Have you thought about your Christmas menu yet? Now’s the time! Christmas Eve is only 2 weeks away!
I was chatting with a friend about it last week and she mentioned how hard it feels to create a menu for just a few people when you’re used to having a crowd for the holidays. I totally understand – we usually celebrate with our big families! – but it’s also the perfect opportunity to let small-batch treats shine.
This cutie is the perfect example! A petite chocolate cake that is perfectly sized for just 2-4 people and topped off with fluffy peppermint frosting – what more do you want for Christmas? It’s a great option for this year’s sized-down celebrations.
What’s better than chocolate lava cake? Chocolate lava cake with warm, melty peanut butter sauce in the middle. Seriously you guys – this is what dreams are made of.
We fell in love with lava cakes after a cruise a few years ago and they’ve since become my go-to special occasion dessert. And this one is freaking amazing. If you’re a chocolate-peanut butter fiend like me, you will love this! That melty peanut butter is really something special.
One of the best things about this recipe is that it makes just two little cakes – perfect for Valentine’s Day, an anniversary or any other occasion where you want something special for a smaller crowd. The recipe can, of course, be scaled up to make more – but sometimes it’s nice to have something already sized for two!
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Spray two ramekins with non-stick spray. Combine 1 1/2 tsp. flour with the cocoa power and coat the inside of the greased ramekins with it – shake off any excess. Place prepared ramikins on a baking sheet and set aside.
Combine 4 Tbsp. butter and the chopped chocolate in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring until completely melted and smooth. Remove from heat and set aside for a few minutes to cool.
In a small bowl, combine the remaining butter, peanut butter and powdered sugar until smooth.
Using a stand mixer, beat the sugar, eggs, and salt on medium-high for about three minutes, until the mixture is think and pale yellow. Using a spatula, fold in the chocolate until no longer streaky. Fold in the flour and mix until smooth.
Use 2/3 of the batter to fill the ramekins, then place half of the peanut butter mixture on top of each ramekin. Cover the peanut butter with the remaining batter.
Bake for 14-16 minutes – the top should be set but the cake should still have a little jiggle. Let sit for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and invert onto a plate. Dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately.
Need more ideas for Valentine dishes for two? Here are some great ideas!
I wanted to sneak in one last Thanksgiving leftover post before the big festivities tomorrow. This is pretty much the perfect day-after sandwich – super quick to throw together in the midst of shopping trips but it doesn’t feel like leftovers.
The crunchy onions and cranberries are staples in lots of Thanksgiving dishes so I’m guessing you’ll have them (and turkey!) on hand. A few extra ingredients and you’re good to go.
I made a few of these during the last week and I’m genuinely looking forward to refreshing my turkey stash tomorrow so I can have another.
Chipotle Ranch Turkey Panini (a Kate’s Recipe Box Original) Makes 1 sandwich
3/4 cup chopped turkey
1 Tbsp. dried cranberries
1 Tbsp. crunchy onions
1 Tbsp. real bacon bits
2 Tbsp. chipotle ranch dressing
2 slices provolone cheese
1 Ciabatta roll
In a small bowl, toss together the turkey, cranberries, onions, bacon bits and dressing until evenly combined.
Slice the roll in half, top with turkey mixture and cheese. Press in a Panini press until warmed through and crunchy on the outside.
I’ve got these filed under “easy enough to throw together with a super fussy baby in tow”. Because that’s totally a file in our house right now. Teething, man.
As simple as these are, they took all day to make. I caramelized the onions during the first (30 minute) nap. Fried up the bacon during the second (20 minute) nap. Assembled and wrapped them in foil while I wore him on my back and then threw them in the fridge until ready to bake. It was just one of those days.
On another note, every time I make caramelized onions I have an oh-goodness-I love-these-so-much moment. I’m thinking I need to start just keeping caramelized onions in the fridge so I can put them on, like, everything.
Baked Ham and Cheese Sandwiches with Caramelized Onions and Bacon (slightly adapted from Pinch of Yum) Serves 3
1 large yellow onion, sliced into thin rings
4 Tbsp. butter, divided
6 slices of bacon
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 package of King’s Hawaiian sub rolls (6 rolls)
1 lb. deli-sliced ham
6 slices Swiss cheese
In a frying pan over medium-low heat, melt 1 Tbsp. of butter and then add onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized. When done, transfer to a bowl and wipe out the pan. Cook the bacon in the same pan, removing to a paper-towel lined plate when done.
In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the remaining butter. Whisk in the mustard and Worcestershire.
To assemble the sandwiches, brush some of the mustard mixture on the cut side of each roll. Divide ham between rolls and top with caramelized onions, a slice of bacon and a slice of cheese.
Wrap assembled sandwiches in foil. Bake at 350F degrees for 10 minutes or until warm and melty.
While we’re really only a few days into October Unprocessed, I think I already found my favorite dish of the month. This salad is fantastic. I whipped it up on a day that baby boy was particularly needy so it literally took me all day to get it finished. When Mark walked in from work at 8 pm, he’s like, “Is that dinner?” and when I said, “No, its today’s lunch” he knew better than to ask too many questions (and graciously helped do the dishes when I finally finished). I had really thought about ditching these once lunch time passed and I didn’t have anything more than some burned sweet potato, but I’m really, really glad I didn’t.
Much like the oats I shared a few days ago, I suggest multiplying the recipe and making several at once – it’s just more efficient to cook a few days worth of sweet potatoes and quinoa in one shot if you’ll be eating this for several days.
1 small sweet potato, unpeeled, diced into bite-sized pieces
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup quinoa
1/2 cup black beans
1/4 red pepper, diced
2 cups baby spinach
1 Tbsp. dried cranberries
1 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds
For the dressing: 1/4 cup mango, fresh or frozen
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp. water
Preheat the oven to 400F degrees. Toss the diced sweet potato with the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast until the potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the quinoa to a covered pot along with half a cup of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the water is all absorbed and the quinoa is tender.
Make the dressing: combine mango, vinegar and water in a blender and pulse until smooth.
Assemble the salad in a jar: Place the black beans at the bottom and then layer on the quinoa, dressing, red pepper, spinach, sweet potatoes, dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds.
Cover jar and refrigerate until ready to serve. When you’re ready to eat, shake the jar or dump it into a bowl and toss to combine.
1Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
1Tbsp. unsalted butter
2Tbsp. olive oil
12 oz. fresh green beans, trimmed
½ tsp. salt, to taste
1Tbsp. minced garlic
In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, honey and water. Set aside.
In a pan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted, add the green beans and salt and toss to coat. Cook 7-8 minutes, until beans are slightly browned and shrunken. Stir in garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds.
Add in the soy sauce mixture and toss to coat. Cook for about 30 seconds, until the sauce becomes glaze-like. Transfer to a serving dish and serve immediately.
This was sort of a thrown-together dish – something to go with the Thai-spiced chicken skewers and something that would use up some more green beans. It ended up being one of my favorite things of the week.
I’m always a fan of quick sides and this fits the bill. It was the perfect accompaniment to our dinner and a dish I know I’ll be making again soon!
This is, by far, my favorite summer meal. We’ve been making it for years and it’s something we make over and over during grilling weather – mostly because it’s so easy. This pizza takes almost no prep and cooks in about five minutes.
We generally don’t go in with much of a plan when making them – toppings are whatever we happen to have still in the fridge. Ham and pineapple is a favorite, as is kalamata olive and fresh basil. And we like to make them smaller so we can vary the toppings – and each person can top their own.
It’s meals like this that are keeping us sane with a newborn!
Preheat the grill to medium-high heat and spray with nonstick spray.
Roll out dough as desired – we like to make four smaller pizzas because they’re easier to work with, 2 medium or 1 large would work too!
Place the dough onto the grill grates and cook for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is solid and has grill marks. Flip, add sauce, cheese and toppings and close the lid of the grill. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until cheese is melted and bottom has grill marks.
Transfer to a cutting board and let sit for a few minutes before cutting.
We have zucchini in the garden this year. I feel like shouting it from the rooftops because our zucchini never seems to work out. Having an abundance now is a huge novelty and I’m happily working through some of the recipes I’d saved from previous years.
This side is pretty simple, but it’s a great one to have in your repertoire – easy, fast and delicious.
Cheesy Zucchini Bake
(slightly adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen)
Serves 2-3 as a side
1 large zucchini, cut into half moon slices
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp. Herbes de Provence
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/3 cup shredded mixture of provolone and mozzarella, divided
2 Tbsp. grated parmesan
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Spray a small baking dish with non-stick spray.
Toss the cut zucchini with the basil, green onion, herbs, parmesan and half of the shredded cheese until evenly distributed. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to baking dish. Bake for 2-25 minutes.
Sprinkle remaining shredded cheese over the top and bake for 10-15 minutes more, until the cheese is nicely melted.
Generally, this is how meal planning goes around here: On Thursday we get the grocery ads for the next week and I sit down and pick meals based on what we have on hand already and what’s going to be on sale. I email the list off to Mark and he either approves it, vetoes things or reminds me of plans I’ve forgotten that would throw off dinner. It’s a good system.
And then there are weeks when things just get busy and fall through the cracks. I realized as we were standing in the grocery store shopping for the week that I’d never bounced the week’s dinners off him – and he was really skeptical of this meal. Luckily, once dinner was on the table, he liked it. We served it along with onion rings and fresh cut-up veggies.
Grilled Chicken and Zucchini Tortas
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. paprika
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 medium zucchini
1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Hot sauce, to taste
2 cups shredded cabbage
Juice of 1/2 line
Whisk together the garlic, oregano, paprika, oil, salt and pepper until well combined. Quarter the zucchini lengthwise and pound out the chicken to 1/2″ thick. Place zucchini and chicken on separate plates and rub each with the marinade evenly. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise and hot sauce to taste. Remove half of the mayonnaise mixture to a small bowl and set aside. To the medium bowl, add the cabbage and lime juice and toss until evenly coated. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Grill chicken and zucchini over medium heat for about 10 minutes until chicken is cooked through and zucchini is tender, flipping halfway. Slice the chicken against the grain.
Serve the chicken and zucchini on rolls topped with mayonnaise spread and slaw.