Brown Butter & Almond Pear Crisp

Happy Friday, Everyone! Congratulations on conquering another week of working, cooking, running errands, cleaning, helping your kids with their homework, and everything in between. I’ve been posting mostly healthy recipes as of recent on both here and my Instagram and I figured, it’s time to treat yo’self. It’s been a long, busy week (the first full week back after the holidays) and there’s no better reward than diving into a dish of this crisp on a Friday night. And it just so happens to “pear” (see what I did there?) perfect with a glass of wine. Or spiked cider. Or bourbon…It’s been a rough one, guys 😅

When I made this recipe on Instagram Live, a lot of people were asking what the heck brown butter was. Basically you just melt the butter over medium-low heat, letting it cook and stirring or swirling it around occasionally. Once the butter turns brown, remove from heat. If foam formed on top, remove it with a spoon. Immediately pour into a bowl so the cooking process stops. By doing this to your butter, you achieve a warmer toasted/nutty flavor. It’s so, so good on more than just baked goods, but savory dishes too.

What You’ll Need:
yields 8 servings

Pear Filling:

  • 6 pears, cored and sliced lengthwise (I like a mixture of Bosc and Bartlett)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (I used light brown)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon almond flour*
  • 1 teaspoon thickening agent, I use arrowroot powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice

Crisp Topping:

  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), plus 3 tablespoons cold butter
  • 1 cup almond flour*
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • about 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • pinch of salt

*all-purpose flour works the same, however I prefer the flavor of almond flour for this particular dish.

  1. Preheat your oven to 375º. In a cast iron skillet, begin browning 1/2 cup of butter. Once the butter has turned brown, immediately remove from heat and pour into a mixing bowl. Set aside.
  2. Using a mixing bowl, toss the sliced pears with lemon juice and vanilla. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients. Using the same cast iron skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter and add the pears. Cook over medium-low heat until the pears begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the pears and then gently stir using a rubber spatula. Set aside.
  3. In the mixing bowl containing your brown butter, add the oats, almond flour, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cold butter. Mix with a fork, fluffing the mixture as you go, until it’s crumbly. Pour mixture into an even layer over the pears. Sprinkle sliced almonds evenly over the top.
  4. Bake crisp for 35 minutes or until golden brown on top. Let cool before serving.

My Favorite Toppings

  • Talenti Salted Caramel Gelato
  • French Vanilla or Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
  • Cool Whip or Homemade Whipped Cream
  • Caramel Sauce

I hope you all enjoy this sweet treat and have the most amazing weekend 😘

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Peanut Butter Cookies Dipped in Milk Chocolate & Peanuts

Your traditional peanut butter cookie with a twist. Not only do they taste good, but they plate beautifully as well. This is the cookie you want on that platter of holiday treats you bring to the family gathering or the office party.

Peanut Butter Dipped Cookies

*Note: I always refrigerate my cookie dough overnight for best results. It actually breaks the process down and makes it easier, too. I spend about an hour one night making all my dough and then will bake the next night 🙂 

Ingredients:
yields 24 cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips, melted
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts, crushed (I recommend using salted peanuts for that salty/sweet combination that to die for)
  1. Preheat your oven to 350º. In a stand mixer, combine peanut butter, butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined.
  2. Sift together your dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, and salt.
  3. With your stand mixer set to low, slowly begin incorporating your dry ingredients just until combined. Refrigerate cookie dough overnight.
  4. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Roll your dough into 1 – 1 1/2 inch balls and carefully press down with a fork to flatten. Bake for about 9 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack immediately.
  5. Once cookies are cooled, dip half of the cookie in milk chocolate and lay on parchment paper. Immediately sprinkle crushed peanuts to melted chocolate. Repeat until all cookies have taken a dip in your chocolate 🙂

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Salted Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies

These babies are my all time favorite. The classic chocolate chip cookie with a little sea salt incorporated to hit every single one of those taste buds. Throw a pack of instant vanilla pudding in these give for an absolutely decadent texture. Refrigerating these cookies over night is a MUST! This will ensure they are thick, soft & chewy perfection. Make extra for Santa, because he’ll be knocking on your bedroom door for more.

