Wednesday, July 23, 2014

dark chocolate, sunflower seed & grey sea salt cookies

The best cookies ever + a great giveaway! This is a good Wednesday.

Loving food is a weird thing. I get giddy over things like really great cinnamon or an incredible salt. So when I had the opportunity to share with you guys about The Spice House, it was a no-brainer. Perusing their website is like letting a kid loose in a candy store.

The Spice House opened its doors back in 1957, and today has both a robust online business as well as 5 locations throughout Chicago & Milwaukee. They carry over 600 products from at least 50 different countries, including pure spices and herbs, spice blends, salts, and extracts and have caught the admiration of many home cooks across the country as well as some heavy hitters in the food world, including Alton Brown (who actually has special blends made for him) & Julia Child, who proclaimed The Spice House a "national treasure."

Patty from The Spice House remembers Julia’s visit to their Milwaukee shop:
We had cinnamon that came from Vietnam, a long log, real thick, and as hard as a baseball bat! The trade doors had just opened from Vietnam when she visited, and we couldn't wait to show her this bark, and then give her a taste in powder form. Julia took the bark right out of my hand and took a giant bite right out of it! My whole family was there and we all collectively sucked in our breath, and asked, "Do you want to spit that out?" But she kept right on chewing and chewing and chewing, and 10 minutes later she had chewed it enough to swallow it. Julia was just so gracious, and she said something like, "Oh my dear, you're absolutely right, this is a delightful cinnamon, thank you for sharing this with me!" She signed the rest of that bark and today that bark is one of Patty’s prized possessions.

Tom & Patty Erd took over Patty’s parents business back in 1993 and have built The Spice House into a resource for incredible spices and seasonings, as fresh as you can get them at an affordable price. They scour the world for the best ingredients and spices, and they grind and blend their spices and seasonings in small batches right in their stores in order to offer the freshest possible product.

Many of their spices come in pretty glass jars, however you can also order many varieties in bags (as well as in salt-free versions). I'm personally impressed with their pricing, but also their crazy fast shipping. Their gift boxes are both gorgeous and well thought out. Take a few minutes and peruse their offerings!

These cookies are inspired by the most incredible chocolate I had when we were in Vancouver. With the nutty flavor from brown butter and sunflower seeds and the salty topping from The Spice House's fabulous grey sea salt, these are just about as good as it gets. Miles declared these the best cookies I have ever made... win!

Dark Chocolate, Sunflower Seed & Grey Sea Salt Cookies (adapted from The Joy The Baker Cookbook)
yields about 3 dozen cookies

you'll need:
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon molasses
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
2 1/4 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup good dark chocolate, chopped into chunks
1/2 cup roasted & salted sunflower seeds
grey sea salt, for sprinkling

Melt 8 tablespoons of butter in a medium skillet over medium heat, swirling it in the pan. It will become foamy as it cooks and make a crackling noise. Continue to swirl as the butter starts to smell nutty and brown bits form at the bottom of the pan. Once the bits are amber, remove the butter from the burner and pour into a small bowl (including the brown bits... the best part!) to cool for about 20 minutes.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the remaining 1/2 cup butter with the brown sugar for 3-5 minutes, until smooth and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract and molasses.
Pour the cooled brown butter into the bowl, along with the granulated sugar. Beat for 2 minutes, until smooth; the mixture will be light and fluffy.
Add the egg and egg yolk, and beat for 1 more minute.
Add the flour, salt, and baking soda, beating on low speed just until everything is incorporated.
Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and use a spatula to fold in the dark chocolate and sunflower seeds. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.
About 15 minutes before you’re ready to begin baking, preheat your oven to 350°F.
Scoop the dough in 2 tablespoon-sized balls onto the prepared baking sheets. Leave about 2 inches between the cookies. Sprinkle the cookies with grey sea salt.
Bake the cookies for 13-15 minutes, until they’re golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and allow them to rest on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool.
To help you make some cookies (and because they're awesome), The Spice House is offering two seriously great giveaways!

1st Prize - $250.00 in spices, which includes Grill & BBQ Deluxe Gift Box Set, Bakers Spices Gift Box Set, Vanilla Bean Sugar, Chicago Old Town Premium Sugar, Vulcan's Fire Salt, Chai Spices with Vanilla, Pumpkin Pie Spice, Dutched Cocoa Powder, Aleppo Pepper, AND a $100.00 gift card to The Spice House to find your favorites not on this list or try some new ones!

