Monthly Archives: July 2012

Cherry Almond Cream Cheese Danish Braid

I loved going to my OB appointments.  One, my OB was the nicest and most professional doctor I have ever met.  Two, the hospital offered fresh pastries every single time we went.  So, after my appointments, Binks and I would grab a coffee and pastry downstairs.    Luckily, my appointments became more frequent towards the end of my pregnancy.

After I delivered, I was very sad that I wouldn’t see my OB anymore.  He shared the most important part of my life with us and then, just like that, he was gone.  I remember wishing he could be Isaiah’s pediatrician.  Not possible.

After my delivery, holding that danish, I surprised myself at how much I would miss these danishes.  Paired with a dark roast coffee, the flaky pastry paired with sweet cherries and a hint of almond became a highlight to the day.  I wished I could repeat this experience as often as I wanted.  Quite possible.

Turns out, as with most things, the homemade version is way better.  Using fresh cherries and controlling the sugar, you can get a result that highlights the fresh cherries without being overly sweet.  Feel free to use fresh cherries, but I used frozen cherries because I had it on hand.

Cherry Almond Cream Cheese Danish Braid

Serves 4-6


  • 1 puff pastry sheet, thawed

Cream cheese filling:

  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract

Cherry filling:

  • 2 cups of frozen or fresh cherries (keep juice if frozen)
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar*
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract


  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp milk, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds


  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Prepare cream cheese filling:  Mix together the cream cheese, sugar, and almond extract.  Set aside.
  3. Prepare cherry filling:  In a saucepan, over medium heat, add cherries, water, juice, sugar, and cornstarch, and bring to a boil.  Once at a boil, reduce the heat to low and stir in almond extract.  Mix over low heat until  the sauce thickens.  Remove from heat and cool.
  4. Roll puff pastry into a thin 12 x 12 square.  I roll to about 1/4 inch thick.
  5. Evenly spread cream cheese mixture down the middle third of the pastry.  Place cherry filling on top.
  6. Using a pizza cutter, cut the outer third edges diagonally, spaced about an inch apart.  Then, criss-cross the cut edges to form  braid.
  7. Place onto parchment paper and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes., rotate halfway during baking.
  8. While baking prepare the glaze by mixing the powdered sugar and milk together until smooth.  Thin the glaze to your desired consistency.  Brush the glaze onto the danish while it’s still hot.
  9. Serve warm.


Filed under baking, Breakfast

Stuffed Mushrooms [ & Happy Birthday]

It’s my birthday today.  Not just any birthday.  I’m officially 30.  Big one right?  I find myself not caring.  I would say that it’s because I’m too busy with a baby and business to care, but I don’t think that’s quite it.  I think it’s denial.  As if now that I’m starting my 30s, I feel a sense of filing away my 20s and accepting all that’s happened in the file as the past.  And, that’s a lot of stuff .  Namely, all that revolves around my dad.  It’s hard to file away his passing as something that has happened.  While others around me make a deal about my birthday, the one thing that stands out is that this year, my dad will not call me to say “happy birthday.”  Although seemingly minute, birthdays are the one thing we grew up caring about.  My dad would make it a point – no matter where we were in life – to always call on our birthdays.  He didn’t care much for cards or presents (bummer when we were kids!), but the words were said.  And, genuinely so.  I fully intend on carrying this tradition forward.

These stuffed mushrooms were my dad’s favorite.  People love them, but I loved that my dad loved them.  He did not like cheese or cheese-y dishes.  (One of the many ways we are different.)  However, my stuffed mushrooms were the exception.  Over time, I have perfected these to be a family favorite.  I would venture to say that this recipe is sorta my thang.  I make these mushrooms at all get-togethers where there are a manageable amount of people.  What I mean by that is a feed-able amount of people.  I wanted to make these at my baby shower, but the amount of people (50!) would not have made this dish feasible.  Although the recipe creates 12 mushrooms, I expect everyone to eat at least 3.  Case and point – I made 12 for a group of 4 and we had no left overs.  While I stand behind all the recipes I post, this one is extra special.  It’s out-of-this-world delicious and surrounded by meaningful memories.  And, those kind of memories are not so easily forgotten.

Stuffed Mushrooms

– makes 12 mushrooms


  • 12 whole white mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp garlic, minced (about 3 cloves)
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, divided in half
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs, divided in half (or fresh bread crumbs)


  1. Wash and remove the stems from the mushrooms.  Finely dice the mushroom stems.  Set aside.
  2. Heat pan over medium heat.  Add olive oil and heat.  Add the shallots, garlic and mushroom stems to the pan, and cook until the mixture is generally dry.  You want the moisture from the mushrooms to evaporate.
  3. Add black pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder.  Mix for 2 minutes.  Turn off heat and remove from the heat.
  4. Once removed from the heat, add the cream cheese, half of the Parmesan cheese (1/4 cup), and half of the Panko bread crumbs (1/4 cup).  Stir until everything is incorporated and combined.
  5. Pipe into the mushrooms.  Arrange mushrooms on a baking tray.  You can refrigerate or freeze the mushrooms at this point for later use at this point.
  6. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F.
  7. In a small bowl, mix together the remaining Parmesan and bread crumbs.  Sprinkle over mushrooms.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes or until the tops are browned.


