White Chocolate Stuffed Ginger Molasses Cookies

White Chocolate Stuffed Ginger Molasses Cookies: Soft and chewy ginger cookies filled with creamy, melty white chocolate!

Ultra soft and chewy ginger molasses cookies stuffed with melty white chocolate. Filled with holiday flavor, these will become your new favorite cookies!

White Chocolate Stuffed Ginger Molasses Cookies: Soft and chewy ginger cookies filled with creamy, melty white chocolate!

Oh heyyyy…we’re in full blown holiday season, and I still have most of my shopping left to do. What about you? I’m actually one of those people who really, truly loves Christmas/Hanukkah shopping. I love finding just the *right* gift for the people I love, and buying Steve 7 zillion stocking stuffers, and baking delicious treats to put into all of the stockings. It’s one of my very favorite things.

White Chocolate Stuffed Ginger Molasses Cookies: Soft and chewy ginger cookies filled with creamy, melty white chocolate!

That means it’s going to be a busy week ahead, but tomorrow is my last day of work before winter break begins, and I will then spend the entire week following shoulder deep in all things holiday spirit. In fact, if you’re not into that kinda thing, you should probably steer clear. ;)

White Chocolate Stuffed Ginger Molasses Cookies: Soft and chewy ginger cookies filled with creamy, melty white chocolate!

But you should still stay for the cookies, because who can resist perfectly soft and chewy ginger molasses cookies? I’m all about the gingerbread this year (well…basically all the time), and it all started with these cookies.

White Chocolate Stuffed Ginger Molasses Cookies: Soft and chewy ginger cookies filled with creamy, melty white chocolate!

The cookie base is pretty ridiculous on its own, but when you add in that surprise melty, creamy white chocolate middle, they are just taken up to the next level. If any cookie can get you in the holiday spirit, it’s these babies!

White Chocolate Stuffed Ginger Molasses Cookies

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 2 dozen

Ultra soft and chewy ginger molasses cookies stuffed with melty white chocolate. Filled with holiday flavor, these will become your new favorite cookies!
Ingredients
  • 2 cups gluten-free baking blend (or white whole wheat flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • dash salt
  • ½ cup apple butter
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6-8 ounces good quality white chocolate squares or chopped into large chunks*
  • granulated sugar for rolling
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together baking blend, baking soda, spices and salt.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together apple butter, molasses, brown sugar and vanilla until smooth. Beat in dry ingredients until just combined. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 large baking sheets with silpat or parchment paper.Roll dough into approximately 1" balls. Press white chocolate square/chunk inside, and roll dough back around. Make sure white chocolate is completely covered. Add more dough if necessary. Roll in sugar and transfer to prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
  4. Bake until just set, about 9-11 minutes. Cookies will look underdone,. Do not over bake. Cool completely on cookie sheet. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.
Notes
*To make vegan, use vegan white chocolate, swap for dark chocolate or omit completely

 

Creamy Thai Ginger Skillet Chicken

Creamy Thai Ginger Skillet Chicken: You will love all of the bold flavor this one skillet dish brings!

This post is sponsored by  Swanson®. All opinions are my own.

Creamy Thai ginger skillet chicken with perfectly browned, juicy chicken thighs and a creamy Thai ginger sauce. One pan, tons of flavor.

Creamy Thai Ginger Skillet Chicken: You will love all of the bold flavor this one skillet dish brings!

This chicken.

Me: What do you think I should say about the chicken?

Steve: (in a weird, high, sing-song voice) La da da da da chicken is goooood! I like chicken!

Creamy Thai Ginger Skillet Chicken: You will love all of the bold flavor this one skillet dish brings!

Ummmm, yeah. But, I have to tell you that he was super excited about it when he came home for dinner the other night. You see, using chicken thighs is a pretty rare treat in this house. I just honestly prefer white meat 95% of the time, but when I was at the store grabbing my ingredients, the chicken thighs just spoke to me, so I went with it.

Creamy Thai Ginger Skillet Chicken: You will love all of the bold flavor this one skillet dish brings!

My mom always complains about cooking chicken. She says that, no matter what she does, it turns out dry. Usually I just make Steve grill up all the meat because I’m not  super into cooking meat. I love to eat it, but I don’t necessarily feel like it’s my forte, so I was really pleasantly surprised when this chicken turned out just as I had imagined it in my head; better even!

Creamy Thai Ginger Skillet Chicken: You will love all of the bold flavor this one skillet dish brings!

The bold and creamy sauce is to.die.for. I kept trying to spoon more out over my chicken, and I wished I had a big plate o’ carbs to soak it up with. I hardly had to use any seasonings because the Swanson®  Thai Ginger Flavor Infused Broth was so flavorful, and brought so much to the table!

Creamy Thai Ginger Skillet Chicken: You will love all of the bold flavor this one skillet dish brings!

The chicken is first browned on the stovetop in a little coconut oil, then transferred to the oven to cook throughout. Browning on the stove, and then baking allows the best browned outside while still keeping the inside soft and juicy. Then you just add in your sauce ingredients right into your skillet, and scrape up some of the extra flavor from the bottom of the skillet, and boom! You’ve got a new, amazing, and unique dish to serve to your friends and family this holiday season. You won’t regret trying something new, and your family will appreciate this unique dish year round!

Creamy Thai Ginger Skillet Chicken

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 3 servings

Serving Size: 1 chicken thigh

Creamy Thai Ginger Skillet Chicken

Creamy Thai ginger skillet chicken with perfectly browned, juicy chicken thighs and a creamy Thai ginger sauce. One pan, tons of flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, fat trimmed (about 3 medium)
  • pinch pepper
  • 1/4 cup Swanson® Thai Ginger Flavor Infused Broth
  • 1/4 cup canned coconut milk
  • pinch turmeric
  • dash cumin
  • Sriracha for drizzling (optional)
  • fresh cilantro for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Heat coconut oil over medium heat in an oven-proof skillet, preferably cast iron. Season chicken breasts with pepper only (I found that salting them made the entire dish taste like salt) and brown in your skillet, about 3-5 minutes per side. You will know chicken is ready to be turned when it easily releases from the pan. If you're having trouble, let it continue to cook. It will release when it's browned and ready.
  2. Transfer skillet to the oven and bake until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear, about 15 minutes.
  3. Return to stove and, over medium low heat, pour in broth, coconut milk, turmeric and cumin. Use a wooden spoon to stir, scraping up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan and incorporating them into your sauce. Serve with a drizzle of sriracha and fresh cilantro. Make sure you spoon extra sauce onto that chicken for serving--it's the best part! Leftovers may be refrigerated in an airtight container for 5-7 days.
http://arismenu.com/creamy-thai-ginger-skillet-chicken/

This blog post is sponsored by Swanson®.

