Strawberry Cheesecake Macarons

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Both of us love cheesecake; in our opinion, it’s one of the best desserts ever- a buttery graham cracker crust, a smooth, creamy filling, and if we’re lucky, a strawberry or cherry sauce on top. However, we have only made it once because it’s just a little bit unhealthy and requires a lot of ingredients. So, the other day, we came up with the idea of strawberry cheesecake macarons to use up cream cheese, strawberries, and almond flour that we had sitting in the fridge. The first tray of these macarons wasn’t so pretty. To give the shells a graham cracker crust flavor, we had sprinkled the top with graham cracker crumbs before baking. Whether it was because of the graham cracker crumbs, oven temperature, or undermixing, those macaron shells puffed and deflated. Yikes!

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However, we gave the macaron batter another stir and tried again, without the crumbs on top. They came out looking perfect!

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We filled the pretty pink shells with a swirl of cream cheese frosting and a chunk of fresh strawberry. Definitely not a bad combination!

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Celine baked a small tray of graham cracker crust. We broke up the crust and rolled the edges of the macarons in the crumbs. Voilà- the perfect strawberry cheesecake macarons. We’re not kidding when we say that these are quite possibly one of the best desserts we’ve made for both presentation and taste. They also satisfy cheesecake cravings. Macarons may take a little while to make, but they are definitely worth the effort. If you’re nervous about making macarons, take a look at our plain macaron post for some pictures.

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Strawberry Cheesecake Macarons

Makes about 25-30 sandwich cookies

Macaron shells from Annie’s Eats, Cream Cheese Frosting from Smells Like Home

Ingredients:

1 batch macaron shells, dyed pink with 4-5 drops of red gel food coloring

8 oz cream cheese

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

7-8 strawberries

2 tablespoons sugar, divided

6 graham crackers

2 tablespoons butter

Directions:

Melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan. Crush the graham crackers in a large ziploc bag or food processor. In a small baking dish (we used a pie plate), mix together the melted butter, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, and the graham cracker crumbs. Press down gently and bake at 350 degrees for about 7-8 minutes, or until they begin to brown. Stir it around and set aside.

Wasth the strawberries, remove the stems, and cut into small chunks. Toss with 1 tablespoon of the sugar and let them set for about 20 minutes for them to release some juice. Set aside.

Beat the cream cheese and 5 tablespoons of butter on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla. Slowly beat in the powdered sugar until smooth. Fit a piping bag with a large round tip and fill it with frosting.

Pair the macaron shells by size, and pipe a small swirl of frosting on about half of them. Place a strawberry chunk in the center. Top with another shells and press down gently. Roll the edges in the graham cracker crust crumbs. We recommend eating them the day you make them, but you can store them in the fridge for a couple hours. Enjoy!

San Francisco!

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Gorgeous view of the Golden Gate Bridge from Baker Beach!

We recently returned from an absolutely wonderful trip to San Francisco and the surrounding region. The weather was perfect the entire time: cloudless skies and mid 70s each day! We packed in as many things as possible during the trip, since we likely won’t be headed back to the west coast for a while. One of our priorities was to get to enjoy some of San Francisco’s great food. Our aunt used to be a chef, and she knows about some of the good restaurants in the area, so she made sure we stopped at the best! Since this is a food blog, we are focusing on the food aspect of the trip here, but we visited many other places too.

Our plane arrived in San Francisco mid morning, so we went out for bagels and coffee. We stopped at a store called The Bagelry, a fun place that is family-owned. We ended our trip here as well.  Between us and our dad during both trips, we tried the poppy seed, cheddar, everything, onion, and plain. We loved all of them! While we stuck to regular cream cheese, they sell a large variety of more inventive flavors. For coffee, we went to Peet’s Coffee, which is a west coast specialty. They have locations all over California. We tried the iced coffee, a chocolate caramel swirl freddo (which was soo good!), jasmine and lime tea, and pomegranate berry tea throughout the trip. Peet’s, in our opinion, beats out Starbucks!

Since we were in walking distance from the apartment we rented to Golden Gate Park, we spent the afternoon walking around there and enjoying all the pretty sights. We went to the Japanese Tea Garden, which was tranquil and beautiful. We highly recommend it!

