Quick Chickpea and Spinach Curry

I get one cooking magazine in the mail. Fine Cooking.  I’ve mentioned it more than once (at least a dozen times probably) on the blog.  It’s most definitely my favorite cooking magazine.  It doesn’t have loads of content, but what it does have is good content and not a lot of ads.  Anyway, buy a copy sometime and check it out.


This recipe for chickpea and spinach curry is from the latest  issue.  While doing meal planning for this past week I was at a loss for Tuesday’s dinner.  So I grabbed the magazine and started flipping through it.  This one stood out to me right away.  I love the flavors in Indian food, but it often takes a lot of time and ingredients to make good Indian food at home.  This recipe allows you to take some short cuts but still wind up with a very flavorful and satisfying meal with just enough spice.

Our Tuesday nights get a little crazy, no matter how hard I try I always feel like I am rushing to get dinner ready or the house picked up.  This meal fit in perfectly with our  busy night (although I failed in some ways this past week and we were still rushed!).  It comes together incredibly quickly and cooks up in a flash.  It’s full of good-for-you vegetables and fills you up without being heavy.  But your house will smell like curry for a few days.  That’s the only downside.  Ben came home the next day from work and said, “Indian again?” to which I replied “No, spaghetti and meatballs.” which I’d spent all day cooking.  I was sure it would’ve masked the curry, but no.

You can serve this as a side dish or as a vegetarian main, which is what I did.  The recipe below serves 4 as a side and 2 as a main.  It’s easily doubled or tripled, so can suit whatever your needs are.


I skipped out on the yogurt the first time around, but ate it with leftovers and loved the creamy, coolness of it next to the spice.  Definitely serve this with naan if you can, but I am sure it would also be nice on a bed of white rice.

If you don’t like cilantro or are serving this to people who don’t, leave it out of the dish.  You can serve fresh cilantro separately and let people decide how much, if any, they want.


Quick Chickpea and Spinach Curry

From Fine Cooking


  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne (optional, I left it out)
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 14-1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • Kosher salt
  • 6-7 ounces baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (optional, mix in or on the side)
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (optional for serving)


  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add in the onion, ginger, curry powder and garam masala and cook for a few minutes, until the onion is softened.  Add in the garlic and cook for one minute more.
  3. Stir in the chickpeas, tomatoes, and salt to taste (start with 1/2 teaspoon and add no more than 1 teaspoon)
  4. Add in the spinach, a cup or so at a time, letting is cook down just a bit before adding more to keep you pan from getting  overloaded.
  5. Once the spinach has cooked down and is wilted, season with more salt if needed, cover the pan and turn off the heat.  Let it sit for about 5 minutes.
  6. You can stir in the cilantro to the dish now if desired or serve it on the side.


Daring Bakers: Star Breads

Beauty surrounded the Daring Bakers this month as our host, Sawsan, of chef in disguise, challenged us to make beautiful, filled breads. Who knew breads could look as great as they taste?


When I saw this challenge I felt a little intimidated.  I don’t feel 100% comfortable with bread, always fearing I will make a mistake somewhere along the way and the dough won’t rise or the end product will be dry and inedible.  But I wound up with two wonderful loaves of beautiful bread that even my kids loved.  It was referred to as the “special bread” by my son.

This challenge gave Daring Bakers the freedom to choose what they used to fill their bread and also what design they would create.  Being the non-creative type I just used the suggested methods for twisting my loaves of bread.  And if any part of you thinks, “I can’t do that.” trust me, you can.  It’s easier than it seems. For fillings I made a savory bread and a sweet bread.  I used the same dough recipe for each.

For the savory loaf I chose basil pesto and mozzarella cheese.  My only regret is not adding just a little more cheese to the layers.  But it was delicious and something I would definitely go through the trouble to make again.  It would be a lovely and impressive bread to bring to a dinner party or pot luck.


For the sweet loaf I went with classic cinnamon sugar.  We ate this bread for breakfast over the course of 3 days and Carson was sad when it was gone.  Again, this is something I’d make again without hesitation.  The method I used in twisting the dough was a little more complicated and tedious than the pesto bread, but baked up beautifully.

cinnamonbread3 cinnamonbread2

I drizzled this bread with a simple milk and powdered sugar glaze before serving.  Almost like eating a cinnamon roll, possibly better.cinnamonbread1

Here are a few pictures of the process, none of the actual twisting of the bread since I am my own photographer and could not manage to get any action shots.

dough1 dough2 dough3 dough4 dough5 dough6

The instructions I am going to try to write for how to shape your bread will probably fail in perfectly communicating how to do it.  So here are a few links that will help you.

