Tag Archives: easy recipes

Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}

Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Nobody throws a dinner party quite like my friend, David. He can make a multi-course meal for fifty without panicking for a second, and he’s been known to throw impromptu dinner & a movie nights for twenty without the slightest hesitation.Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Both the man and his food are sophisticated without being pretentious—think ham smoked on his roof, cold salmon with dill & yogurt, habanero cheese grits, herby roasted potatoes, tomato & avocado salad with pesto, and a recipe for brussels sprouts that haunts my dreams. And that’s to say nothing of the things he can do with a Costco croissant and a bulb of fennel! I could go on, but the bottom line is that David makes unfussy food that is outrageously delicious, and if you are ever so lucky as to be invited for dinner at his apartment, you must must must go. If not for the main menu or the love of his three-legged cat, go for the Boterkoek.Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}If you have never heard of Boterkoek (pronounced “bow-ter-kook”), it’s Dutch for “butter cake,” and it’s about to be your new favorite dessert for any and all occasions. David is of Dutch descent and makes it frequently (usually from Heleen A.M. Halverhout’s Dutch Cooking), and now, so do I.Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}As its name states, this cake is ridiculously buttery. It’s also sweet, simple, and the sort of thing that works just as well for dinner with friends as it does for delivering to new parents or keeping around to pick on over the course of a lazy weekend.Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Boterkoek is made from a dough rather than a batter. It includes softened butter (duh), sugar, an egg, flour, vanilla and almond extracts, and minced candied ginger. There’s no leavener, but the final product isn’t terribly dense. I attribute that to beating the softened butter until it’s good and fluffy.Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}As with all of David’s go-to recipes, this one is decidedly unfussy. The most annoying part of making a Boterkoek is reserving a teaspoon of the beaten egg for brushing over the top of the cake. No bother, really. The thin layer of egg wash makes for a golden top, and a crosshatch pattern carved out with the tines of a fork gives way to crispy edges and a magazine-quality presentation.Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}I haven’t even mentioned the flavor! Boterkoek is rich and buttery with a touch of almond flavor and a little sharpness from the candied ginger. The texture falls somewhere between a cake, shortbread and a blondie—it’s best eaten with a fork when it’s warm, but can be handheld when it’s room temperature.Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Boterkoek is what I like to call an everyday cake; it can be made easily with few ingredients, doesn’t require layering or frosting, and works for almost any casual occasion including, of course, a dinner party at David’s. Or, you know, watching Netflix in your oldest/best pajamas.Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Either way, you shouldn’t skimp on the ice cream.Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}

Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}
adapted from Dutch Cooking by Heleen A.M. Halverhout
makes one 8-inch round cake, about 8-10 slices

1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon water
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract (optional)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup minced candied ginger

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8-inch pie plate with butter. Set aside.

Crack egg into a small bowl and beat with a fork. Use a 1 teaspoon measuring spoon to remove 1 teaspoon of the egg to a separate bowl. Whisk 1 teaspoon water with the 1 teaspoon of egg to make an egg wash. Set both bowls aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, an electric mixer (or wooden spoon and a lot of elbow grease) to beat softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the larger amount of egg, vanilla and almond extracts, and beat to combine. Add flour and salt and mix until a thick, crumbly dough forms. Add minced candied ginger and mix on low for 10-15 seconds to distribute.

Press dough into prepared pan. Brush egg wash over the top. Use the tines of a fork or edge of a knife to create a crosshatch pattern on top.

Bake cake 30-35 minutes, or until golden and glossy on top. Let cool at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving from the pan.

Leftovers will keep covered at room temperature for up to 2 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 4.Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}

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One Big Chocolate M&Ms Cookie

One Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieLast week, I needed a win. I needed a win badly.One Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieI was reeling from a personal tragedy, having a difficult time getting myself out of bed in the morning, and couldn’t get any recipes to work properly. I suffer from depression and anxiety, so some of this is just part of my normal life, but there’s something about having recipes—something with which I am supposed to have some modicum of talent and control—repeatedly fail that sends me into a tailspin.

