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Candied Nuts with Smoked Chile + Rosemary

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GraphicSpoonCMYK-01I absolutely adored Violet’s teacher last year. She got married just a week before school started, so at the end of the year a few moms and I were joking around about how if she wanted to get pregnant, she’d better do it in between that year and the year some of our younger siblings would be in her class. Well, I’m so glad she listened to us, because she’s due next month, just in time to be back to school in August when Archer starts her class! Okay, her timing may not have been completely on my behalf, but that’s the beside the point. Some fellow moms and I are excited to host a shower for her this weekend to celebrate her wonderful growing family, and I decided to add a sweet & salty nut mix to the goodies I’m bringing. I’ve been meaning to have an excuse to try out a few different combos I’ve been imagining, and all I can say is the test batch I made is too big, because I can’t keep my hands out of the bowl! Someone come get some! They’re caramelly, crunchy, sweet, salty, and the smoked chile heat lasts long after you’ve taken a bite. The recipe is so simple I almost just posted it as the caption on Instagram, but I didn’t want it to get lost in the sea of other photos, and I certainly don’t want to lose this recipe! It’s a keeper!

I found my smoked, dried chiles whole at the farmers market a while ago (I would’ve paid the guy just to stand there and smell them! I couldn’t wait to bring them home and find uses for them), and coarsely ground them up myself. You can find several different kinds on Amazon if you can’t find them locally. I like a good amount of heat, but the tricky part is finding your own balance of sweet, salty and spicy.  Try my guidelines and tweak them to your tastes. Swap out the nuts for any of your favorites, and if you don’t like rosemary, try sage, or skip the herbs altogether. Click the link under the photos to steal my recipe!

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Mango Champagne Sorbet with Key Lime and Honey

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GraphicSpoonCMYK-01 It’s atoulfo mango season! I look forward to this all year. These mangoes are something special. Buttery and sweet with a thin pit, so you don’t feel like you’re only getting to eat a fraction of the fruit like most mangoes you’ll find year round at the grocery store. You know that sound when you start slicing through the typical mango- that crunch that tells you you’ve started to cut too close to the pit. It’s discouraging! But the atoulfo mango (or champagne mango) is different. They’re admittedly not as pretty, but the lovely taste makes up for that.

A few years ago I asked for (and got) all things summer for my birthday- an ice cream maker, popsicle molds, a sno-cone machine… I’d say I was ready for the Arkansas heat! I found a case of these gorgeous mangoes and decided to give my new ice cream maker a go with some sorbet. I found a recipe that called for water, sugar and rum. I know that when making a sorbet, the sugar and alcohol keeps it from freezing into an impenetrable rock. I really didn’t feel like getting out with a newborn Archer and a tiny Violet, so I searched my kitchen and found some of those adorable pink Sofia mini cans of Blanc de Blancs! “Hey!” I thought, “Sparkling wine has plenty of sugar and alcohol!” And how perfect does mango and champagne sound together? I played around with the measurements, and I’ve since come up with my absolute favorite recipe for sorbet on the planet. What I love most about it is the simplicity of the ingredients and the fact that you can literally taste every single ingredient in each bite, because there are only four of them. The mango comes first, then the fizzy champagne on the tip of your tongue, then the sweet tang of key lime juice + zest, and then it’s almost as if you smell the honey before you realize you taste it. So good. Truly. Summer in a bite! I like to store this in 1 cup freezer friendly containers so I can prevent myself from eating it all in one sitting, and it seems like it softens “just so” a little faster that way.

This is a recipe that I hold dear. I feel proud to have “found it.” One of my favorite things about cooking is that there is a limitless combination of edibles in this world, and we have the ability to share and experiment and find a combination that just stops you in your tracks and begs you to take note. I hope you’ll try this soon, and that you’ll enjoy it with your loved ones. It’s what makes the “sharing” part of this blog so rewarding!

Remember to tag #stoleyourrecipe on Instagram so I can see and share what you’ve made!

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“Skinny Joes”

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GraphicSpoonCMYK-01 Around when the snow sleds are put away and the flowers start to bloom, I realize that I’m not quite ready to put away the cardigans, scarves and other forgiving layers to show off my post-holiday body yet! Cold weather baking always gets me. I’m not into a whole lot of processed foods- particularly processed sweets- but we make our share of sweets at home for sure, and the holidays are always an excuse for a baking free-for-all.  So now that it’s already been in the 80’s here in Arkansas, I’ve got to get ready for summer! Time to back off on the sugar and starchy carbs for a while. But that’s not so easy for me! I love a good hearty meal, so I try to find ways to trick myself into thinking I’ve not cut back on anything in my cooking.

I don’t usually crave sloppy joes, but I was trying to figure out what I could do with the 9% fat ground beef I thawed from the night before and I was craving something hearty. I had canned tomatoes and some portabello mushrooms, so I thought I’d try to make a sloppy joe using the mushrooms as the bun. Great success! I really didn’t miss the bun. Using kale chips in place of chips was another story though… they were good, but I did miss the chips! All in the name of bathing suit weather though, right?

Traditional sloppy joes are made with ground beef mixed into a sweetened tomato sauce that’s usually made with ketchup, brown sugar, barbecue sauce, or a mix of these. To sweeten this sauce naturally I used apple cider vinegar to cook down the shallot and garlic, fresh squeezed carrot juice along with the tomatoes, and a handful of dates that both sweetened and thickened the sauce. It turned out good enough to pass as the real deal in my opinion! But you may not be able to trust me on that one, I haven’t had anything sweet in a while… Regardless, it was really tasty.

To counter the lack of richness and depth that low-fat cooking can have, I used sun-dried tomatoes and smoked paprika. Anything sun-dried or smoked adds that hearty flavor that I crave when I’m hangry and watching what I eat.

I have slight OCD when using only part of a can of something in a recipe (can’t do it!), so I used the whole can of diced, roasted tomatoes, which ended up making quite a bit of sauce. I’d say this batch would be enough to stir into about 2 lbs. of ground beef.  I poured what I needed into my 8 ounces of browned meat (for 2 servings) and then bagged the rest up in a few portions to keep in the freezer for quick lunches whenever I want. I can even see the kids loving this as pasta sauce with that extra sweetness!

For the portabello “buns,” I wiped them off with a wet paper towel, then hollowed them out carefully with a spoon (plucked the stem out with my hand), then sprayed them on both sides with coconut oil spray, then put them on a pan, top side up, under the broiler for a few minutes until browned and tender. Then turn one upside down on the plate, fill with the meat and sauce, then top with the other. By the way, It’s way too sloppy to pick up and eat this “skinny joe,” so you’ll need a knife and fork!

I hope you give this recipe a try- if you do, post it on Instagram with the hashtag #stoleyourrecipe so I can see it and hear any feedback you have about it! Link to view and print recipe is below photos.


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Chocolate Stout Cake with Dark Chocolate Bourbon Ganache & Potato Chips

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GraphicSpoonCMYK-01My husband Brian is turning 35 this week! It’s hard for both of us to believe how fast time flies. It feels like just a few years ago we would flirtingly stare each other down in the hallways at Conway High School. It’s not the typical “high school sweetheart story” though. We dated for a few months and when he graduated, we agreed to go separate ways. Two years later, we ended up at a mutual friend’s house while I was visiting from Springfield, MO where I was living at the time, and we exchanged email addresses and a few weeks later I moved back home (for other reasons, but I can’t lie and say he wasn’t a catalyst), and the rest is history! Now we’ve gone through quite a bit to be where we are 13 years after that night we exchanged emails, with several moves, two young kids, a blooming eye care practice, a dog, and a 60’s modern split level house that we’ve been working on for the last 3 years. It’s been quite the adventure, and although it’s not perfect, he still somehow ends up deserving a big ol’ chocolate cake for his birthday.

I was at the liquor store a couple weeks ago and while I was grabbing some Sam Adams Cold Snap for him, I noticed Shiner had a “Birthday Beer” out. I thought it’d be fun to surprise him with some for his birthday, so I grabbed the sixer they had and hid them in the pantry. I didn’t even notice they were a chocolate stout until I got them home. I knew then that some would have to be made into his birthday cake! The Beeroness is an amazing resource for cooking with beer, so I knew I’d find a great starting point on her blog. This cake is adapted from her recipe for chocolate stout cake. I wanted to put my own spin on it, so I decided what a better pairing then beer and potato chips?! Salty + sweet is the yin to the yang, so it was a no brainer for a man’s birthday cake! I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. Dark chocolate ganache is probably my favorite frosting to work with- it’s just so easy and the absolute perfect amount of sweetness + smoothness + richness. The vanilla and bourbon added to it were just for the sake of the indulgence that are Birthdays!

