Strawberry Basil Crostini

Strawberry Basil Crostini


One of my favorite meals of all time is just a table full of appetizers. It's such a fun way to get bites of a lot of different flavors, and everyone can decide how little (or how much!) they want to eat! A few weeks ago I shared super delicious Fig, Brie & Prosciutto Rolls, which are perfect for an appetizer party! And today's recipe are these seriously delicious Strawberry Basil Crostini. A perfect mix of sweet from the fruit and savory from the cheese, your guests will never want cocktail hour to end!


I'm so excited to serve these crostini at spring picnics, summer brunches and Mother's Day! Can I tell you a secret though - I'm not usually a fan of goat cheese. Or stronger cheeses in general. But in these, I'm obsessed. I use cream cheese mixed with the goat cheese to soften the flavor, and it's beyond delicious. With the strawberries and basil - total perfection! But honestly I also ate the leftovers it on its own with crackers!








Ingredients: 

1/2 half cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honeyA fresh baguette
4 oz herb and garlic goat cheese, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 bunch fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
12 strawberries, thinly sliced

Directions:

Combine the balsamic vinegar and honey in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir continuously, for about 5 minutes or until the mixture is thickened. Allow to cool completely.

Combine the goat cheese and cream cheese in a medium bowl with a spatula. Slice the baguette, and toast in the oven at 350 for about 5 minutes if you'd like the bread to be toasty, but keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn. Spread each piece of bread with a generous amount of the cheese, and top with the sliced strawberries and basil. Drizzle the balsamic blaze over each piece just before serving. 




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Kirsten Bell
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Cardamom Cake with Rosewater Frosting

Cardamom Cake with Rosewater Frosting


Another day, another cake! I'm sure you've caught on by now how much I love cardamom. I've been using it lately in Vanilla Cardamom Doughnuts and even cocktails! Today, it makes its way into a cake! With dried rose petals actually baked into the cake itself, this is a beautifully feminine/romantic dessert.

This cake would be perfect for a bridal shower, Mother's Day brunch or as I told a friend just after making it, it would make a delicious and unique wedding cake as well! Both the cardamom and rose flavors are very subtle, and they pair together so well! If you've ever tasted baklava, this cake reminds me of those bright flavors. You can have fun asking your guests to guess the flavor too - I bet most of them would be stumped!


I've always loved the look of fresh flowers decorating cakes, and for this cake I thought, why not actually bake some rose petals into the cake as well? I bought these edible rose petals for the job (which I also used in these Orange Scented Shortbread Cookies with Rosewater Glaze). I'd say unless your florist can assure you that their roses are organically grown, I'd resist just using fresh rose petals. They're often sprayed with pesticides that the FDA would not recommend you eat!







Cardamom Cake Ingredients: 

2 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup full-fat sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup dried rose petals

Rosewater Buttercream Ingredients:

2 cups butter, softened (4 sticks)
6-8 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons rosewater extract
1 tablespoon heavy cream, if needed


Cake Directions: 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and line the bottoms of three 6" cake pans with parchment paper.

Whisk together the dry ingredients, flour through cardamom.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Mix in the sugar until combined. Add in the eggs, vanilla, sour cream and buttermilk and mix on low until all ingredients are incorporated. Then add the flour mixture, mixing on low until just combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Stir in the rose petals.

Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pans. Bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs. Allow to cool about 10 minutes in the cake pans, and then invert the cakes onto a cooling rack with the "top" of the cake down. This will help flatten the cakes. Once the cakes come to room temperature, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for 30 minutes before frosting.

Rosewater Buttercream Directions: 

Whip the butter until light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar and mix on low speed until incorporated. Add vanilla and rose water extracts. Increase the speed to high, and mix about 2-3 minutes. If the frosting is too thick, add a little heavy cream.




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Kirsten Bell
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Triple Chocolate Baked Doughnuts

Triple Chocolate Baked Doughnuts


These triple chocolate baked doughnuts are THE recipe for all my chocolate lovers out there! Rich chocolate doughnuts, with mini chocolate chips baked in, topped with silky chocolate ganache.

I was never a huge fan of doughnuts growing up, because I didn't like how greasy they tend to be. That's why I love these easy baked doughnuts! They're healthier, and honestly - tastier too! If that sounds like a winner to you, also check out my recipe for Vanilla Cardamom Baked Doughnuts!

Equipment Used:





You'll notice that these baked doughnuts are way less sweet than a traditional doughnut, which I love. You get the delicious taste of rich chocolate ganache in each bite, along with sprinkles of mini chocolate chips! Soooo good!

Baked doughnuts are so easy to make - way easier than even a batch of cupcakes! They're a quick and perfect weekend treat for breakfast or brunch! I use and love this doughnut pan.


Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Chocolate Ganache: 

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons salted butter
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 350, and grease two doughnut pans with nonstick spray. (I use coconut oil spray.)

Whisk together the dry ingredients, flour through salt. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat together the egg, sugar and buttermilk. Then add the butter and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients, and mix on the lowest speed possible, making sure not to overmix in this step. Fold in the mini chocolate chips.

Time to bake! Spoon the batter into a large ziplock bag, and snip off one corner of the bag. Then pipe the batter into each well of the doughnut pan - about 2/3 full. Much easier than trying to spoon it in!

Bake for about 10-11 minutes, or until the edges are slightly browned. Let the doughnuts cool in the pan for a few minutes, and then transfer to a cooling rack.

To top the doughnuts: Combine the chocolate chips, butter and heavy cream in a bowl. Microwave about 30 seconds, or until the chocolate chips are melted. Stir until smooth. Dip each doughnut into the ganache, and then cover with sprinkles if you'd like!

Doughnuts taste the best the day you make them, but they will store in the fridge for 1-2 days too. Unfrosted, you can also store these in the freezer for about a month! Just allow them to thaw at room temp, and then dip in ganache.








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Kirsten Bell
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Blackberry Moscow Mules

Blackberry Moscow Mules


It feels like spring is just around the corner here. Almost all of our snow is melted, and I'm SO ready for those warm temps (I'm not asking for much, maybe like 65? 70?), fresh flowers, the smell of cut grass...ahh!! I'm ready!

One thing that Jordan and I love to do in the warmer weather is make ourselves a special cocktail, and go sit out on our back patio after Charlotte goes to sleep. We have a pond back there, and in the summer it's full of frogs and sounds like a sound machine. It's such a nice and relaxing way to end the day!

That moment is what I had in mind when I was putting together this blackberry moscow mule recipe! The fresh blackberries are a delicious way to add natural, fruity taste and jazz up the recipe a bit! Plus with no extra equipment or specialty ingredients needed, it's an easy twist on the classic cocktail too.


Whenever I'm mixing cocktails, I always use the best ingredients that I can, because it honestly makes such a huge difference. For moscow mules, I care most about a top quality ginger beer. We've always found Fever-Tree to have really good, fresh ginger flavor which is so important in a moscow mule! This post is not in any way sponsored by Fever-Tree, it's just what we always use! Also I definitely recommend using fresh lime juice - there's just nothing that can compare! 


Ingredients:

1/4 cup fresh blackberries
1 mint leaf
1 oz vodka
1 oz fresh lime juice
6 oz ginger beer

Directions:

Place copper mug in the fridge to cool. Muddle together the blackberries and mint in a large glass. Add the vodka, lime juice and ginger beer, and stir to combine.

Fill your chilled copper mug with ice, and strain the blackberry mixture into the mug. Garnish with extra blackberries and mint, and enjoy!



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Kirsten Bell
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Italian Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Italian Grilled Cheese Sandwich


Grilled cheese sandwiches are my weakness. I can say no to most pasta, most cakes, most cookies, but put a grilled cheese sandwich in front of me, and it's game over!

These sandwiches are a seriously delicious and easy dinner idea that everyone in the family will enjoy. Perfect for those busy nights when you're juggling soccer practice and play rehearsals, or when you just feel like taking it easy!

Serve with homemade tomato basil soup and a green salad for a total meal, or serve on their own for a super simple yummy option.




I love that when things have Italian in the name, they seem so much fancier. These are a bit fancier than the average grilled cheese, but I promise they're just as easy! Just a few extra ingredients make all the difference, believe me!

This sandwich is made super delicious with the addition of basil, caramelized onions, fresh tomatoes and gooey provolone and parmesan cheeses. You can add some crispy pancetta or ham for some extra protein too!


Makes 4 sandwiches

Ingredients:

8 pieces rustic bread
8 slices provolone cheese
4 slices parmesan cheese
12 leaves fresh basil
1 tomato, thinly sliced
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions: 

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove onions to a plate.

For the sandwiches: layer the provolone, parmesan, basil, tomato and onion inside the two pieces of bread. Butter the outside of each sandwich. Cook the sandwiches in the same skillet as the onions over medium-low heat until the outsides are toasty brown, and cheese is melted. Serve with tomato basil soup!



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Kirsten Bell
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