I've been wanting to make chestnut soup for a couple of years now but I was waiting for the right occasion. I actually ended up forgetting about my intention to make the soup until I was at Costco last week and saw roasted chestnuts! I immediately texted my mom asking her to pick up chestnuts so that I could make the soup for Thanksgiving dinner once I got home. I ended up making the soup the day before, up until the point of adding half and half, and then added the half and half when I reheated it for our dinner and that worked really well! I'd almost recommend it if you're planning on entertaining guests- then you can time things better because all you have to do is reheat!

chestnut soup

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups rinsed and thinly sliced leeks (the white and tender green parts)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon rosemary
2 teaspoons salt
3-4 cups chopped potatoes
2 cups whole chestnuts (or, 1 1/2 cups roasted and peeled chestnuts)
2 bay leaves
5 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups half and half

To roast the chestnuts, cut the end of each chestnut off with a sharp knife so that the chestnut doesn't explode when heated. Roast over medium heat for 20-25 minutes, moving the chestnuts frequently with a wooden spoon until the chestnuts brown a little bit. Remove from the heat and let cool. Then peel back the shell with your hands while you begin to prepare the soup. In a soup pot, warm the butter and olive oil on medium low heat. Add the sliced leeks and sauté until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic and sauté for another three minutes. Stir in the nutmeg, rosemary, and salt. Add the chopped potatoes, chestnuts, and bay leaves and stir to coat with the leek mixture. Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat and let simmer for 45 minutes. Using an immersion blender, remove roughly a cup at a time and purée the soup until homogenous. Pour puréed soup back into the soup pot. At this point you can store the soup overnight if you'd like and pick up from here before serving. Otherwise, proceed to add the half and half and boil to your desired thickness. Salt to taste.


My brother and I arrived for Thanksgiving dinner and my grandma revealed a surprise: mini pecan pies. She and my dad had already made enough sweets to last through the new year (Pumpkin cake, pumpkin pie, granola bars, and- my favorite- strawberry rhubarb pie) but she remembered my brother's favorite part Thanksgiving and had to add pecan pie to the list. What a sweet grandmother:) And there's no guilt here since they are bite size! Plus, then we have more room in our tummies to enjoy all of our other treats!

mini pecan pies

3/4 cup chopped pecans
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons dark corn syrup
1 egg
2 teaspoons melted butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of kosher salt
1 package of mini-phyllo shells

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine pecans, brown sugar, corn syrup, and the egg in a small bowl. Add in melted butter, vanilla, and the salt and mix until completely combined. Lay out mini shells onto the prepared baking sheet and fill each she'll with two tablespoons of pecan filling. Bake for 20 minutes until set.


Last week I wanted to bring a pumpkin pie to an event, but I knew that it would be difficult to serve to a crowd. So, instead of using a traditional pie pan and pie crust, I decided to create a bar version of the pie by patting some dough into a 9X13 and pouring the pumpkin pie filling over it. It's essentially the same as a pumpkin pie, just much easier to serve! I actually might even prefer the bars to the pie- the sugar in the crust caramelizes and complements the pumpkin flavor really nicely!

perfect pumpkin pie bars

1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup butter, cold

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 eggs
1 can pumpkin
1 can evaporated milk

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. To make the crust, mix together the flour, sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Cut the butter into tablespoon-sized pieces and cut into the flour mixture with a fork. Alternatively, you can do these two steps in a food processor- that makes it really easy. Line a 9X13 baking pan with parchment paper and pat the dough evenly across the bottom of the pan. For the filling, combine the sugar, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, and ground cloves in a bowl. Mix the eggs, pumpkin and evaporated milk in another bowl. Add the sugar mixture to the pumpkin mixture and stir to combine. Pour over the crust layer and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 40-50 minutes, until the center slightly moves when you gently shake the pan. Let cool for 30 minutes, then pull the bars out of the pan using the parchment paper as a lift. Cut into squares and serve slightly warm or at room temperature. 


I love cornbread! I usually like to make it from scratch, of course, but I do have a favorite mix... the Trader Joe's cornbread mix is amazing! I love the process of baking, but that mix is too good to pass up. That being said, I've always been biased towards Trader Joe's mix and have disregarded Jiffy mix thinking it was too boring. But I realized recently that I'm sure there has to be a form of Jiffy that I appreciate... and there definitely is. Jiffy corn pancakes... yum! But not the recipe on the box- I actually combined it with regular Bisquick pancake mix. You must know, it's painful to write this.. it feels like a swear word to me. First of all, I'm using one mix. Second of all, I'm using another mix! Ahh! But, there are two reasons why I'm willing to post this:

1. THEY ARE SO GOOD! They are so fluffy and moist and rich and crispy on the outside. Mmmm. Perfect pancakes.
2. IT IS SO EASY! Really. It takes three minutes to mix together.

Can't beat that right? My housemates gobbled them up in a second and immediately asked for more.. I think that's a good sign. Thanksgiving breakfast?

jiffy corn pancakes

1 box jiffy corn muffin mix
3/4 cup Bisquick
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter, cooled

Mix together the Jiffy and Bisquick mixes in a medium-sized bowl. Mix the eggs and milk together. Slowly pour the melted butter into the milk and eggs, stirring well as you pour to ensure that the eggs and milk don't curdle with the slight heat of the butter. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with a spatula, taking care not to over mix. You could probably get away with 10 folds with the spatula. There should be some lumps! Let this mixture sit for ~5 minutes while you heat a wide frying pan to medium-low. Letting them sit will make the pancakes really fluffy! The batter will be pretty thick, don't worry- you're doing everything right. Spray the pan with PAM (or, if you want a real treat, you can melt a tablespoon of butter!) and scoop about 1/3 cup of batter per pancake. Usually when you make pancakes you want to watch for bubbles to form as a sign that they are ready to be flipped, but these pancakes are a little too thick for the bubbles to surface; you'll probably have to watch them closely to figure out when they're ready to be flipped. They will puff up a bit and the edges will start to set and turn golden, probably after 2-3 minutes. Once you flip, the second side will probably only take 1-2 minutes. Not too different from regular pancakes- you'll get the hang of it in no time:)

Serve with warm maple syrup! I garnished with my clustered granola recipe and it was delicious!


