All posts by Katherine Dinger

Now Selling Cookies!

   

This post is going to be a little bit different than previous posts as I’m trying something new lately. A couple of months ago I started selling my homemade cookies locally to friends and family members.  So far I have received nothing but positive feedback, so I figured it’s time to get my website updated to potentially expand my circle of clientele. 

The first month the cookie I listed for sale was my Witchcraft Cookie – so named because one of Jah’s coworkers said they were so delicious they must have been created by way of witchcraft. The jumbo sized cookies fit 6 to a box for $12 and were packed full of imported dark chocolate, toasted almonds, and marshmallow.

Witchcraft Cookies

This month were my coveted Snarkydoodles – made with browned butter and a touch of ginger. These smaller sized cookies fit 12 to a box for $10. I will be presenting a new treat for sale every month to any LOCAL people that are able to pick up their cookies from me, as I currently have no means to deliver. Unfortunately shipping is not available yet either, but hopefully I will get there eventually!

Snarkydoodles

Once I’ve completed my move into the new house (yay!) I will begin taking orders for June’s “Milford Cookies”, which contain semisweet chocolate chips, pretzel bits, and a gooey caramel interior.

All of my cookies are always baked without eggs, and unless otherwise noted will also have a vegan version available for the same price. If you find yourself in need of cookies and would like to place an order you can email me at [email protected].

 

Vegan BBQ Sliders

   

It’s summer time, which means picnics and barbecues are in full swing. These vegan sliders are perfect for all of the warm weather festivities, or even just a weekend at home when you’re craving something different. They are simple to make, portable, and will satisfy any hungry monster’s hankering for smoky goodness. 

Vegan BBQ Sliders

It looks pretty dang meaty doesn’t it? Well it’s not! And it’s not soy beef or seitan or tofu or anything else you may expect. It’s an ingredient many people have never even heard of – jackfruit! Well informed vegans may already be aware that there is a number of pulled pork style jackfruit recipes out there, but I find that type of BBQ to be too sweet. As an alternative, I made this recipe to simulate more of a brisket style of sandwich that my dad used to make when I was growing up. You can eat it on soft slider buns, stuff it into a hoagie, or even make tasty tacos out of it. The base recipe is simple and open to many delicious adaptations. So… where do you get this mysterious jackfruit? You can buy cans at your local Asian grocer, or order it from Amazon if you don’t have an Asian market available. Stock up because you’ll probably want to make these again!

Vegan BBQ Sliders

Vegan BBQ Sliders
Serves 5
Smoky, salty brisket-style vegan sliders made from jackfruit.
Print
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cans of young jackfruit (packed in brine or water, not syrup - very important)
  2. 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  3. 2 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce (also available at the Asian market)
  4. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  5. 2 tablespoons dill pickle juice (I prefer a pickle with a saltier, more acidic brine - I use Vlasic)
  6. 1 teaspoon liquid smoke (sometimes I put in another 1/2 teaspoon for extra smokiness - but start low because this stuff is potent)
  7. 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
  8. 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  9. 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  10. 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  11. Additional olive oil for drizzling
  12. Soft slider rolls
  13. Preferred toppings (BBQ sauce, Vegenaise, relish - whatever floats your boat!)
Instructions
  1. Drain the jackfruit and using your fingers shred the pieces into a medium sized bowl. There might be a few chunkier pieces and that's ok.
  2. Whisk together all of the remaining ingredients for the marinade. Pour over the jackfruit and let sit for 10 minutes or so.
  3. In a medium to medium-high heat skillet throw in the jackfruit. You're going to let this cook for a while to evaporate most of the liquid. You want to "dry" it out a bit. Limit stirring because a big part of the flavor comes from the sear you get from cooking on high heat. The sugars in the marinade will caramelize and create sort of a "bark" that I feel makes it taste more like authentic BBQ.
  4. Once it's cooked put a drizzle of more oil over the top just to make it a bit more rich and fatty like a nice raunchy southern sandwich should be. :) You've just cooked out a fair amount of moisture so this gives it a little more life again.
  5. Pile high on rolls and combine with whatever toppings you love.
Notes
  1. Make sure to purchase only YOUNG jackfruit in a can, unless you're lucky enough to have a market that serves pre-cut young jackfruit. Fresh and frozen jackfruit tends to be ripe - and therefore sweet, so it won't work well in this recipe.
Gouda Monster http://www.goudamonster.com/
Vegan BBQ Sliders

