Category Archives: Food

Apple Cinnamon French Toast Casserole with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

Apple Cinnamon French Toast Casserole with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

We all know breakfast is the most important (and, in my opinion, most delicious) meal of the day, with that in mind I have a yummy french toast  casserole that you can prepare tonight, and bake when you get up in the morning.  I dub this scrumptious creation Apple Cinnamon French Toast Casserole with Maple Cream Cheese Filling. With thick, crusty bread, sweet, juicy apples, and tangy, sweet maple cream cheese filling, you really can’t go wrong

Apple Cinnamon French Toast Casserole with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

I started with some crusty pecan raisin bread from the grocery store bakery (any flavor you like is find as long as it’s a thicker, crusty bread) and cut it into cubes.

pecan raisin bread

I layered half of it in a baking dish and topped it with chopped apples (I used fuji, but any kind you have on hand is fine).

apple cinnamon french toast casserole

Then I whipped up some maple syrup cream cheese by whisking together cream cheese, syrup, vanilla, and cinnamon (try to refrain from eating this with a spoon…) and poured it over the apples.

maple cream cheese filling

I topped the apples with the remainder of the bread.  Next I beat some eggs with some milk and more cinnamon and poured the mixture over top of the casserole, making sure all the bread was coated.

Apple Cinnamon French Toast Casserole

At this point I covered the casserole and refrigerated it overnight, but if you’re super ambitious you could bake it as soon as you’re done prepping it (but I definitely love sleeping way too much for that).  Bake in the oven until the top gets brown and crunchy.

Apple Cinnamon French Toast Casserole with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

I let it sit for a few minutes and then served it with some fresh berries, let me tell you, it was divine!  The perfect balance of sweet, I didn’t even use syrup.

Apple Cinnamon French Toast Casserole with Maple Cream Cheese Filling


Apple Cinnamon French Toast Casserole with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

Makes 1 – 8″ square baking pan


1 loaf of crusty pecan raisin bread (mine was ~1 pound) – cubed

2 apples – chopped into bite sized cubes

4 ounces cream cheese – softened

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon cinnamon

4 eggs

3/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Fresh fruit (optional for serving)

Maple syrup (optional for serving)

– Layer half of the cubes bread in the bottom of a 8″ square baking pan and cover with the chopped apples

– Whisk together the softened cream cheese, maple syrup, vanilla and tablespoon of cinnamon until smooth (microwave for a few seconds if needed) and pour over the apples

– Top with the remaining half of the bread cubes 

– Whisk the eggs, milk, and teaspoon of cinnamon until well combined and pour evenly over the casserole, making sure all of the bread cubes are coated

– Cover and refrigerate overnight (or bake immediately if desired)

– Heat the oven to 375 ºF and bake for 50-55 minutes, the top should be browned and slightly crisp and the center should not jiggle when the dish is moved

– Let stand for a few minutes and serve with fresh fruit and maple syrup as desired



You may also like:

Orange Cinnamon French Toast

orange cinnamon french toast




Huevos Rancheros

Huevos Rancheros


Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

My boyfriend came to visit about a week ago and brought some absolutely amazing cookies with him.  He knows I love all things chocolate and that coconut is one of my favorite flavors, so he whipped up these cookies and he agreed to share the recipe with all of you, so without further ado, here’s Luke with a fantastic cookie recipe!


Like Taylor said, I know she has an unwavering love of chocolate, and both of us have been trying out more coconut in our cooking so combining the two into a delicious cookie seemed like a no-brainer!  Toasting the coconut really kicks up the delicious coconut flavor (plus it makes your kitchen smell fantastic) and the melty dark chocolate chunks give it the perfect final touch.


On the topic of toasted coconut, preheat your oven and spread the coconut out on a baking sheet covered in foil.


Bake the coconut until it’s a nice golden brown (and the delightful aroma fills your kitchen).  It’s useful to stir the coconut halfway through.

While the coconut is toasting away in the oven, prepare your dry ingredients.  Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together and set that aside for later.


You can also cream the brown sugar, coconut oil, and butter while the coconut is toasting (don’t forget to stir and mix it!).

Next beat in the egg, coconut extract, and vanilla extract.

By now your coconut should be done so just set that aside to cool.


Take your bar of dark/semisweet chocolate (I went with Ghiardelli because I like to spoil Taylor whenever I can) and break it up into small chunks and set those aside too.


Go ahead and grease two baking sheets (or not, if you’re fancy and have silicone baking mats).

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the creamed sugar/butter/coconut oil mixture.

Add in the chocolate chunks.


And the toasted coconut!


Finally, drop 2″ balls of this delicious cookie dough on your greased baking sheets and then bake – the cookies should  be a bit brown on the edges but plenty soft in the middle.


Set them out to cool and enjoy the wonderful gooey chocolate mixed with the sweet toasted coconut!






Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Makes 18 cookies



1 cup sweetened coconut

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon coconut extract

1  egg

1 bar of semisweet or dark chocolate


– Preheat oven to 350 ºF

– Spread coconut on a foil-covered baking tray and bake for 12 minutes, stirring halfway though

– Mix together flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder

– In a separate bowl cream together the butter, coconut oil, and brown sugar

– Beat the vanilla, coconut extract, and egg into the sugar/butter mixture

– Then slowly mix the dry ingredients into the sugar/butter mixture

– Break the baking bar into 1/2″ square chunks

– Mix the chocolate chunks and toasted coconut into the dough

– Grease two baking trays and drop 2″ balls of dough onto the greased sheets

– Bake the cookies for 10 – 11 minutes at 350 ºF, until the edges start to brown 

Set the cookies on racks to cool and enjoy!

Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

A few weeks ago I made a caprese salad that was incredibly delicious and super simple.  In fact, it’s so simple, I almost feel bad calling this a recipe.  All you need are 4 ingredients, tomatoes, mozzarella, fresh basil, and balsamic vinegar.  I reduced the vinegar to bring out a sweeter, more complex, tangy flavor that paired excellently with the juicy tomatoes, rich mozzarella, and fresh basil.  This salad works great as a side for BBQs.

Caprese Salad

I used grape tomatoes so I cut them in half, basically chop up whatever tomatoes your using into bite sized chunks.  Do these same for your cheese.  For the basil I roll the leaves into a cylinder and then cut into strips that end up looking like basil confetti.  Then toss those three ingredients together in a bowl.

Caprese salad

To reduce the balsamic vinegar put it in pain and boil until it’s reduced by about half and has  a thicker, more syrup-like consistency.

Caprese Salad Balsamic Reduction

Stir everything together until well combined!

Caprese salad

Feel free to serve right away or make it ahead of time, refrigerate, and serve cold, it’s delicious either way (I may have made it the night before a picnic and had it for dinner, then ate it cold the next day…).Caprese Salad





Caprese Salad

Serves 8


2 pints cherry tomatoes (any tomatoes will work)

8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese

8-12 large basil leaves

1 cup balsamic vinegar

– In a small saucepan, bring the vinegar to a boil and let cook until reduced by half and has  a more syrup-like consistency (about 10 minutes), stirring occasionally

– While the vinegar is reducing cut your cherry tomatoes in half (if using larger tomatoes, cut into bite sized chunks)

– Cut or  tear the mozzarella into bite sized chunks

– Stack the basil leaves on top of one another and roll into a cylinder, cut down the length of the cylinder, making ~1/4″ pieces of basil confetti

– Mix the tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil in a bowl

– Allow the balsamic reduction to cool for a few minutes, then pour over the salad and stir to combine

D’Noche – Chicago, IL


Last week I went to visit my boyfriend in Illinois (I realize normally you go somewhere warm for spring break, but surprisingly enough my trip to the mid-west meant I missed a DC snow storm).  I flew into O’Hare and he took me out to a surprise dinner in Chicago.  We ended up at D’Noche (because he knows my never ending love for Mexican food).  The restaurant had all kinds of delicious Latin American food, it was the perfect meal!

