Monday, November 21, 2022

Golden sweet potato cheesecake

This is a sponsored post by Challenge butter, but the text and opinions are all mine. Thank you for supporting brands that make Kylee's Kitchen possible! 

If we are what we eat, I yam a sweet potato. I would be perfectly content eating sweet potatoes every single day. In fact, I did that after I graduated while I was trying to save money. And I still love them! I could eat them in any way, shape or form. But I have to say this sweet potato cheesecake tops the list.

For some reason, everything tastes better to me when someone else makes it. I never get as much satisfaction eating something I've created. This cheesecake is the exception. I was blown away the moment I sampled the filling. It's so incredibly flavorful. And the sour cream topping adds the perfect tang to balance out the sweetness. Also, the turmeric gives it a really beautiful golden color.

The crust couldn't be easier to make. The combination of gingersnap cookies, butter, sugar, and salt comes together quickly in the food processor. It's important to use good quality butter in your crust. I use Challenge unsalted butter because it's 100% real cream butter. It doesn't have any artificial or synthetic ingredients. You may wonder why I use unsalted butter since salt is on the ingredients list, but I always use unsalted butter so I have greater control over the flavor.

You can make this cheesecake up to three days in advance/ I recommend making it ASAP so you don't have to worry about trying to fit it in on Thanksgiving. You can also freeze it up to a month ahead of time.

Golden Sweet Potato Cheesecake

Yield: Makes 1, 9" cheesecake
Time: About 1 hour 15 minutes

For the crust
  • 255 grams (9 oz) gingersnap cookies
  • 114 grams (1 stick) Challenge unsalted butter, melted
  • 25 grams (2 tablespoons) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the filling
  • 1 (8-ounce) block cream cheese, softened
  • 133 grams (2/3 cup) white sugar
  • 71 grams (1/3 cup) brown sugar
  • 14 grams (1 Tablespoon) fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 16 ounces sweet potato flesh (no skin)
  • 2 large eggs
For the topping
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • Optional: Candied pecans, crystallized ginger for topping
For the crust
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray 9 1/2-inch pie dish with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. Pulse gingersnap cookies in food processor. Add butter, sugar, and salt and pulse until it resembles wet sand.
  3. Dump into pie plate and spread in even layer, making sure to press up sides. Bake until firm to touch, about 12 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and turn heat to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
For the filling
  1. Beat cream cheese and both sugars with electric mixer until no lumps remain.
  2. Scrape bowl and add ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, salt, and vanilla extract. Beat until smooth, scraping sides of bowl as needed.
  3. Add sweet potato and beat until smooth.
  4. Add eggs and beat until just combined.
  5. Pour filling into crust and spread in even layer. Bake until edges are set but center is still a bit jiggly, about 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from oven.
For the topping
  1. While cheesecake is baking, mix sour cream, sugar, and turmeric.
  2. Spread topping over baked cheesecake while it's still hot, Return to oven for 5 minutes.
  3. Cool cheesecake on wire rack and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
  4. Top with candied pecan pieces and slices of crystallized ginger before serving.

Friday, November 18, 2022

How to make your Thanksgiving meal more exciting

Thanksgiving is a lot of the same each year, and quite frankly, it’s pretty boring for your palette. There’s a lot of beige food, a lot of soft food, and a lot of salty food. But we derive pleasure from variability, and we can achieve that at Thanksgiving dinner with texture, color, and acid.


Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, corn casserole, and so forth—it's all the same texture. Adding a little crunch goes a long way in jazzing up dinner. We can easily achieve that without changing your family's favorite recipes by adding a crunchy topping. My favorite crunch toppings are nuts and seeds, pomegranate arils, fried shallots, crunchy bread crumbs, and gremolata.

Below, I share recipes for a crunchy fried shallot, herb and bread crumb mixture, which is a recipe adapted from one of my favorite food writers, Samin Nosrat. There isn't a single thing this tasty fried mixture wouldn't improve (sorry for the double negative), and it's 100 times better than the can of fried onions you can buy from the store. Gremolata with toasted walnuts is another great crunchy addition. Gremolata is an italian condiment made from minced fresh parsley, lemon zest, garlic, and in this case, walnuts. Gremolata is also good for adding color to the table.


The saying "we eat with our eyes first" is definitely true. Our perception of taste is significantly altered by visual cues. And unfortunately, unfortunately, for the most part, Thanksgiving dinner looks pretty boring. Incorporating color makes a significant difference. My advice is to seek out color. Colorful produce like purple carrots and cauliflower will look beautiful next to your monochrome display of turkey, stuffing, and potatoes. The pop of green that comes from sprinkling fresh parsley on a finished dish makes a big difference and takes zero effort. Also, a few pomegranate arils go a long way.