Filed under Appetizers, garlic, Life, Vegetarian

Pâte à Choux and Cream Puffs

I wasn’t kidding when I said I have discovered pastry cream.  Not quite like Gore discovered the internet, but I am obsessed.  Lately, I have been looking for reasons to make it again.  With next door neighbors coming over for a baby date, I needed a fairly easy and quick tea-time recipe to whip up.  I have put aside making cream puffs for fear that I will mess up a seemingly delicate pâte à choux  batter.  However, I have found a recipe that comes together effortlessly.

Pâte a choux [pronounced: paht-ah-shoo] comes together using ingredients you likely have on hand.  Used for either savory or sweet purposes, you really get creative with what you do with this dough.  The recipe below addresses how to make the dough for a sweet preparation.  If you wanted to make gougeres or something savory, try adding some grated cheese to the dough for a different take on a great standard recipe.

I made the pastry cream ahead of time, adding whipped cream to the mixture to give it a more pudding and pipeable consistency.  To add to the texture variety of this treat, I topped it with homemade chocolate shell.  Follow with me if you will.  At first bite, you have the crunch, followed by soft almost-flaky dough and finished with a velvety sweet pastry cream.  What is not to love?

Pâte à Choux

adapted from Steamy Kitchen via Michael Ruhlman


  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 large eggs


  1. Preheat oven to 425F.  Line baking sheets with parchment.
  2. In a large pan, bring the water and butter to a boil.
  3. Using a wooden spoon, add in the flour, salt, sugar, and vanilla,  and stir in one direction quickly.  It should come together like a ball.
  4. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of your electric mixer.  Start the mixer on medium and add all the eggs to the mixture and keep it beating until the dough becomes tacky and starts sticking to the bowl of the mixer.
  5. Here you can either (1) put everything in a piping bag and pipe small balls of dough or (2) use a cookie scoop.
  6. Bake at 425F for 10 minutes.  Reduce the oven temperature to 350F and cook for 18-30 minutes, depending on the  size of your puffs.
  7. Let cool a bit and then fill with pastry cream (recipe below).

Pastry Filling

adapted from my pastry cream recipe



  1. In your electric mixer, whip up the cream until it forms soft peaks.
  2. Add the pastry cream to the whipped cream and combine until you reach a pudding consistency.
  3. Pipe using a piping bag.



Filed under Desserts, Frostings & Fillings, Pastries, Uncategorized

Layered Mediterranean Dip

I adore Mediterranean food.  I love it just short of formally announcing that I may love it more than Indian food.  Offering fresh, light and bold flavors, the Mediterranean flavor profile is up my culinary alley.  We make Mediterranean food quite often at home, including falafel and hummus.  Homemade pita chips and hummus often serve as a snack-turned-into-dinner after a late work day.  This time, I wanted to jazz up our usual with added texture and flavor.  I had bookmarked this recipe since the first day I saw it.  With this recipe, it’s either go bold or go home.

Preparing this dish could not have been easier.  However, from start to finish, this recipe took me two hours.  Thirty minutes tops to arrange and clean up the actual dish.  However, as I was going to grab the olive oil for the final drizzle, my slippery fingers dropped my beautiful brand new bottle of the good stuff.  Bottle and oil all over my kitchen floor.  I spent an hour mopping up everything and another thirty minutes combing the floor for scraps of glass.  Bright side: I now have a clean kitchen floor.  After wrapping up the cleaning, sitting down to eat was well worth it.  Flavor upon fresh flavor, this dip had the perfect combination of crunch, creamy, tang and bite.  The toppings can be varied to your preference and tastes.

Layered Mediterranean Dip

adapted from Tasty Kitchen via Perry’s Plate


  • Cilantro Pesto
  • Hummus
  • Red onions, finely diced
  • Cucumbers, peeled and finely diced
  • Tomatoes, finely diced
  • Banana peppers, diced
  • Kalamata olives, diced
  • Feta cheese, crumbled
  • Olive oil, for drizzling


On your serving platter, spread a layer of hummus.  To the hummus, spread the cilantro pesto.  Add red onions, cucumbers tomato peppers, banana peppers, kalamata olives, and feta cheese evenly.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil.  Serve with pita chips.


Filed under Uncategorized

Donut Muffins

In our house, Sunday mornings typically consist of late mornings and donuts.  Since the baby, the first on that list has become a distant memory.  Thank goodness for the sweet glazed treats to make up for sleep deprivation.  This week, I couldn’t quite wait until Sunday.  With a guest making a quick visit to see the baby, a bite-sized treat that boasts a semblance to donuts was on the menu.

