spiced mixed nuts with brown sugar + rosemary butter

spiced mixed nuts with brown sugar + rosemary butter | via she likes to eat

for my family, fall is a big time of entertaining. there is a lot of football to be watched, and with the weather getting cooler, we have a tendency to often gather with friends to eat, play games outside, and then retire to the fire pit for s’mores. while i am cooking and guests are still arriving, i like to set out a little something for guests to snack on, and this is one of my favorites to put out. most people love nuts and this is a deliciously different way to serve them, instead of just plain ol’ poured-from-the-can-mixed-nuts. they are a little bit sweet and a little bit spicy. and the rosemary gives it an incredible flavor. if you and your guests don’t polish off the whole bowl in one night, they will keep for about 2 weeks in an airtight container.

spiced mixed nuts with brown sugar + rosemary butter
adapted from union square cafe’s bar nuts

ingredients

36 oz mixed nuts (i prefer a mixture of just pistachios, almonds, and cashews – or you can do a pre-mixed variety), lightly salted

4 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

1/4 tsp cayenne (if there are no kids, and you like spicy, 1/2 tsp is recommended)

5 (level) tsp brown sugar

3 tbsp butter

directions

1. preheat the oven to 350.

2. spread out nuts in a single layer on a rimmed cookie sheet. roast for about 8-10 minutes, stopping about halfway through to stir the nuts a bit.

3. while the nuts are roasting, in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. once completely melted, add in chopped rosemary, cayenne, and brown sugar. whisk well to incorporate. turn off the heat.

4. when the nuts are done roasting, pour them into a large bowl. toss well with the butter mixture. serve while still warm or at room temperature.

enjoy!

homemade ranch dressing

homemade ranch dressing | via she likes to eat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

during the summer, my husband directs a family kamp. on saturday mornings, not many people are around and the pool is almost deserted. so we take the opportunity to crash the pool, bringing friends, floats, and snacks – trying to last as long as we can until the kids are all melting down for naps. one time, my good friend whitney brought veggies and ranch dressing for the kids to snack on, only her ranch dressing was made from scratch. my daughter, the one whose love language is sugar and who will not touch veggies thanks to her genetics from her dad, gobbled up carrots dipped in the ranch. i was GIDDY.

so i begged whit for the recipe, which is a family recipe, and it has become my favorite ranch dressing – storebought or not. i have edited it just a bit but have not strayed from the original ingredients. the kicker, in my opinion, is the saltine crackers – GENIUS! – which gives the salty flavor and makes it a little thicker so it’s never runny. this makes enough mix for a lot of dressing, so i store the mix in a mason jar and use it as i need it. it will keep for a few months in an airtight container.

mrs bartlett’s homemade ranch dressing

ingredients

7 saltine crackers (or a heaping cup of the oyster-size saltines)

1 tbsp garlic salt

4 tsp onion powder

1/4 cup dried parsley

1 tbsp garlic powder

1 heaping tbsp dried dill

directions

1. pulverize the saltines in the blender until fine. pour into a medium sized mixing bowl.

2. add all of the dried herbs and whisk to incorporate. store in an airtight container.

3. to make dressing: mix 1 tbsp ranch mix with 1/2 cup buttermilk and 1/2 cup mayonnaise. use milk to thin, for desired consistency.

enjoy!

vanilla cream scones

vanilla cream scones | via she likes to eat
one of my favorite memories is my first trip to london with my mom and grandma. my maternal grandparents lived there and my grandma took me there as a gift for my 16th birthday, to share with me a place she loved so much. it was on this trip that i discovered my innate love for rain, a ploughman’s lunch, and the perfect scone. i fell head over heels, to say the least (with the city and the baked good). as the rain would randomly begin to fall, we would quickly duck into the closest cafe and have ourselves warm cups of english tea with milk and platefuls of scones with jam and clotted cream. over the years and several trips, london remains one of my favorite places on earth and a good scone always reminds me of the times i have had there.

scones can have so many wonderful additions like blueberries or strawberries, or made with different spices or glazes. but i am a purist first, and love a basic vanilla scone – one that has just the right amount of sweetness. these are not overly sweet, so you can serve them on their own or with jam. i make them different ways each time, but i love topping them with different kinds of specialty sugars. in the picture above, i used plain turbinado sugar and also espresso sugar. (in that batch i also used strawberry sugar and clove sugar.) if you can find them they are the perfect flavoring, but i think they are just perfect with plain, unflavored turbinado.

vanilla cream scones
adapted via king arthur flour
(makes 13 large scones or about 40 small scones – depending on what size cutter you use)

ingredients

3 cups all purpose flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp sea salt

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 tbsp vanilla

1 1/3 – 1 1/2 cups heavy cream (plus more for brushing)

directions

1. place a rack in the upper third of the oven. preheat to 425. line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper (if you are making larger scones, you will only need one baking sheet. for small 2 to 3-inch sized scones, you will need at least 2 sheets.)

2. in a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. in a small bowl, combine and whisk the cream and vanilla, then slowly add to the dry ingredients, while mixing to form a cohesive dough – but not a sticky dough.

3. lightly flour a clean work surface. place the ball of dough onto it and roll it out to 3/4″ thickness. using a biscuit cutter (depends on what size you desire) cut scones from the dough and place on prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. brush each scone with heavy cream or whole milk and sprinkle generously with sugar.

4. bake for about 14 minutes for larger scones, and 10-11 minutes for the small scones, until just beginning to golden on the edges. remove from the oven and serve warm.

enjoy!

dark chocolate birthday cake with malted chocolate buttercream frosting

dark chocolate birthday cake with malted chocolate buttercream frosting | via she likes to eat

for her last 2 birthdays, the little she has requested a very specific dessert for her party. she has asked for “chocolate with strawberries“. as you know, if you read this blog, she is carazy about sugar. it has been said that sugar is her love language and i completely believe it.
chocolate is at the top of her sugar list, especially cake and frosting that is of the chocolate kind.

this cake recipe and this chocolate buttercream recipe are my go-tos – i never stray from these when i want chocolate cake and frosting. i have never found better. the cake recipe is a jacked up version of making a box cake – it has a perfect base and then with these add ins, is just as wonderful as made-from-scratch. actually, it’s better.

and this chocolate buttercream recipe is adapted slightly from joy the baker.
you should look no where else EVER when you want to make chocolate frosting. promise me, mmkay?

dark chocolate birthday cake

ingredients

1 box dark chocolate fudge cake mix (i like duncan hines)

3 eggs, whisked

1/2 cup butter, melted (plus more for pans)

1 cup water

2 tsp vanilla

directions

1. position rack in the middle of the oven. preheat oven to 350.

2. coat 2 round cake pans with cooking spray (coconut oil spray is my favorite) or melted butter. line each on the bottom with a parchment round. then spray the top of the parchment round generously with the spray. flour both pans, patting out excess & making sure its covered evenly.

3. add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl and mix well. divide batter evenly among the 2 pans and bake for about 25-28 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

4. let cool on 2 drying racks for about 10 minutes. then invert the cakes into your hand, remove the parchment, and then return to rack to cool completely.

malted chocolate buttercream frosting
adapted via joy the baker

ingredients

3 sticks butter, softened

1 cup cocoa powder

3/4 tsp salt

4 cups powdered sugar

2 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup ovaltine

directions

1. cream together butter, cocoa powder, and salt. scrape down the sides of the bowl and add powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla. as the sugar begins to incorporate, raise the speed of the mixer. beat until smooth.

2.in a 2-cup measuring glass or bowl, stir together heavy cream and ovaltine. pour the cream and ovaltine mixture into sugar mixture in a slow stream, until you have reached your desired consistency. (you may not need all of the ovaltine mixture.)

3. now frost your cake!

enjoy:)

oatmeal biscoff cookies with vanilla-soaked raisins

oatmeal biscoff cookies with vanilla-soaked raisins | via she likes to eat

biscoff is quickly becoming one of my favorite ingredients.
i constantly find myself dreaming of other ways to use the creamy shortbread cookie butter. almost like it’s my job. these cookies were one of the first things i baked with biscoff and they have remained one of my favorites. they have also become my go-to oatmeal raisin cookie recipe. the biscoff makes them ultra creamy and when they are straight out of the oven, ohmy i have a hard time finding the words to explain to you how dreamy they are. on the right day, these hit the spot just as well as some warm chocolate chip cookies, with a glass of cold milk.

if you are unable to find biscoff at your local grocer, you can find it on amazon, or at the biscoff website – it’s actually cheaper here.

the trick to these cookies is soaking the raisins in the vanilla. it keeps them moist and really plump, even throughout baking. (although, for a fun twist if you are making these for an adult crowd, you can soak the raisins in rum instead. just add the vanilla to the batter.) also, if you are like me and have a dear friend who loves oatmeal cookies but doesn’t like the raisins, you can make these cookies minus the raisins. they still turn out perfectly. (just add about 1 tbsp vanilla in with the eggs.)

oatmeal biscoff cookies with vanilla-soaked raisins
adapted via the earnest baker

ingredients

2 tbsp vanilla extract (preferably homemade)

1 heaping cup raisins

2 cups flour

2 cups rolled oats

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) butter, at room temp

1 cup creamy biscoff spread

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

2 eggs

directions

1. in a sandwich-size ziploc bag, place the raisins and the vanilla extract and seal tightly. lay flat on the counter to make sure all the raisins are sitting in the vanilla liquid. about 10-15 minutes later, flip bag to opposite side, to ensure they really soak it up. let them soak for at least 20-30 minutes, or up to overnight. this will make the raisins plump and will stay large & juicy through baking. (while you’re at it, lay out the butter to soften. by the time the raisins are ready, the butter will be too.) do not drain.

2. preheat the oven to 375. line 4 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

3. in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking soda, and salt. in a separate large bowl, cream together the butter and both sugars, at about medium speed until light & fluffy. add in the biscoff and mix until completely incorporated. add eggs and mix until completely incorporated. mix at medium speed for about 2 minutes.

4. add in flour mixture and mix on low until just combined. then add in pre-soaked raisins and mix in with a spatula until just combined. using a cookie scoop, place balls of cookie dough about 2 inches apart on baking sheet.

5. bake for 10-11 minutes, until the cookies are beginning to brown around the outer bottom edges. (make sure to not overbake.) allow cookies to cool on the sheet on a cooling rack for about 5-10 minutes. these babies are best served warm:)

enjoy!

salt & vinegar kale chips

salt & vinegar kale chips via she likes to eat

yeah, that’s right. KALE CHIPS. and i’m super excited about them.

it’s pretty apparent that i’m totally turning into my mother.
i mean, the lady frequently wears a t-shirt that she bought from, where else, whole foods that says in big uppercase letters “KALE”. you know, like YALE.. get it? pretty sure it’s her favorite shirt.
for those of you who don’t know my mom, aka YaYa, aka The Mahm, she is a total hippie, living in the hippie capital of the south (austin texas) and to top it off, she’s an artist (no, i did not get any of her gifts in this department). she’s all over the coconut oil (don’t get her started, she’ll go on for days;) for every need possible, and she’s a really healthy eater. so you can imagine when i start making things in my kitchen LIKE KALE CHIPS, i kind of rise above myself in an out-of-body experience and think,
what. is. happening. here?
i’m turning into my mother. and i am 100% ok with that. actually i’m proud so say it:)

disclaimer:
be careful with these babies. they’re serious business.
i may or may not have eaten an entire pan in one sitting the last time i made these.

salt & vinegar kale chips
adapted via gimme some oven

ingredients

about 5 cups kale leaf pieces, ribs removed, washed & dried

2 tsp olive oil

2 tbsp red wine vinegar or distilled white vinegar

1/4 tsp sea salt

directions

1. preheat oven to 350. line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. place the prepped kale in a large bowl. drizzle in the olive oil, vinegar, and 1/8 tsp salt. mix with a hand or tongs to soften and combine. place leaves on the baking sheet in one layer without overlapping, but fairly close together (they will shrink as they are baked). sprinkle over top the remaining 1/8 tsp salt.