2nd Prize - The Signature Selection Gift Box Set, Chicago Old Town Premium Sugar, Fancy Onion Salt, Fancy Garlic Salt, Vanilla Bean Sugar, Tellicherry Black Peppercorns and a $50.00 gift card to The Spice House to find your favorites not on this list or try some new ones!

Enter by simply using the Rafflecopter below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out the other fabulous recipes inspired by The Spice House from some of my food blogging friends!

Lime Water Ice by Souffle Bombay
Low-Carb Chicken Gyros with Tangy Tzatziki Sauce by Opera Singer in the Kitchen  
Chocolate Cherry Hand Pies by Real: The Kitchen and Beyond
Jamaican Jerk Chicken Pizza by We’re Parents!?

Disclosure: I was given a gift card to order spices as compensation for this post, however as always all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

roasted shrimp and orzo

Happy Monday, y'all! Best news ever -- our AC is fixed! We were blessed with incredible weather -- 70 degrees in Dallas in JULY -- this weekend, but as the temp is supposed to climb back up to 100 this week, I couldn't be more thankful for some COOL AIR!

The return of hot weather calls for easy cooking and fresh, colorful meals. This roasted shrimp and orzo salad from (who else?) Ina fits the bill perfectly. It's got great salty flavor from the chunks of feta and perfect crunch from cucumbers and red onion. Lots of fresh herbs in the mix because... well, you know.

This is the perfect dish for entertaining because the longer it sits, the better it is! Let's have some friends over, serve this up in big bowls, and celebrate summer!

Roasted Shrimp and Orzo (from Ina Garten)
serves 6

you'll need:
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
3/4 lb. orzo 
juice of 3 lemons
2 lbs. peeled and deveined shrimp
1 cup minced scallions
1 cup chopped fresh dill
1 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 English cucumber, seeded and diced
1/2 red onion, diced
3/4 lb. feta cheese, diced

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt well, then add the orzo and cook according to package directions. Drain and pour into a large bowl. Pour over the lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir well and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking, place the shrimp on a sheet pan. Toss with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast the shrimp in a single layer for 5-6 minutes, until the shrimp are just cooked through and pink.

Add the shrimp to the orzo along with the scallions, dill, parsley, cucumber, and onion. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as desired. Carefully fold in the feta. Keep at room temperature for 1 hour before serving to allow the flavors to blend, or refrigerate up to overnight. (If refrigerating, bring back to room temperature before serving.)

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Friday, July 18, 2014

happy friday!

Happy Friday, y'all! How's your week been? We are currently still without AC, but Texas has gone crazy on us and it is currently 66 degrees here in Dallas this morning(!!!). So we've got all the windows open and feeling right.

I took the photo up there on our ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island while talking to a girl who was just coming home from work. Can you imagine if that was your commute to and from work?! I feel like we'd all be a little bit more peaceful.

What are y'all up to this weekend? I have a friend from college coming into town, and I couldn't be more excited! I hope you have a great one, and here are a few links to kick it off...

I'm in a movie-seeing mood right now. This and this are at the top of my list.

Gaby is killing it with summertime party ideas. Who wouldn't want to come to a s'mores party?

I've actually managed to keep some plants alive this summer! Might reward myself with one of these planters.

I'm dreaming up a project inspired by Wes Anderson's colors.

This ice cream sounds SO GOOD.


I want a huge bowl of this (stunning!) homemade pasta.

Cannot. stop. listening. to this album.

My dream kitchen is full of these gorgeous pieces.

Plus, some recipes I can't wait to try this summer:

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

chopped bbq chicken salad with honey mustard vinaigrette

Hi friends! Apologies for the inconsistent, sparse posting lately... since we got back from our vacation last week, our air conditioning went out and we've basically been nomads. Our house is literally mid-90s inside. What in the world. But! The weather's cooling down a bit and it's supposed to get fixed by the end of the week, so... yeah. Fingers crossed for that!

Since turning on the oven is 100% not an option at this point, this is the only type of meal that is remotely acceptable to make. I used rotisserie chicken because... see above paragraph. Everything else is just chopping and tossing. It's easy and delicious!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go stick my head in the freezer. 

Chopped BBQ Chicken Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette (adapted from How Sweet Eats)
serves 4

for the salad, you'll need:
1 lb. cooked chicken breasts, chopped
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
1 large head of romaine, chopped
2 ears sweet corn, kernels removed
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded
a handful of croutons
1 avocado, pitted and chopped
lime wedges, for serving

for the vinaigrette, you'll need:
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons grainy mustard
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
dash of cayenne
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2/3 cup olive oil

First, make the vinaigrette by combining all of the ingredients in a jar. Close the lid, shake it like crazy, and set aside. 

In a medium bowl, pour the BBQ sauce over the chicken breasts and stir to coat. In a separate large bowl, toss the romaine, corn, bell pepper, bacon, cheese, and croutons to combine. Dress with the desired amount of dressing and toss again. Fold in the avocado and chicken. Serve with lime wedges and additional dressing, if desired.

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

pistachio goji berry granola

Okay, so this stuff. It's totally addicting and delicious! I already have a problem with pistachios, in that I cannot. stop. eating. them. Add in beautiful goji berries and yummy toasted coconut? I'm a goner. 

I sent a jar of this goodness over to Julianne for this month's Leftovers Club. Be sure to check out the other goodies for this month below, and join us in the fun next month! 

Pistachio Goji Berry Granola (from Love & Lemons)
yields 2 cups

you'll need:
1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon coconut oil
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/3 cup shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
1/4 cup coconut flakes
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup goji berries

Heat a large skillet over low heat. Add the oats in one thin layer in the pan. Toast for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the coconut oil and salt. Toast for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the maple syrup 1 tablespoon at a time. Once the oats are toasted, add the pistachios, coconut flakes, and cinnamon. Toast for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from the pan and stir in the goji berries. Allow to cool completely.

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Monday, July 7, 2014

peach dumplings with bourbon sauce

Happy Monday, friends! Hope you all had a wonderful 4th weekend. We're still on our Pacific NW vacation right now and OMGLOVINGIT. I can't wait to tell y'all all about it!

But for now, let's discuss this ah-making, perfectly summery dessert. We wrap a peach in pie dough along with loads of brown sugar. Brush it with an egg for gorgeous brown color. The little dumplings are baked and topped with a creamy, dreamy bourbon sauce right out of the oven. Yes!

These were so good I could barely believe they were real. 

Peach Dumplings with Bourbon Sauce (from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook)
makes 6 dumplings

you'll need:
1 pie dough (I used this recipe)
3 large peaches, cut in half and pitted
1/3 cup brown sugar
pinch of kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces and kept cold
1 large egg, beaten
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon

Roll out the pie crust to a 12x18-inch rectangle, then cut it into six 6-inch squares. Transfer the squares to the freezer to keep them cold while you make the filling.

Mix brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a small bowl. Spoon 1 tablespoon on top of each peach (in the pit indentation). Dot the top with one of the cold butter pieces. Repeat with all the remaining peach halves.

Now you're ready to assemble the dumplings. Grab the pie dough squares from the freezer. Center each peach half, cut side up, on a pie dough square. Bring the corners up to meet each other over the center. Seal the seams together with your fingers. Repeat with the remaining peaches.

Arrange the dumplings into a buttered 13x9-inch baking dish. Transfer to the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Brush the beaten egg over the tops and sides of the dumplings. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until each dumping is beginning to bronze on top.

While the dumplings are baking, make the bourbon sauce by combining the softened butter, sugar, and bourbon in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium speed until completely smooth.

When the dumplings come out of the oven, dollop each with a heaping spoonful of the bourbon sauce. Serve warm! Life. changed.

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Monday, June 30, 2014

whole wheat corn zucchini pancakes

How I'm spending my last day of June:

-as many hours by the pool as possible
-while finishing this book
-and eating these
-getting my nails done-did
-furiously doing laundry/packing for our vacation (!!)
-finishing up the last of these savory, cheesy, summery pancakes.

What about you?!

Whole Wheat Corn Zucchini Pancakes

yields a dozen pancakes

you'll need:
4 eggs
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for frying
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1 large zucchini, grated
3 cups fresh corn kernels (about 4 ears)
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino romano
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

Whisk together eggs, 3 tablespoons olive oil, salt, red pepper, basil, and dill in a large bowl. Stir in the grated zucchini, corn kernels, and pecorino. Add the flour and stir until everything is well-combined.

Heat a bit of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop batter onto the skillet (I did 3 or 4 at a time). Cook 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer the cooked pancakes to a baking sheet and keep in the oven so that they stay warm until serving. Repeat with remaining batter.

Serve warm with a squeeze of lemon on top - hot sauce and/or sour cream are also delicious!

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Friday, June 27, 2014

happy friday! + links i love

Happy Friday, friends! What are you up to this weekend? My mom is coming in town, and we're going to take this cooking class while she's here. SO excited. And then we're off on vacation next week!!!

Oh, and that ridiculously cute puppy in the photo above? That's Cooper, my in-laws' new addition! We got to keep him at our house for about a week before we surprised my father-in-law with him for Father's Day. SUCH a little nugget.

