to pan and cook the remaining patties (careful the pan doesn’t get too hot – turn down as needed).

quinoa cakesquinoa cakes

this recipe made me about nine three-inch(ish) wide cakes. henry usually has one as part of a meal. they freeze and reheat well; put them on a lined baking sheet in a single layer and freeze until frozen, then transfer to a freezer safe ziplock and thaw as needed. i kept the salt to a minimum for henry, but perhaps increase a little if you’re making it for adults (though they still taste good as-is).

they even hold together pretty well after cutting up for henry, so he is able to grab a chunk instead of tiny little pieces of quinoa.

henry

henry quinoahenry quinoa

even though he’s giving a stink eye, he likes them.

henry quinoahenry quinoa

enjoy!

{justine}

guacamole!

(exclamation point necessary)

guacamole paste

ryan and i have eaten a lot of guacamole lately. basically because of this recipe. it’s the best homemade guacamole i’ve had. maybe the best guacamole, not just homemade, but that title was previously given to rick bayless’ at his xoco restaurant. this recipe may beat it, but i’ve only had xoco’s twice a long time ago, so before  i hand over the title i need to have it again.

avocados

to be honest i don’t even like avocados that much. but when mixed with a few simple ingredients it’s so flavorful. i think the key to this recipe is the paste, which ensures that every bite is jam packed with flavor.

guacamole!
recipe adapted from the bon appetit blog

makes approx. 1 3/4 cups

2 tablespoons finely chopped white onion
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno (or more to taste, seeds optional)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or 1/4 teaspoon fine salt, plus more to taste
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 large or 2 small ripe avocados, halved and pitted
a squeeze (or two) of lime, to taste

1. mash the onion, jalapeno, salt (the coarseness of kosher salt helps you make the paste), and cilantro to a paste (use a mortar if you have one, or mince and mash the ingredients together on a cutting board with a large knife or a fork). add to a bowl.

2. score the flesh in the avocado halves in a crosshatch pattern (not through the skin) with a knife and then scoop it with a spoon into the bowl with the paste. mix well and mash with a fork to your desired consistency. season to taste with lime juice and additional salt.

guacamole

 

my paste isn’t usually too pastey, but i just make sure it’s nice and mashed and juiced. and don’t worry too much about the measurements – everything is pretty much to taste. i’ve only added in one jalapeno (no seeds) the last time i made it, and i just eyeball the other ingredients, adding more at the end if needed. i like the zip of lime juice, so i use the juice of a half to a whole lime, depending on how much guac i’ve made. as long as you taste your own creation and adjust, you can’t go wrong. just grab some chips and enjoy!

{justine}

strawberry cream cake with lemon curd whipped cream filling

cake

soooo this cake. this cake i made for easter. this. cake. is. delicious. i can’t stop thinking about it. actually, i can’t stop eating it, in a way. the cake is gone, but i only just used up the last of the leftover frosting (you’re welcome, coworkers). and that lovely pink frosting? out. of. this. world. insane. i thought my lemonade frosting was my favorite ever, but i think this one has edged it out. i may or may not have eaten a good 1/4 cup of it on its own over the life of the frosting.

hidden inside the strawberry cream frosted strawberry cake is a layer of fresh whipped cream folded with homemade lemon cured dotted with fresh cut strawberries. i know.

slice

this cake is a hybrid of recipes, and there’s several components, but it’s all worth it.

first make the lemon curd, so it has time to set in the fridge. i used martha stewart’s recipe.

bake your cake, make your frosting and the filling, then assemble:

strawberry cream cake & frosting
recipe from sprinkle bakes (pinned from sweet teeth), adapted from allrecipes

yield: one triple-layer 8-inch cake, or one double layer 9-inch cake. serves 10-12.

cake:
2 cups granulated sugar
3 oz. package strawberry flavored gelatin
1 cup butter, softened
4 large eggs
2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup fresh strawberry puree (i just put some strawberries in a blender with a smidge of sugar and pureed)

1. preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  grease three 8-inch round cake pans (or two 9-inch) with shortening and line with parchment. grease parchment; set aside.
2. cream together the sugar, strawberry gelatin and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy. beat in eggs one at a time.  whisk together flour and baking powder in a separate bowl; stir into the batter alternately with the milk.  add vanilla extract and strawberry puree; mix until incorporated.  divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.
3. bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  allow cakes to cool completely before frosting.

frosting:
8 oz.  package cream cheese, at room temperature
8 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tbsp. strawberry flavored gelatin
3 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
½ cup fresh strawberry puree
1. combine the cream cheese, butter and gelatin in a medium bowl; beat together on high speed with an electric mixer.  when well combined, add the powdered sugar; blend on low until the sugar has been incorporated.
2. add strawberry puree.  mix again on low; when fully incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and beat the frosting until lightened and well combined.

you can use the frosting as the filling, but i love the combination of lemon and strawberry, so i made fresh whipped cream then folded in lemon curd (so it was lighter and not as tart).

lemon curd whipped cream filling
1/2 cup whipping  cream
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
prepared lemon curd (again, i followed this recipe)
1/4 cup sliced/diced fresh strawberries (optional)

1. in a cold, clean steel bowl, whip whipping cream until soft peaks form.
2. add sugar and vanilla and whip to incorporate until stiff peaks form.
3. gently fold in lemon curd.

assemble the cake with the whipped cream filling between the layers, dotting it with fresh chopped strawberries. make sure to not bring it to the edges as the top layer of cake will squish it outwards. frost the outside. arrange fresh strawberries on top (optional).

refrigerate cake if not serving immediately.  bring refrigerated cake to room temperature before serving. refrigerate any leftovers.

cake

of course i have disclaimers, just so you know what you’re getting into and that it’s ok not to be perfect:

-the texture of the cake was denser than i imagined (not as dense as a pound cake, but getting there), but it was delicious regardless – in fact, my dad thought it was better denser than a normal, fluffy cake. (looking at the original cake recipe source – allrecipes – others mentioned this and had some solutions if you prefer fluffiness).
-the amazeballs frosting is very soft (perhaps i didn’t use enough powdered sugar, but that’s typical for me) – so make sure to keep the cake and any leftovers in the fridge. i didn’t try to pipe it, but i imagine that because of the softness, it wouldn’t hold its shape very well. while getting to room temperature, the frosting on the side of the cake may have slid down a little. again, delicious regardless.
-i need practice with layer cakes. i put a bit much filling in  and/or put it too close to the edges, so it squished out of the cake, making a nice bulge and mess of the frosting. i refrigerated, frosted, refrigerated, frosted a couple times. again, delicious regardless.

have i mentioned it was delicious? sorry. but seriously. it seems like a lot of steps, and, well, it was, but well worth it. if nothing else, make the frosting. buy a box mix of whocares and slap the frosting on there. or don’t even make anything, just eat it. (though i happen to know that it tastes great on angel food cupcakes and lemon cupcakes).

have a great weekend.

{justine}

salami pasta

this recipe is ryan’s “favorite pasta” (he asked why he’s been deprived when he saw me editing the photos, since it’s been awhile since we had it), and it is super duper simple. it will be on your plate in 20 minutes, give or take a couple minutes depending on how long it takes to boil water (and my stove takes forever).

salami pasta

i was a really picky eater growing up, and the only lunch meat i liked was salami. while i eat other kinds of lunch meat now, it is done somewhat reluctantly and salami remains my bff. anyway, since i was a picky eater i did not appreciate my mom’s great cooking. she made us dinner 5 nights of the week (at 6pm sharp – god help you if you “forgot” and were late) and i had the audacity to complain all the time. what i wouldn’t do to have my mom’s cooking every night now. i don’t know where she got this recipe (probably from the newspaper knowing her) but she made this recipe fairly often, as it was one of my favorites (i believe this was also a requested ‘birthday dinner’ i liked it that much). so when i make this it’s a bit like having my mom’s cooking, though i have to do it myself, which kind of defeats the purpose of “mom’s cooking”.

