Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

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I’ve been slacking in the recipe department, so I thought I would share a recipe for my father-in-laws favorite cookies, chocolate thumbprints. I’ve attempted to make these for him every Father’s day for the past 3 years, and I could never quite get the flavor right. This recipe is a keeper though, as it is has the closest taste to the cookies he loves from the bakery. Sophie loved helping me roll the dough and dip some of the sides in sprinkles. This is a great project for little bakers to help with.

Cookie Dough:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 4 oz. (3/4 cup) whole almonds
  • 12 oz. (1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, cut in large chunks and slightly softened
  • 4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. pure almond extract
  • 13-1/2 oz. (3 cups) bleached all-purpose flour

Chocolate filling:

  • 1/4 cup coarse sugar, such as turbinado, OR sprinkles (we did a variety)
  • 2-1/2 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 5 tsp. unsalted butter (or you can substitute 3 tsp, karo light corn syrup… like we did when we ran out of butter.)

Preheat oven to 350. In an electric mixer, mix all the dough ingredients EXCEPT the flour, on medium speed. 1 cup at a time, add in the flour until a thick dough begins to form and there are no lumps of flour. Scoop up a generous teaspoonful (2 level teaspoons) of the dough and shape it into a 1-inch ball with your hands. Roll the ball in the sugar and set it on a tray lined with waxed paper. Repeat with the rest of the dough, setting the balls slightly apart. Press a thumb or forefinger, dipped in flour, into each ball to create a depression. Bake the cookies for 10 minutes. Gently redefine the depressions with your thumb or the tip of a wooden spoon’s handle, if necessary. Rotate the sheet and continue to bake until the tops are lightly colored and the bottoms are golden brown, another 8 to 12 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a rack and let cool completely.

When the cookies are cool, prepare the filling: Put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set in a wide skillet of almost simmering water, or in the top of a double boiler. (Or microwave on medium power for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring after the first minute.) When the chocolate is almost completely melted, remove the bowl from the heat and stir until completely melted and smooth. Using a spoon, fill the depression of each cookie with the chocolate filling. If the filling hardens while using, reheat it in the pan of hot water. When each cookie is filled, let the chocolate set for at least 15 minutes, then you can store them in an air tight container.

ENJOY!

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Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies

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I tried dieting and cutting out cookies and other treats… that just led me to crave and then binge on said treats. My new plan is to simplify and make healthy a few treats that I can enjoy in moderation. These oatmeal cookies hit the spot, are gluten free, and contain less sugar than your average cookie.

What I used:
1 stick of butter at room temp
1 egg
1 bag of Pamela’s oatmeal bar mix
1/2 c. dried cherries
1/4 c. Enjoy Life chocolate chips

Mix ingredients, bake at 350 for 10 minutes, AND THAT’S IT! Simple, quality ingredients.

I enjoyed 2 with a mug of my favorite tea this morning. Some people can completely restrict certain foods from their diets. I do fairly well avoiding gluten, but I love baking, and of course I love sweets. Finding a healthy balance for these foods in my diet is a better solution for me. I’ve found success replacing white refined sugar with organic coconut sugar. Some sweets, like an apple tart for example, are sweet enough on their own to not even need sugar. Anyway, I have found that you can alter recipes and your favorite foods so that they have a more appropriate place in your diet. That way you don’t feel deprived and end up bingeing on oreos instead.

If you’ve never tried Pamela’s gluten free products, I highly suggest you do! (This post isn’t sponsored, I’m just an enthusiast)

Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes

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Did you know Thanksgiving is only NINE days away?! Mamas are busy ladies, and it’s understandable that we end up unprepared during most of the holiday season. These important meals sneak up on you, and there’s panic when you realize you have no plan for what to bring.

I’ve only hosted Thanksgiving once, but since becoming a married woman, I feel it’s one of my responsibilities as a member of the family to bring something to Thanksgiving dinner. Growing up, you usually have 1-3 women who do ALL the cooking for 30 people. When you’re excuse is being a 10 year old kid, ok don’t pitch in, but once you have your own job and apartment, it’s time to bring some thing to Thanksgiving dinner. I felt I had even less of an excuse not to contribute when I was a newlywed, and all the women of the family had just spent hundreds of dollars on getting me kitchen supplies. It was time to put those handy tools and supplies to work!

Anyway, in light of the fast approaching holiday, I wanted to share my greatest Thanksgiving hits with you. It’s intimidating to share a recipe with family for the first time, especially during such an important meal. These recipes are pretty easy and don’t require too many ingredients. So, if you still don’t know what you’re bringing to Thanksgiving, hopefully some of these ideas will inspire you!