This one has a good video on the entire process.  This is not the twisting method I used, but I think it looks beautiful and wish I’d found it before I made my bread!

And this one is what I used.  I found the pictures and instructions to be very helpful.

Pesto Star Bread



  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup milk, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3-1/4 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (start with 3 1/4, add more if you need it)


  • 3-5 tablespoons basil pesto, store bought or homemade
  • 3-5 tablespoons shredded mozzarella cheese


  • olive oil
  • faked salt



  1. Heat butter, milk and water just until butter has melted and mixture is between 100 and 110°F, warm but not hot.
  2. Put milk mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk in egg and sugar, then sprinkle yeast on to the mixture, stir once then let sit for 10-15 minutes.  Mixture should be foamy after this, if it’s not your liquid was too hot and killed the yeast or your yeast was no good to begin with.
  3. Place the dough hook on your mixer and begin mixing, adding about a cup of flour at a time.  Once all the flour has been added, mix until dough comes together.
  4. Place in a large greased bowl, cover with a clean towel and let rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours, until doubled in size.

Filling and Shaping and Baking

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and divide into 4 equal sized pieces.
  3. Roll one dough piece out, just big enough to fit your template.  I used an 8-inch cake pan, but I think if you can manage to roll your dough out well enough you could get a 9 or 10-inch circle out of the dough.  8-inch was a nice size, though.
  4. Place the template onto the dough and trim off the excess.  Transfer to the cookie sheet.
  5. Spread with a heaping tablespoon of pesto, just about to the edge, then sprinkle with about 1 tablespoon of cheese.
  6. Repeat with the remaining balls of dough, but not topping the top layer with pesto and cheese.  Press and tuck the edges of the top piece to enclose the bread somewhat.
  7. Brush the top layer with olive oil.
  8. With a small sharp knife or a bench scraper, cut the bread into 12 wedges, leaving the outer edge intact, making sure to cut all the way through the layers.
  9. Take one triangle and twist it gently 3 times and place back  in the center.  Repeat with the rest of the wedges, twisting in the same direction.
  10. Let rest for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 450°F.  Sprinkle with flaked salt and bake for 5 minutes, then lower oven temp to 375°F and bake for 10-15 more minutes until bread is golden brown.  Keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t get too dark.

Cinnamon Star Bread



  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup milk, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3-1/4 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour


  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon


  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Glaze (enough for 4 pieces, double for the entire loaf)

  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons milk



  1. Heat butter, milk and water just until butter has melted and mixture is between 100 and 110°F, warm but not hot.
  2. Put milk mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk in egg and sugar, then sprinkle yeast on to the mixture, stir once then let sit for 10-15 minutes.  Mixture should be foamy after this, if it’s not your liquid was too hot and killed the yeast or your yeast was no good to begin with.
  3. Place the dough hook on your mixer and begin mixing, adding about a cup of flour at a time.  Once all the flour has been added, mix until dough comes together.
  4. Place in a large greased bowl, cover with a clean towel and let rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours, until doubled in size.

Filling and Shaping and Baking

  1. Whisk sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  3. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and divide into 4 equal sized pieces.
  4. Roll one dough piece out, just big enough to fit your template.  I used an 8-inch cake pan, but I think if you can manage to roll your dough out well enough you could get a 9 or 10-inch circle out of the dough.  8-inch was a nice size, though.
  5. Place the template onto the dough and trim the excess.  Transfer carefully to the cookie sheet.
  6. Brush bottom layer with butter, then sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar.  Repeat with the remaining dough, but only brush the top layer with butter.
  7. Using a small sharp knife or a bench scraper cut circle of dough into 8 equal-sized wedges, making sure to cut all the way through the layers.
  8. With a small knife cut a slit in the center of each triangle leaving space at the top and bottom, the cut should not reach either the base or the tip of the triangle.
  9. Take the tip of the triangle and gently bring it up, over and through the slit, then repeat once more making two twists.  Place the triangle back on the baking sheet and repeat with the remaining pieces.
  10. Take the outside edge of each triangle and pinch the ends up and together.
  11. Whisk together the milk and sugar and brush onto the bread.
  12. Let rest for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 450°F.
  13. Bake for 5 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 375°F and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until golden brown.