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For dinner that night, we went to Una Pizza Napoletana. This is not your average pizza place! The owner makes 100 pies a night, and sells pizzas until he sells out. The pizza is really good! The dough has a unique slightly charred, crisp exterior with a soft and airy interior. There are six pizza types, but we liked the bianca and ilaria best. The pizzas are baked in a beautiful tiled brick oven. This is a fun place to stop for a relaxing dinner in a really cool spot.

This oven is pretty. Who would’ve thought that adjective would apply to an oven?

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Finally, at the end of the night we went to Humphry Slocombe, a really great ice cream place.

Cute little seating area with fun lights!

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The night we were there, the flavors included root beer, secret breakfast (an alcohol-spiked ice cream with corn flakes and other stuff), pistachio brittle, mint chocolate chip, Vietnamese coffee (which has sweetened condensed milk), and more. Leah had the root beer, and I had tried the pistachio brittle. The brittle was crispy, not hard at all, and it was pretty great ice cream. The nice thing about this place is they don’t give you an overwhelmingly huge portion, and the ice cream is refreshing and light with rich flavors. We highly recommend it!

Pistachio Brittle ice cream- so good!

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The next day, we were outside of the city visiting a couple of colleges. We needed a quick place to stop for lunch, and we went to In-N-Out. While I wish I could say that this was great, it was just fast food. Yes, it definitely beats out McDonald’s (gross) and Burger King (ew) by quite a bit, but I prefer Five Guys or Chick-Fil-A. The caramelized onions on top were good, though!

That evening, we went out to dinner with our cousin at a vegetarian Indian restaurant called Udupi Palace. I generally dislike Indian food since I don’t love the spices in it, but this was surprisingly good. I had the onion masala dosa, which is a thin sort of crispy crepe fillled with potatoes and onions. Leah had a mixed vegetable uthappam. It’s not a place I would have picked, but we both enjoyed our meals and broadened our culinary horizons!

Saturday morning we went to the farmer’s market at the Ferry Building. This was a very fun experience! All the farmers from the surrounding regions bring tons of fresh produce.

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There are also food stands outdoors. We ate at a place called Primavera, which sells really wonderful Mexican food. This was one of the food highlights of the trip for sure. Everything is fresh and homemade. I had beer-battered fish tacos on homemade tortillas with avocado mayonnaise, and Leah had shrimp tostados. They were both delicious! We also had strawberry lime drinks from there, that were somewhere on the spectrum between juice and smoothie.

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We also made a stop for cupcakes at Miette in the Ferry Building. This was an extremely adorable little place with too-pretty-to-eat desserts.

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The cake stands as decorations were really fun!

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The desserts were so pretty. They tasted very good too!

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We spent the afternoon taking a ferry over to Sausalito, which was a lot of fun. That evening, we went to the Presidio of San Francisco to watch the sunset. The view was breathtakingly beautiful!

Sunday morning we made a stop at Dynamo Donuts. It was a hike to get there from where we were staying (in the Richmond district, near Golden Gate Park and the Presidio).

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This place sells creative doughnut flavors.

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Leah and I split the maple glazed bacon apple doughnut and the vanilla bean doughnut. The vanilla bean was good, but the maple bacon apple was amazing! Seriously, it was pretty ridiculous. It’s a weird combination but it worked well and I would happily have one of these again anytime (if, of course, I lived in San Francisco and magically worked off every calorie with no effort!).

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For lunch, we went to the Presidio, which is a large national park that used to be a military base. Every Sunday from spring through fall, food trucks and stands gather to sell food to crowds of people. The event is run by Off the Grid, which brings the best of food in San Francisco to various spots in the city. This seemed to be a very popular, family-friendly, and all around fun event. Apparently there were over 7,000 people there! We had a great time!

We bought our lunch at a place called Fins on the Hoof. The wait was long, but the food was very good. Between the three of us, we ate the three sandwiches on the menu in the picture below (no, sadly, we didn’t try the amazing-sounding fries) and were all happy with it!

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For dessert, we headed over to The Creme Brulee Cart.

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We had the mango creme brulee and the s’mores creme brulee. They were so, so, so good! Both were creamy and had a nice amount of toppings. It would be hard to pick a favorite of the two. All I can say is…I have nothing to say. These were just too good!

