Baked Apple Cinnamon Donuts

I am one of those people that has all of the kitchen things. Between my personal love for cooking (and therefore all things kitchen!) our wedding in the last year and the move to Chicago (with a much bigger, beautiful kitchen than we had in NYC), it is a mecca.

Perhaps the one thing I didn’t have – that is, until our office Secret Santa – was a donut pan. Donuts aren’t something that typically call to me. Don’t get me wrong, they’re awesome, but realistically I probably eat donuts once or twice a year, at best. If you know me or you’ve been following along long enough, you’ll know that I also don’t like to fry things. 1) It’s messy and it really stinks up your house. I have a hard enough time cleaning olive oil / miscellaneous kitchen oil splatter off of our modern cabinets and shiny floors (all beautiful, but wow they hide nothing) and 2) it’s just not good for you, so it’s not something I’ve ever felt the need to get into.

It would be cliché for me to say donuts are having a moment because you could argue that they have always been in that moment, but certainly in the last two years, I would say they’ve come back as a more beautiful, healthier, more complex version of their original selves (apparently the donuts in my version of this story have quite a personality). Maybe they’ve always been baked rather than fried, but baked donuts started to catch my eye, and in particular, a recipe from Last Ingredient for Baked Apple Cinnamon Donuts with a Maple Bourbon Glaze. So when Secret Santa came along, I knew this was exactly what I wanted, and he (she) delivered 🙂

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When I set out to make a day of a recipe (going to the store, prepping the ingredients, cooking / baking, photographing, and of course eating), I’m really aiming for a certain level of complexity. Essentially, I would be disappointed if I could do the whole thing in an hour. I don’t necessarily want to sign up for 6-hour escapade, but I do want to make an afternoon of it.

I started out with this recipe thinking it was shockingly simple. The donut base is easy, there is no way around it. You pop them in the oven and it’s really like making cookies – that amount of mess, time, etc. so I found it a little underwhelming. Where it gets fun, though, is when you bring them out of the oven and they’re these adorable little donuts (geez, I’m really drinking the Kool Aid with the whole food blog, right??) and they get dusted with cinnamon sugar, then they cool, and then there is frosting, and more setting. It’s almost the anticipation that gets you more than anything!

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And they are gorgeous the whole time (nothing more disappointing than making something that is really unappealing aesthetically). Really, the recipe is super simple, overall the whole process is very easy, and the time comes in as you’re waiting between the various steps. At the end of it, you have these beautifully glazed donuts, topped with dried apple slices (not to be forgotten!) and they are delicious.

My husband actually made the comment that in his opinion, these donuts might be his favorite thing I’ve ever made. Just let that sink in for a moment. Of all the food that passes through our kitchen, he chooses this one. I suggest you make the donuts 🙂

You can find the full recipe here. The only thing I changed was to use almond milk instead of regular milk, but I think you could use this with any milk you prefer and they would still be great.

When you store them, keep them out on the counter / out in the open rather than putting them in a bag or sealed container. They will maintain their hard icing exterior if they can breathe (whereas in a bag, they soak up additional moisture and get a bit sloppy).

Happy baking and let me know how it goes!

xx Jess

 

Sweet & Spicy Rosemary Cashews

Roasted nuts are one of my total weaknesses. The salty / sweet (and sometimes spicy) combo is one of my absolute favorites. I was sending a holiday package – for the Food52 Holiday Swap! – and knew these would ship beautifully, so made a double batch of these Sweet & Spicy Rosemary Cashews.

I think they lasted one day in our house. And I’d like to say there were more than just the two of us there, but there weren’t (oops!).

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TOTAL sidenote, the Food52 Holiday Swap is phenomenal! If you’re a foodie (guessing that if you’re reading this you are – or you’re my mom, hi mom!) then this is a really adorable way to put some of your foodie skills to work and send a package to another member of the Food52 community. You’ll get a package from another gifter as well, and everyone really goes all out! Each year, I’m not sure if I’m more excited to make my package, or to receive one, but they’re always fantastic! One to definitely consider for the next holiday season!

