Christmas Morning Monkey Bread

Growing up as a child, Monkey Bread was a relatively rare but very welcome treat. Nothing was more enjoyable to me than eating with my hands and getting all sticky alongside my parents. I don't think we typically had it on Christmas morning, but as I've developed my own traditions with Christian this recipe has become our go-to Christmas morning staple.

It's a perfect Christmas morning breakfast...you can partially prepare it the day before and refrigerate it and then just do one last-minute step and pop it in the oven first thing while the coffee is brewing and everyone is gathering around the tree. Makes the house smell delicious! Traditional monkey bread doesn't have any orange zest or pecans so feel free to omit but I think these additions really make it special...
Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cookies

Over the past three years, these cookies have come to mean Christmas to me. Their soft, cake-like texture. Their not-to-sweet chocolate depth. Their perfectly peppermint-y bite. Tastes like Christmas...so much so that I've already made three batches this year!

I first discovered this recipe a few years ago when researching new cookie recipes for my annual cookie party. I'm not typically a big peppermint fan but come Christmas time I all of a sudden can't get enough peppermint bark candy or peppermint stick ice cream. So I was looking for a way to incorporate this strange seasonal craving into my cookie party and stumbled upon this recipe on a blog called 101 Cookbooks.

Since this recipe makes quite a few cookies, feel free to also freeze half of the dough (or even double the recipe and freeze a full batch) so you have it on hand for when guests stop by unexpectedly during the holiday season. Once you have the dough all lined up on the cookie sheets ready to go in the oven, simply pop the cookie sheet in the freezer instead and once the cookie dough balls are fully frozen you can then put them all in a freezer storage bag. Pop right from the freezer to the oven when you're ready to make them...they might need an extra 1-2 minutes in the oven, but no need to thaw first. Will make your house smell divine while they're cooking, which is nice when guests are visiting as well!

The recipe below is almost identical to the 101 Cookbooks original that I first made years ago, but I've adapted it slightly over the years:

Gløgg – Mulled Wine for the Holidays!
Gløgg, or hot spiced wine, is the taste of Christmas in the Henricksen household. It's warmth as we sip it and its spicy-citrus aroma filling the house can only mean one thing...Christmas is right around the corner! While Christian didn't grow up with Gløgg, he is of Scandinavian descent so he's our Gløgg maker and has been for the past 7 years. He's gotten so confident in his Gløgg making abilities that he doesn't even use a recipe anymore...but his general approach, which is delicious, is as follows:
My Favorite Shakshuka Recipe

Shakshuka. Not only is it fun to say, but it is delicious! What is it, you ask?  It's eggs poached in a chunky, spicy tomato sauce and it's so popular that many different countries claim it as their own. Tunisia, Morocco, Israel...wherever it originated, I'm pretty thankful! Since I've been making it for a while now I've made it my own, so I wouldn't necessarily say this is a traditional shakshuka recipe but I love it.

So what's not traditional about my recipe?  Mostly the addition of olives, substitution of goat cheese for feta cheese, and sprinkling Italian gremolata on top instead of parsley alone. I also make it a bit spicier than most so if you're not a huge fan of spice dial back the jalapeños some.  Shakshuka is traditionally served with pita bread, but I like it with grilled rustic whole grain bread. Sometimes I even push my Italian influence on the dish a little further and serve it over polenta, yum.

So whether you go the more traditional route or try this SavoryGirl twist to Shakshuka I promise it will become a favorite in your household as well.  Enjoy!
SavoryGirl’s Childhood Button Sandwich

This is a really fun post for me...why? Well because this honestly might be the very first SavoryGirl original recipe that I ever created! I was about 6 years old and home with my dad and best friend, Aimee, while my mom was out grocery shopping. We were hungry and after surveying the ingredients that were available in the cupboards I created this sandwich...which I promptly named "The Button Sandwich" because of the way the perfectly lined up marshmallows reminded me of buttons. I have to say 25+ years later and it's still a winner in my household, and we don't even have kids yet!

So what makes it so special? Well honestly it's the simplicity but complementary nature of the ingredients. Who doesn't love apples with peanut butter? Who doesn't love a fluffer-nutter sandwich? Well this beauty combines the best of both worlds! Creamy peanut butter (on both slices of bread please!), applesauce and marshmallows...delicious.

SavoryGirl’s New Go-To Chili Recipe

Just in time for the end of National Chili Week (who knew?!) I stumbled upon my new go-to chili recipe! What makes it worthy of becoming my "go-to"? Well, for one, Christian loves it...and he has always disliked my or anyone else's chili. But beyond that, it is super flavorful and very easy. I can't take credit though, it's not a SavoryGirl original...in fact it's an Emeril Lagasse original. That Emeril knows his way around a good chili bowl!

