Chocolate Hazelnut Meringue Cake

This is such a fun way to make chocolate cake. Deep chocolate fudge cake topped with the crackled meringue and fresh whipped cream. It is a cross between a brownie and macaron.

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and I wanted to try something a little different. When Patrick and I first started dating I would make a dark chocolate cake for two. This reminds me a lot of that flavor profile, but instead of icing a nice crispy meringue topper.

We used strawberries, but raspberries would be equally delicious. Between the fudge cake and meringue I drizzled hazelnut spread for a little extra richness.

Ingredients-

2 cups of dark chocolate

3/4 stick of salted butter

1/4 cup AP flour

3/4 cup of almond flour

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar divided

1 vanilla bean scraped or tbsp vanilla bean paste

6 eggs, 4 separated

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread

Whipped cream and berries for topping

Directions-

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Melted butter and chocolate together. In sauce pan or microwave for one minute on high. Add 1/4 cup sugar and brown sugar.

Let cool slightly and whisk in two eggs plus 4 egg yolks. Add in your vanilla bean/ paste. Mix in the salt, AP flour, and almond flour.

Pour into a lined spring form pan. I used an 8in pan for height and put parchment paper down to prevent leaking.

Bake for 25 minutes or until just set enough to hold the meringue.

Warm your hazelnut spread and drizzle over the cake. This does not need to be perfect.

Whip the remaining egg whites and sugar together. Add in the cream of tartar as it whips.

Once the egg whites are glossy and slightly stiff, slowly fold in the cocoa powder. Do not mix, whip, or go to fast. This will deflate your eggs to crumbles.

Spoon over the cake and slightly spread.

Bake for another 20 minutes or until the meringue is set. It will have a slight crust to it.

Let cool and top with whipped cream and berries!

My favorite Cocoa Power is from Rodelle. You can get a giant bag that lasts forever and adds the perfect dark chocolate richness.

Sprinkles I found at Homegoods!

If you want an even more dramatic top just add two more egg whites to the meringue mix.

Enjoy!

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Easy Empanadas with Jalapeño Dip

There is a Cuban restaurant around the corner that makes super simple delicious empanadas. Beef or chicken, crunchy with an amazing dip.

I do not know anything about an authentic empanada, but I do know what would go well with a similar dip.

My version has roasted onion, potatoes, butternut squash, ground beef, and mozzarella. I used frozen empanada dough from my local grocery store. These seem to be pretty accessible. I found them at Walmart, Kroger, and Publix.

Best part is how easy it is to make these! I froze the filling and was able to make them in minutes.

Ingredients

For the empanada

Ground beef cooked and drained

2 cups of butternut squash and gold potatoes cubed

1 small yellow onion chopped

Mozzarella cheese (I like fresh grated for extra melt)

Empanada dough ( I’ve found this in the frozen section at Walmart, Kroger, and Publix)

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp salt and pepper

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp garlic

For the dip

1 cup sour cream

1 small ripe avocado

2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

1 fresh jalapeño seeds removed

Juice from 1 lime

Directions

Let your empanada dough defrost.

Roast your squash, potatoes and onion until fork tender.

Add to your beef.

Season and mix.

Take a dough circle and fill it with the beef fixture leaving room to fold over.

Top with cheese.

Fold the circle in half.

I dip a fork into water and push the ends together. Just make sure it is nice and sealed.

You can bake or air fry at 350 degrees for 10 minutes (or until golden)

You can also deep fry at 350 degrees for 1-2 minutes per side.

For the dip

I dump everything into my blender and blend until creamy. Season with salt and pepper. This keeps fresh for up to 5 days in a sealed refrigerated container.

You can also freeze the empanadas. They reheat beautifully! I hope you try these out. Definitely experiment with your fillings! I want to try a breakfast version soon!

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Arancini – Fried Risotto

What is it about the cool weather that makes you crave all the comfort foods? With the temperature dropping we have been eating a lot of risotto. Usually we have so much left over and I don’t know what to do with it. So I was thinking why not fry it?

I used our favorite classic parmesan risotto and made a light crispy crust. Serve with your favorite marinara and extra cheese!

