Friday, February 28

Three Easy Stir-Fry Recipes

Quick and healthy stir-fries are the perfect one-pot meal and make great leftovers

Stir-fries are one of my go-to weeknight dinners and the ultimate one-pot meal. Once all the ingredients are chopped and ready to go, it only takes a few minutes for everything to cook on the stove until dinner is ready. I change up the ingredients depending on what I have on hand and what's in season and have been known to spontaneously create a stir-fry to clean out the random frozen chicken breast, forgotten vegetables in the crisper drawer, and handful of other miscellaneous ingredients I have at home that need to be eaten. I always keep my pantry stocked with a few Asian ingredients that add a lot of flavor - things like soy sauce, sesame oil, and Sriracha hot sauce. These ingredients are available at almost all grocery stores nowadays and really help to give the dishes an authentic flavor without extra fat and calories. These three recipes are some of my favorite stir-fries, but feel free to adapt them to your own preferences.

**A full list of my stir-fry recipes can be found here.

Tip: I use a wok to make stir-fries, but any of these recipes can easily be prepared in a large skillet.

Quick & Easy Stir-Fry Recipes:

Looking for more easy weeknight meal solutions? Check out my three favorite easy chicken recipes.

Thursday, February 27

Roasted Bratwurst with Cabbage

Juicy sausages and tangy sauteed cabbage are a perfect match

Roasted Bratwurst with Cabbage

Besides myself, my husband is the main beneficiary of all the cooking I do. I usually do all the menu planning for the week, but lately I've been trying to consider his tastes and have been asking for his input more and more. Without fail, he will always suggest pizza, burgers, or some other form of red meat, but lately he's also been asking for cabbage. Why cabbage? Apparently he had some amazing cooked cabbage side dish several years ago that has popped back into his brain and just had to be recreated by me (although, unfortunately, he couldn't remember any more specifics about the dish besides "delicious cooked cabbage"). Usually I'd be excited by a new suggestion, but I generally don't get hungry for Eastern European peasant food and wasn't looking forward to making cabbage over other delicious things like deconstructed spaghetti carbonara and sweet potato fries. But, I finally stumbled over this recipe in the Canal House Cooks Everyday and it was actually a great meal! The tangy, slightly sweet and vinegary cabbage is cooked a little al-dente and is paired with juicy roasted brats and spicy mustard for slathering. It's a twenty minute meal that's a no-brainer for busy weeknights and is a nice change from the usual fare I cook.

More Quick & Easy Sausage Recipes:
- French Lentils & Sausages
- Roasted Sausages with Parmesan Polenta
- Lamb Sausage & Mixed Green Salad

Roasted Bratwurst & Caraway Cabbage:
For Sausages
  • Preheat the oven to 400F.
  • Rub 4 bratwurst sausages with a little bit of oil, prick the skins gently with the prongs of a fork, and place on a baking sheet.
  • Cook the sausages in the oven for 20-25 minutes, turning them halfway through.
  • Let sausages cool slightly and serve with cabbage and some mustard, if desired.
For Cabbage
  • Remove the core for half a head of purple cabbage and slice it across into ribbons.
  • Lightly crush 1-2 tsp. caraway seeds with a mortar and pestle.
  • Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  • Add in the caraway seeds, the cabbage, and a large pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until softened, then add in 5 tbsp. red wine vinegar, a pinch of sugar, and a splash of water.
  • Cook for another 15 minutes, or until the liquid is evaporated and the cabbage is tender.
  • Adjust seasonings and serve hot or warm.

Serves three-four

Wednesday, February 26

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Crispy shoestring sweet potato fries are a guilt-free way to enjoy fast food

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

I've tried my hand at baked fries before with several fails: one time I used a flat baking sheet and hot oil splashed to the bottom of my oven causing the kitchen to fill with black smoke, one time all the fries stuck to the bottom of the baking sheet, and other times they were never crispy enough. I had pretty much given up until I accidently stumbled into this recipe during our food cleanse earlier this year. I wasn't planning on making fries, just roasted sweet potatoes, but found that I could easily use the same method I do for normal roasted vegetables and just cut the potatoes into super thin matchstick pieces. The key is to keep the sweet potatoes cut into uniform pieces and make sure that you use plenty of oil so that they won't stick to the baking sheet. Only turn them once during cooking so that they have a chance to get crispy and hold their shape. You'll be left with thin, crispy baked fries that rival those made in the deep fryer. And since sweet potatoes are full of vitamins and nutrients, it's a side dish you can feel good about eating.