Ok, back to the nuts. This is a really simple recipe and you honestly can’t go wrong! I would also say that if you wanted to mix up the nuts a bit, this would still be phenomenal.

You can find the full recipe here.

Happy snacking!

xx Jess

Mezzi Rigatoni Soup with Italian Sausage & Kale

I have been aboslutley dying to make this Tortellini Soup with Italian Sausage & Kale from one of my all-time fav foodies, The Modern Proper, and finally had the chance the other day! You could actually taste the excitement in the air as I decided this is what I was going to do with my Sunday 🙂

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In my excitement, I have to admit that I didn’t do the greatest grocery shopping… When I got home and pulled out my ingredients it turned out that the “kale” I had purchased was actually mustard greens (for three seconds I wondered if that would work before smelling them and deciding absolutely not). Back to the store for me! In my defense, the mustard greens were mixed in on the kale shelf and I had grabbed the wrong one 🙂  Still have no idea what I’m actually going to do with those mustard greens…

This is the first soup I had ever made with kale. I was shocked when I looked at the soup base I had created, and then read the instructions to put an entire bunch of kale into the pot. Where is this going to go? Is this going to turn into a gross soupy salad? I was so impressed by how much it cooks down; it could truly take the entire bunch.

  • Tip: I would recommend slicing the kale (maybe a bit thicker than you would for a kale salad). I put them in as nearly whole leaves, and it was a lot to pull out in a spoonful. Either shred the kale a bit by hand, or you can fully chop it before putting it in so you’ll have more manageable pieces to eat.

Also, since I eat dairy free, I used coconut milk instead of the heavy cream. This wasn’t a disaster, but frankly, I wouldn’t recommend it. The flavor was pretty strong and that is just not the flavor that you want to come through with this soup. If you’re making a dairy free version, I would recommend going with A2 milk so you still have the regular milk flavor with none of the lactose (I also considered almond milk, but thought it might be a little funky as well. The challenges of dairy free cooking!).

Finally, the original recipe calls for tortellini, which I’m sure would be amazing, but of course there was none to be had when I was doing my shopping! Threw in a good chunky pasta for good measure!

You can find the full recipe here. Also, I topped mine with homemade croutons (not normally my style, but I made the bread as well – leftovers from our Holiday Star Bread master dough!)

Good luck! Absolutely recommend this one and will be making it again myself!

xx Jess

 

Russian Tea Cakes

I had a lot of ambition to make so many different Christmas cookies this year, but it just didn’t happen and time completely snuck away from me! Luckily, I got to make a few of my favs (maybe I’ll just have to start calling them New Year cookies or something so I can make the rest :)) and one of the must-haves were my favorite Russian Tea Cakes.

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They’re super simple (you can find versions of this recipe that literally have 4 ingredients) while also really elegant and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. These honestly are one of my favorites and hopefully you love them just as much as I do!

A quick tip: make sure to do the first powdered sugar layer while the cookies are still slightly warm (let them rest for less than 10 minutes) and then the second layer of powdered sugar once they are completely cooled.

You can find the full recipe here.

Enjoy! Leave a note below and let me know what holiday (or New Year’s :)) cookies you  are still making this year!

xx Jess

 

Holiday Star Bread

The holidays are not over yet (or at least, I’m certainly still eating and baking like they’re not!) and I knew I had to fit in this Holiday Star Bread! I had seen images of it and bookmarked them (let’s be serious, I have a Google doc of recipes I want to make….) several times.

The bread tasted and looked amazing, but a few things I would have liked someone to tell me before I had started, so here it is for you:

  • This bread really gave me a run for my money. All in all, it probably took about 4 hours to make with several breaks to let the dough rise (again and again).
  • It is a bread. It says it in the name. For some reason I had gotten it into my head that this would be a small bread / more like a large cookie as far as size and consistency. I really have no idea where I got that from, but to be clear, this is a full on bread.
  • Re: taste (and per the above note), it’s not what I expected. It’s more like a loaf of cinnamon rolls (although I did mine with jam). Not a bad thing at all, but just trying to give a sense of what this will look like / taste like as I was so far off base!
  • It is huge. I likely let mine rise longer than needed, which didn’t help my cause here, but my final Holiday Star Bread was the size of a full pizza, and I just couldn’t believe it!

I winged my recipe a little bit, but mostly followed this recipe by Bread in Five. Here they call for a cinnamon sugar layer in between the dough layers, but on Instagram the same baker had shared an image with raspberry jam in between the layers, which was gorgeous and gave it more of a holiday feel, so I went that route. I used Bonne Maman raspberry jam, and used the whole jar (in hindsight, probably a little much, but I wouldn’t do too much less as it does cook down a bit and you want to have that flavor last after the baking).

I also used the White Bread Master Recipe as the base. As she notes in her recipe, it would likely be best with a “crustier” recipe (and she shares a few others!), but nonetheless, the white bread worked well. This may have also contributed to the “cinnamon roll” feeling that I was getting from mine.

At the end of the day, it’s a gorgeous piece and a complete showstopper, just be ready as making this is no light task and will take considerable time!

You can find the full recipe here.

Happy baking and happy holidays! If you try it out, let me know how it goes!

xx Jess

Lemon & Dill Chicken Noodle Soup

When life gives you…. noodles….. you make Chicken Noodle Soup! My dad gave us a batch of homemade noodles during our last visit, so we had to whip up something phenomenal! Chicken Noodle Soup can sometimes be a little bland / flat / tasteless, so I was searching for on the that really brought more flavor to the table (pun intended!).

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This Lemon & Dill Chicken Noodle Soup is a slight variant on the classic favorite; just enough to give it some additoinal flavor without straying to far from the original recipe we all know and love! The burst of lemon flavoring and smattering dill bring a level of freshness that you just don’t find in soup often. There are a few things I would change the next time around:

  • Add some additional spicing to the chicken. Roasting the chicken with a nice rub is a great start, but I would really love to kick this up a notch and add a litle more depth to that flavoring!
  • The recipe called for quite a lot of garlic, lemon and dill. Yes, 100% use each of them, but I did not use the full amount for each (probably more like 75% of what the recipe called for). The garlic in particular was one that struck me as overpowerin. Next time, I would probably only use 4-5 cloves.

Other than that, fresh noodles are the best, but you really can’t go wrong with homemade soup!

You can find the full recipe here. Enjoy!

xx Jess

Roasted Spiced Sweet Potatoes with Pomegranate

Since Thanksgiving (and those Harissa Roasted Carrots!), I’m really loving the addition of pomegranate with pretty much anything I can get my hands on. With that, a gorgeous rendition of crispy roasted rosemary sweet potatoes came across my Instagram feed, and I knew I had to marry the two.

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Enter Roasted Spiced Sweet Potatoes with Pomegranate. I followed the ingredients of the linked recipe, but when it came to the dish styling and baking, I followed the below. Also, rather than cutting your sweet potatoes into cubes, slice them into thin disks:

Directions:

  • Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Pour 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil into the bottom of a 2-quart baking dish and coat the sides
  • Arrange the potato slices vertically in the dish (this can be done in any direction / pattern you like!). Sprinkle with additional olive oil (approx. 1-2 tablespoons)
  • Cover dish with foil and roast for 1 hour, covered, until potatoes are tender. Increase oven heat to 450 degrees F. Remove foil and roast another 10-15 minutes, until tops of potatoes are browned and crisp.
  • Once you remove the dish from the oven, top with the parsley, pistachios and parsley. Enjoy!

The dish turned out beautifully and tasted amazing. The spices on the potatoes balanced really well with a nice crunch of the nuts and the refreshing bite of the pomegranate seeds.

Test it out and see what you think! It looks more complicated than it is, and really can be a showstopper piece!

xx Jess