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After lunch, we went over the Golden Gate Bridge and walked over part of it. We then drove to a pretty beach town called Stinson Beach. It was too cold in the water to swim, but the weather was gorgeous. The road that we took to get there was winding with amazing views of mountains and the ocean, as well as farmland.

For Monday morning’s breakfast we went to Boulettes Larder, our aunt’s favorite restaurant for good reason.

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I had poached eggs with miso braised pork shoulder. This was the best meal of the entire trip. I wish I’d snapped a picture, but it simply didn’t last that long (my dad and Leah wanted to try it!). The eggs were cooked perfectly and the pork was tender and flavorful. Leah had Acme toast with apricot jam and house-made Nutella which was pretty delicious too. I highly recommend this place. It is not inexpensive by any means, but the food is good quality, the kitchen is super clean (you can watch them cook as you eat since the kitchen is literally right there), and the ambiance is lovely.

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We also tried the lemon meringue tart, which was perfection (you can see it inside the glass case in the above picture). It had a graham cracker tart crust (somewhere between a normal crust and graham cracker crust) and was filled with creamy lemon curd and topped with pillowy meringue. We plan to recreate this at some point!

We went to Berkeley for a late lunch that afternoon, after a morning at Muir Woods and the Marin Headlands (which were both gorgeous). We wanted something quick and light after our elaborate breakfast. We went to PIQ Cafe and got slices of pizza. This was a nice and casual place, with really good pizza that was topped with a little arugula for garnish. For dessert, we had gelato pops by Naia, a nice gelato place in the Bay Area. They were refreshing and delicious! I had the burnt caramel, Leah had the vanilla bean, and our dad had coffee.

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After lunch, we visited the Berkeley Rose Garden, which is a neighborhood garden that is a lovely and relaxing spot. We also drove up to Grizzly Peak for a birds-eye view of the city. It was a little rough up there (cigarette butts and alcohol bottles) but the view of the almost entire Bay Area was pretty spectacular.

Finally, for a closing dinner that night, we headed to Greens, a vegetarian restaurant by the SF bay. This was another big highlight of the trip.

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Beautiful view right outside the restaurant!

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The atmosphere inside was peaceful, and the food was delicious. I had asparagus pizza with ricotta and asiago cheese with herbs, Leah had linguini pasta with garlic, parsley, sun-dried tomatoes, and broccoli, and our dad had butternut squash soup. But the real highlight was the desserts!

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Our table tested four of the desserts split between the six of us- the huckleberry upside down cake, espresso pot de creme, apple galette, and flourless chocolate torte. The favorite was the pot de creme, which was creamy heaven in a bowl. That was the best dessert from the trip for sure!

Finally, Tuesday morning we got bagels from The Bagelry again, and made a stop in The Candy Store.

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This store is really fun! We decided to pick up some candy for our brothers, because kids love candy and we also wanted an excuse to go inside!

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This store sells tons of vintage candy, candy from Europe, and plain old fun candies!

The only real food disappointment of the trip was that we didn’t get to stop at Bi-Rite Creamery or Tartine. Neither were near where we were staying, and we got a little tired of city traffic (yikes, there are some bad drivers in that city). Next time!

Thanks for reading this really long post! We had a ton of fun in San Francisco and we hope you enjoyed hearing about it! Some great recipes are coming this week to the blog!

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

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When we were younger, we (especially Celine) loved Starbucks’ crumb cake. Who could blame us? It was a yellow cake topped with a thick layer of crumb topping and powdered sugar. While we don’t really eat baked goods from Starbucks too frequently anymore, we did want to make some coffee cake. This recipe isn’t really similar to the kind from Starbucks, but that is okay because it is pretty delicious itself. The cake part is pretty similar, but the crumb topping on this is a little crunchier and darker. Someday we will probably try a New York-style coffee cake (sort of like the Starbucks kind), but for now, this recipe is pretty great.

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P.S. We halved the recipe and baked it in a 8-inch square pan instead of a tube pan. It fit perfectly and took about 40 minutes to cook.