Note: This exact recipe will work for regular Russet potatoes as well, but the cooking time may vary slightly.

Related Recipes:
- Sweet Potato Cakes with Creamy Herb Dip
- Garlic Hassleback Potatoes
- Baked Potato Bites

Baked Sweet Potato Fries:
  • Preheat the oven to 425F.
  • Cut 2 large sweet potatoes* into match-stick size pieces, keeping the fries as uniform in size as possible.
  • Toss the sweet potatoes with 3 tbsp. olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and the leaves from a few sprigs of fresh thyme (optional).
  • Arrange the fries in a single layer on a large baking sheet, making sure not to crowd them too much.**
  • Cook the fries for 30-35 minutes, carefully turning them over with a spatula halfway through.
  • Let the fries cool for a few minutes, then check for seasoning and add more salt if necessary.

Serves four (side dish)
*You want red sweet potatoes, also known as garnet yams.
**If the potatoes are crowded, they will steam and won't get crispy.

Tuesday, February 25

Weekend in Scottsdale

Highlights and tips from a long weekend trip to Northern Scottsdale

I just got back from a long weekend in Scottsdale, Arizona, for my husband's thirtieth birthday. The whole trip was a surprise that I'd been planning for months and I was thrilled that it all went off without a hitch. We stayed in a house in Northern Scottsdale by Troon North golf club and spent the days hiking, lounging by the pool, and the boys golfed. I wanted to keep things casual, so we just had one fancy dinner at Sassi and then spent most of our other meals at the house or in the clubhouse. We grilled dinner at our place one night and our friends pitched in to make steak fajitas and a fabulous vanilla birthday cake with fresh strawberries. It was such a memorable weekend and the perfect way to celebrate my better half.

Where to Eat:
  • Sassi - Our house was a little ways from downtown, but we lucked out with this great Northern Italian restaurant close by. The ambiance is beautiful and provides great views of Pinnacle Peak, which made our pastas, osso bucco, and veal chops taste that much better.
  • Pizzeria Bianco - We stopped by this famous James Beard award-winning restaurant for lunch before we headed back to the airport. The pizzas didn't disappoint, and we loved the unique combinations like pistachio and red onion.

Things to Do in Scottsdale:
  • Hiking - We spent a few hours hiking Pinnacle Peak. It was definitely a workout, but the views from the top were incredible.
  • Golfing - My husband is an avid golfer, which is one of the reasons I chose to take him to Scottsdale. There are so many courses to choose from, but the boys had a great time at The Boulders.
  • Relaxing - The weather reached about 80 degrees everyday, so we made sure to save time to lay out by the pool and enjoy a few cocktails. There are lots of great spas nearby, too.

Thursday, February 20

Tomato Sauce with Butter & Onion

You won't believe how good this three-ingredient tomato sauce tastes

Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion

There's nothing like a fresh tomato in the peak of summer, but most of the time I actually prefer using good quality canned tomatoes for a lot of my recipes.This easy tomato sauce with butter and onion (slightly adapted from this Smitten Kitchen version) only takes three ingredients and barely any work, but the results are magical. It's literally mind-blowing how such a simple recipe can taste better than any fancy jarred sauce or slow-cooked ten-ingredient tomato sauce you might have made before. A can of tomatoes simmers with melted butter and a halved onion for close to an hour and that's it: perfect tomato sauce. The butter adds richness and the onion imparts flavor that really jazzes up the canned tomatoes. It's great with meatballs, over pasta, or baked into chicken parmesan.... or just eaten with a spoon.

