Instagram Lately – Holiday Delectables

I have been posting a ton of recipes made in our new kitchen lately, and have been hit or miss with including links to the recipes, so here they all are!

My round-up from Thanksgiving this year:

Mini Brown Sugar Pumpkin Cheesecakes with Oreo Crust
Mini Brown Sugar Pumpkin Cheesecakes with Oreo Crust


Chicken Apple Sausage Cornbread Stuffing
Chicken Apple Sausage Cornbread Stuffing

This year, instead of using all chicken apple sausage, I used half hot Italian and half chicken apple sausage to try and balance the sweetness of the cornbread.

Butternut Squash Soup with Scallops and Garlicky Swiss Chard
Butternut Squash Soup with Scallops and Garlicky Swiss Chard

I made the soup this time without the apple, and double the carrots and celery.

Apple and Pear Galette with Walnut Streusel
Apple and Pear Galette with Walnut Streusel

And here’s my December round-up:

Apple Pie Cookies
Apple Pie Cookies
Turkey Pumpkin Chili
Turkey Pumpkin Chili
Erica's Birthday Cupcakes - Chocolate Stout Cupcake with Salted Caramel Frosting
Erica’s Birthday Cupcakes – Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting

I used the cupcake recipe from the Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes.  Being the practical baker that I am, I didn’t want to buy a whole 6-pack of Guinness since we’re not Guinness drinkers at home. So I bought a bottle of Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout, which worked great except I didn’t realize the bottle was 9% ABV which is over twice what Guinness is.  The cupcake was a teensy bit more beer flavored than the Guinness Cupake usually is, but it still tasted fine.  I used the frosting recipe from the Samoas Cupcakes, and added 1 cup extra powdered sugar to thick it a bit. Since I wasn’t dipping the cupcake in coconut flakes, I wanted to make the frosting a bit more substantial. It still wasn’t thick enough to pipe but it was delicious nonetheless.


Lamb Burgers

In celebration of the long Fourth of July weekend, Kevin and I decided (albeit at the last minute) to make some good ol’ fashioned American hamburgers. I’m not sure if we went to the market at the exact twilight of ground meat outage and replenishment, but we somehow managed to go to a spot where they were completely out of ground beef, turkey, chicken, and bison.  Bison (our latest obsession; posts to come later) was what we really wanted for our burgers, but we somehow resigned to ground lamb. Not that anything is wrong with lamb, but it wasn’t exactly what eating at Murica’s birthday party is all about.

I found a recipe on Food & Wine and tailored it to serve the two of us, while also including a bit more zing by upping the herbs-to-meat ratio.  See the recipe as adapted below:


Lamb Burgers for two:

  • 3/4 lb ground lamb
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1 garlic glove, minced
  • 1/2 T mint, finely chopped
  • 1/2 T flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 T dill, finely chopped (pull leaves only, don’t use thick stems)
  • Kosher salt and finely ground black pepper
  • 2 whole wheat pita bread (or hamburger bun if you prefer)
  • 2-3 leaves romaine lettuce
  • 4 paper-thin onion slices


  1. In a medium bowl, lightly knead the ground lamb with the onion, garlic, mint, parsley and 1 scant teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Shape the meat into patties about 1/2 inch thick, and transfer them to a plate lined with plastic wrap. Lightly brush the burgers with olive oil.

    Herbalicious Lamb Patties
    Herbalicious Lamb Patties
  2. Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil on medium heat, and cook the lamb patties for about 6 minutes on each side. You can also grill the lamb burgers for about 12 minutes, turning once, for medium meat. I was worried about overcooking the lamb, so I stuck a meat thermometer into the patty and cooked til it hit about 140 degrees for medium rare. The patty will continue to cook another 5 degrees once you take it off the pan too.
  3. Set the burgers on the pita breads and top them with the lettuce, tomato, onion and a spoonful of Yogurt-Cucumber Sauce. Fold the pitas over the burgers and serve right away, passing the remaining yogurt sauce alongside.

    Lamb Burgers
    Lamb Burgers

In my opinion, you can’t really have a lamb burger with ketchup and mustard, so I looked up a recipe for tzatziki.  The recipe below is also adapted from Food & Wine.  The version I made was chunkier (I upped the cucumber), lessened the amount of yogurt, and added dill and lemon juice.  I had nonfat Fage plain greek yogurt, and it came out on the thicker side. I would recommend a regular, non-Greek yogurt to give it a more “sauce-y” consistency.  This made about 1/2 cup, which is probably more than enough for two people.  I wouldn’t recommend making too much in advantage and eating leftovers, because the lemon juice and salt will pickle the herbs and cucumber.  It’ll taste like a strange creamy dill pickle sauce (I learned the hard way).