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Bars

   

 H.B. Reese, the creator of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup (originally named “Penny Cups” for their price of one cent), arrived at this ingenious combination of ingredients while trying to support his wife and 16 children. He was almost as good at making sweets as he was at making kids. Little did he know that his successful basement experiment would go on to become one of the most popular candies in the U.S.  And little did you know that you can make an indulgent chocolate peanut butter treat of your own in about 12 minutes prep time. You don’t even need a truck load of kids to help you.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

 

 There are plenty of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup knock-off recipes out there, but that’s not what this is. Oh no no. I consider this to be a more grown up version of the famous novelty, made with higher quality ingredients. The best part though? No fussy molds to deal with. If you can operate a microwave (and a spoon) then you can make these delicious bars.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Bars

 

 Given the simplicity of this recipe I feel like I should issue a warning to my readers. These are good. Damn good. You will eat more than one five of them. I cannot be held responsible for any self induced tummy aches that may occur as the result of gorging on these addictive confections. But… is that really a warning though? Maybe it’s more of a tease, gently beckoning you to enjoy these decadent bars with a glass of cold milk. I won’t notify anyone if you slice the pan in half and tell your friends you only ate “one”.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Bars

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Bars
Serves 30
Smooth, rich peanut butter fudge with dark chocolate ganache. Easy to make, easier to devour!
Print
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
1 hr 15 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
1 hr 15 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  2. 8 ounces unsalted butter
  3. 1 pound powdered sugar
  4. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. 8 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
  7. 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Instructions
  1. Line a 9x13 inch pan with parchment paper, leaving overhang at the edges so you can easily lift the fudge out when it sets.
  2. Microwave peanut butter with unsalted butter for 2 minutes.
  3. Stir well and microwave 2 more minutes. Mixture will be molten hot so be careful with it.
  4. Add vanilla and salt, stirring to combine.
  5. Combine peanut butter mixture with powdered sugar and stir well with a wooden spoon. Mixture will be incredibly thick.
  6. Spread mixture across the bottom of the prepared pan. I like to lay another sheet of parchment on top and use my hands to help level it out.
  7. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill while you prepare the ganache.
  8. Heat the cream to just below a simmer. If you have a thermometer and want to be more precise you're aiming for around 185F. You can do this in a saucepan on the stove, but a couple of minutes in the microwave should do the trick. Just watch it closely to make sure it doesn't boil.
  9. Pour the hot cream over the finely chopped chocolate and walk away for 10 minutes to give the chocolate time to melt. Gently fold the chocolate and cream together until smooth and glossy. If your chocolate wasn't chopped finely enough you may have a few stubborn pieces that refuse to melt. Pop the mixture in the microwave at 10 seconds intervals until the ganache is smooth.
  10. Spread over the peanut butter fudge. Sprinkle the top with sea salt if desired. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are quite salty, so I find this adds a pleasant finish that people love. Return to the refrigerator to finish setting up completely. The bars are not too thick and tend to be ready to eat in an hour or so.
  11. Run a sharp nice around the edge of the pan to loosen the fudge if needed. Using the overhanging parchment, gently lift the bars out. Slice into squares and serve.
Calories
  1. 171
Notes
  1. Calories vary depending on the size of the bars. Cutting into 20 squares puts it at 256 calories each, cutting into 40 smaller sized pieces would put it at 128 calories each.
  2. As an optional step, sprinkle chocolate chips over the top of the peanut butter layer before you've added the ganache. Gently press them into the fudge to keep the bars flat and smooth on top. The texture of this ends up being akin to chocolate chip cookie dough and is so good!
Adapted from Alton Brown's Peanut Butter Fudge
Gouda Monster http://www.goudamonster.com/
Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Bars

Chewy Coconut Cookies

   

Greetings, humans. This is your friendly neighborhood Gouda Monster. You may remember me from such cookie recipes as Eyeball Butter Cookies and Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Cookies. I have been out of the public eye for a time, lurking in the shadows and sharpening my teeth, but now I have returned to you with a gift of sweetness and simplicity.  For all you coconut fans – chewy coconut cookies! Chomp chomp!