But I will say that Buddy is happy to be an only child again now. :)

I hope that you have a fantastic weekend! Here are some links to kick it off!

David Sedaris on living the Fitbit life. Need I say more?

10 overlooked summer flowers (including sweet peas, which I love so much they were part of my wedding bouquet!)

The perfect summer appetizer.

I LOVE the design in this little apartment.

Because it's too hot to turn on the oven: 10 summer slow cooker recipes.

I'm so excited to get my July Scratch box! (I've got this set on in the photo above.)

Hate to brag, but I mean...

Cutest. cookies. ever.

bruschetta bar is happening this summer.

I want it all.

10 tips for keeping your kitchen cleaner while you cook.

Can't wait to see this.

We just got these two pool floats. This is going to have to be next, naturally.

Plus, some summer recipes I can't wait to try:
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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

spicy salmon tacos with hatch blueberry salsa

My love for Hatch chiles has been well-documented on this blog. We've done sliders, enchiladas, pizza (of course). My local grocery store does a big Hatch chile festival every August, and I look forward to it with an embarrassing amount of enthusiasm. And last year, I almost got it together enough to roast and freeze some so that I could have them all year long! Almost. Whoops.

So I was totally thrilled when The Hatch Chile Store offered to send me offered to send me their frozen chiles. I was like a kid on Christmas when I came home to the TEN lbs. of chiles they sent me (virtual high five, you guys).

These tacos are the perfect meal for the summer! The salsa is spicy and sweet and is also amazing with sweet potato chips or a giant spoon. No shame.

Spicy Salmon Tacos with Hatch Blueberry Salsa
serves 4

for the tacos, you'll need:
12 oz. salmon filets
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon chile powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
flour tortillas

for the salsa, you'll need:
2 roasted, peeled, and seeded Hatch chiles, chopped
1 cup blueberries
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 handful of cilantro, roughly chopped
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Combine the paprika, chile powder, cayenne, and salt in a small bowl. Lay the salmon on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and rub with the spice mixture. Bake salmon for 12-15 minutes, until just cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before flaking with a fork.

While the salmon is cooking, make the salsa. Add all of the ingredients to a food processor or blender and pulse a few times. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as necessary.

Divide salmon over tortillas and top with salsa. Serve with lime wedges and cilantro, if desired.

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

creamsicle chiffon pie

Happy Monday, friends! Let's kick off the week with a pie that's all about summer. Remember those incredible creamsicles from your childhood summers? Yeah, this is those in pie form... so that's kind of amazing.

I used my beloved Walker's Shortbread to make the crust, and it's a perfect complement to the creamy pie filling. We top that filling with homemade whipped cream with a touch of Grand Marnier and vanilla, and all is right in the world. This pie was made for your summer cookouts!

To get you started on this pie, or simply to satisfy your cookie craving, Walker's is offering all Little Kitchie readers a 20% discount off your entire purchase from their website by using the discount code LKSUMMER2014 at checkout, now through June 28th. 

Creamsicle Chiffon Pie (slightly adapted from First Prize Pies)
makes one 9-inch pie

for the crust, you'll need:
1 1/2 cups crushed Walker's Shortbread cookies
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

for the filling, you'll need:
4 large eggs, separated
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin

for the topping, you'll need:
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 1 orange

Pour the melted butter into a bowl with the shortbread cookie crumbs and use your hands to mix the two until the texture resembles wet sand. Firmly press the crumbs into a 9-inch pie pan. Place it in the freezer. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the pie from the freezer and bake for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Put the egg whites in the fridge to keep them cold. Add the yolks and 1/3 cup sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat until light and frothy. Add the orange juice, Grand Marnier, vanilla, and salt and beat until combined.

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 1/3 cup cold water to allow it to bloom.

In a double boiler or in a metal bowl set over a pot of simmering water, whisk the yolk mixture constantly until it's slightly thickened, 8-10 minutes. Remove it from the heat and slowly whisk in the gelatin mixture until it's completely dissolved.

Put the mixture over an ice bath, stirring occasionally, until it reaches room temperature. Clean the bowl for the stand mixer... you'll use it again in a minute.

Once the yolk mixture is at room temperature, make the meringue. Beat the egg whites in the bowl of your stand mixer until soft peaks form. Slowly add the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.

Gently fold the meringue into the yolk mixture in 3-4 batches, until it's incorporated. Pour the mixture into the pie shell and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Just before serving, make the topping: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream, sugar, Grand Marnier, and vanilla together until stiff peaks form. Dollop or pipe the whipped cream onto the pie surface. Garnish with orange zest or orange slices and serve!

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