dnoche menu

We started things out with a sangria blanca (because white wine sangria is one of my favorite things, and who doesn’t need a drink after a flight?) and guacamole (because you don’t need a reason for guacamole).

sangria blanca

We also ordered the trio de empanadas (very reminiscent of my time in Argentina).  An order came with a beef, shrimp, and chicken empanada along with a variety of different sauces (one of them being chimichurri, which is the best I’ve had since getting back from Argentina) that went well with all of the empanadas and the guacamole as well.


empanada halves

For dinner I got chiles rellenos (pobalano peppers stuffed with cheese, and covered in salsa Ranchera) which came with beans and rice.  The cheese was melty and rich and delicious and the side orders were great too.

chiles rellenos

Luke opted for the tacos de camaron (shrimp tacos) with green rice which he let me try (because I would have stolen some anyway…) and they were quite yummy as well, the goat cheese went surprisingly well with the shrimp (I never really thought of putting shrimp and cheese together, but then again cheese goes with pretty much everything).

tacos de camaron

It was an absolutely delicious start to a wonderful trip!  I’ll be telling you all about my visit to Urbabna-Champaign in an upcoming post, so keep your eyes open for it!

Buffalo Chicken Ring

Buffalo Chicken Ring

Today I have another recipe for you that I made for the Super Bowl party.  It’s spicy and cheesy and delicious!  I love pretty much everything Buffalo chicken flavored and this dip incorporates all of them, chicken, Buffalo sauce, blue cheese, and ranch.  And it’s all melted together in a yummy ring of crescent rolls.  The recipe is similar to my Buffalo Chicken Cucumber Boats, but if I’m being honest I like this one even better 🙂

buffalo chicken ring

First mix up some cream cheese, ranch, and buffalo sauce.

cream cheese, ranch, Buffalo sauce

Stir in some shredded chicken and blue cheese crumbles.

chicken and blue cheese

Spread the crescent rolls (two combined in a rectangle) in a ring so the bottom is connected, then scoop the chicken mix around the ring, and pull the crescent rolls around and seal the ring.  I apologize for not having a picture of this but I got really excited about making it (let’s be honest, I just really wanted to eat it and the prospect of blue cheese and buffalo sauce so I forgot…).  Bake in the oven until golden brown and delicious.

buffalo dip ring

Let it cool for a little and serve with celery in the middle.

Buffalo chicken dip ring

Cut in wedges and serve, yummy!

Buffalo Chicken Ring



Buffalo Chicken Ring

Serves 6


2 boneless skinless chicken breasts – shredded

8 oz cream cheese – softened

1/4 cup ranch dressing

1/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot (adjust according to your taste)

4 oz blue cheese crumbles

2 tubes crescent rolls

celery for serving

– Preheat oven to 375 ºF

– Mix together the cream cheese, ranch, and hot sauce

– Stir in the shredded chicken

– Add the blue cheese and stir until well combined

– Take the crescent rolls and separate them into rectangles (two crescent rolls connected with the separating line as the diagonal of the rectangle), make a circle out of them with the smaller side of the rectangles as the circle

– Scoop the chicken mixture onto the circle of crescent rolls

Fold the crescent rolls over the chicken mix and press to seal

Bake for 12 – 15 minutes or until golden brown

Allow to cool for several minutes before serving

Serve with celery

Taco Dip

Taco Dip

I’m so happy that it’s warming up (even if only temporary), being able to go outside without a heavy coat, gloves, and a scarf is such a welcome change!  The recipe I have for you today is perfect for warmer weather as it doesn’t require any cooking.  But, never fear, it’s delicious any time of year, I actually made it for a Super Bowl party when it was still freezing out, and everyone loved it!  This super easy taco dip will take you less than 10 minutes to put together but it has TONS of flavor, from sour cream and taco seasoning to fresh salsa and cheese, you can’t go wrong with this dip!

taco dip

First beat a packet of taco seasoning (or make your own with paprika, chili powder, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, and pepper) with some sour cream and cream cheese.

sour cream, cream cheese, taco dip

Spread the sour cream mixture into a pan and top with fresh salsa (or you can be an over achiever and cut up your own vegetables but let’s be honest, I’m definitely too lazy for that).


