Sweet D’s First Birthday Baby Princess Cakes

HELLO ALL!! As you can tell from the title of this recipe, I am very excited to say that it’s Sweet D’s first birthday!!! My goodness how time flies when you get to do what you love! I won’t do some long, sappy post here since I did that ~fairly~ recently with my 50th recipe post, but if you’re feeling it, you can read that here. What I will say is thanks for sticking around a whole year, and here’s to many more years ahead!

Now it’s only fair to have a cake recipe for a birthday, no matter whose it is, and these cakes are so very important. A traditional princess cake is a full-sized cake rather than a set of mini ones, but following this recipe from Molly Yeh, these little babies just bring so much joy. They’re also very customizable, as the jam filling can be anything you feel like, the marzipan can be dyed any color of the rainbow, and your decorations can be as high or low maintenance as you please. Plus they look VERY impressive and almost too pretty to eat- the key word being almost, because not eating these would be a tragedy. Word to the wise, when the directions tell you to put the cakes covered in whipped cream in the freezer to set before covering, actually do it. It makes them soooo much easier and neater to cover with marzipan, and it will save you many a headache and ripped marzipan. Other than that, you’re ready to go!!

But first, here are five things to be happy about today:
ONE. Keeping fresh flowers by your bed, fresh herbs in the kitchen
TWO. The smell of a coffee can opening
THREE. Comfortable, stretchy clothes
FOUR. Large colonial fireplaces
FIVE. The soft splat of snow falling
Let’s get birthday baking!!

Makes: 24 Princess Cakes
Prep/ Decoration Time: 2 hours
Bake Time: 18-20 minutes

Almond Cake Ingredients

1¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup almond flour
½ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract
½ cup buttermilk

Almond Cake Steps

ONE. Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Line a quarter sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the all purpose and almond flours, salt, and baking powder + soda.

TWO. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar for 3-5 minutes until pale and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla and almond extracts and mix well. Alternating between the two, add a third of the flour mixture, then a third of the buttermilk, until all is just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared sheet pan and spread evenly using an offset spatula. Bake for 18 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool fully in the pan, then cut into 20 2-inch circles using a biscuit cutter.

Assembly Ingredients

1 cup heavy cream
½ cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract
1 jar store bought raspberry jam (or whatever jam you feel like!)
24 oz. marzipan
Assorted food coloring

Assembly Steps

ONE.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and extracts until stiff peaks form. Spread each cake circle with a layer of jam, then, using a piping bag, pipe a small, uniform mound of whipped cream on top in a swirl. Once all the cake circles are topped with jam and whipped cream, pop the tray in the freezer to set while you prep the marzipan.

TWO. Dust a clean surface with powdered sugar, and knead your desired food coloring into the marzipan to change its color. Set aside a small portion to use for decorations, such as rose buds, hearts, or polka dots. Roll the marzipan out into a 1/8″ layer, and cut out circles large enough to cover the cakes entirely without ripping. I ended up using a 3½” cookie cutter here and it worked out perfectly! This may take some trial and error depending on the size of your cakes, but you can always re-roll the marzipan if you make a mistake!

THREE. Cover each cake with a marzipan circle and trim off any excess from the bottom, re-rolling the scraps. For decoration, create small, flat strips and roll them into rosebuds and add petals, or use mini cookie cutters or the tops of piping tips to cut out hearts and circles to affix to the top.

Now bask in how cute these look and throw a tea party somewhere!! xoxoxoxoxoD

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Coconut Paris Brest

Hello and happy Tuesday my blossoms! Today’s recipe sounds super fancy because it IS, but it’s also not super hard to make, which in my book is always a plus. What is a Paris Brest you ask? Aside from something that made all my siblings laugh every time I said it, a Paris Brest is a ring of choux pastry, the kind you would have in an eclair or a cream puff, cut in half and typically filled with praline cream and topped with a dusting of powdered sugar. When I served this to my family the other day, my Grandpa, being the world traveler that he is, wondered if this pastry got its name by being served on the train between the cities of Paris and Brest in France. Turns out he’s not that far off, because when I searched for the origin of this dessert, I found that it was commissioned by Pierre Giffard, a French journalist, to commemorate a bicycle race from Paris to Brest and then back to Paris. Who knew?