HITS Palm Springs 70.3 Race Recap

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You guys. I still can’t believe I’m even writing this right now. I can’t believe I am a Half Ironman. Okay, so I know that it’s not “technically” a half “ironman” because it wasn’t an Ironman race, but that’s how I intend to refer to it from now on, so that’s that. ;)

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Okay, this is quite the long story so feel free to jump around, or grab a warm cup of coffee and settle in.

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On Thursday night / Friday morning around midnight, I was “surprised” when my friend Heather crawled into my bed and announced that she bought a plane ticket (she lives in Seattle) way back in September when I registered for the race to come out and cheer me on. Steve kind of sucks at surprises so I use the word surprise loosely haha, but this is honestly one of the most incredible and nicest things anyone has ever done for me. I lived with Heather when I began my healthy living journey, so she’s been there for me through all of the highs and lows of this process. There is something I can’t quite put into words about the support of the people who have known me since before any of this started. The people that knew me when I ate fast food twice a day and when I didn’t even know where our free super nice university gym was located, or how to work a single machine inside. Most of the people I see on a daily basis these days have only ever known me as being an endorphin junkie, and I’m not sure if they truly grasp what it means for me to get to this point. But Heather does, and having her support…well, I don’t know if I would have gotten to the finish line without her. And yes, I’m already crying and I haven’t even gotten to the start of the race.

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Okay, race day. I woke up around 4, got all my things together and headed to the park. This is a really small race with only around 600 people in the half and full combined, so it was easy to get in, get my things together, and before I knew it, it was time to put on the dreaded wetsuit. Well, I totally PRed in my wetsuit time, and I think it only took me, like, 20 minutes to get it on this time. ;) I said goodbye to Heather and Steve, and headed over to the water to try to get acclimated. I put my face in, swam a few strokes (definitely not enough) and tried to calm my nerves. The swim is by far my weakest/scariest/least enjoyable sport, and I’ve only done a total of 3 open water swims prior to this race. If I could change one thing about my training, that would have been it. I had full on panicked in my first open water swim prior to Esprit de She, but somehow managed to stay calm, and even enjoyed the swim once I finally got to that race. I had been nervous during my practice swim this time around, but handled it much better, and I truly thought I was getting past my fears about the water.

When the race started, I stood and I waited. I tried to let people go first, and I hung back to avoid the crowded pack, but eventually everyone else around me was just standing there too, and I started to feel anxious to get going, so I jumped in. I tried to take things slowly and make sure I kept my breathing under control, but before I knew it, I was completely panicked. My heart rate was out of control, and I couldn’t catch my breath. I flipped over onto my back over, and over, and over, and I just couldn’t calm down, which only made me start to panic more. I started to wonder if I got out, if they would still let me complete the bike and the run because I was so certain I could not finish this swim. My mind immediately went into this horrible place about how I was a failure, and I couldn’t do this, and how I would be letting everyone down, and I wasn’t even 10 minutes into the race! Although, it felt like I had been “swimming” for hours. Finally, I remembered that the first half of the loop is on the shallow end, so I swam a little closer to shore and stood up. I took a minute to try to calm my breathing. I got myself under control enough to make it through the first loop, but it was so rough. I feel like I spent about half of it on my back, I was wheezing from the tightness in my chest, and I was just miserable.

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Finally I got out to start my second loop, and I was dizzy and disoriented. I saw Heather and I tried to find a way to tell her I was struggling, but she just kept cheering and saying that I could do it. I took a few minutes (or at least it felt like a few minutes?) to stand and breathe, and finally my heart rate started to come down closer to normal. The crowds had thinned–I didn’t realize it in the moment, but I know the crowd was what put me into hyperdrive. In Esprit de She we had a much larger lake, and a floating start where I started in the back and had my own space immediately. This lake was so small, and I experienced the kicking/grabbing/almost being swum over for the first time, and I flipped the F out. Finally, I got back in for my second loop, and just like that, I was mostly fine. I remembered that I do actually enjoy swimming, and was able to swim the entire second loop with zero issues. The mind is so powerful, and it’s amazing that no matter how well I train my body, my mind can still get me on race day. By the time I saw the last buoy, I could’t believe I was already there. I had expected a horrible time based on the time I took to stand and calm down, and spending the majority of the first loop on my back, but I was shocked when I looked at my watch and it said something like 50 minutes. I think my official swim time was 51 minutes, and I still don’t know how that happened.

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When I got out I saw Steve, Heather, my step dad and my brother, and I was ecstatic. The worst was behind me, I knew I could do it from here. I got my wetsuit stripped off, and made my way to my transition area. I was mostly walking there because I still felt dizzy and disoriented, so I gave myself a moment to gain composure, and took my time. I got out onto my bike, and I seriously couldn’t wait to start riding. I had driven the course the day before and it was perfectly flat, and I had really high hopes for this part of the course.

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The first loop was FANTASTIC. This race is way more laid back, and there was so much room out on the road, that when my new friend Jonathan rode next to me for about 25 miles of the first 28, not one person called him out on it. I figured that if I was on the right where I was supposed to be, there was no way I was going to turn down the company! The course has you ride basically in the middle of nowhere which could get really boring over the course of 3.5 hours, so I was happy to have someone to talk to. The first half of the first loop went by in no time! We had a little bit of a tailwind, a lot of adrenaline, and fresh legs. At the turnaround my average pace was around 18.2, then we turned around and the second half was much slower going into the wind, but it hadn’t really picked up yet, so I ended the first loop in 1:40 with an average pace of 17.1, and I knew I had the energy to give the same effort to the second loop. I was so stoked, and I felt strong about the bike. I worked really hard on my cycling this training cycle, and I was ready to see it pay off!