The batter made SO much, so I ended up just filling two 9 inch cake pans and making a 2 layer cake, and 12 cupcakes. I froze all the cupcakes for later, because ain’t no way I need a birthday cake AND a dozen cupcakes lingering around the house. This way I’ll have a fantastic last minute dessert when company comes over next! But if you’re having a party, make a 3 layer cake with 3 9-inch pans. Or you can make a ton of cupcakes and put one chocolate covered chip on each cupcake. I’m doing that someday… maybe 6 years from now when I work off the calories from this cake!

I made the dark chocolate covered chips the night before and put them in the fridge to see if they’d stay crispy to let you know how far ahead you can make them. They were super crispy and delicious almost 36 hours later! So feel free to make these ahead of time. Also, feel free to make more than the cake needs so you can snack on them, because they’re magic! I thought about making a gorgeous decoration by sticking them in the cake halfway in a spiral pattern, but I thought “It’s for a man.” A messy pile of chocolate covered potato chips on top of a dark chocolate stout cake is exactly what he never knew he wanted! The crushed chips along the bottom were just because I couldn’t help myself. It begged for them. It evened out the texture as far as styling goes.

Guys, this cake is rich. Oh so rich. If you serve it cold like I did, it becomes a smooth, non-crumbly mouthful of perfectly sweet-salty goodness without overtaking the back of your teeth with sugar. It’s indulgent in the exact way it should be.

On another note, the Birthday Beer alone is seriously good! It tastes like a Tootsie Roll, but less sweet, and in a good way, if you can possibly imagine that in a beer. I’d recommend one for a fun birthday treat!

Happy birthday to my husband, my partner in crime. He’s the salty to my sweet. The dark chocolate to my potato chip. Now excuse me, I have to go sneak a chip off the top of that cake in the fridge. Click the link below the pictures to steal this recipe! You’re going to want to, believe me.

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Coconut Citrus Tea Cakes

_MG_0289-1GraphicSpoonCMYK-01Happy New Year!  A little late.  It should be fitting that my first post of the New Year is my first cheat from my Resolution, right?!  I’ve been doing so well with clean eating, and I have a lot of recipes to share, but this afternoon was the first chance I’ve gotten to spend time photographing all the steps, and the first time I thought to myself “I NEED SOMETHING SWEET.”

I was scrolling through a few blogs for some inspiration last night and found myself loving so many things on La Gallette’s beautiful blog, and then after about about 10 minutes I looked at her “about” section and saw that she’s only 17!  Then I thought “HOW do I not have it more together at 32??” When I was 17 I was waiting tables and loving food and cooking, but blogging wasn’t really a “thing” yet, I had hardly any money for rent much less props for styling, and I still had a 35mm SLR.  At this point in my life, I’m just beginning to be able to carve out enough time for myself to occasionally post recipes without having to worry about a dining room wall covered in permanent marker or a toilet filled with… well, use your imagination.  Archer is 3 and Violet is 5 and they’re at a point where they play together without constant need for hovering supervision *mostly,* and when Archer starts pre-k this August I have so many plans for my time!  I have to work on being able to focus my time and attention wisely.

So back to La Gallette’s blog… I noticed a particular recipe that substituted ground coconut flakes for powdered sugar and I wanted to hug her!  What a fantastic idea!  I don’t have a coffee or spice grinder, so I had to make do with my food processor, but a grinder is on my list of things to get soon so I can do this more often, and top desserts with it rather than powdered sugar.  I decided to try using ground coconut and ground almonds in place of some flour in a little treat!  These little tea cakes are so good.  The texture is like a muffin or a cake doughnut, but the shape of the mini bundt cake, the airiness from the egg whites, and the delicate glaze makes these feel more “feminine” than a plain ol’ muffin.  But if a muffin tin is all ya got, they make great muffins too!  I’d even say they’d make for a great glazed bread!  I wanted to make this without any processed sugar, but after tasting the finished cake it really just begged for the glaze, and it’s surely less than a teaspoon or two on each cake.  It goes from being not quite sweet enough to being the perfect amount of sweetness without your teeth hurting!

I’ll admit I did overfill the tins- they rose more than I expected them to!  So look at the photo of how full I piped them into the tin, and scale back a bit if you want a flatter bottom. I didn’t mind it though, as it created a little pool in the middle rather than a hole so the extra glaze got stuck in there.

I hope you make these soon and enjoy them as much as we did!  If you love them, post a photo on instagram with the hashtag #stoleyourrecipe!

Click the link under the photos to view the printable recipe!

