Ricotta Cheesecake with Figs and Honey 

I hope you’re not surprised to see yet another recipe with figs. They are just simply one of my favorite foods and they are only available in a nearly nonexistent timeframe here. I have to get them while I can. This is my go-to cheesecake recipe. I love it because it’s not too sweet and uses great cheeses. I decided to add figs for an obvious reason and a bit of honey.

It’s really quite a process to make, but so worth it. This is the recipe I use. In my fig and caramelized onion pizza post I explained my oven situation. It sucks. So I promise this cheesecake isn’t burned. It’s just very browned. Thanks oven. I adjusted the recipe to my liking by only using a cup of sugar instead of a cup and a half. The i drizzled honey on top and arranged the figs on top.

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Golden Beet and Watercress Salad


I’ve been loving golden beets. It seems like a crazy thing to love but they are slightly more mellow than red beets and that makes them perfect for salads, especially when fried. This is a great salad for yourself at lunch or make a large bowl of it to share.

Ingredients:

  1. Bunch of watercress
  2. 1 radish, sliced thinly
  3. 1 golden beet
  4.  1 Avocado, sliced
  5.  Balsamic vinaigrette

To cook the beets: first slice the beets then, steam the beets in the microwave until tender. Seer the beets in a frying pan coated with olive oil over medium-high heat until golden brown, flip occasionally. Let cool.

Assemble the salad: layer the watercress, beets, radish and avocado onto a plate. Drizzle with your favorite balsamic vinaigrette. Bon appétit!

Parisian Summer Cocktail

There might not be anything in existence that is as good as a chilled cocktail in the dead heat of summer. So here I am, coming through for you with a perfect summer cocktail. To top it off it’s Bastille day, hence the use of St. Germain and Rosé. This one’s fairly easy and extremely refreshing. What you need:

  1. .5 bottle of Rosé
  2. 1 can of tonic water
  3. The juice of one lime plus slices for garnish
  4. 2 shots of St. Germain

It’s as easy as mixing ingredients 1, 3, and 4 together then pouring it into a vintage style glass about 2/3rds full. Top it off with some tonic water and a slice of lime. This recipe makes 2 servings so mix and enjoy!

Homemade Spiced Gingerbread Latte

I’m a sucker for homemade coffee recipes. There is something about making coffee at home that is so “comfortable”. But that’s probably because I can make coffee in my pajamas. Also, it usually makes me feel like a scientist in a lab. Whipping up different homemade coffee potions has lead me to make this spiced gingerbread latte more than once.

Now that we have some holiday decorations up, making one of these on a Sunday morning, sitting next to the tree and reading a book makes me feel so festive. When doing lattes at home there are two main components: percolator and milk frother. With these two tools, homemade lattes become so much more desirable.

So to make this spiced gingerbread treat:

*recipe makes one latte

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk, of your choice
  • 3 or more bags of Celestial Gingerbread Spiced Herbal Tea
  • Maple syrup, or sweetener of your choice
  • A dash of a spice blend (cinnamon, cardamon and nutmeg)
  • a piece of a cinnamon stick for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons of espresso
  • water

Process:

  1. Prepare the percolator and heat over low flame on the stove.
  2. While the espresso is going, heat the milk, tea bags, spices and maple syrup in a saucepan.
  3. Bring to a low boil and remove from heat. Remove the tea bags and transfer to a liquid measuring cup and use the milk frother to get the milk to a smooth and creamy consistency. I usually stop frothing once the milk volume has doubled.
  4. Once the espresso is finished, pour it into the bottom of a coffee mug. Then pour the frothed milk slowly down the side of the glass until only the frothy part is left. Pour the frothed part on the top.
  5. Sprinkle some spices on the top and add the piece of cinnamon stick.
  6. Sip and enjoy!

I hope all of you have had a wonderful holiday weekend and if you decide to give this homemade latte a spin, let me know what you think in the comments!

Hosting a Holiday Gathering

I will take any excuse to pretend that I’m Ina Garten. Holiday gatherings or just cooking up a lavish meal on a Sunday, you name it and I’ll switch on my Ina Garten alter-ego.

I’m sure that none of us can do it quite as easily as Ina though. Holiday gatherings can be stressful. When was the last time any of us cooked for 6+ people? I’ve learned a few things from this years Friendsgiving that make hosting a much easier task and also make it easier to focus on the real task at hand, spending time with loved-ones and making good memories.