Top the salsa with shredded cheese (I used a Mexican 4 cheese blend but any cheese you like will do) and shredded lettuce.

cheese and lettuce

Serve with tortilla chips.

Taco Dip



Taco Dip

Makes 1 – 13 x 9″ square baking dish


16 ounces sour cream

8 ounces cream cheese

1 packet (1.25 ounces) taco seasoning

16 ounces fresh salsa

2 cups shredded Mexican cheese

2 cups shredded lettuce

tortilla chips (for serving)

– Beat the sour cream, cream cheese, and taco seasoning until smoothed

– Spread the mixture into a 13 x 9 ” baking dish or cake pan

– Layer salsa on top of the sour cream mixture

– Sprinkle cheese on t0p of the salsa

– Top with the lettuce

– Serve with tortilla chips


Southwest Chicken and Rice

Southwest Chicken and Rice

Last night my friends and I got together for the season finale of American Horror Story (craziness!!!) and it was my turn to make dinner so I decided on Southwest Chicken and Rice.  This dinner is super easy, all you need is one pan and a great combination of smokey spices, vegetables, chicken, rice, salsa, and spicy pepper jack cheese make it incredibly delicious!

southwest chicken and rice

Start by browning some chicken tenders in oil in a large skillet, sprinkling with spices as they cook.


After you remove the chicken from the pan add some diced onion and bell pepper (the kitchen and probably much of your house will start to smell incredibly delicious at this point, this is normal).

onion and pepper

Stir in rice, garlic, and cilantro.

add rice

Add salsa (you should probably eat some with tortilla chips, ya know, just to be sure it’s good).

add salsa

After this has all cooked together for a few minutes add some water, black beans, and corn.

black beans and corn

Add the chicken back to the pan and cover, cooking until the rice soft and the chicken is completely cooked through.

return chicken

Sprinkle liberally with shredded cheese (everyone loves cheese and if they don’t you should probably reconsider why you’re cooking them dinner…), recover, and let it melt.

melt cheese

Serve with extra salsa, sour cream, and guacamole (try my recipe here) as desired.

Southwest Chicken and Rice



Southwest Chicken and Rice

Serves 8


2 pounds of chicken tenders

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon dried cilantro

salt & pepper

1 large sweet onion – diced

1 bell pepper – diced

2 cups rice

2 cloves garlic – minced

2 cups southwest salsa – plus more for serving

3 cups water

16 oz can black beans – drained and rinsed

2 cups frozen corn

8 oz pepper jack cheese – shredded

sour cream – optional for serving

guacamole – optional for serving

– In a large skillet heat the oil and add the chicken tenders, sprinkle with paprika, chili powder, cumin, salt & pepper, brown both sides (about 3 minutes on each side) then remove to a plate

– Place the onion, pepper, and cilantro in the skillet and cook until tender (about 5 minutes)

– Add the rice and garlic to the skillet and stir, cooking for 1-2 minutes

– Stir in the salsa

– Add the water, black beans, and corn

– Return the chicken to the skillet, laying on top of the rice, cover and cook over low heat for about 20 minutes or until the rice is done and the chicken is cooked through

– Serve, topping with extra salsa, sour cream, and guacamole as desired


Pumpkin Brown Butter Pecan Ice Cream

Pumpkin Brown Butter Pecan Ice Cream

I’ve wanted an ice cream maker for the last few years and for my last birthday my boyfriend got me one!  The first thing we made was this Biscoff and Toasted Almond Ice Cream from Foodness Gracious.  Then for Thanksgiving we decided to try and come up with our own recipe so we created this Pumpkin Brown Butter Pecan Ice Cream.  We combined a few different ice cream recipes and this deliciousness was born!  It’s a great combination of rich custard, creamy pumpkin, decadent brown butter, and crunchy cinnamon sugar pecans.  It’s a great taste combination you’re not gonna want to miss!  And if you don’t have an ice cream maker you can try this plastic bag method.  While I LOVE butter pecan ice cream if you aren’t a fan of nuts you can stir in crushed ginger snaps instead, we tried this with one of the batches too and it was really good as well!