So, recently, I came across this recipe from Zoe Bakes for a Raspberry Paris Brest and I was immediately interested. However, I had been using too much raspberry in my baking recently, so I decided that I would take the basic idea for this pastry and try something different. We had a lot of shredded coconut leftover from the holidays so suddenly it hit me: a Coconut pastry cream filled Paris Brest complete with toasted coconut. And wow was I happy I tried this because it is a DREAM. The pastry cream is made with cans of coconut milk rather than whole milk, which provided a delicate coconut flavor amplified by the toasted flakes that I sprinkled on top. While this is best consumed the same day that it’s been assembled, that won’t stop me from eating this until there is not a scrap left. Also a note, the dough recipe below will leave you with a lot leftover if you’re simply piping the three rings for your pate a choux. I got nervous and underestimated how much it would grow while baking, so I added more piped rings until I had used all the batter, and it produced a truly enormous ring. Like bigger than my head, could have maybe used it as a hoola hoop. This was not a problem for me because I have a big family and I love baked goods, but if you fear it will be too much, only pipe the original three rings and save the rest of the dough for some eclairs or even a second Paris Brest with a different flavor combo!

 

Now that that’s settled, here are 5 things to be happy about today:
ONE. The smell of fresh coffee and bacon waking you up on a Saturday morning.
TWO. Getting an unexpected letter or message from someone you love.
THREE. Grilled cheese and tomato soup.
FOUR. Trying something new at a restaurant and discovering you love it.
FIVE. When winter days start getting longer and the sun stays up past 5pm.

Happy? Good. Let’s bake!

Makes: 1 12-inch choux ring, or 1 8-inch ring with leftover dough
Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Bake Time: 50 minutes

Pâte à Choux Ingredients

½ cup whole milk
½ cup water
1 stick (8 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cut small
1 Tbs white sugar
½ tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, room temperature
Egg wash; 1 egg + 1 Tbs water
¼ cup slivered almonds

Pâte à Choux Steps

ONE. To start, set up a large sheet pan with parchment paper, and trace an 8-inch circle on the opposite side of the paper. Flip the paper back over so that you can see the traced circle but no pencil lead will get on the pastry.

TWO. In a large saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar, and salt to a simmer over medium heat. Once at a rapid simmer (not before!), add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon. Cook the mixture on low heat, stirring until the dough forms a smooth ball, about 4-5 minutes.

THREE. Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer and begin mixing. Add the eggs one at a time until the dough becomes smooth and sticky, and not too stiff so that the mixture can be piped and will rise nicely.

FOUR. Set up a piping bag with a large round tip, then fill the bag with your dough. Pipe an even circle around the outside of the traced circle on your parchment paper, then pipe a second circle inside of the first. Pipe a third circle on top of the first two circles, in the seam between the two. Now, because I had so much dough left, I then added a third ring to the bottom layer, then a second to the middle, and one on the very top, but be warned, this makes a very wide Paris Brest (not that that’s a bad thing AT ALL). If you have a lot of dough left over but don’t want to make an enormous pastry, you could always make some eclairs as well! Just pipe the remaining batter into logs and bake.

FIVE. Paint the ring of choux dough with egg wash, and sprinkle the almonds evenly on top. Bake the dough at 375ºF for 30 minutes, then, without opening the oven door, reduce the temperature to 350ºF ad bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until the top is evenly golden. Turn the oven off and allow the pastry to cool there for one hour.


Coconut Pastry Cream Ingredients

4 cups canned coconut milk (I used Goya)
1 cup white sugar, divided
4 Tbs unsalted butter
½ tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste, or 1 whole vanilla bean, deseeded
6 Tbs cornstarch
2 eggs
6 egg yolks

Coconut Pastry Cream Steps

ONE. Bring the coconut milk, ½ cup sugar, butter, salt, and vanilla to a light boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan on medium. Remove from heat.

