Friday, November 30, 2012

Roasted Chestnut Delights

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire... 
It's actually something you can do... and we did. My folks just gifted James and me with a brand new chiminea and I couldn't think of any better way to christen it than with roasting chestnuts.
I'll share with you the cheat way to roast chestnuts, just because I know it's more convenient and some of you will opt for that... but for those of you willing to brave the cold and get in touch with your inner Christmas caroler, get ready to sing The Christmas Song at the top of your lungs and feel 100% fulfilled. You will now KNOW the meaning and the greatness of that tune.
If you'd like, you can just roast the chestnuts, peel them open and serve them all on their own. Apparently people like to do that... however I tasted the meat of the chestnut more than once and it's not my favorite. The flavor is really beautiful and nutty but the meat itself is a little... mealy. Like a bad apple, as Kobes described it. Hence, turning them into cookies. But decide for yourself.
Step 1: VERY CAREFULLY, with a sharp knife, cut an "x" into the flat surface side of the chestnuts. Some of them may not have very flat backs, so just choose a side and be cautious. The cut does not have to be deep, but don't just scrape the surface either.
Step 2: Place the marked chestnuts into a ball of foil and place them into your flaming fire, shaking them around every few minutes. Sadly, we got freezing outside so they only managed to stay in the chiminea about 8 minutes. But then we threw them into the indoor fireplace for another 10. So let them roast, shaking them every 3 minutes, for a total of about 15 minutes. *cheat method: place the marked chestnuts on a baking sheet and roast them in a 450 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until the skin starts to split open.*
Step 3: Place each chestnut into a dish towel and press down firmly to help loosen the skin. Then peel away! You want to be able to peel off the light pink skin underneath the firm skin as well... if that's too hard to peel away, they probably need another 5 minutes of roasting. Warning: the peeling of these babies is not exactly easy. So make some fun of it, turn it into a 15 minute project over a glass of wine with a friend and don't get frustrated. Also beware of slicing underneath your fingernails. I'm still recovering. Preheat your oven 350 degrees. (ha! just re-read this paragraph.. i'm making it sound awful but actually it's really fun and not daunting at all... just want you to feel prepared!)

Step 4: Finely chop your chestnuts and toss with brown sugar, lots of cinnamon and a sprinkle of sea salt. For measurements sake, I roasted 15 chestnuts and used roughly 2 heaping dessert spoons of brown sugar.
Step 5: Heat a little salted butter in a skillet or pan and on a medium-low heat, pan toss those chestnuts until they're nicely coated in a sugary pool of goodness. Let them simmer for about 10, 15 minutes. Remove them to cool onto parchment paper.
Step 6: In a food processor or Vitamix, combine 1 cup whole wheat flour, 6 Tablespoons salted butter, the candied chestnuts, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg & 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Pulse until a fine crumbly mixture forms.
Step 7: Squeeze that crumbly mixture into balls and place on an ungreased baking sheet. You should have somewhere between 15 and 18 cookies.
Step 8: Bake for 15-18 minutes. Get out a bowl and fill it with enough powdered sugar to play with.
Step 9: Remove cookies from the oven, let cool for about 3 minutes, then dump and roll each one into the powdered sugar until well coated. You're done!
Serve these babies stacked pretty on a  plate along side some fresh chestnuts... just for looks. I enjoyed at least 4 of these with a hot cup of coffee... then I had 2 more an hour later with a glass of red wine. Both beverages were perfectly appropriate for these delightful treats. (my consumption of 6 of them within the evening, however, was not appropriate)
 Serve these treats at your next holiday party and prepare to have the compliments of creativity and flavor brilliance coming your way!

LOTS OF HOLIDAY CHEER to you and yours as we step into DECEMBER! Enjoy! :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

technical difficulties

Friends- I am SO sorry.

Ever since we returned from our month long trip to Australia and our Thanksgiving holiday in Charlotte, my blog is having some serious storage space issues.

I'm currently working on these issues and trying to find the best, long-term solution so please please please, be patient... but don't wait too long to come back around!

The next post is about ROASTING CHESTNUTS! Just in time for the holidays! :) I've made a really great roasted chestnut cookie recipe that I cannot wait to share with you so, pray for favor as I fix this silly issue!

LOTS of love and cannot wait to catch up.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Chocolate Chewy Slice

This is one of those "go to" desserts. It's silly how easy it is to make and it's just more-ish, as my mother in-law would say. We had a slight frosting malfunction so we ended up not icing it at all. That's how I would recommend you do it, too. BUT- if you're a frosting hound, like I know so many of you are, finish it off with your favorite homemade chocolate icing.


  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour MIXED WITH 1/4 teaspoon baking powder and a pinch of salt
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon unsweetened shredded coconut
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease or line a 9x6 or shallow slice pan. Combine butter, sugar, egg and vanilla in a medium bowl. Mix well until a soupy mixture forms.
Stir in flour and cocoa.
Stir in coconut, mix well, pour into prepared pan and spread evenly with your spatula. Bake for 30 minutes or until sides start to slightly pull away from paper.
Cut into tiny squares (this baby is chewy, you'll want it in small doses) and serve with a cup of black coffee or your favorite cabernet.

This is just a little slice of Australia for you... ;) so cheesy. can't help myself.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

bits of things to come

Dinner at Jodie and Damien's: Poached Chicken and Peach Salad (it's summer here) with Ricotta and Spinach Pies
simple, poached chicken, shredded atop mixed greens of baby spinach and arugula... finely chopped red cabbage, a quarter of a red onion, thinly sliced, asparagus shoots, sliced peaches and finished with a zesty dressing of orange juice, lemon juice, stone ground dijon mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper.

pies are store bought phyllo sheets filled with a simple mixture of ricotta and fresh baby spinach. baked until fluffy and flaky.

A quick look at my mum in-law's home grown tomatoes: this was just one day's batch.

Previews of recipes on their way:
Date Slice
 Coconut Chocolate Chews....?
Zucchini Capsicum Bake

Lots of Love and HAPPY WEEKEND!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Almond Date Truffles . . . sprouted kitchen

I've been wanting to make something like these for a long time... I've had a few good accidental recipes (that i probably should share with you soon considering it's holiday season and they're all TOO pretty to keep to myself), but this one I saw on the Sprouted Kitchen blog looked too perfect to pass up. I knew my mother in-law would love the idea of them because she and Charles have "afternoon tea" together every day, which consists of tea (obviously) and a little treat of some sort. They're the perfect little bite size morsels AND they look way more chocolaty and sinful than they actually are! So I decided to give her recipe a go... had to change one major ingredient because we didn't have it pantry stocked... the result is that I'd definitely make them again but I will lessen the amount of salt, increase slightly the amount of cocoa and definitely try it with almond butter instead of creamy peanut butter. That said, there's only a small handful left and everyone in the house is spotted eating one each day so, it looks like this recipe worked just fine. ;) Coolest part about these? They look like they're ALL CHOCOLATE but it's really those sneaky DATES that do the trick.

You'll Need:
(makes 15-18 truffles)

  • 20 Medjool dates, pitted and sliced in half
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter (i'll do almond next time)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (i might even make this heaping next time... yep, I will, just decided)
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon cocoa (i'll use hershey's dark but regular worked great)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup toasted almonds, well chopped but not powdery

Toast your almonds! Turn your oven on to 250, 300 degrees and pop the almonds in on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. No need to wait for the oven to preheat, they'll get toasty fairly quick anyways. I left mine in about 15 minutes. Remove and let cool.
Toss the chopped dates and the vanilla extract into a Vitamix or food processor and blend until thick and chunky paste forms. Add the peanut butter and pulse more until blended. Then add in the coconut, cocoa, salt and cinnamon and blend until well combined. If it looks too dry that it won't form a ball in your palms when pressed, add in a splash of water and pulse until it looks ready. Remove from the food processor and place it in a bowl to combine even more with a spoon until all the lumps of salt and peanut butter are thoroughly combined.
Chop chop chop your almonds until they're crumbly enough to stick to the date balls when you roll them through. One by one, form a big tablespoons worth in your palm and form a bite sized ball. Roll the ball gently pressing over the almonds and coat thoroughly. Set on a serving platter, continue with the rest of the dough and let set in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. Best when chilled! :) Eat for a morning brunch treat, an afternoon tea snack or even a not so naughty dessert after dinner. (and then as a midnight snack)
ENJOY sweet friends and I can't wait to be back on American soil so I know what TIME I'm posting to you, haha!