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Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Makes 1 large tube pan (serves about 16)

Recipe from The New Best Recipe

Ingredients:

Streusel:

3/4 cup ( 3 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed (3 1/2 ounces) dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Cake:

4 large eggs

1 1/2 cups sour cream (or Greek yogurt)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups (11 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into 1-inch cubes

Directions:

For the streusel:

Place the flour, granulated sugar, 1/4 cup of the dark brown sugar, and the cinnamon in a food processor and process to combine. Transfer 1 1/4 cups of this mixture to a small bowl and stir in the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar; set aside (this will be for inside the cake). Add the butter and pecans to the remaining dry ingredients in the food processor bowl. Process the ingredients until the nuts and butter have been broken down into small pieces (about 10 1-second pulses). Set aside (this will be for the top of the cake).

For the cake:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10-inch diameter, 10-cup capacity tube pan. Combine the eggs, 1 cup of the sour cream, and the vanilla in a medium bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt at low speed, about 30 seconds. Add the butter and the remaining 1/2 cup sour cream and mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase the mixer to medium speed and beat 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

Decrease the mixer speed to medium-low and slowly incorporate the egg mixture in 3 additions, beating for 20 seconds after each addition and scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 1 minutes (the batter should increase in volume and become light and pale in color).

Add 2 cups of the batter to the prepared pan. With an offset metal spatula or rubber spatula, smooth the surface of the batter. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup of the streusel filling (without the butter or the nuts). Spread another two cups of batter over the streusel. Add the remaining streusel filling. Top with the remaining batter, and then the streusel topping with the butter and the nuts.

Bake until the cake feels firm to the touch and a toothpick or thin skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 50 to 60 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan for 30 minutes. Invert the cake onto a rimmed baking sheet. Reinvert the cake onto a wire rack so that the streusel is facing up. Cool for two hours and serve. Enjoy!

Brownies with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting

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We’ve mentioned our Latin class before, when we made these pumpkin cupcakes. However, we didn’t mention that our class really loves food and to bring in treats for everyone. Hey, in the words of one of our friends, just call Latin class AP lunch! Don’t worry, we do work in that class too, like read Winnie the Pooh in Latin (Winnie Ille Pu…what a fun book) and Cicero, our favorite! Just kidding.

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Anyway, when our class was begging us to bring in food, they requested peanut butter and chocolate. Great decision! We narrowed it down to either mini peanut butter cheesecakes or these brownies. The brownies won out thanks to the massive loads of AP U.S. History homework and SAT prep work that we had over break. Side note: between now and the spring of senior year life should be stressful thanks to studying for AP exams, getting high SATs, taking college tours, doing volunteer work, getting involved in tons of activities, finding a job, and maintaining a good GPA that all seem to be necessary to get into college these days. But we’re looking forward to the college process anyway!

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Back to the brownies. They are surprisingly delicious for something so easy, and they are perfect for some stress-relief baking. What’s really nice about them is that they have a cocoa powder base, perfect for when you’re out of blocks of chocolate. But don’t worry, they stay nice and fudgy thanks to lots of butter and only a little flour.  Time to talk about the frosting. This stuff is like a peanut butter cloud, a soft pillow of frosting. It’s too good for words. This will definitely become our go-to peanut butter frosting because it isn’t overly sweet and spreads beautifully.

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Finished with a little sprinkle of sea salt, these things are heaven in a square. Please make them soon!

Brownies with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting

Makes 12-16 squares (an 8×8 inch pan)

Recipe from Not Without Salt

Ingredients:

For the brownies:

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) butter

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural and Dutch-process are both fine)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cold large eggs

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

For the frosting:

6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) softened butter

¾ cup peanut butter

1 cup powdered sugar

A pinch of salt to stir into the frosting, and a little to sprinkle on top- we used sea salt

Directions:

For the brownies:

Line an 8×8-inch pan with foil or parchment paper, and spray with cooking spray. Set aside. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Melt the butter in a saucepan, stirring until fully melted. Add the sugar, cocoa, and salt and stir to combine.

Let the cocoa mixture cool until it’s warm, not hot. Stir in the eggs one at a time. Make sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next one. Stir in the vanilla. Once the mixture looks cohesive and shiny stir in the flour until no lumps or streaks remain.

Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes up with a few moist crumbs, about 20-25 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

For the Frosting:

Cream the butter and the peanut butter until combined. Beat them on medium-high for several minutes more until lightened in color and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar and a pinch of salt until completely incorporated. Beat again for a couple more minutes until light and smooth.

Spread over cooled brownies. Sprinkle the brownies with sea salt, slice, and serve with a glass of milk. Enjoy!

Roast Chicken Soft Tacos with Cilantro Cream

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Do you like crunchy-shell tacos or soft tortilla tacos? Our family’s standard tacos usually involve crunchy shells, spicy beef, refried beans, cheese, and lettuce. They are tasty, but sometimes Leah and I like to mix things up a bit and branch out! This past Saturday we were in the mood for something light, fresh, and quick to make in between doing the mountains of homework we have to do this weekend (got to love school!) . We came across these tacos and were sold. The contrast between the soft tortilla, roast chicken, creamy dressing, and crunchy cabbage and jalapenos is delightful. These tacos are anything but boring and much more suitable for spring than our normal family favorite (and also a bit healthier). The only thing we can possibly think of adding in the future is avocado sliced over the top (and maybe a little more chicken), but honestly, these are great on their own!

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Roast Chicken Soft Tacos with Cilantro Cream

Recipe from Smells Like Home

Serves 6 generously

Ingredients:

3/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

3/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream or Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 small red cabbage (about 1 1/2 pounds), halved, cored and finely shredded

1 small jalapeño, seeded and finely diced

2 scallions, thinly sliced

1 rotisserie chicken, shredded, skin and bones discarded (you can roast your own- here are good instructions)

12 (8-inch) warm flour tortillas

Directions

In a blender or the bowl of a food processor, add the cilantro, sour cream, lime juice and olive oil and puree until smooth, scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula as needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer the cilantro cream to a large bowl and toss in the red cabbage, jalapeños, and scallions, coating everything well with the cilantro cream. Let the cabbage mixture stand at room temperature for 15 minutes, until the cabbage just begins to soften but still has a bit of crunch to it.

Add the chicken to the bowl and with a pair of tongs, toss the chicken into the cabbage until it is well-coated with the cilantro cream. Season to taste and serve in warm tortillas. Top and garnish as desired. Enjoy!

Side note: To warm the tortillas, wrap them in foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes or so.

Lemon Raspberry Ricotta Muffins

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Spring is finally here,and we have less than two months of school left! We have been starting to see recipes with fresh fruit popping up all over the internet and got in the mood to do some spring baking ourselves.  We decided to make use of some ricotta in the fridge and make these delicious muffins that are perfect for spring.

These light and cupcake-like muffins start out the way a good lemon treat does: whipping together butter and lemon-scented sugar (created by rubbing together the sugar and lemon zest to release the lemon flavor- it smells heavenly). Then comes a somewhat unique ingredient: ricotta cheese. We’ve made a couple of baked goods with ricotta now, and they always turn out soft and delicious. It’s a great ingredient for baking! The muffins are finished off with the usual suspects: vanilla, flour, salt, etc. Finally, in the muffin tin, the batter is layered with raspberries and topped with a little sugar. They bake up to be amazing smelling, fluffy muffins and probably the best ones on our blog so far. Trust us, it’s hard to eat just one!

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Raspberry Ricotta Muffins

Makes 12

Recipe slightly adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup granulated sugar

Zest of 2 small lemons or 1 1/2 large

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup ricotta cheese (low fat is fine)

1 large egg

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

Sugar for sprinkling on top of the muffins

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a small bowl, mix the sugar and lemon zest. Rub the lemon zest and sugar together with your fingers until fragrant. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar and lemon zest mixture together until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Add the ricotta cheese and beat until smooth. Beat in the egg, lemon juice, and vanilla extract.

Add the dry ingredients and mix until just blended. The batter will be very thick. Fill each muffin cup half way with batter. Add about five raspberries to each muffin cup. Top the muffins with remaining batter so that the berries are covered. Generously sprinkle sugar over each muffin top.

Bake the muffins for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are slightly golden brown. Let muffins cool for five minutes and serve. Enjoy!

Spinoccoli Pizza

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This pizza has been on our to-make list (well, 8 page document of recipe links…) for quite a while now. We finally got around to making it as one of our last vegetarian meals for Lent. It turned out to be spectacular, ranking up there with Grandma pizza (please, please make this as soon as possible) and our white pizza.  First, you make the dough. We tried subbing in 1/3 of the flour with whole wheat flour for a little nutritional boost. The flavor was nice, but the texture was less crispy than using all white flour, so we don’t really recommend that. Thankfully, our most recent Cook’s Illustrated Magazine has a recipe for whole wheat pizza dough that we will try soon! Then, you make a luscious and wonderful white sauce with Parmesan cheese, garlic, and cream. The pizza is topped with mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, spinach, and broccoli. It is such a flavorful and delicious pizza that we bet your local pizza restaurant cannot compare to it!

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Spinoccoli Pizza

Serves 4-6

Recipe from Annie’s Eats

Ingredients

For the sauce:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon flour
¾ cup heavy cream or half-and-half (we for once used heavy cream, with great results, but you can easily sub lower-fat dairy items)
1 clove garlic, smashed
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese

For assembly:

1 ball of your favorite pizza dough (we used this recipe)

Olive oil, for brushing
½ cup packed baby spinach leaves, torn
1 cup very small broccoli florets
2 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
2 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
Grated Parmesan

Directions

Preheat the oven to its highest temperature (ours is 550 degrees) with the pizza stone.

For the sauce:

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until bubbling and light golden, about 1 minute.  Whisk in the heavy cream and garlic, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens and bubbles.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the grated Parmesan until completely melted and smooth.  Discard the garlic clove. This will make a bit more sauce than you need for the pizza- Annie’s Eats recommends dipping the crust in it, and so do we!

For assembly:

Roll out the pizza dough into a 12-14 inch round on cornmeal-dusted parchment paper.  Lightly brush the perimeter of the dough with olive oil.  Spread a thin layer of the white sauce over the crust, leaving a border clear around the edge for the crust.  Sprinkle the torn spinach leaves over the white sauce.  Evenly distribute the broccoli florets over the dough.  Layer evenly with the shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheeses.  Finish with additional grated Parmesan, if desired.  Transfer the pizza to the preheated pizza stone and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling and the crust is lightly browned, about 10-12 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before slicing and serving. Enjoy!

Triple Onion Dip

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Onion dip has a kind of bad reputation sometimes. It’s usually one of those fattening dips (such as queso, cold spinach dip, veggie dip, etc.) that involves lots of mayonnaise, sour cream, and cream cheese, the heart attack trifecta that makes dips shockingly addictive when paired with a few mix-ins and a big bowl of chips. Onion dip is often associated with stirring in a pack of onion soup mix with a container of sour cream (see here). We are here to tell you that onion dip can be so much more than that and have more nutritional benefits. This particular dip has Greek yogurt (we promise that the final product does not taste yogurty- we tried this recipe one time with sour cream and it tasted the same), caramelized onions, scallions, a little light mayonnaise, onion and garlic powder, and a little salt and pepper. It really is a great dip, and one that you don’t have to feel guilty about eating! The first time we tried this dip, we made homemade baked smoked paprika chips to go with it. They were great, for sure, but when you have four brothers eating them, they don’t go very far for the amount of work involved. So, if you’re adventurous and only serving a couple of people, you can make them from the original recipe here, or just sub and enjoy them with a portion of your favorite chip (our are the kettle-cooked variety!).

Triple Onion Dip

Serves 6

Recipe from Tracey’s Culinary Adventure, originally from Comfort Food Fix by Ellie Krieger

Ingredients

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small onion, minced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 1/4 cups plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Set a nonstick skillet over medium heat and add the oil. When it shimmers, add the onion and the white parts of the scallions. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until golden brown and softened. Cool completely.

Stir together the cooled onion mixture, the scallion greens, the yogurt, mayonnaise, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld. Serve with chips (or if you’re being healthy, carrot sticks!). Enjoy!

Blackberry Pie Bars

blackberrypiebars

There are sometimes recipes that we see, are immediately inspired to make, and miraculously have all the ingredients on hand. This was one of those happy occasions! We didn’t do any baking all week since we are cutting back a little bit before our trip to California that is coming up (more information underneath the pictures)!  We felt justified to make these, because we had a bunch of fresh blackberries that were begging to be used and because we were pretty good during the week. Well, we can safely say that these bars are pretty spectacular. The flavors are fresh and ideal for spring, which finally seems to have arrived! The filling is slightly creamy, the crust is crunchy, and the blackberries pair well with the lemon zest/juice. These would be fantastic with raspberries, blueberries, or strawberries as well. These really don’t resemble or taste like pie, but we didn’t come up with the name, and they are just as delicious as pie anyway!

Speaking of spring, here are a couple pictures taken within the past few days by yours truly (Celine). I am happy to be reunited with my camera again after not photographing stuff other than food all winter thanks to the gray light and brown trees and grass. I sort of (usually) dislike photographing food and much prefer landscape/nature photography, so spring did not come soon enough!

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A few words on our California trip…we will be headed to Northern California, specifically San Francisco, pretty soon. We are so, so excited since we have never been to the west coast before! San Francisco arguably has great food and gorgeous views so we are  thrilled about that as well. So our question is, does any reader who has visited or is familiar with the area have any suggestions of restaurants or even places to visit in or just outside the city that are must-go-to spots (other than typical tourist attractions)? If you do, we would be grateful for your advice! We have family living out there, so they’ll be showing us some of the best places, but any suggestions are welcome! We cannot wait to share pictures and talk about some of the places we see/visit upon our return.

Blackberry Pie Bars

Serves 16

Recipe from Annie’s Eats, originally from The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather

Ingredients

For the crust/crumb topping:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
Zest of half a lemon
3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold

For the filling:

2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
Juice of half a lemon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
16 oz. blackberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, thawed and drained)

Directions

For the crust:

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line a 9 x 9-inch baking pan with foil and grease lightly.  In the bowl of a food processor or electric mixer, combine the flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest.  Pulse briefly to blend.  Cut the butter into small cubes, then add to the bowl with the dry ingredients.  Process in short pulses to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until only small pieces of butter remain and the mixture is crumbly.

Reserve 3/4 cup of the mixture for topping the bars.  Add the rest of the mixture to the prepared pan and press to form an even layer of crust on the bottom of the pan.  Bake 12-15 minutes, until light golden.  Let cool 10-15 minutes before continuing.

For the filling:

In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, sour cream, flour, salt, lemon juice and vanilla.  Whisk until smooth.  Gently stir in the blackberries with a spatula.  Spread the filling mixture over the pre-baked crust in the baking pan.  Crumble the reserved topping mixture over the filling evenly.

Bake until the top is beginning to brown and the bars are just set, about 45 minutes.  Let cool completely on a wire rack.  Chill to firm up the bars before slicing and serving. Serve either chilled or at room temperature. Enjoy!

Mint Brownies

mintbrownies

These brownies are possibly the best you will ever eat, unless you have an ardent hatred for mint! The ganache and the mint frosting (or “mint ice cream,” according to our 7-year-old little brother. We didn’t correct him because it was too funny!) make an almost melt-in-your-mouth topping for the fudgy brownie underneath. Basically, these brownies are almost like eating squares of candy. They are that good! Our whole family loved them and we cannot wait for a good excuse to make them again sometime!

Mint Brownies

Serves 24

Recipe adapted from Tasty Kitchen, brownie base from Baker’s Chocolate (also posted here)

Ingredients

For the brownies

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate

3/4 cup butter

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup flour

For the ganache

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (use a good quality kind!)

For the frosting

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 tablespoons milk

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

5 drops green food coloring (optional)

Directions

For the brownies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×13 inch pan with foil and grease it.
Melt butter and chocolate together in a medium-sized pot. Stir in sugar. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and mix well. Pour in prepared pan. Bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with fudgy crumbs (don’t overbake!). Cool for a few minutes, then place in the freezer for 20 minutes.
For the mint frosting
In a medium bowl, beat together the butter, milk, powdered sugar, peppermint extract, and food coloring if using. Spread over the brownies evenly and place back in the freezer for 20 minutes.
For the ganache
Melt the butter and chocolate and whisk together. Pour the ganache over the top of the brownies and use a spatula to spread it evenly over them. Freeze for another 20 minutes, then slice in 24 pieces. Serve. Enjoy!