TWO. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch to get rid of any lumps. Add the eggs and egg yolks to this bowl and whisk until smooth and combined.

THREE. Carefully and slowly drizzle some of the hot coconut milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to temper the eggs but not cook them. When the eggs are warm to the touch, pour them back into the saucepan with the milk and return to a boil. Stirring constantly, the mixture will get thick pretty quickly, but continue to cook for 2-3 minutes so that the custard will set and won’t separate.

FOUR. Strain the pastry cream through a sieve into a large bowl to catch any stray cooked egg, then press a sheet of plastic wrap to the surface to prevent a skin forming. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes to cool the eggs, then keep in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use.


Assembly Extras

½ cup coconut, toasted at 325ºF until golden
Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

Assembly Steps

ONE. Using a flexible bread knife, slice the pastry ring in half long ways. Fit a piping bag with a large round tip and fill with the pastry cream. Pipe a generous layer of cream inside the bottom ring, then top with a generous sprinkling of toasted coconut. Repeat with another layer of pastry cream and coconut, then place the top ring back on top. Generously dust with the confectioners sugar and TADA!! Serve in slices and tell everyone you went to culinary school in Paris.

 

 

YAY!! xoxoxoxoxD

Instant Pot Short Rib Lasagna

WELCOME! As you can probably tell by the title of this recipe, I recently came into the possession of an Instant Pot and boy do I have a lot to say about it. First off, I got my Instant Pot for $30 (THIRTY. DOLLARS!!!) because I got a bunch of Amazon gift cards for Christmas and this seemed like as good a purchase as any, right? Watching it deduct $75 from the list price made me feel like one of those extreme couponers and I finally GET IT. My first adventure was this chicken tortilla soup and after working out some of the kinks it turned out delicious, so I was feeling confident. I then came across this recipe by Giada De Laurentiis and thought, I can adapt this to my Instant Pot no problem!!

Well, as I’m sure you can guess, it was in fact a problem. But, the magic of this blog is that I work this out so that you don’t have to! Turns out, Instant Pots do NOT like flour, and if you add even the tiniest bit of flour to your sauce, it will sink to the bottom, burn, and tell you repeatedly that the whole thing is burning four to five times until you take everything out, scrub the inner pot, and the start over. Yeah. So, I did this several times and had several full on tantrums before it worked. I still get mad at myself very easily when cooking things don’t work out the first time I try them, which I know is a bad habit and one I am certainly trying to kick, but this was truly testing me.

Now, another note about Instant Pots is that while yes, they definitely cut down the cooking time on things like stews and short ribs that would otherwise take several hours, you have to factor in the time that the pot takes to come to its set temperature and pressure, which, according to the manual, can take anywhere between 10 and 40 minutes depending on the volume and starting temperature of the food inside it. So, if your ribs need to cook for an hour and 10 minutes total, remember to add in an average 30 minutes or so because the hour and 10 minutes doesn’t start until it’s come to full pressure. After several false starts, my short ribs had almost come to a full, high pressure cooking situation several times, and as a result, I ended up lowering my overall cooking time to take that into account. However, according to the chart that came with my pot, beef ribs should be cooked for about 20-25 minutes per pound, so you can use that factor accordingly.

This is what it should look like, if you don’t burn yours several times before starting like I did!

In the end, this worked out and the lasagna was to DIE for, but I for sure gave myself a baptism by fire here. I feel as though my Instant Pot and I are destined to be enemies, but like ones that have some playful banter going, you know? I look forward to getting to know the ins and outs of this thing, and seeing how many day-long recipes I can turn into quicker projects. This recipe can also be started on a stovetop instead of the Instant Pot, and I’ve included those directions at the bottom as well.

Anyways, enough ranting, here are 5 things to be happy about today before we get to cooking:
ONE. When it’s been a week since New Year’s and you’re still following some resolutions.

TWO. An afternoon iced coffee to give you that energy kick you need.

