Celebrate Valentine’s Day With Heart Shaped Pepperoni Pizzas

My ideal Valentine’s Day is spent at home with a nice meal, good drinks, lots of candy, and a movie. My husband and I aren’t really into going out to crowded restaurants or the usual date stuff, so we usually put on some good tunes and cook together at home. A really fun thing to make at home is pizza. Who doesn’t love pizza?

Pizza is good in any shape, but if you want to get really festive for V Day, you have to make everything heart shaped. It’s a rule or something. Like heart shaped personal pizzas with heart shaped pepperonis, obviously.

Behold the perfect Valentine.

Heart Shaped Pepperoni PizzaThese are pretty basic but fun to make. Just make or buy your favorite pizza dough, separate it into 4 equal parts, and shape it into hearts.

Heart Shaped Pepperoni PizzaTo make the hearts I used a fondant cutter. A mini cookie cutter would also work. You can even fold the pepperoni and cut a heart like you would with paper hearts. Since I made mini pizzas I made mini hearts.

Heart Shaped Pepperoni PizzaAdd your sauce and cheese, and then the pepperoni hearts. Tip: If you put some cornmeal on your baking sheet your pizza won’t stick.

Heart Shaped Pepperoni PizzaThat’s it. Pop them in the oven and then behold the cuteness. I never want to eat regular shaped pepperoni again! So dainty.

Heart Shaped Pepperoni Pizzas

These are also perfect to make for girls night or with the whole family, any time of the year, really.

 

 

Aperol, Rose, and Sparkling Wine Cocktail Recipe

 

As you can see above, I really like this cool spot in San Diego called Polite Provisions, and one of my favorite drinks on the menu is the Veronica Rose. The menu’s description reads “Aperol, rose gomme, and sparkling wine”. Perfect.

It’s delicious and beautiful, but since I can’t get down to San Diego every time I want one, I recreated it at home. Here’s my version of the Veronica Rose.

Aperol, Rose, Sparkling Wine

 

This recipe makes two drinks:

1 oz. Aperol
1 oz. rose syrup (I recommend Royal Rose Syrup)
3-4 dashes Angostura bitters
4 oz sparkling wine

Stir Aperol, rose syrup, and bitters with a cube of ice, strain into chilled glasses. Top with sparkling wine. Garnish with a lemon twist or, as I like to do, a rose petal.

Veronica Rose Recipe - aperol, rose, and sparkling wine

Or if you only want to make it a serving for one…get serious, just use a larger glass.

 

Aperol, Rose, Sparkling Wine

Warm Up With Nutella Hot Chocolate

Based on all of the snow and rain pictures that I’m seeing across social media this week, I think it’s safe to say we could all use a little hot chocolate. If you want to warm up and don’t give a fuck about the calories, you need this hot chocolate in your life. It’s my favorite recipe because it contains NUTELLA.

Nutella Hot Chocolate!!!

 

In fact all you need is Nutella and milk. That’s it.

Ingredients:
2 cups of milk
1/3 cup Nutella

Heat the milk in a small pot over medium heat. Add Nutella and whisk until it’s combined and frothy. Pour into mugs and enjoy.

Optional: If you want to get really wild, sprinkle with a pinch of flaked sea salt.

Nutella Hot Chocolate

 

 

Bring In The New Year With This Cocktail Cooler

You guys didn’t think I would leave you in 2014 without a drink recipe did you? If you want to do something other than champs, try this Remsen Cooler. It’s gin based because gin is my favorite.

This recipe is an oldie, but a goodie. It’s a mild cocktail so you can drink your way into the new year and not pass out before the ball drops.

Remsen Cooler Recipe

 

Recipe makes one drink.

2 oz dry gin
Juice of 1 lemon
Top it off with club soda
Serve in a tall glass over ice

Happy New Year! Let’s hope 2015 is amazing.

New Years Dogs

A Really Easy Apple Butter Recipe. Promise.

Remember when I told you guys about how I went apple picking and ended up with an absurd amount of apples? Well here’s what I did with most of them. I MADE APPLE BUTTER. This recipe is pretty much fool proof and you probably already have the ingredients stashed somewhere in your pantry.

I’ve seen plenty of variations, but this is how I like it. I like to let the natural flavor and sweetness of the apples to shine, so I don’t like to use as much sugar as other recipes call for. I also like the taste that the honey and orange add. Using apple cider instead of water gives a deeper and stronger apple flavor.

Easy Apple Butter Recipe

5 pounds of apples, peeled and chopped
2.5 cups apple cider
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
zest of half an orange
2 tablespoon fresh orange juice
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

First, core and peel about 5 lbs worth of apples. Then chop them into chunks.

Apple Butter Recipe

Then combine the apples with the other ingredients and cook covered over medium heat until the apples are soft.

Apple Butter Recipe

Next, use an immersion blender to puree the apples until smooth. A regular blender works too.

Apple Butter Recipe

At this stage you’re going to put it into a 275 degree oven and bake it, uncovered, for a few hours until it has darkened and reduced to your desired thickness. About 3 hours should work. Check and stir every 30-45 minutes. It should simmer a little but not boil and splatter. If it does, reduce the temperature a little.

Once it’s all done you can store it in airtight containers for up to a week. Better yet, jar it and store it for later or give it as a gift.

Apple Butter Recipe

 

Here’s a bonus breakfast non-recipe-recipe for any left over apples you may have.

Baked Apples

Make a hole in the apples and fill them with a mixture of your favorite granola cereal, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Throw in some raisins if you want. Top with a pat of butter. Put 1/2 cup of apple cider and a couple of bay leaves in a baking pan with the apples. Bake at 275 until the apples are tender and the granola topping is lightly browned.

Baked Apples

 

 

 

 

Butternut Squash Pie with Speculoos Cookie Crust and Pecan Streusel

Butternut Squash Pie Recipe with Pecan Streusel and Speculoos Cookie Crust. Full Recipe!

I love baking pies, you guys. For me there’s no better way to spend a cold autumn morning than baking a pie and listening to my favorite holiday mix. We’ve finally had some cooler weather and rain in California, so it was time to wake and bake. Pumpkin? Nah, been there. Sweet potato? Nah, done that. Butternut squash?  Yes. Butternut squash is probably my most favorite of the squashes, but I’d never had it in pie form, so I was unreasonably excited.

I didn’t feel like using regular pie crust, either. I’m such a rebel \m/. I thought maybe it would be nice with a cookie crust. *Light bulb* Have you ever had speculoos cookies? Jesus C. they’re good. They’re spiced and very crunchy. Perfect for crust making.

The result was exactly what I’d hoped for. The filling has a similar consistency to pumpkin and sweet potato pie, but it has more of a fruity aroma and taste. The spiced cookie crust paired well with it and gave a nice texture. I added a pecan streusel on top because I like the roasted nut flavor along side all the sweetness. Ok, I’m starting to sound like a foodie d-bag. I won’t go on and on with the Top Chef style food chatter, but basically the pie is yummy and you should make it. Here’s the recipe.

Speculoos Cookie Pie Crust
Speculoos Cookie Crust:
1 pack of Speculoos cookies, 1 1/2 cups of crumbs
5 tbs melted butter

Use a blender or food processor to finely crush your cookies into crumbs. (If you don’t have either of those appliances, put the cookies in a large ziplock bag and crush them with a rolling pin.) Melt butter on stove stop or microwave. Mix melted butter and crumbs together until it has a wet sand consistency. It should hold together when you pinch it. If your crust is still a little dry and won’t hold together, you can add a bit more melted butter until it does.  Put in pie pan and use your hands or a measuring cup to press and flatten the crumbs to the bottom and up against the sides.

Speculoos Cookie Pie Crust

Bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes until it has set and slightly browned. Set aside to cool.

Speculoos Cookie Pie Crust

This part of the pie is optional but highly recommended.

Pecan Streusel Topping

Pecan Streusel Topping (Optional):
1/2 cup pecan pieces
2 tbs brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Toss ingredients together and reserve for sprinkling on top of pie halfway through baking.