coconutcookie1

As is often the case in my kitchen, I find myself throwing things into a bowl with the hopes that the resulting concoction won’t be a total disaster. One afternoon I was craving cookies but I didn’t have many ingredients on hand to work with. In the back of my pantry I eyed a hermetic glass jar packed full of sweetened coconut and figured I’d roll with it. I’d never made coconut cookies before so it was going to be a fun experiment. Imagine my surprise when I had perfectly sweet, chewy cookies with a slightly crispy edge on my first attempt!

coconutcookie2

The following day I made them again, doubling the recipe so that I could hand them out to friends. The reviews I received were overwhelmingly positive, someone even going so far as to say they could see the endorphins being released from their brain as they ate them. That’s the kind of response I like to hear! Several people asked me for the recipe so I knew these would have to make their way onto my blog, pulling me out of my lengthy hiatus.  Given how quickly this recipe comes together I think it will be a hit for parties or functions where you want to impress a group with a small amount of effort. 

coconutcookie3

Chewy Coconut Cookies
Serves 36
A simple to make coconut cookie with a chewy center and slightly crispy edges.
Print
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
18 min
Total Time
33 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
18 min
Total Time
33 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup white sugar
  2. 1/4 cup brown sugar
  3. 2 sticks room temperature butter, unsalted
  4. 2 teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer mixed with 3 tablespoons water (or 1 large egg)
  5. 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract (optional, but nice for a little more coconut oomph)
  6. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  7. 2 cups coconut (I used a mix of shredded and shaved coconut for the textural interest)
  8. 2 cups flour
  9. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  10. 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  11. Fleur de sel for finishing (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Cream together butter and sugars until lighter in color.
  3. Add extracts and egg replacer (or egg) and beat for about 30 seconds. Stir in coconut.
  4. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, and kosher salt. Add to the coconut mixtures in thirds, combining well after each addition.
  5. Using a melon baller or small cookie scoop, scoop out rounded balls of dough and place about 2 inches apart on parchment lined sheet.
  6. Bake for 17-19 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies just start to brown. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with fleur de sel if desired. Allow cookies to sit for 10 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.
Calories
  1. 210
Variations
  1. For an extra decadent treat, drizzle or dip each cookie with tempered dark chocolate.
Gouda Monster http://www.goudamonster.com/

coconutcookie4

Spring Garden Pasta

   

Living in Texas it can sometimes be a little difficult to look forward to the oncoming summer, what with its droughts and relentless heat waves. That anxiety is quickly diffused once I glimpse the new crop of garden fresh veggies at the grocery store. Here is a crisp, healthy pasta dish to embrace spring’s bounty and warmer months.   

Spring Garden Pasta

This is a wonderful dish to prepare if you’ve blacked out in a farmer’s market and awoken in your kitchen to find yourself staring hazily at mountains of fresh produce. The first time I prepared this I was craving pasta primavera, but wasn’t wanting something heavy. I cut calories by removing half of the pasta and replacing it with loads of vegetables. Serving the dish slightly warm rather than piping hot really allows the texture and flavors of the vegetables to shine. 

