Coq Au Vin & Red Mashed Potatoes

I’d like to tell you that this coq au vin, in all of it’s buttery-red-wine-buttery-braised glory, would be the star of this post. While my adult self is shouting at me, I have to tell you that all my inner child wants to do is eat a giant bowl of these red mashed potatoes and call it a night. Red mashed potatoes have been on my family’s thanksgiving table every year that I can remember, and it’s all I can do to resist sneaking spoonfuls while the bird is roasting away. I couldn’t bare only having these for Thanksgiving though, so when the temps start dropping I can’t think of anything that I would rather have more than these creamy dreamy mashed pots covered in slow-braised gravy of some sort.

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While these mashies hold a special place in my heart, i’ve managed to maneuver a little space for this coq au vin. Tender chicken is nestled in a sauce made with butter, shallot, red wine, garlic, bacon and a splash of cognac in perfect bliss. And when it’s combined with these creamy red mashed potatoes? Say hello to your new favorite comfort food! Eff it, we can always work out in January…

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Coq Au Vin & Creamy Red Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

coq au vin
-
4 slices thick cut bacon chopped
- 4 tablespoons olive oil divided
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 sweet onion diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced or grated
- 2 medium size carrots, chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1/4 cup Cognac or good brandy
- 1/2 a bottle of red wine
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 4 whole sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
- 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups button mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley chopped

Red Mashed Potatoes
-
2 pounds small to medium red potatoes
- 1 tablespoon of salt (this varies every time for me honestly. Be the judge and add as much salt as you like!)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup milk or half-and-half

What to do

  1. Heat a little olive oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy duty pot. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove the bacon to a plate with a slotted spoon.

  2. Meanwhile, lay the chicken out on paper towels and pat dry. Liberally sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. When the bacon is removed, brown the chicken pieces in batches in a single layer for about 5 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Remove the chicken to the plate with the bacon and continue to brown until all the chicken is done. Set aside.

  3. Add the carrots, onions, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper to the pan and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add in the tomato paste and stir into the mixture and cook for another minute.

  4. Add the Cognac and put the bacon, chicken, and any juices that collected on the plate into the pot. Add the wine, chicken stock, and thyme and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and simmer on the stove until the liquid is reduced by about 1/3 and the chicken is tender, about 30 minutes.

  5. While the stew is cooking, make your potatoes. Scrub potatoes and cut into chunks. Put potatoes in a medium saucepan, cover with water and add salt. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.Remove the potatoes from the heat and drain well. Place them into the bowl of your stand mixer or just a big bowl and mix using the paddle attachment, add in butter and pour in half and half while it’s mixing. Use your judgement and add in more salt, butter, or half-and-half to your liking.

  6. Mash 1 tablespoon of butter and the flour together and stir into the stew. In a medium saute pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and cook the mushrooms over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until browned. Add to the stew. Bring the stew to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes. Season to taste. Serve hot.

Enjoy!

Fall Bucket List

Fall! My favorite time of year. Beautiful leaves, crisp cool air, and all things cozy! I swear the second October hits, I switch out summer scented candles for apple cinnamon & pumpkin spice, swap dresses for sweaters, and turn on the oven almost every day to make something warm and cozy. I try and fit as much into this season as possible, so a much needed Fall bucket list is order! "‘Fall-ow” along and you will definitely feel like you did the season right!

Fall Bucket List

  1. Go to the pumpkin patch and carve a pumpkin

  2. Watch all of the classics: Hocus Pocus, Nightmare Before Christmas, Beetlejuice, Halloween, Ghostbusters, and Young Frankenstein to name a few!

  3. Bake a pumpkin pie from scratch, homemade crust and all

  4. Go apple-picking

  5. Make caramel apples

  6. Visit a local brewery and try some of their seasonal beers

  7. Have a afternoon picnic complete with warm spiked apple cider in a thermos

  8. Make a pumpkin spice latte at home

  9. Have a cozy night in and make a Fall-inspired cheese board, light all the candles and pop open a bottle of red wine

  10. Make pumpkin pancakes and have breakfast in bed

  11. Go to a Halloween costume party

  12. Visit a scary haunted house

  13. Walk around the farmer’s market on the weekend and shop for fresh produce, seasonal flowers, and apple butter

  14. Go for a hike when the leaves are changing

  15. Have a technology detox day and spend the day reading and exploring the neighborhood

  16. Read a scary novel

  17. Make a pot of chili, like this one, and homemade cornbread

  18. Plan or attend a Friendsgiving

  19. Host a wine tasting with cute appetizers

  20. Send notes to friends and family for Thanksgiving telling them why i’m thankful for them

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Spring Veggie Mini Quiches

Happy almost momma's day to all the wonderful momma's out there! Sadly, I won't be with my mom this year since we took off so much time for the wedding, but if I were home I would definitely treat her with these spring veggie mini quiches for brunch! For starters, how freaking cute are they?! Everything tastes better when it's mini in my opinion. These guys are loaded with all kinds of spring veggies. Walking around Portland I have been so inspired lately -The farmer's markets are bursting with beautiful fruits and veggies and everything is so vibrant right now. I wanted peas, scallions, spring mushrooms, radish's and fresh herbs to be the highlight of these. What better vessel for all of this spring egg-y deliciousness than a flaky buttery crust! These are super easy to make, especially if you use store bought pie dough, and you can even make them ahead of time to make preparing brunch a breeze. And of course, don't forget the mimosa's! All the mom's out there deserve a little R&R 🥂 

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Spring Veggie Mini Quiches

Ingredients

- 6 mini pie pans (or tartlet pans, but you might have some extra egg mixture leftover)
- 1 (14.1 ounce) package of refrigerated pie dough (we use Trader Joe's!) 
- 1 bunch of scallions chopped, reserving some of the green tops for garnish
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 8 oz of mushrooms (any variation you prefer!) 
- 6 eggs
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) buttermilk or half and half
- Garnishes: Fresh parsley, chopped scallion tops, thinly sliced radishes, and snap peas (quickly blanched and sliced exposing the inner peas)  

what to do

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

  2. First rub a little butter on each pie or tart pan that you're using. Then, rolling our your thawed pie crust, lay your pie pan or tart form down and cut around it leaving a little extra room. Flip over and press the dough evenly around the pan, and crimping along the sides as you go. 

  3. Place all of the quiche crusts on a large baking sheet and bake the crust in the preheated oven until they are golden brown, about 10 minutes or so and then remove them from the oven. The tops will continue baking after you pour the eggs in, so don't let them get too dark! 

  4. Heat a skillet over medium- high heat until hot before adding in mushrooms. Let them cook down until seared and brown all over before seasoning with salt and pepper. Remove mushrooms from the pan onto a plate. In the same skillet sauté the scallions in a tablespoon of olive oil for a minute over medium heat before adding 2 cloves of minced garlic. Remove from heat. 

  5. Whisk all 6 eggs and milk in a large bowl, season with salt and pepper before gently mixing in the mushrooms, onions and garlic. Turn down oven to 350 degrees. Pour egg mixture into pre-baked quiche crusts and continue baking until egg mixture is set, about 10-15 minutes. 

  6. While the mini-quiches are baking, bring a pot of water to a boil. Quickly blanch the snap peas for 1-minute and then move them into a bowl of ice water. Gently halve the peas with a paring knife once they are cool to expose the inner peas. Drizzle them with a little olive oil. 

  7. Remove the quiches from the oven and garnish with fresh parsley, green scallion tops, thinly sliced radishes, and the halved snap peas. 

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Easter Egg Cupcakes

I have to be honest about something... I'm not a great baker. But I'm trying nonetheless! Anytime a baked good turns out well for me it's because I've tried very very hard. I love cooking so much because you can transform a dish by tossing in a little of this and a sprinkle of that. Baking on the other hand is a science. Any baking pictures you might see on this blog might look fairly neat and tidy, but in reality there's flour all of my counter, clothes, and face; There's measuring spoons thrown about and vanilla extract dribbled  in various spots; And there's a pile of dishes in the sink covered in batter or bright pink and teal icing. At least that was the case when I made these Easter Egg Cupcakes in spirit of Easter weekend on the horizon.