  1. Sift powdered sugar into a bowl.
  2. Whisk in milk until mixture is smooth.
  3. Glaze entire loaf (with a doubled recipe of the glaze) OR glaze each piece individually.  If you don’t plan to eat all the bread in one sitting I’d recommend waiting to glaze the remaining bread until you plan to eat it.

Store any leftover bread wrapped in foil at room temperature for 3-5 days.  Re-warm in a low oven, toaster oven or microwave.  You could also freeze this bread, wrap it well in plastic wrap, then foil.  Thaw then reheat in a low oven.



Chicken, Bacon, Avocado & Swiss Panini

Sometimes I have one ingredient that I really need to use and the rest of the meal comes about because of it.  That’s exactly what happened last night.  The ingredient…BACON.

Ben bought some really amazing thick-cut bacon last week when we grilled burgers.  I had more than half of the package left and it needed to be used in the next couple of days.  I could have frozen it, but when something goes into my freezer it may never come out.  And there was no way I was going to waste good bacon!  In college my best friend used to order the chicken, bacon, ranch sandwich at Quizno’s and she’d add either avocado or guacamole.  I might have some details a little confused here, but it was something like that.  With the bacon and some leftover grilled chicken in my fridge I knew exactly what we’d be having for dinner.


We eat panini a lot, and usually I’m using leftovers to make them.  It’s one of the main ways we use any leftover steak.  As with most panini recipes the ingredient list is short, and prep is simple if you’re using leftovers.  All you need is some bread (I used sourdough) some cooked chicken, a few slices of cooked bacon, avocado and swiss cheese.  You can use any kind of cheese that you like, but I thought the swiss paired well.


You can spread some mayo on the bread, or if the Quizno’s addition of ranch sounds too good to pass up you can either spread some ranch dressing on the bread or dip the sandwich in it after it’s been cooked.  If you have some guacamole around, then use that instead of the avocado.

chickenbaconpanini2 chickenbaconpanini3

For a nice and crunchy exterior, and terrific color, I like to either drizzle the bread with olive oil or, if I’m feeling really crazy, spread it with softened butter.  It’s up to you.

You don’t need a panini press, but if you have one that you don’t use very often I highly encourage you to dust it off and make it a part of your life.  To make these without a press, just heat a skillet over medium high heat and while one side is cooking, press down on the sandwich with another heavy pan, then flip and do it again.  Like a smashed grilled cheese, although I guess pressed does sound better than smashed.


The recipe below makes 2 sandwiches, so adjust the ingredient amounts as needed for the number of paninis you plan to make.

Ben and I both really enjoyed these panini and I can see myself planning my weekly meals with some extra chicken and bacon in the future.  Enjoy!


Chicken, Bacon, Avocado and Swiss Panini


  • 4 slices of thick cut sourdough bread
  • 1 cooked chicken breast, sliced
  • 4 slices of cooked bacon
  • 1 half of an avocado, sliced
  • 4 slices of swiss cheese
  • mayo or ranch dressing, optional
  • olive oil or butter for grilling


  1. Preheat your panini press or a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Set out your bread (spread with mayo or ranch) and layer 1 slice of cheese, chicken, bacon, avocado and top with another slice of cheese.  (I tear the slice of cheese so that it covers the bread.)  Repeat with remaining sandwiches.
  3. Drizzle olive oil or spread butter onto both sides of the bread.
  4. Place on the panini press or on the heated skillet and press until bread is golden brown and cheese had melted.


Fruit Loop Marshmallow Treats

Having kids has somehow made it ok to for me to purchase certain kinds of cereal.  Lucky Charms is usually the one I fall for, and Carson loves it, of course.  But a while back I just had to buy a box of Fruit Loops.  I loved them as a kid.  It made the milk turn a lovely pastel color and made the milk taste super delicious, like most sugary cereals do.  I thought the kids would LOVE it.  Both of them refused to eat it.  I guess that’s good, but it did mean I had a huge family sized box that was just begging to be made into something delicious.

With a couple of bags of marshmallows in my pantry it was an easy decision to make Rice Krispy Treats, only with Fruit Loops.


I think these are beautiful!  The colors are just a lot of fun.  When Ben saw these on the counter he said, “Ewww.”  He isn’t a big fan of super sweet treats, so the combination of sugar cereal and marshmallow doesn’t appeal to him in the least.  They are a little over the top, I’ll admit.  And they are sweet, a small square is just enough.  I think they’d be a great little treat at a kid’s birthday party.  But they’re also a nice little treat for adults as well.

fruitloopmarshmallowbars2 fruitloopmarshmallowbars3

Fruit Loop Marshmallow Treats


  • 16 ounces mini marshmallows
  • 1 stick of butter (plus more for the pan and your hands)
  • 8 cups of Fruit Loops


  1. Butter a 9×13 inch pan and set aside.
  2. Melt butter and marshmallows over low heat in a large pot until marshmallows are melted and the mixture is smooth.
  3. Add in the Fruit Loops and mix well to coat all the cereal.
  4. Pour the mixture out into the pan, then butter your hands and press mixture out evenly.  Let cool, then cut into squares.

Poppyseed Chicken Casserole

I’ve debated over whether or not to post this recipe for some time.  And some of you are going to roll your eyes and turn up your noses at me.  But this is seriously one of the most delicious and easiest meals I’ve ever made, and one that gets the husband (and myself, to be completely honest) super excited about dinner.  A friend of mine made this for me back in college, and someone brought it to us when Betsy was born.  You might already know about the wonders of this casserole yourself and have a recipe that you like.  I’ve tried several and after some tweaking here and there I found this one to be our favorite.

This casserole is great when you don’t have a ton of time but still want something home cooked.  I know, some of you will argue that it’s not really cooking.  And you can go right on ahead and judge me, but I’m sticking to my guns here and telling you that this is really good.  Just close your eyes while you’re mixing it up…


The ingredient list for this casserole is short and sweet.  I typically use a rotisserie chicken (1 whole chicken is just about right) but you can use leftover chicken from another meal if you’d like.  If the chicken you use is flavored in any way that flavor will really come through.  I made this once with leftover grilled chicken that we’d marinated in Italian dressing and it was very different in flavor than when I’d used poached chicken or a rotisserie chicken.

Now you’re going to cringe, but all you need other than the chicken is a can of cream of chicken soup (I like to use reduced sodium) a 16 ounce container of sour cream (low fat is fine) a sleeve of Ritz crackers, poppyseeds and a few tablespoons of butter.  Just go with me on this one.


You can bake this in any dish, but I prefer one that isn’t too big and isn’t too small.  An 11×7 casserole dish is what I usually use.  An 8×8 is fine, but then the chicken and cracker layers are thicker.  If you use a 9×13 the layers will be very thin.

I always serve this with white rice.  You could use brown.  I’m sure it would be wonderful and add more heartiness to the meal.  I’ve just always used white, and so that’s what I will probably always use.  Creature of habit.

And I always serve this with steamed broccoli.  Not sure what it is I love about the combination, but getting a little sauce from the chicken onto a piece of broccoli isn’t at all bad.  Green beans, asparagus, carrots, all good options.  I will continue to serve it with broccoli.  Again, creature of habit.  Whatever side you serve, make sure it has some color.  Color typically means more nutritional value, and if you serve this with steamed cauliflower you’re serving a super neutral colored meal, which isn’t quite as lovely on your plate.


After baking you have a creamy casserole with a terrifically crunchy topping with just a touch of sweetness from the poppyseeds.  This is a comfort food for me.  I know the thought of cream of chicken soup and 2 cups of sour cream is hard to handle, but please, please make it.  You will not be sorry.  You might even thank me.


Poppyseed Chicken Casserole

Serves 6-8


  • 3-4 cups of cooked chicken, chopped or shredded into fairly large pieces
  • 1 can of cream of chicken soup, reduced sodium
  • 1 16-ounce container of low fat sour cream
  • 1 sleeve of Ritz crackers
  • 1 tablespoon poppyseeds
  • 3 tablespoons of butter, melted
  • cooked white rice for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spray an 11×17 or 8×8 inch dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl combine chicken, cream of chicken soup and sour cream.  Mix well then spread into prepared dish.
  3. In a large zip top bag crush crackers into pieces, then pour in poppyseeds and butter.  Seal bag and then toss around until everything is mixed well.
  4. Spread cracker mixture evenly on top of the chicken.
  5. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until bubbly.
  6. Let cool for a few minutes before serving.