Spring Garden Pasta

Spring Garden Pasta
Serves 4
A healthier pasta dish absolutely full of crisp, fresh veggies.
Print
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 tablespoons salted butter
  2. 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  3. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 2 broccoli crowns, cut into florets (about 2-3 cups)
  5. 1 cup carrots, sliced
  6. 1 cup frozen green peas
  7. 10-12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  8. 2 tablespoons flour
  9. 1/2 cup milk (I used flax milk)
  10. 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  11. 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  12. 1/4 cup fresh basil
  13. 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  14. 1 1/2 cups Maffei fussili (or whatever pasta you like)
Instructions
  1. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in high sided skillet. Add minced garlic and sliced mushrooms, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and cover until the mushrooms release their juices.
  2. Stir in chopped broccoli and carrots, cover and let steam for about 7-8 minutes until crisp tender. Transfer veggies to a bowl (reserve any liquid in the pan if there is some) and leave covered while you prepare the sauce.
  3. Meanwhile cook pasta in well salted water according to package directions. I used a refrigerated pasta by Maffei which is 180 calories per 1/2 cup. You want it perfectly al dente or just a hair shy of al dente - you want the pasta to stand up to the crisp veggies.
  4. While pasta is cooking - in the same pan you cooked veggies in melt the other tablespoon of butter. Whisk in 2 tablespoons of flour - it will be very thick. Let cook for a minute or two to cook off the raw flour taste and then add milk, black pepper, fresh thyme. Remove from heat and whisk well.
  5. Transfer pasta plus 1/2-3/4 cup (depending on how thick you want your sauce to be) of the pasta cooking water to the pan along with all of the veggies, the green peas, and your grated parmesan. Toss well and cover to let the peas warm through. This will also slightly cool down the pasta and veggies. This is ok as the slightly cooler pasta maintains the fresh flavor and texture of the tomatoes.
  6. When the peas are warm add fresh basil and chopped tomatoes, toss well and serve immediately. Ideally your pasta water should have been salted well enough that you wouldn't need additional salt, but feel free to add more if needed.
Calories
  1. 358 calories for 1/4 of the pan as I've prepared it.
Variation
  1. Cooking the mushrooms in a bit of dry white wine (maybe 2 ounces) adds lovely flavor to the dish.
Gouda Monster http://www.goudamonster.com/
Spring Garden Pasta

 

Homemade Limoncello

   

This blog post has been on the back burner for some time. I made it and photographed it at Christmas-time, but seeing as that was already past the point for giving away homemade goodies as holiday gifts I figured it was best to wait for the next best opportunity – summertime! 

Homemade Limoncello

Limoncello is a lemon infused liqueur from Italy, often sipped during the summer after meals as a digestif. It’s sweet, strong, and quite easy to make. The most difficult part of the process would probably be removing all the zest from the lemons, but after that it’s just a matter of playing the waiting game – which I must admit is also difficult if you’re as impatient as I am. It is a pretty unique process that yields a unique result that you’ll love to share with your friends.

Homemade Limoncello

Homemade Limoncello
A sweet, lemony liqueur popular in Italy.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 liter grain alcohol (if Everclear isn't available in your area, see notes about using vodka)
  2. 10 lemons
  3. 5 cups water
  4. 4 cups granulated sugar
Instructions
  1. First, wash and dry your lemons. Since you're going to be using the peel exclusively, you want to make sure they don't have any residue on them. Next, peel your lemons (a vegetable peeler works perfectly for this job) - you don't want to get too much of the white pith under the peel, so try to peel as thinly as possible. Put the peels into a large glass container. Add the alcohol, making sure that it completely covers the peels. Let the mixture steep for 10 days, or up to 3 weeks.
  2. Place a colander inside of a large bowl. Pour the alcohol mixture into the colander and drain, using a wooden spoon to press out any excess liquid from the peels. Discard the peels.
  3. In a large saucepan, combine the water and sugar over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and the syrup is clear. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, then add the simple syrup to the alcohol mixture and stir to combine.
  4. Place a wire mesh strainer over a large, clean bowl and place a coffee filter inside the mesh strainer. Slowly pour the limoncello through the coffee filter. Once the amount of liquid straining through slows down considerably or stops, replace the coffee filter with a new one and continue until all of the limoncello has been filtered, replacing coffee filters as needed.
  5. Next, filter again and fill the bottles as follows: Place a funnel into the mouth of the bottle you'll use for your finished limoncello. Place a coffee filter inside the funnel, and slowly pour the limoncello through the coffee filter to fill the bottle. Seal the bottle(s) and store in the freezer indefinitely.
Yields
  1. 2 Liters
Note
  1. If you can't obtain grain alcohol where you live, you can substitute 100-proof vodka. Most vodkas are sold in 750mL bottles (versus the 1 liter of grain alcohol called for in the recipe). If this is the size you purchase, adjust the rest of your ingredients as follows: 8 lemons, 4 cups water and 3 cups sugar.
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
Gouda Monster http://www.goudamonster.com/
Homemade Limoncello

Tomato Asparagus Panzanella Salad

   

It’s been over a month since my last post, which means I have all kinds of things I can talk about this time around. A little while back Jah presented me with 3 seats to a local cheese-making class with The Dallas Mozzarella Co.  Jah and I brought my friend Leanna and we had a great time making fresh ricotta, mozzarella, oaxaca, and a fresh olive stuffed mozzarella roll. Of course with all of that unbelievably fresh cheese in my fridge, how could I resist making something like this beautiful tomato asparagus panzanella salad?