More Pasta Sauce Recipes:
- Fresh Tomato Sauce
- Perfect Bolognese Sauce
- Homemade Pesto

Tomato Sauce with Butter & Onion:
  • Melt 4 tbsp. of butter in a large pot.
  • Add in a 26 oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes* and 1 halved and peeled white onion.
  • Use a wooden spoon to break up the tomatoes a little bit.
  • Bring the sauce to a boil, then lower to a simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Check for seasoning and add salt and needed.

Serves four
*Using high quality canned tomatoes makes a big difference. I recommend San Marzano.

Wednesday, February 19

Deconstructed Spaghetti Carbonara

A sinfully rich pasta full of crispy pancetta and topped with a soft poached egg

Deconstructed Spaghetti Carbonara

Every Sunday, my husband and I walk over 4 miles in a round trip from our house to our local farmers market. We stop for a pastry or a pressed juice on the way there, then have a snack at the market before heading home. By the time we get back and put our groceries away, we're ready for lunch. Generally I'm inspired to make something with the fresh fruits and veggies we picked up, but we were completely famished the other week and wanted something much more decadent. Spaghetti carbonara is one of my favorite indulgent dishes, so I decided to try out this idea for a deconstructed version that I saw in the Canal House Cooks Everyday cookbook. Instead of the traditional creamy egg-based sauce, this version coats the pasta in crisp pancetta and melted butter and lets a softly poached egg run into the noodles. It's definitely a super rich dish, but it's the perfect way to treat yourself and will definitely satisfy any post-workout hunger pains.

Related Recipes:
- Spaghetti Carbonara
- Fettuccine with Peas & Garlic Alfredo Sauce
- Cauliflower & Pancetta Shells

Deconstructed Spaghetti Carbonara:
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil, season generously with salt, and add 1/2 lb. of spaghetti.
  • Cook according to package instructions, then drain.
  • Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add in 6 oz. diced pancetta and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the fat has rendered and the pancetta is crisp.
  • Add 3 tbsp. of butter to the pancetta and melt, then keep at the lowest possible heat.*
  • In another small pot, bring water to a boil and add in a splash of vinegar.
  • Crack an egg in the water and let poach for 2-3 minutes, or until the white is set and the yolk is still soft. Repeat with another egg.
  • Toss the pasta with the pancetta and butter and divide onto plates.
  • Top each with a sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese, a sprinkle of red chile flakes, and a poached egg.

Serves two, generously
*If your pancetta releases a lot of fat, you might want to drain some off before adding the butter.

Tuesday, February 18

Spicy Broccoli & Onion Pizza

A simple thin-crust vegetarian pizza with broccoli, onion, and chile

Spicy Broccoli Onion Pizza

After making my own bread last week, it seemed like no big deal to whip together some homemade pizza dough for this broccoli and onion pie. I'm not a big fan of vegetarian pizzas that throw together ten different ingredients (half of them out-of-season or frozen vegetables) and prefer the simplicity of using just a couple high-quality toppings. After all, what's the point of making a homemade pizza crust if it's going to be totally covered up with toppings? This pizza uses caramelized broccoli, thinly sliced onion, and a dried chile de arbol for spice. Add a simple green salad on the side and dinner is served.

Related Recipes:
- Wild Mushroom & Caramelized Onion Flatbread
- Easy Homemade Pizza Dough
- Whole Wheat Pizza with Corn & Shishito Peppers

Spicy Broccoli & Onion Pizza:
  • Preheat the oven to 450F.
  • Slice 1 head of broccoli into very small florets, toss with 1 tbsp. olive oil, and sprinkle with salt.
  • Place the broccoli in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 6-8 minutes, or until tender and caramelized in some places. Let cool slightly.*
  • Meanwhile, roll out one ball of pizza dough to 1/4"-1/8" thick and place on a floured baking sheet or pizza stone.
  • Spread a few heaping spoonfuls of canned crushed tomatoes** over the pizza, leaving a small border around the edges.
  • Sprinkle with 1 1/2- 2 c. of grated mozzarella cheese, then sprinkle with the broccoli and 1/2 small onion that has been sliced paper thin.
  • Crumble 1 dried chile de arbol over the top of the pizza*** and drizzle with olive oil.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, or until the crust is crunchy and the cheese is melted and bubbling.
  • Let cool slightly, then slice and serve.