Cream Cheese & Pecan Blondies

More than a few food bloggers I’ve read in the last couple of days have mentioned being done with chocolate.  After Valentine’s Day I was in the same boat.  And while I had the desire to bake something sweet and delicious I knew I needed to steer clear of cocoa.  These blondies were the perfect compromise.


I love blondies, maybe, just maybe more than I love brownies, but it depends so I can’t say for sure.  These blondies have a cream cheese swirl and pecans to make them even more delicious.  The top and edges get crispy and crunchy while the inside stays moist and chewy.  It’s a glorious combination.


You can substitute walnuts for the pecans, or leave the nuts out altogether if you’re just not a fan of nuts or if you have an allergy.  The blondie batter can even be used on its own without the cream cheese.  You could mix in white or dark chocolate chips, toffee, or whatever you’d like.  The recipe calls for cake flour, and while I think all purpose would be OK, I haven’t tried it out.  Let me know if you come up with any spectacular combinations!


These are wonderful on their own, but also quite nice with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  But really, what isn’t nice with a scoop of vanilla ice cream?  “Enjoy!” says Betsy.creamcheesepecanblondies7

Cream Cheese & Pecan Blondies

Adapted slightly from More from Magnolia Cookbook



  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Cream Cheese Topping

  • 6 ounces cream cheese (1/3 fat is fine) softened
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a 9×13 inch pan and set aside.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Beat butter and sugar together in a large bowl until well combined and light in color, 2-3 minutes.
  4. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed.  Then mix in vanilla.
  5. Add in the four mixture and mix to combine, then fold in pecans.  Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly.
  6. In a medium bowl beat cream cheese and sugar well.  Add in the egg yolk, flour and vanilla and mix well.
  7. Drop cream cheese mixture in heaping spoonfuls onto the blondie batter.  Use a knife to swirl the cream cheese through the batter without totally mixing it in.
  8. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until top is beginning to brown and cake tester inserted into the blondies comes out with just a few crumbs.
  9. Let cool to room temperature before cutting OR let cool for 20 minutes at room temperature then pop them in the fridge for half an hour before cutting.


Blue Cheese Twice Baked Potatoes

If you have young kids, you know how hard it is to get out on “special occasions” like New Years Eve or Valentine’s Day when everyone else is wanting to get out as well, babysitters are hard to come by!  A dinner at home can be just as wonderful as a night out.  A simple steak and potato dinner was perfect for us this year.

Instead of a regular baked potato as a side for our steak dinner on Valentine’s day, I decided to get just a little fancy and make twice baked potatoes.  Since Ben and I are both big blue cheese fans, these blue cheese laden potatoes seemed like the perfect choice.


I fixed these earlier in the day and kept them in the fridge until it got closer to dinner time, which makes these a great make-ahead side dish.  If you haven’t made twice baked potatoes before, they’re really fairly simple and easily flavored to your liking.  Bake russet potatoes, let cool for a while, cut off the tops, scoop out the insides, mix up with whatever you like, scoop back into the potato skins and bake again.

No matter what you’re going to mix in, always mix in butter, sour cream, milk or cream and salt first.  This makes for a smooth and creamy base.  From there you can add your choice of cheese, green onion, cooked and crumbled bacon, or herbs.  Make sure to taste and season as you’re mixing up the filling so that your potatoes are not underseasoned.

The blue cheese flavor is subtle but present and is a great compliment to a nice bite of perfectly grilled steak.  I’m so thankful to be married to a man who knows how to grill a steak and is happy to do it!  I used 2 ounces of blue cheese in the potato mixture and a few crumbles on top.

The recipe below is for two, so double or triple as needed.


Blue Cheese Twice Baked Potatoes

Serves 2


  • 2 russet potatoes
  • olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 ounces blue cheese, divided
  • black pepper, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Rinse and scrub potatoes under cold water, then pat dry.  Poke with a fork a few times, rub with olive oil then place on oven rack with a sheet of foil underneath to catch drips, and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes depending on their size.
  3. Let cool for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Cut off the top third of the potatoes and scoop out the insides into a large bowl, leaving some of the potato intact all around so that the skins can still hold their shape easily.
  5. Mash potatoes with butter, sour cream, milk and 1 teaspoon of salt until well combined and smooth.  Fold in 2 1/2 ounces of blue cheese, then taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.
  6. Scoop filling back into the potato skins.
  7. At this point bake the potatoes again or store covered in the refrigerator until ready to bake.
  8. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F , place potatoes on a foil lined cookie sheet, sprinkle with the remaining blue cheese, and bake for 20 minutes if baking immediately, 25-30 minutes if baking from chilled.


Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Heart Tarts

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Of course it’s necessary to share some heart shaped food today.


I have very fond memories of eating brown sugar and cinnamon pop tarts before school as a kid.  Once I decided to try my hand at making my own pop tarts I knew what kind they would be.


All you need to make these tarts is your favorite pie crust recipe, I adapted a pâte brisée from Martha, and a filling.  I chose brown sugar and cinnamon, but your favorite jam, nutella, or peanut or almond butter and chocolate chips are all great choices.

You can either leave these plain, brush them with an egg wash before baking, or top them with a simple glaze.  The egg wash makes them beautiful (the ones on the right below), but the glaze is super delicious.


I cut these into hearts for Valentine’s Day, but you can also cut them into 2 by 3 inch rectangles.  Or use another shape if you like.

The end result is a flaky pastry that beats out a Pop Tart any day.  You can make a batch on the weekend and have them ready for a quick breakfast all week long.  You can reheat these in a 300°F oven or in a toaster oven.  I’d worry about a stand up toaster if you’ve glazed the pastries, or if any filling has leaked out, it might make a mess (and be a fire hazard) in the toaster.  But if your pastries are tightly sealed and unglazed, then you should be in good shape.


Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Heart Tarts

Adapted from Martha’s Baking Handbook and Chow.com


For the pastry

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 sticks of butter (cold and cut into pieces)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4-1/2 cup ice water

For the filling

  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 egg

For the glaze

  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar (sifted)
  • 1/4 teaspoon  cinnamon
  • 4 teaspoons milk


For the pastry

  1. In a food processor combine flour, salt and sugar, and pulse to combine.
  2. Add in butter and pulse until coarse crumbs form.
  3. Add in egg and pulse to combine, then stream in 1/4 cup ice water and run the processor, adding more water if necessary, until dough just comes together.
  4. Turn out onto your work surface, pat into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour,

For the filling

  1. Whisk sugar, cinnamon and flour together in a small bowl.
  2. Whisk egg in a separate bowl.

For the glaze

Make this while the tarts are cooling

  1. Sift the powdered sugar and cinnamon into a bowl.
  2. Whisk in the milk until smooth.

Assembling the tarts

  1. Remove dough from the fridge.  If it has been more than 1 hour, let it warm up a bit before trying to roll it out.
  2. Sprinkle a clean work surface with flour, then roll your dough out to about 1/8 inch in thickness.  Cut out as many hearts as you can (my heart cutter is the size of my palm, about 4 inches across at the widest point) and set these onto a 2 parchment lined cookie sheets.  Re-roll the scraps and cut more hearts.  You should have 20-24 total hearts to make 10-12 tarts.  You can re-roll what remains if you need more hearts, or just bake the remaining scraps to snack on.
  3. Brush some of the beaten egg all over a heart, then spoon about 2 heaping teaspoons of the filling on the heart, leaving an edge all around.  Place another heart on top of the filling and press along the edges to seal.  Use a fork to crimp the edges tightly together.  Poke a few holes in the top of the tart to let steam escape during baking.  Brush with egg wash if desired.  Repeat with the remaining hearts.  You should have two cookie sheets with 5-6 tarts per sheet.
  4. Place the sheets in the freezer for 10 minutes, or in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove and bake for 20-25 minutes, until just slightly golden brown.
  6. Let cool completely before drizzling glaze on to the tarts.






Chocolate & Pecan Brownie Cookies

I have loved (and hated) all of the chocolate goodies that have been at my house recently, but these might just be my favorite and a recipe I can see myself going back to the most often.  These would make a terrific Valentine’s treat, but really a wonderful cookie for anytime.

