Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip & Pecan Cookies

Best. Chocolate. Chip. Cookies. Ever.

You will be the star of every picnic, pot-luck, or office party you bring them to. True story.

Get the recipe here.

Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese: The Quick Version

I've posted numerous times about my fantabulous recipe for Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese and I've realized that while it's tasty, not everyone has time to make it the way I made it the first time, roasting the squash and then blending everything together. Not even me.

So, now I usually make a quicker version that still tastes amazing. Save time, not flavor.

Quick Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese
1 box macaroni or farfalle pasta
1 TBS butter
1 shallot, minced
1 TBS brandy
1 12-14 oz package (or can) of butternut squash puree
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup smoked cheddar cheese
Garlic powder
2 cups bread crumbs
Olive oil

To Do:
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Boil the pasta, drain and set aside
  • In a large pot, heat the butter until melted then add in the shallot and cook until translucent
  • Add in the brandy and cook a few minutes until shallots are infused
  • Add the puree and broth and heat through
  • Stir in the cheeses until you have a thick sauce, then remove from the heat
  • Mix in the seasonings, adding them and the salt/pepper to your taste, then add the pasta to the pot with the sauce and stir to incorporate. It should be a bit soupy.
  • In a small bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, olive oil, and a handful of mozzarella cheese if you have any left over, and a pinch each of salt and nutmeg
  • Transfer to a large, greased baking dish
  • Top the pasta with the breadcrumb mixture and bake covered for about 15 minutes, then uncovered for an additional 10 minutes or until golden brown
  • The other option is to nix the whole oven part and eat the macaroni and cheese right out of the pan once the pasta/sauce is combined. Up to you. It's delightful either way.

Morning Scramble Bake

'Tis the season for overnight guests.

Guests who will be expecting breakfast.

This delicious breakfast bake will keep both you and your company happy. It's tasty and filling but not a gutbuster like some breakfast bakes can be. And, the no-fuss recipe will free up your morning so you can concentrate on your friends and family instead of what's in the oven. Because while it's fun to entertain, it's also nice to get to talk to people without standing in front of the stove.

Morning Scramble Bake
2 TBS butter, softened
6 large eggs (cage-free if possible)
1/4 cup half and half
4 oz shredded aged cheddar
1 cup roasted tomatoes, diced
4 oz bacon, cooked and diced
1 TBS fresh parsley, minced
2 tsp fresh basil, minced
1 TBS fresh tarragon, minced
Kosher salt/ground black pepper

To Do:
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half and 1 TBS of butter.
  • Stir in the cheese, tomatoes, bacon and herbs, and a pinch each of salt/pepper.
  • Grease a shallow baking pan with the remaining tablespoon of the butter, then pour in the egg mixture.
  • Bake until puffed and no longer jiggly in the center when you gently move the pan -- about 20-25 minutes.
  • This should serve 4-6 people. For more people, don't double the recipe. Instead, just make a second pan. (Otherwise, you'll just have really thick pieces, but still for 4-6 people.) Let cool and serve as is with fresh fruit and Greek yogurt on the side, or make an eggtastic sandwich by placing a piece of the bake, more roasted tomatoes, and a slice of cheese between toasted, buttered bread.

Oven-Roasted Tomatoes

Tomatoes rule.

From the briny, sun-dried kind to the beautifully plump Jerseys, and sweet, eat-them-by-the-handful cherry variety, this versatile fruit just makes everything better.

Let's face it -- there would be no BLT without the T. And, grilled cheese is just sad without a bowl of hot, creamy tomato soup beside it. Have you heard of Bloody Marys? A world without those is a world I do not want to be a part of, thank you, especially at 11am on a Saturday. Plus, who could live without tomato pie, pizza pie, lasagna, or spaghetti with Sunday gravy? Not this lady. There are tomatoes in my kitchen 24/7.

Now that the sun-kissed, juicy tomatoes of summer are far behind us, I'm using tomatoes in salads and sandwiches less often and baking, stuffing, roasting, and pureeing them instead. One of the simplest, yet tastiest ways to enjoy a tomato this time of year is to roast them. Simply toss your tomatoes (whole or sliced, depending on what size/type you're using) with some olive oil and a bit of Kosher salt and roast at 450 degrees until browned and deflated. You can add some cloves of garlic, dried herbs, or some sliced red pepper to the pan if you want, too.

Roasted Heaven
Once they're roasted, let the tomatoes cool and drain away the oil/juices into a separate container for dipping crusty bread, topping pizzas or tossing with pasta. Then, chop the tomatoes up (if they aren't sliced) and the possibilities are endless:
  • Pile them on sandwiches/burgers along with basil and mozzarella for a Caprese-style treat.
  • Blend them with fresh herbs and cream/stock for a tasty soup or sauce
  • Use as a pizza or crostini topping. (They are especially great with ricotta or goat cheese.)
  • Spoon a mixture of the tomatoes, lemon, olives and parsley over roasted fish.
  • Stuff chicken breasts with the tomatoes, some feta cheese and spinach and bake until cooked through and browned.
  • Cook until heated through with with tuna (in oil), chili pepper and olives, then toss with pasta.
  • Fold into scrambled eggs or fill an omelet with them.
  • Spoon them over a toasted bagel that's topped with cream cheese or ricotta.
Or, you can just scoop them into a bowl, sprinkle on some chopped basil and ground black pepper, put them on the table -- and watch them disappear!
Food like this is magic.


Slow Cooking: Spicy Sausage w/Farfalle, Broccolini & Mushrooms

It's a rainy day, and that means the slow cooker is set and the house is cozy and everyone is lazing around. Today, the kitchen smells like an Italian Nonna is here: spicy sausage, garlic, tomato sauce, yum!

I've had a few friends ask if noodles work in the crock pot. While I still think the best way to cook pasta is on the stove, it doesn't come out terrible if you add towards the end of your slow cooker time -- just be sure there's enough liquid to help cook it through, and don't leave it on the warm setting for too long before serving as there's a risk of it turning too soft. But, if you keep an eye on it, you shouldn't have a problem making a one-pot pasta dish, like the one below:

Spicy Sausage with Farfalle, Broccolini and Mushrooms
Put some spice in your life!
  • 1 lb hot Italian sausage
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 large red pepper, sliced and diced
  • 1/2 lb Crimini mushrooms, chopped
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 1 bunch Broccolini, chopped
  • 1 jar tomato sauce
  • 1 box Farfalle pasta
  • S/P to taste
  • Grated parmesan cheese

To Do:
  • Crumble the sausage (remove casings as needed) into the bottom of a slow cooker crock.
  • Add in the garlic, red pepper, mushrooms, tomatoes and a pinch or two of red pepper flakes and stir to combine. 
  • Put on the 4 hour setting and go organize your hall closet or something.
  • At 3.5 hours, stir in the Broccolini, tomato sauce and Farfalle and re-cover.
  • 30 minutes later, your pasta should be cooked through.
  • Let cool a bit and season with salt/pepper as needed.
  • Scoop into bowls, sprinkle with grated cheese, and enjoy.