Best part is stuffing them with fresh mozzarella. You end up with a yummy bite reminiscent of mozzarella sticks.

Even picky eaters with love these!

Ingredients

2 cups of risotto chilled

1 ball of fresh mozzarella

1 cup of all purpose flour

1 cup of panko or bread crumbs

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp Italian seasoning

3 eggs beaten

2 cups of marinara sauce

Canola oil for frying

Fresh Parmesan and parsley for topping

Directions-

Roll risotto into even sized balls

Cut mozzarella into bite size pieces and place inside each risotto ball

Just make sure the cheese is covered

Heat oil to 350 degrees

Season flour with garlic and Italian seasoning

Roll each ball into the flour, dip into eggs and cover with panko

Fry until golden

They will start to float when they are heated through

Season with salt and pepper

Serve with marinara Parmesan and parsley

Enjoy!!!

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Beefy French Onion Soup

My instapot is my favorite kitchen appliance when it starts getting cold out. I love being able to get big flavors in half the time. This soup is easy to make with minimal ingredients, but still delivers hearty bites!

I started by caramelizing two large yellow onions with butter and a spoonful of brown sugar.

This broth takes on the deep onion flavor. When the bread soaks the broth up it is so delicious!

Ingredients

1 pound chuck roast

3 large yellow onions chopped

2 cups of beef bone broth

1 tbsp brown sugar

3 tbsp of worcestershire

1/4 cup butter

1 tsp dried thyme or one bunch of fresh

1 tsp chopped garlic

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

French bread and smoked Gouda for topping

Directions

In the instapot heat a little oil on the sauté setting and sear each side of the beef

Switch to meat/stew setting

Add the onions, butter, brown sugar, herbs, garlic, and worcestershire

Cook for one hour then add the bone broth.

Stew for another hour until the beef is easy to pull apart

Season with salt and pepper

Top with toasted bread and cheese

I like to broil my cheese bread for a few seconds before topping

Top with fresh herbs and enjoy!

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Smoked Pork Sliders

Do you ever shop the bargain cook book section at Barnes and Nobles? I get suckered in every time! I came home with two cook books the other day that are filled with inspiration. Since I’ve been doing Keto I feel like I was in a cooking rut.

These buns clearly are not low carb, but Patrick is not on the diet so I wanted to surprise him. These are inspired from a couple different recipes I found. Which is usually how the best creations come about!

I don’t have a smoker so I just used my charcoal grill. I tossed in some Jack Daniels wood chips to get the smoked taste. The trick here is to cook the meat for 275 degrees for at least 3 hours.

The charred meat on the sweet roll with sriracha mayo and pickles is spot on! I did pair the meat with a whole thirty bbq sauce, but Patrick hated the sauce haha! Not sweet enough for him.

If you are doing low carb this meat is perfect for you. Low sugar and so tasty! If you aren’t low carb it’s still wonderful!

Ingredients

3 lb pork shoulder/butt

Salt

1/2 cup or sriracha

2 tbsp of garlic powder

2 tbsp of smoked paprika

1 tbsp of cayenne pepper

1/4 cup of melted butter

1/2 cup of mayo

Pickles

Hawaiian rolls

Directions

Heat grill or oven to 400 degrees

Rub the sriracha (leaving 1 tbsp out) over the pork and salt liberally

Let sit in the fridge uncovered while the grill heats up

Wipe the pork down with paper towel to dry it

If using the grill use the top rack or put to the side of the coals

Rotate the meat for an even cook every 15 minutes or so

The grill will cool to 300-275 on its own

Lower the oven temp if roasting

Season with the garlic, paprika, pepper and salt liberally again

Turn every 30-45 minutes

Once the pork hits 160 degrees remove and let rest for 30 minutes

Once cooled shred and pour the melted butter over top

Mix the remaining sriracha with the mayo

Serve on the rolls with pickles

Enjoy!!!!

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Louisiana BBQ Shrimp

We always order Cajun shrimp. In our neighborhood there is always an amazing seafood boil a stone throw away. I wanted to branch out and try something a little different. The flavor of this sauce is unlike anything I’ve ever tried!

I made mountain bread in our cast iron skillet and could not wait to make something for dipping! The sauce is so rich and filled with garlic. I added sausage to add even more flavor.

The first time I made this sauce Patrick immediately came into the kitchen to figure out what I was making. The sautéed garlic and onion with the lemon butter is mouth watering.

Ingredients

1 pound of shrimp

Two links of bratwurst or sausage of your choice

1 tbsp of smoked paprika

1 tsp of garlic powder

3 cloves of chopped garlic

1 small chopped yellow onion

1/2 cup of butter

3 bay leaves

Zest from one lemon

Juice from two lemons

3 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp of olive oil

Directions

In a large sauté pan over medium heat warm the olive oil

Add the onion and chopped garlic

Sauté until onions are translucent

Add the sausage and butter

When the sausage is about half way cooked at the shrimp, paprika, garlic powder,worcestershire sauce, lemon zest and juice

You should have a good amount of sauce simmering at this point, if you need more feel free to add a little water or broth

Top with bay leaves and simmer until sausage is cooked

Shrimp will be pink and curled

Remove bay leaves and season with salt and lots of black pepper

Enjoy with super crusty bread!!!!

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Garlic Parmesan Pretzels

Last weekend we were at the mall and the kids wanted to stop for pretzels. Something about the warm buttery dough sprinkled with salt makes me think of summer. Long pool days and mall shopping with lots of pretzel bites.

I wanted to take our favorite treat up a notch with garlic butter, fresh herbs, and Parmesan cheese.

Paired with spicy honey mustard and smoked sausage you can have a perfect appetizer board.

You can use any fresh herbs you have available. Parsley, basil, oregano and rosemary would all be great.

Ingredients

2 cups of AP flour

1/4 cup salted butter

2 tbsp of sugar

1/4 cup of butter milk

1 cup of warm water

1 packet of active yeast

1 egg mixed with a tsp of water

1 tsp of baking soda

For the topping

2 tbsp of melted butter

1 tsp of chopped garlic

1 tsp of chopped herbs

1/4 cup of grated Parmesan

For the mustard

1/4 cup of honey

2 tbsp of hot sauce

2 tbsp of Dijon mustard

Pepper

Directions

Heat water to luke warm and pour into a large mixing bowl with the sugar and yeast

Add in the buttermilk, butter and flour

Using a dough hook to mix until everything is combined

Let rise for at least two hours

I like using plastic wrap to cover the bowl to keep air out

In a large pot boil water and sprinkle in the baking soda

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Roll dough into long strips and tie into knots or pretzel shapes

Brush the egg and water mix onto each pretzel

Bake until they start to brown

Mix the melted butter garlic and herbs

Drizzle over all the pretzels and cover in the Parmesan

Continue baking until brown and cooked through

For the sauce mix the mustard honey and hot sauce

Season with pepper

Enjoy!

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Pizza Flatbread

If you live anywhere near a Sprouts farmers market you definitely need to download their app. We discovered recently that you can do all your shopping on the app to make a list or have everything delivered! Since I am currently obsessed with fresh lemon and herbs we have been going to the store every few days. This recipe takes everything I love about summer and pulls it together in this awesome appetizer!

The dough takes about 30 minutes to rise. While that happens you can throw together your sauce! Top with whatever you have available and wow your guests (or family) with this super easy flat bread!

The lemon oil and herbs are what make this recipe stand out about the traditional flatbread. Everything is so fresh.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups of AP flour

1 packet of dry active yeast

3/4 cups of warm water

1 tsp of lemon zest

Juice from one lemon

1/2 cup of olive oil

2 tbsp of sugar

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

1/2 cup of chopped herbs ( I used oregano and basil)

Pepperoni

Fresh mozzarella

2 tbsp of tomato paste

1 cup of chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp of garlic

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Mix yeast, sugar and water and let sit for 5 minutes

Add in the flour, lemon zest and half of the herbs

Mix with a dough hook until smooth ( add more flour if needed)

Drizzle a little oil over the ball cover and let rise

Tip** place in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit on top of the oven while it preheats

In a sauce pan heat chopped tomatoes, garlic, lemon juice, remaining herbs, crushed red pepper, over medium heat. Add water if you need to as it cooks down. Once it starts to thicken like a paste add 1 tsp of oil or butter.

