Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: Review and Reflection

As 2016 comes to a close, I'm reflecting back on the past twelve months. What a magnificent year for Joyously Domestic it has been! This past summer, I entered my fifth year blogging here at JD. I say it every year when I compose these end-of-the-year posts, but I truly am blown away that I get to make blogging my "work." I just love sharing my love of food with all of you guys and creating this community along the way. I've gotten to know so many awesome people and I'm just so thankful that this is the job that I get to do on a daily basis.

Below you'll find links to my top TEN recipe posts from 2016. I truly appreciate all of the comments and emails that so many of you provide when you've made one of my recipes. I just love getting feedback (even when some of it at times isn't particularly positive) from my readers. And, it's helpful for other visitors when feedback is given after you've tried a recipe. If you haven't already, check out the most-popular recipes from the past twelve months.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Cheese Tortellini Party Appetizer

Especially during the holidays, it seems that we're all looking for simple, no-fuss appetizers that go over well with a crowd and can even travel easily. This Cheese Tortellini Party Appetizer totally meets the criteria. Kids and adults alike enjoy these. And, they work great when you have a vegetarian in the mix. They can be served cold or at room temp. And, the sky is kinda the limit with regards to what you'd like to include. I like a mix of cheese chunks, olives and tomatoes with the tortellini.

Store-bought cheese tortellini (frozen or refrigerated) is used in this recipe. Just follow the package instructions regarding cooking. Be sure not to overcook them or they will fall apart when you try to skewer them. And, be sure to rinse them thoroughly under cold water after boiling to stop the cooking process immediately.

I dress my skewers with a good-quality bottled Italian-style vinaigrette. Of course, you could make something similar from scratch if you prefer. But, taking some help from the supermarket during the hectic holidays is a real timesaver.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Holiday Hot Cocoa Chocolate Stir Sticks

I'm always looking for fun, simple and unique DIY edible gifts during the holiday season. These Holiday Hot Cocoa Chocolate Stir Sticks totally fit the bill. They are inexpensive to make, fun to have the kids help with and make great little gifts. They'd be awesome tucked into a new Christmas mug along with a candy cane and a small packet of hot cocoa for gift-giving.

These little chocolate stirrers totally amp up the flavor and richness of a basic mug of hot cocoa ... the result is like, next level hot chocolate.

To put these together, you'll need an ice cube tray (I used a square-welled silicone one) or a mini muffin tin. You'll need, also, to decide on some type of "handle" to insert (I used striped paper straws that I cut in half). Popsicle sticks or lollipop sticks would work great, too.

Then, you'll melt down a bag of chocolate chips and spoon the melted chocolate into the tray wells. Once your "handle" is inserted, embellish with whatever you choose (crushed candy canes, chopped chocolate mints, sprinkles, finishing sugar, etc.) Once the chocolate hardens in the fridge or freezer, you're all set to serve them up or package for gifting.

If you look closely in the photo above, you'll notice that I placed one stirrer in a small, clear bag along with some mini marshmallows. I finished the package with some festive ribbon.

Note that the number of stir sticks you'll get will fully depend on the size of the wells of your ice cube tray or mini muffin tin. One twelve-ounce package of semi-sweet chocolate chips yielded twelve stir sticks in the tray that I used (size shown in photo above).

Monday, December 12, 2016

Holiday Gift Giving with UncommonGoods

It's such a fantastic, fulfilling feeling to find and give the perfect gifts to our loved ones during the holiday season. Something unique. Something memorable. Something that you just know suits them. Something they will cherish. And, something that will just make their eyes lights up.

Whether you're needing something special for the moms on your list, that crazy uncle of yours, your helpful neighbor or the hard-to-buy-for women in your life, one such company can help with all of your gift-giving needs.

I've partnered up this season with UncommonGoods, a company offering beautifully-designed, mostly-handcrafted and uniquely creative products. Based in Brooklyn, New York, UncommonGoods is an online marketplace that brings customers a vast array of fun, artisan items that are often made by hand and often crafted using recycled/upcycled materials. They meet a high standard on a number of issues - as a B Corporation - including environmental impact, wage levels and community involvement. You can read up on their history and story on their website.

From their Christmas Gift Collection, I've selected several products that I think you'll go crazy for. Take a look at what I'm showcasing here, but then hop on over to their site to browse through their entire selection of items that I'm sure will inspire you as you make your way through your list of gift recipients this year.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Roasted Spiced Pears and Cranberries

Pears are a favorite in our household. Any time I utilize them in my cooking and baking, I know I'll be in the good graces of my family. This recipe is one that takes little effort to prepare and only requires a handful of ingredients. The aromas that will fill your house while this is roasting are so cozy and delightful ... a truly intoxicating holiday scent.

Once roasted, the pears and cranberries can be served up with whipped cream or ice cream. They, also, can be mounted atop waffles, pancakes or oatmeal. (A good dusting of powdered sugar to top everything off once plated won't hurt anything either.)

And, to note ... even if you'd like to omit the cranberries, the roasted pears are fabulous all on their own. But, the cranberries do lend the perfect amount of tartness that really compliments the sweetness of the dish ... especially if pairing with sweet whipped cream or ice cream after cooking.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Simple Thirty-Minute Stovetop Vegetable Soup

Let's face it - most of us indulge a little too much during the holidays. Whether it's Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter, temptation in the form of potatoes, gravy, butter, pies, rolls, cakes, candies and carbs galore hit us from every angle. So, it's often nice to have some recipes in our arsenal that are quick to whip up and ones that fall a little more into the "healthful" category to make in the days that follow (ya know, once we've devoured all of the leftovers). This soup is one such recipe.

It's adapted from a Trisha Yearwood recipe that she featured awhile back on her cooking show. I was immediately drawn to it because it seemed incredibly easy to make, used just a handful of ingredients, was totally uncomplicated and wasn't a heavy, cream-based soup. Basically, some chicken broth, tomatoes, diced potatoes, garlic, onions, frozen veggies and seasoning come together on the stovetop in like, twenty-five minutes.

This soup is a great one to experiment with since the flavor profile is pretty basic. The recipe as written is awesome. But, if you'd like to play around with different herbs or seasonings, the sky really is the limit. I encourage you to maybe try it as-written, then go from there the next go-round. (I've used a slight sprinkling of Mrs. Dash's Original Blend seasoning a couple of times in this soup ... and have really come to love it that way.)

What you will find is that this is light and refreshing. Yes, as odd as it sounds, this soup is refreshing (as much as a soup can be, I suppose). It isn't heavy at all and due to the quick cooking time, the vegetables don't become mushy as often happens with longer-cooked soups.