Serves two-three
*Or use leftover cooked broccoli. Broccoli can be roasted and stored in the fridge a couple days in advance.
**Or crush 5-8 canned whole tomatoes with your hands and put on the pizza.
***If you can't find dried chile de arbol, you can substitute with a few pinches of red chile flakes.

Friday, February 14

Revisited Recipe: Roasted Carrot Soup

I have over 600 recipes (and growing) in the Kitchen Sink Diaries archive. Some of them have been tweaked and improved since their original post or were just really special to begin with. These revisited recipes are some of my all-time favorites that deserve a second look.

Roasted Carrot Soup

I have a lot of soup recipes on KSD, but this simple carrot soup is one of my favorites. It's become a go-to for weekday menu planning, and I just prepared another batch of it on Sunday that lasted me four lunches this past week (supplemented by a big piece of this homemade bread, for dipping). I've even served it as a starting course for Christmas dinner. The recipe is so easy that it might not seem like anything special to those that come across it, but it is. Roasting the carrots first turns them from regular carrots to flavor-packed, sweet, caramelized, super carrots. They simmer with a stock that's been quickly infused with ginger and herbs and then finished with a squeeze of lemon and a splash of cream. The lemon adds a nice edge to the soup and is my favorite part about this dish. This carrot soup will surprise you, and I guarantee it will become a beloved lifelong recipe.

Roasted Carrot Soup:
Serves six (first course)
Serves two-three (main course)

  • 2-3 bunches of carrots, green tops removed
  • 7 c. low-sodium stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 knob of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1 sprig of fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Splash of heavy cream (optional)

See the entire original recipe here.

Thursday, February 13

No-Knead Bread

Bakery-worthy bread can be made at home with this simple recipe

No Knead Bread Recipe

Bread is my desert island food. That is, if I was stranded on a desert island and could only bring a few foods with me, bread is at the top of my list. I've dabbled in breadmaking a few times, but none of the recipes were close to the crusty, perfect boules and loaves I pick up at the market every week. This recipe, which was famously created by Jim Lahey and has been featured on countless websites and cookbooks since, is the closest replica of my ideal bakery-quality bread and is incredibly easy to make. There are only four ingredients and probably all of them, except maybe the yeast, are in your pantry right now. You just have to mix everything together, let it sit, form it into a ball, let it sit, and then bake it. Truthfully, it does require some planning because the whole process takes nearly 24 hours to create (almost all of it is rising time for the dough), but the active time is only about 15 minutes. The wait is well worth it because the bread comes out perfectly: a crunchy brown crust, soft spongy center, and just the right size to slice for sandwiches, snacking, garlic bread, etc.

Tip: To store it, I keep leftovers wrapped tightly in plastic wrap in a resealable bag in an empty microwave. I know it sounds weird, but we have limited counter space and no bread box, so the microwave is the best bet. Leftovers should stay fresh for a couple days, then any remaining stale bread can be turned into croutons.

Related Recipes:
- Crusty Rye Buttermilk Bread
- Easy Homemade Pizza Dough
- Buttermilk Cornbread

No-Knead Bread:
  • Combine 3 c. all-purpose flour with 1 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. dry active yeast in a large mixing bowl.
  • Stir in 1 1/2 c. warm water* until just combined, then cover with plastic wrap.
  • Let the dough sit out at warm room temperature** for 14-18 hours, or until bubbles have formed at the top of the dough and it has grown in size.
  • Scrape the dough out on a floured surface and fold onto itself once. Let sit for 15 minutes under plastic wrap.
  • Add a generous coating of flour to a dry, smooth dish towel.
  • Form the dough into a ball and place on the floured towel, then sprinkle generously with flour and put another clean dish towel on top.
  • Let the dough sit at room temperature for another 2 hours, or until it's doubled in size.
  • Thirty minutes before the dough is ready, place a large dutch oven in the oven and preheat it to 450F.
  • Carefully take the hot pot out of the oven, then carefully add in the dough and shake gently so its evenly distributed.
  • Cover the pot with a lid and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, then take the lid off and cook for another 15 minutes, or until the bread has a golden brown crust on top.
  • Let the bread cool on a wire rack, then slice and serve.