Happy Friday!

It's been awhile since we've played around with some stems. We plan to create some fun, wintry, floral designs over the holiday break.

In the meantime, here's some inspiration to brighten up the November chill. How could we resist this bold mix straight from the Whole Foods market?



Right before finals last semester I decided the best thing I could do for my mental health was to take an evening off of studying and go to a French cooking class at a cooking school I had heard about from a family friend. One of the locations is actually on my street, but I decided to drive to the other location in Stillwater, MN. The cooking school, Cooks of Crocus Hill, is situated on Stillwater's historical main street that runs alongside St. Croix river. It's so beautiful! The drive to and through Stillwater would have been enough to relax me, but the cooking class was possibly the most amazing off-campus experience I've had in college. I was the youngest attendee present (probably by at least 15 years!) but it was so much fun! The class started off with a few demonstrations by the chef and then we broke into teams. Each team was responsible for one portion of the meal: Salade de Cresson et de Betteraves au Noix, Gruyère and Sorrel Tart, Lamb Stew with Spring Vegetables, or Farmhouse Crème Caramel. Everything turned out to be better than I possibly could have imagined. And the best part (well, I didn't get to take leftovers...) was that I got to keep the recipes. 

A few weeks later I decided to try to make the tart at home, with a few substitutions. I didn't have Gruyère or sorrel on hand (no surprise there!), but I did have onions and goat cheese. So, I decided to make a caramelized onion tart with goat cheese using the egg and crust base in the recipe from my cooking class. I have to say, I think it's actually even better than the one we made in the class! It's incredibly flavorful, light but rich at the same time, and just makes me feel suuuuper cozy when I make and eat it. It's a little involved, so definitely set aside some time to make this one, but you'll find that it's definitely worth it once you take your first bite. 

I thought I'd include some pictures of the cooking school first, just because it makes me so happy:) But then I'll get to the recipe! I'll list the recipe for the crust first- feel free to do the same as I did and get creative with fillings! The recipe listed will make two shells, so either plan to make two 9-inch tarts, 1 large tart (as I do! I have four housemates to feed. I think my tart pan is probably a 16-inch?) or halve the recipe. If you make a larger tart, I'd caramelized two onions rather than one so you have enough filling. I'll also list a few substitutions I've made in the past to fit my college budget that have worked really well.

paté sublime

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 tablespoons cold heavy cream
1 large egg yolk

Place dry ingredients in a bowl of a food processor and process 3-5 seconds. Add butter and pulse for 8 to 10 seconds, until butter is pea-sized. Add the cream and egg and process just until the mixture begins to stick together. Turn out onto a cold surface; smearing with the heel of your hand, press together in small pieces to blend together. Divide it evenly into two; form into flat discs and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Chill for at least half an hour before rolling. When rolling, try to use as little flour as possible. Roll to the size of your tart pan, place in the greased pan, and place a piece of parchment paper over the dough. Weigh down with pie weights or beans, cover the edges with tin foil (to prevent burning during the final tart baking phase) and bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes. Be careful not to break the shell when moving between the oven and the counter- your filling will leak when you pour it in!

* Substitution for heavy cream: Dissolve 4 tablespoons dry milk into 6 tablespoons milk

caramelized onion tart

1 large onions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons butter

1 ½ tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
4 ounces baby bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
¼ cup white wine
½ teaspoon dried sage

3 ounces goat cheese
¾ cup milk
¼ cup Crème Fraîche
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
½ teaspoon kosher salt
One 9-inch tart shell, prebaked

While the dough is setting in the refrigerator, caramelize the onion by melting 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet. Add the onions to the skillet. It'll look like a lot of onions, but I promise they'll cook down to almost nothing! Sauté for 15 minutes, ensuring that the pan doesn’t dry out so that the onions don’t begin to burn. If they begin to dry out, add either more butter, olive oil, or water to the pan. Once the onions begin to soften, add the brown sugar. Sauté for another 15 minutes before adding the vinegar; then sauté for 10 more minutes until the onions have completely softened and caramelized. Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter in another skillet. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they release their juices. Add the white wine and dried sage and sauté until completely cooked. When both the onions and mushrooms have cooked, add the mushrooms to the onions. When the tart shell has finished baking, increase the temperature to 425 degrees. Layer the onion and mushroom mixture over the shell. Cut the goat cheese into small pieces and distribute atop the caramelized mixture. Whisk together the milk and the crème fraiche. Add the whole eggs, one at a time, whisking until thoroughly blended. Then whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the egg mixture over the tart shell, caramelized mixture, and cheese. Carefully place the tart pan in the center of the oven and bake until the tart is puffed and golden, 25-30 minutes. Watch carefully to ensure that the edges don’t burn. If it looks as though the edges are turning golden brown before the tart is beginning to set, cover the edges with tin foil as before. Remove the tart from the oven, and remove the sides of the tart pan. Serve hot or at room temperature.

* Substitution for goat cheese: cream cheese
* Substitution for Crèmfraîche: sour cream!