In my house, we love this soup served with saltine crackers and a little shaved Parmesan on top just prior to serving.

Yields 6 servings.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Apple Cider Ginger Fizz Cocktail

Looking for a refreshing, fizzy drink to serve at your upcoming holiday gathering? I may just have you covered with my Apple Cider Ginger Fizz Cocktail. It is light, bubbly, bursting with seasonal flavors and comes together quickly. The adults at your party will thank you when you place one of these chilled, crisp drinks in their hands.

The recipe for these is quite easy and requires only a few ingredients. I recommend putting these together right when you're ready to serve them so that the ginger beer doesn't lose its effervescence. The real key to this recipe is to keep the apple cider and ginger beer very chilled right up until preparation of the drink. Ice cubes can be made the night before using apple cider instead of water, if desired. Doing so will ensure that the drink doesn't get watered down.

Garnish options can include thinly-sliced apples, cinnamon sticks, whole cranberries ... or all three together as I have done. I really encourage you to include the cinnamon sticks, however. When the drink is brought close to the nose while sipping, the scent of the cinnamon truly is unmatchable and really drives home the seasonal aspect of this drink.

If you wanted a little bit of a different hue, some cranberries could be "muddled" with a tiny bit of sugar in the bottoms of the glasses prior to adding the liquids.

Note that I tested this recipe with both bourbon and gin. Either works fabulously, so it's really just a matter of preference on your part.

Servings: 4

Monday, November 14, 2016

Sweet Spiced Pear & Brown Sugar Puff Pastry Tart

Keeping puff pastry on hand in the freezer is something that I recommend for every home cook. It's just so versatile and easy to use. It can be used to create both sweet and savory dishes. The puffy, flaky, buttery layers present so beautifully. And, the results are always delicious and crowd-pleasing. Guests think you've invested a great amount of time in preparation, but the truth is that working with store-bought puff pastry is almost effortless and very uncomplicated. With this recipe, I've taken a sheet of puff pastry, brushed it with perfectly-spiced and sweetened butter, lined it with thinly-cut pear slices and baked it to perfection.

Something truly magical happens during the baking process. The butter mixture becomes almost caramel-like, the pear slivers soften up beautifully, the juices from the pears slightly release to help flavor the tart and the dough puffs up all around the fruit so stunningly.

This can be enjoyed as a dessert or even with coffee in the morning. For dessert, I recommend serving this with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a dollop of whipped cream or even a light dusting of powdered sugar.

This would be a pretty dessert to grace your holiday table this year, too. And, know that you could easily make this into 4 - 6 individual tarts simply by cutting the pastry into small squares prior to topping and baking.

Note that the pear slices can be arranged however you prefer. You can do basic, straight lines of pears or switch it up and do a more-rustic, varying pattern as I have done.

Serves 4 - 6.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Lightened-Up Apple Crisp

With apple season in full swing recently, many of us look for ways to incorporate them into our cooking and baking. But, I, also, know that so many of us are trying to keep to a healthier lifestyle these days. Personally, I have been working lately to cut back on the amount of sugar in my daily diet. Here, I've taken apple crisp - a fall dessert that we all know and adore - and I've made it a bit more healthy. With just a couple of slight changes to my traditional recipe, I've managed to make apple crisp something that I don't feel as guilty about indulging in this time of year.

The changes aren't major ones. The end result is still something that we're all familiar with ... I promise. Basically, I've lessened the amount of sugar to both the filling and topping (about a third less compared to my traditional recipe), swapped in some orange juice and coconut oil for the butter component of the crumbly topping and amped up the warm, autumnal spices for this version.

My husband and I actually found that we preferred this rendition since so many apple crisps can be cloyingly sweet. All of the satisfaction was still there, but with a little less guilt.

Of course, serving it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream is totally up to you. (Swoon!) But, if you'd like to stay on course with the healthy vibe we've got going here, you could opt for a low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt or a small dollop of low-fat Greek yogurt. (FYI:  I like mine with just a tiny splash of heavy cream.)

NOTE: I prefer a combination of both sweet and tart apples for apple crisp.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Apple Pie Croissant Pudding with Caramel Butter Foam Drizzle

This fall-inspired dessert is somewhat of a cross between traditional bread pudding and apple pie. This is an incredibly simple recipe to make and one that requires mostly pantry ingredients that many of us already keep on hand. I've made an abundance of bread pudding-style desserts throughout the years, but this one was declared "the best" by my husband and kids during recipe testing. And, I think I have to agree!

Let me start by saying that subbing in croissants for run-of-the-mill bread when making bread pudding already is a game changer. The inclusion of croissants takes bread pudding to a completely different level ... a really, really good level. So, this recipe is already elevated drastically because of those flaky, buttery croissants.

I must mention that one of the things that turns me off from some bread puddings is that sometimes it tastes as if I'm eating bread baked up in sweetened scrambled eggs. (Anyone else?) Some recipes just simply call for way too many eggs. Here, you'll find that there is only one whole egg and one egg yolk in the custard, which results in no over-the-top egg-y taste or texture.

Cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg come together in the custard base to flavor up this dessert. (And, your house will smell awesome while this bakes, too.) Next, I break open a can of apple pie filling to dollop atop the dessert to really drive home the autumnal flavor.

The highlight of this dessert has to be the sauce, however. I'm telling you, guys ... I don't even know how to describe it in words. It's so incredibly different than any other dessert sauce I've ever made, but I think it just might be the best. Something magical happens due to the addition of baking soda in the sauce. It gets all frothy and foamy. It's so insane in theory, yet it is definitely insanely amazing in taste. I beg of you ... do not skip the Caramel Foam Drizzle sauce.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Salads are a favorite of mine any time of the year. I especially love coming up with salads that highlight seasonal ingredients. For example, fresh sweet corn and juicy, red tomatoes often turn up in my summer salad creations. Radishes, scallions and fresh-from-the-garden peas usually make appearances in salads that I enjoy throughout the spring. For this salad, I'm showcasing sweet potatoes - one of my favorite ingredients of all time. Roasting them enhances their flavor and brings out their natural sweetness. They really shine here and lend themselves well to my hearty, fall-inspired Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette.

I've taken just a handful of autumnal ingredients and turned them into a fresh, yet hearty salad that is great on its own or paired with pork chops for dinner. This salad, also, holds up well, so it's perfect to take along to work if there are any leftovers.

I've used both white and traditional sweet potatoes in this salad, but feel free to use whatever variety you can find or prefer.