Exhibit A: That time I obsessively made 18 babkas.One Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieI woke up Friday morning determined to get one recipe to work. Just one. Something I thought would be easy and only take two or three tries: a chocolate variation on my single-serving One Big Chocolate Chip Cookie. Using that recipe as a guide, I started mixing…and then proceeded to have many, many fails.One Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieOver the course of two hours, I ran the gamut of cookie failure. Too flat, too puffy, too dry, too chemical-tasting—you get the idea. Here are four of them:One Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieBut then I looked at my tried & true Double Chocolate Cookie recipe and realized I hadn’t tried blooming the cocoa, a method of heating it with butter and sugar that produces a richer chocolate flavor. As with the large-batch cookies, this quick and easy process turned out to be key to my One Big Chocolate M&Ms Cookie success!One Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieOne Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieOne Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieOne Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieOne Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieOne Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieAlso, crucial to cookie success? Underbaking. If you bake this cookie until it’s fully done, you’ll end up with a chocolate M&Ms frisbee. This is because cocoa powder tends to dry things out and also because I use a teaspoon of water here in place of the usual egg (a little trick I learned from the regular chocolate chip version). Underbaking will yield crisp-chewy edges, a crackly top, and a soft, fudgy center. Yesssss.One Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieOne Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieI had a bunch of M&Ms leftover from making Monster Carmelitas last month, so that’s what I chose to use as my cookie mix-in. I love the contrast of the melty chocolate centers, crispy candy shells, and brownie-like cookie, but feel free to put whatever you want into this cookie base. Regular semisweet chocolate chips, white chocolate, mini peanut butter cups, walnuts—whatever you have around. It’s almost certainly guaranteed to be a win. And really, when is a big cookie not a win?One Big Chocolate M&Ms Cookie

One Big Chocolate M&Ms Cookie
makes one large cookie

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon natural unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon water (not cold)
1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, optional
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 tablespoons M&Ms candy

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine butter, cocoa powder, and brown sugar. Microwave in 15-second increments, stirring in between until melted together. Alternatively, you may do this in a saucepan on the stove over medium-low heat.

Mix in water and vanilla. Add flour, baking soda and salt, and whisk with a fork until a soft dough forms. Use a silicone spatula or spoon to mix/fold in M&Ms.

Use your hands to form dough into a ball and place on parchment. Dot with additional M&Ms (for aesthetic purposes), if desired. Bake for 12-13 minutes or until the top is crackly and the cookie appears a bit underdone.

Let cookie cool on the pan for 5-7 minutes before using a spatula to remove it to a plate. Enjoy.One Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieOne Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieOne Big Chocolate M&Ms Cookie

Friday Favorites: Wintry Weeknight Meals

Hey there! I hope you’ve been enjoying my annual post-holidays savory food content. While I love baking desserts and am ready to get back to it, I thoroughly enjoy changing it up for a month every year. I still have one more savory recipe coming your way this month, but it’s more Super Bowl-centric than balanced, nutritious, and delicious.

Before we start talking about cheesy dips and chili and guacamole and brownies though, I want to take a minute to acknowledge some of my favorite cold weather weeknight meals from the archives. After four Januaries (Januarys?) as a blogger, I have a lot of them. For this post, I’ve narrowed the list down to the five that I make most frequently. Three of them are soup—depending if you are a #soupseason person or not, I’ll either say “you’re welcome” or owe you an apology…in the form of a big cookie.Friday Favorites: Wintry Weeknight MealsSopa de Pollo

My iPad keeps autocorrecting “sopa” to “soap” de pollo, which sounds very gross. But this soup is the exact opposite of that—it’s delicious and nourishing with a decidedly Mexican flavor. Oh, and it’s dead easy; the prep takes all of ten minutes. Just put a bunch of vegetables, herbs, bone-in chicken and stock on to boil. Forty minutes later, remove the chicken, shred it, and return it to the pot. And um, well, that’s literally it. Easiest chicken soup ever.Friday Favorites: Wintry Weeknight MealsEveryday Cassoulet

This might be my favorite weeknight meal on this site. I’ve been making it for eight years and it always hits the spot. I mean, who doesn’t like sausages baked with tomatoes, pearl onions, and white beans?! Like Sopa de Pollo, this meal takes one hour start-to-finish and most of it is hands-off. Everyday Cassoulet is hearty without being heavy, and is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. While it’s perfect for any weeknight, I’ve made this recipe for multiple dinner parties to rave reviews. Love that versatility!Friday Favorites: Wintry Weeknight MealsSausage, Kale & White Bean Soup

If you love the flavors in Everyday Cassoulet, this soup is for you! In this one-hour recipe, Italian sausage, white beans, mirepoix (fancy French word for the combination of carrot, onion, and celery), and kale are simmered together in a tomato broth. This is the kind of good & good-for-you comfort food that I love, especially when it’s paired with cheesy Parmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits!Friday Favorites: Wintry Weeknight MealsRoasted Cauliflower Soup

I am the sort of person that generally doesn’t care for cream soups or savory dairy-based things (except for this), but this Roasted Cauliflower Soup is so good, it may well change my tune. Made by roasting cauliflower florets until golden and then puréeing them with aromatics, butter, stock and half-and-half, this vegetarian soup is one of my favorites to make and eat. I’m not alone in this—I make it at work at least once every two weeks and it always disappears quickly.Friday Favorites: Wintry Weeknight MealsPasta Bolognese

Now, you may not think of bolognese sauce as a weeknight meal because it takes a while to prepare, but if you simmer a pot on the weekend and then chill it, you can get at least two family-of-four-sized meals out of it. If spending three hours making sauce sounds daunting, just know that most of it is spent letting the sauce bubble away. When all is said and done, the final product is rich, delicious, meaty magic that will have you wondering why you didn’t make a double batch! I like to keep this stuff in the freezer for when the big-bowl-of-pasta mood strikes. And while I have not yet tried it, I imagine this sauce would make killer lasagna.Friday Favorites: Wintry Weeknight MealsHave you made these or any of my other weeknight meals? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

Potato Soup

Potato SoupWhat was the first recipe you ever committed to memory?Potato SoupFor me, it was this Potato Soup—my mom’s. It was our traditional pre-church Christmas Eve dinner for our entire childhood. Every year, Mom would make a double batch and serve it with a spinach salad and warm rolls. It was a tradition we all loved and something we remember fondly.

As we got older and were more able to help in the kitchen, it fell to my little sister and me to make the soup (and the Christmas morning breakfast casserole) while Mom worked on other holiday-related tasks. It was fun to help out, and Mom’s Potato Soup is so simple that it wasn’t long before I ceased needing to peek at the recipe card and started making it from memory.Potato SoupSince then, I’ve made Potato Soup for friends, boyfriends, student film shoots, and even once for 125 Hurricane Katrina relief volunteers. My sister doesn’t even particularly like white potatoes,* but she had no problem putting away this soup on Monday night. Everybody—and I mean everybody—loves this soup.

*She also doesn’t like cinnamon rolls and stuffing. Freaking weirdo.Potato SoupIt’s easy to see why. My mom’s recipe is simple and straightforward. There are only seven ingredients (plus salt and pepper), so the flavors of buttery potato, onion, and garlic really shine through. Half-and-half is swapped for the usual heavy cream, so this soup won’t weigh you down either.Potato SoupAll that rich, creamy deliciousness is accented with a sprinkle of celery seed…Potato Soup…and melty cheddar, crispy bacon, and fresh scallions.Potato SoupIt doesn’t get simpler or more delicious than that.Potato Soup

Potato Soup
makes 3-4 servings

2 pounds red potatoes (about 7-8 potatoes)
2 quarts (8 cups) chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large white or Spanish onion, diced small
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/4-1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

For serving:
shredded cheddar cheese
crispy bacon, crumbled or chopped
sliced scallions

This recipe makes enough for 3-4 people. If you have very hungry people and/or want seconds, double the batch.

Peel potatoes and cut into 2-inch chunks (mine were quartered). Place them in a large (6+ quart) heavy-bottomed pot and add stock. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove lid and reduce heat to medium-high. Continue to cook until potatoes are fork-tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Cook diced onion until translucent (but not brown), about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Set aside.

Set a large strainer over a large heatproof bowl. Pour potatoes & stock through the strainer, reserving stock.

Place potatoes back in the pot. Add onion mixture. Use a potato masher to mash potatoes until no large chunks remain. Stir in reserved stock (about 4 cups). Cover pot and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook, scraping the bottom of the pot frequently to prevent burning, until thickened a reduced slightly (about 20-30 minutes).

Remove soup from heat. Stir in celery seed and half-and-half, followed by salt and pepper.