Serves eight or more
*The water should be about body temperature. If it's too hot, it will kill the yeast.
**About 70F. I kept it in the warmest part of my house.

No Knead Bread

Wednesday, February 12

Turkey Ricotta Meatballs

Tender, gluten-free meatballs made with turkey and ricotta cheese

Turkey Ricotta Meatballs

A lot of my recipes come from creative ways on how to use up leftover ingredients I have in the fridge. In this case, I had a little bit of ricotta lying around and didn't feel like going the typical lasagna route. When folded into meatballs, the ricotta lightens them up and gives them a softer texture. The cheese also helps to bind the meatballs together without the use of breadcrumbs. As a result, these meatballs are almost entirely made of turkey, with just a little cheese, an egg, and some seasonings to add flavor and bind everything together. My preferred way to cook meatballs is in the oven, since I find it quicker and easier to throw them on a baking sheet rather than searing them in batches over the stove. I then finish them with a quick simmer in tomato sauce (I found an easy recipe for homemade sauce, but any good jarred kind will work). I ate them out of a bowl with a big piece of garlic bread on the side, but they'd be great over rice or noodles, folded into subs, or even skewered and sauce-less as a party appetizer.

Related Recipes:
- Chicken Prosciutto Meatballs
- Crispy Ground Turkey Tacos
- Baked Turkey Meatballs

Turkey Ricotta Meatballs:
  • Preheat the oven to 400F and grease a large baking sheet or line with parchment paper.
  • Add 1/2 c. ricotta cheese, 1 lb. ground dark meat turkey, 1 lightly beaten egg, 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese, 1/4 c. minced parsley, 1 1/2 tsp. of salt and a pinch of pepper to a large bowl.
  • Stir the mixture until just combined, making sure not to over mix.*
  • Roll the turkey mixture into golf ball-sized meatballs and place on the baking sheet.
  • Lightly brush the top of the meatballs with olive oil and place in the oven.
  • Cook for 15 minutes, or until meatballs are just cooked through and no longer pink in the center.
  • If desired, simmer in tomato sauce for 5 minutes before serving.
  • Divide onto plates and serve with spaghetti, garlic bread, etc.

Serves four
*This helps the meatballs to stay tender and not tough.

Tuesday, February 11

Healthy Oat Pancakes

These hearty pancakes are a nutritious way to start your morning

Ian's Healthy Pancakes Canal House Cooks Everyday

It's hard to resist a stack of fluffy golden pancakes, but it seems like every time I eat them I want to crawl back into bed and take a nap right after. The first few bites are great, but then the carb overload sets in and I'm left with a too-full belly that turns into a deep hunger just a couple hours later. Not the case with these healthy oat pancakes, taken from a recipe in Canal House Cooks Everyday. Most of the batter is made from rolled oats, with just a little whole wheat flour and cornmeal to balance it out. I wouldn't say that the pancakes taste "healthy", but they definitely have more substance and texture than traditional flapjacks. They make a substantial breakfast that will keep you powered through the morning without any hunger pains. And since you're being so good, there's no harm in treating yourself by dousing the cakes with some pure maple syrup.

Note: The original recipe in the cookbook is called "Ian's Healthy Pancakes". I'm not sure who Ian is, but his pancakes sure are delicious.

More Pancake Recipes:

Healthy Oat Pancakes:
  • Combine 1 1/4 c. rolled oats with 2 c. buttermilk and 1 tsp. honey in a mixing bowl.
  • In another bowl, whisk together 1/4 c. cornmeal, 1/4 c. whole wheat flour, 1 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. baking soda.
  • Stir the dry ingredients into the oat mixture, then stir in 2 beaten eggs.
  • Let the batter sit for a few minutes, while you heat a grilled or large heavy skillet over medium heat.
  • Melt some butter onto the griddle, then mound large spoonfuls of batter into circles on the griddle.
  • Cook the cakes for a few minutes, or until the bottoms are golden brown and bubbles form on the surface of the cakes.
  • Gently flip over and cook for another few minutes.
  • Stack the cakes on top of each other to keep warm, and repeat the process until all the batter is used.
  • Divide the pancakes onto plates and top with butter, maple syrup, and/or a dusting of powdered sugar.

Serves three-four

Monday, February 10

Valentine's Day Recipe Ideas

Romantic and indulgent dishes to celebrate with on Valentine's Day

valentine's day recipes
Photo credit: Brandon Wong Photography, taken on our wedding day

It's been well documented over the years that I love Valentine's Day. When my husband and I first started dating, we used to go all out: fancy prix fixe dinners, elaborate gifts, and even multiple day celebrations. But as the years have passed and other romantic dates (like our anniversary) have much more importance, we've downplayed V-Day more and more. In recent years, we've started cooking easy but fancy dinners together at home and they have far surpassed the fun of going out to a $95 per person meal that is standard at most L.A. restaurants. In truth, we'd rather spend our money on an extra bottle of our favorite bubbly and enjoy a cozy date night at home.

These recipes are some of my favorites for Valentine's Day, or any romantic occasion, because they scream "special occasion" but don't require much time in the kitchen. Turn on some music, pour a glass of something nice, and spend a few minutes in the kitchen together. Collaborating on a meal makes the food taste even better.

*See Valentine's Day meals from 2011, 2012, and 2013 here. Or check out my Pinterest board for more Valentine's Day menu inspiration.

Valentine's Day Recipe Ideas:
  • Flourless Chocolate Cake - This is the perfect rich piece of chocolatey goodness that everyone wants on Valentine's Day.
  • Berry Pavlova - Sweet meringue topped with whipped cream and a slew of berries is a beautiful end to a meal.

Friday, February 7

Revisited Recipe: Butternut Squash, Lentil, & Goat Cheese Salad

I have over 600 recipes (and growing) in the Kitchen Sink Diaries archive. Some of them have been tweaked and improved since their original post or were just really special to begin with. These revisited recipes are some of my all-time favorites that deserve a second look.

Lentil, Goat Cheese, Butternut Squash, and Baby Kale Salad

This is the ideal winter lunch for me: tender black lentils, spicy caramelized butternut squash, and tangy goat cheese, served with just a handful of greens. It's best served warm (I find cold winter squash kind of weird), but most of the components can be prepared in advance and then heated before final assembly. I originally posted the recipe using arugula, but after making it again, I think a heartier green is better. I've been using baby kale lately, as it has a firmer texture and holds up to the warm butternut squash and lentils without wilting. It's the kind of meal that you can feel good about eating - it is a salad, after all - but it contains enough variety and substance to keep you full for hours. Of course, it doesn't have to be served at lunch only and makes a wonderful and unique potluck salad or dinner party side dish during the cold months.

Butternut Squash, Lentil, & Goat Cheese Salad:
Serves two - three (lunch)
Serves four - five (side dish)

  • 1 1/2 c. peeled & diced butternut squash
  • 1/2 c. dried black lentils
  • 2 c. loosely-packed hearty baby greens, such as baby kale
  • 1/4 c. sunflower seeds
  • 2-3 oz. fresh goat cheese
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • salt
  • pepper
  • smoked paprika
  • ground cumin

Thursday, February 6

White Chocolate Buttered Popcorn Cookies

White chocolate and buttered popcorn cookies are the ultimate sweet and salty snack

