Salted Butter and Chocolate Chunk Shortbread

First things first…These cookies were the highlight of last weekend.  Sad but true.

I saw these cookies on Instagram and thought nothing of it.  And then I saw them again.  And again.  And again.  Everyone was making these buttery, addictive cookies.

And because everyone else was doing it, I had to do it, too.  (Thankfully I don’t have this mentality about a lot of things – but cookies, yes.)

The recipe comes from Alison Roman, who worked for Bon Appetite and just released her cook book, “Dining In.”  In all honesty, I had never heard of her until I saw her cookies break the internet but I know I’m so glad I know of her.   (Start following her on instagram, you won’t regret it.)

The cookies aren’t anything crazy – unless you call over two sticks of butter in one recipe “crazy.”  I call it delicious.  The recipe is simple and if you follow the instructions, I promise you’ll be rewarded in the end.  And yes, you must let the dough rest for two hours.  The dough is then brushed with egg and then rolled in sugar that gives the cookie an insane texture.

shortbread

They are everything.  Chocolatey.  Rich.  Salty.  Buttery.

My trick is to heat them for a little bit in the microwave before eating.  And I dare you to try and eat only one.

 

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Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas

#meatlessmonday vs. #mexicanmonday

I typically choose Meatless Monday but last night Mexican won by a landslide.

I was craving something hearty and warm.  And after seeing Jessica’s blog post this morning, I couldn’t get enchiladas off my mind.

These enchiladas are full of shredded chicken, black beans, a homemade enchilada sauce (so easy!) and cheese.  Lots and lots of cheese.  The corn tortillas are rolled with the chicken and bean mixture inside before being topped with more enchilada sauce and CHEESE.

to note: You could totally use a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store to make your life easier when it comes to the chicken.  I went the “difficult” route and poached a couple of pieces of chicken and then shredded them.

After the enchiladas bake until bubbly perfection they are topped with cilantro, Greek yogurt and salsa.

It was everything I wanted and more.

CHEESE!

It warmed me up and filled me up and made me totally NOT regret breaking the #meatlessmonday rule.

 

Christmas Vacation

And just like that the ornaments are being taken off the tree, the wreaths are being taken down and Christmas has come to an end.

Big Guy and I have a few days off together over the next week and I’m excited to get the house cleaned up, all our presents put in their new places and cooking some dinner at home for the two of us.  Big Guy’s birthday is on Thursday so I’m sure we’ll be cooking up something amazing and popping open a bottle of bubbles.

Here’s a recap of our wonderful, joyful, delicious Christmas in Charlotte:

On Tuesday we made a quick pit-stop in Raleigh on our way to Charlotte to pick up a couple of last minute Christmas gifts as well as to kick off our Christmas vacation with sushi at Mura.

We arrived in Charlotte after driving through lots of rain (rain seems to be the theme of the past 5 days) and it was so good to see my parents and brother.  We ran a few errands and grabbed an easy dinner before calling it a night.

Wednesday started off with an early workout (actually late since it wasn’t at 5am) and then I baked my little heart out most of the day.  Sausage balls and banana bread galore!  That evening we had Christmas dinner at my Mimi’s house.  It was a smaller-than-usual celebration but it was wonderful despite one of my brothers and sister-in-law not being able to make it.

Christmas Eve morning started like any other day with a workout and then I baked my Dad’s birthday cake (he shares a birthday with Jesus and we celebrate this birthday on Christmas night).

Before we went to church we grabbed a late lunch at Paco’s Tacos and we all deemed that it is going to be our new Christmas Eve tradition.

The margaritas were fantastic and the food was awesome.  I started with a Cucumber and Jalapeño Margarita and since we were all starving, we shared some guacamole and queso.  For lunch, I ordered the Fiesta Bowl with Grilled Shrimp.  Can’t wait to continue this Mexican Christmas Eve tradition.

Christmas Eve night we have the tradition of cooking soup.  Despite the warm weather, both my Mom and I prepared a big pot of soup and we enjoyed the soup with ultimate grilled cheese sandwiches.  My mom made a roasted red pepper and gouda soup and I made a Loaded Baked Potato Soup.

Post-soup we spent the evening tidying up the house and getting ready for 20 plus folks the next morning for our Christmas Brunch.  Christmas Brunch has been a tradition that has taken place since I can remember.  The menu is always the same:  Monkey Bread, Sausage Balls, Grits Casserole, Sausage and Cheese Casserole, French Toast Bake and fruit.  Oh – don’t forget about mimosas.

Christmas morning came and I was so excited to see all my siblings and my niece and nephew.  The whole day was wonderful and it flew by way too fast.  As I mentioned before, we celebrated my Dad’s birthday with an Italian feast of lasagna, salad and red wine.

We had planned to come home on Saturday but we ended up deciding to stay the day and spend a little more time with my parents and my youngest brother.

We went to Rooster’s for lunch which was awesome (minus a little slower than desired service) and then we had a pizza and game night.  Big Guy is a party pooper and didn’t play dominoes with us – he missed out!

The perfect end to a wonderful few days.

I hope you all had a magical Christmas – treasure the time between now and next Christmas though – 2016 will fly by.

Enjoy your Monday!

Honey and Sesame-Glazed Chicken with Green Beans

Crunch time!

In between wrapping presents and and shuffling to and from every social gathering possibly, I’m sure everyone needs a quick and easy dinner that requires minimal ingredients and prep.

And guess what, Honey and Sesame-Glazed Chicken with Green Beans is both of those.

Not only does the recipe only take 20 minutes from start to finish but it only requires 9 ingredients.

The sweetness of the honey and the nuttiness of the sesame oil pair perfectly with the tangy whole-grain mustard.

I mentioned Lusty Monk Mustard yesterday and I’m mentioning it again today – it is THAT good.

We tried Lusty Monk for the first time in Asheville and ended up purchasing a jar – we’re already planning on ordering more.  It’s local and absolutely incredible.

I used a mixture of breasts and thighs when I prepared this dinner and both worked wonderfully.

The beans are simply tossed with a little butter, salt, pepper and pecans for some more nuttiness and crunch.

The perfect dinner the week of Christmas – because your “To Do” list keeps growing and your time keeps dwindling.

 

One-Pan Pasta with Ricotta and Artichokes

The title is a lie.

At least it was in my house.

This recipe took me two pots – because we aren’t fancy enough to have fresh pasta in our grocery stores.

So I had to boil water and cook up some {gluten-free} linguine noodles.

If you’re like me, this ends up being Two-Pan Pasta with Ricotta and Artichokes. 

And another thing our small town doesn’t carry, frozen artichoke artichoke quarters.  Thankfully, the canned worked just fine.

Before I added the cheese on top I felt that the dish was a little “liquidy” – so I actually spooned out a lot of the excess.  To avoid this step, I would cut down on the amount of stock you add to the recipe.  I honestly think a cup would be plenty.

Now that I’ve totally told you what’s wrong with this dish, let me tell you what’s right.

THE FLAVOR!

I adore cooked mushrooms.  Like, I could eat a whole pan by myself.  This dish is very similar to your favorite spaghetti – garlic, fire roasted tomatoes, meaty mushrooms but you add in some artichokes for a little somethin’-somethin’.

In addition to mozzarella there’s also some ricotta which adds a level of creaminess that’s fantastic.

This dish is:

super comforting

carb-alicious

meaty (without meat)

full of flavor

creamy and rich

Oh, and I thought that the final results looked festive.

Red tomatoes, white cheese and green basil.

2 weeks and 2 days until Christmas.  Eeeek.

Warm Caramelized Fennel and Leek Cheese Dip

I had big plans for pizza this past Sunday.  But a sushi-filled lunch didn’t leave much room for a big, cheesy pizza.  Instead of pizza we opted for another one of my favorite things in life:  dip!  Specifically a cheese dip.  But this one is a little fancy.  And by fancy I mean it uses brie instead of your usual cream cheese.

In addition to brie, the dip is full of fennel which sweetens when it caramelizes.  Leeks perfume the dip with a light onion flavor that I adore and garlic makes it well, garlicky and wonderful.

Lemon zest brightens the entire appetizer and is one of my favorite flavors.  A little heat comes from the addition of red pepper flakes – I would double the amount next time.

Parmesan adds a salty, delightful cheesiness and mozzarella on top makes it everything you want in a dip – ooey and gooey.

It’s creamy, sweet and savory.  And perfect served with toasted baguette.

I sliced up a loaf of wheat baguette, brushed each slice with a little melted butter and baked until crisp but not too crunchy.

Who can argue with cheese dip and bubbles for dinner?

{virtual} coffee chat

It’s a rainy and chilly Monday morning so grab yourself a cup of coffee and let’s chat.

{source}

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d tell you that there are a little over two weeks before Christmas and I’ve barely scratched the surface on my “to do” list.  On the top of the list:  Christmas shopping and baking!

If we were having coffee this morning…We’d chat about Christmas traditions.  One of my favorites is swapping ornaments with Big Guy.  This year he gifted me with a Yoga Santa (though he wants to pretend it’s a PiYo or Barre Santa).

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d tell you all about our date night on Friday at SoCo. It was the first night of the December menu and I had been dreaming about the scallops knowing they were going to be an entree.  They were amazing. Also amazing – the peppermint-chocolate dessert.  It reminded me of the green mint chocolate chip ice cream that I adored growing up.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that Saturday we headed to Asheboro for a wedding reception for one of Big Guy’s childhood buddies that had a destination wedding last month.  It was fun to get dressed up and mingle with the ladies.  We danced the evening away and enjoyed lots of laughter.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d tell you about our lunch yesterday on the way back home at Mura.  I was in sushi heaven.  We’ve gotten to know some of the staff and the chef and they let us taste a few of the new items that will be debuting on the menu later this week.  It’s hands-down my favorite sushi restaurant ever and I seriously think I could eat sushi every day.  I had to try the December feature – the Christmas Roll.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d let you on to a little secret…Big Guy loves Hallmark movies – especially this time of the year. Last night we watched a new movie – The Christmas Detour.  I seriously wish I was cuddled on the couch this morning watching holiday movies.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d tell you that it’s a short work-week for me because we have a fun weekend ahead.  Thursday afternoon can’t get here soon enough.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d tell you to enjoy every moment of the next three weeks.  Don’t get so caught up in worldly things that you don’t enjoy the magic of this season.

If we were having coffee this morning…Before we parted ways, I would wish you a week full of: