Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Caramel Chocolate Tartlets

The other weekend, my fiancĂ© and I met up with our wedding photographers to thank them for doing such a good job on our engagement photos. Seriously, I couldn't ask for better pictures. If you are on the look-out for talented and personable photographers, check them out here! We treated them to a little Madison secret, the Chocolaterian cafe. If you love all things chocolate, you need to stop into this wonderful cafe. I ordered the caramel chocolate tart. Oh my goodness. It was oh-so-good! Naturally, I decided this had to be my next culinary adventure. 

After researching recipes, I realized it shouldn't be too difficult to make. What's the hard part about making tarts? It's finding a store that carries the pans! After a few disappointing trips, I landed at Williams-Sonoma. That store ceases to fail me! Finally, I was all set to recreate the caramel chocolate tart that I fell in love with at Chocolaterian.
This dessert has every element to satisfy any dessert craving. It's sweet, rich and topped off with a hint of salt. It's delectable flavor is perfectly enjoyed in it's tiny tartlet size.  

Caramel Chocolate Tartlets

adapted from Martha Stewart


Tart Shell
10 tbsp butter
1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 c. flour
1/2 tsp salt

Caramel Filling
1/8 c. water
1/2 c. sugar
1 tbsp corn syrup
2 tbsp butter
1/8 c. heavy cream
pinch of salt

Chocolate Ganache
1/8 c. heavy cream
1 oz. bittersweet chocolate

coarse sea salt to garnish


Tart Shell
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  
2. Cream butter and sugar. Mix in eggs.
3. Add flour and salt until combined.
4. Ball the dough and wrap up. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes but up to overnight.
5. Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch. Cut the dough to size and press into 6 tartlet pans. Chill 20 minutes.
6. If desired, cover dough with parchment paper and add pie weights. Bake 15 minutes. Remove pie weights and parchment paper. Bake another 5 minutes or until golden edges appear. Let cool.

Caramel Filling
1. Combine water, corn syrup and sugar in a sauce pan on medium to high heat. 
2. Stir sugar mixture often. It will become bubbly. 
3. Turn to low heat once mixture is an amber-yellow color. Add in butter, heavy cream and a pinch of salt. Be careful, the mixture will fizzle up. 
4. Once all combined, transfer to a glass measuring cup and distribute evenly between tartlets. 
5. Let caramel set for at least 45 minutes.

Chocolate Ganache 
1. Heat heavy cream in sauce pan until a light boil.
2. Pour hot cream over chopped chocolate that is in a glass measuring cup.
3. Once chocolate is soft and melting, stir until a smooth consistency.
4. Pour evenly over tartlets.
5. Let tartlets reach room temperature, which takes about 2 hours.

Sprinkle coarse salt over each tartlet and enjoy!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Tomato One-Pot Pasta

One of the biggest challenges I've found with working a full-time job that gets done at 5:00 everyday is making dinner.  It used to be no big deal if I was making a recipe that took half an hour to prep and then 45 minutes to cook, I would just start around 4:30 or so.  If I do that now, we're not eating dinner until 7:30 and considering that I'm usually starving by the time I get home at 6:00, that just doesn't fly.

One of the obvious solutions is to just pick recipes for weeknights that are really quick to make (I'm open to any suggestions if you have any.)  I've seen a number of one-pot pasta recipes on pinterest and different blogs so I decided to give it a try since it sounds pretty easy.  And boy was it easy.  It took me maybe 10 minutes to cut up my onion, garlic and cherry tomatoes and then I just threw everything in a pot (including the uncooked noodles) and stirred.  About 30 minutes after getting home from work, voila dinner is served.  It's almost like magic.  Almost.

I was a little worried that this pasta wasn't going to have very much flavor, but it definitely does courtesy of the red pepper flakes.  As it cooks at the water evaporates the tomatoes break down a little bit, the flavors all blend together and what remains at the end is a sauce coating the noodles that for sure is not bland.

  • 12 ounces whole wheat linguine
  • 12 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 sprigs basil (plus more for garnish if you wish)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt (plus more for seasoning to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (plus more for seasoning to taste)
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  1. In a large, straight sided skillet, combine pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, basil, oil, salt, pepper and water.
  2. Over high heat, bring to a boil.  Continue to let boil, frequently turning and stirring pasta, until pasta is al dente and water is nearly evaporated. (Around 10 minutes or so)
  3. Split between 4 bowls, season with salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish with torn basil, grated parmesan and additional oil if you please.
Recipe from Martha Stewart.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Brown Butter Roasted Banana Bread


I have not had a blog post in way too long, but all three of us are apparently on the same page with giving the blog a little bit of loving. A lot has gone on since the last time we were together on this here little blog. I moved out of my apartment of three years, went to Sydney and Thailand, moved into a new apartment, started my masters program and got the most adorable cat, Artemis, ever. I'm not technically allowed to have. Please, don't tell anyone.

I realize I just shared with the internet world that I'm housing a cat in no animal apartment, but I trust you not to tell. I'm pretty obsessed with her. I'm going to try my very best to not constantly talk about her. It has come to my attention that other people do not find her nearly as fascinating as I do, but I don't really care.

You see I have never had the privilege of having a little fur-ball companion of any sort before. It is sort of a big deal and I think I'm in love. Enough about my apparent transition to being a crazy cat lady and lets talk about banana bread.

Everyone loves banana bread and it is so easy to make. I have a tendency to make really simple things a little less simple, but what is five more minutes to add a little nutty buttery goodness to your banana bread? Its no big thing. Plus, we have all had the standard banana bread and should try something new. Right? I think so.

Browning butter is pretty easy too. Don't be afraid. Once tiny light to medium brown specks start to appear and it smells nutty you are pretty much there. Don't walk away from it at this point or you'll have burnt butter.

I also chose to roast the bananas before smashing them up and putting them in the mix. This, like the brown butter is not necessary, but it can be helpful if you have bananas that aren't so ripe. If you have super ripe bananas, go ahead and skip this step or not.

You roast them inside of their peels. After they cool, you have a super soft ripe and juicy banana awaiting you inside the peel. Be sure to peel them over a bowl so you don't loose a drop of banana flavor.

Go ahead and take a little time to make this nutty and moist banana bread this weekend. Your home will smell amazing. It is a win win situation.


3 medium bananas

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and browned
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup plain yogurt (any fat content) or buttermilk
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place the three bananas, unpeeled, evenly spaced, on the baking sheet. Bake the bananas for 10-15 minutes, until dark brown to almost black in color. Remove from oven and let cool, until ready to use.

Maintain oven temperature and grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan and set aside.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Butter will begin to foam and crackled as it melts. When the crackling subsides, the butter will begin to brown. Swirl the pan occasionally as the butter cooks. When the butter browns and begins to smell nutty, remove the pan from the burner and transfer the butter to a small bowl. Taking the butter out of the hot saucepan will stop the butter from burning. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, vanilla extract, and yogurt or buttermilk. Then add the roasted bananas by peeling them over the bowl, allowing both the banana and any juices to be combined with the egg mixture. Whisk well to combine. When the butter has cooled, whisk in the browned butter.

Add the wet ingredients, all at once to the dry ingredients. Fold together, making sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl to reveal any hidden pockets of flour. Fold in the chopped pecans. Try not to over stir the batter.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to rest in the pan for 15 minutes, before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Bread will last 4 days, well wrapped at room temperature. It will also freeze well.

Adapted from Joy the Baker

Friday, March 14, 2014

Hearty Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken pot pie has been my new craze! Since fall, whenever I've gone out to eat, I check to see if they serve chicken pot pie. Best of the best pies here in Madison has to be from the Great Dane. Hands down. Plus they serve it with a warm beer bread roll. My favorite! Pair it with a crisp glass of chardonnay and you're good to go.

Although there's butter galore and a flaky crust topping, I still would classify this recipe as a hearty and health dinner. Packed with vegetables and a lean protein, you're sure to hit a few food groups on this main dish. Plus, since it's all in one bowl, feel free to skip sides all together. Want another positive to this recipe? It can be prepared ahead of time and popped into the oven the day you want to eat it. For me, I made the pie the night before. I even had enough to freeze half to thaw the next time a crave this scrumptious pie.

Savory and filling, this chicken pot pie recipe is sure to please. And, excuse the nerd in me, but this recipe is coming just in time for Pi day! Yes, I planned making this recipe because of the mathematical day that gives us an excuse to make, eat and share all things pie.


Chicken Pot Pie

adapted from

1 c. diced potatoes
1 c. sliced carrots
1/2 c. butter
1/3 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. fresh parsley
1 1/2 c. chicken broth
3/4 c. milk
2 c. cubed chicken
1/2 c. frozen peas
1/2 c. frozen corn

Store-bought or homemade pie pastry, chilled

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Cook cubed chicken on a skillet. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
3. In a large saucepan, cover potatoes and carrots with water. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat; cover and cook for another 8-10 minutes.
4. In a dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and stir until translucent.
5. Stir in flour and seasonings. Gradually stir in broth and milk. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and stir constantly until thickened.
6. Stir in chicken, peas, corn and potato/carrot mixture. Remove from heat.
7. Unroll pie pastry and place in 9-in pie plate. Add chicken mixture. Cover with remaining pastry.
8. Bake 35 minutes or until crust is browned and mixture is hot.
9. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Salted Caramel Brownies

One thing that I love to do for people on their birthdays is bake them something, because duh, calories don't count when it's your birthday so it's the perfect day for indulgence.  I usually let the person pick whatever dessert they want and then I try my darndest whether I've made it before or not.  It usually comes with a disclaimer if I'm trying out a new recipe.
Like last year my brother-in-law requested a marble cake.  Having never made a marble cake before I found what I assumed would be a reliable recipe since it was from Food & Wine and got a lot of really good reviews.  I don't know what I did wrong though because what I created was a dense, dry cake that I'm pretty sure half of it got thrown away.
Last week was one of my co-worker's birthdays and her request was for salted caramel brownies, a new but really scrumptious sounding dessert.  I gave the usual disclaimer and decided that I wanted to do it right, which meant making my own caramel.  I've heard horror stories about making caramel, so obviously I was basically expecting a disaster before it even began.
I found this recipe on Smitten Kitchen and decided to go with it, it was the one.  She made making caramel look so easy (who would've thunk?)  The caramel making nightmares started to go away.  My palms got less sweaty at the thought of it.  I was honestly still a little skeptical though.  But when push came to shove, it actually ended up being pretty simple.  The hardest part actually ended up being cutting the caramel into pieces since it's on the harder rather than chewy side so that it melts better with the batter.
The brownies ended up getting rave reviews at work and I'm sure that I will be making them many more times.  Now that I've successfully made caramel for the first time, dare I say that caramel candies will be next?  Or maybe some of April's caramel corn?  I guess I better add a candy thermometer to my kitchen wish list.



  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Generous 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Generous 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt
  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour

  1. Put a piece of parchment paper over a medium size plate.  Coat it with butter or non-stick spray.
  2. Using a medium, dry sauce pan, melt sugar over medium-high heat.  Should take approximately 5 minutes.  It is done when it turns a copper color.
  3. Remove pan from heat and stir in butter.  Then stir in the cream and salt.
  4. Return pan to medium-high heat and bring to a simmer.  Let it bubble for a few minutes until it turns a shade darker.
  5. Pour onto parchment paper and place it in the freezer to harden, around 30 minutes or so.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line an 8x8 inch pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick spray or grease with butter.
  2. Melt chocolate and butter together in a bowl in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between.
  3. Whisk in sugar, then one egg at a time, then vanilla and salt.  Stir in flour.
  4. Cut hardened caramel into 1 inch squares.  Set aside a small amount of caramel squares and fold the rest into the batter.
  5. Pour the batter into the parchment paper lined pan.  Sprinkle the remaining caramel pieces on top.
  6. Cook for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in freezer.
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

Sunday, March 2, 2014


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Chicken Fajitas

The other day I was getting really excited about a new dessert recipe that I'm going to try making this weekend and I started thinking about this blog.  And how I missed it.  Did you know that it's been about a year and a half since I've posted?  Well it has, believe it or not.

Since then a lot of change has happened.  I graduated from college.  Moved out of the college apartment with the kitchen that my cooking adventures began in with Brittany and Emily.  Had a short stint living at home with the parents.  Moved into an apartment with the boy where I now have my own kitchen that actually gets natural lighting (exciting stuff for a food blogger.)  Started a professional job where my cooking habits have drastically changed (getting home from work at 6:00 is the poops.)  And I've had a major camera upgrade!

I went through and was cleaning pictures off of my fancy shmancy camera (which I still barely know how to use) a couple days ago and discovered these chicken fajita pictures that I shot back in the fall (hence the spiderweb place mats.)  If I recall correctly they were pretty easy to make, don't actually take that long to make if you pre-cut all the vegetables and of course are mighty tasty!

Recipe from Skinnytaste.


  • 16 oz boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut in strips
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut in strips
  • 1 medium onion, cut in strips
  • 3 tbsp lime juice (I substituted lemon since that's what I already had)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • pinch ancho Mexican chili powder, to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 reduced carb whole wheat flour tortillas
  • Optional garnishes: sour cream, guacamole, reduced fat shredded Mexican cheese
  1. Marinate chicken with lime juice and season with chili powder, salt, pepper, garlic powder and cumin.
  2. Season vegetable with salt and pepper and toss with olive oil.
  3. Cook vegetables over medium heat in a skillet for 16-18 minutes covered, until the peppers and onions are soft.
  4. While the vegetables are cooking, grill chicken, either outdoors on a grill or indoors using a grill pan on the stove, until cooked through.  Cut into strips.
  5. Combine chicken and vegetables and serve immediately on warmed tortillas with desired garnishes.


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