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Cranberry and Pistachio Shortbread Cookies

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GraphicSpoonCMYK-01So here me out.  I know, it’s not even Thanksgiving.  But look, you can make these now and keep them in the freezer so when parties and cookie exchanges and teacher gifting time sneaks up on you and you’re dizzy from shopping, you can rest assured knowing that you have something mouthwatering without much time or thought at all!  Also, you can send the cookies off with the recipe to let them steal it and pass it on!

This recipe was adapted from an almond orange shortbread recipe I found several years ago in one of those small Martha Stewart Everyday Food magazines (do they make them anymore? I loved them!).  I love this recipe because you can swap out or add so many things!  The original recipe included orange zest and almonds.  I kept the orange zest in these, as well as the almond extract, but added festive red and green through the pistachios and cranberries.  You can swap out the orange zest for lemon zest with almonds, or lime zest with macadamia nuts and dried mango (ohhhh that’s my next one), or use raisins and pecans with a dash of cinnamon and use vanilla instead of almond extract… the possibilities are endless!  They’re buttery, crumbly, and just sweet enough without being so overly indulgent.  Violet insisted that she didn’t like cranberries until I made her eat one of these.  As stubborn as she is even she couldn’t pretend not to love them!

I made the dough at night and stuck it in the freezer until morning.  It needs to stay in the freezer for at least 45 minutes, but if it’s been in there for longer than a few hours, let it sit out for about 30 minutes or so to prevent it from crumbling as you slice the cookies off the log.  I ran my knife under hot water and wiped it dry between each slice and it made it a lot easier.  Slice slowly and it shouldn’t crumble on you.

If you switch up the recipe and find a killer combination, let me know! I’d love to steal it from you. Find my printable recipe under the photos.

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Oscar Deviled Eggs

logo devilled eggsGraphicSpoonCMYK-01A couple years ago, a local kitchen store hosted a deviled egg competition, and I didn’t enter because I was out of town. But I couldn’t stop thinking of what version I would create if I’d have entered.  I thought about one of my favorite dishes- beef tenderloin “Oscar style” (topped with crab, béarnaise and asparagus), and I thought maybe it would work to make deviled eggs Oscar style.  Since béarnaise is a luscious butter and yolk sauce, it seemed like it could be great!  I finally came up with a version for lunch today and it’s more delicious than I imagined it would be.  I made the béarnaise sauce super lemony, then added some into the mashed, cooked yolks, then piped it back into the whites, then topped that with some crab meat that I tossed in some lemon juice and some crushed kettle potato chips (I know!), then a hefty drizzle of the béarnaise, then some shaved raw asparagus spears, and then some more crushed kettle potato chips.  I ended up making some grilled bread to go along with this, and it’s the fanciest and most fun little appetizer/brunch/light lunch there ever was!  It’s unexpected and the flavors are just spot on.

I used a refrigerated jar of back fin crab meat from the grocery store.  So besides boiling the eggs, all you have to do is make the béarnaise sauce, which isn’t hard, but you do have to focus.  It’s not so much the “make while your toddlers are in possession of markers in the dining room” dish if you know what I mean. And if you’re wondering if I have the magic equation to ensure that all eggs are peeled flawlessly for deviled eggs, I may come up short.  I do know that fresh eggs tend to be harder to peel, so you should aim to buy eggs a week before you plan to make deviled eggs.  Also, some say that adding salt to the boiling water helps too, but I haven’t noticed a difference (although I still do it just in case).  To boil, I barely cover the eggs in cold water in a pot, then set over high heat.  Once the water starts to boil, I turn the heat off, cover with a tight lid, and let sit for 10 minutes.  Soft, creamy, bright yellow yolks every time (thanks Alton!).  Then I drain the water, add a bunch of ice, put the lid back on, and shake it around gently to crack some of the shells.  I feel like this “shocks” the membrane away from the whites and helps it peel more cleanly, and I always peel under a small stream of water.  Do you have any secrets for flawless egg peeling?

I adapted my béarnaise recipe from Bon Appetit magazine.  I halved the egg, butter, vinegar and tarragon, but kept the lemon and shallot at the full recipe amount.  I simply didn’t need as much, but wanted it to be lemony and with full flavor.

The shaved raw asparagus adds some nice crunch to this (use skinny asparagus, by the way- it’s more tender), but it needed just a bit more crunch, and a bit more salt, so the crushed kettle cooked potato chips were absolute perfection!  Don’t skip this ingredient!

Make them soon!  They’re not your parents’ 70’s dinner party deviled eggs, I promise.

Click the link below photos for full recipe.

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