Now for the filling.

Butternut Squash Pie Filling Recipe

Pie Filling:
1 large butternut squash (approx. 2- 2/12 cups of puree)
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cloves
1 1/4 cups heavy cream

There are a few different methods to cooking the squash. First is the method I used because it gives a nice roasted flavor and cooks faster:
1.Peel, cut into large chunks, and roast at 400 degrees for 40-ish minutes.
Or, alternatively you can:
2. Cut it in half and bake it cut side down, for about 1-1/2 hours.
3. Peel, cut into large chunks, and boil until tender.

Let it cool and then puree it.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together the brown sugar and eggs. Add the salt, cinnamon, ginger and allspice and mix really well. Stir in the butternut squash puree and cream and mix until smooth. Pour into the prepared pie shell.

Butternut Squash Pie Recipe

Bake for about 45 minutes until filling has set and slightly risen in the middle. Let cool completely and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving. [Note: If using optional streusel mixture, sprinkle onto pie after 20 minutes and then continue baking for 25 more minutes]

Butternut Squash Pie with Pecan Streusel and Speculoos Cookie Crust. Full Recipe!

 

Concord Grape, White Balsamic, and Rosemary Spoon Cake

Up until this week my husband and I had never had a concord grape. Well, aside from the grape jellies and juices made from them. They have been seemingly unfindable in our local markets, and believe me we have searched! A few days ago, across a crowded room, I locked eyes with the voluptuous purple grapes sitting there in the produce section. It was like finally finding the one you’ve always been searching for. I know, I know, THEY’RE JUST GRAPES (blahblahblah), but I was very excited.

Anyway, the grapes are good. They taste exactly how I thought they would, because they basically taste like grape jelly. I can get down with that.

Now we had to decide what to do with them. Rosemary seemed like a great companion. For acidity, balsamic vinegar sounded perfect. White balsamic though. It’s is milder in flavor and has its own taste that we prefer over regular balsamic vinegar in this particular recipe.

Spoon cakes are great dessert to whip up. No cooling, frosting, or layering required. Just pour the batter into a pie or baking dish and then spoon it out for everyone once it’s ready. Spoon cakes also have a casual style and appeal that I like for family style meals and gatherings.

Concord Grape, White Balsamic, and Rosemary Spoon Cake

Anyway enough of my rambling, here’s the recipe!

Ingredients
1lb Concord Grapes
1tbs Honey
1tbs White Balsamic Vinegar
1tbs Rosemary (Roughly chopped)
3/4 cup Sugar
3/4 cup All Purpose Flour
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp kosher salt
3 eggs
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Pre-heat oven to 350. Grease an 8″ deep pie dish or cake pan.
In a bowl, toss the grapes with honey, white balsamic vinegar, and rosemary and set aside.
In another bowl, sift the flour, salt, and nutmeg.
In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the eggs, vanilla, and sugar on medium-high speed for about 10 minutes, until thick and pale yellow (a ribbon should form when you lift the beater).
Fold in the dry ingredients gently with a spatula, until just combined. Be careful not to over mix.
Pour the batter into the baking dish, and gently spread the grapes on top. They’ll sink and settle nicely into the cake.
Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden and a tester comes out clean.
Dust with powdered sugar.

Concord Grape, White Balsamic, Rosemary Spoon Cake

This tastes best when served warm. It also tastes amazing with vanilla ice cream. To me, nothing is better than a warm piece of spoon cake with cold ice cream. Get. It.

Concord Grape, White Balsamic, Rosemary Spoon Cake

Pumpkin Bourbon Ice Cream Recipe

Pumpkin Bourbon Ice Cream

Fall is almost here and that means one thing: PUMPKIN. Pumpkin flavored food has become an American tradition and our appetite for it only seems to be growing. Forget the leaves. Forget the sweaters. We want our pumpkin flavored foods and we want them now! Bring on the cookies, pies, and bread puddings.