 Before I delve too much into the details of salad making (not that this salad has many – it’s so simple), I thought I’d talk a little about springtime in Texas. The telltale sign of spring is when the bluebonnets carpet the landscape. Not wanting to miss one of the prime spots for this surreal display of color, I drove out to Ennis, TX with my friend Chris to be able to photograph the fields at sunrise. Needless to say it was a worthwhile adventure!

Ennis Bluebonnets

After enjoying the brisk air (ok I was freezing ) we hopped back in the car and roamed the country side looking for more lovely photo ops. Along the way we stopped and snacked on the moist double chocolate zucchini muffins I packed for the trip (a recipe I’ll definitely have to share later). We saw deer, rabbits, horses, longhorn cattle, and even a grumpy minidonk! After a brief detour into a local winery we found a gorgeous field blanketed with bright red Indian paintbrush and had to get a shot.

Ennis Indian Paintbrush

Texas has a bit of a reputation for being a large expanse of dessert… essentially the prototype for every old western ever made. Believe it or not there is green stuff here too! 

But enough about all of that. You’re here for juicy, ripe tomatoes, aren’t cha? Me too, man… me too.

Tomato Asparagus Panzanella Salad

Panzanella is an Italian salad made with bits of bread, often as a means to use that day old loaf you’ve got sitting around. With such simple ingredients quality is really going to make a difference, so make sure to get the best tomatoes you can find. I love to mix varieties for a more colorful presentation, plus it adds a little complexity to the overall flavor. I make this style of salad fairly often whenever I’m preparing food for a large group of people, because it is so easy to multiply out to serve more. 

Tomato Asparagus Panzanella Salad

Tomato Asparagus Panzanella Salad
Serves 6
A simple Itaian salad tossed with cubes of toasted day old bread.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 small Italian baguette, cut into 1 inch cubes
  2. 1 1/2 pounds of mixed tomatoes, chopped (or about 2 pints of cherry tomatoes, halved)
  3. 1 bundle fresh asparagus, tough ends removed and cut into bite sized pieces
  4. 6-8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes
  5. 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  6. 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  7. Salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Toss bread cubes with about a tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with a little bit of sea salt. Bake at 425 for about 8 minutes until nice and toasty. Keep an eye on them as oven temps may vary. I give them a shake in the pan about halfway through.
  2. Combine olive oil, tomatoes, asparagus, fresh basil, and mozzarella in a large bowl and toss well to coat. Season liberally with salt and pepper.
  3. A few minutes prior to serving combine the tomato mixture with the toasted bread crumbs.
Calories
  1. Calorie count for this dish will vary a bit since the measurements are thrown together rather loosely. I find it often falls between 320-370 per serving whenever I make it.
Gouda Monster http://www.goudamonster.com/
Tomato Asparagus Panzanella Salad

Banana Cake with Biscoff Buttercream

   

I’m pretty new to the cookie butter craze, having only just eaten my first bite maybe a month or so ago.  Woe is me for not jumping on this bandwagon sooner. Cookie butter makes the most intensely rich, flavorful frosting and it pairs beautifully with this moist brown butter banana cake.

Banana Cake with Biscoff Buttercream

I picked up my first jar of cookie butter with the thought that I would make whoopie pies with it. I’d never made whoopie pies before so I went in search of a recipe to help get me started. While they were baking I whipped up a fluffy cookie butter filling… and it was DELICIOUS. I read once that food bloggers shouldn’t throw the word delicious around, but in this case I don’t even care. It was DELICIOUS IN ALL CAPS. Unfortunately the whoopie pie recipe I followed didn’t wow me, so I tossed the cakes out and we took to eating the frosting on its own straight from the bowl with a spoon. We call that shameless around here.

Banana Cake with Biscoff Buttercream

I’ve tried both Biscoff Spread as well as Speculoos Spread from Trader Joes. Both are excellent but I think I slightly favor the smooth, creamy consistency of Biscoff Spread. The Speculoos is very dense but it’s also a little more flavorful and spicy, which I love. I’ve made this frosting with both and they each yield great results. 

