Salted Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate

Salted Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate

I called my mom one afternoon to check in. It was the middle of winter. I attended college in the Midwest, and there had been a huge snowfall in northern New Jersey where my parents lived.

She picked up the phone, sounding slightly out of breath.

“Everything okay?” I asked.

“Yeah. We were just playing in the snow.”

“Oh fun! Were the kids over?” I said, referring to my nieces and nephews who lived in the area.

“No, just your dad and me.”

“Wait, what?” Just you guys?”

“Yeah. We built a snowman and made snow angels.”

My parents were empty nesters after having six children spread over 17 years. They had quite a few grandkids by that point, but I hardly pictured my nearly retired parents playing in the snow by themselves. They were supposed to be the responsible ones, the ones who went to work and kept the house clean and volunteered at church. Playing in the snow looked so...frivolous.

Keep reading and get the recipe at Coffee + Crumbs!

Salted Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate
Salted Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate
Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate-5.jpg

Read more and get the recipe over at Coffee + Crumbs!


Pomegranate + Gin Cocktail [a holiday take on the "Martinez"]

Pomegranate + Gin Cocktail

I’m all about holiday baking, but what I really love are holiday cocktails. Bring on the cookies and cakes and pies…as long as you don’t forget to pour a little something special in my glass.

This Pomegranate + Gin Cocktail brings all the Christmas and New Years’ vibes – deep red color, bright gin, and sweet pomegranate flavor with a touch of orange from the Cointreau. It's inspired by the "Martinez," a cocktail that I didn't even know existed until about a month ago, but one that has quickly become a favorite.

Think of a Martinez like the perfect middle ground between a Manhattan (whiskey, sweet vermouth, and Angostura bitters) and a Martini (gin, dry vermouth). And just like with the Manhattan and Martini, there are a million variations of the Martinez. 

A traditional Martinez uses Old Tom gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and orange bitters, although there are a thousand recipes out there with slightly varying ingredients and proportions. Because of the addition of pomegranate juice, I wouldn't quite call my version below a Martinez, but with the gin, vermouth, and bitters, you can definitely see a family resemblance. 

It’s the holiday season in a glass, and it doesn’t get much better than that. Cheers!

(To geek out a bit more on the Martinez Cocktail, check out this article from Saveur.)

Pomegranate + Gin Cocktail
Pomegranate + Gin Cocktail
Pomegranate + Gin Cocktail
Pomegranate + Gin Cocktail
Pomegranate + Gin Cocktail

Pomegranate + Gin Cocktail
Yields 1 drink

2 ounces gin
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1 ounce 100% pomegranate juice*
½ ounce Cointreau
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Strip of lemon zest and pomegranate arils
Ice

Put a cocktail glass in the freezer while you mix together the drink.

Add the gin, vermouth, pomegranate juice, Cointreau, and bitters to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Stir with a spoon for at least 15 seconds.

Remove the glass from the freezer, and rub the rim with a strip of lemon zest. Drop the zest in the glass.

Strain the cocktail from the shaker into the cold glass, and add a fresh ice cube and pomegranate arils. Serve and enjoy!

*Add more pomegranate juice if you prefer a sweeter cocktail. You can also top the drink off with sparkling water if you want to tone down the alcohol. 


This recipe was originally featured at Lark + Linen.


Crostini with Garlic Sauteed Chanterelles [an easy holiday appetizer!]

Crostini with Garlic Sauteed Chanterelles

I brush the crumbs off my son’s shirt, grab paper towels to wipe his hands, and clean him up as best I can before he’s off to the next thing – running laps around the house, building towers with Magna-Tiles, or racing cars across the kitchen floor. I do the same with his twin sister, although it usually takes a while to convince her to let me help after she says, “Izzy do it!” four or five times.

They ate a decent lunch, but I see a few pieces of peanut butter and jelly left on their plates. Isabel didn’t touch her grapes and Elijah only took one small bite of his cheese stick. I hear Josiah start to fuss from his bouncy seat just as it dawns on me that I haven’t eaten yet. My mouth begins to water, but it’s time for the baby to nurse.

I grab the leftover PB&J and grapes, and the half-eaten cheese stick and scarf them down while I walk over to the baby. I guess that’s lunch for today. Maybe at naptime I can actually sit down.

****

We wander through the giant refrigerator at Costco. Josiah lays in his car seat and I try to keep the twins content in the cart. If I let them loose in the store, they inevitably wander in opposite directions, taking my sanity with them. I forgot my grocery list at home, so we’re going by memory on this trip. It’s never a wise idea to wander Costco without being tethered to a written plan, especially when you have to find all the things and make a thousand tiny decisions before someone begins to melt down. It’s a race against the clock. How soon will the baby wake up? How long will food samples keep my twins entertained? Will the twins fall asleep in the car on the way home mess up naps for the rest of the day?

I grab the giant bag of baby carrots – way more than we’ll ever need, but whatever. It’ll save me a trip to a second store just to buy baby carrots. I toss that, a package of salad greens, and a giant container of strawberries (that will be gone by tomorrow) into the cart. And oh! They have chanterelles! Of course I need chanterelles, right? Because why wouldn’t I need a pound or two of fancy mushrooms? I add them to the pile starting to overtake the car seat and gently rearrange the produce around my infant.

****

Chanterelles sound interesting and different and grown up – even though these mushrooms are relatively common. But sometimes I need something different. I need to eat more than a few toddler-sized squares of PB&J they didn’t finish. I need to eat like an adult.

This recipe for Crostini with Garlic Sautéed Chanterelles requires only a few ingredients and a simple preparation. The mushrooms have a rich, earthy, and almost fruity flavor. Add the crunch of toasted bread, brightness of thyme, and warmth of sautéed garlic for a grown-up dish that’s perfect as a holiday appetizer – or lunch on an ordinary Thursday. 

Crostini with Garlic Sauteed Chanterelles
Crostini with Garlic Sauteed Chanterelles
Crostini with Garlic Sauteed Chanterelles
Crostini with Garlic Sauteed Chanterelles
Crostini with Garlic Sauteed Chanterelles
Crostini with Garlic Sauteed Chanterelles
Crostini with Garlic Sauteed Chanterelles
Crostini with Garlic Sauteed Chanterelles

Crostini with Garlic Sauteed Chanterelles
Yields about 20 appetizers

3-4 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, minced
3-4 sprigs of thyme, plus more for garnish
16 ounces chanterelle mushrooms, large ones cut in half lengthwise
1 baguette, cut into ¾ inch slices
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and and thyme and cook for about 30-60 seconds until the garlic is fragrant, being careful not to burn the garlic.

Add the mushrooms in a single layer and cook for about 3-4 minutes without stirring until the bottom side is golden and browned. Sprinkle with a few pinches of salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Reduce the heat to medium. Turn the mushrooms over and cook for about 5-7 more minutes, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms are tender to your liking. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

While the chanterelles are cooking, set your oven rack as close to your oven’s broiler flame as possible. Preheat the broiler (to high if you have a high/low setting). Lay the baguette slices out on a parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Broil the bread for 1-2 minutes until the edges are browned and slightly crisp. You may need to turn the pan once or twice to ensure even browning. Make sure to watch this very closely. It only take a few seconds for the bread to go from toasted to burned!

Remove the bread from the oven and transfer to a serving platter. Top each slice with the sautéed mushrooms, and garnish with fresh thyme leaves. Serve and enjoy!

Note: The olive oil left in the pan has so much flavor. Use it on leftover bread for an extra treat for the cook!


This recipe was originally featured at Lark + Linen.


Spiced Chai Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze

Spiced Chai Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze

Seven years ago on Christmas Day, my husband and I anxiously sat in a hospital waiting room. Carols played in the background, and strands of lights glimmered around the windows. Every once in awhile we heard a chime through the sound system, a tradition signaling the birth of a baby. The reminder of new life became a welcome interruption as we waited to hear from my mom’s surgeon.

Family and friends stopped by to check on us and ask about my mom. One couple dropped off sandwiches and salads for lunch. Later that night in a last minute attempt to salvage Christmas dinner, we heated up white chicken chili from my brother’s freezer.

Two years later, I answered emails and made phone calls while I “worked from home” at my mom’s bedside. The doorbell rang, a frequent occurrence in those last months as people visited and dropped off food and gifts for my family. It was my parents’ elderly neighbor. I anxiously twitched when I saw her, even though she was a perfectly pleasant woman. I couldn’t help but remember backing into car as a teenager and causing $800 worth of damage. But she wasn’t there to relive stories of my negligent driving.

Keep reading and get the recipe at Coffee + Crumbs!

Spiced Chai Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze
Spiced Chai Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze
Spiced Chai Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze

Full post and recipe instructions can be found at Coffee + Crumbs!