  • 1 Persian cucumber, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 t kosher salt
  • 1/3 C plain yogurt
  • 1/2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 T finely chopped mint
  • 1 t finely chopped dill
  • 2 lemon wedges’ worth of lemon juice
  • Finely ground black pepper to taste


  1. Using a melon baller or small spoon, scoop out the seedy center of the cucumber. Dice the cucumber. Squeeze the excess liquid from the cucumber without mashing it (skip if using Greek yogurt).
  2. In a small bowl, using the back of a spoon, mash the garlic with the salt to a paste. Stir in the yogurt, olive oil, mint, dill, and lemon juice. Add the cucumber, season with pepper and serve.

We also “needed” a salty component for our burger, so I drummed up a sundried tomato tapenade.  The following will makes about 1/3 cup:  Place 6 pitted kalamata olives and 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes into a food processor and pulse to chop roughly. If you’re using dry sundried tomatoes (I used the ones from Trader Joe’s – my fav!), pour 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil while pulsing the food processor a few more times to combine.  All that being said, the thought of cleaning a food processor after all the chopping/cleaning I’d been doing that day was dreadful, so I chopped everything by hand and then whisked in the olive oil after.

Sundried Tomato Olive Tapenade
Sundried Tomato Olive Tapenade

And that my friends was our big fat Greek Fourth of July meal!  We celebrated 4th of July with Kevin’s mom over the weekend as well, and she made banh mi sandwiches for us and I cobbled together an Italian pasta salad to bring.  It really was a hodge podge of cuisines, but I guess that’s really what eating like an American is all about – celebrating a bit of everything!

Butternut Squash and Bacon Mac and Cheese

We’re approaching the halfway mark to Thanksgiving, so why not do a little #TBT (Throw Back Thanksgiving!) post?  Kevin and I hosted this past Thanksgiving for my mom’s side of the family, and in my search for new belt-loosening inspiration, I came across this indulgent recipe for Butternut Squash and Bacon Mac and Cheese on Brown Eyed Baker.  I’ve always been a sucker for savory dishes with a hint of sweetness, but I also love naughty dishes that pretend to be healthy by adding a vegetable.  Ladies and gents, don’t make this if you’re looking for a healthy alternative to mac and cheese.  It’s mac and cheese. It’s not supposed to be good for you. That being said, this recipe is DELICIOUS and just as decadent as any good mac and cheese recipe.

Butternut Squash and Bacon Mac and Cheese
Butternut Squash and Bacon Mac and Cheese

Here is the recipe as adapted from Brown Eyed Baker:


  • 12 slices thick-cut peppered bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1/2 butternut squash, finely diced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 8 T unsalted butter, divided
  • 4 T all-purpose flour
  • 3 C whole milk
  • 8 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded (about 2 cups), divided
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 cups), divided
  • 16 ounces cavatappi pasta (or shaped pasta of your choice)
  • 1 C breadcrumbs (I like panko)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 9×13-inch casserole dish. Heat a large pot of water over high heat for the pasta; cover.
  2. In a 12-inch cast iron skillet (or other heavy, stainless skillet), fry the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon to a towel-lined plate to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease.

  3. Adjust the heat to medium-low and add the butternut squash and onion to the bacon grease. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash and onion are browned and cooked through. Once cooked, use the back of a wooden spoon to mash up the mixture (it doesn’t have to be completely smooth – leave some chunks in for texture).

    Butternut Squash, Onions Cooking in Bacon Grease
    Butternut Squash, Onions Cooking in Bacon Grease
  4. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook the pasta according to the box directions for al dente pasta (if your box doesn’t specify al dente, cook it for 1 to 2 minutes shorter than the time called for – it shouldn’t be cooked the whole way through). When the pasta is finished cooking, drain it in a colander.
  5. While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce. In a large saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute, until the flour starts to brown a bit and smells nutty, whisking constantly. In a slow, steady stream, whisk in the milk. Allow the sauce to come to a simmer.
  6. Once the sauce comes to a simmer, stir in 6 ounces each of the Gruyere and cheddar cheeses, adding a handful at a time and stirring with a wooden spoon until completely melted before adding the next handful. Season with salt and pepper and turn off the heat.

    Cheese Sauce
    Cheese Sauce
  7. Add the cooked, drained pasta, bacon and butternut squash mixture to the sauce. Stir with a wooden spoon until everything is completely combined and evenly distributed. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish.
  8. Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter. In a small bowl, mix the melted butter with the breadcrumbs.
  9. Sprinkle the macaroni and cheese with the remaining shredded cheeses. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture on top of the cheese.

    Sprinkle with Bread Crumbs and Remaining Cheese
    Sprinkle with Bread Crumbs and Remaining Cheese
  10. Bake until browned and bubbly, about 15 to 20 minutes. Allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

This is definitely one of my favorite mac and cheese recipes, even better than Alton Brown’s.

