Peanut Butter and Jelly Hand Pies

One of the most classic on-the-go eats, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, gets a dessert makeover in this recipe for Peanut Butter & Jelly Hand Pies.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Hand Pies

Stuffed with crunchy peanut butter cream and tangy grape jelly, these golden brown beauties would be a perfect addition to any picnic or afternoon at the beach.  And given that it’s going to be 80+ in San Diego this week, and I’ve got the next 4 days off, I see an afternoon or two at the beach in my very near future.

Luckily, these hand pies are super simple to prepare, so I can easily whip them up as needed.  The key?  Store-bought puff pastry!  Start by swirling together some cream cheese, chunky peanut butter, honey, sugar and milk until fully mixed.  If you can manage to not eat the entire filling with just a spoon, spread some on cut discs of thawed puff pastry.  Ideally, the puff pastry would be made with just butter (Dufour brand), but I’ve also made this recipe with cheaper types of puff pastry (Pepperidge Farm, I’m looking at you), and it turns out just as well.  Next, top each swath of peanut butter filling with a spoonful of grape jelly, then seal the pie closed with another puff pastry disc.  Be sure to crimp the edges all pretty with a fork.  After a quick bake in the oven and a brief rest, you’ll be enjoying these warm, flaky pockets of goodness.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Kale Salad with Miso-Lemon Vinaigrette

Kale is still frequently on the menu at my house, and this Kale Salad with Miso-Lemon Vinaigrette is my latest creation.

Kale Salad with Miso Lemon Vinaigrette

Made with miso, lemon juice, honey, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper, this Miso-Lemon Vinaigrette is simple to prepare, but still packed with flavor.  It’s salty.  It’s tart.  It’s bright.   And it’ll make you go “Oh my!” after just one taste.  I’ve paired this bold dressing with an equally full-flavored green: kale.  Prepared like my Raw Kale Salad, the chopped kale gets tossed with several spoonfuls of vinaigrette, then sits for a short while until tender.  A final sprinkling of chopped, roasted pistachios and flaky sea salt add crunch and contrast.

Miso-Lemon Vinaigrette has become one of our weekly standards, because it pairs so well with many other things.  The sauce is on the thinner side, so it packs a big flavor punch without adding too much heft.  I like to drizzle it on all sorts of salads, roasted vegetables and seafood.  Bonus!  The vinaigrette is made with mainly fridge and pantry staples.  You can keep most ingredients on hand, and then pick up fresh lemons as needed.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Hard-Boiled Egg Toast with Harissa Butter

I’m keeping things real simple today.

Hard Boiled Egg Toast Harissa Butter

My love for healthy, flavor-packed toast isn’t limited to just avocado variations.  No, my friends, I am equally enthusiastic about the beautiful open-faced sandwich above. Meet: Hard-Boiled Egg Toast.

Now I know the combination of eggs and toast isn’t a novel one, but the addition of Harissa Butter takes these breakfast staples to the next level.  Let me explain.

Harissa Butter is a simple mixture of softened butter, Harissa (a North-African chile paste), lemon juice and salt.  This infused butter gets schmeared on a crusty slice of hot toast then topped with sliced hard-boiled egg, picked parsley leaves, salt and pepper.  The combination of flavors is incredibly satisfying.  I’ve been known to eat a slice or two for lunch or dinner, and sometimes I’ll even throw a fresh salad into the mix.

Not familiar with Harissa?  Check out my recipe here.  I also have a tube of Harissa in my fridge as a backup.  Both are tasty options.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Porchetta Pork Tenderloin

I have been dying to share this recipe for Porchetta Pork Tenderloin with you guys.

Porchetta Pork Tenderloin

Why?  Because it’s quickly become my new favorite weeknight meal.  With just 10 minutes of prep work and 30 – 40 minutes cook time, this show-stopper entree can turn a boring weeknight dinner into a dazzling pork on pork extravaganza.  And I mean, how bad could that be?

Before we get to this pork-tastic recipe, let’s talk about porchetta in general.  Porchetta, Italian in origin, is traditionally made by stuffing an entire de-boned pig with ground pork (usually offal), and seasonings.  Garlic, rosemary, fennel, salt and pepper are most common.  The pig gets tied up around a spit, and then roasted until the skin is crispy and crackly and the insides are moist and tender.  This Italian specialty has been all the rage here in America over the past several years.  Here’s the porchetta sandwich I had from the People’s Pig in Portland.  And last year, I made a whole porchetta roast for Valentine’s Day (here’s a slice photo)!  Both were seriously tasty.