I like serving the roasted sweet potatoes and their accompanying ingredients atop a bed of arugula or other dark, leafy greens. But, you can totally omit the greens, if desired, and serve some cooked quinoa, wild rice or other grain as the base instead.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Chicken Tikka Masala Over Basmati Rice

I have to admit that Indian cuisine is pretty new to me. I have tried it while out at a few restaurants throughout the years. Some dishes impressed me more than others. One that I enjoyed in particular was Chicken Tikka Masala. I recently started testing some recipes at home for this rich, earthy Indian dish. If you're not familiar with it, Chicken Tikka Masala often begins with chicken that is marinated in yogurt and spices, then cooked in a tandoor oven. The chicken is then combined with ingredients like, tomato sauce, garlic, ginger and coconut milk/cream. And, it's usually served with basmati rice.

Since I do not own a tandoor oven (and I'm pretty sure that most of you don't either), I decided to simplify the recipe using one large pot right on the stove top. My recipe begins by slightly cooking chunks of boneless chicken in a little oil. Next, some onions, garlic and ginger get stirred in. I, then, add the spices in so that they get a chance to slightly toast in the oil prior to proceeding with the recipe. I like the inclusion of chickpeas, but this is completely optional. Tomato puree is added as the chicken finishes cooking. The mixture gets finished with some heavy cream, plain yogurt or full-fat coconut milk. (Any of the three worked well in my testing of this recipe, but I did prefer using the coconut milk.)

Serve this vibrant, beautiful chicken over a bed of basmati rice (easily found in the rice section of most supermarkets these days) and garnish with fresh cilantro. (I prefer everything doused with a squeeze of lemon, too.)

Serving this with naan bread (an Indian flatbread found pretty easily in the bakery section at your supermarket) is almost a requirement. The bread is used to scoop up the chicken and to dip into the sauce as you make your way through this outstanding dish.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I have made several versions of Tikka Masala as I have researched the dish and recipe tested during the development of this recipe. I had success converting this to a vegetarian dish solely using canned, drained chickpeas or with using cubed, roasted butternut squash. So, there is some leeway in the recipe if you'd like to make it a vegetarian one. I have, also, read that cauliflower florets can be a good substitute for meat in this dish.

Yields 4 - 6 servings.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Creamy Chicken and Gnocchi Soup {Olive Garden Style}

This is a hearty, comforting soup laden with pillow-y potato gnocchi, tender chunks of chicken, fresh spinach and shredded carrots. The broth is rich, creamy and ultra decadent.  This recipe is based off of a popular soup at Olive Garden. Making it at home is simple and satisfying. {Plus, you'll probably end up with leftovers ... and that's always a good thing when it comes to soup.}

If you're not familiar with gnocchi, they are Italian-style mini dumplings made from cooked potatoes and flour. You can find a plethora of recipes online if you'd like to make you own, but pre-made gnocchi are easily found in most grocery stores these days. Buying them ready-to-use is a total timesaver and there are some pretty good quality ones out there from which to choose.

Typically, packages of gnocchi can be located in the dry pasta aisle. But, gnocchi can sometimes be found frozen and even fresh at specialty markets.

In my household, we prefer this soup pretty thick. If you find that you'd like it a bit thinner, just stir in some additional chicken broth {or even hot water} at the end of cooking.

Serves 6 - 8.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Pineapple Upside Down Cake with Rum Caramel Sauce

I've amped up the flavors of a basic Pineapple Upside Down Cake recipe by adding a little splash of spiced rum to the caramel sauce here. And, I've ventured off the path of traditional canned pineapple by going "fresh" for this version. Dark brown sugar is swapped instead of light to bring some additional depth to the sauce. Note that this particular recipe, also, is a semi-homemade one. Total timesaver. A boxed cake mix is used, but between the buttery caramel sauce and rum flavor seeping into the cake as it bakes along with an upgrade to one of the ingredients called for on the box, the cake turns out just as awesome as one completely from scratch.

You'll be replacing the water called for on the box with a combo of juice and milk. Typically, I would add some of the pineapple juice to my cake batter when using canned pineapple. But, using fresh fruit meant that I didn't have that luxury. Instead, I used some 100% pineapple-orange juice along with milk in place of water. The juice doesn't overpower anything, but does lend a nice subtle flavor that is appreciated. And, the milk makes the cake a little more rich and decadent.

Much to the disappointment of my children, I withheld the maraschino cherries that I usually intermingle among the pineapple slices, but, of course, you could add a few in if you'd like.

NOTE: The brown sugar/butter "sauce" can be totally made without the addition of rum, if desired. It will still taste amazing and turn out wonderfully.

Yields 6 - 8  servings.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Slow Cooker Overnight Apple Crisp Oatmeal

We are an oatmeal-cooked-overnight-in-the-slow-cooker kind of family. It's sorta become an obsession over the past few years. We love waking up to a hearty breakfast awaiting us - especially on busy mornings. I've shared with you several variations on my basic recipe like, my carrot cake version (my personal favorite). I wanted to incorporate apples and warm, fall-inspired spices in my newest version of cooking steel cut oats in the slow cooker. But, I, also, wanted there to be a twist. My mind went to apple crisp, a dessert that I make often for my family.

The premise of this recipe is to start with steel cut oats (I really don't recommend cooking any other type of oats overnight in the slow cooker ... unless you want totally mushy oatmeal). Then, a few basic ingredients like, milk, water, brown sugar and butter get stirred in. Warm, fragrant spices like, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg are stirred in. Chunks of crisp apple are then added before lidding the slow cooker as you head off to bed.

I do top this at the time of service with an apple crisp-style topping that I make a bit prior to starting the oatmeal in the evening. (The crisp topping takes about 40 minutes to bake, but only a few minutes to prep.) It is totally optional, but therein lies the "crisp" part of the recipe. Alternatively, some store-bought basic granola could be sprinkled on top if you don't wish to make the topping from scratch.

NOTE: I cook this oatmeal in a metal bread pan that fits perfectly down into my oval slow cooker. I loosely crumple up a piece of foil, place it on the bottom of the slow cooker insert, pour in about four cups of hot water and place the bread loaf pan atop the foil. A steam effect is created. Following this method ensures that the oatmeal does not burn and clean-up is a lot easier. This, also, ensures that the oatmeal stays moist and very creamy.

Yields 4 - 6 servings.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Apple Upside Down Bread Pudding

Just in time to kick off the fall season ... crisp apples, brown sugar and warm spices come together in this easy-to-assemble dessert. Bread pudding is one of the simplest desserts to make. This is essentially a bread pudding, but has similarities to an upside-down cake. Serving it warm, room temperature or cold is up to you. But, topping it with a dusting of powdered sugar, vanilla ice cream or homemade whipped cream is totally recommended.