ingredientscast of characters: pasta, shredded parmesan cheese, olive oil, dijon mustard, salami, garlic (not pictured: chopped tomatoes – optional)

dice salami

sauce

while your water is boiling and the pasta is cooking, chop your salami and mix together the olive oil, dijon mustard and minced garlic.

mix it uponce the pasta is cooked and drained, mix it with the mustard mixture until coated. if it seems a little dry, drizzle in a little more olive oil.

cheese

salami

toss in the shredded parmesan and the salami, and stir to incorporate.

pastaadd a sprinkle of extra parmesan on the top (because the only thing better than cheese is more cheese), serve and enjoy.

pasta

just a few simple ingredients mixed together make a salty, tangy, salami pasta party in your mouth. if you’re a salami lover, give this a try!

salami pasta
serves approx. 4

one pound pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1-2 cloves garlic, minced (i like 2 – though we’re big garlic lovers. 2 = strong garlic flavor)
quarter pound salami, cut into pieces
1/2 cup shredded parmesan + more for topping
chopped tomatoes (optional)

1. cook pasta according to package direction.
2. while pasta is cooking chop the salami and mix the olive oil, dijon mustard and garlic together.
3. once pasta is done, drain. mix pasta with dijon mixture and stir to coat.
4. add salami and parmesan cheese, stir while still hot.
5. top with more parmesan cheese (and chopped tomatoes if you wish) and serve.

are there other salami lovers out there? or do you have a favorite childhood dish?

{justine}

chicken wontons

chicken wontons. say that around my family or friends, and it’s probably a 100% chance they will have had these – and love them. i got this recipe from my mom, who got it from…someone. between the two of us, this recipe has been made a bajillion times (thereabouts). if you make no other recipe from me except one, please make this one. it’s easy and always, always a hit (and almost always guarantees a ‘can i have that recipe?’ request).

chicken wontons

chicken wontons

¾ lb. boneless chicken breast, cooked and diced

½ c. ranch dressing

1 c. finely shredded taco cheese

1 t. chili powder

1 pkg. wonton wrappers

preheat oven to 350. insert wonton wrappers into cupcake tins. bake for 5-10 minutes (varies by oven) until lightly browned (make sure not too brown as they go back in). mix chicken with ranch dressing. put a spoonful of the chicken mixture into each wonton wrapper (still in cupcake tin). mix cheese with chili powder. top each wonton with cheese (about a tablespoon or so) and bake for approx. 5 minutes, until cheese is melted. devour.

(i don’t even use a recipe anymore, which is very very rare for me.  i usually cook 2-3 chicken breasts, dice and then squirt on some ranch until pretty moist – don’t skimp as you want to taste it, but don’t drown the chicken. same goes for the cheese – i just throw a large handful in a ziplock bag, sprinkle some chili powder on it and toss around until mixed. you can’t really go wrong with chicken, ranch and cheese.)

these can also be prepped in advance. bake  the wonton wrappers and store in a tupperware or ziplock. mix the chicken with the ranch in a tupperware, and the cheese with the chili powder in a ziplock, and simply assemble when ready on a sheet pan, and bake for 5 minutes as directed above.

wonton wrappers{these are wonton wrappers. they also come in larger squares labeled ‘egg roll wrappers’. both work the same. just cut the egg roll wrappers into quarters.}

lined trays {place the wrappers in the tins so the sides stand up and make an open pouch}

wonton{perfect finger food}

the superbowl is this weekend, a perfect excuse to make these. or you can just have them for dinner, like we do from time to time. enjoy!

{justine}

 

linked to remodelaholic

git in ma belly {homemade christmas gifts}

three cheers for almost being done christmas shopping.  all i have left is gifts for two more people (yes, that means almost done to me) and more time in the kitchen to create my favorite kind of gift – homemade and sweet. homemade sweets are a great, personal (and  economical) gift for everyone on your list, from neighbors to friends to party hosts. (i always have a hard time parting with all my delicious efforts, so i make sure to make extra)

here’s what i’m whipping up this year, for both my own belly and gifts.

salted caramels

salted caramels {recipe here}. goodness. because these are my favorite ever and a big crowd pleaser, i made a double batch. there’s some cream left in my fridge, and i have several people to give these too, so i’m contemplating another. maybe i’ll even try dipping some in chocolate once cut (and the sea salt will be sprinkled on once dipped).

pretzels

chocolate covered pretzels. you can’t go wrong. although i think i did go wrong with choosing the mini twists instead of the rods, as it takes me approximately a minute per pretzel since i prefer store-like perfection with no chocolate in the middle holes, which as you can see i didn’t achieve for all. i’ve done two small white chocolate batches so far, and plan another batch of both white chocolate and milk chocolate.

for those not in the know, they are really easy. simply melt your chosen chocolate according to package directions (i’ve done both microwave and a bowl over simmering water), dip pretzels (fully or partially) in chocolate, either dip in toppings or sprinkle toppings on top and let cool on wax paper. i’m a huge fan of sprinkles and also topped some with crushed candy canes (highly recommended).

peppermint bark brownies

peppermint bark brownies. i saw this recipe in real simple, thought it was a great idea, then couldn’t remember where i saw it and couldn’t find the recipe when it came to making them last weekend. i winged it and they turned out so delicious. however, i wasn’t very happy with the cracking of the chocolate that occurred when cutting. they weren’t as neat as i hoped for, but the taste made up for it.

to make them, according to the recipe (and how i made them): make your favorite brownie recipe or favorite box mix (ghirardelli is preferred here). once cooled, melt white chocolate chips (about 1 – 1 1/2 cups) according to directions and spread on brownies. top with crushed peppermint pieces.

what i would change: apply the chocolate and peppermint pieces and cut when the chocolate has dried a little but is still soft ( i ended up putting my brownies in the oven for a minute until the chocolate softened to help lessen the cracking). or, cut the brownies then spread the melted chocolate on the individual brownies and top with the peppermint pieces.

chocolate candy

ingredients

chocolate candy

laurie’s chocolate candy. my mom’s friend gave her this recipe many years ago, and it’s one of my all time favorites. i tried to think of another name for it, but came up short, so laurie’s chocolate candy it remains. there’s nothing particularly christmasy about these, but i never make them except for christmas time. i need to change that.

this recipe is super easy and fast. these cover all the bases: sweet, salty, crunchy, creamy. i’ve made a 1/2 batch already (um, to eat by myself) and plan on making another full batch to gift.

laurie’s chocolate candy
(makes about 60 pieces)

1 ½ packages almond bark (chocolate)
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 cup raisins
2 cups rice krispies
2 cups mini marshmallows
2 cups dry unsalted roasted peanuts (i used lightly salted and it was fine)

measure and combine all ingredients in a bowl except for the chocolate and peanut butter. melt chocolate and peanut butter in the microwave in a large bowl, following package directions. add the remaining ingredients to the chocolate and peanut butter mixture, stirring until well mixed. drop spoonfuls of the mix onto wax paper (work quickly) and let cool.

bite

to package your delicious gifts, consider putting them in clear bags tied with festive ribbon. they’re simple yet pleasing as-is, or go one step further (especially if you’re giving multiple types to one recipient) and put your packaged candy in a:

  • pretty bowl or mug
  • cookie tin (or multiple tins stacked on top of one another tied with a satin ribbon)
  • bakers box adorned with twine or ribbon (i found some at the container store for about 99 cents)
  • gable box (also found at the container store for $2)

packaged caramels

candy box{salted caramels and pretzels in a bakers box with festive tissue paper}

bakers box{love this gold wire garland ribbon}

gable boxes

ornament and garland{i also tied off some of my gifts with a small ornament for an extra touch}

or go one step even further, like you are my fave, and turn an empty tinfoil box into a fabulous treat box with wrapping paper, brads and twine.

tinfoil box

are your christmas gifts bought, made and wrapped? do you have other homemade gifts you like to give? please share!

{justine}

linking to the centsational girl, remodelaholic