Traditional porchetta is super labor-intensive, and even the roast I linked to above took some time to prepare.  This Porchetta Pork Tenderloin recipe captures the flavors and textures of it’s traditional counterpart without the hours and hours of prep and cooking.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Pasta Puttanesca with Roasted Cauliflower

Pasta Puttanesca aka pasta in the style of the ladies of the night aka slut’s spaghetti is on the menu today.

Pasta Puttanesca with Roasted Cauliflower

If you are unfamiliar with this dish, you may be scratching your head at all this whore talk so early on a Tuesday morning, but let me explain.  Pasta Puttanesca is a classic Italian dish where pasta (spaghetti pictured above) is dressed in a sauce made of tomatoes, garlic, olives, capers and red chile flakes.  Rumor has it that the ladies of the night would simmer this sauce, and let the aroma waft out of their open windows with the intent of luring men into their establishment for the evening.  Others say that this sauce was popular amongst these ladies, because all the ingredients can be stored in the pantry.  No need to go to the market to get fresh ingredients between clients!

Whores aside, let’s talk about this version of Pasta Puttanesca.  There are many aspects of the traditional dish that are very enticing.  Pasta Puttanesca is easy (no pun intended), quick-to-prepare, and can be made with a handful of pantry staples.  Here, I’ve added freshness and substance by way of Roasted Cauliflower, freshly chopped parsley and lemon wedges to finish.  Cauliflower gets wonderfully nutty when roasted, and this flavor pairs nicely with the olives, capers and tomatoes.  Parsley and lemon add fresh hits of green and acid for balance.  Each bite is incredibly satisfying.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Orange Carrot Chia Smoothie

Last year, I couldn’t get enough of chia pudding.  This year, my new obsession is the chia smoothie.  Cold, creamy, and easy-to-prepare, this healthy breakfast beverage is packed with big, bright flavors.

Orange Carrot Chia Smoothie

My Orange Carrot Chia Smoothie starts with a base of hydrated chia seeds, 2 tablespoons of seeds in 1 cup of orange juice.  This base is then blended with chopped carrot, almond milk ice cubes, almond butter, honey, vanilla, cinnamon and freshly squeezed lemon juice.  The chia seeds thicken the drink while adding major nutrients, including fiber, protein and calcium.  The texture is smooth and silken, and the taste is reminiscent of an orange creamsicle.   A well-balanced, incredibly delicious orange creamsicle!  I actually debated calling this drink the Orange Creamsicle Chia Smoothie.  Or the Easiest-Way-To-Down-A-Bunch-Of-Carrots Chia Smoothie.  The carrot flavor hangs out in the background, adding just the right amount of vegetal sweetness.  It’s seriously tasty.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Roasted Salsa Verde Recipe

Salsa Verde was the first salsa I attempted to make at home. Let’s just say my initial batch was a complete disaster.

Roasted Salsa Verde Recipe

It was 2008, I was living with several roommates at the time, and I was using this recipe for reference. My instincts told me that a quantity of 5 serrano chiles would make the finished salsa waaaaay too spicy, but I went ahead and made the recipe as written. Instincts were something I wasn’t listening too that much at the time, so my first batch of Salsa Verdes was fiery to say the least. Instead of throwing the salsa out, I tried to make the best of it, and my roommates and I suffered through several extremely spicy meals together.

Since then, I’ve 100% mastered this vibrant salsa. Made with roasted tomatillos, jalapeños, garlic, scallions, cilantro and lime juice, this salsa verde recipe is bright, balanced and so, so addicting. Continue reading for the recipe.

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Broccoli and Potato Soup

A simple soup that nourishes the body and soul.

Broccoli and Potato Soup During the winter months in San Diego, when the weather at night can dip into the 40’s (sometimes 30’s!), I find myself craving soup time and time again.  In the past seven days, I seriously made three different types of soup and two batches of stock.  This Broccoli and Potato Soup was my favorite of the three, and surprisingly, the healthiest as well!

The recipe starts with crisp stalks of organic broccoli.  I am making the organic distinction here, because the main flavor of this soup comes from the broccoli, so it’s got to be top notch.  That means organic and preferably local.  Two pounds of said broccoli get divided and cooked two different ways.  The first pound is tossed with olive oil and salt, then roasted until tender, caramelized and aromatic.  The second pound is simply added to the soup raw.  This split treatment results in the most wonderful depth of flavor (with minimal added effort!).  Deep savory notes from the roasted broccoli, and fresh, grassy notes from the raw broccoli.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Thanksgiving Meat & Cheese Board + Cranberry Mostarda

I know we covered Thanksgiving Appetizers here, but I’d like to elaborate a bit more on the Meat & Cheese Board element.