So the original recipe for Emerils' 5-Bean Chili can be found here, but I made a few tweaks to both ingredients and process that I included below and would recommend you make as well. Particularly if you like thicker chili as we do since Emeril's original recipe makes a thinner soup-like chili. While this is a very easy dish to make, it isn't quick so make sure to start this chili with that in mind...you need to soak the beans for about an hour first and then let it all cook in the slow-cooker for 8-10 hours if you use my approach.

Orecchiette with Melon, Pancetta, Ricotta Salata & Mint

This is phenomenal.  I almost don't want to write anymore than that...just phenomenal. I know it's a bit summery for this time of year, but if you still have some melon in season in your area make this immediately.  If not, make sure to mark it down somewhere for next summer so you don't forget to make it!  It's a fresh, heartier take on the classic prosciutto with melon appetizer. The mint is a divine addition (versus the more traditional basil) and the flaky, salty ricotta salata balances the sweetness of the melon perfectly.

The original recipe from Bon Appétit can be found here.

As a shortcut we used diced pancetta instead of thinly sliced pancetta that you have to break into bite size pieces, but either approach works. We also used more melon than it called for simply because the orange honeydew we had from the farmer's market was so juicy, sweet and amazing.  Otherwise, this recipe is perfect as is. This salad would be great cold as a side dish (you would knock the socks off of your BBQ buddies if you brought this along) or warm as a main dish as we served it. You really can't go wrong with this one...make it soon and make it often!

Brown Rice Salad with Crunchy Sprouts and Seeds

This is the food version of don't judge a book by it's cover...when I told Christian I was adding this to one of our weekly menus he gave me that look that says, "please don't make me eat rabbit food." You see, SavoryGirl isn't always popular but I have to say that more often than not I am indeed a good judge of a recipe just by reading it...and this time was no different. Ha, ha, I win!  Seriously though, bear with me on this one and try it out...it is absolutely delicious.  So much so that we made a second batch the very next week, and it was Christian's suggestion!

As usual, I didn't follow the recipe exactly as written...but we did follow it pretty closely.  The main changes were that we ommitted the sprouted mung beans (we couldn't find nearby and we just didn't have time to go searching), sprouted our own lentils instead of using dried sprouted lentils (which we also couldn't find), and toasted/salted our own raw pumpkin seeds since we already had some in the house.

Sprouting your own lentils is super easy and kind of fun...you just need to plan in advance since it takes a few days. If you've never done this, here's the process:

Camping SavoryGirl Style

I love camping...partially because it is so amazing to completely disconnect, be dirty and just not care for days at a time. But I also love it because I get to leisurely cook outside with the sun streaming down over me and a margarita in my hand. In my opinion, everything cooked over a campfire just tastes better so that's the only way we cook dinner when we camp.  I do allow a little camp stove for breakfast sometimes, but usually I'm a stickler about campfire cooking.

Since we're heading up to Lake Tahoe to go camping for Labor Day weekend I thought I'd share the SavoryGirl approach to camping. If I do say so myself, we eat pretty darn well!  We keep it relatively simple so clean-up isn't too intense but we've certainly moved beyond the typical burgers & hot dogs every night that most people associate with camping.

First things first, you have to go camping prepared if you want to eat well.  What you see above is my camping spice rack.  My spices at home are in these little magnetic tins hanging on a wall in my kitchen so when we go camping I stack them up and bring them along. Luckily (or unluckily) we live in bear country so pretty much everywhere we go camping has a nice big metal bear locker that works just fabulously to stick my spices to.  Seasoning at your fingertips!

We also bring along our good knives, cutting boards, can opener, wine key, aluminum foil, pot holders, tongs, camping pots/pans/plates/cups etc... so that we essentially have a fully stocked kitchen with us.  Essential if you want to cook well over the fire...so what exactly are we cooking?

Nectarine & Blue Cheese Salad with Plum Vinaigrette

This is a super simple recipe...one that you may have even come up with on your own in the past, but it's so yummy that I wanted to share it just to ensure it makes it into your summer repertoire.  The original recipe is from this month's Bon Appétit and can be found here but I've revised it slightly based on our preferences and ingredients.  I found that the vinaigrette as specified in the original recipe wasn't quite "plum-y" enough for me so most of my slight adjustments are focused there.  Otherwise this is a super flavorful and satisfying salad to serve alongside just about anything or enjoy on it's own.  Perfect way to enjoy the amazing nectarines in season right now!