A new friend of mine made these as treats for after a morning TV segment that I was lucky to be a part of, and after practically inhaling my cookie I immediately asked her for the recipe.  Sometimes I forget how good a chocolate cookie can be and often opt for chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin when I’m going to make cookies.  But these cookies might become my new go-to. They are thick and brownie like in texture in the center, yet slightly crunchy on the top and edges.  The nuts add terrific flavor and using a mix of chocolate chips makes for a truly amazing cookie.


I made a batch and boxed up a few for Carson’s teachers at school for Valentine’s Day.  When I went to pick him up his teacher said they were amazing and evil.  “Evil” is one of the best compliments when it comes to baked goods, at least in my opinion.


The batter for these cookies is more involved than some, but is still not intense by any means.  After I scooped the first batch the batter began to really thicken up, which makes for a bit of a difficult and messy time getting it scooped out.  It was hard on my cookie scoop to the point that I worried it might break.  Thankfully it didn’t.  But even if it had it would’ve been a small price to pay!


Chocolate and Pecan Brownie Cookies

From Natalie

Makes about 30 cookies


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 4 ounces of chocolate (70% cacoa or unsweetened squares) chopped
  • 3 cups chocolate chips (semi sweet or a combination of semi sweet, dark and milk chocolate) divided
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups chopped pecans, toasted


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.
  2. Melt butter, chopped chocolate and 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips in a heavy saucepan set over low heat.  Stir until everything has melted together, then let cool to room temperature.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together four, powder and salt.  Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl beat eggs, sugar and vanilla until well combined.  Add in dry ingredients until just combined, then beat in melted chocolate until well combined.
  5. Mix in the rest of the chocolate chips and the pecans.
  6. Drop by large spoonfuls (about 2 tablespoons) onto prepared baking sheets, 9 cookies per sheet.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes, until tops are set and cracking.  Cool for a minute or two before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Caramel Pot de Creme

I know.  I just posted a pot de creme recipe.  But this one is different.  And more simple.  And just as delicious.   I just couldn’t help but share this one with you as well.


This pot de creme is called “butterscotch” on Epicurious, where I found this recipe, but it’s more caramel in flavor in my opinion.  Which is fine by me.  It’s less rich than the other pot de creme, making it much easier to enjoy.  It’s delicious and creamy and a snap to prepare.  It’s a great make ahead dessert, and one that would be wonderful for Valentine’s Day for those of you who love sweets but aren’t in to chocolate.

In the original recipe are two sugars, Muscovado and Demerara, that I’ve heard of but couldn’t find at the grocery store, so I simply used light and dark brown sugar.  If you can find the others, go right ahead and use them, but the combination of sugars I used was perfect (and probably less expensive).

I did not have the same problem with these pots de creme as I had with the last ones.  Each pot de creme was smooth and creamy on top.  You do still bake them in a water bath, but there is no need to cover them.  Which is nice for absent minded people like me who tend to forget stuff like that.


Top these with sweetened whipped cream, grated chocolate, berries or enjoy them on their own.  Enjoy!

Caramel Pot de Creme

From Epicurious

Makes 6 4-ounce custards


  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 6 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • sweetened whipped cream, berries, grated chocolate for topping


  1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  2. Bring a teapot of water to a simmer to use for the water bath.
  3. Combine dark brown sugar, cream and salt in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar completely.  Do not let the mixture boil.  Remove from the heat and pour into a heatproof bowl.
  4. In another saucepan, bring water and light brown sugar to a boil over medium high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Continue cooking until the mixture begins to brown and bubble, stirring constantly.  This should take about 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and slowly pour caramel into the cream mixture, whisking to combine.  Mixture may bubble and steam.
  5. In a large bowl whisk egg yolks and vanilla, then add hot cream mixture in small amounts, whisking constantly to avoid scrambling the egg yolks.  One you’ve added 1/3 of the mixture, stream in the rest and whisk well.
  6. Pour custard through a sieve (to remove any cooked egg lumps) into the bowl that originally contained the cream.
  7. Set 6 ramekins in baking dish then divide custard evenly among them.  Place in the oven, then fill pan with hot water, about halfway up the sides of the ramekins.  Try to keep water from splashing into the custards.
  8. Bake, uncovered for 40-45 minutes, until custards are set but centers are still wobbly.
  9. Remove ramekins to a cooling rack and cool slightly.  You can enjoy these at room temperature, or refrigerate them for a few hours.
  10. Top with whipped cream, chocolate and/or berries.