Acid is VERY important. It brightens and enhances flavors while also balancing sweetness and bitterness. If you sample a dish and it tastes "flat," it probably needs acid. Acid comes in many forms. Some of my favorite acidic ingredients that I use on a weekly basis while cooking are citrus juice, vinegar, and wine.

Cranberry sauce plays a big role in bringing acid to Thanksgiving dinner. I like to put it on one side of my plate and incorporate it in every bite. I'm not a big fan of the super sweet canned version, though, so I'm sharing a recipe with a flavor profile that's a little more complex, with shallots and jalapenos.

Another acidic condiment that would be a delight to each bite is an herby chutney. This recipe is also inspired by Samin Nosrat, and it really brightens up an otherwise heavy spread of food. Mild sweetness is juxtaposed with a little heat from jalapenos and balanced by the acidity of the lime juice. It all blends together well while still making the cilantro and parsley the stars of the show.

And if you want to liven up an otherwise boring plate of roasted vegetables, an agrodolce sauce is the way to go. Agrodolce is an Italian sweet and sour sauce that comes together quickly on the stove.

Fried Shallot Crunch


  • 2 cups canola oil
  • 8 shallots, thinly sliced into rings 
  • 1/3 cup sage leaves
  • 1/4 cup rosemary leaves
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt
  • 1/2 cup parsley, minced


  1. Line 2 cooling racks with paper towels. Set aside.
  2. Pour oil into large wok or saucepan. Add shallots.
  3. Heat on medium-high. Stir shallots until they start to bubble. Reduce heat to medium.
  4. Continue to stir until shallots turn golden, about 8 - 10 minutes.
  5. Remove shallots from oil and place on paper towels.
  6. Test oil temperature by adding one sage leaf to oil. If it bubbles, oil is hot enough. If it doesn’t bubble, turn up heat and test again.
  7. Add sage and rosemary to oil and fry for about 30 seconds. Remove herbs from heat and place on paper towels.
  8. In separate saucepan, add about 2 tablespoons of oil from wok. Toast panko in the oil until it’s golden brown. Remove and place on paper towels.
  9. Once everything is cool, combine in bowl. Herbs should crumble into little pieces. Add thyme and season with salt.
  10. Save in freezer in airtight container for up to 1 month.
  11. Add parsley to mixture when ready to serve.

Crunchy gremolata


  • 1 bunch of parlsey (about 2 loose cups)
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt


  1. Finely chop parsley and walnuts.
  2. Combine everything in bowl

Colorful harissa carrots


  • 1 pound petite colorful carrots
  • 1 Tablespoon avocado oil, or other high heat oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 Tablespoons harissa
  • Optional: Parsley, cilantro, and pomegranate arils for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix carrots with oil, cumin, coriander, and salt.
  3. Arrange carrots on rimmed baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove carrots from oven and mix with harissa.
  5. Roast for another 10 minutes or until carrots can be pierced by fork.
  6. Garnish with herbs and pomegranate arils before serving.

Colorful agrodolce cauliflower
  • 2 heads cauliflower, cut into florets (combination of purple and orange)
  • 2 Tablespoons avocado oil (or other high heat oil)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 Tablespoons golden raisins, chopped
  • 1 Thai chili pepper, sliced thin
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. Combine cauliflower with oil, salt and pepper. Spread on baking sheet and roast 15 to 20 minutes, or until cauliflower caramelizes on edges.
  3. Meanwhile, combine vinegar, maple syrup, raisins and chili pepper in small saucepan. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer. Continue to simmer until sauce becomes syrupy, about 10 minutes.
  4. Combine half of agrodolce syrup with cauliflower. Transfer cauliflower to platter.
  5. Spoon remaining agrodolce syrup over cauliflower just before serving.

Jalapeno cranberry sauce


  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 jalapenos, seeds removed, minced
  • 1 pound fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons lime zest


  1. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot and jalapenos and cook until they soften, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add cranberries, maple syrup, water and salt to saucepan and increase heat to medium-high.
  3. Stir often and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and cook until cranberries burst and juices thicken, about 10 minutes
  4. Remove from heat. Stir in lime juice and lime zest. Let cool.
  5. Before serving, taste and add more lime juice or zest if necessary.

Herby sweet heat chutney


  • 8 dates, pitted
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1/2 cup lime juice, plus more to taste
  • 1 jalapeno, no seeds, chopped
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 4 cups cilantro leaves (2 bunches)
  • 2 cups parsley leaves (1 bunch)


  1. Place dates in bowl. Cover with hot water and set aside.
  2. Toast cumin seeds on medium heat until they become aromatic, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Grind with mortar and pestle.
  3. Remove dates from water (keep water) and place in food processor with cumin, lime juice, jalapeno, ginger, garlic, and salt.
  4. Run food processor until it’s mostly smooth.
  5. Add herbs to food processor and pulse until mostly smooth, scraping sides periodically. Add reserved waster from dates 1 tablespoon at a time if necessary to get blades moving.
  6. Taste and adjust lime juice and salt if necessary.
I got the idea for this blog post from Samin Nosrat's "How to Make Your Thanksgiving Dinner Less Boring"

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Maple Sage Hasselback Sweet Potatoes

This is a sponsored post by Challenge butter, but the text and opinions are all mine. Thank you for supporting brands that make Kylee's Kitchen possible! 

Sweet potatoes spend all year waiting for November, and it’s finally their time to shine. Happy Sweet Potato Awareness Month! This starchy vegetable is a staple on Thanksgiving day, most often prepared in a casserole with marshmallows and pecans. But sweet potatoes are already sweet, and the preparation possibilities are endless. So I'm sharing an alternative recipe that is easily customizable and will look even more elegant on your table.

Hasselback sweet potatoes look impressive, but they are surprisingly easy to make.

This method of preparation involves cutting a sweet potato into thin coins, but not all the way through. Leave the bottom 1/4 inch intact so the coins fan out like an accordion. This creates more surface area for flavors and additional texture.

Then make a flavored melted butter, like the sage maple butter I used in this recipe, and brush it all over the potatoes so it gets in all the nooks and crannies. This method yields sweet potatoes with crispy outsides and creamy, buttery insides.

Maple Sage Hasselback Sweet Potatoes

Yield: 4 servings

Time: About 90 minutes


  • 4 medium-sized orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds), scrubbed and dried
  • 6 tablespoons Challenge salted butter
  • 12 fresh sage leaves, chiffonade
  • 3 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Fresh ground black pepper and flaky salt to taste
  • Optional: Toasted pecan pieces for topping


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and coat 11x7-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Poke sweet potatoes several times with fork and microwave uncovered on high for 5 minutes. 
  3. Place wooden skewers or chopsticks on either side of each potato and make crosswise cuts into the potatoes about 1/4-inch apart, stopping at the skewer so as not to cut all the way through.
  4. Arrange sweet potatoes in baking dish.
  5. Microwave butter with sage leaves or heat in small saucepan until butter is melted. Stir in maple syrup and seasonings.
  6. Brush butter over sweet potatoes, making sure to get in all the slices. Sprinkle with black pepper and salt.
  7. Bake about 1 hour, or until insides are tender and outsides are crisp. Halfway through baking time, remove from oven and gently separate slices.
  8. Remove from oven. Top with pecans if desired.

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Halloween hand pies

This is a sponsored post by Challenge butter, but the text and opinions are all mine. Thank you for supporting brands that make Kylee's Kitchen possible! 

I'm talking about hand pies two ways today with both a savory and sweet option. A hand pie is essentially just a mini pie that you can hold in your hand. You can make it with puff pastry or pie dough. The filling can be a homemade pie filling, or you can use store-bought ingredients to make a delicious treat.

Since we're celebrating Halloween, I thought it would be fun to make hand pies in a super literal sense—pies with eyes (I wanted to spell it p-eyes, but I didn't think it would make sense) and pies shaped like hands!

You can use any type of filling, puff pastry, pie dough that you want. It's kind of like a "choose your own adventure" book. I like to buy my puff pastry and make my pie dough. Trader Joe's carries the best puff pastry, hands down (that's a Halloween hand pie joke)! It's seasonal, and they only carry it in the fall leading up to Christmas. So stock up while you can!

If you make the pie dough, it’s important to use good quality butter. It makes a tremendous difference in your final product. I use Challenge European Style Butter when I make pie dough. It’s churned slower and longer, in the tradition of fine European butters, to produce a more flavorful butter with less moisture and higher butterfat. 

A few more tips:

It's important to roll the pie dough out to 1/8-inch thick. If it’s too thick, the crust will be gummy and chewy, not flaky.

If you're using a fruit filling, you need to make a mealy pie crust. This means the butter pieces in the dough are the size of peas. Mealy pie dough is best for fruit pies because it is good at repelling moisture from liquid fillings. If your filling isn't very juicy, you can make a flaky pie crust. This means the butter pieces in the dough are the size of walnut halves.

Spinach artichoke hand pies

Yield: Makes 3 pies

Time: 1 hour


  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • 3 slices prosciutto
  • 1/2 cup spinach artichoke dip
  • 3 green olives with pimentos, cut in half
  • Egg wash (1 egg mixed with 1 Tablespoon water)


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Use circle cookie cutter or jar lid to create 6 large circles on puff pastry. Use end of piping tip or other small circle cutter to create 6 small circles. Fold 3 of the small circles in half.
  3. Place 3 large circles on baking sheet and brush egg wash around the edge. 
  4. Top each large circle with 1 piece prosciutto and add about 2 Tablespoons spinach artichoke dip on top of prosciutto.
  5. Cover with large circle and seal the edge using fork prongs.
  6. Add 1 small circle to center of hand pie. Place half green olive on top. Place folded small circle partly over olive so it looks like an eyelid. 
  7. Brush the pies with egg wash.
  8. Place in oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until puff pastry is golden brown.
  9. Remove from oven and serve.
  10. Refrigerate leftover pies and eat within 3 days.

Warm-spiced cherry hand pies

Yield: Makes 2 hand pies

Time: About 90 minutes


For the filling

  • 1 cup cherries (thawed if frozen)
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon Grand Marnier
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

For the dough

  • 113 grams (8 tablespoons or 1 stick) Challenge European Style Unsalted Butter
  • 150 grams (1 1/4) cups all-purpose flour
  • 13 grams (1 Tablespoon) granulated sugar
  • 1 gram (1/4 teaspoon) kosher salt
  • 60 grams (1/4 cup ice water)
  • Egg wash (1 egg mixed with 1 Tablespoon water)
  • Optional: 1 Tablespoon cherry jam, 10 almond slices


For the filling

  1. Mix together all ingredients and set aside.

For the dough

  1. Cut butter into 1/2-inch cubes. Place in freezer for at least 20 minutes or until very cold.
  2. In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt.
  3. Cut butter into flour mixture with pastry blender or food processor until butter is pea-sized.
  4. Make well in flour mixture and add water.
  5. Mix to create shaggy mixture then knead to form dough. If dough is too dry, add up to 2 Tablespoons additional ice water.
  6. Form dough into flat disc and wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days.
  7. Once dough is chilled, preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  8. Roll dough out on floured surface to 1/8-inch thick.
  9. Trace hand on wax paper or parchment paper and cut out with scissors. This will be your stencil.
  10. Place paper hand on pie dough and cut out with knife. Continue three more times so you have a total of 4 hands, gathering and re-rolling dough if necessary.
  11. Place 2 dough hands on baking sheet. Brush edges with egg wash.
  12. Put 1/4 to 1/2 cup cherry filling in center of each palm.
  13. Place a second hand on top of each of the hands. Use a fork to crimp the edges.
  14. Brush the hands with egg wash, sprinkle with additional granulated sugar if desired, and place in oven.
  15. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until pie dough is golden brown. Remove from oven.
  16. Spread small amount of jam onto each fingertip. Place almond slice on jam so it looks like nails.
  17. Serve immediately. Store leftovers at room temperature. Eat hand pies within 3 days.

Friday, October 21, 2022

Entertaining with a Buttercream Board


This is a sponsored post by Challenge butter, but the text and opinions are all mine. Thank you for supporting brands that make Kylee's Kitchen possible!

Butter boards are the latest food trend to blow up on social media. It involves spreading softened butter on a wooden cutting board, garnishing it with herbs, spices, etc., and serving it with bread. Just like a charcuterie board, it's endlessly versatile and a great dish to share when entertaining a group.

I'm sure this admission comes as no surprise, but I have a big sweet tooth. So when I first heard about butter boards, I thought, "That sounds delicious, but what about a buttercream board?"

American buttercream is really easy to make, and you can easily make a big batch. So I thought this would be a fun dessert idea for a big group. There are endless possibilities for the board's theme, including the buttercream flavor, the design, and what you serve with it. For example, I made pumpkin buttercream and piped pumpkins onto the board shown in the picture above. I also plan to make a buttercream board with vanilla frosting in the design of a ghost. I will include both those buttercream recipes in this post.