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Then I turned around and it seemed like my tailwind was gone. I was still riding faster than the second half of my first loop, but I couldn’t get my pace back to where it had been. I just thought maybe the winds had shifted, and the ride back would be a little easier this time? Then I turned around and rode the longest 15 miles of my entire life. For most of the ride back, I couldn’t get my pace over 11-12 mph! Any time I would stop pedaling for even a second, it seemed like the wind would push me into a complete stop. I even pulled over at one point to check my bike and make sure nothing was wrong. I have never in my life experienced such an extreme shift in a bike ride, and as I watched all the people pass me on their aero bars (the only time I’ve ever been sad not to have a tri bike), I got into an other bad mental place. I had expected the bike to be my strongest section, and I was just so disappointed in myself that no matter how hard I tried, I could not pick things up. I watched other cyclist coming the other way riding in groups and DRAFTING! But instead of being annoyed that they weren’t following the rules, all I could do was wish for someone to draft off myself. I ended up finishing the bike in 3:34 which is right where I originally expected myself to be realistically, but I had secretly thought I had around a 3:25 in me, and I was having a hard time letting go of that disappointment.

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By the time I got to the run, I felt totally exhausted, and I half expected to just walk the entire thing. I’d already been moving for 4.5 hours, and a half marathon felt totally unachievable. I took my time in transition, stopped at the porta potty on my way out, then just slowly started to do my thing. Heather and Steve were at transition cheering, and that gave me a little push to get on my way. My plan was to run for 3:30, then walk 30 seconds. I let myself run as slow as I needed to as long as I stuck to that plan. The beginning had a nice little downhill, so I tried to ride it out and skipped walking to make the most out of it, but then I got into my rhythm, and it became like I was on autopilot. I certainly wasn’t running fast…like, at all, but I kept surprising myself every time I had the energy and mental game left to start running again. I felt like I had given up at the end of the bike, but I was surprising myself by finding a second wind. When I got to the first turn around, I realized that the course was short…like, very short…like an entire mile short! How does that even happen? Although, at the time, I can’t say that I was too disappointed, but I did at least consider running an extra mile after the finish. I’ll let you figure out for yourself whether or not that actually happened. ;)

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On my way back on my first loop, I ran into Steve on his mountain bike. He brought it to ride the course so he could yell at me as I went. His words, not mine. I thought I would need him there to force me to keep going when I wanted to quit, but actually he just ended up being enjoyable company. He reminded me to stick to my plan, and not try to speed up just because he was there. Right when I caught him the first time, all of the aid stations had run out of water, and I was starting to panic. It was pushing 80 degrees with no cloud cover, and I had gotten off the bike already feeling a little dehydrated. He rode down to a bike aid station, filled up his jersey with water bottles and started handing them out to everyone along the course! It was amazing! That was when I met my friend Martha. Steve handed her a bottle and we were running around the same pace, so we got to talking and stayed together, pushing each other all the way to the turnaround where I saw Heather. She ran with me for about a mile out of the park, then told me I’d see her at the end.

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Before I knew it, I’d found Martha again, and we stayed together for the entire rest of the course. Sometimes one of us would pull ahead, but then stop to walk, and we always ended up right back next to each other. Steve rode along side us for most of this loop, and we all just chatted and kept at it. Around mile 8-9 I could feel myself starting to get tired, but I just kept trying to stick with Martha, and she reminded me that now was the time to push, not to give up. Steve started telling me how proud he was of me, and how I was such an inspiration to him, and I told him it was too soon to make me cry. Before I knew it, we were heading back into the park, and Steve took off and told me he would see me at the finish line. Something inside of me turned on as I got that final push, stopped taking walking breaks, and picked up my pace. All of the sudden I was at the spot where I had turned around before, and on my way into the finish line. Once I could see it I picked up everything I had left and headed in with the biggest sprint I could muster. The announcer even comment and said “Now that’s a finish!”

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I crossed the finish line and immediately started crying. I did it. There were so many highs and lows over those 6 hours, 55 minutes and 31 seconds I was out there racing, but I made it. I accomplished something I never dreamed I could do, and there at the end, were 4 of the most special people in my life cheering for me, proud of my accomplishment, and ready to start celebrating.

To put the icing on the cake, I ended up placing second in the Athena class. This was probably the first time in my life I have ever been happy not to be skinny haha! A medal and a plaque–not too shabby for my first 70.3 if you ask me! My first, but definitely not my last!

Crockpot Spicy Sausage Split Pea Soup

Spicy Sausage Split Pea Soup: Warm, hearty, comforting and filled with bold flavor!

This post is sponsored by  Swanson®. All opinions are my own.

Crockpot spicy sausage split pea soup is a warm, comforting and hearty winter soup. Surprisingly healthy, this is the perfect dish for entertaining out of town family and friends.

Spicy Sausage Split Pea Soup

There is a chill in the air (yes, even in Phoenix), Christmas music is starting, and the holiday displays that have been out since before Halloween are starting to expand and take over. Basically it’s my (and many others’) favorite time of year!

Spicy Sausage Split Pea Soup: Warm, hearty, comforting and filled with bold flavor!

This year we have company coming in for Thanksgiving weekend, so I’m busy planning not just Thanksgiving dinner, but an entire weekend of entertaining. Phoenix has an amazing food scene, but eating out for every meal gets expensive, and sometimes I just want to show the people I love a great time at my house with food, wine, and lots of time to catch up.

Spicy Sausage Split Pea Soup: Warm, hearty, comforting and filled with bold flavor! Spicy Sausage Split Pea Soup: Warm, hearty, comforting and filled with bold flavor!

Spicy Sausage Split Pea Soup: Warm, hearty, comforting and filled with bold flavor!

I am beyond grateful to own a house with a guest room and, in my opinion, a pretty great kitchen that I can open to my friends and family year round, but especially around the holidays. There is nothing I love more than sharing my space with the people I love, and cooking them delicious food. I’m an extrovert to the max.

Spicy Sausage Split Pea Soup: Warm, hearty, comforting and filled with bold flavor!

When Swanson® approached me about creating some holiday dishes, I knew immediately that I wanted to create something comforting and filled with flavor. I use chicken broth all the time, but the new Flavor Infused Tuscan Chicken just takes it to the next level–it doesn’t overpower the flavor of the split pea soup, but it is perfectly spiced so that you don’t end up with bland soup.

Spicy Sausage Split Pea Soup: Warm, hearty, comforting and filled with bold flavor!

Split pea soup is traditionally made with a ham hock, but I wanted to change things up, so I started with some garlic (obviously) and spicy turkey sausage. I just love the flavor that turkey sausage brings to a dish, plus it beefs up the protein content, and turns split pea soup into a hearty and filling meal that won’t leave your hungrier guests asking “Soup? For dinner?” Trust me. I am the hungriest of all.

Spicy Sausage Split Pea Soup: Warm, hearty, comforting and filled with bold flavor!

All you have to do is heat the garlic in a little olive oil, then brown the meat and layer everything in your slow cooker, and let that baby cook off on low heat for 8-10 hours. You can cook it on high for less time, but I’m a firm believer of low and slow. The result is a fragrant, home-y, and impressive home cooked meal that will leave your guests happy and satisfied.

Crockpot Spicy Sausage Split Pea Soup

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 8 hours, 30 minutes

Total Time: 9 hours

Yield: 8-10 servings

Crockpot Spicy Sausage Split Pea Soup

Spicy sausage split pea soup is a warm, comforting and hearty winter soup. Surprisingly healthy, this is the perfect dish for entertaining out of town family and friends.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 20 ounces spicy turkey sausage, casings removed
  • 2 cups split peas
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • handful fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cups Swanson® Tuscan Chicken Flavor Infused Broth
  • ~1 teaspoon of your favorite hot sauce (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium low heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add turkey sausage, and cook until browned, about 10 minutes, stirring constantly.
  2. Transfer cooked sausage and garlic to your slow cooker. Layer split peas, carrots celery, onion, parsley and bay leaves on top. Pour broth on top and add hot sauce if desired. Do not stir. Cook on low for 8-10 hours until peas are very soft, and melt into the soup. Remove bay leaves, stir and serve. Leftovers may be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to one week.
http://arismenu.com/crockpot-spicy-sausage-split-pea-soup/

This blog post is sponsored by Swanson®.

Chocolate Hazelnut Macarons with Vanilla Bean Buttercream

Chocolate Hazelnut Macarons {with Vanilla Bean Buttercream}: Macarons have never been easier or more delicious!

Chocolate hazelnut macarons with vanilla bean buttercream taste like Nutella and they are so much EASIER than you think! Make this foolproof recipe to impress all your family and friends this holiday season.

Chocolate Hazelnut Macarons {with Vanilla Bean Buttercream}: Macarons have never been easier or more delicious!

Oh macarons…you tricky little things, with your harsh rep and amazing taste. A perfectly baked macaron is one of the most impressive things you can bring to any gathering, but so many people steer clear of them because they’re so intimidating. Aged egg whites, weighing ingredients…yikes. Well, I’m a rebel, and I don’t do any of that jazz. Yet I’ve still made many the successful macaron.

Chocolate Hazelnut Macarons {with Vanilla Bean Buttercream}: Macarons have never been easier or more delicious!

I promise they are so much easier than you think. Trust me, I do not have a good track record for cooking things that are difficult. If I can make them, so can you! And once you get the hang of it, it becomes so easy to change it up, and do your own creations. Or, after you make these, you might just want to keep making them over and over again. ;)

Chocolate Hazelnut Macarons {with Vanilla Bean Buttercream}: Macarons have never been easier or more delicious!

I mean, chocolate and hazelnut are pretty much made for each other. Why else is Nutella so freaking irresistible? And I have a weakness for anything vanilla bean, so the combo together is one of my favorites. I guarantee if you bring them to your next holiday gathering, they will be a hit! In fact, the last party I brought these two, someone I didn’t even know tracked me down to find out who made the macarons.

Chocolate Hazelnut Macarons with Vanilla Bean Buttercream

Rating 

Ingredients
For the Chocolate Hazelnut Macarons:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ½ cup hazelnut flour
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch process)
  • 2 egg whites
  • ¼ cup sugar
For the Vanilla Bean Buttercream:
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • seeds from ½ vanilla bean
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In your food processor, combine powdered sugar, hazelnut flour and unsweetened cocoa powder. Process until very fine. Sift mixture into a large bowl. You may need to reprocess any large chunks that can't make it through the sifter.
  3. In a stand mixer, beat egg whites using the whisk on medium speed until light and frothy. Reduce speed to low and slowly add sugar. Increase speed to high and beat until stiff peaks form. Be patient, it will take a few minutes. They should look like the top photo when you take the whisk out.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to egg whites and gently fold together using a spatula. Once ingredients are combined, fold for just an other few turns of the wrist--this is where you need to be very careful! Under-mix and you will have pointy shells, over-mix and you will have a soupy mess. You want the batter to just barely stream off the spatula when you remove it. I err on the side of caution and smooth out points later if they arise.
  5. Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a ½" round tip. Carefully pipe mixture into circles about 1½" in size. If tops are pointy, you may run your finger under water and gently smooth them. Let them stand for 30 minutes until tops are glossy and smooth to the touch.
  6. Bake until just set, about 10-12 minutes.Place baking sheets on wire racks and allow to cool completely.
  7. To make the buttercream, beat butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar and vanilla bean seeds and beat until well combined. Add vanilla extract and milk if necessary (if the texture seems good, leave out the milk) and beat for an other minute. If you prefer a thinner buttercream, add addition milk ½ tbsp at a time until desired consistency is reached.
  8. Gently remove macarons from baking sheet and place a small spoonful of filling on half of the shells, then top with remaining halves. Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to one week.
Notes
*If you cannot find hazelnut flour, you can make your own in the food processor or using a nut grinder, or you may buy online, or sub almond flour.
*Macarons are best the next day. Make 24 hours in advance if possible.
*Adapted from Oh Sweet Day

 

Crockpot Chicken Alfredo

Crockpot Chicken Alfredo

Rich and creamy chicken alfredo with ultra tender shredded chicken made in your slow cooker! This is a lightened-up version of your favorite comfort food that will leave your body and your taste buds happy!

Crockpot Chicken Alfredo

Are you guys ready for some creamy, dreamy, and HEALTHY Alfredo sauce? This has been my staple comfort sauce for years, and I can’t believe how long it took me to put it in a crockpot! Crockpot shredded chicken is the best. Every time. Just put any sauce you want with your chicken and cook it on low for about 5 hours and your chicken will be falling apart like magic!

Crockpot Chicken Alfredo

This recipe couldn’t be easier–you can either make your sauce ahead of time, or you can throw everything into your crockpot and then remove the chicken and hit the sauce with an immersion blender (or throw it in a regular blender). Either way, you come home to a healthy, comforting dinner just waiting for you. It is seriously the best feeling.

Crockpot Chicken Alfredo

Today I’m guest posting over at The Lean Green Bean, so make sure to click over for the recipe!

Ultimate Peanut Butter Cup Brownie Cookies

The Ultimate Peanut Butter Cup Brownie Cookies: Rich, fudgy, brownie-like chocolate cookies stuffed with melty peanut butter cups!

The ultimate peanut butter cup brownie cookies–rich, fudgy, brownie-like chocolate cookies stuffed with melty peanut butter cups. These cookies are the ultimate treat, and they will disappear in seconds anywhere you bring them.

The Ultimate Peanut Butter Cup Brownie Cookies: Rich, fudgy, brownie-like chocolate cookies stuffed with melty peanut butter cups!

So..I bake a lot. I’m sure you’re surprised by this. I bake a lot for the blog, and because I have a sweet tooth the size of Texas. In terms of things I love to eat it goes something like: dessert, goat cheese, dessert, sweet potatoes, dessert, carbs, dessert. Oh, and cilantro! For a long time I wondered WHY IS THE RICE AT CHIPOTLE SO GOOD? The answer? Cilantro. WHY CAN I NEVER GET ENOUGH MEXICAN FOOD? Cilantro. Don’t worry, there’s not cilantro in these cookies. That’s too much, even for me.

The Ultimate Peanut Butter Cup Brownie Cookies: Rich, fudgy, brownie-like chocolate cookies stuffed with melty peanut butter cups!

Anyway, since there are cookies in and out (gotta get them out, always get them out!) of my house pretty much 24/7, it’s not too often that Steve and I freak out and literally lose our shit over a cookie. In fact, normally I’m on pins and needles awaiting some huge amazed response about how he can’t believe the amazing-ness of my cookies, and how Betty Crocker should pretty much hang it up, because my cookies trump ALL OTHER COOKIES. Then he normally says something along the lines of “Yup. Pretty good.”

The Ultimate Peanut Butter Cup Brownie Cookies: Rich, fudgy, brownie-like chocolate cookies stuffed with melty peanut butter cups!

Most of the time, we each eat a cookie or two, then we send them off to work/the bike shop/my mom’s house/pretty much anywhere to avoid temptation. But these cookies? Well, let’s just say neither of us quite had the willpower to send them off, and I’m pretty sure I ate something like 3 in one day because I couldn’t stop. They were that good.

The Ultimate Peanut Butter Cup Brownie Cookies: Rich, fudgy, brownie-like chocolate cookies stuffed with melty peanut butter cups!

In fact, as I was scrolling through my photos deciding which cookie to post (because we’ll be lucky if any non-cookie makes the cut until New Years ;) ), as soon as I got to these I exclaimed “YES!!! MY FAVORITES!!” Well, I didn’t realize they were my favorites, but now that I think about it, it seems pretty obvious. I’m in deep love/obsession/transfixed magic with the chocolate brownie cookie, and these are stuffed with every kind of Reese’s peanut butter cup imaginable. I bought the variety pack, and the combo of milk, dark and white chocolate is absolutely to die for.

The Ultimate Peanut Butter Cup Brownie Cookies: Rich, fudgy, brownie-like chocolate cookies stuffed with melty peanut butter cups!

So what are you waiting for? Get on into your kitchen and make yourself some cookies!

Ultimate Peanut Butter Cup Brownie Cookies
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: Ari Ziskin
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2 dozen
The ultimate peanut butter cup brownie cookies--rich, fudgy, brownie-like chocolate cookies stuffed with melty peanut butter cups. These cookies are the ultimate treat, and they will disappear in seconds anywhere you bring them.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup [url href="http://arismenu.com/gluten-free-baking-blend" target="_blank"]gluten-free baking blend[/url] (or white whole wheat flour)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • dash salt
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5 tablespoons apple butter
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups mini Reese's cups, quartered*
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together baking blend, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together chocolate, egg, vanilla, apple butter, and sugars until well combined, then slowly beat in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in peanut butter cups. Cover and chill for 30 minutes. Do not chill for too long or chocolate will re-harden and dough will become stuck to your bowl.
  3. Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat. Use a small cookie scoop to transfer dough to prepared cookie sheets. Use a small piece of parchment paper sprayed with nonstick spray to lightly press down dough balls to flatten slightly (they don’t spread when they bake, so if you don’t flatten them, you will end up with round cookies).
  4. Bake for minutes until just set, about 9-11 minutes Let stand for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for one week (these cookies stay pretty darn soft and gooey for days!).
Notes
*I used a variety of dark, white and milk chocolate mini Reese's, which is what I'd recommend. Measure mini cups before quartering.

 

Gingerbread Pecan Butter & Gingerbread Smoothie

Gingerbread Pecan Butter & Gingerbread Smoothie

This post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Blendtec. All recipes and opinions are my own.

Get your gingerbread fix with this smooth, creamy gingerbread pecan butter, and a healthy, protein-packed gingerbread smoothie. Both are so easy to make, you’ll be eating them over and over again!

Stay tuned to the end of this post for an amazing BLENDTEC GIVEAWAY!!