The table setting was easy for me, because that’s just who I am. But it was Harrison’s idea to typewrite everyone a little note on their place setting. How adorable is he?

Refine your menu.

You don’t have to do it all. Limit yourself to 2 or 3 main dishes. I was lucky and got a friend to make the turkey and one to make the desserts so all I needed to do was make the sides. So I stuck with some simple recipes: carrots and mashed potatoes. Ending the dinner with a cheese course is probably the easiest thing you could do. Pick up some cheeses and bread and put them on a platter and there you go. Simplicity is your best friend.

Plan ahead.

Start thinking about your party well ahead of time. Make a concise shopping list and then when it comes time to do the shopping you can get it done and be on your merry way. Trust me, this is much better than scurrying to figure it all out the day before.

Ask for help.

Ask your invitees to give you a hand with the cooking, the drinks, the decor, anything! If you are willing to put work into the gathering then friends and family should be more than willing to help out a bit. Time and energy saved there.

These three little tips really helped me out this year as I planned a little Friendsgiving for all my pals. Happy holidays from me and I hope your holiday gatherings are filled with happiness and cheer!

Homemade Honey Lavander Latte

Sometimes my desire for coffee can lead to quite some imaginative creations. And when I say sometimes I mean now. The other day, I was craving a latte but I had no desire to leave the house. It was quite the predicament; venture out and get that perfect creamy latte that I wanted or stay home and curl up with a homemade cup of coffee. Obviously I chose the latter. I decided to be a bit creative and make a honey lavender latte with just a few ingredients. Now, I just happened to have been making lavender cupcakes for my birthday and so I had some lavender extract laying around. It’s not easy to come by but I got mine from Sur La Table. I have a feeling I’ll be cooking a lot with lavender in the next couple of months. Anyways, here is a simple delicious latte recipe that you can whip up at home, you know, for those days when you can’t rack up the courage to leave home. There are a few things you’ll need:

  • 1/8 teaspoon of lavender extract
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • coffee beans: mine were a Valentine’s day gift from Harry 🙂 It’s Stone Creek’s special Valentine’s day roast but whatever you have works fine too
  • milk frother, you can also use a whisk
  • 1/2 cup of milk, I used whole milk
  • and some kind of coffee making mechanism, I use a percolator when I want to make lattes, etc. 

Follow these simple steps:

  • brew the coffee to your liking
  • pour the milk into a liquid measuring cup and heat up in the microwave or heat up the milk on the stovetop,
  • whisk or froth the milk until it has a frothy consistency about half way through
  • add the lavender extract and honey to the bottom of your cup and mix them together
  • pour the coffee into the cup and stir together
  • start to add the milk slowly to save the frothy part for the very top of the latte
  • sip and enjoy 

And there you have a delicious homemade honey lavender latte. It has a very subtle flavor of lavender with a bit of sweetness and it’s great to enjoy on a lazy afternoon, curled up on the couch with a good book or magazine.

Goûtez bien!

  

Pumpkin Spice Doughnuts

I’m not one to partake in the hype of Pumpkin Spice but these home-made, baked Pumpkin Spice Doughnuts have changed my views on Pumpkin Spice. In my defense when I first saw the recipe I somehow believed that this was going to be a sweet potato doughnut recipe. Anyways, I saw this recipe and felt really completed to make them, it was probably the photography on Pastry Affair that got me as that is usually the case. First things first, I set out to find a doughnut pan. Believe it or not, there are doughnut shaped pastry pans out on the market, crazy right? I got mine from Target, low and behold. Harry has told me that the doughnut pan is one of the best purchases ever made, and  I have to agree. These pumpkin spice doughnuts conjure up everything that you love about being cozy. Wrapped in a blanket on the couch, favorite record on in the background, book in your lap, doughnut in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other one. I maybe outstretching the bounds of the pumpkin spice by bringing it into winter instead of staying fall but who doesn’t want to feel that cozy, soul soothing feeling all year round?

I followed this very simple recipe from Pastry Affair. You can follow the recipe here exactly but can easily be summarized. Preheat the oven, grease the pan, mix the wet ingredients, add in the dry ingredients, pour into a pastry bag, fill up the doughnut pans with the batter, bake for about 15 minutes, cool and then enjoy. The icing recipe is quick to whip up and adds something to these doughnuts but they would be just as good without it.

This recipe makes about 12 doughnuts but you can always wrap up the left-overs in aluminum foil to save for later and warm them in the oven another day.