Some companies add yellow dye in their butter. Unfortunately, that affects the color of your buttercream. That's why it's important to use good quality butter. I use Challenge unsalted butter because it's 100% real cream butter. It doesn't have any artificial or synthetic ingredients. You may wonder why I use unsalted butter since salt is on the ingredients list. I always use unsalted butter when baking so I have greater control over the flavor.

Tips and Tidbits:

  • You can leave buttercream frosting at room temperature for several days because the high sugar content will prevent it from spoiling despite that fact that there's dairy in the recipe. You can also store it in the refrigerator for about a month, and it will last in the freezer for several months.
  • The buttercream will form a crust if you haven't used it in a while. That's okay! Briefly mix it, and it will return to the proper consistency.
  • You can thin out the buttercream by adding heavy cream, or you can make it stiffer by adding more powdered sugar.
  • Make sure your butter is room temperature. Cold, solid butter is very hard to cream. On the flip side, butter that's too warm may not allow your frosting to form.
  • Boards can be expensive! I found the best deal is at Ikea. It's $10 for a large board and $4 for a small board.

Vanilla buttercream board

Yield: Makes enough buttercream to decorate 1 large board

Time: About 30 minutes


  • 1 cup unsalted Challenge butter
  • 1 Tablespoon (15 milliliters) vanilla extract (or extract of choice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound confectioner's sugar, sifted
  • 3 Tablespoons (45 milliliters) heavy whipping cream
  • Optional: gel food coloring, sprinkles, pretzels, graham crackers, cookies


  1. Beat butter on medium speed for about 1 minute until smooth.
  2. Mix in vanilla extract and salt on low speed.
  3. Add confectioner's sugar in several additions, mixing on low and scraping the bowl after each addition.
  4. Add heavy whipping cream and mix on low speed. Continue mixing until frosting is smooth and fluffy.
  5. Spread or pipe buttercream onto board. Decorate with candy and sprinkles if desired. Serve with graham crackers, cookies, pretzels, etc.

Pumpkin buttercream board

Yield: Makes enough buttercream to decorate 1 large board

Time: About 30 minutes


  • 1 cup unsalted Challenge butter
  • 1 Tablespoon (15 milliliters) vanilla extract (or extract of choice)
  • 1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound confectioner's sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • Optional: gel food coloring, sprinkles, pretzels, graham crackers, cookies


  1. Beat butter on medium speed for about 1 minute until smooth.
  2. Mix in vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice, and salt on low speed.
  3. Add confectioner's sugar in several additions, mixing on low and scraping the bowl after each addition.
  4. Add pumpkin puree and mix on low speed. Continue mixing until frosting is smooth and fluffy.
  5. Spread or pipe buttercream onto board. Decorate with candy and sprinkles if desired. Serve with graham crackers, cookies, pretzels, etc.

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Lamb chili

Today's post is all about chili in honor of National Chili month, and I'm sharing my new favorite chili recipe, which has lamb and white beans.

What defines chili?
The possibilities are endless when it comes to making chili, and preferences are very much regional.

Some groups of people like Texans don’t believe chili should have beans. This version, often referred to as Chile con carne, is simply a thick tomato and meat sauce with peppers and spices.

Many other people, myself included, like beans in chili. I like the texture, and it gives the chili more substance. Also, beans are a great source of fiber and protein.

Some other people always eat chili with noodles.

Topping preferences also vary (I like lime and sour cream), as well as what to serve alongside chili (I love cornbread, but some people like cinnamon rolls with their chili).

Chili is meant to be eaten, so you should make chili whichever way you think tastes best.

Good foundation
The most important part of making chili is developing a good foundation. This is why I don’t believe in dump it all in slow cooker meals. To achieve maximum flavor, you must brown the meat, sauté the onions and peppers, and toast the spices. There’s actually quite a bit of work before the chili starts simmering on the stove.

Avoid water
Water is great for hydrating, but it has no flavor. So why would you add an ingredient with no flavor to your chili when there are plenty of other flavorful liquid options? The recipe I’m sharing today uses the liquid from a can of petite diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and beer.

Canned beans vs. dried beans
I always use dried beans when possible because they’re more cost-effective, they’re easier to digest, they’re more nutritionally dense, and I have more control over the texture / taste. It is imperative that you soak and cook the dried beans before adding them to your chili because the acidity in the tomatoes will prevent the beans from softening. That said, canned beans are a heck of a lot easier to work with (just drain and rinse), so I understand if you choose to go that route. One of my favorite tips is to use the Instant Pot to cook dried great northern beans. Put the beans and liquid in the Instant pot with a 1 : 3.5 bean to liquid ratio and cook for 30 minutes with 15 minutes natural release.