Banana Cake with Biscoff Buttercream

Banana Cake with Biscoff Buttercream
Serves 14
Moist brown butter banana cake topped with creamy cookie butter frosting.
Print
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 15 min
Ingredients
  1. For the cake:
  2. 1 1/2 cups mashed banana
  3. 2 tsp lemon juice
  4. 2 tsp vanilla
  5. 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  6. 3 cups cake flour
  7. 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  8. 1/4 tsp salt
  9. 1 tsp cinnamon
  10. 1 stick butter, browned
  11. 1 stick butter, softened
  12. 1 cup white sugar
  13. 1 cup brown sugar
  14. 4 1/2 teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer combined with 6 tablespoons warm water (or three eggs)

  15. For the frosting:
  16. 3/4 cup creamy Biscoff spread
  17. 1 stick unsalted butter
  18. 3 tablespoons milk
  19. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used double strength vanilla)
  20. 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 275F. Prep 2 8-inch cake pans by spritzing them with a little cooking spray and lining with a round of parchment paper trimmed to fit the bottom. Spritz the parchment paper with a little cooking spray as well.
  2. In a medium bowl mix together the mashed banana, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of vanilla, and buttermilk.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together cake flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  4. In stand mixer cream together white and brown sugars with the cooled browned butter and softened unsalted butter until light and fluffy. Whip in the egg replacer.
  5. Add banana mixture to the sugar and butter, mix until smooth and well combined.
  6. Add the dry mixture to the wet in thirds, mixing lightly until just combined. For the last third fold the dry ingredients in gently with a spatula to avoid over-mixing. This will help keep the cake nice and fluffy.
  7. Divide batter between the two prepared pans and bake for 1-1 1/2 hours or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Everyone's oven is a little different; my cake was done at 1 hour and 17 minutes.
  8. Remove cakes from oven and transfer immediately to the freezer to chill for 45 minutes.
  9. While the cakes are chilling, whip together the Biscoff spread, unsalted butter, milk, and vanilla. When well combined add in the powdered sugar and mix on high speed until light and fluffy.
  10. Remove cake from freezer and apply frosting.
Calories
  1. 571
Notes
  1. We felt like this cake would be amazing as a four layer cake. If you want to do this simply slice each 8-inch cake in half horizontally and double the Biscoff frosting portion of the recipe.
  2. Crushed up ginger snap cookies make an excellent garnish for the cake as well - a nice bit of extra texture and the spiciness goes well with the frosting.
Adapted from Food.com
Adapted from Food.com
Gouda Monster http://www.goudamonster.com/
Banana Cake with Biscoff Buttercream

Avocado Salsa

   

I’m pretty excited because I inherited Jah’s old laptop and Chris got it all set up for me over the weekend. Now I’ll be able to pop into a coffee shop to write my blog posts (hopefully with a little more frequency) whenever I feel like a change of scenery. The laptop even has Photoshop installed so I can do all of my photo editing and monster doodles when I’m out as well. Today’s post of Avocado Salsa has been brought to you by welcome secondhand technology!

Avocado Salsa

Sometimes you just know when a recipe is good, and this time it was because I made it four days in a row and everyone still loved it. The first time I made this it was simply an experiment – something I needed to throw together in a very short period of time to get dinner on the table quickly. It was well received and requested for dinner again the following night. Once I decided that Avocado Salsa was worthy of its own post, I needed to make it yet another time to get photos… then the battery managed to fall out of my camera, losing most of the pics from the shoot. That of course meant I needed to make it a fourth time, to ensure I had enough shots to share with my readers. I figured I’d take the opportunity to change the mood as well, which is why this photo is dark but the ones from the second session photos are bright. I appreciate both sets in different ways.

Avocado Salsa

Each night we ate the salsa a little bit differently than the last. Day one was on vegetarian chicken fajitas, day two was dolloped over the top of black bean soup, day three was spooned over nachos with queso, and day four was rolled up into soft tacos. Then of course we’d just dip tortilla chips straight into it as well. I love it when a recipe this simple has so many uses.

Avocado Salsa

Avocado Salsa
Serves 4
A satisfying southwestern dip with avocado, cherry tomatoes, and cumin.
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 20 grape tomatoes, quartered (about two handfuls)
  2. 1/4 onion, diced (raw or cooked - see notes)
  3. 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  4. 1/2 tsp olive oil
  5. 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  6. 1/2 tsp salt
  7. 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  8. 1 avocado, diced (choose a ripe but firm avocado)
  9. 1 tablespoon lime juice (I got this much from half of a small lime)
  10. 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Instructions
  1. Combine tomato, onion, jalapeno, olive oil, salt, cumin, and garlic powder in a medium sized bowl. Stir well to combine.
  2. While the tomatoes are releasing their tasty juices, you can chop up the avocado and cilantro. Gently toss them with the tomato mixture and fresh lime juice.
Calories
  1. 83
Notes
  1. If anyone you know is susceptible to indigestion, cooking the onions first will make them very happy - plus it tastes delicious! I broil or grill my onion in the oven before dicing it up if I know I have an onion-sensitive friend eating over.
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Avocado Salsa

Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Cookies

   

 This is a recipe I actually made way back before Christmas. I felt like I wanted to make them again before I presented these little tasties to the world, so I did. These cookies are sweet and chewy, packed with vanilla soaked dried cherries and dark chocolate chips. If you and the classic CCC are ready to take your relationship to the next level, this is just the thing for you.

Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Cookies

So one of the reasons I remade these cookies was because I forgot to write the recipe down. I knew it was adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, so it wasn’t going to be difficult to recreate – but I did just a few things differently and wanted to make sure I had it all correct before making this post. You can imagine my horror when I took the cookies from the oven and they were flattened paper thin discs studded with pieces of chocolate and fruit. Where were those thick, chewy, decadent cookies I had made before Christmas? Where were the cookies that looked like this?

Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Cookies

I forgot to put the oatmeal in them. Yup. I’m a doofus. Believe it or not, when making oatmeal cookies you really oughtta include the oats. Makes a HUGE difference. I remade the cookies again (WITH the oats) and voila – beautiful, chubby, nutty cookies with bites of tart sweetened cherries and gooey chocolate. Hooray!

Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Cookies

 

Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Cookies
Serves 36
Chewy, sweet oatmeal cookies packed with vanilla soaked cherries and gooey dark chocolate.
Print
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
42 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
42 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  2. 1 tablespoon hot water
  3. 1/2 cup dried cherries
  4. 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  5. 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  6. 1/3 white sugar
  7. 1 1/2 teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer dissolved in 2 tablespoons of warm water (or 1 egg)
  8. 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  9. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  10. 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  11. 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  12. 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl combine the vanilla extract, hot water, and dried cherries. Leave to soak for at least 20 minutes. Strain the cherries and save the liquid.
  2. In a stand mixer combine softened butter, sugars, egg replacer mixture (or egg), and the strained vanilla liquid from the cherries. Cream until smooth.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the mixture and mix until combined. Stir in the cherries, chocolate chips, and oats.
  4. Using a cookie scoop, melon baller, or heaping tablespoon scoop the cookies onto a parchment lined sheet, leaving two inches between each cookie. Bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes. They should be lightly browned at the edges and slightly underdone looking on top. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely. I got about 3 dozen cookies from the batch.
Calories
  1. 91
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
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Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Cookies

Heirloom Tomato Burrata Baguette

   

I’ve wanted to make something like this for a while, and whenever I saw the pile of vibrant heirloom tomatoes at the grocery store I knew the time had come. The beautiful variegation is simple to do, but any color of tomato will taste amazing. Only good things happen when you combine fresh tomato, basil, and burrata cheese.

Heirloom Tomato Burrata Baguette

The first time I made this we basically stood over the counter eating it slice by slice until it was gone, accidentally spoiling our dinner. I wasn’t super happy about the photos I took the first time around, so I made this recipe again the following night. We told ourselves that we couldn’t inhale the entire loaf like we did before. Our intentions were good, but so is this bread. The baguette won us over and we ate the whole loaf again. Fans of bruschetta will undoubtedly love it as much as we did. Or just fans of tomato.

Heirloom Tomato Burrata Baguette

If you’re unfamiliar with burrata, it’s basically a pouch of soft stretched mozzarella stuffed with even softer mozzarella and fresh cream. Its flavor is subtle, milky, and awesome. If you can’t find burrata you could always use buffalo mozzarella or even something like ricotta if you prefer to have a spreadable consistency.