First, this is a quick and easy recipe.  This recipe came together so fast that I actually made it while baby-wearing.  I wanted to try this recipe actually, but I wanted to go with the recipe used here with fewer ingredients and a shorter preparation time.

Second, this is a keeper.  I couldn’t have been more pleased with the result.  Neither could my guest – or Binks – who ate all 24 pieces.  I was able to get my hands on 5 of them.  These donut muffins have a denser crumb than your actual yeast donuts, but still remain light and fluffy.  So light that you can actually grab and pop a lot of these in your mouth before realizing that you’ve made it through half the batch.  Next time, I’m going to double the recipe in the hopes to avoid that who’s-going-to-take-the-last-piece look I saw Binks give our guest.

Donut Muffins

– yields 24 mini muffins
– adapted from Allrecipes


  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 375F.  Grease 24 mini-muffin cups.
  2. Mix together the 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup melted butter, and nutmeg together in a large bowl.
  3. Add the vanilla extract and milk, and stir to combine.
  4. Mix in the baking powder and flour.  Don’t over mix.  Just mix to incorporate all ingredients.
  5. Fill each muffin cup halfway.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes.
  7. While the muffins are baking, mix the sugar and cinnamon in one bowl.  Set up the bowl of melted butter next to it.
  8. Once the muffins are done, remove from the oven and dip each muffin in the melted butter.  Once in the butter, mix in the cinnamon sugar to coat.  Repeat with remaining muffins.


Filed under baking, Muffins

Deviled Eggs

I only eat deviled eggs two times a year.  Fourth of July and Thanksgiving.  My mother in law prepares it for Thanksgiving lunch and I prepare it for July 4th.  Usually prepared for a potluck, picnic, or barbecue, deviled eggs are a great appetizer for the summer.  And, in the south, deviled eggs are somewhat of a staple at get-togethers.

Deviled eggs recipes are not hard to find.  It really all comes down to preference.  Some people prefer creamy and no additions, whereas others, like me, prefer a crunch.  I also prefer a bit of tang and kick.  When do I not prefer a kick?

While I prefer a crunch, I like all the crunchy items, pickles and scallions, minced down so that it doesn’t overwhelm the creaminess.  Usually I find myself just using the same ingredients in different amounts until I get the taste that I want.  I consider this somewhat of my basic recipe, but can be easily varied to your specifications.  However, I have to say that having tried it with and without, and finishing it off with smoky paprika is a must.

Now, the problem really comes down to serving size.  While on a given day, one egg is my limit, with deviled eggs, I usually find myself eating more than my fair share.

Deviled Eggs


  • 6 large eggs, hard-boiled and peeled
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp pickles, minced
  • 1 tbsp shallots, minced
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp salt, or more to taste
  • 1 tsp black ground pepper
  • 1 tsp Tabasco sauce (or other hot sauce of your preference)
  • Paprika, for sprinkling


  1. Cut each egg in half lengthwise.  Remove the yolks and place in a medium-sized bowl.
  2. Mash the yolks with a fork.
  3. Add mayo, pickles, shallots, mustard, salt, pepper and Tabasco to the yolks.  Add more salt and/or pepper based on your preference.
  4. Fill egg white ‘shell’s with the yolk filling.
  5. Sprinkle with paprika.
  6. Place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.


Filed under Uncategorized

Overnight Oats

I’m not a fan of summer.  I really do hate the heat.  I’m not really living in the best city for this.  So, when it comes to food, I do not like to incorporate more heat into my life whenever I can help it.  For instance, I’ll switch from hot coffee to iced coffee.  Soups to salads.  Hot oatmeal to overnight oats.  I’m not one to brag about oatmeal, and Binks definitely won’t brag or say anything nice about oatmeal, but overnight oats is a favorite of mine and tolerated by Binks.  That’s as high a compliment oatmeal can get from my husband.

Considering that this dish is both nutritious and easy to assemble, overnight oats is hands-down a go-to breakfast in this house.  It’s easy to grab in the morning, while taking care of a busy baby.  While I have made overnight oats without yogurt and just milk, I highly recommend using yogurt as it brings the oats to a higher level of richness and flavor.  I like my oatmeal just a little thicker than drinkable yogurt, but not so set like a custard.  Add and layer with your favorite toppings.  Bananas are a must for me for sweetness.  What are your favorite toppings?

Overnight Oats

– adapted from Katheats
– Yields about 3 servings


  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup milk (any type of milk you want)
  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt (I prefer Greek yogurt)*
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp sweetener (honey, sugar, brown sugar, Stevia, etc.)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon


  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  Cover, and place in the refrigerator overnight.  Serve cold the next morning.  Top with your desired garnishes.
*If you use unsweetened yogurt, feel free to add more sweetener with a tsp of vanilla extract.


Filed under Breakfast, Health, Vegetarian