Acidity from a squeeze of lime brightens and rounds out the flavor; sour cream balances the spicy chilies; and cilantro makes it taste fresh.

What makes this chili recipe extra special
  • The key to this chili recipe is the meat—lamb. I love lamb, and I think it gives the chili a rich, unique flavor you don’t get with beef or other meats. 
  • Traditionally, white beans pair well with lamb, so I used great northern beans. They have a thick skin, are medium sized, and have a mild taste.
  • I used both crushed tomatoes and petite diced tomatoes because I like the varieties in texture.
  • A 12-ounce bottle of dark beer imparts sugars, malty flavors, and a pleasant bitterness that balances out the spices. 
  • I used three types of chili peppers for extra depth of flavor: poblano peppers for mild spice, jalapeño peppers for sharp bite, and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce for smokiness. 
  • Fire roasting the poblano and jalapeño peppers concentrates their flavors and makes them a little sweeter while also imparting a grilled, charred flavor.

Lamb chili

Yield: 10 cups

Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes


  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 large yellow onion, small dice
  • 2 poblano peppers, seeded and small dice (fire roasting optional)
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and small dice (fire roasting optional)
  • 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, small dice
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 14.5 ounces petite diced tomatoes (with liquid)
  • 12 ounces dark beer
  • 3 1/2 cups great northern beans, cooked
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Optional: Lime, sour cream, cilantro


  1. Heat soup pot over medium heat. Add lamb. Break up clumps with wooden spoon and sauté until browned. Transfer to plate and set aside.
  2. Add onion and peppers and sauté until caramelized.
  3. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add chili powder, cumin, coriander, and smoked paprika and cook 1 minute.
  5. Stir in tomatoes, beer, and beans. Return lamb to pot. 
  6. Bring chili to boil and reduce to simmer. Cover and continue simmering for 1 hour. Taste and add salt and black pepper as necessary.
  7. Serve with lime, sour cream, and cilantro, if desired.


Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Chai-spiced coffee truffles


Chocolate truffles are one of the easiest desserts you can make. In its most basic form, it’s just chocolate and cream, which is called a ganache. Since there are so few ingredients, you want to make sure the chocolate flavor really stands out. There are two good ways to do that.

The first way is to use good quality chocolate. You should want to eat the chocolate on its own. Around 60% cacao dark chocolate is my favorite chocolate to use.

The second way is to incorporate coffee into the recipe. Coffee enhances and intensifies the flavor of chocolate without the lingering taste of coffee. Both chocolate and coffee are inherently bitter. So when you add a small amount of coffee to chocolate the bitterness of the coffee under its the bitterness of the chocolate and makes it taste more chocolatey.

There are a couple different ways to impart coffee flavor in baked goods. My favorite way to do so when making truffles is to steep the cream with your favorite coffee beans. By using beans instead of generic espresso powder you can customize the flavor more. The beans I used from Helm Coffee Roasters in Indianapolis have flavor notes of chocolate and caramel. 

Helm is Indy's newest coffee roaster, and I can't recommend them enough. Owners Jill and Carol are working hard to build a community, and they host a new parent support group every Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. that I've found to be really helpful as I navigate motherhood for the first time.

I tested this recipe with and without the coffee beans and there is a significant difference in flavor. The truffles tasted a little flat without the coffee. If you are worried about the caffeine content, you can use decaf coffee beans.

Chai-spiced coffee truffles

Yield: Makes about 30 truffles

Time: About 1 hour


  • 1 Tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 180 milliliters (3/4 cup) heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup coffee beans
  • 360 grams dark chocolate (around 60% cacao), chopped fine
  • 1 Tablespoon dutch-processed cocoa powder


  1. Combine ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, cloves, and black pepper in bowl. Set aside 1 Tablespoon.
  2. Pour heavy cream in small saucepan with spice mixture and coffee beans. Heat on low-medium until it simmers.
  3. Remove from heat, place lid over saucepan, and steep for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight in the refrigerator.
  4. Strain cream to remove coffee beans and return to simmer. Pour over chopped chocolate. Let sit for 3 minutes and stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
  5. Let ganache cool until it's solid—about 1 hour in refrigerator.
  6. Combine leftover spice mixture with cocoa powder.
  7. Scoop teaspoon-sized balls of ganache and roll in cocoa powder-spice mixture.
  8. Store truffles in refrigerator.
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