3. bake for about 8-10 minutes. remove from oven and let cool. (about 5 minutes after taking them out of the oven, i turn all the leaves over to help them dry out a bit and crisp up.)

enjoy!

cheddar & saltine cracker baked chicken tenders (with quick & easy aioli dipping sauce)

cheddar and saltine cracker chicken tenders via she likes to eat
there are a few basic recipes that i am constantly looking to better or to perfect and chicken tenders have long been one. lately i have been making them more often, since we have a preschooler and a toddler running our lives these days and they are a great go-to for easy & healthy meals. i much prefer making them myself when i can, instead of the freezer chicken tenders & nuggets that truthfully scare me a little. every chicken tender i have made in the past has been just ok, “neither here nor there”. i’ve made some with breadcrumbs and some with panko. i’ve tried lots of different ways to bread them – with buttermilk, with whole milk, or with eggs, breaded once or twice… but i still had not found my favorite tenders that were perfectly crunchy, yet moist, and held their breading all over without falling off during baking. and i still had the problem of the breading getting mushy on the underside.

well, after many tests & tastings & tweakings i can safely say i am forever free from chicken tender mediocrity!
i have finally mastered the elusive perfect homemade chicken tender.
(and the crowd stands up and cheers like crazy:)

i used a mix of ground cheddar crackers and saltine crackers as the breading, which gives it the perfect flavor and crunch on the outside. i also baked the tenders on all-metal drying rack (used mostly for cooling cookies or pies) on top of a baking sheet – this ensured no soggy business on the underside of the tenders. (this was the most exciting part of my week. seriously.)

as for the dipping sauce: i have 2 all-time favorite aioli recipes in my arsenal – the recipe below is my super quick and easy version that uses ingredients i always have on hand. aioli is my favorite dipping sauce for chicken tenders and complements these really well. if you can stand to turn down the ketchup, i promise, it’s worth it.

cheddar & saltine cracker baked chicken tenders
adapted via just a taste
serves 4-6

ingredients

1 3/4 lbs chicken tenders (or chicken breasts, sliced into tenders)

3 cups cheez-it crackers (or similar cheddar cracker), or make them homemade

1 cup oyster cracker/soup-style saltines (or broken up regular size saltines)

3 eggs

3 tbsp dijon mustard

3/4 cup flour

olive oil cooking spray

directions

1. preheat oven to 475. position rack in lower third of oven.

2. place an all-metal drying rack on a large cookie sheet. spray or brush drying rack with olive oil.

3. in a food processor or blender, grind cheddar and saltine crackers until finely ground then place in a wide & shallow bowl. in another bowl, whisk the eggs and dijon mustard. then place the flour in a third wide & shallow bowl.

4. with each chicken tender, dip it first into the flour, shaking off excess. then dip into egg/dijon mixture and then into the cracker mixture, pressing crumbs onto the tender making sure it’s evenly coated. repeat with remaining tenders. place the tenders an inch or two apart on the metal rack on the cookie sheet (see picture above).

5. bake for 14-16 minutes, until they are beginning to golden. serve warm with aioli dipping sauce.

 

quick & easy aioli dipping sauce
makes about 1/2 cup

1/2 cup mayonnaise (duke’s is my favorite)

2 cloves finely minced garlic

1/2 tsp worcestershire

1/2 tsp lemon juice

directions

mix all ingredients together with a whisk until completely incorporated.

enjoy!