Stack of Cookies

*Note: I always refrigerate my cookie dough overnight for best results. It actually breaks the process down and makes it easier, too. I spend about an hour one night making all my dough and then will bake the next night 🙂 

Ingredients:
yields 24 cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 packet of instant vanilla pudding
  • 2 cups milk  or dark chocolate chips (I prefer milk)
  1. Preheat your oven to 375º. In a stand mixer, combine butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined.
  2. Sift together your dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt, and instant pudding mix.
  3. With your stand mixer set to low, slowly begin incorporating your dry ingredients just until combined – do not over mix!
  4. Refrigerate cookie dough overnight.
  5. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto your sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown on the edges and slightly under cooked in the middle.
  6. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; transfer to cooling racks.

Salted Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies 2

 

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White Chocolate & Almond Oatmeal Cookies

My husbands personal favorite, although I have to leave the white chocolate out of his because he’s some sort of chocolate-hating monster. This is the cookie you can have for breakfast and you cannot/ should not be judged. It’s oatmeal, people.

*Note: I always refrigerate my cookie dough overnight for best results. It actually breaks the process down and makes it easier, too. I spend about an hour one night making all my dough and then will bake the next night 🙂 

Ingredients:
yields 24 cookies

  • 3/4 cup butter, melted but cooled
  • 3/4 dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup sliced almonds
  1. Preheat your oven to 350º. In a stand mixer, combine butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined.
  2. Sift together your dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  3. With your stand mixer set to low, slowly begin incorporating your dry ingredients just until combined.
  4. Remove bowl from stand mixer. With a wooden spoon, stir in your oats, chocolate chips, and sliced almonds just until incorporated. Refrigerate cookie dough overnight.
  5. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Drop 1 tablespoon dollops of dough onto your sheet. Bake for about 9 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack immediately.

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Cookie Butter Cookies

Is there a more “cookie” cookie than a cookie made with cookie butter? What’s better than a cookie made of cookies? In my opinion, you can never have too much cookie and this is a way to finally, officially eat two cookies at once (well, sorta.) This is the kind of cookie Cookie Monster would approve of, so before I use the word cookie one more time, let’s move onto the cookie recipe.

*Note: I always refrigerate my cookie dough overnight for best results. It actually breaks the process down and makes it easier, too. I spend about an hour one night making all my dough and then will bake the next night 🙂 

Ingredients:
yields 24 cookies

  • 1 cup cookie butter (Biscoff, Trader Joe’s, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  1. Preheat your oven to 350º. In a stand mixer, combine cookie butter, butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined.
  2. Sift together your dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  3. With your stand mixer set to low, slowly begin incorporating your dry ingredients just until combined. Refrigerate cookie dough overnight.
  4. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Roll your dough into 1 – 1 1/2 inch balls and carefully press down with a fork to flatten. Bake for about 9 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack immediately.cropped-jackie-drift-signature-1.png

 

Peppermint Bark

One of my favorite holiday treats (that I indulge in all year long.) Not just for the flavor, but for it’s festivity! It’s also probably the easiest to prepare of all the Christmas treats.

I find that using the mint flavored chocolate chips instead of peppermint extract gives it a more delicate flavor of mint, rather than that pungent “just brushed your teeth” zing. It’s perfect for topping your bowl of ice cream or decorating a cheesecake – ’tis the season to drizzle everything with peppermint bark! Enjoy!

Peppermint Bark 1

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. mint chocolate chips
  • 12 oz. white chocolate chips
  • 4 candy canes, crushed
  1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Pour your mint chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl and heat in the microwave in increments of 20 seconds, stirring in between until completely melted.
  3. Using a rubber spatula, carefully spread the melted mint chocolate across the parchment paper in a thin layer. Put in the freezer until it’s completely set, about 25 minutes.
  4. Repeat step #3 with the white chocolate chips. Spread the melted white chocolate in a thin layer on top of the mint chocolate. While still melted, generously sprinkle your crushed candy canes over the entire surface of bark.
  5. Place your bark back in freezer until hard, about 25 minutes. Break into a variety different sizes and enjoy!