2015 Thanksgiving Spread
2015 Thanksgiving Spread

Here was the menu line-up with links to recipes where applicable:


  • Crudité and Trader Joe’s hummus
  • Truffle mushroom crostini (I guessed at this, and it turned out well but I’ll have to try and retrace my steps in order to post a recipe for that later)
  • My Favorite Simple Kale Salad


  • Ham from Bristol Farms (courtesy of my mom)
  • Chicken Apple Sausage Cornbread Stuffing – this time using half sweet Italian and half spicy Italian chicken sausage instead of the chicken apple.  I actually think I like it better that way!
  • Brussels Sprouts and Bacon (tripled that recipe, without the kimchee).
  • This butternut squash and bacon mac and cheese
  • Zucchini casserole (courtesy of my aunt)
  • Mashed potatoes (courtesy of Kevin)



Momofuku Brussels Sprouts with Kimchi Puree and Bacon

Here’s another super backlogged recipe from a dinner I made celebrating college graduation for one of my cousins last year.  I’ve enjoyed a few of David Chang’s recipes, and have had only one restaurant experience at his Noodle Bar in Toronto…where I got a wicked case of food poisoning.  Still, I love Korean food …and brussels …and bacon, so this recipe sounded promising.

Momofuku Brussels Sprouts with Kimchi Puree and Bacon
Momofuku Brussels Sprouts with Kimchi Puree and Bacon


  • 1 lb brussels sprouts, trimmed and outer leaves removed and discarded
  • 1/4 lb smoky bacon, cut into 1-to-1 1/2-inch-long pieces
  • 2 Tunsalted butter
  • 1 C Napa cabbage kimchi, pureed
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup julienned carrots (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 400º F. Split the brussels sprouts in half through the core and set aside.

  2. Place bacon in a wide, ovenproof skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until almost crisp, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate; set aside.  NOTE: If you don’t have an ovenproof skillet, just pan fry and then transfer everything to a baking pan when it’s time to put everything in the oven.

  3. Drain most of the fat from skillet and add brussels sprouts, cut side-down. Increase heat to medium-high and cook until sprouts begin to sizzle. Transfer skillet to oven and roast until sprouts are deep brown in color, about 8 minutes. Shake skillet to redistribute sprouts, and continue roasting until bright green and tender, 10 to 15 minutes more.

  4. Return skillet to stovetop and turn heat to medium. Stir in butter and bacon; season with salt and pepper. Toss sprouts to coat.

  5. Divide kimchi among 4 shallow bowls, using the back of a spoon to spread out kimchi so it covers the bottom of each bowl. Divide brussels sprouts evenly among bowls, arranging on top of kimchi. Garnish with carrots and serve.

I wasn’t sure how adventurous my cousin would be with the kimchi, so I put the puree on the side.  These were DELICIOUS with and without the kimchi puree.  If kimchi isn’t your thing, I’d still recommend this recipe without it.  The brussels had a really great texture to them.

Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken Tagine

I am a creature of habit.  I’ve been posting recipes that were inspired by things I’ve eaten at Nook Bistro for years, and I find myself still going there and getting the same thing every time.  I love their butternut squash stew, but don’t love that I can’t make a knock-off of it at home year-round with butternut squash really being a fall/winter squash.  Then, I had chicken tagine for the first time at a work tasting with a catering company that was vying for new business a few years ago.  It had a somewhat similar flavor profile to the butternut squash stew, but the ingredients would allow me to make it year-round  I absolutely fell in love with it (and the caterer!), and have tried a number of different chicken tagine recipes trying to mimic what I had and FINALLY found one.  I’m so happy to finally be sharing it!

Here is the recipe as adapted from A Hint of Honey:


  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
  • 1 T all-purpose flour
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 T honey
  • 4 t ras el hanout
  • 1 t turmeric
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 t ground coriander
  • up to 1 t cayenne pepper (skip this altogether if you don’t like it spicy!)
  • 1 C low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 6 oz. dried apricots, diced
  • 3 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped for serving (frankly, this is more for aesthetics)
  • cous cous, for serving


  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until softened. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the flour, tomato paste, honey, and spices and cook for another minute.

    Waiting for the Liquids
    Waiting for the Liquids
  2. Add the chicken stock and tomatoes and cook for several minutes, making sure to get out any lumps of flour. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Combine the tomato/spice mixture with the chickpeas, apricots, chicken thighs, and carrots in a large slower cooker, mixing well.
  4. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours, or until the meat shreds easily with a fork. Serve over cous cous or rice, topped with fresh cilantro.

Ras el hanout can be purchased online, but I’m not sure where to find it in stores. You can make it from scratch using this recipe, and it’ll yield enough to make this tagine a few times. Make sure to store it in a glass container, because it’ll make your plastic tupperware smell like the mixture forEVER. I use an inexpensive spice jar one from Crate and Barrel (thanks Joyce!!), but a small Pyrex could work too!

Ras El Hanout - from scratch!
Ras El Hanout – from scratch!

This stew is great the day you make it, but Kevin and I both think it tastes better the next day.  I’ve probably made this five or six times in the last year and it never lets us down.

Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken Tagine
Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken Tagine

It also freezes well, and makes a HUGE amount.  Kevin and I use two crockpots to make this one recipe (he has an old school Rival Crock-Pot, and I have a 6-quart Crock-Pot).  If you have anything under an 8.5-quart, you may want to finish step 3 and then divide your recipe in half, freezing the half you’re not cooking today.