Thursday Thoughts V.1.

Photography by Allyson Regan

Hello! And welcome to the brand new-est page on the Nutmeg Blog! I’m super excited about this part of the site! I’ve been wanting to have a section where I can just ramble and share tidbits without always attaching a recipe. Also, I don’t know about you, but I hate having to scroll through a story about someone’s dog just to get to the actual recipe on a blog. I really prefer to preface a recipe with information about how I came up with the recipe or interesting information about the ingredients or the recipe. So, the thought behind this page is to create a lifestyle/online journal mostly for myself, but also for you if you want to read about it! I plan on sharing things that are happening in my life, as well as health and wellness tips, crafts, life hacks, or really anything that pops into my head! Every Thursday, I’m going to share a little update as well as cool things I’ve seen on the interwebs and things I’m really into right now, called Thursday Thoughts. I’m also going to share articles, posts, or whatever you want to call it about different topics sporadically. If there’s something specific that you’d like me to discuss, feel free to leave a comment below!

My gorgeous sister, Allyson Regan, took a few headshots of me specifically for this new section. I have to admit that I was super nervous to be the focus instead of my food. It’s been a rough year and my confidence has been lacking. But Ally was great at capturing my personality and I’m so excited to share these photos! If you want to get out of your comfort zone, I highly recommend getting some photos of just yourself taken. Check out her website here!

If you live nowhere near the Midwest, congrats, you’ve made an excellent life decision. The last couple days have been brutally cold with sub-zero temperatures. I went to work two out of the past three days and each time I’ve been out on the roads, my 30 minute commute has taken over 90 minutes. They even closed the highways on Tuesday due to two different pile-ups. Even just looking out my window, I could barely see the woods across the street! Yesterday, I was home and got a lot of stuff done around the house and even tested a few recipes. I also listened to Rachel Hollis’ podcast called Rise and if you haven’t heard of her, climb out from under your rock and prepare for your life to be changed. Seriously. I’ve been listening for the past month and I started from the very beginning with the first episode. I like to listen to it on my way into work and it’s just so inspiring and motivational. She usually interviews women in business who have done incredible things with their lives and the advice that comes out of those interviews is so valuable. Her book, Girl Wash Your Face, is coming up in my book list and I can’t wait to read it! Seriously, check her out.

Well that’s it for now! If you’re new to my little corner of the internet, feel free to pop on over to the About page to learn more!

Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad

Can we just start by acknowledging how weird the word brussels is spelled? Like it kind of makes sense on it’s own, and then you go adding sprout after it and all of a sudden, it feels like you should drop the ‘s’ but you don’t. So when you want to write more than one brussels sprout, you call it brussels sprouts. Double s’s. Weird.

Anyways, no matter the reasoning behind that, raw brussels sprouts are one of those things that I think is extremely under-rated. Raw sprouts are rarely used and people normally avoid brussels sprouts or extremely over cook them. What a shame! I love brussels sprouts and when they are raw, they have such a unique flavor that’s so good in salads.

This is one of my absolute favorite salads right now. It’s fresh, crunchy, tangy, a bit spicy and a bit sweet. It’s a perfect make ahead salad and it’s great to have in the fridge after the holidays.

Kale Brussels Salad

1 pound of fresh Brussels sprouts

1 bunch kale

1 cup shredded Parmesan

1/2 cup almond slices, toasted

1 small yellow onion

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1/2 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

3/4 tsp cayenne

1 cup oil

1/2 tsp black pepper

Begin by trimming the bottom of the sprouts and shredding them. You can do this by hand or in a food processor if you have the shredder attachment. Shred the kale and run through a salad spinner to remove the dirt. Add the Parmesan and almonds to the Brussels and kale.

In a tall container, combine the onion (chop up a bit so it mixes better), mustard, lemon juice and zest, sugar, salt, cayenne, and pepper. Mix using an immersion blender, and once the base is combined, add the oil in slowly to create an emulsion. Taste before mixing it into the rest of the salad. If you don’t like a spice, start with 1/4 tsp of cayenne. Combine with the rest of the ingredients and mix well!

This salad is great to make ahead of time and will just get better as it sits! It will last for 6 days.

Enjoy!

Top 5 Recipes from 2018

You guys! You are so sweet to read my blog, I seriously appreciate it so much!  Today’s post is about the 5 most viewed recipes by you!  It just so happens that these recipes are also some of my personal faves and are definitely enjoyed frequently in our little home.

Photography by Allyson Regan

Number 5 on the list is Chipotle Butternut Squash Risotto, which was one of my favorite posts, especially because after we were done shooting it, my sister and I ate the rest right out of the pan! This was the perfect cozy fall dish, and used some pantry items that most people already have. Plus, goat cheese, which automatically equals cozy and fall. Who doesn’t love these kinds of recipes???

Photography by Allyson Regan

The number 4 most viewed post was Burrata: The Better Mozzarella. I was so excited to research for this post because I’m OBSESSED with burrata. I mean I’ve always loved cheese, but I first had this cheese when I was working at a country club as a cook. We served it as an appetizer with fresh heirloom tomatoes, crusty bread, basil, balsamic, and plenty of salt and cracked black pepper. Then, when I went to Italy to film that TV show, we actually went to a factory that produces mozzarella and I got to see first hand how its made! Isn’t it crazy how food can transport you back through time to those fantastic memories?

Third on the list are these Boneless Chicken Wings, and at this point, I could probably make them in my sleep. My household went through roughly 12 boxes of panko crumbs during 2018. Just kidding, I have no idea but we ate this so much this year! Not that I’m complaining, at all! This is the perfect thing to make for a bunch of guys or for any kind of sporting event. Pair it with a cold beer and you’ve got yourself a crowd pleaser.

Photography by Allyson Regan

Number 2 is the Chicken Tikka Masala from just a couple weeks ago! I loved making this dish! I think it was so popular because its one of those recipes that you might be wary of trying to make at home but my recipe is fairly simple. If you are nervous about trying a new recipe, just give it a shot! Worse case, just order pizza.

Photography by Allyson Regan

The Most viewed post from 2018 is….. drumroll please…… Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies!! Of course, the most delicious looking photos just drew viewers to my site and I don’t blame you! These cookies are so good, I’ve continued to make them since posting it. I even made them for our Christmas Cookie boxes. If you’ve made this recipe, or any recipe from my blog, I’d love to see how they turned out! Don’t forget to tag me in your photo on social media, or comment with a picture below!

Photography by Allyson Regan

I can’t wait to see what favorite new recipes 2019 will bring! Happy Cooking!

Salted Maple Apple Butter

Photography by Megan Punches

Did November fly by for anyone else?  No? Just me then.  I literally did not post anything in the month of November and for that I am sorry!  I was super busy with starting a new job, getting together with family and friends, and overcoming an amazingly long cold.  But this apple butter totally makes it all better!

This salted maple apple butter is THE perfect thing to have on hand during the Holiday season.  It’s a set it and forget it type of recipe that can also be used for quick and easy desserts.  I love using my crockpot for prep items and this is a huge time saver for this recipe that takes a long, long, long time to finish.  And who wants to stand over the stove for 10 hours stirring?

Salted Maple Apple Butter

1 1/4 cup maple syrup

3/4  Tbsp salt

6 pounds apples, peeled and cored

1 1/2  Tbsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cardamom

Combine all ingredients in a large crockpot.  I used a combination of golden delicious apples and honeycrisp apples.  Cook on high for 3 hours, then cool on low for 5 hours.  The mixture will darken in color quite a bit.  Blend well using a blender or an immersion blender, and taste.  You want the consistency to be thick, even when hot.  If needed, continue cooking in the crockpot on low, or transfer to a pot on the stove if necessary.  Makes about 5 cups of apple butter.

Enjoy!

Autumn Caramel Apples

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Photography by Allyson Regan

What better way to indulge your sweet tooth than with a sweet treat that also involves some fruit.  I absolutely love caramel apples, especially when they are coated in pecans and chocolate.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Also, these are a great homemade treat for Halloween! This is the easiest caramel apple recipe ever!  All you will need is 2 bags of those Brach’s caramels, the ones that come individually wrapped, and a bit of heavy cream.  Bring a medium pot of water to a simmer and melt the caramels and cream in a glass bowl.  It might take a while, but trust me, it’s so worth it!

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Now the caramel will set a bit quickly, so you’ll want to roll it in nuts soon after dipping.  Let it set completely before drizzling on chocolate though, otherwise you’ll have a mess on your hands.  I used the same melting chocolate that I used for these cake pops.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

You can leave them plain too, customize them to whatever you and your family likes!  You can even make some “mummified” versions like the one below!

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Photography by Allyson Regan

How scary does that look???  Either way, make sure to eat them semi-soon after making them.  Also, use pretty sturdy sticks so that you don’t have to worry about them breaking or falling off.  If you need another, more adult, way to celebrate Halloween today, check out this spooky cocktail!  Enjoy!

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Halloween Cake Pops

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Photography by Allyson Regan

You guys!  Look how cute these cake pops are!  They are the perfect Halloween snack because they are bite size, so you can eat more and not feel guilty, and they are super easy!

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Okay, that’s enough exclamation points for today.  I’m sure you can find a recipe for cake pops somewhere online, but it’s so simple that you almost don’t need one.  For the cake pops themselves, you’ll need one 9X13 pan of cake.  I used a yellow cake recipe but you can use any box mix that you like.  Once it’s cooled, crumble it into a mixing bowl and add about 1 1/2 cups of your favorite frosting!  Sorry, more exclamation points.  You want the consistency to be pliable, just remember that you are going to freeze these before you decorate so they will firm up.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Once they are frozen, they are ready to decorate which is the best part.  Melt candy melts in the microwave but be sure to follow the directions, especially for the white chocolate ones as they can easily burn.  I used the Ghirardelli candy melts and they are so easy and actually taste good!  Once the candy is melted, you want to work pretty fast.  Dip the cake pops to coat and let the excess candy fall.  Directly after dipping, you want to add sprinkles so that they stick.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

For these adorable mummies, coat all of the pops and attach these cute little candy eyes.  Let set, and then put the remaining white chocolate in a piping bag.  Cut a small tip off the bag, and drizzle onto the cake pops, taking cake to avoid the eyes.  Let set and then watch them disappear like magic.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

These cute sticks can be found here and they are listed as caramel apple sticks.  I personally wouldn’t use them because they aren’t very sturdy and they are quite short.  These cake pops are so cute and they are the perfect make-ahead treat for your tricksters!

 

Chicken Tikka Masala

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I can’t even remember the first time I made this dish.  In fact, I think I’ve only eaten it in a restaurant once.  Sometimes trying a dish from an unfamiliar cuisine can be intimidating, but this dish is so simple!  Plus, it’s so much fun to try a new dish, even if you’ve never eaten the dish before.

I’ve seriously made this recipe more times than I can count in the last month, gradually tweaking it until I love it!  It’s so good! My husband isn’t the biggest fan, so I’ve been making this whole recipe at the beginning of the week and then eating throughout the week for an easy lunch.  The flavors get even better towards the end of the week.  If you do this, make sure to keep the rice separate so that it doesn’t get mushy.  Also, it gives me an excuse to have naan in the house which is so good lightly toasted and with a bit of butter!  I’m drooling over here.

The key to success with this dish is to marinate the chicken the day before.  The yogurt helps to tenderize this chicken and all the spices have time to get cozy.  This dish itself is really cozy too, and it’s the perfect thing for a chilly day like today.

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Chicken Tikka Masala

1.5 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 cup whole milk greek yogurt

1 Tbsp granulated garlic

2 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp turmeric

2 tsp garam masala

2 tsp coriander

2 tsp cumin

1 Tbsp kosher salt

1 tsp ground cardamom

3 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 small yellow onion, julienned

1/4 cup tomato paste

1/2 Tbsp red pepper flakes

1-28 oz can diced tomatoes

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup milk

cilantro

Begin by cutting the chicken into 1 inch cubes.  In a small bowl, combine all of the spices.  Place half of the spices into a large bowl along with the yogurt and the chicken pieces.  Toss to coat and marinate for at least 6 hours or up to 24.

Heat the oil over medium high heat in a medium saucepan.  Add the onions and cook until soft and slightly caramelized.  Add the chicken with all of the marinade.  Once the chicken and yogurt start to cook, add in the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, milk, cream, and pepper flakes.  Lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Keep an eye on it, and if you see it getting too thick, you can add some stock to thin it a bit.  The sauce should be pinkish-orange and about the consistency of a thin tomato sauce.  My recipe is a little less red than other recipes, but I love the flavor of the increased turmeric spices that I’m okay with the slightly different color.

I love serving this dish with basmati rice, a bit of chopped cilantro or green onions, and some warm naan bread.  You can find naan in most groceries deli sections.  They even make mini ones now!  They are seriously so cute, I’m dying.

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I recently made this for our bookclub, more about that coming soon!  Since my sister is a vegetarian, we just substituted the chicken with cauliflower.  The preparation is a bit different since you don’t need to marinate the cauliflower.  Begin the cooking process the same way as the recipe above, but just leave out the yogurt and add all the spices to the sauce.  Essentially you will just be making the sauce and simmering the cauliflower in it to cook it through.  You can make it a fully veggie dish too, just use cauliflower rice instead of basmati.

Yum!

Fall Cheese Board

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Cheese boards are one of my favorite things to break out when I’m entertaining.  Especially if your guests are arriving around dinner time and you still have some finishing touches to put on the meal.  Plus, they are super easy to put together and chances are that you already have most of this stuff in your kitchen!

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Photography by Allyson Regan

The tricky thing is trying to figure out just how much ‘stuff’ you need for your board.  This depends on how many people, how long they will be snacking, and if you have plates for them to load up or if they are just picking off the board itself.  For the cheese board I created for this post, it would easily serve 4 people for an hour or so.  But it could also easily serve my sister and I, on a girls night, when we are splitting a bottle of wine and not planning on eating a real meal.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

As a general rule, I like to stick to the rule of threes; three cheeses, three meats, three cracker-type things, and three extras.  You don’t have to to this by any means, but I think it helps to provide a good mix of options while not crowding the board.  For the cheeses, stick to crowd favorites and maybe have one wild card that people might have never had before.  For this board, I used sharp cheddar, fresh mozzarella marinated in pesto, and pecorino.  If you do choose a soft cheese, like goat cheese, you might want to add a preserve or jam to your board to complement it.  Semi-soft cheese do well when they are marinated, and hard cheeses I normally leave alone.  If you’re trying to locate good cheese in the GR area, try Martha’s Vineyard, they have a great selection of artisanal cheese (and meats! and wines!) and you can get just the amount that you need.  As far as for selecting the meats, I like to do one spicy (like a sharp pepperoni or spicy salami), one classic (I’m a sucker for prosciutto and I don’t think I’ve ever made a cheese board without it!), and one crowd favorite (for me this is usually a mild salami).  The crackers are where you can stay pretty basic or get really creative!  I found these breadsticks just at Meijer, and I think they add a nice height to the board that you normally don’t see.  I also used pita crackers, and regular ritz crackers.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

The extras are the fun part!  I love using dried fruits and nuts, but I also put fresh champagne grapes on here.  I normally don’t see these at the market, but I’m glad I picked them up!  They taste sweeter than regular grapes, and they are so tiny and adorable!  You can add all sorts of extras to you cheese board, like fresh berries, preserves, figs, olives, fresh fruit, dips, spread, and so much more! If you’re looking for a great cheese board and more inspiration, head over here to check out an amazing one!

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Photography by Allyson Regan

All that’s left now is to enjoy!  Also, if you’re looking for an easy way to stock up on wine before your get-together, check out Bright Cellars!  They’re doing a great deal right now where if you follow this link, you’ll get a $50 credit on your first order!

Chili Honey Glazed Shrimp

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Sometimes you just need a simple recipe to help spice up your weekday dinner meals.  This recipe is just that!  And it uses ingredients that you probably have in your pantry and freezer!

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Photography by Allyson Regan

I like to keep shrimp in my freezer for those days when I just don’t have time to run to the store or when I want to spend less time cooking and more time with my handsome husband.  For this post, I featured the shrimp in two forms, a tostada and tacos.  Both are super simple and are a great way to get some practice at cooking shrimp.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Chili Honey Glazed Shrimp

1 pound of shrimp, deveined

2 Tbsp butter, unsalted

1/2 cup honey

1 1/2 Tbsp red pepper flakes

1/4 cup soy sauce

salt and pepper

Begin with thawed shrimp.  Heat the butter over medium high heat.  Add the shrimp and saute until they turn pink.  Remove from the pan, keeping the heat on.  Add the soy sauce first to deglaze, then add in the remaining ingredients.  Cook this mixture down until it becomes thick and saucy.  Add in the shrimp and toss to coat.  Taste the sauce before serving, especially with the shrimp and adjust the seasoning or spice to your taste.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

For these tostadas, begin by toasting a flour tortilla in the oven until crisp.  I just used an asian sesame salad mix as my base.  Then I added shaved red cabbage and a sauce made from greek yogurt and sriracha.  I love this shrimp paired with the creaminess of fresh avocado, cilantro, and lime.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

The tacos are pretty similar to the tostadas, except I didn’t use the salad kit, just red cabbage, sriracha sauce, avocado, cilantro, lime and shrimp!  This shrimp would also be great on pasta or in a rice bowl.  Let me know how you enjoyed it in the comments below!

 

Breakfast Cookies

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Photography by Allyson Regan

I don’t know who invented breakfast cookies, but I’m so glad they did.  I mean, you just can’t get much better than eating cookies for breakfast!  Especially when they are jam packed with delicious and healthy ingredients like these ones.  Just because they are called breakfast cookies, doesn’t mean that you can’t eat these anytime during the day.  They make a great healthy dessert when packed in a lunch, or a great snack for a road trip because they are quite filling.  Like most of my recipes, feel free to add or remove some of the add-in ingredients, like the nuts or chocolate chips.

Breakfast Cookies

1 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 Tbsp vanilla

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup rolled oats, old fashioned

1/2 Tbsp baking soda

1 Tbsp ground flax seed

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup dates, chopped

1/4 cup applesauce

1/4 cup walnuts, chopped

1/4 Tbsp salt

1/2 Tbsp cinnamon

 

Cream together the butter and sugar.  Add in the egg and applesauce and mix well.  Add in the remaining ingredients and mix to combine.  Scoop the dough into small balls, and chill before baking.  Bake at 325 degrees for about 12 minutes, rotating the tray after 6 minutes.  I like these cookies a little darker because they get a little more toasty flavor, so I normally cook them for about 14 minutes total.  Cool on a cooling rack, and package in a tupperware container.  These cookies tend to get quite soft after a couple days so you can either bake them throughout the week, or throw a piece of bread into the container to soak up the excess moisture.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

This recipe is sure to become a favorite in your house.  If you meal plan on Sundays, this recipe takes no time at all and can easily be added into your routine.  Like always, I’d love to hear from you!  Comment below if you try this or any other recipe on my blog.  Also, please share the love on social media using the buttons below!

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Photography by Allyson Regan