Place soup over medium-low heat (do not boil) for 5-7 minutes, just to bring it back to temperature.

Serve soup with cheddar, bacon, and/or scallions, if desired. Leftovers will keep covered in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.Potato SoupPotato Soup

Easy Peppermint Mocha Fudge

Easy Peppermint Mocha FudgeOver the course of the next twenty days, there will come a moment where you’re glad to have this Easy Peppermint Mocha Fudge recipe in your back pocket.Easy Peppermint Mocha FudgeBecause it really is easy. Like six ingredients easy.Easy Peppermint Mocha FudgeNo boiling sugar, no candy thermometer easy.Easy Peppermint Mocha FudgeMake it in 20 minutes in a double boiler or—even easier—the microwave…easy.Easy Peppermint Mocha FudgeBut nobody will know that you made these little morsels of holiday magic without having to think too hard, or that the batch makes enough for multiple holiday gifts (just add cute bags or tins), so you didn’t have to overextend yourself.Easy Peppermint Mocha FudgeAnd nobody is going to bite into this rich, dense, silky fudge and think “I bet he/she/they made this with sweetened condensed milk and chocolate chips instead of the ‘traditional’ way.” Nope.Easy Peppermint Mocha FudgeIn fact, I guarantee you that all anybody will be thinking is how to get another piece of this double-layer minty coffee confection into their faces as soon as possible.Easy Peppermint Mocha Fudge
Looking for more peppermint mocha? Check out these cookies!

Looking for more easy holiday candy? See here and here.

Easy Peppermint Mocha Fudge
makes one 9×13-inch pan

Mocha Layer:
18 ounces (3 cups) semisweet chocolate chips
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
5 teaspoons espresso granules (I use Medaglia d’Oro)
1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract (not mint extract)

Peppermint Layer:
18 ounces (3 cups) white chocolate chips
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract (not mint extract)

Garnish:
4 candy canes or 10 starlight mints, crushed (I prefer starlight mints)

Lightly grease a 9×13-inch pan. Line with parchment, leaving overhang on the two long sides, and grease again. Set aside.

To make on the stove:

Fill a small pot with 1-2 inches of water. Set a heatproof bowl over the top, ensuring that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Remove bowl and bring water to a simmer.

Make the mocha layer. Combine chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, and espresso granules in the heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over the simmering water. Use a silicone spatula and/or whisk to stir mixture until chips are melted and fudge is even in color. It will be thick. Remove from heat and stir in peppermint extract. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and press into an even layer all the way to the corners. Freeze full pan while you make the peppermint layer.

Wash the heatproof bowl and dry well. Return pot to a simmer.

Combine white chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk in heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over the simmering water. Use a silicone spatula and/or whisk to stir mixture until chips almost all are melted and fudge is even in color. It will be thinner than the mocha mixture. Remove from heat. Whisk in peppermint extract and continue until mixture is totally smooth.

Remove pan from the freezer. Spread peppermint mixture over the top of the mocha layer, smoothing it all the way to the edges. Garnish the top with crust candy canes or starlight mints.

To make in the microwave:

Make the mocha layer. Combine chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, and espresso granules in a medium microwave safe mixing bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until chips are melted and fudge is thick and even in color. Stir in peppermint extract. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and press into an even layer all the way to the corners. Freeze full pan while you make the peppermint layer.

Wash the microwave safe bowl and dry well.

Combine white chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk in the bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring/whisking in between, until almost all chips are melted and fudge is even in color. Whisk in peppermint extract and continue until mixture is totally smooth. Mixture will be thinner than the mocha layer.

Remove pan from the freezer. Spread peppermint mixture over the top of the mocha layer, smoothing it all the way to the edges. Garnish the top with crust candy canes or starlight mints.

Both methods:

Refrigerate fudge for at least 1 hour. Run a thin, flexible knife around the edges of the pan. Use parchment overhang to lift fudge onto a cutting board.

Use a greased knife to slice fudge into 1-inch pieces. Wipe the knife clean between cuts.

Fudge is best kept in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, but may be kept at room temperature for up to 5 days. Candy cane/starlight mint garnish will melt over time.Easy Peppermint Mocha FudgeEasy Peppermint Mocha FudgeEasy Peppermint Mocha Fudge