Pat out the dough on parchment paper and drizzle liberally with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook for 5 minutes then slather the bread with your tomato mixture. Bake for another 5-10 minutes until the dough starts to look golden brown.

Add your cheese and pepperoni. Broil until cheese melts and pepperonis crisp.

Serve with side of olive oil!

What’s your favor summer appetizer?

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Grilled Chicken Adobo Bowls

It has officially been a month since we got married! Today is actually my birthday. Patrick took the day off so we could spent some time together. We have both been working crazy hours to catch up from our wedding time off.

The entire past month has honestly been a blur. We got back our amazing wedding pictures and have been working on framing/hanging them throughout the house. Today we finished putting together some furniture that we desperately needed for our bedroom. Hopefully now I can stop tossing the clean laundry on our folding table 😬.

One thing that has definitely changed is our eating! We were eating straight junk food the first two weeks after we got back. Now that the weather is perfect we have been grilling almost every day.

These adobo bowls are so fresh and delicious! If you are going lower carb like me just skip the rice and beans here.

I love these because if you have anything left over it is so easy to toss into a wrap with some egg and have the best breakfast burrito. PS did you know mission tortilla has mini low carb wraps now? They are the perfect serving size and only 4 net carbs!

Ingredients

Boneless skinless chicken thighs

Chipotle chilis in adobo sauce

Garlic powder

2 limes

1 cup of prepared basmati rice

1 cup chopped peppers and onions

1 handful of asparagus

1 cup of pico or 1 cup of chopped tomatoes, onions, and jalapeños

1 can of low fat refried beans

2 ears of sweet corn

Optional toppings: avocado, cheese, sour cream

Directions

Prepare a grill or grill pan

Marinade chicken thighs with 1 chopped chipotle chili and 2 tbsp of sauce, 1 tsp garlic powder, salt /pepper, half of a lime juiced, 1 tablespoon of olive oil

Grilled until cooked through

Cook off your peppers and onions until fork tender ( I cook mine on the grill with a grill pan)

Grill the asparagus with a little olive oil and salt

Grill the corn with a little olive oil and salt (smoked paprika is good here too!)

Slice off the cobb and set to the side

Heat refried beans through

Toss the rice with the rest of the limes juiced, one lime zested, lots of pepper, salt to taste

Assemble the bowls! I like to put my veggies down and top with chicken, Patrick likes the rice and beans down and top with everything else

These are especially good with the chipotle Tabasco sauce drizzled on top!

Enjoy!!!! These are one of our favorite meals! Super easy for meal prep!

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Everything Bagel Creamy Grits

When I think breakfast I think savory, fluffy, toasty buttered breads. One of our favorite breakfast sandwiches is an everything bagel with eggs and bacon. The garlic onion crunchy topping is perfect.

Sometimes I am in the mood for something quick and we usually don’t have bread in the house so I experimented with some of my favor flavors!

Grits are definitely a southern thing. I actually can’t believe most of the people I meet either don’t like grits or like them with sugar. Anytime I have a grits recipe I usually enlist Patrick’s son to be my official taster. He loves his grits really creamy with lots of hot sauce.

These are soooo easy, but have a lot of flavor. We love the Trader Joe’s everything but the bagel seasoning, but you can definitely make your own. All you need is dehydrated chopped onion, garlic powder, sea salt, and black sesame seeds.

Ingredients

1 cup of fast cooking grits cooked to package instructions

2 tsp of everything bagel seasoning

1/2 tsp garlic powder

5 tbsp of butter

1/4 cup of cream cheese

1/2 cup of smoked Gouda

Directions

Cook grits to package instructions

Add cream cheese and 3 tbsp of butter

whip with a fork until creamy

Add in Gouda and garlic powder

Pour into two serving bowls

Top with butter and everything bagel seasoning

Enjoy!!

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