caramel topped ice cream

First whisk some egg yolks in a heat safe bowl (note we tripled this recipe so we would have 3 quarts, the recipe I’m posting here makes 1 quart).  Add some cinnamon and ginger.

egg yolks and spices

Pour some cream in a metal bowl and sit the bowl in ice water.  place a mesh strainer over top.

Heavy cream

In a high sided pan brown some butter (learn how to brown butter here) and then add brown sugar and a dash of salt and cook until it melts.  this part takes awhile and it won’t be purely liquid so don’t worry, you aren’t doing it wrong, it will still taste amazing).

brown butter brown sugar mix

Slowly add milk, it may foam up so be careful as you’re adding.

Add milk

Stir half of the milk/sugar mixture into the the eggs, whisking constantly.

milk mix into egg

Add the egg mix back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk/sugar mix.

stir eggs and milk

Add the pumpkin and stir until it starts to thicken up.

Add pumpkin

Pour the mixture through the strainer into the cream.  Add the vanilla and cool in the fridge.

Stir into cream

Freeze in the ice cream maker.  When there are about 5 minutes left add some maple bourbon and pecans to the machine.

Ice cream maker

You can use regular pecans but I suggest cinnamon sugar pecans to add even more flavor!

cinnamon sugar pecans

Scoop it out and serve

pumpkin brown butter pecan ice cream

You can top with caramel syrup and extra pecans for even more flavor!






Pumpkin Brown Butter Pecan Ice Cream

Serves 8


4 egg yolks

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

2/3 cup heavy cream

6 tablespoon butter

2/3 cup brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup whole milk

1 cup pumpkin

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup pecans (I use cinnamon sugar pecans)

1 tablespoon maple bourbon (optional)

crushed gingersnaps (optional for serving)

caramel sauce (optional for serving)

– In a heat safe bowl whisk the egg yolks then whisk in the cinnamon and ginger

– Pour the heavy cream into a metal bowl, place the bowl in ice water and place a mesh strainer over top

– Brown the butter in a high sided pan, then stir in the brown sugar, and salt, cook, stirring constantly until the sugar is melted (don’t worry if the sugar is not completely melted)

– Slowly add the milk, it will foam up so add carefully

– Stir half of the milk/sugar mixture into the egg mix, whisking constantly

– Add the egg/milk mix to the pan with the remaining milk mixture

– Add the pumpkin and cook until the mixture thickens and coats a spatula (about 5-7 minutes)

– Pour the mixture through the mesh strainer, add the vanilla and stir

– Cool the mixture in the fridge for a few hours

– Freeze the ice cream in your ice cream maker according the manufacturer’s directions

– With 5 minutes left in the ice cream maker stir in the pecans and bourbon

– Serve with extra pecans, crushed gingersnaps, and caramel sauce as desired

Crockpot Swiss(ish) Steak

Crockpot Swiss(ish) Steak

Earlier this week I busted out the crockpot to make a delicious recipe my mom came up with for Swiss Steak.  Now, I know this isn’t technically Swiss Steak, but it’s about a million times easier than all the pounding, and battering, and actual cooking required for actual Swiss Steak and all the flavors are still here.  My mom made this in the oven but I decided to make my life super easy and just throw everything in the crockpot so I would have a nice hot dinner waiting for me when I got home.  Dust off your crockpot and get ready for savory, tangy, Swiss Steak with peppers and onions.


First chop up some onions and bell peppers (as you can see I used red but really any color is fine).

bell peppers

sweet onion

Crush up some canned whole tomatoes and put them in a crockpot with some beef broth.  Splash in some Worcestershire (thank goodness for spell check because I can literally NEVER remember how to spell Worcestershire) sauce.

liquids in crock potAdd some pepper, paprika, oregano, and parsley.


Stir in the peppers and onion.


Toss in some garlic.

add garlic

I put the above ingredients in the crockpot in the fridge the night before so I had less to do the morning of.  Before I left for work I added the London broil and made sure t was covered in broth and veggies, then turned the crockpot on low.  When I got home I put some potatoes in the oven and then served up the delicious beef and veggies with a baked potato and sour cream (because, duh)!  The broth was tangy and flavorful, the beef was falling apart and tender and the sour cream made the broth nice and creamy.

Crockpot Swiss(ish) steak

My mom said she served hers with mashed potatoes, but baked potatoes were easier!  I also think it would be delicious served over rice or egg noodles, use your imagination and enjoy!




Crockpot Swiss(ish) Steak

Serves 4


2 – 14.5 oz cans whole tomatoes

14.5 oz can beef broth

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 bell pepper – chopped into 1″ chunks

1 large sweet onion – chopped into 1″ chunks

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried parsley

2 cloves garlic – grated or minced

1.5 pounds London broil

– Place the tomatoes and liquid in the crockpot and crush the tomatoes slightly with your hands

– Add the beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, vegetables, and spices, stir until mixed

– Add the London broil, making sure it is completely covered by the broth and veggies

– Put the lid on and set the crockpot on low and cook for 8 hours

– Serve with potatoes, rice, or noodles


Chicken Bacon Ranch Macaroni and Cheese

Chicken Bacon Ranch Macaroni and Cheese

I’m back!  After a crazy last few weeks of classes and a great Christmas break I’m bringing you the perfect recipe for the crazy cold weather.  Prepare yourselves for Chicken Bacon Ranch Macaroni and Cheese.  Yes folks, it’s as wonderful as it sounds!  A few weeks ago FoodPorn tweeted a photo of Chicken Bacon Ranch Macaroni and Cheese so I googled recipes and came across this one from  Of The Hearth.  It kind of reminded me of my nanny’s baked macaroni and cheese which is my absolute all time favorite food ever so I decided to use that recipe as a base, it turned out fantastically!


First cook some bacon and crumble it when it’s cool.  No recipe can be bad if it starts with bacon, that’s a scientific fact.


Then cook some chicken.  After it’s done shred it up.


While your chicken cooks boil some water and cook a box of macaroni according to the directions on the package.  After it cooks drain the macaroni, return it to the pan, and stir in sour cream and ranch seasoning.

macaroni, sour cream, ranch

Then mix in the bacon and chicken.


Put half of the macaroni into a buttered pan and top it with shredded cheese and pepper (you can add salt too if you like but in my opinion the ranch seasoning mix is salty enough).  Repeat with another layer of macaroni and cheese.  Pour some milk over the macaroni.

mac and cheese in pan

Place the pan in the oven and bake until the cheese is browned and bubbly.

browned and bubbly cbrmc

Serve up the deliciousness!!!!!  I kid you not, this mac and cheese is a cheesy, ranch mac and cheese with delectable bits of bacon and chicken, yummmmmmmm!

chicken bacon ranch macaroni and cheese



Chicken Bacon Ranch Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 10-12


6 slices bacon – cooked and crumbled

2 chicken breasts – cooked and shredded

1 box (16 oz.) elbow macaroni

1 cup sour cream

1 packet ranch seasoning mix



24 oz. cheddar cheese – shredded

– Preheat the oven to 350 ºF

– Cook the bacon until slightly crisp, then crumble

– Cook the chicken, let cool, and then shred

– Cooke the macaroni according to box directions, drain and return to pot

– Stir the sour cream and ranch seasoning into the macaroni

– Mix in the crumbled bacon and shredded chicken

– Butter a 13 x 9 baking dish and pour half of the macaroni into the dish

– Top the macaroni with half of the cheese and some pepper

– Repeat the layering with the rest of the macaroni and the cheese

– Put the baking dish in the oven and bake until the cheese is browned and bubbly (about 40 minutes)