The recipe begins with some melted butter and brown sugar marrying in the bottom of a cake pan. A sprinkling of sliced almonds is nestled around the slices of apple - just for some added crunch. Day-old bread chunks are mixed up with a vanilla custard that has been kissed with cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. The custard-y bread is pressed into the buttery brown sugar and apple layer. Baked gently to keep everything moist and gooey, this dessert - once set a bit - is turned out onto a pretty cake platter for presentation and service to guests.

In regards to the bread, I've found that the sky is almost the limit when it comes to making bread pudding. I've used dinner rolls, sliced bread, buns and even leftover donuts. Sometimes I have even used a combination of different types of bread that I had on hand. I prefer to use day-old bread that is a little on the stale side, but I do recommend to, at least, allow the bread chunks to sit out on the counter to dry out a little before making this recipe if you're using very fresh bread.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Southern-Style Sausage Gravy {Over Biscuits}

My Kentucky-born grandmother was the queen (in my book) of making the most magnificent biscuits and "white pepper gravy" loaded with chunks of browned breakfast sausage. Weekend breakfasts of Sausage Gravy and Biscuits were a staple in my childhood. I am always leery ordering the same when I am dining out because there is rarely an occasion when the gravy comes close to measuring up to my grandmother's version.

So, I make it often at home. I wasn't lucky enough to have my grandma's recipe written down ... and frankly, I highly doubt she ever had or followed an actual recipe. But, I did spend years by her side watching and helping her prepare this dish. And, after many years of tweaking and perfecting the recipe as an adult myself, I think I now come close to what was served to me as a child.

I want to mention that the purpose of this post is to share with you my gravy recipe - not a biscuit recipe. Being honest, I often cheat and purchase frozen biscuits that simply need baked off in the oven. However, when I do take the time to make biscuits from scratch, I almost always use Alton Brown's Southern Biscuits recipe. I've found the recipe to be the best for yielding ultra-soft, tender, fluffy biscuits that most resemble my grandmother's.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Simple Method of Freezing Raw, Whole Tomatoes

My mother-in-law cans TONS of tomatoes each and every year. She is nice enough to pass along several jars to us for use throughout the winter months. We utilize most of the canned tomatoes from her in chili. This summer, we ended up with an abundance of fresh tomatoes ourselves, but I am not someone who enjoys (or even does well at) canning. So, I set out to research the method of freezing whole, raw tomatoes. And, I have to say that I am incredibly surprised at how easy the "process" is and how awesome it is to freeze tomatoes at summer's end.

The method is a quick and simple one. I was able to get six gallon-size freezer bags (with 6 - 7 large tomatoes in each bag) processed from start to finish in about an hour. (That's definitely quite a bit quicker than going through the canning process.)

Obviously, freezing tomatoes will change their consistency. The tomatoes work best - once thawed - used in recipes where the food will be cooked (soups, stews, chili and sauces). Using or serving the thawed tomatoes raw is not recommended as they will be a little mushy after their time in the freezer.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Graham Banana Bread with Cinnamon-Spiced Glaze

I have made many styles of banana bread throughout the years. Some large loaves. Some in muffin form. Some with chocolate chips included. Some with a crumb topping. Some have been successes. And, some have been down-right flops. This recipe, however, has become our family’s favorite banana bread. It’s not often that every single household member - all five of us - in the JD home agrees that a specific recipe is a winner. I have somewhat of a picky gang to feed. With this banana bread, every single one of my crew couldn’t get enough of these adorable, scrumptious loaves of banana bread goodness.

I combine finely-crushed graham crackers with the flour in this recipe. The result makes for a slightly chewier bread with a subtle flavor note of graham. A plethora of autumn-style spices come together, as well, in this bread that really enhance the banana flavor. But, it's the simple cinnamon glaze that - in my opinion - take these little breads over the top.

It's an easy recipe that doesn't take long to prepare. Frankly, waiting for the breads to fully cool prior to glazing (and eating) is the hardest part.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Chicken and Biscuits Casserole {No Canned Soups}

There's little more comforting than homemade Chicken and Dumplings. This recipe is a slight twist on the classic version. The recipe begins with a couple of chicken breasts simmered until tender in a rich, savory broth. Next, the broth is thickened with a cornstarch slurry and a splash of heavy cream. Then, instead of dropping biscuit dough into the thick, steamy broth to cook on the stove top, the chicken and "gravy" is loaded into a casserole dish, topped with half-moons of buttermilk biscuits and popped into the oven to bake to golden, bubbly bliss.

The result is the familiar flavors present in classic Chicken and Dumplings, of course, But, the biscuits are taken to new heights due to the browning on top of the casserole. The bottoms of the biscuits bake up - moist and soft - submerged in bubbling gravy while the tops of the biscuits puff up to golden, magical perfection.

Serves 4 - 6.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Potato and Sweet Corn Chowder

Tender chunks of potatoes and crisp, fresh-off-of-the-cob sweet corn come together in this thick, ultra-luxurious chowder that is just perfect for the transitional weeks between late-summer and early-fall. Sweet corn is in abundance. Many of us start experiencing cooler evenings. And, if you're anything like me, cravings for fall and soup weather creep up oh, right around mid-August. This is a great way to satisfy those yearnings.

Don't get me wrong ... this is an awesome chowder to make at any given time of the year. It's the ultimate comfort food for cold, blizzard-y evenings in say, January or ideal for lunch on a cool, rainy Sunday in April. If you can't get your hands on fresh sweet corn, frozen corn that has been thawed would be a great substitution. But, frankly, I think there's little more fabulous this time of the year than at-its-peak sweet corn. Incorporating a few ears into this chowder is highly recommended. And, don't throw out those stripped ears of corn after cutting the kernels off ... toss a few into the chowder as it cooks for extra flavor. Absolutely amazing.

Yields 4 - 6 servings.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Touchdown Loaded Mexican Bean Dip

When you need a fun, hearty dip for parties, game night at home or family movie night, this fabulous recipe is the answer. It's, also, awesome for packing up to take along when tailgating. It has a lot of things going for it. It comes together in just a matter of a few minutes. It is the perfect make-ahead dip. It's pretty inexpensive to make. And, it's easily customizable. Oh, and it's just downright delicious and always impresses.

