Last Minute Gift: Smokey Spicy Honey Roasted Peanut Butter

It’s the weekend before Christmas, y’all – are you ready?

I am totally prepared this year, actually. I did all my shopping online, and my coworkers think I’m a shopaholic as a result of all the boxes delivered to me over the past few weeks, but let me tell you, it was the most painless Christmas prep I’ve done.

Because I know most people are not crazy planners like I am, I’m sure there are more than a few of you scrambling for one last gift. I’m here to help. I made this peanut butter right before my Brazil trip for a food swap that I’ve participated in a couple of times.  To toot my horn a bit, it felt like EVERYONE wanted to trade with me. I swapped honey roasted peanut butter with cayenne and smoked paprika. Yup. Let it sink in.

Anyhow, I would highly recommend this as a gift for anyone on your list. In an evening you can have several servings that look great and are awesomely tasty – obviously sweet, but not overly so, with a little spice and smoke. I hope you’ll give it a try.

Peanut Butter photos courtesy of Vanessa Vichit-Vadacan, a fellow food swapper. Her blog here and photos here.

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Smokey Spicy Honey Roasted Peanut Butter

  • 8oz peanuts, dry roasted, no salt
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne, or more

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix sugar, paprika and cayenne in a small bowl. In a bigger bowl, add peanuts and drizzle honey over. Mix thoroughly to spread honey over all peanuts. Add sugar/spice mixture and mix to cover all the peanuts.

Distribute evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment or silpat. Bake for about 20 min, mixing up peanuts a few times. Let cool.

Break apart peanuts into a food processor. Start processing and slowly add 2 tbsp light oil. Process until smooth or your desired peanut butter texture. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Spring Crostini with Burrata, Snap Peas and Asparagus

Oh Spring! It’s when the farmers’ markets start to get exciting: berries, peas, asparagus, artichokes… the bounty is plentiful and I so enjoyed going this past weekend. I was reminded of what a nice way it is to start my Sundays and how much fun it is to be inspired by seasonal offerings when creating a meal. I had signed up to bring an appetizer to dinner club, and was originally going to make stuffed mushrooms, but when I saw what was at the farmers’ market I knew right away that I would be changing my dish.

A while back I had a similar appetizer to this at The Tipsy Pig and was inspired to try it on my own. I’m pretty sure there was mint and some salad mixed in, which would be a nice twist to this dish as well, and I was further reminded this was a good combination of flavors, when Bon Appetit featured a recipe for Snap Pea Salad with Burrata from April Bloomfield in the May issue. I was pretty sure that I couldn’t go wrong making these Spring crostini with out using a specific recipe.

They were a HUGE success. Everyone at dinner club loved them (because let’s be honest, who doesn’t love something with burrata on it?!) and I loved them too. If you don’t know already, burrata is mozzarella with a cream and cheese mixture inside the ball. In this dish it is the perfect creamy texture and rich flavor against the crispness of the toasts and fresh veggies. Next time I would use a little more balsamic reduction and maybe rub a little raw garlic on the toasts when they come out of the oven, but for the most part, the simplicity and freshness of this dish is what makes it amazing.

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Spring Crostini:

  • 2 smallish handfulls snap peas
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus
  • 4-6 scallions, thinly sliced or mandolined, white and light green parts
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped oregano (or mint, if that’s your thing)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 12 slices baguette, sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 ball of burrata

Snap off the end of the peas, and slice diagonally into 3-4 slices. Cut through the outer shell and peas all in one. Snap of fibrous ends of the asparagus and blanch in boiling water for 1 minute unit bright green and barley tender. Slice into 1 inch pieces on the diagonal.

Mix peas, asparagus, thinly sliced scallions and oregano. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Simmer balsamic vinegar in a shallow pot or pan, until it starts to thicken slightly. I just used a couple of tablespoons because it was all I had, and it only took a couple of minutes. I don’t imagine it would take that long for 1/4 cup, but keep an eye on it!

Place baguette slices on a baking sheet. Bake or broil until lightly toasted, approx 3-4 min on each side. The dinner club oven was set at 400 and I did 4 minutes on each side, so really you can just pop in with whatever you are already cooking for dinner- if you have garlic, you could cut a clove in half and rub the cut end on the warm toasts when they come out of the oven. This is common practice with most bruschettas and would have been a great added flavor here.

Cut the burrata into 12 wedges. Place one wedge on each crostini. I left the creamy side up so I could press the peas/asparagus on and they would stay. Top with pea/asparagus mixture. Drizzle with balsamic reduction, to taste. Season with more salt if needed.

Orange and Red Wine Caramel Yogurt Parfaits

Remember that Sex and the City episode, where Carrie has started dating Mr. Big and made the #1 dating mistake by neglected her girlfriends? Well, I feel like I’ve done an OK job of keeping up with my girlfriends, yet the blog is the one that has suffered in my new relationship. I must say that I have a new found respect for all those blogs I follow where the bloggers seem to effortlessly maintain their sites, significant others, and hopefully their friends too. In life, all things are bound to ebb and flow, so it’s no surprise that hobbies too wax and wane throughout  time as well. I’m still cooking, enjoying food and having fun, it’s just unfortunate that not as much has recently been done with a camera in hand or a blog post on the mind… sorry y’all.

Anyhow, this weekend I had an extra day off of work and soaked in as much home time as possible. Saturday I organized my closet, prepped for a project that I’ll be sharing shortly and strayed out only for a couple of hours for an epic trip to Target. Sunday was slightly more adventurous with watching the 49ers game with friends (SUPERBOWL!!!!), grabbing drinks with a new friend and starting my day with the below parfaits.

I saw these parfaits on the Bon Appétit site and have had them on my mind for a couple of weeks. Such a curious combination of red wine, sugar, citrus and yogurt, they are gorgeous, and pretty tasty too! The red wine flavor is much stronger than I anticipated, but somehow seems to work. I’d recommend not getting too much orange juice in your layers and using quite a bit of caramel to balance out the tart yogurt. Definitely an interesting idea that seems appropriate for dessert or breakfast – as I learned in my cook the book project, it can sometimes be a very fine line.

It always feels good to be back in the kitchen and trying new things. The knife and camera feel so right in my hands, that I promise to try to make the next post not so distant.

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Orange and Red Wine Caramel Yogurt Parfaits original recipe here

  • 1 cup sugar
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup dry, fruity red wine
  • 2 large oranges, I used a variety of Navel, Cara Cara and Tangelo
  • 1 1/2 cups low-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds and pistachios, coarsely chopped

Stir sugar, cream of tartar and 3 tbsp of water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, swirling occasionally (do not stir) until sugar is caramelized and the color of dark maple syrup, about 8 min – this happens FAST keep your eyes on it. Remove from heat and carefully add 1/4 cup red wine (will bubble vigorously) stir to dissolve. Add remaining 1/4 cup wine. Boil for 30  seconds stirring to make sure all sugar is dissolved. Let cool completely. Can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm slightly to loosen before using.

Using a sharp knife, remove peel and pitch from oranges. Segment between the membrane and set aside.

Layer a few pieces of orange in the bottom of small glass jars – make sure to drain or pat dry slices. drizzle with red wine caramel and top with a spoonful of yogurt. Sprinkle with nuts and continue to top of jar.

Happy New Year with Orange Marmalade

I can’t believe another year has come to a close (and that this is the 2 year blogiversary of The Bon Appétit Diaries!!) It’s been a pretty great year with one of the highlights being becoming friends with some other food bloggers and embarking on this Cook the Book project with them!

I did slack a bit with the last few chapters here, but really wanted to pull through with a win at the end, so I made Orange Marmalade from the condiments chapter of The Breakfast Book. There were so many interesting things to choose from, but this project for me was a lot of cooking basic things that I’d said I’d been wanting to try and this just gave me the push to go do it! Orange Marmalade definitely falls into that category… I became a fan of this spread when I was living in Germany of all places. The family always had it on the breakfast table and I loved putting it on top of peanut butter on my toast, rather than traditional American peanut butter and jelly.

I love how rich the flavors are and how bright marmalade is; however, this recipe is one that needs a little finessing. You use orange peels so your are really getting the most vibrant flavors of the orange, but mine came out pretty bitter. The orange peels and fruit are cooked down with some lemon as well and quite a bit of sugar, but I think I need to get less pith in my peel next time, or cook down the peels more, so they begin to breakdown. I do think this will be good baked in something though, the flavors are strong and would definitely hold up as part of a recipe!

All in all, I’m happy to have tried it, as I have with all the other recipes along this adventure. More than anything, it was fun doing a project with new friends, and seeing how everyone’s tastes, blogging styles are different and so enjoyable.

Be sure to check out Aimee, Natasha, Rachel, Claudie and Sammy’s blogs to see what they’re up to!

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Orange Marmalade from The Breakfast Book

  • 3 larger oranges
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups sugar
  • 3 cups water

Peel the oranges and 2 of the lemons, and cut the peel into very thin strips. Remove the pith from the oranges and cut up the fruit. Put the orange fruit and all peels in the water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. Let cool over night.

Measure out the fruit and water and add approximately 1/2 cup of sugar for every cup of fruit. Boil water fruit and sugar together for 30-45 min. The sugar is the jelling agent, so test for jell point by putting a bit of marmalade on a saucer and putting in the fridge freezer for a minute or two, it is ready when the liquid jams. Add more sugar and cook down a bit more, if it doesn’t jam the first time.

When the marmalade is cooked, thick and jammy, put into jars for storage.

Roasted Carrot Soup

Pureed soups continue to be one of my favorite things to make at winter time. They are so easy, always loaded with flavor and obviously soup is comforting when it’s rainy and blustery outside. This carrot soup is no exception.