Thomas and I are making Easter baskets for each other this year (sorry Thomas this is a spoiler alert), but I accidentally already dug into the Cadbury mini eggs that I bought for his basket. After discovering these Cadbury mini's I knew I needed to craft a cute Easter treat. The kitchen wasn't so pretty in the process but thanks to Sally over at Sally's Baking Addiction the cupcakes turned out pretty dang good! I used Sally's recipe for Simply Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes which are so fluffy and moist. Then I just created plain vanilla frosting and used food coloring to make it Easter-y pink and teal. 

Happy Easter Weekend Friends!


Easter egg Cupcakes

Ingredients
-1 and 3/4 cups (200g) cake flour1
-3/4 teaspoon baking powder
-1/4 teaspoon baking soda
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
-1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
-3 large egg whites, at room temperature
-2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract2
-seeds scraped from 1/2 of a vanilla bean
-1/2 cup (120g) full-fat sour cream at room temperature3
-1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk at room temperature3

Vanilla Frosting

-1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
-4 - 5 cups (480-600g) confectioners' sugar
-1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream
-2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
-salt, to taste
-optional: 2 drops red food coloring to tint pink, 1-2 drops of food coloring for teal/light blue

Toppings

-Cadbury mini eggs
- 1 bar of white chocolate, sliced into shards

What to do

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Line a second pan with 2 liners - this recipe makes about 14 cupcakes. Set aside.
  2. Make the cupcakes: Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
  3. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy - about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until creamed together. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the egg whites, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean. Beat on medium-high speed until combined, then beat in the sour cream. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients until just incorporated. With the mixer still running on low, slowly pour in the milk until combined. Do not overmix. You may need to whisk it all by hand to make sure there are no lumps at the bottom of the bowl. The batter will be slightly thick.
  4. Pour/spoon the batter into the liners - fill only 2/3 full to avoid spilling over the sides. Bake for 19-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. For around 30 mini cupcakes, bake for about 11-13 minutes, same oven temperature. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
  5. Make the frosting: With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy - about 2 minutes. Add 4 and 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, the heavy cream, and vanilla extract with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 full minutes. Add up to 1/2 cup more confectioners' sugar if frosting is too thin or another Tablespoon of cream if frosting is too thick. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet.
  6. Frost cooled cupcakes. I simply used an icing knife.
  7. Create nests on top of cupcakes with sliced shards of white chocolate and mini Cadbury eggs.

Make ahead tip: Cupcakes can be made ahead 1 day in advance, covered, and stored at room temperature. Frosting can also be made 1 day in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Leftover cupcakes keep well covered tightly in the refrigerator for 3 days. Frosted or unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Recipe Notes:

  1. If you cannot get your hands on cake flour, you can make a DIY version from all-purpose flour and cornstarch. Measure 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Remove 2 Tablespoons. Mix in 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch. This equals 1 cup of cake flour. I suggest doing this twice, mixing it all up in 1 bowl then removing 1/4 cup since you need 1 and 3/4 cups in this recipe.
  2. For best flavor, pure vanilla extract is strongly recommended. If using imitation, increase to 1 Tablespoon (3 teaspoons).
  3. Whole milk and sour cream are strongly recommended for the best taste and texture. A full fat plain yogurt would work instead, though the cupcakes may not be as light. Same goes with a lower fat milk.

Lamb Shanks with Basil Mint Pesto

Easter Sunday has always been special in my household growing up. While we were sleeping, our parents would sneakily deliver Easter baskets overflowing with peeps, chocolate bunnies, and an abundance of Cadbury eggs. Waking up at 5 AM we would scarf as much chocolate down before heading to sunrise service, belly-ache and all.

After church it was custom to always have a big Easter lunch at home with family. I can't remember a year that we've ever not had lamb on our menu. Easter was pretty much the only time we would have lamb except on occasion, so it was always such a treat. You can't forget about the mint jelly! I don't know why the combination of mint and lamb is so good, but it's perfect together. 

For the past two years living in Portland, I've tried to make Easter feel as much like home as possible, so lamb is most definitely going to be on our menu this year. I had never had lamb shanks until Thomas first made it for me and I am hooked! Growing up we always had a roasted leg of lamb, which is to die for, but I love how slow-braised shanks fall off the bone and literally the meat just melts in your mouth. For special occasions we always go to Phil's Uptown Meat Market off of Burnside and 23rd. Their meat is always great and sourced by local farmer's and rancher's. 

These shanks are braised in a dutch oven in beef stock, red wine, and lots of herbs and other goodies. Once the meat is super tender, we take the shanks out and reduce the liquid into a mind-blowing sauce. No joke, you'll want to drench EVERYTHING in it. 

An ode to my beloved mint jelly, we also made a fresh basil mint pesto. It was the perfect pop of color and complimented the lamb perfectly. I would recommend making a double batch of pesto since it keeps well in the fridge and is ahmazzinggg on eggs in the morning. 

Happy egg hunting, peep snacking, and lamb eating friends!

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We use this IKEA dutch oven which works great! I'm really looking forward to putting Le Creuset and  dutch ovens and products on our wedding registry!


Lamb Shanks with Basil Mint Pesto 

Ingredients
Shanks
-lamb shanks (1 for each person)
- 1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 4 carrots, sliced
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- a few springs of thyme
- 1 tablespoon of beef base ( we used Better than Buillon)
- 3/4 bottle of red wine

Pesto
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves
- 3/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- A squeeze of fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Sides
- fingerling potatoes
- honey roasted mini carrots

What to do

1) In a large skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high heat. Once hot, sear the lamb shanks on all sides and then remove from heat.
2) In a large dutch oven, sauté chopped onions and carrots in a little olive oil over medium high heat until they start to soften about 5 minutes. Add in the 6 minced garlic cloves and sauté another minute or two until fragrant. Then add the springs of thyme and place the seared lamb shanks on top. 
3) Put in a tablespoon of beef base and then fill the dutch oven with 3/4 of a bottle of red wine and water until the lamb shanks are submerged. 
4) Bring to a boil and then turn down to a medium-low simmer and cook until the meat is tender and almost falling off the bone, about 3 1/2 hours. 
5) While the meat is cooking you can make the pesto. In a hot skilled with a drizzle of oil, toast the pine nuts until golden brown and season with salt and pepper. Add the pine nuts and garlic to a food processor and pulse until chopped. Add half of the herbs and chop for 30 seconds, then add the rest of the herbs and chop. Add in the Parmesan and salt and pepper, pulse briefly until combined. While machine is running, squeeze in the lemon juice and slowly add the oil in a steady stream and process to desired thickness. Depending on how basil-y or mint-y you want to have your pesto, adjust the quantities accordingly. 
6) At the 3 hour mark when the shanks only have about 1/2 hour left to cook, roast the potatoes and carrots. Place the potatoes whole on a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until golden brown and are tender when pierced with a fork.
7) For the mini carrots, we skimmed a couple tablespoons of the lamb fat from the top while the shanks were cooking and drizzled all over the carrots (super healthy I know). Season with salt and pepper and roast until slightly golden and tender.  Drizzle with honey after the are out of the oven. 
8) Once the meat is very tender, remove the shanks and set in a warm place. Crank the heat up to high and let the liquid reduce in the dutch oven until desired thickness. Hint: if you want to thicken it a little more you can mix a tablespoon of cornstarch in about a tablespoon of water and add to the sauce. Continue boiling the sauce for a 5-10 minutes after you put in the cornstarch. 
9) Plate your dish with the potatoes, carrots, and the shank. Give yourself a generous helping of the sauce all over the shank and top with a little of the pesto.