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Holiday Dinner Party

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This past Sunday was spent scurrying around a kitchen with one of my sweet friends, Allie (take a look.) With cocktails in hand, together we executed a pretty-damn-flawless dinner party for our significant others and a few friends. I handled the cooking and Allie managed the bar, charcuterie and somehow accomplished to set a tablescape that I swear I’ve seen in a magazine. The girl has an eye for design and let me tell you, I’m a little (a LOT) envious. You’re going to wonder where she’s been for every event you ever hosted (I’m considering renewing my vows so she can plan my second wedding), but not to worry! She has a blog where you can access all of  her wonderful thoughts that are brought to life. Better yet, let her come paint your dream party for you.

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I’ve hosted my share of dinner parties over the past few years and there’s a few things I’ve managed to pick up along the way. My first tip: Don’t overthink it! Nobody at your party/gathering will be able to relax if you’re not relaxed. My second tip? Take help when it is offered! I am MOST guilty of this. Not only do I sometimes feel awful accepting help when I’m the one who invited people over, but it’s also a controversial topic whether or not I have a serious case of OCD. However, I’ve learned that typically people are offering to help because they want to. Give them an easy task to do! It’s not asking much, but it’s one less thing you have to worry about. My last prequal tip before I get into my real tips is to save the damn dirty dishes for the morning. Yes, five of your friends will offer to do them. Your husband will probably offer, too. The mountain of dishes will irritate the crap out of you. The cure? Pour yourself a glass of wine. Kick off your heels and go enjoy the company you just hosted. Relax, laugh, make memories; The dishes will still be there in the morning, but your friends and family will be leaving soon.

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When it comes to the bar, I like to offer at least one pre-mixed cocktail. Something that’s all ready to pour and people don’t have to think about it (we think all day – it’s time to relax!) Whether it’s sangria, punch, or a big batch of Mimosas, it’s sure to be a hit. There’s no shame in making a party BYOB, either. In the age of IPAs and a plethora of different wines, people actually like to drink the things they prefer. Just make it known, so people aren’t left high and dry.

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Appetizers, antipasta, hors d’oeuvres, the first course. I love charcuterie. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s really true. There’s something on it for everyone (put some nuts on it for the vegans!) and it’s not too much. If you’re planning to follow your first course with a main course, you don’t want to spoil everyones appetite. However, if you’re having a party that starts later in the evening, possibly after people would have eaten dinner or too late to serve dinner, I would go a little heavier on the appetizers or snacks. Especially if there’s alcohol involved.

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The Dinner Plate: Protein, starch, and a veggie. Every party is not Thanksgiving and it can be quite the buzzkill if everyone’s ready to head to bed after dinner. For Christmas my mom always makes Prime Rib and my mouth is seriously watering just thinking about it. With that being said, when planning with Allie what to make for our dinner party, I decided to stick with what works (do not try to fix something that’s not broken.) To go with the Prime Rib (recipe to follow), I decided to stray away from the “been there, done that” mashed potatoes (who AM I!?) Instead I made Creamy Garlic Parmesan Polenta. WOW. I would never mean to cheat on potatoes, but sometimes a girl gets weak. With the Prime Rib and Polenta being so rich, for my vegetable I decided to go with a salad. Don’t worry, it wasn’t just an ordinary salad! This Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad is sure to be your new favorite.

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Lastly, it’s time for dessert. I’m truly not much of a baker. My pies consist of store-bought crust. I don’t play well with yeast or anything that has to rise. I love everything that starts with Phils and ends with Bury. Cheesecake is just about the only thing I can handle, which is fine with me because it’s so versatile. If you can find your perfect cheesecake recipe, it’s pretty easy to make it fit any occasion. For example, for this holiday party I made a “Kris Kringle Cheesecake” (recipe to follow) that consisted of a peppermint bark Oreo crust, my traditional cheesecake recipe, a white chocolate ganache, and crushed candy canes on top. It was heavenly and fit the theme seamlessly.

Throwing a dinner party doesn’t have to be hard, but it should always be fun. If you’re not much of a cook or funds are tight, opt to have a potluck. This way, everyone brings a favorite dish and a whole lot of pressure is taken off of you. You can make it fun by requesting everyone bring recipe cards for their dish too, so it becomes somewhat of a recipe exchange. People are always looking for new recipes and it’s a great conversation starter!

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At the end of the night, what matters is exactly why you had the party in the first place: To pause our crazy, hectic lives for a few hours to spend time with the people who make life so enjoyable. I hope this holiday season you’re all able to have a party or attend one, meet a new friend, try a new dish, and remember everything that makes each of us so blessed. Happy Holidays to you and all those who make your life so special.

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Allie’s Blog: Love Forever

Photography: Daphne Sipes

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Kris Kringle Cheesecake

Cheesecake – just about the only dessert I can handle making without resulting in a complete disaster/anxiety attack. The crust never involves rolling out dough and you don’t have to worry about the cake becoming too dry. The hardest part (in my opinion) is ensuring it doesn’t crack, which I found is nearly impossible if you bake it in a water bath and let it cool in the oven after baking.

Both a wonderful and convenient thing about cheesecake is how versatile it is. Once you nail your classic cheesecake recipe, the possibilities are really endless. You can add berries, jams, and compotes. Make it vanilla bean, chocolate, hazelnut, or peanut butter. Throw in some liquor and make it bourbon. Create a crust out of graham crackers, cookies, pretzels, or cereal. Finish with a drizzle of caramel, a dusting of confectioners sugar or a squeeze of lemon; The sky is your limit.

For this particular cheesecake, I wanted it to look and taste festive. I immediately thought of peppermint bark and candy canes. I didn’t want it to be too peppermint. Mint can become very overwhelming, very fast and it not something every single person is going to love. So, I went the mild route. I found these peppermint bark Oreos last year and should have bought stock in them I ate so many. Trader Joe’s has a similar cookie, too! Rather than adding any peppermint extract or crushed up chocolate mint candies to the filling, I decided to keep it as a traditional vanilla (this is what kept it mild.) To make it decadent I chose to make a white chocolate ganache to pour over the top. Finally, for good measure I garnished with crushed candy canes. It was the perfect amount of peppermint and it fit our holly jolly theme seamlessly.

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I even got some help from my littlest elf, Emma.

Cheesecake Notes

What You’ll Need
Printable Recipe: Here

For the Crust:

  • 2 packages of Peppermint Bark Oreos (should equal about 3 cups once processed into crumbs)
  • 1 stick butter, melted

For the Cheesecake:

  • 32 ounces (4 blocks) of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 4 large eggs, room temperate
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp vanilla

For the White Chocolate Ganache:

  • 1 package (11.5 oz) white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy cream

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  1. Begin by preheating your oven to 300° and tightly wrap the bottom of your springform pan in aluminum foil. Combine the Oreo cookie crumbs and melted butter and press into the bottom of your springform pan. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar, sour cream, and vanilla and beat until well combined. On low speed, gently mix in the eggs, one at a time just until combined. Pour the batter over the crust.
  3. Place the cheesecake in the center of a large roasting pan. Fill the pan with water to make a bath for the cheesecake, about 2 inches deep. Bake for about 1 hour or until the edges are set and the center is only slightly jiggly. Turn off the oven, but leave the cheesecake to sit for 1 hour with the door closed. Do not remove cheesecake from springform pan yet.
  4. In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup of heavy cream to a simmer. Pour hot heavy cream over white chocolate chips a little at a time, stirring until melted and combined. Evenly pour the mixture over cooked cheesecake and then refrigerate until the ganache sets, about 1 hour.
  5. Using a butter knife, gently separate the sides of the cheesecake from the springform pan. Carefully remove the sides of your springform pan. Garnish with crushed candy canes before serving.

 

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