THREE. Waking up to rain on a Saturday morning with nothing to do but stay in bed and catch up on TV.

FOUR. When you hear your grandparents talk about things they used to do growing up.

FIVE. Aquariums.

Ingredients

2 Tbs olive oil
4 oz. diced pancetta
3½-4 lbs. bone-in short ribs
Kosher salt, to taste
2 medium onions
2 carrots, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine
1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
2 cups beef broth
2 sprigs rosemary
4 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
2½ cups jarred pasta sauce (or your own if you feel like it!)
2 boxes no-boil lasagna noodles (12-15 noodles total)
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cups parmesan cheese

Steps (stovetop directions at bottom)

ONE. Turn your Instant Pot to Sauté, then add the olive oil. When the olive oil is heated, add the pancetta and cook until crisp and rendered. Remove pancetta with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel-lined plate. In the pot with the rendered fat and olive oil, sear your short ribs for roughly 4 minutes, meat side down, turning if necessary so all sides are cooked. Do this in batches if you need to! Transfer cooked ribs to a bowl and set aside.

TWO. Add all chopped vegetables to the pan and allow to sweat, scraping the brown bits from the bottom as you go. I learned this the hard way, the scraping of the Instant Pot is NECESSARY, otherwise you will continue to get an annoying “burn” message. Add kosher salt here (about 1 to 2 tablespoons) and cook until the veggies are translucent and soft, about 3 to 4 minutes.

THREE. Add the red wine, crushed tomatoes, broth, and tomato paste, then add the seared short ribs and pancetta, layering so that no tomato paste will burn to the bottom of the pot. Make sure that the meat is entirely covered by the liquid, but that the liquid is not going over the 2/3 limit of your pot! Tie together the rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves with twine and toss in on top.

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FOUR. Securely close the top of your Instant Pot and set to the “Meat/Stew” setting, on Normal, and adjust the cooking time based on the amount of meat you’re cooking with. According to the Instant Pot cooking chart, it should be about 20-25 minutes per pound of beef ribs, so mine cooked overall for 1 hour and 10 minutes (if you count how many times it came up to temperature and then claimed it was burning lol).

FIVE. Preheat your oven to 425ºF. Once the meat is finished cooking, remove bones and herb bundle and shred the meat, placing it in a large bowl. Add 3 cups of the tomato cooking liquid to the meat and mix. Feel free to save the remaining sauce for pasta, however I would let it chill and then skim some of the fat off once it hardens. To assemble the lasagna, spread a thin layer of jarred tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ baking dish. Add a layer of 4 to 5 lasagna noodles, breaking them and arranging them as necessary to fit. Spread half the meat mixture over the first layer of noodles, then top with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and ½ cup of parmesan. Add another layer of noodles, the rest of the meat, and then another cup of mozzarella plus ½ cup parmesan. Top with a final layer of noodles, 2 cups of jarred tomato sauce, 1 cup of mozzarella, and the rest of the parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Remove and allow to cool slightly before serving.

*For the stovetop, simply complete steps one through three in a dutch oven or other large pot, then cook for 3 hours, uncovered for the last hour, before continuing with step 5.

Now bask in the praise of your dinner guests! YUM! xoxoxoxoxoxoD

 

 