This past week, I found some time to cook on a week night (shocking, I know!) and absolutely loved the way it turned out. You have a creamy slightly sweet hot soup, countered with the tart bite of cold yogurt and the crunch and smokiness of the dukkah spice mixture. You simply roast carrots in the oven, then blend with broth, heat through and you’re done. I have made butternut squash soup many a time before and while I love that, I did love how this was sweet without being overly so, and that you can mix as much or as little of the yogurt and spice into each bite.

It’s just the right way to warm and spice up a cold night.

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Roasted Carrot Soup, adapted from Bon Appétit here

  • 1/2 cup unsalted, shelled raw natural pistachios
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp kosher salt plus more
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 6 larger carrots)
  • 1/2 white onion, largely chopped
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 quart vegetable broth
  • Low-fat plain Greek yogurt

Preheat oven to 425. Place the carrots and onion on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with melted butter, season to taste with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Roast until the carrots are tender and just beginning to brown, about 25 minutes. Let the carrots cool slightly.

While carrots are roasting, toast pistachios in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, until golden brown about 6 min. Remove from pan, return to heat. Toast sesame seeds, coriander and cumin 1-2 min until fragrant. Transfer to bowl with pistachios,  add 1 tsp salt and freshly ground pepper. When cool, transfer to mortar and pestle and corsely grind.

Transfer carrots and onions to a blender with broth and blend until very smooth. You may need to do it in 2 batches. When smooth transfer to a medium saucepan and heat through.

Serve soup with a dollop of yogurt in the middle and sprinkle with the dukkah spice mix.

Cook the Book: Peach Dutch Baby

Chapter: Griddling – Recipe: Baked German Pancake (or Dutch Babies)

So many things colliding in this Breakfast Book post 1. I’ve always wanted to try cooking a Dutch Baby 2. I’m in Europe for this post 3. I lived in Germany, so fancy that, they are called German Pancakes in Marion’s book (and Dutch Babies if you make them in smaller pans).

Now I can’t say that these are actually like the pancakes they make in Germany. The one morning my host family made pancakes for breakfast, they were much more akin to the crepe style than anything else. Flat discs that we filled with jams, Nutella or just butter and sugar. I can’t say exactly where the name comes from, but these Americanized puffed versions are especially easy, and very impressive given the small amount of work.

I followed Bon Appétit’s suggestion of adding peaches (see their recipe here), and even though I used the recipe from the Breakfast Book and it worked out just fine. It yields spongy light pancake that can be dressed up in many ways, and though my pictures don’t show it, the pancake is just perfectly  sweet with a sprinkling of powdered sugar atop.

Well over and out from Paris – I will not be attempting German Pancakes here in the apartment, seeing as that I’ve been having croissants every morning instead, but I have on indulged in a Parisian Crepe!

As this is part of the cook the book series, please check out the other griddled recipes with RachelAimeeNatashaSammy and Claudie.

Peach German Pancake (Dutch Baby)

  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1-2 peaches
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • Confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Break the eggs into a mixing bowl and bat until thoroughly mixed. Add the milk and blend well.

Sift the flour and salt onto a square of waxed, or parchment paper. Lift the waxed paper up by two corners and let the flour slowly drift into the egg and milk, whisking steadily. Or slowly sift the flour and salt directly into the egg mixture, while whisking to blend and smooth. Add the melted butter and mix briskly so the batter is smooth.

In a 12 inch cast iron skillet, or other skilled with oven proof handle, melt 2 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp sugar. Cut the peach(es) into 1/4 inch thick wedges. When the sugar starts to caramelize, add the peaches and cook a couple of minutes until soft. Quickly rewhisk the batter and pour over peaches. Bake immediately for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and cook an additional 10 minutes til golden brown and  puffy.

Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and enjoy. It will deflate as soon as you take it out of the oven.

Cook the Book: Bran Muffins – A VIDEO!

Chapter 3: Quick Breads – Recipe: Bran Muffins

When I was in college, my friends and I were obsessed with Mimi’s Cafe bran muffins. Mimi’s for those of you who don’t know is a super kitschy chain restaurant whose food is nothing to write home about, but whose bran muffins, on the other hand, are to die for. They are huge, light, and soaked with a honey syrup on the bottom. They are served warm with a whipped butter that melts all over and balances out the sweetness in the muffin.

Given these very fond memories, I had always wanted to attempt bran muffins at home, so this chapter and Marion’s recipe were the perfect start. They aren’t quite like Mimi’s but they are still great. These are dense and slightly molasses-y without being too sweet. I substituted currents and cranberries instead of the 1 cup raisins, and served with a whipped honey butter, which absolutely made the dish. Simply whip a stick of butter and add honey to taste – probably a couple of tablespoons.

Also, because I am slightly obsessed with developing my new-found video skills, I am happy to present this recipe to you as my second ever video:

As this is part of our ‘Cook the Book’ series, don’t forget to check out the other quick bread chapter recipes here: