Spiced Chai Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze

Spiced Chai Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze

Seven years ago on Christmas Day, my husband and I anxiously sat in a hospital waiting room. Carols played in the background, and strands of lights glimmered around the windows. Every once in awhile we heard a chime through the sound system, a tradition signaling the birth of a baby. The reminder of new life became a welcome interruption as we waited to hear from my mom’s surgeon.

Family and friends stopped by to check on us and ask about my mom. One couple dropped off sandwiches and salads for lunch. Later that night in a last minute attempt to salvage Christmas dinner, we heated up white chicken chili from my brother’s freezer.

Two years later, I answered emails and made phone calls while I “worked from home” at my mom’s bedside. The doorbell rang, a frequent occurrence in those last months as people visited and dropped off food and gifts for my family. It was my parents’ elderly neighbor. I anxiously twitched when I saw her, even though she was a perfectly pleasant woman. I couldn’t help but remember backing into car as a teenager and causing $800 worth of damage. But she wasn’t there to relive stories of my negligent driving.

Keep reading and get the recipe at Coffee + Crumbs!

Spiced Chai Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze
Spiced Chai Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze
Spiced Chai Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze

Full post and recipe instructions can be found at Coffee + Crumbs!


Pineapple + Coconut Popsicles [and they're paleo!]

Pineapple + Coconut Popsicles

My toddlers had their first-ever popsicle a couple weeks ago. It was one of those moments that’s so quintessentially summer. The day was unseasonably hot, we set up their inflatable pool, and I unfolded one of our blue lawn chairs next to it. After another gray Chicago winter, my body craved the warm sun, and I plopped down on that chair ready to soak up every ray I could. The kids ran barefoot around the backyard, stopping occasionally to cool off in their little pool while I “supervised” – a task much more enjoyable with the sun on my face and dessert in hand.

I had just made a batch of these Pineapple + Coconut Popsicles and grabbed a few from the freezer for us to share. We sat in the yard licking up the sweet pineapple flavor. Juice ran down my kids’ faces, and we tried to eat more quickly than the sun could make our treats melt. And everything – and everyone – was sticky.

But isn’t that the way summer is supposed to be? Sunny, sweet, warm…and a bit messy. 

PIneapple + Coconut Popsicles.jpg
Pineapple + Coconut Popsicles
Pineapple + Coconut Popsicles
Pineapple + Coconut Popsicles
Pineapple + Coconut Popsicles
Pineapple + Coconut Popsicles

Pineapple + Coconut Popsicles
Yields about 12-14 popsicles

1 pineapple, rind and core removed
1 (13.5 ounce) can full fat coconut milk
¼ cup honey
Juice from 2 limes
Unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)

Cut the pineapple into chunks. Add the pineapple, coconut milk, honey, and lime juice to a blender. Blend until smooth. (It should taste a bit sweeter than how you’d normally prefer a smoothie. The sweetness will mellow when frozen.)

Pour the mixture into popsicle molds and freeze until solid, about 3-4 hours. If you don’t have popsicle molds, you can use ice cube trays or small paper cups. When the mixture is slightly frozen (after about 1 hour), stick a plastic spoon or wooden popsicle stick in each serving and continue to freeze until solid.

To remove the popsicles, I run warm water on the outside of the mold until I can easily pop them out. If you like, you can roll the popsicles in coconut flakes for extra flavor and texture!

Quick Tip: I recently learned a delicious, adult-only trick from Smitten Kitchen. Pour a bit of vodka, rum, or tequila in a glass. Dip the popsicle in the liquor and enjoy! Double dipping encouraged. 


This post was originally featured at Lark + Linen.


Bacon + Dark Chocolate Cookies

Bacon + Dark Chocolate Cookies

Sometimes I dream up recipes in my head, and then when I actually make them, they're terrible - or just underwhelming. This was not one of those recipes. I have been daydreaming about bacon chocolate chip cookies for about a month now, and I finally made them. I threw a splash of bourbon into the recipe and used big 'ol chunks of dark chocolate.

They turned out to be everything I had hoped for – sweet and salty, soft with a slight crunch, buttery, and rich. Just make sure to store them out of sight as soon as possible. Otherwise you may be tempted to eat them all way to quickly. (Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything...)

Bacon + Dark Chocolate Cookies
Bacon + Dark Chocolate Cookies
Bacon + Dark Chocolate Cookies
Bacon + Dark Chocolate Cookies
Bacon + Dark Chocolate Cookies
Bacon + Dark Chocolate Cookies

Bacon + Dark Chocolate Cookies
Yields about 5 dozen cookies

12 ounces thick cut bacon, diced
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
3 Tablespoons bourbon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 ½ - 4 cups all-purpose flour
8 ounces dark chocolate, roughly chopped (or use chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cook the diced bacon in a skillet until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Reserve the bacon fat left in the pan.

Measure out 1/3 cup of bacon fat and add to a large, microwave safe bowl. (For me, this was nearly all the bacon fat in the pan. If you don’t get enough fat, use butter to make up the remaining amount needed). Add in the butter, and heat gently in the microwave until the bacon fat and butter are completely melted. Cool slightly (so the eggs don’t get cooked when you add them).

Stir in the sugars, eggs, and bourbon. Mix until the ingredients are fully incorporated. Then add in the baking soda, salt, and 3 cups of flour, stirring after each cup of flour added.

Gradually add an additional ½ to 1 cup of flour until the dough reaches the desired consistency. I end up using at least 3 ¾ cups of flour total. More flour will yield a softer, rounder cookie.

Stir in the chopped dark chocolate and the bacon pieces, and mix until everything is evenly distributed.

Shape the dough into balls, 1 ½ inches in size, and place about 2 inches apart onto an parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until light brown and crisp on top. Cool slightly and then remove cookies from baking sheet. Pour yourself a big glass of milk, and enjoy!


This post was originally featured at Lark + Linen.


Roasted Pears with Buttery Chocolate Sauce + Smoked Sea Salt

Roasted Pears with Buttery Chocolate Sauce + Smoked Sea Salt

I love going out for a big dinner, but there’s something extra comforting and cozy about setting the table, lighting a few candles, and enjoying a meal in your own home. My husband and I try to have a "date-night-in" periodically. They can be a little easier to pull off when the budget or babysitting logistics add an extra challenge to going out. Or, let's be honest...sometimes I just want to eat dinner in my sweatpants (romantic, right?). 

There are challenges to staying in, though. For our annual Christmas date-night-in, my daughter decided it was a good night to stay awake in her crib crying, so she ended up joining us for dinner. Not quite what we had in mind, but fortunately that doesn't happen most of the time (and she was quite happy when she realized she won the bedtime battle, so it was kind of cute having her sitting with us.)

Sometimes we order out from a favorite restaurant, other days we cook a special meal outside our normal dinner rotation, or we combine a bit of both - like takeout for dinner and then a homemade dessert.

This recipe for Roasted Pears with Buttery Chocolate Sauce + Smoked Sea Salt is the perfect addition to any date-night-in menu. It’s warm, sweet, and irresistibly decadent. Add toasted hazelnuts for a bit of crunch and finish the dish with a hint of smoked salt. It’s a combination of flavors worthy of any special occasion. 

Are you a fan of doing date nights in? Do you have any favorite date-night-in recipes? I'd love to hear in the comments below!

Roasted Pears with Buttery Chocolate Sauce + Smoked Sea Salt
Roasted Pears with Buttery Chocolate Sauce + Smoked Sea Salt
Roasted Pears with Buttery Chocolate Sauce + Smoked Sea Salt
Roasted Pears with Buttery Chocolate Sauce + Smoked Sea Salt
Roasted Pears with Buttery Chocolate Sauce + Smoked Sea Salt
Roasted Pears with Buttery Chocolate Sauce + Smoked Sea Salt-8.jpg
Roasted Pears with Buttery Chocolate Sauce + Smoked Sea Salt

Roasted Pears with Buttery Chocolate Sauce + Smoked Sea Salt
Yields 4 servings

Roasted Pears
2 pears (I recommend using Bosc or Anjou pears)
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons turbinado or brown sugar
⅓ cup raw hazelnuts
Pinch of smoked sea salt*

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the pears in half and scoop out the seeds. Place them cut side up on a baking sheet. (Line the sheet with foil or parchment for easy clean up.)

 Brush the cut side of the pears with the melted butter, and sprinkle the sugar evenly over the buttered side of the pears (about ½ a teaspoon of sugar per pear half).

 Roast for about 30 minutes, or until the pears are slightly browned.

 While the pears are roasting, make the chocolate sauce (see recipe below), and toast the hazelnuts. To toast the hazelnuts, add them to a small pan on the stove over medium-high heat. Stir or shake frequently for about 5-7 minutes, until the nuts are fragrant and slightly browned. Remove from heat and let the nuts cool enough to handle. If you like, you can rub the skins off the hazelnuts with a dish towel (I personally don’t mind leaving a bit of the skins on). Roughly chop the nuts and set aside until the pears are ready.

When the pears have finished roasting, transfer them to individual plates and drizzle with the chocolate sauce. Top with the chopped, toasted hazelnuts and a pinch of smoked sea salt. Serve with vanilla bean ice cream, if desired. Enjoy!

 *You can substitute regular sea salt, but the flavor of smoked sea salt definitely takes this dessert up a notch.

Buttery Chocolate Sauce
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (or use chocolate chips)
3 Tablespoons heavy cream
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
Pinch of salt

Add the chocolate, cream, butter, and salt to a small saucepan. Heat very gently over low heat, stirring constantly, until the chocolate and butter are melted and the ingredients are fully mixed. Remove from heat and set aside until you’re ready to use.

Note: This sauce is meant to be served very warm. If you make it in advance and the sauce cools completely, the chocolate and butter will separate and harden. You’ll just need to rewarm it before serving.


This recipe was originally featured at Lark + Linen.