Swedish Almond Tarts

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! Greetings from Connecticut, I hope that you have all enjoyed last nights festivities and are now tucking into a beautiful New Years Brunch. Maybe the thought of rising from your bed right now is too much to bear, but I hope these cutie little tarts change your mind. This week’s recipe is brought to you by one of my faves, Molly Yeh, and they are without a doubt the most photogenic and versatile little tarts I have ever seen. Called Mazariners, they are of Swedish origin, and feature a richly buttery tart shell cup, filled with what I can only describe as pure heaven, aka a dense, moist almond-y cross between a cake and a chunk of marzipan. Traditionally, it’s topped with a white glaze and a cherry (which btw, would be so cute), but following Molly’s recipe, I used a cranberry juice glaze for a hint of tart and a dose of natural rosy color.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my New Year’s resolutions this year, because most years I don’t make any, and then when I do, I ignore/ forget them approximately a week later. But now that I’m an adult, and have pretty much settled into life after college, I figured it was about time I held myself accountable for these things. I won’t bore you with the details, but here’s what I’ve got so far:
Resolution #1: Get better with money. Seriously, STOP spending money I promise you don’t need that 12th sweater (me @ myself all the time).
Resolution #2: Drink more water. For some reason I can’t get this one to stick, and even after countless reusable water bottles, I find myself reaching for my iced coffee instead, but it’s ENOUGH.
Resolution #3: Cut down on waste. Ever since a particularly scarring episode of Blue Planet II I haven been trying to limit the amount of plastic that I use, but I know that I could be doing more to protect our futures and the safety of other inhabitants of this Earth.

Okay that’s maybe good for now, I’m hoping that by putting these out there, I’ll actually have to do them because now everyone knows, so bring on 2019!! Anyway, let’s get this year off on the right foot and start with 5 things to be happy about today:
ONE. When you fall asleep almost immediately after climbing into bed.
TWO. The clean plate club.
THREE. Tree branches coated in snow or frost and sparkling in the light of a streetlamp.
FOUR. Having the song end right as you pull up to your destination.
FIVE. Things you don’t have to work at to enjoy.

Okay now let’s bake!!

Makes: 12 tarts
Prep Time: 45 minutes- 1 hour
Inactive Time: 1 hour
Bake Time: 30 minutes

Butter Tart Shell Ingredients

1/3 cup granulated sugar
1¾ cups flour
½ tsp kosher salt
¾ cup (1½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cubed
2 egg yolks (save both whites for the filling!)

Almond Filling Ingredients

1 cup almond meal (aka almond flour)
¾ cup sugar
½ tsp kosher salt
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp almond extract
1 egg
2 egg whites (left over from tart shells above)

Glaze/ Decorations

1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 Tbsp cranberry juice
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
Assorted sprinkles, herbs, or sugared cranberries!

Steps

ONE. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the sugar, flour, and salt. Add the butter and pulse until totally incorporated (you’re not looking for butter pieces in this dough). Add the egg yolks and mix until the dough comes together- it will take a minute, it will look like the dough is too dry at first but I promise it won’t be. Remove the dough from the food processor and form a rough disk shape, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least one hour or overnight.

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TWO. In the same bowl of the food processor- it doesn’t even need to be cleaned out!- combine the almond flour, sugar, salt, and butter until smooth. Add the almond extract, leftover egg whites, and whole egg, and continue to blend until the mixture is thick and smooth. Set aside while you form the shells.

THREE. Grease a muffin tin generously. On a floured baking mat or surface, roll your shell dough to about a ¼ inch thickness, making sure that it isn’t sticking to any surface as you go. Using a 4-inch circular cookie cutter, cut out 12 circles (dough can be re-rolled once if you run out of room for all 12 at once.

FOUR. This part takes some patience, so carefully take a pastry circle and place it in each cupcake tin, gently pressing so that it molds to the bottom and sides. I had some rips here and there, but don’t get frustrated!! Use leftover scraps and patch up any thin, ripped, or uneven places and no one will be the wiser! Repeat will all 12 circles, and place the tray in the freezer for 15 minutes.

FIVE. While the shells are setting in the freezer, preheat your oven to 350ºF. Fill the frozen shells evenly- I started with a tablespoon in each cup, and then added evenly from there. For me, it ended up being about 1½ tablespoons of filling per cup, You want it to be about ¾ of the way full, because the filling does puff up while it bakes. Bake the filled cups on the lower rack of your oven for 30 minutes, or until the filling is puffed and the tops and shells are lightly golden. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in their pan, and then gently lift each cup from the tin using an offset spatula and cool completely on a wire rack before glazing.

SIX. To make the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar, cranberry juice, and vanilla, adding more powdered sugar or juice until the consistency is pourable but quite thick. You want it to sit mostly on top of each tart without going thin or completely dripping down the sides. While the glaze is still wet, top with your desired decorations, and enjoy!!

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!! xoxoxoxD

 

Braided Jammy Breakfast Breads

Over this year I’ve conquered many a fear, but none that I am more proud of than my old fear of bread. Maybe I was just doing everything wrong before now, but after making these beautiful braids, it’s clear that this recipe is going to become a staple in my home. Inspired by two different people, this original recipe comes from Zoe Francois of Zoe Bakes, in her new book Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes A Day. I believe the original recipe used raspberry jam and cream cheese with a hint of lemon, so my second bread closely resembles that one. Last week, I came across Adrianna Adarme of A Cozy Kitchen, preparing her variations on this beautiful bread and by then, I was convinced. So, here we are, with one classic raspberry and lemon, and a second that tastes like breakfast and pie in one. What is it, you ask? Oh only blueberry jam with cinnamon cream cheese and maple glaze! I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s truly heavenly.

With next week being Christmas, I’ll be taking a week off to spend time with all my siblings and family together, as well as my best friend, who works with the Peace Corps and is home from Ethiopia for just two weeks!!! But never fear, for I will be back New Year’s Day with a fresh start to 2019 and plenty more to be happy about in the future. If you celebrate, wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, and a healthy, prosperous New Year full of food and happiness.

Some notes on this bread: I give the preparations for two variations of cream cheese, jam and glaze fillings, but you have total creative license here! Fill them with chocolate like my incredibly talented friend Taylor, fill them with different jams or homemade jams or make them savory! It’s totally up to you, and it will be delicious any way you slice it. Also, when following this recipe, she mentions that the dough is easier to roll and slice if it’s been chilled after it rises, I was slightly pressed for time so I skipped this step and found it to be perfectly manageable, but if you’re having difficulty with forming the shape, try to refrigerate the dough for a while! Finally, this dough should be cooled completely before it’s glazed so that the glaze doesn’t melt right off, but it would be delicious warmed up before eating. There’s also no need to double this recipe for two loaves, one batch of dough is divided into two.

Before we get to breading and braiding, here are 5 things to be happy about today!
ONE. The smell of bread baking and filling your whole house.

TWO. Having specific candles for specific holidays and seasons.

THREE. Hosting a dinner party with a signature cocktail.

FOUR. Star Wars Episode IV.

FIVE. Spending New Year’s Eve in your pajamas with friends and never having to venture into the cold.


Makes:
2 braided loaves
Prep Time: 1 hour
Inactive Time: 2 hours
Bake Time: 30 minutes

Bread Dough Ingredients

2 eggs, lightly beaten
¾ cup + 2 Tbsp lukewarm water
1½ tsp dry active yeast
1½ tsp kosher salt
¼ cup honey
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3½ cups bread flour

Filling Ingredients

8 ounces cream cheese, divided in half
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
½ tsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp granulated sugar, divided in half
¼ cup blueberry jam
¼ cup raspberry jam
Egg Wash (1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water)

Icing Ingredients

1 cup powdered sugar, divided in half
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
Splash of vanilla extract
2 to 3 Tbsp maple syrup
½ tsp lemon zest
2 to 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Milk, to thin glaze as necessary

Steps

ONE. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl with a wooden spoon), mix together the beaten eggs, yeast, water, salt, honey, and melted butter. Add the flour and, without kneading, mix with a paddle attachment or with a large spoon until combined. Allow to rise, covered, in a warm place for at least 2 hours.

 

TWO. In two separate bowls, make the cream cheese fillings. In one bowl, mix together 4 oz. cream cheese, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 1 Tbsp granulated sugar. Set aside. In a second bowl mix together the remaining 4 oz. cream cheese, lemon zest, and remaining 1 Tbsp sugar.

THREE. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Dust your rolling surface with flour, and divide your dough in half. With the first half of dough, roll into a rectangle that is roughly 9″ x 12″. It may take some stretching, I found that it tends to shrink back at first.

FOUR. Transfer the rectangle of dough carefully to your first baking sheet. Using a ruler and a knife or bench scraper, lightly mark the dough into 3 long sections, this will make it easier to fill and fold. In the center third, spread an even layer of the cinnamon cream cheese, then top with the blueberry jam, spreading with an offset spatula to keep everything uniform.

FIVE. Using a pair of kitchen shears (or a knife), cut the two outer thirds into ½ inch strips all the way down. To form the log shape, alternate folding a strip from each side across the filling in a slant, from top to bottom, to form a braid. Wrap the tray in plastic wrap the baking sheet loosely in plastic wrap and allow to sit for an hour before baking.

 

SIX. Repeat steps two through five with the second type of cream cheese and jam, and allow to rest for an hour.

SEVEN. When there’s about 15 minutes left in the bread’s hour long rest, preheat your oven to 350ºF. To bake, brush each loaf with your prepared egg wash, and bake for 30 minutes, switching trays halfway through to ensure both loaves brown evenly.

EIGHT. While the loaves are cooling, prepare the glazes in two bowls. In the first, mix ½ cup powdered sugar with cinnamon, vanilla, and maple syrup. If it’s too thick for pouring, it can be thinned with milk as necessary, or thickened with more powdered sugar. For the second, mix the remaining powdered sugar with lemon zest and lemon juice, adjusting the amounts of lemon juice and sugar as necessary so that the glaze is opaque and thick.

NINE. When the breads have cooled completely, drizzle generously with the glazes (with a spoon or with a ziplock with the tip cut off) and enjoy at any time of the day or night, but specifically for breakfast with a cup of coffee by the Christmas tree or on the couch.

YUM!!! xoxoxoxoxoD

Christmas Spritz Cookies

WOOOOOOO got that holiday spirit this weekend who is WITH ME?? Last week was such a wonderfully Christmas themed week at the Lewis house- we took our annual trip to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular in the city (it never gets old), saw the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, and wandered the Bryant Park Christmas village like a bunch of tourists and it was a blast. THEN, on Saturday we bought our Christmas tree and decorated it while eating these very cookies, and it was all very cozy and warm and happy. Funny story, on last year’s Christmas tree, my siblings and I stuck a picture of Harry Styles’ face over the angel on top of our tree (because he is the true angel), and waited to see when our parents would notice. The days went by, Christmas went by, and NO ONE noticed until the day we took our tree down. Now, we’re already plotting who to make the angel of our tree this year…any suggestions?

Isn’t she lovely!!

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been buying Christmas presents like crazy and wondering if you’ll ever have enough, but I doubt there’s a person alive who wouldn’t be overjoyed to receive these babies in a lil box. The recipe I adapted comes from this recipe from the New York Times by Alison Roman, whom I admire very much. I didn’t change a whole lot, aside from using salted butter instead of unsalted because I had run out, and was pleased to discover that the combo of regular salted butter and the recommended teaspoon of salt made for a beautifully sweet and salty combo that I will be making from now on. 10/ 10 would recommend adding this to your Christmas cookie repertoire, and pull it out for your next cookie exchange or office party.

Enough chit chat however, here are 5 things to be happy about today!
ONE. Jelly doughnuts.

TWO. Seeing a second trailer for Captain Marvel (I will lose my mind seeing this movie).

THREE. The smell of a fresh Christmas tree.

FOUR. Giving presents feeling better than getting presents.

FIVE. Having a favorite tree ornament.

 

Makes: Roughly 130- 140 cookies (I KNOW!)
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 12-15 minutes
Required Tools: Spritz cookie press (I used one from OXO)

Ingredients

3½ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1½ cups (3 sticks) salted butter, softened
1¼ cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Colored sugar, sprinkles for decorating

Steps

ONE. Preheat oven to 325ºF. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder.

TWO. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter and sugar and beat until the mixture is creamed together and becomes light yellow and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Beat until everything is well combined, about 2 minutes.

THREE. Carefully add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined, about a minute. Load the dough into the cookie press in batches, and press cookies out onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Top with colored sugar or sprinkles immediately so that they will stick. (I used an egg wash, which you are welcome to do, but I didn’t like the way it made the colors of the sprinkles run so I won’t be doing that again.)

FOUR. Bake the cookies for 12 to 15 minutes, until just golden. Be careful not to overbake, these cookies are small and will go from golden to burnt pretty quickly.

Best enjoyed with a large mug of hot chocolate (regular or peppermint!) xoxoxoxoxoD

 

 

Chicken Tortilla Soup with The Works

Welcome to my first savory recipe in some time huh? I knew we’d meet again. Now, anyone who has ever stayed at my house knows that this is my “company meal” (back me up here guys). Like, you know when you want to show off to your guests so you really pull out all the stops and make something extra impressive? That’s what this soup is all about. I literally love soup so much and this one is the most perfect combination of spicy, warming, filling, and just about the most satisfying lunch/ dinner/ maybe breakfast (idk I don’t judge) in the whole wide world. This masterpiece comes adapted from The Pioneer Woman, and because I am always doing more work than I need to, the thing that makes this soup really special is the addition of homemade tortilla chips and all the toppings you could ever imagine. It’s so important to my family in fact, that when I mentioned to my mom that this was what I was writing about for today, she couldn’t BELIEVE I hadn’t posted this yet. I figure now with the chill of winter in the air it’s the perfect time.

This dish is a labor of love and although there’s a lot of prep work and moving parts, it will be well worth it. Plus, you can feel no guilt in putting your guests to work as sous chefs because the soup is its own reward!

I’m going to keep things here short because we all know what the star of this post is, but quick! Here are 5 things to be happy about today:

ONE. Freshly fried restaurant tortilla chips and pico de gallo (can you tell I’m in a mood?).

TWO. Nights where you have no plans so you take a long shower, do a face mask, and really treat yourself.

THREE. Peppermint hot chocolate.

FOUR. Embroidered flowers.

FIVE. Blue Planet (I & II) and their accompanying soundtracks.

Let’s get souping! Yes, I did make soup a verb, someone call the dictionary ASAP.
Serves: 8-12 people
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

3 tsp ground cumin
2½ tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp kosher salt
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups diced onion (about 3-4 onions)
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 red bell peppers, diced
2 green bell peppers, diced
2 10-ounce cans Rotel Diced Tomatoes with Green Chiles
8 cups chicken broth
6 Tbsp tomato paste
8 cups hot water
4 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
6 tablespoons cornmeal
Corn Tortillas
Diced avocado
Chopped cilantro
Diced red onion
Shredded cheddar cheese
Sour cream

Steps

ONE. Preheat oven to 375ºF. In a small bowl, mix together cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and kosher salt. Lay chicken breasts on a baking sheet and drizzle each one with olive oil. Sprinkle a teaspoon of the spice mixture over each piece of chicken, then reserve the rest. Bake the chicken for 15 to 20 minutes, then allow to cool completely before shredding.

TWO. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat and cook the onions, peppers, and garlic. Add remaining spice mixture and cook until the vegetables soften and begin to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes.

THREE. Add the shredded chicken, the cans of Rotel with their juice, the chicken broth, the tomato paste, and hot water. Stir to combine, then cover and bring to a boil.

FOUR. Reduce heat to low and add the beans. In a small bowl, mix the cornmeal with 1 cup of water, and add to the soup. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

FIVE. While the soup is simmering, brush a stack of corn tortillas with olive oil, slice into uniform strips (or wedges), lay out on a baking sheet, and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until lightly golden and crisp. You could also fry them in a skillet of oil on the stovetop, but this just makes more chips in one go. Take 5 extra corn tortillas (unbaked) and slice them into uniform strips and add to the soup.

SIX. To serve, ladle a generous portion of soup into each bowl, then promptly lose your mind adding as much of the toppings as you can fit.

Welcome to the rest of your life where the only thing you’ll want to eat is this soup. XoxoxoxoxD