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Pumpkin Cupcakes – I brought these to my first Thanksgiving ever, with J’s family. If you’ve never brought anything to a Thanksgiving dinner before, you can’t go wrong with dessert! Since it was the first time I had ever spent Thanksgiving with a family other than my own, I wasn’t sure who typically brought what. I knew that in my family, certain members were known for certain dishes [everyone LOVES my Aunt Julie’s rolls, and Grandpa always did the gravy, etc.] so I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes by attempting a traditional side-dish. This recipe is delicious and a great alternative to having too many pies.

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Sweet potato hash – My second year with J’s family, was our first Thanksgiving as Mr & Mrs. I felt more confident to bring a dish to go with dinner, so I brought this sweet potato hash. My first year, I noticed that his family only did the sweet potatoes with marshmallow on top, so I thought I’d bring a savory version too. It was a big hit! Not to mention, a healthy hit, too! This recipe is a vegetarian version, but you can swap out the veggie patties for sausage patties and it tastes GREAT.

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Spinach Salad with pear and cranberry – I have to admit, while I found this recipe on my own, I was attempting to imitate a salad my Aunt Julie would bring to either Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners. When I was younger I thought the only dressing that could go on a salad was ranch. In the name of trying new things, I picked up a scoop of her sweet, fruity salad and immediately fell in love. I knew that the first Thanksgiving dinner I hosted, this side would definitely have to be on the table. I was cooking for 20+ traditional Italians and I wasn’t sure how a salad without Italian dressing would do with J’s crowd. Luckily, everyone LOVED it! In fact, I completely ran out of salad as people were asking for second and third helpings.

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Cornbread stuffing – For the most part, I try to stick to a gluten free diet… but around the holidays that can get pretty tough! Once I found Martha Stewart’s cornbread stuffing, it was a total game changer. I LOVE this recipe, and so did the rest of the family. I was able to make it gluten free by making my own corn bread from scratch, but you can make it as easy or as difficult as you want depending on how much time you actually end up having.

Those are by far the best recipes I’ve ever brought to Thanksgiving dinners in the past. Like I said, if you have extra time or are feeling especially domestic, you can personalize these recipes as little or as much as you want to! For the salad, I make my own candied pecans to sprinkle on top and some times, I even make the dressing from scratch. Hopefully some of these recipes inspire you and take some of the stress out of planning for the big turkey dinner next Thursday! Good Luck!

Guacamole

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This guac is SO good, we made it twice in 3 days. The first time, we shared it with friends over dinner, the next time we hoarded it all for ourselves. So, in honor of our trip to California, I want to share my favorite guacamole recipe with you all. \

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What you need:
-4 avocados
-1/2 c. of onion
-3 Tbs of cilantro
-1 jalapeno
-2 roma tomatos
-1/2 lime
-salt

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Cut avocados in half and carefully remove the pits. Cube the avocado, scoop out of the skin and place in a bowl. Squeeze lime juice from half the lime over the avocado and sprinkle with salt, toss to coat. Smash avocado with fork. Finely chop the rest of the ingredients and fold into the avocado mixture. Serve with tortilla chips! Personally, we put a dollop on top of some piping hot quesadillas. Enjoy!

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Lumpia

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Don’t let the name scare you, these delicious morsels are the Filipino version of an egg roll and they are DELICIOUS. When people think of San Diego, they think “Mexican,” but there is such a huge variety of different backgrounds and cultures in California, I couldn’t even begin to describe them all to you. When I think of lumpia, I think of October. I know it doesn’t seem like a seasonal food, and indeed, none of the ingredients are seasonal, But I used to have this tasty meal at our former parish’s Fall Festival every year. I grew up going to Guardian Angels parish, and the feast day for Guardian Angels is in early October hence the festival. The Filipino women of our parish spend HOURS making these, months ahead of time. They would freeze their hard work, and them bring them out at festival time, fry them up, and serve them to raise money for the church. That is why lumpia = October to me.

It has been probably over 5 years since I last went to Guardian Angel’s fall festival. I haven’t attempted to recreate the recipe until this year, and I was wildly successful. The only hard part is rolling them as tight and as skinny as they are supposed to be. Unlike egg rolls, these are not supposed to be fat. In fact, they are supposed to resemble more of a taquito.