White Chocolate Buttered Popcorn Cookies

I've had my eye on this cookie recipe, adapted from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, for about a year now and finally got around to making a batch for the Super Bowl. A simple brown sugar-based cookie dough is paired with buttered popcorn and chunks of white chocolate for the ultimate sweet-and-salty treat. I love the idea of serving these for a movie night or awards show, too, since it's a fun twist on everyone's favorite theater snack. What makes these cookies addicting is the balance of flavors and textures. The dough is heavily scented with vanilla and brown sugar, the buttered popcorn is light and fluffy, and the sprinkle of flaked salt on top adds crunch and brings out the sweetness of the white chocolate. Milk or dark chocolate would be fine replacements, but I love how the white chocolate blends in with the popcorn and provides a sweet surprise with each bite. The cookies are modestly sized and are quite addicting, making it easy to scarf down half a dozen in no time. I'd imagine that leftovers would keep in an airtight container for a few days, but we ran out too quickly to try.

More Cookie Recipes:
- Coconut Lace Cookies with Chocolate Drizzle
- Peanut Butter Cookies
- Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies

White Chocolate & Buttered Popcorn Cookies:
  • Preheat the oven to 350F and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or non-stick mats.
  • Microwave one bag of plain unpopped popcorn according to package instructions, then transfer to a large bowl and toss with 1 tbsp. melted butter and a pinch of salt. Let cool.
  • Meanwhile, cream together 1 stick (8 tbsp.) softened butter with 1/3 c. white sugar and 1/2 c. brown sugar in a mixer until light and fluffy.
  • Add in 1 egg and 1 tsp. vanilla extract and mix until combined.
  • Mix in 1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour and 1/4 tsp. baking soda until just combined, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • Stir in 4 oz. chopped white chocolate until combined, then stir in 4 c. of the popcorn, making sure there are no unpopped kernels.*
  • Roll heaping tablespoons of dough into balls and place on the baking sheets about 2 inches apart from each other.
  • Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with a small pinch of flaked seat salt.
  • Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, or until the bottoms and edges are golden brown.
  • Let cool on the sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to a baking rack to finish cooling before serving.

Makes 20-24 cookies
*This will seem like way too much popcorn for the dough, but it works. Don't be shy mixing it in - it's ok if the popcorn kernels break up a bit.

White Chocolate Buttered Popcorn Cookies

Wednesday, February 5

Three Easy Chicken Recipes

Quick and healthy chicken recipes are the perfect dinner solution for busy weeknights

quick easy chicken recipes

Chicken breasts and thighs are ideal for weeknight meals because they are inexpensive, readily available, and cook quickly. We usually make chicken for dinner at our house at least once a week, so it's easy to get in a rut with the eating the same dish time after time. One way I switch things up is by using different cuts of chicken - sometimes we have boneless skinless breasts, sometimes we use chicken thighs, and sometimes we keep the bone in. It's an easy way to add variety to your meals and also helps to take advantage of whatever sales your butcher has on chicken at that time. And since chicken isn't the most flavorful meat on its own, I usually try to pair it with a quick sauce or topping to add more flavor. These chicken recipes are some of my favorite weeknight meals from my recipe archive and require no planning ahead. Just pick up the ingredients on your way home from work and you can have a healthy, delicious dinner on the table in well under an hour. Winner winner, chicken dinner.

Tip: Cook double the amount of chicken and repurpose the leftovers into enchiladas or fried rice the next night.

Favorite Quick & Easy Chicken Recipes:

*See the full list of Kitchen Sink Diaries chicken recipes here.

Tuesday, February 4

Chocolate Turnovers

Enjoy these buttery, flaky, chocolatey treats for breakfast or an after dinner snack

Chocolate Turnovers

I'm a sucker for anything with a buttery, flaky puff pastry crust. A good croissant is heaven to me (I ate a few a day when we were in Paris for our honeymoon), so I knew I had to try this easy chocolate croissant alternative from Canal House Cooks Everyday. It's such a simple recipe - basically just a piece of chocolate wrapped around store-bought defrosted puff pastry - but the results are outstanding. The pastry bakes into a hundred crispy layers, the chocolate melts to form a divine molten center, and a sprinkle of raw sugar and flakey sea salt on top adds more crunch and a balanced sweet-salty flavor. I served these as an after-dinner sweet to some friends the other night, and we all agreed it would be perfect with a shot of espresso or a strong cappuccino.

More Recipes Using Puff Pastry:
- Beet & Goat Cheese Tart
- Plum Tartlets
- Kale, Onion, & Potato Pot Pies

Chocolate Turnovers:
  • Preheat the oven to 400F degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a non-stick mat.
  • Cut an 8 oz. bar of semisweet chocolate into eight pieces and set aside.
  • Roll out 2 sheets of defrosted puff pastry to 1/8" thick (most frozen puff pastry comes in sheets already close to this thickness).
  • Cut each sheet of pastry into quarters so that there are 8 even squares.
  • Place a piece of chocolate into the center of each pastry square, then brush the edges of the pastry with a little bit of heavy cream.
  • Fold the pastry squares diagonally into triangles and crimp the edges with a fork. Repeat until all turnovers are assembled.
  • Transfer the turnovers to the baking sheet, then brush the tops with heavy cream and sprinkle with turbinado sugar* and a little bit of flaked sea salt.
  • Bake the turnovers for 15 minutes, or until puffed and golden.
  • Let cool slightly, then top with a sprinkle of powdered sugar.
  • Serve warm.**

Serves six-eight
*Also known as raw sugar.
**Turnovers can also be assembled earlier in the day and cooled. Put the turnovers back in a 350F oven for 5-7 minutes to warm them.

Chocolate Turnovers

Monday, February 3

Warm Spinach Artichoke Dip

This hot, creamy spinach and artichoke dip will be the star of your next party

Baked Spinach Artichoke Dip

Everyone loves a good creamy dip at parties and warm spinach artichoke dip is at the top of my list. It's not something I eat often, but it was the perfect thing to serve at our Super Bowl party. It's definitely not a highbrow food (I did a more gourmet crab dip last year), but it strikes a cord as one of those guilty pleasures that pairs perfectly with a few beers and an afternoon on the couch with friends. This recipe, slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman, is a slightly-fancier version of the classic and contains five different cheeses and fresh baby spinach. And - hallelujah! - it contains absolutely zero mayo... because the only thing grosser than mayo is warm mayo (somehow I still love this avocado aioli, though). Instead, the creaminess comes from a big block of melted cream cheese and whole milk. Hey, I never claimed this dip was low-fat.

More Indulgent Dip Recipes:
- Queso Fundido Dip
- Baked Buffalo Wings & Blue Cheese Dip
- Mozzarella & Italian Sausage Queso

Warm Spinach Artichoke Dip:
  • Melt 3 tbsp. butter in a large skillet and add in 6 minced garlic cloves.
  • Cook the garlic for 1-2 minutes over medium heat, or until fragrant but not yet brown.
  • Add in 8 oz. baby spinach and cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until the spinach wilts.
  • Scrape the spinach onto a plate and let cool slightly before chopping.
  • Meanwhile, add 8 oz. chopped, defrosted artichoke hearts to the skillet.
  • Cook artichokes for 3-4 minutes, or until starting to take on a little color, then add to the chopped spinach and set aside.
  • Return the skillet to the heat and wipe clean with a paper towel.
  • Melt another 3 tbsp. butter with 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour and whisk until smooth.
  • Add in 1-1 1/2 c. whole milk and whisk until smooth. Add in a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Stir in 8 oz. cream cheese, 1/2 c. grated parmesan, 1/2 c. crumbled feta, 1/2 c. grated Monterey Jack cheese, and 1/2 c. pepper jack cheese.
  • Stir the cheese mixture until all the cheese has melted and the mixture is smooth, then stir in the spinach and artichokes.
  • Pour the dip into a buttered baking dish and sprinkle with more grated jack cheese.*
  • Bake in a 400F oven for 20 minutes, or until bubbling and starting to brown on top.
  • Serve with toasted pita wedges, tortilla chips, crudites, etc.

Serves eight-ten
*The dip can be assembled at this stage and kept in the fridge for a day until baked.