I have become obsessed with watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Network. There are a good amount of restaurants that have been featured on the show in near Chicago, however, I chose to visit a small diner in Wisconsin this past weekend. I drove up to Wisconsin with my mom for breakfast and we had a great time. Franks Diner is in an old train car and the staff are full of character. First, I ordered one of their homemade cinnamon rolls which was amazing! Hands down the best cinnamon roll I have ever had.
My mom ordered oatmeal, which was also fantastic.
I also ordered a garbage plate — one of the items they are famous for. The garbage plate includes hash browns, eggs, onions, and bell peppers while including options to add different meats, vegetables, and cheeses. I ordered a garbage plate with corned beef, and cheddar cheese. It was fantastic. The garbage plate also comes with toast, which is of course homemade and delicious.
I wish I lived a little closer to this diner, but distance won’t stop me. I will be back for more! I encourage you to visit this diner if you are ever in or near the Kenosha area.
Oranges, almonds, and — obviously — chocolate are some of my favorite ingredients ever. Hands down. I drink orange juice by the gallon, keep tubs of raw almonds on my desk (Target sells yummy raw almonds by the bucketful, believe it or not), and enjoy chocolate — but that’s just a normal-person thing.
I came across this 2003 Bon Appétitrecipe on Epicurious by accident whilst browsing for food for our annual Christmas dessert party and knew I had to add it to my menu. I’ve never been a huge tart person, and indeed I’ve never made a tart, but this recipe screamed delicious: fudgy chocolate, chewy candied oranges, slivered almonds — all in a perfect, crumbly chocolate tart shell infused with cinnamon. Although this recipe has a few components that must be made separately (read: tart shell and candied oranges), it is overall quite easy (the filling comes together in, like, 60 seconds) and well worth the time spent making it!
Here is the recipe. [My notes are in brackets.]
Candied Orange Peel:
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup heavy whipping cream
8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
Candied Orange Peel:
Using vegetable peeler, remove peel (orange part only) from orange in strips [note: you can also use the cutting method from this post]. Cut strips into matchstick-size pieces and place in small saucepan. Cover with cold water; bring to boil. Cook 30 seconds; drain. [Note: this is to blanch the bitterness from the peels. I did this twice when I made this tart, and I highly recommend doing this. It is well worth the extra five minutes!]
Rinse saucepan; add 1/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons water, and peel. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Simmer until peel is translucent and syrup is thick, about 20 minutes. Using tines of fork, transfer peel to plate and cool.
Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and store at room temperature. [Note: the peel doesn’t need to be made far in advance; it only takes 15 minutes to cool.]
Using electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in large bowl until smooth. Beat in cocoa powder. Add flour and beat until dough comes together in moist clumps. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
Roll out dough between sheets of waxed paper to 11-inch round. Peel off top sheet of paper. Invert dough over 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom; peel off paper. Gently press dough into pan. Press dough overhang in to form double-thick sides. Pierce dough all over with fork. Refrigerate 30 minutes. [Note: For the best use of your time, this is the best time to make the candied orange peels — while the tart crust is refrigerating. This will give the peels plenty of time to candy and then cool — and you can also bake the tart during the candying process.]
Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake crust until sides look dry and bottom looks bubbly, about 14 minutes. Transfer crust to rack. Using back of spoon, press up sides of dough if falling. Cool completely.
Filling & Tart Assembly:
Toss almonds, sugar, and cinnamon in small bowl. Chop all but 2 strips of peel. Sprinkle chopped orange peel, then almond mixture over bottom of prepared crust. Place cream in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to simmer. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and whisk until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth; mix in Grand Marnier. Pour into crust. Refrigerate until filling is firm, at least 3 hours. Garnish with remaining 2 orange peel strips. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover loosely with foil and keep refrigerated.)
Using sharp knife, gently loosen crust from pan sides. Remove pan sides. Cut tart into wedges; serve cold.
That’s it! This is a super easy recipe and I highly recommend it. It’s also great to make ahead, as the tart only gets more delicious with a few days in the fridge. This was one of the hits of the night at my Christmas party (aside from the baklava, which really stole the show — recipe coming soon), and can be one at your next event too! (Or just make it for yourself — I won’t judge.)
I wanted to make a special cake for my mom’s birthday, and ever since her trip to Italy last year, she has been into tiramisu. I figured making a tiramisu cake would be a nice alternative to the usual chocolate or vanilla birthday cake.
For the Cake:
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ sticks unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ cup buttermilk
For the espresso extract:
2 tablespoons instant espresso power
2 tablespoons boiling water
For the espresso syrup:
½ cup water
1/3 cup sugar
For the filling and frosting:
2 8-ounce containers of mascarpone cheese
¾ cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup cold heavy cream
2 ½ ounces of semisweet chocolate finely chopped
For the Cake:
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter two 9 inch round cake pans.
Beat butter until creamy.
Add sugar and continue to beat.
Add eggs one by one and then the yolk while mixing.
Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, adding the dry ingredients in 3 parts and the buttermilk in 2.
Pour one half of cake batter in each pan and bake for 30 minutes.
For the extract and syrup:
Stir the espresso powder and boiling water together until blended.
Stir the water and sugar together in a saucepan.
Bring sugar water to a boil.
Remove from heat and add extract.
Once the cakes have cooled pour 1/3 of the espresso syrup on top of each layer.
For the filling and frosting:
Mix the mascarpone, sugar, and vanilla together in a bowl until smooth.
In a separate bowl whisk the heavy cream until it forms peaks.
Fold in the heavy cream to the mascarpone mixture.
Frost each layer and add the semisweet chocolate between the layers.
Assemble the cake and frost the outsides.
Dust with coco powder and top with extra chocolate.
My mom loved this cake. It was full of flavor and very refreshing!
This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen and can be found here.
I wanted to bake for our family and friends for the holidays. I went a little overboard with the peppermint theme and made candy cane cookies, peppermint brownies, and peppermint truffles. Each of these recipes are great for the holidays. I also made a trip to Michaels and found the perfect packaging.
Candy Cane Cookies:
1 cup margarine
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ teaspoon peppermint extract
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon red food coloring
Cream together margarine, white sugar, and powdered sugar.
Beat in egg, vanilla, and peppermint extract.
Combine with flour, and salt.
Cover dough and chill for at least one hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
Grease cookie sheets
Divide dough into half
Color one half of the dough with the red food coloring.
Using half white dough and half red dough make candy canes.
10. Bake for 10 minutes.
These cookies are so simple and a great holiday recipe.
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate chopped
¾ cup butter
1 ½ cups white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup all purpose flour
2 (1.55 ounce) Milk chocolate bars, broken into chunks
1 cup of chopped peppermint chocolate (found at whole foods)
½ cup of crushed candy canes for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Grease and 8X12 baking pan.
Using a double boiler melt unsweetened chocolate and margarine in bowl.
Whisk until chocolate is melted and stir in sugar.
Add eggs, extracts, and salt.
Gradually add flour and stir until combined.
Spread ½ the batter into the pan.
Top batter with milk chocolate
Add second half of batter.
10. Top with peppermint chocolate.
11. Bake for 35 minutes.
12. Top with crushed candy canes.
These were honestly one of the top brownies I have ever had. I promise. You need to give these a try!!!
12 ounces of good semi-sweet chocolate
1 cup of heavy cream
¼ cup of crushed candy canes
1 teaspoon of peppermint extract
Melt chocolate using a double boiler.
Whisk until smooth and mix in cream.
Stir in peppermint extract and crushed candy canes.
Roll chocolate into one-inch balls.
Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
This was my first time making truffles and I will say that it was not as easy as I expected. There are very messy, but worth it! Happy Holidays!
My Christmas party menu for this year… my family always gets together for desserts and to exchange gifts, and we end up hosting practically every year. This is fine by me as I get to cook a ton and I love putting dessert tables together.
I’m obsessed with chocolate-covered orange peels. Then again, I’m also a huge fan of the orange-chocolate combination. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to give this recipe a try!
These are surprisingly simple to make (you just have to be pretty exact about the process) and aren’t nearly as bad for you as regular chocolate. However, they’re just as delicious! Before you begin making these, here are a few tips:
Blanch the peels after you’ve cut them and before you begin the candying process. They tend to be very bitter, so blanching them helps draw out some of that bitterness.
High quality and/or organic oranges really do make a difference! It’s all about the flavor of the peels.
Make sure you don’t over-candy them. At a certain point, the orange peels in the saucepan will cease to become fragrant and will begin to taste funny.
Your peels won’t actually become “translucent,” as described in the recipe, so don’t let this lead to over-cooking. Because you’re candying at home, you’re not going to get the same effect as buying candied oranges in store.
You will have a lot of peels. 1 orange can yield 12-20+ strips alone. Given that removing the peels from the oranges can be rather time consuming, keep this in mind!
To make these, I combined a bunch of recipes from around the internet, so here is what I ended up doing:
2 navel oranges
4 tablespoons water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
extra sugar for dusting
Wash the oranges thoroughly and quarter them. You need to remove as much of the pith from the peel as possible (the pith is what gives the peels their bitterness), so what I did was slice out the flesh of the orange (you can use this later in salads). Then I sliced the quartered peels into the desired thickness and tried to cut off as much of the pith as possible from there. (It’s much easier to do this once you have made the slices.)
At this point, you can blanch the peels 1-3 times, as desired.
Place the peels, water, and sugar in a small saucepan (the smaller the better — mine was a little too big) and stir until the sugar dissolves. At this point, simmer the peels in the sugar/water mixture for 20-30 minutes, until the peels thicken and become more translucent.
Remove peels from saucepan with a fork and let cool. After 10-15 minutes, you can coat them with extra sugar if desired.
Melt the chocolate chips over a double boiler. Dip each peel into the chocolate as desired, and place on a plate to cool and harden.
That’s it! You should have far more peels than are photographed here (my dad ate most of them before I got a chance to take pictures), and they are perfect for satisfying a sugar rush or for adding some festivity to a holiday party.