Cheese Board A Meat & Cheese Board is a simple way to serve a variety of crowd-pleasing flavors with minimal effort.  For a smaller dinner party (6-10 guests), start with 2 cheeses, 1 meat  and 3 types of crackers or bread.  For a larger party (20 – 25 guests) up the amounts to 5 cheeses, 2 meats and 4 types of crackers or bread.  Each meat, cheese, cracker and bread should vary in flavor to give your guests plenty of tasting options.  To up the ante, serve something homemade that will complement the Meat & Cheese Board.  This could be homemade pickles, chutney, dip, spread, aioli, or compound butter (to name just a few).  Here’s what I have going on in the picture above:

Cheese: Kerrygold Dubliner, Kerrygold Sharp Cheddar with Irish Whiskey
Meat: Proscuitto
Crackers and Bread:  Trader Joe’s Rosemary Raisin Crisps (best crackers EVER), Trader Joe’s Rosemary Crackers, Sliced Baguette
Homemade:  Cranberry Mostarda

When preparing an appetizer spread for a smaller party, I like to serve high impact cheeses.  The Kerrygold Dubliner and Sharp Cheddar both have big, bold flavor that can easily be enjoyed as is or on a cracker topped with mostarda.  For a large party, I like to layer in some lower impact (but still delicious) cheeses, including brie and goat cheese.  Another nice touch is to serve 1 cheese that’s a personal favorite.  When my guests come over for a dinner party, they can always expect to see Manchego on the table.  I just love it!

For meat, Proscuitto, salami, mortadella, sopressata or hard chorizo are all good options.  Don’t go overboard with the meats though.  With too many options, guests might fill up before dinner!  For crackers and bread, I always hit up my local Trader Joe’s.  They have a wide variety of basic and unique crackers, plus they are continuously releasing new seasonal flavors.  Trader Joe’s also sells several types of baguette perfect for slicing and serving.  The two crackers I selected above are flavored with rosemary, a flavor I associate with the Holidays.

Finally, let’s talk about this Cranberry Mostarda.  Sweet and sour, a mostarda is an Italian condiment made with fruit and a mustard-flavored syrup.  Here, fresh cranberries are cooked in a bold mixture of white wine, white wine vinegar, sugar, mustard powder, mustard seeds, cinnamon, ginger and clove until tender and collapsed.  The sauce is finished with kosher salt and a bright hit of fresh orange zest.  This seasonal sauce pairs well with most cheeses, and could event be used as cranberry sauce for dinner!  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Smoked Turkey + Garlic-Herb Dry Brine

I should start by saying that turkey isn’t really my thing.

Smoked Turkey Year after year, I’ve failed miserably at making that perfect, picturesque Thanksgiving turkey.  The first Thanksgiving I hosted in 2009 (pre-Kitchen Konfidence) was the worst.  The night before Thanksgiving, I was fumbling around trying to wet brine a 22 pound turkey, salt water and turkey contamination splashing all about my kitchen.  The next day, I got the turkey out of the brine (hands burning from the salt), dried, and on to the roasting pan.  A roasting pan that I later realized was too big to fit in the oven.  At the time, I didn’t own a meat thermometer, so I kept the turkey (which was sitting cramped in a 9 x 13 baking dish) in the oven until it “looked good.”  I remember the smile on my face as I brought the glorious golden turkey to the table, and the disappointment that quickly followed as I started to carve.  The turkey was bone dry with the texture of powdery saw dust.

In 2010, I surveyed all my friends and family for the perfect Thanksgiving turkey recipe.  Results and processes were widely varied.  Bake the turkey in a bag.  Roast the turkey covered in cheese cloth and baste in butter every 15 minutes.  Deep fry the turkey.  Start in a high oven.  Start in a low oven.  Cook the turkey in parts.  Somehow, everyone was cooking their turkey perfectly except for me!  Overwhelmed by the options, I chose what I thought was the easiest suggestion, “cook the turkey in parts.”  After a significant struggle to actually get the turkey in parts, the finished bird was blasé at best.

The next  year, I cooked 2 smaller turkeys side-by-side, slathered in truffle butter and fresh herbs.  Results were juicy, but underwhelming.  I was expecting a WOW moment given the white truffle butter.  And in 2012, I reverted back to turkey in parts.  Uninspired, and a bit dry.

In 2013, everything changed.  Last year, I put Jorge in charge of making the turkey.  He prepared this Smoked Turkey, and the finished bird was incredible.  Juicy insides with a mouthwatering, smoky flavor.  Our Thanksgiving guests couldn’t stop raving about it.  Preparing the turkey on the grill also freed up some much-needed oven space.  We had such an awesome turkey experience last year, that I just had to share it with you all this year!  Continue reading for the recipe.

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