I usually like to wait until summer is officially over before I indulge in autumnal themed foods, but this ice cream is the perfect recipe to transition you into fall. It’s a cool treat but with all the warm flavors of the season: pumpkin, spice, and bourbon.

It took a couple of tries but I think we nailed it with this recipe. The texture is light and creamy and all of the flavors harmoniously hit your palate. You can taste the pumpkin, spices, and bourbon without one outshining the others.

Ingredients

1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 egg yolks
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup bourbon

In a bowl, mix together the pumpkin puree and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate.

In a mixing bowl with a whisk attachment, combine the egg yolks, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt, nutmeg, 1/2 cup cream and 1/4 cup brown sugar. Whisk until smooth and sugar is dissolved.

Then, in a 2 qt saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, the remaining 1/2 cup of cream, and remaining 1/2 cup of the brown sugar. Cook until little bubbles form around the edges of the pan, about 5 minutes.

Remove the cream mixture from the heat. Gradually whisk about 1/2 cup of the hot mixture into the egg mixture until smooth. Then, pour the egg mixture back into the pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly at a low simmer for about 5 minutes and it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and leaves a clear trail when a finger is run through it. Do not boil! Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until chilled.

Note: You can cool the mixture in an ice bath by placing the bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice water, stirring occasionally until cool. This will cool the custard faster. Otherwise, place plastic wrap directly over the custard (to avoid a skin from forming) and let cool on countertop, before refrigerating.

Whisk the pumpkin mixture and the bourbon into the chilled custard. Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze according to your machine’s instructions. For firmer ice cream, transfer to freezer safe container and freeze for an additional 2-3 hours.

Makes about 1.5 quarts

Serve with crumbled graham crackers or speculoos cookies for added delight.

Pumpkin Bourbon Ice Cream Recipe

 
Special thanks to Cuisinart®.

Watermelon St. Germain Boozesicles

I’m a little bit obsessed with boozy popsicles right now. I can’t help it. They’re such a treat.

Here’s my latest boozy pop, guys. Watermelon, vodka, and St. Germain. I had one for breakfast this morning.

Watermelon St. Germain Vodka Boozesicle

Ingredients:

2 cups watermelon puree
4 tbs vodka
3 tbs St. Germain
1 tbs honey
a squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Watermelon St. Germain Popsicle

Blend it all together, freeze it, and eat it. Now grab a watermelon and get to it.

Appetizer Alert! Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese on Cucumber Rounds

Happy New Year, guys! I gained a lot of weight over the holidays. I’m talking the weight of a toddler. No fucks were given about what I shoved in my mouth from October 1st to January 1st. So guess what I’m doing? Low carbing. I know, I know. Save me the lecture about dieting. Listen, I have to be a bridesmaid in wedding in less than 4 months and I already bought the damn dress. I need it to fit or I’m totally screwed. Anyway, low carbing hasn’t sucked as bad as I remember. I mean I WAS a strict vegetarian back when I did it years ago, that probably had a lot to do with it. My husband and I are both way better at cooking than we were back then too. That helps. Luckily we have recipes that we eat year round that just happen to be low carb. I’m a major nosher so I usually whip up appetizer type things to nibble on while I cook or watch movies.

This is one of my favorites. I like to serve these with a glass of nice dry riesling. MmmmMmmm. They are perfect for any occasion from game night to dinner parties.

Smoked Salmon Appetizer - Salmon, Cream Cheese, and CucumberYou can smoke your own salmon if you want but you can also get cold smoked salmon at your grocery store (I get mine at Trader Joes). It’s already smoked and sliced so it’s ready when you are. Look for “smoked” salmon and not “cured” salmon (lox). You’ll also need cream cheese and cucumbers. Peel the cucumber and slice it up. Don’t slice it too thin or it’ll be floppy and won’t hold all the good toppings. 1/4 inch thick is good. Spread a little cream cheese on each slice and top with a piece of salmon. I don’t cut my salmon, I like to break it apart with my hands. It looks prettier. Lay them out on a platter and watch them disappear. NOMNOMNOM.

Smoked Salmon Appetizer - Salmon, Cream Cheese, and Cucumber