Besides that, they are surprisingly easy to make. Here’s what you need:

  • 1(20 count) package egg roll wrappers
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 cup white onion minced
  • 1cup carrot, minced
  • 1cup celery,  minced (same as above)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 12teaspoon ground pepper

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  1. Brown beef  in a skillet over medium heat until almost completely cooked. Drain the fat, cool, and then process in food processor or chop up into fine pieces with fork.
  2. Combine meats, vegetables, egg, sauces, pepper in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour for flavors to set in (I made mine an hour ahead of time)
  3. Prepare wrapper (by separating) and place on a separate plate. Place 1 to 2 T of filling in the center of the wrapper.
  4. Fold left edge over all the way, then bring down top and bottom, then roll the rest of the way to the right, making a roll. (see picture above to get started)
  5. After you have assembled all the lumpia, heat your oil to 375 degrees (you can do this in a deep fryer, or just heat oil in a skillet and take the temp with a meat thermometer). Cook until golden brown, turning often, approximately 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
  6. Serve with sweet and sour sauce, I personally like La Choy which can be found in any grocery store 🙂 Enjoy!

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Turkey Bacon Burgers with Sweet Apple and Onion

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It’s fall y’all! You should have expected an apple recipe to soon follow my post about our trip to the apple orchards, so here it is! If you think this post may sound familiar, then you could be thinking of my more savory apple turkey burgers, but I promise, this burger I am about to share has a whole new flavor profile. When I say “sweet” and “apple” don’t think of pie, think of barbecue and smoked applewood. While this burger isn’t as savory as my last turkey burger, it’s definitely a fall must-try recipe that I don’t want you to be turned off to. I paired these burgers with this side, except, to tie into the sweet side of the burgers, I added some diced yams in with the rest of my potatoes. SO GOOD.

What you need:
– 1 lb. ground turkey
– 3-4 strips of bacon
– 1 apple peeled and chopped
– 1/4 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
– 1/4 c. bread crumbs [I used glutino’s gluten free panko]
– 1/2 Tbs rosemary
– 2 tsp salt
-2 tsp pepper

In a skillet, start cooking your bacon until the edges begin to curl up. Add your apples and onion to the skillet, and cook until soft. Remove everything from the skillet, leaving in some bacon grease [you’ll use to cook the burgers in later]. Chop up your cooked bacon into tiny pieces and mix together with the apple and onion. In a large bowl, mix together your meat, spices, and bread crumbs. Add 2/3 of your apple-bacon mixture to your meat mixture. Form patties and cook in your bacon skillet.

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When your burgers have cooked, turn to low heat, and top them with the remainder of the apple-bacon mixture and lay a piece of cheese on top to melt. I swear that apple, onion, bacon mix is so good I could’ve eaten it straight from the bowl

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I dressed our burgers with swiss cheese and baby kale, on a toasted bun, smeared with mayo. Feel free to mix and match whatever toppings you want and as always, ENJOY!

Nachos at Home

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This recipe is so easy, I’m sure you’re wondering why it deserves its own post. First of all, nachos are one of my husbands favorite foods so, If nothing else, this is a love letter to him. Otherwise, the thing I love about nachos is that you can totally dress these guys up by making your own tortilla chips and adding jalapenos and avocado… OR you can throw together nachos as a quick dinner with store bought chips, meat, and cheese. EASY.

Nachos are like the pizza of Mexican food, [well, technically I think tostadas are more like a pizza, but they’re really not as popular so we’ll stick with nachos…] you can make one big pan of them, and every one can share and be satisfied. If you’re looking for a more refined recipe, I absolutely love this post from Cupcakes and Cashmere, but if you want some thing quick to throw together tonight, here’s how I made mine:

-Half a bag of restaurant style tostitos
-1/2 cup of salsa divided into 2 quarter cups
-bag of Kraft Mexican blend cheese
-1 lb. ground pork
-1 packet of taco seasoning
-1 Tbs. Yucatan guacamole
-1 Tbs. cream cheese [totally optional, I just like having a creamy taste/texture to my meat]
-shredded lettuce

I preheated my oven to 400, lined a baking sheet with parchment paper and chips, cooked the meat in a skillet with: the taco seasoning, 1/4 cup of salsa, guacamole, and cream cheese. I sprinkled my meat over my nachos, spooned a little extra salsa on each of the bigger chips, then covered them all with the shredded cheese. I baked them for 5 minutes, then topped them all off with some of that lettuce! I provided extra guac and salsa for dipping, but I loved them as they were and what is usually a restaurant appetizer, became a pretty filling meal!