Gingerbread Pecan Butter: Smooth, and creamy roasted pecan butter with all the flavor of a classic ginger molasses cookie
Gingerbread Smoothie: A healthy. protein-packed way to get your gingerbread fix!

So I get excited for pretty much every holiday flavor, but gingerbread is the one I always go crazy with. Ginger molasses cookies, ginger molasses cake, gingerbread ALL THE THINGS!

Gingerbread Pecan Butter & Gingerbread Smoothie

Okay so first let’s chat about this gingerbread pecan butter. It’s been a while since I shared a new nut butter. I usually just stick to my normal salted almond butter or honey roasted peanut butter, but I wanted to try something a little different. I’ve made pecan butter once before and it turned out so amazing, so I was super excited to use it again with some ginger and molasses.   Gingerbread Pecan Butter: Smooth, and creamy roasted pecan butter with all the flavor of a classic ginger molasses cookie The result is so smooth, creamy and gingerbread-y! I tried to keep the sugar level down, so if you want more of a dessert spread, I suggest adding a little more brown sugar. This is pecan butter with a gingerbread flavor, not like a cookie butter or nutella type spread. I’ve been spreading it on my waffles with pumpkin butter, and let me tell you, that combo is pretty fantastic.   Gingerbread Pecan Butter: Smooth, and creamy roasted pecan butter with all the flavor of a classic ginger molasses cookie I also used it to make this gingerbread smoothie! Blenders are most commonly used for smoothies, even though the good ones, like this Blendtec Designer 725, can do so much more! I also used the Blendtec Twister Jar to make this pecan butter, and then used the Blendtec WildSide Jar to make this smoothie, but you can make soups, blend ice cream bases, grind nuts to make things like almond meal, and so much more! These two recipes are just the tip of the iceberg!   Gingerbread Smoothie: A healthy. protein-packed way to get your gingerbread fix! Okay, back to the smoothie. It is protein-packed without protein powder. I have a confession that will probably get me booted from all of my fitness friend circles, but I’m just not into protein powder. There was a time (a long time) where I used it because I thought I was “supposed to”, ya know, to be “healthy”, but I honestly just prefer to get my protein naturally in my diet, and I never seem to have a problem getting enough. In fact, getting enough anything when it comes to food has never been my problem, if ya know what I mean. ;) Gingerbread Smoothie: A healthy. protein-packed way to get your gingerbread fix! Anyway, the smoothie, again, is not a dessert smoothie. It has a natural tartness from the Greek yogurt, and I wanted to use the sweetness from the banana with just a hint of molasses. Trust me, a little molasses goes a long way, so if you want a sweet smoothie, I recommend adding a little brown sugar. Otherwise, like the pecan butter, it is a healthy smoothie with gingerbread flavors, not like a gingerbread milkshake (which now I also want to make in my Blendtec ;) ).  

Gingerbread Pecan Butter & Gingerbread Smoothie

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 2 cups pecan butter; 1 smoothie

Serving Size: 2 tablespoons pecan butter; 1 smoothie

Gingerbread Pecan Butter & Gingerbread Smoothie

Ingredients

    For the Gingerbread Pecan Butter:
  • 3 cups roasted pecans
  • 1 tablespoons molasses
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • For the Gingerbread Smoothie:
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt (or dairy-free alternative)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • big handful ice cubes
  • 1 tablespoon gingerbread pecan butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon molasses
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/16 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

Instructions

    To make the Gingerbread Pecan Butter:
  1. Place roasted pecans in a high quality blender or food processor (such as Blendtec) and blend/process until smooth, about 3-5 minutes. Add molasses, brown sugar and spices and blend/process until smooth and combined. Store in an airtight container for 3-4 weeks at room temperature.
  2. To make the Gingerbread Smoothie:
  3. Place all ingredients in a high quality blender (such as Blendtec) and blend until smooth. Serve immediately.
http://arismenu.com/gingerbread-pecan-butter-gingerbread-smoothie/
 Wait! There’s more! Blendtec has generously offered to give away an extra Designer 725 model with Wildisde+ Jar plus an additional Wildside+ Jar! That’s a $750 value! I know you guys will love it as much as I do. Good luck! Giveaway starts at 10:00pm MST November 24th 2014 and ends at 11:59 pm MST December 3rd 2014. Open to US residents age 18 and older.  

For more from Blendtec, make sure to check them out on Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter | YouTube | Google+

This post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Blendtec.

Toasted Marshmallow Sweet Potato Ice Cream

Toasted Marshmallow Sweet Potato Ice Cream: All the flavor of classic sweet potato casserole in rich, creamy ice cream. The perfect make ahead Thanksgiving or any time dessert!

With all the flavor of classic sweet potato casserole, this Toasted Marshmallow Sweet Potato Ice Cream is the perfect Thanksgiving or any time dessert. Perfectly spiced, made with sweet potato puree and torched marshmallows.

Toasted Marshmallow Sweet Potato Ice Cream: All the flavor of classic sweet potato casserole in rich, creamy ice cream. The perfect make ahead Thanksgiving or any time dessert!

It’s my favorite week of the year!! I go absolutely nuts for Thanksgiving. It’s my second favorite holiday (my birthday is my favorite because I love to be the center of attention ;) ), and it’s my holiday to host. The first year I hosted, I made Thanksgiving brunch and dinner. It was exhausting, and it never happened again. Now I just put all my effort into the one meal, which is eaten as dinner, like a normal person, at 6pm. I don’t understand eating Thanksgiving “dinner” at noon. That is Thanksgiving lunch.

Toasted Marshmallow Sweet Potato Ice Cream: All the flavor of classic sweet potato casserole in rich, creamy ice cream. The perfect make ahead Thanksgiving or any time dessert!

My favorite dish has always been my mom’s sweet potatoes. The recipe came from her mom, and she has made it for Thanksgiving every year for as long as I can remember. I just die over those perfectly browned, gooey marshmallows sitting on top of my favorite food. I still refuse to make them because they will never taste as good as hers.

Toasted Marshmallow Sweet Potato Ice Cream: All the flavor of classic sweet potato casserole in rich, creamy ice cream. The perfect make ahead Thanksgiving or any time dessert!

This year I set out to make my favorite side dish into an ice cream, and oh my gosh…you guys. I can’t even handle it. I can’t go a single day without dipping my little spoon into that container. In fact, I knew I had to make a whole other batch to have enough for Thanksgiving! The good news? The recipe is super hands off. It has a lot of components, but the most time consuming part is toasting the marshmallows, and if you want to do that more quickly, you can broil them in the oven. I prefer to use a brulee torch for even toasting, but that is me being type A, and you certainly don’t have to be that meticulous. ;)

Toasted Marshmallow Sweet Potato Ice Cream: All the flavor of classic sweet potato casserole in rich, creamy ice cream. The perfect make ahead Thanksgiving or any time dessert!

Now before you go writing this off as super indulgent, I have to tell you that each serving has only 5.1 grams of fat and 155 calories. I usually don’t count these things, but I was curious because I figured the sweet potato, marshmallows and lower ratio of heavy cream (most ice cream recipes call for 2 parts heavy cream to 1 part whole milk, and I reversed that) would lighten it up a little. Those are the same nutrition figures as many varieties of frozen yogurt! The marshmallows do hike up the sugar content a bit, but this is dessert after all. And it is a Thanksgiving (or any time!) dessert that you can enjoy in moderation any time!

Toasted Marshmallow Sweet Potato Ice Cream

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 16 hours

Yield: about 6 cups

Serving Size: 1/2 cup

Toasted Marshmallow Sweet Potato Ice Cream

With all the flavor of classic sweet potato casserole, this Toasted Marshmallow Sweet Potato Ice Cream is the perfect Thanksgiving or any time dessert. Perfectly spiced, made with sweet potato puree and torched marshmallows.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 x 10 ounce bag of marshmallows (mini or regular)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (dark brown sugar preferred)
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon, optional

Instructions

  1. Pierce sweet potato several times with a fork. Roast at 400 degrees until very soft (you should easily be able to slide a fork right into the sweet potato), about 60-80 minutes. Let cool for about 15 minutes until it is easy to handle, then remove skins.
  2. Place marshmallows on a large cookie sheet lined with silpat or parchment paper. Either torch with a brulee torch, or broil until browned, about 5-10 minutes. Once marshmallows are well browned all around, place them and peeled sweet potatoes in a blender or food processor and blend/process until smooth and combined.
  3. In a small sauce pan, combine 1 cup whole milk with brown sugar and maple syrup. Bring just to a boil, then reduce heat and stir constantly until brown sugar is fully melted and combined. Transfer to blender/food processor and add remaining milk, heavy cream, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg. Blend/process to combine for about 15-30 seconds. Transfer to a large bowl or tupperware. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
  4. Freeze according to ice cream maker instructions. Add vanilla and bourbon (if desired) in the last 2 minutes of freezing. Transfer to a freezer safe container to finish freezing completely.

Notes

Before serving, let the ice cream soften for about 10 minutes at room temperature for optimal scooping.

http://arismenu.com/toasted-marshmallow-sweet-potato-ice-cream/

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars: Ultra silky pumpkin cheesecake with a gingersnap crust. My family's favorite Thanksgiving dessert!

Creamy, silky pumpkin cheesecake bars are my family’s Thanksgiving tradition. All the flavor you love from pumpkin pie in a rich, creamy cheesecake!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars: Ultra silky pumpkin cheesecake with a gingersnap crust. My family's favorite Thanksgiving dessert!

Heyyyy! Notice anything different around here? Ari’s Menu got a big makeover, and I couldn’t be more in love with the new look! My old design had been what I wanted at the time, but after a few years, I really felt like I had outgrown it, and there were a lot of new things I wanted. The amazing Julie from White Lights On Wednesday did an absolutely incredible job, and has been so kind and responsive to all of my questions. Even the dumb ones. If you’re in the market for a redesign, I seriously cannot recommend her enough! And if you’re on your phone or on a reader, please come over and look around. It’s so pretty and BRIGHT here now. Like my bright, sparkling personality. ;)

Okay, now let’s talk about food. Five years ago, I had just moved back from college and I had barely begun my cooking adventures. I was inspired by my college roommate/best friend who always created amazing things in the kitchen, and I knew I wanted to contribute a special Thanksgiving dessert.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars: Ultra silky pumpkin cheesecake with a gingersnap crust. My family's favorite Thanksgiving dessert!

I made these pumpkin cheesecake bars. Except they were a whole cheesecake. Anyway, the cheesecake was the hit of Thanksgiving, and no one had any idea it was secretly healthier. These days we have up to 20+ people over for Thanksgiving, so I make a big batch of cheesecake bars to make serving easier, but it’s the one tried and true recipe and tradition I’ve had in my family since I began hosting Thanksgiving, and it holds a special place in my heart.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars: Ultra silky pumpkin cheesecake with a gingersnap crust. My family's favorite Thanksgiving dessert!

As a food blogger, I am always looking to create new and interesting dishes, so I rarely make the same thing twice, but when The Recipe ReDux asked us to share a food memory, I knew I had to share with you one of my two Thanksgiving traditions. The other is this cornbread sausage stuffing which is also hugely popular in my family. So please join our family tradition, and make these cheesecake bars! Your guests will thank you!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Total Time: 10 hours

Yield: 16-20 servings

Serving Size: 1 bar

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Creamy, silky pumpkin cheesecake bars are my family's Thanksgiving tradition. All the flavor you love from pumpkin pie in a rich, creamy cheesecake!

Ingredients

    For the crust:
  • 12 ounces gingersnap or graham cracker crumbs (I used gluten-free)*
  • 4-5 tablespoons pumpkin butter
  • For the cheesecake:
  • 1 pound fat free cream cheese (2 x 8 ounce packages), at room temperature
  • 1 pound reduced fat cream cheese (2 x 8 ounce packages), at room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 x 15 ounce can pumpkin puree (or about two cups homemade pumpkin puree)
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon, optional
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free baking blend (or white whole wheat flour)
  • 3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9x13" pan with nonstick spray. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine gingersnap/graham cracker crumbs and pumpkin butter. Start with 4 tablespoons pumpkin butter and add a fifth if mixture seems too dry. Press crust into prepared baking pan and bake until browned and set, about 7-10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat cream cheese until fluffy and smooth. Add sugars and beat until combined. Beat in eggs one at a time until just combined, then beat in pumpkin, bourbon (if desired), and vanilla. Beat in baking blend and pumpkin pie spice. Pour over prepared crust and bake until set and center no longer jiggles, about 70-90 minutes.
  3. Cool completely to room temperature then cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Cut into bars to serve. Cheesecake bars will last about 1 week in the refrigerator.

Notes

*I've made these bars with a gingersnap crust and a graham cracker crust, and both ways work great! Choose whichever taste you prefer.

http://arismenu.com/pumpkin-cheesecake-bars-2/

Why I’m Obsessed with Nature Box

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Okay, okay, so I am totally late to the party. All of my friends have been getting monthly boxes from various different companies for a good long time, and I just never really got into it. I mean, I love getting presents in the mail, but I guess I just figured I could go to the store and pick out my own food. Well let’s just say all it took was this one delivery to change my mind for good.

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I couldn’t believe how much amazingness came in that one box! Everything I’ve tasted has been absolutely amazing (and super addicting). I even brought the praline pumpkin seeds into school to snack on when I had a long day and I ended up sharing them with my students who all loved them too. In fact, a few of them even told me they were going to ask their parents to sign up. #sorrynotsorry

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I love that each snack contains wholesome ingredients with no artificial sweeteners, flavors or colors, zero grams trans fats, and no high fructose corn syrup (you can learn more about their Product Promise here). When you join you receive 5 different snacks each month, and you can choose the products you’d like to receive, or let them surprise you! I chose praline pumpkin seeds, coffee kettle popcorn, santa fe corn stix, coconut cashews, and cherry ganache granola. They even have special sections in their snack catalogue based on dietary needs to help you easily see which snacks out of their 100+ options are right for you.

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The holiday season is the perfect time to sign up for Nature Box! With so many indulgent cookies and treats around, I love having my healthier snack food around to keep me on track and out of the store bought cookie box (eww…why??) in our faculty lounge. It’s also a great gift idea–I know I’d be stoked if someone signed me up and paid for a few months! Although, I’m already set on signing up myself. It’s just too great to pass up. And did I mention your first month is free? Sign up now–you’ll thank me later! ;) You can also follow Nature Box on Twitter | Facebook | Instagram.

 

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Roasted Butternut Bourbon

butternutbourbon-5

This Roasted Butternut Bourbon is the perfect fall beverage–infused with roasted butternut squash and spiced with cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg and vanilla. So much flavor, it will take any drink you make to the next level!

Roasted Butternut Bourbon: Infused with roasted butternut squash, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, and vanilla

So I don’t know exactly when I became grown up enough to drink things like bourbon. It’s like, at some point in your 20’s you all the sudden realize that whipped cream vodka may no longer be your drink of choice and you enter old man drinking status sipping on straight bourbon over ice. Just me?

Roasted Butternut Bourbon: Infused with roasted butternut squash, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, and vanilla

Infusing liquor is still pretty new to me, but after trying Nicole’s Pumpkin Pie Vodka last year (OMG it is AMAZING), I knew I wanted to experiment this year. Sometimes I feel like butternut squash is the redheaded step child of fall produce. Pumpkin and sweet potatoes are always stealing the show, but I love butternut squash too! It ends up being the perfect thing to kick this bourbon up to the next level!

Roasted Butternut Bourbon: Infused with roasted butternut squash, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, and vanilla

The spices are totally up to you. I used cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice and a vanilla bean, but use more/less/different spices depending on what you like. OMG and the vanilla bean? Well the seeds stayed inside and they are now soaked with bourbon. You better believe I saved that baby.

Roasted Butternut Bourbon: Infused with roasted butternut squash, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, and vanilla

Okay, so let’s talk about bourbon for a second. I did a lot of research about whether or not it is gluten-free. The answer is not technically. Although they say that the gluten goes away with distilling, most articles state that if you have Celiac or are very sensitive to cross contamination, it’s better to stay away. Steve is not super sensitive (and I only speculate that I actually feel better when I don’t eat it, but that is a subject for an other day), so it’s totally fine for us, but if you are more sensitive, you could definitely use Hudson Baby Bourbon which is made from corn instead of barley! Win!

butternutbourbon-5

Do keep in mind that you have to plan a little bit in advance with this baby. It needs 2-4 weeks to fully infuse, so just make sure you give yourself plenty of time. It’s really easy, and mostly hands off. In fact, you won’t believe just how easy it is to infuse your own liquors, and everyone you tell will be super impressed, and you can totally pretend it was lots of hard work, slaving over the stove, and all that. ;)

Roasted Butternut Bourbon

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: approximately 16 ounces

Serving Size: 1.5 ounces

Roasted Butternut Bourbon

This Roasted Butternut Bourbon is the perfect fall beverage--infused with roasted butternut squash and spiced with cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg and vanilla. So much flavor, it will take any drink you make to the next level!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 large butternut squash, seeded and cut into 1-2" cubes
  • 750 ml bourbon
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 4 whole allspice berries
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 nutmeg, smashed*
  • 1 vanilla bean, sliced length-wise

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Roast butternut squash for 15 minutes. Cool completely.
  2. Place roasted butternut squash and all remaining ingredients in a large jar or tupperware. Store in a cool, dry place for 2-4 weeks (longer if you want a LOT of butternut squash flavor, less if you just want a hint), swirling ingredients around every few days.
  3. Once your infusion in complete, line a fine mesh strainer with cheese cloth and strain liquid through into a large bowl (preferably one with a pouring spout). Pour ingredients into an airtight storing jar or bottle (a funnel helps if the bottle is small, or your bowl doesn't have a pour spout).

Notes

*To smash nutmeg, take half a piece of nutmeg, place parchment paper (or even a thin dish towel) on top and hit with a meat tenderizer. You should only need to do this once, just to break it up a bit. Recipe inspired by The Marvelous Misadventures of a Foodie

http://arismenu.com/roasted-butternut-bourbon/