The base is a couple of cans of refried beans that get seasoned up with spices that you probably already have on hand. A layer of sour cream gets spread on top of the bean layer. Then, the sky is really the limit as to the toppings that you heap on top. Basically, anything that you like on tacos can make an appearance here ... cheese, lettuce, avocado, onions, olives, tomatoes or jalapeƱos. Serve the whole thing up with tortilla or corn chips. Super amazing.

Friday, August 12, 2016

No-Bake Triple Coconut Mini Cheesecakes with Pretzel Graham Crust

I've shared a plethora of desserts with you here on the blog. This one, though ... this one is pretty darn scrumptious and one that just might "take the (cheese)cake." I didn't necessarily set out to create a mind-blowing, so-good-ya-need-to-smack-yer-momma type of recipe with this one ... I was simply working this past week in the kitchen testing out some different ideas that I had for incorporating coconut into cheesecake. I wanted something simple. I wanted something that didn't require the oven be fired up. (It is mid-August after all.) And, I really wanted a cheesecake that I could work coconut into in a few different ways.

I adore the flavor of coconut - especially toasted coconut. And, I adore cheesecake (but, I usually hate the hassle of making it from scratch).

So, I tinkered around with a few boxes of no bake cheesecake mix (found in the pudding and gelatin section) that I had stashed in my cupboard. (What a time-saver.) This recipe, basically, takes a couple of boxes of cheesecake mix (no shame in my game) and turns them into magical, coconut-y bliss in the form of mini cheesecakes. I truly do prefer to make things from scratch in my kitchen. But, as a busy mom, wife, blogger and super hero (ha!), I, occasionally, take a little help where I can get it when I'm in a hurry (or just feeling lazy). Typically, though, if I do use a boxed mix of some sort (like cheesecake mix or cake mix), I put my own spin on things. Jazz it up. Make it my own.

For this recipe, I fancied up the crust by incorporating some crushed pretzels and coconut oil (in addition to the butter) into the crushed graham crackers included in the boxed mix. I, then, subbed in canned coconut milk in place of the regular milk. Finally, I topped the cheesecakes with toasted coconut.

When it all comes together, it is heavenly. A little saltiness is present in the crust due to the pretzel inclusion. The cheesecake is ultra creamy and luxurious with just a hint of coconut flavor. And, the toasted coconut brings amazing texture and really drives home the coconut flavor.

NOTE: I choose to utilize my muffin tins that have jumbo/king size wells. However, this could be made in traditional muffin tins, if desired. Obviously, the result would be smaller cheesecakes, but the recipe would yield a larger quantity of cakes. Additionally, this could easily be made into one large cheesecake by using a large pie pan or medium size casserole-style glass dish.

Yields 8 mini cheesecakes. (See NOTE above.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Sixteen Sensational Salads to Make Before Summer Ends

For many of us, we'll soon be turning our thoughts to stews, soups, casseroles and baking as we look ahead to the cooler fall weather on the horizon. But, there's still a few weeks to savor these final hot days of summer. Don't let them slip by without pause to enjoy some warm weather pleasures. A few more chances to fire up the grill. A few more lazy moments to sip some icy, refreshing drinks on the porch. A few more weekends for friends and family to come together to eat, swim, visit and play.

I've brought together sixteen must-make salads that are a perfect way to embrace the flavors and ingredients of summer ... before it's too late. Whether you're looking for a healthful pasta salad to serve up as a side dish at your next cookout, a simple loaded salad bowl for a weeknight family dinner or a killer chicken salad to spoon into flakey croissants for lunch ... I've got you covered with this list of sensational salads.

Friday, August 05, 2016

Creamy Balsamic Corn and Sun Dried Tomato Pasta Salad

I am a sucker for pasta salads during the summer. I have a few favorites like, my Veggie Overload Pasta Salad and my Mandarin Orange and Spinach Pasta Salad {with Teriyaki Dressing}. This version is loaded up with fresh-from-the-garden sweet corn, chopped sun dried tomatoes, a variety of other fresh vegetables and some fun, twirl-y pasta. And, although those components are all fabulous in their own rights, it's really the creamy dressing that makes this pasta salad swoon worthy. A hint of fresh garlic, a little oil, a few spices, some dashes of a good-quality balsamic vinegar and creamy mayonnaise get whisked up together to create what I consider the ultimate pasta salad dressing.

Of course, you can choose to switch up the veggies that you use, but this recipe calls for a combination that I find works great together. The sweetness and pop of the fresh corn compliments the chewy, flavor-packed sun dried tomatoes. The cucumber lends a cool, refreshing component to the salad while the radish brings a slight peppery "bite" to the party. And, a subtle onion flavor is present by way of the scallions.

I've chosen an Italian Trottole pasta (such a neat shape), but any small or medium size pasta works here. Just be sure not to overcook the pasta ... you certainly don't want mushy noodles in this fabulous summertime side dish.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

SeparAide - Revolutionize How You Use Your Slow Cooker

My loyal readers are well aware that I utilize my slow cooker quite regularly. In the cooler months of the year when my family is super busy and always on the go, the slow cooker is my go-to for ensuring that I have home-cooked, wholesome meals ready at day's end for my family. In the warmer months, my slow cooker allows me to keep my oven off (and kitchen cool) while still cooking up some of my family's favorite comforting dishes.

I was recently introduced to an exciting new product, the SeparAide. It is a kitchen-grade silicone slow cooker strainer that will revolutionize that way that we use our slow cookers. I am working with SeparAide™ to share their concept with folks who love cooking and those who often turn to their slow cookers when preparing meals for their families.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Chocolate Crunch Mocha Mini Trifles

If you're looking for a simple-to-prepare dessert that is loaded with decadent chocolate and rich coffee flavor, these Chocolate Crunch Mocha Mini Trifles might just be your ticket to indulgent bliss. There are so many wonderful textures and flavors layered up in this dessert. Coffee-infused vanilla pudding and crushed chocolate sandwich cookies collide with chunks of moist chocolate cake in this magical treat. Smooth whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles finish off the layers in this crowd-pleasing dessert.

I love mini desserts. They are so much fun to serve and even more fun to eat. I shared my Black Forest Mini Trifles with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream with you just before Christmas last year. This dessert is quite similar in terms of preparation and presentation. I utilize a store-bought cake mix and boxed pudding mix here to make my time (and mess) in the kitchen less. I do make my whipped cream from scratch, but, of course, you could use a store-bought frozen whipped topping if you want to hasten things even more during prep time.

Note that I do recommended assembling these, at least, a few hours in advance - even better if it can be the day before. However, I recommend waiting to add the chocolate sprinkles until shortly prior to service ... especially if presentation is important to you. The sprinkles can "bleed" into the whipped cream if placed on the trifles too far in advance.

Yields 8 mini trifles.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Lemon Cake Mix Puppy Chow

I think most of us know (and love) traditional Puppy Chow ("Muddy Buddies"). I've made several versions of the original throughout the years. Since we are in the middle of summer (and lots of hot temps) right now, I was pondering trying a more "refreshing" version. The flavor of lemon immediately came to mind.

Using a lemon cake mix makes this recipe so super simple. In just a matter of like, five minutes you can be enjoying this addicting, sweet Lemon Cake Mix Puppy Chow.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Mandarin Orange and Spinach Pasta Salad {with Teriyaki Dressing}

I am so excited to share this recipe with you because it's just such a delicious twist on basic, traditional pasta salad. It may sound odd to have a pasta salad with sweet components, but I promise you that every single ingredient comes together so beautifully and cohesively. The dressing alone is so incredibly, insanely good and addictive. (I seriously cannot wait to try it brushed and glazed on grilled chicken.) Forget about ho-hum pasta salad. I believe that this recipe will really surprise you and become a favorite during these warm summer months.

I am sure that you could easily make this a more-complete meal by serving some grilled shrimp or chicken on top of the salad. But, I have been simply enjoying this as a light lunch all throughout the past week. It seems to keep well for several days in the fridge, so I've found myself munching on it quite a bit. I've made it twice now in the past two weeks. I just can't seem to get enough.

Once again - you'll flip over the dressing. It begins with a base of store-bought teriyaki sauce. (I prefer Kikkoman Teriyaki Baste & Glaze.) Vinegar, a little sugar, some neutral oil and a few spices are whisked in to make what becomes a killer sauce. It gets poured over and tossed with pasta, spinach, Mandarin orange slices and a few other perfectly-paired up ingredients. The result is a unique, healthful, fresh and vibrant pasta salad that I hope you'll really come to love.

Serves 4 - 5.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Chili Lime Chicken Taco Salad

Summertime means lots of salads in the Joyously Domestic household. We eat salad quite regularly as our full meal when temps get up in the eighties and nineties this time of year. Some of our favorites are my Berry "Peachy Keen" Grilled Chicken Salad Bowl, my Easy Vegetarian Taco Salad, my Moroccan Quinoa and Bulgur Salad and my Mexicali Loaded Salad Bowl with Creamy Avocado Lime Dressing . I always buy a plethora of fresh produce each week and like to keep the ingredients for many of my go-to salads on hand. So, it's a breeze to whip up quick, light meals for us on busy weeknights ... or when we're being lazy on the weekends and don't want to put much effort into dinner.

This particular salad includes some killer grilled chicken that has real amped up flavor. I like that a couple of chicken breasts stretch to feed several people, so it's a pretty inexpensive salad to toss together. For this salad, I like old-school iceberg lettuce for the base. I, then, arrange the taco salad toppings that my family prefers on top. We serve this with fresh-cut avocado, lots of sour cream and hot sauce alongside. And, don't forget the nacho, corn or tortilla chips ... they are the cat's meow, so-to-speak, crushed atop the salad at time of service.

Simple. Flavorful. Inexpensive. A perfectly refreshing, healthful and bountiful salad for those nights when you don't want anything too heavy for dinner, yet something delicious and satisfying is in order.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Cool & Creamy Vegetable Party Dip

I almost feel silly posting this recipe because it is just so darn simple. But, maybe that's a good thing and even more reason to share it with you. I think we all are constantly on the look-out for quick, no-fuss recipes that we can prepare with simple ingredients and little prep. This is totally one of those recipes. A raw vegetable platter is an ideal dish to take along to parties and it's something healthy that guests can nibble on all throughout the event. This dip, also, is something to keep on hand throughout the week in the fridge to dip fresh veggies into when cravings for a snack hit.

I keep washed, prepped vegetables in the fridge pretty much on a constant basis. I can grab fresh, raw veggies throughout my busy day without having to stop to wash, trim or cut up anything. And, I like some type of a dip alongside. Sometimes it something simple like, some carrots and celery plunged into peanut butter. Other times, my dip of choice is some version of hummus. And, when I'm in the mood for something creamy, I turn to this dip. It's full of flavor and is so much better than any store-bought dip out there.

NOTE: This is, also, fantastic to dollop atop corn or zucchini fritters. And, if you substitute 4 ounces of room temperature cream cheese for half of each amount of the mayo and sour cream, it makes a great spread for crackers or crisp pita.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Smooth and Creamy Potato Soup

I have shared with you a few different potato soup recipes here on the blog. I make many variations like, my Ultimate Loaded Baked Potato Soup, my Sweet Corn, Potato and Sausage Soup with Kale and my Ham and Potato Chowder with Homemade Croutons. And, even though I really have never met a potato soup that I didn't like, there are some that I favor and seem to make time and time again. This recipe is one such recipe. I first began making this soup after seeing a version of it made by Ree Drummond. The smooth, blended aspect of her recipe appealed to me. I think so many of us are used to thick, chunky versions of potato soup. This recipe is just a tad bit different and one that I fell in love with after my first spoonful. It, for some reason, feels lighter than typical potato soup (even though it is finished with cream) and it's a soup that doesn't feel heavy even when eaten during these warmer spring/summer months. It feels almost velvety on the tongue and is just so dang luxurious-tasting.

This recipe is an uncomplicated one, but one that is built upon layers of flavor. Onions, carrots and celery are the vegetable combo that is the soup's foundation. Once diced potatoes are added and simmered in chicken stock, the soup is thickened a bit with a flour and milk mixture. Then, the soup is blended to the smoothness of your preference (I like mine mostly silky-smooth with just a few tiny bits of vegetables remaining). The whole thing is finished with cream and served with the garnishments of your choice.

Note that this soup reheats wonderfully and in my opinion, is even better the next day.

Yields 6 - 8 servings.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Easy Vegetarian Taco Salad

Simple meals are a lifesaver on busy days in our house. With a hubby gone for his job about seventy hours a week right now, my blogging work and the kids' extra-curricular activities, things can get pretty chaotic. Still, we try to sit down as often as possible - around the table - to enjoy a meal together. This Vegetarian Taco Salad is often a go-to for us. I can, literally, whip it up in like, fifteen minutes (or less) and it's filling enough to satisfy my crew. We are big on loaded salads and loaded rice/grain bowls in our house. They just seem to come together quickly and simply when life gets crazy. (Some other favorites? This ONE and this ONE.)

Recently, our seventeen-year old daughter had her first prom. What a fun experience. As her mom, it was so cool for me to help her find just the right dress, assist in planning her hair-do, help hunt for the perfect pair of shoes and spend the day helping her get ready for the big night. This salad is what the rest of the family had for dinner after she headed out the door that evening. (Ya know, once the whirlwind of craziness died down and this mom could catch her breath a bit.)

I tend to keep the ingredients for this salad on hand so that I can toss this together when I'm short on time or things are hectic. Since we are huge fans of Mexican food, taco salads go over well. I do sometimes include some grilled chicken, but more often than not, I serve this vegetarian-style. A drained can of chili beans lends some spice and protein here. And, I usually keep cooked rice in the freezer just for dishes such as this one. I just season it up a bit with some ground cumin and a little salt for this salad. And, yes, I know ... nacho cheese chips. A somewhat unhealthy-ish inclusion to an otherwise healthful salad I suppose. But, golly dang .. they kind of "make" the salad if you ask me. So, I would probably just go ahead and throw them in there if I were you. Afterall, Y.O.L.O! (Shhhh! Don't tell my kids I just typed that. I embarrass them enough and I'm told that Y.O.L.O is so like, three years ago or something.)

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Ultimate Loaded Baked Potato Salad

With grilling season and summer gatherings right around the corner, I thought I'd share my recipe for one killer of a summertime side dish. Potato salad is pretty much a staple at most warm-weather get-togethers. {I actually love potato salad so much that I make it two or three times a month from spring until fall.} I've taken the traditional potato salad and given it one heck of a make-over. It's quite the upgrade actually. Here, we've, basically, got the working parts of a potluck favorite combined with everything we all love about a loaded baked potato.

The result of this marriage is something pretty darn amazing. I start with baking the potatoes instead of boiling them. Once removed from the oven and cut into chunks, the potatoes then get a good dousing of vinegar while they are still warm. (I use the vinegar trick for any potato salad recipe that I make. I think I learned it from watching Emeril years ago. He said that he considers potatoes "most vulnerable" while they are still hot and more easily "accepting" of the vinegar.)

For the dressing, a little sour cream is incorporated in with the mayo for the perfect tangy zip and to mimic those flavors found in loaded baked potatoes. Crispy bacon, lots of scallions (or chives) and shredded cheese get folded in for the perfect "bang" in this firecracker of a potato salad.

Yields 8 - 10 servings.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

I've been eating a good deal less meat and embracing more of a plant-based diet in recent months. I've not necessarily went all-out vegetarian, but I don't eat much meat on a regular basis. So, I've begun to get more and more creative with swapping in veggies, grains or the like for meat in my favorite dishes lately. (I've recently fallen in love with lentils in place of ground beef in Sloppy Joe Sandwiches, for example.) Since I adore the flavors of Buffalo chicken, I thought I'd take a run at modifying the standard utilizing a little creativity involving cauliflower.

The verdict: I'm like, totally addicted. I could not shovel these little cauliflower bites into my mouth fast enough while I was testing this recipe. I, honestly, did not feel as if I were missing out on anything. In fact, I pretty much prefer this recipe now over using chicken.

The buttery, perfectly-spicy wing sauce is right there in the forefront of each bite followed by the cool relief of creamy blue cheese dressing. And, of course these have to be served with crisp, refreshing celery sticks ... following suit in honor of the original.

I will say that because these bites are baked and not fried, don't expect as crisp of an outer texture on the cauliflower pieces as you're probably used to with Buffalo wings. (I'm sure these could be deep-fried once battered if you're so inclined.) And, although it does take ten minutes or so to dip each little floret into the batter individually before baking, this recipe is a very simple one and comes together quite easily.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Ultimate Morning Glory Muffins

My mother made Morning Glory Muffins all during my childhood. I didn't care for them much when I was young, but came to totally love them by the time that I reached my teens. They fueled me through Saturday volleyball tournaments, road trips with friends and shifts working at our local grocery store. They are hearty, hefty, healthful and downright delicious muffins that hold a special place in my heart.

I shared my mother's version on the blog a few years ago. And, while those are fabulous in their own right, I have come to prefer this version these days. The recipes aren't incredibly different, but these do have the inclusion of crushed pineapple (which adds a ton of moisture and additional flavor to the muffins) and I've made a few other changes that I think make these the Ultimate Morning Glory Muffins.

These muffins are loaded with a bounty of ingredients like, grated carrots, chopped apples, shredded coconut, dried fruit, crushed pineapple, grated zucchini and lots of flavor-boosting spices. The ingredient list may seem long, but the majority of the items are pantry staples that most of us tend to keep on hand. And, the ingredients that you may need to purchase are typically pretty inexpensive ones. You get a lot of "bang for your buck" with these muffins as they are super filling. Just one muffin usually does a great job of really keeping the belly full in between meals or stepping up to the plate as a grab-and-go breakfast option. They freeze incredibly well (I think they are best eaten chilled, by the way), so making a large batch to keep in the freezer throughout the week is so handy.

Yields 12 - 14 Muffins

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Slow Cooker White Pork Chili

With spring just around the corner, I've been trying to work in a few last-minute, end-of-winter comfort food dishes before we turn to a bit lighter fare. My hubby and sons adore chili, so I've been working on a white chili recipe to sub in for my traditional tomato-based, red bean chili ... just to give them something a little different and to mix things up.

The result of my recent testing and experimentation is this amazing White Pork Chili that comes together so easily and beautifully in the slow cooker. There isn't a ton of heat in this recipe, but the chili is still super flavorful due to the inclusion of cumin, chili powder, garlic, oregano and fire-roasted green chiles.

You could easily sub in chicken in place of the pork. (No need to sear the meat if using chicken.) Or, if you wanted to make this vegetarian, just omit the meat and swap in vegetable stock for the chicken stock.

I used a large variety of beans, but you could successfully just use two or three kinds. I would just be sure to try to include the can of White Chili Beans since they come in a mild chili sauce that is part of the flavor component in this recipe. Note that the beans are not added into the chili until the last hour of cooking to prevent them from becoming overly mushy.

Yields 6 - 8 servings.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Baked Apple, Chocolate & Almond Oatmeal

I'm not going to beat around the bush. I'm not gonna sugarcoat anything. I am simply going to get straight to the point and tell ya like it is. You need this oatmeal in your life. Seriously. Like, if I could convince you to make only one recipe from my blog, I think it would be this one. Baked oatmeal - done right - can be life-changing.

It may not be fancy. It may not look like much. Heck, I'm sure you're thinking that I am crazy getting all coo-coo over oatmeal. But, there are just so many reasons why baked oatmeal rules. It's an incredibly, insanely inexpensive recipe to make. It is healthful and filling. It's an awesome dish to feed a crowd if you happen to have guests in town or friends over for brunch. The possibilities to flavor it and change it up to suit your fancy are endless. If you're making it for only one or two people initially, you'll have leftovers (which means you can have breakfast ready to pop in the microwave throughout the week). And, most importantly - it takes almost ZERO time of hands-on work.

Have I convinced you yet?

This particular recipe calls for steel cut oats, so make sure you are not using rolled oats. The recipe requires that you soak the oats overnight in water so that they cook up quicker in the morning. So, don't forget that step. And, I really encourage you to try using a dark chocolate infused with chili (THIS is my favorite) for this recipe. Any type of chocolate should work (probably even chocolate chips), but there's just something magical about the tiny bit of heat that comes from using spicy chocolate in this recipe.

Yields 4 - 6 servings.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Throwing A Chili Party {Plus A Bonus Sweet Potato Chili Recipe}

Hosting a party can be stressful for so many of us ... especially when deciding what to serve to our guests. Setting up a chili bar when entertaining is so much fun and a total crowd-pleaser. The pressure is off of the host during the party and it allows for a casual environment wherein everyone can serve themselves while building their own ultimate bowl of chili. It's the perfect way to entertain when having friends over for game day or movie night.

I've assembled some simple tips/ideas for hosting a Chili Party that'll make the day go smoothly and make YOU a total rock star. Also, you'll find the recipe for my Vegetarian Sweet Potato Chili at the end of the post. (It is my ultra-favorite chili recipe.)

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Simple Hummus {without Tahini}

I've been eating hummus for a long time. It's one of my favorite dips to have with veggies for a snack. However, one of the main ingredients in hummus - tahini (a sesame seed paste) - can be a little on the expensive side and hard to find for some. And, I never seem to use it fast enough when I do buy it since hummus is really the only recipe in which I use tahini. So, it often goes bad before it's used up. In this recipe, I start with toasted sesame seeds that I make into a paste myself. It eliminates the need for purchasing tahini.
I pretty much always have the other main ingredients (chickpeas, olive oil, garlic and lemons) for hummus on hand. And, I buy sesame seeds in bulk at my local health food store very inexpensively. So, this is a fabulous recipe to have in my back pocket to whip up whenever the mood for hummus strikes or for when an occasion comes up last-minute that I need something snack-y to serve on the fly.

You can embellish hummus any way that you like. It's so easily adaptable. Roasted red peppers are a great addition. I sometimes like chopped green olives sprinkled on top of my hummus for a briny kick. You can add in your choice of herbs or spices to change up the flavors, too. Some prefer garnishing hummus with whole, cooked chickpeas, olive oil and a sprinkling of paprika. And, hummus can be served with pita bread/chips, raw veggies or crackers.

Yields roughly 2 1/2 cups.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Blueberry Vanilla Bean Bread Pudding

This recipe is incredibly simple and quick to throw together. Some of my bread pudding recipes are loaded with a long list of ingredients, but this one requires just a handful of basic pantry/fridge staples and some berries. Everything comes together beautifully to create a dish that can be served for breakfast, brunch or dessert.

If you have some day-old bread, milk, eggs and sugar, you have the foundation for bread pudding. From there, it's pretty much just about flavoring(s) and any add-ins that suit your fancy. I love the combination of blueberries, lemon and vanilla. (Here, I've utilized a vanilla bean to amp up the vanilla flavor, but a good-quality vanilla extract would work wonderfully, as well.)

Whether you serve this hot out of the oven, at room temperature or cold out of the fridge is entirely up to you. I have found that most people who enjoy bread pudding have an opinion on which of the three they prefer. So, it's totally up to you.

Yields 6 - 8 servings.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Ribollita {Tuscan Soup}

Ribollita is a hearty Tuscan soup. There are many variations, but most recipes include beans, vegetables and bread. I've, basically, declared it my new favorite comfort food recipe of 2016. I think you'll find that it's a great new soup recipe for you to try out this year ... and one that you'll come back to time and time again once you've tried it.

What makes this soup so amazing?

For starters, it's bitter cold here in Michigan right now and well, soup is warm. Pretty self-explanatory.

Secondly, I like that this is a vegetarian soup. My twenty-three year old daughter has been a vegetarian for years and I've come to follow a mostly vegetarian diet most days. This is a pretty healthy soup ... perfect for kicking off the new year.

Lastly, the ingredient list is a budget-friendly one. Grab some dried beans, water, a few veggies, a tiny bit of marinara sauce and some bread ... and you've got yourself the makings of a big pot of heavenly soup. (Splurge a little on some real-deal Parmigiano-Reggiano, though ... totally worth it and it really finishes the soup perfectly!)

Serves 4 - 6.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

A Peek Around The Joyously Domestic Kitchen

I shared with you My $500 Kitchen Remodel not too long ago. I, personally, love getting to look inside the homes of others. The nosey inquisitive part of me loves seeing how people live, so I thought maybe you'd be curious to peek behind the scenes so-to-speak in the Joyously Domestic Kitchen. I've shared my recipes and stories with you for a few years now, so I figured I'd share a glimpse into the space in which I love to spend most of my time - my kitchen. It's not glamorous or extravagant by any means. But, I thought I'd show you the spot where I test and prepare the recipes that I share with all of you here on the blog.

First, here is an overall shot of my kitchen (in case you missed my recent post regarding the inexpensive, but painstakingly time-consuming updates we made just after getting the keys to our new place).

Friday, January 01, 2016

Chocolate Chunk Glazed Doughnut Bread Pudding

I know that many of us are embarking upon resolutions to eat healthy as we start the new year. So, I do apologize upfront for tempting you with this over-the-top sensation that is Glazed Doughnut Bread Pudding.  But, I just had to shout from the rooftops how aaahh-maaaay-zzzzing this little ditty of a recipe truly is. So, maybe take a deep breath and hear me out?

This is heavenly. This is sinful. Yes, it's both. But, darn it ... it is fabulously worth every calorie.

The most dangerous thing about this recipe? It takes like, only a handful of minutes when it comes to prep time. So, it's almost way too easy to create something this naughty. Again, I am sorry. But, "everything in moderation" really is a great motto to live by when it comes to food indulgences. So, allow that to apply with regards to this decadent recipe, then smile and savor.

Yields 6 - 8 servings.