Heirloom Tomato Burrata Baguette

Heirloom Tomato Burrata Baguette
Serves 8
A beautiful appetizer made with colorful heirloom tomatoes, burrata, and fresh basil.
Print
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 loaf french bread, cut in half length-wise
  2. 8oz burrata cheese
  3. 4 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
  4. 4 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  5. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  6. Salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Brush the tops of each half of the french bread with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Place in oven for about 5 minutes until lightly toasted. If you prefer your bread more toasty just leave it in a little longer.
  3. Spread burrata over each half of the toasted bread. I use my fingers to break up the outer pouch of stretched mozzarella into little pieces. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, sprinkle lightly with a little salt and fresh black pepper.
  4. Scatter chopped basil over the top of the cheese and then arrange sliced tomatoes on top of that. I used four tomatoes (I got about 4 slices out of each, two for each half) in a purple eggplant color, deep red, orange, and yellow. You could also alternate two colors or just use one color across the whole thing.
  5. Season with a little extra salt and pepper, slice, and enjoy!
Calories
  1. 243
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Heirloom Tomato Burrata Baguette

Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles

   

What kind of food blogger would I be if I didn’t give you a delicious, simple chocolate recipe just in time for Valentine’s Day? These chocolate hazelnut truffles can be finished in a few different ways depending on your tastes and the amount of time you have, but the ganache base in the center of each one is silky and divine.

Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles

One of the most important things to know when it comes to making delicious truffles is that you need to start with high quality ingredients. Chocolate is center stage in this recipe so you want to get the best quality possible. If you want to save a little money you could always blend a more affordable chocolate with something on the luxurious side, but quality will definitely shine here.

Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles

The easiest way to finish these truffles is definitely with a quick toss in some good cocoa powder. Quality matters here as well! The cocoa powder will be the first thing that touches your tongue after all. I used Penzeys high fat dutch process cocoa powder.

Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles

If straight up cocoa powder is too bitter for you, there are plenty of other options at your disposal. You can blend the cocoa with a little powdered sugar to sweeten it, use straight powdered sugar, sprinkles, chopped nuts, crushed peppermint, cookie or graham cracker crumbs, candy melts, or tempered chocolate. Let your creativity flow and use whatever is available to you.

Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles

Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles
Serves 20
Chocolate hazelnut truffles are simple, elegant, and delicious.
Print
Prep Time
1 hr 30 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
1 hr 40 min
Prep Time
1 hr 30 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
1 hr 40 min
Ingredients
  1. 8oz high quality chocolate (I used a combination of milk and dark Valrhona chocolate)
  2. 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  3. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
  4. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. 2 tablespoons hazelnut liqueur (I used Frangelico)
  6. Toppings of your choice for coating truffles (cocoa, nuts, sprinkles, melted tempered chocolate, etc)
Instructions
  1. Blend your chocolate in the food processor to break it down into fine pieces. I do this to help it melt more quickly. Place chocolate in a large glass bowl with the unsalted butter and set aside.
  2. In a small sauce pan heat your heavy cream until it just barely comes to a simmer, then pour over your chocolate. Let sit for about a minute.
  3. Whisk chocolate and cream together until smooth and shiny. Add your vanilla and hazelnut flavorings and then stir to combine.
  4. Leave your bowl somewhere to cool until it can be formed into balls. This took about 45 minutes for me.
  5. For the easiest method of forming the truffles, simply scoop out a small ball of the ganache and then roll in cocoa powder (or whatever you choose).
  6. For a slightly more advanced method dust the inside of a silicone mold with a small amount of cocoa powder, fill with ganache, and let cool completely before releasing. Once you've removed the chocolate from the mold just coat as usual.
  7. If you would like to coat your truffles with a nice shell, you can either use candy melts (pretty foolproof and they comes in lots of fun colors) or properly tempered chocolate. I brushed the inside of my mold with chocolate, let it set until firm, added a small dollop of the ganache filling, and then topped with more chocolate. Once set and totally firm I released it from the mold and brushed it with a little pearl dust.
Calories
  1. 99
Notes
  1. You will have the best results if you don't refrigerate your chocolate, as it can affect the chocolate's texture and flavor. If you're in a pinch it can do the trick though!
  2. Calories are calculated based on using 1/4 cup of high fat dutch processed cocoa for rolling. Count will vary if using tempered chocolate, nuts, or sugar.
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Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles