About jacky grace

I grew up in an Italian house with big meals, big flavors and big voices. My husband comes from an even bigger Greek and Armenian house with even bigger food and voices. Here in our tiny city kitchen, we adapt our family recipes for our small space without sacrificing any of the flavors, traditions or love.

Lemon Scones

It’s been rainy and dreary here in New York. So we definitely needed something yummy, and warm and comforting.

But it’s also almost Spring (or at least it should be feeling like Spring, ahem, Mother Nature).

So I was thinking of a recipe that would be good for a rainy day but would also hint at the coming of Spring.

My thoughts immediately turned to scones. What’s better on a rainy day than a warm, buttery scone and a mug of tea?

Nothing! That’s right.

But how to spring-ify that scone?

I don’t know about you, but spring always makes me crave bright, citrusy, lemony desserts.

Bingo.

Here you have super simple, super warming scones, topped with a bright lemon sugar.

For the scone recipe you will need:

  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 2-3 tablespoons sugar (depends on how sweet you want them)
  • 2.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • .5 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup reduced fat buttermilk

Topping

  • zest of one lemon
  • 2-3 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 400.

Mix together the dry ingredients and then add five tablespoons of cold butter.

Using a pastry cutter or two knives combine the butter with the dry ingredients.

Then make a well and add the buttermilk, stirring until the ingredients come together. You may have to get in with your hands and knead the dough a bit.

Let the dough sit for a minute while, in a bowl, you combine the lemon zest and some sugar to make your lemon sugar topping.

Break off roughly baseball sized balls of dough, loosely form in a ball and press the top into the lemon sugar.

Arrange on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes or so.

Buttery, warm, comforting scones with a bright lemon zing.

Come on Spring!

Revisiting Helen’s Cinnamon Rolls

My dad’s mom had six kids, never had a driver’s license and was an amazing cook.

Odd facts to give you, I know, but it helps paint the picture.

She had six kids, so had a lot of mouths to feed.

She also did not have a driver’s license so couldn’t run out to the store whenever. This meant

a. she had to use what was on hand

and

b. she was home all day and had a lot of time while the kids were in school

Every Monday during football season she made cinnamon rolls.

Every Monday.

I really only bust this recipe out for the holidays because

a. it’s a bit labor intensive

and

b. it’s not really itty bitty city kitchen friendly.

But for Christmas, you need cinnamon rolls. And so I turn the dining table into a dough rolling station and get flour all over the living room floor.

I’ve actually posted this recipe before. But I confess that I actually spent some time tweaking it.

GASP

I know. I know.

You don’t mess with grandma’s recipes.

BUT! remember what I said a little while ago? Using what was on hand?

Well, Helen always had margarine and crisco on hand but did not always have butter. So her original cinnamon roll recipe was made with margarine, but I tried it with butter. And oh my goodness are they so much better!

So here is the revised cinnamon roll recipe.

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup scalded milk
  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 3 and 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • extra margarine for greasing the dough
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter for brushing the dough
  • cinnamon
  • brown sugar
For the glaze:
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons hot water
Okay. To get started combine sugar, salt, butterand scalded milk in a large bowl.
Scalded milk is milk heated to just before boiling.
 Dissolve the yeast in a half cup of warm water
When the yeast mix is lukewarm, add it, half the flour and the egg to the sugar, butter and milk mixture.
Continue to stir and incorporate the flour until all of it has been added.
Turn the dough ball out onto a floured surface and knead for a few minutes.

Grease the dough ball with butter, then place back in the bowl, covered with a towel in a warm place.

Let the dough rest and rise for 1 and a half hours.

It will double in size.

Then, punch the dough down, cover and let sit for another 15 minutes. It will rise a bit again.

Now we are ready to get rolling! Preheat the oven to 350.

Flour your work surface. Here’s where the dining table comes into play in our house.

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Roll out the dough into a rough rectangle. We’re going to roll it up like a jelly roll so you want it to be fairly thin.

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Brush the dough with melted butter and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Be generous.

Starting at one ed, carefully roll it up.

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Leave the dough to sit for a minute while we make the glaze.

In a sauce pan, heat one cup of brown sugar and four tablespoons of hot water, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.

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Add 6 tablespoons of butter and stir until melted.

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Pour this sauce into the bottom of a greased 9×13 baking tray.

Stay with me on this one.

Slice the cinnamon roll log up – I got 16 rolls out of this dough – and place the slice rolls in the tray on top of the sauce.

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Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. The rolls will absorb the glaze and will puff up.

Let them sit for about 5 minutes so the glaze sets up on the rolls.

Flip.

Enjoy!

Here’s a side by side pre flip so you can see the difference between the butter and the margarine. The left is butter and the right is margarine. The left one just got puffier and fluffier. And let’s face it, buttery-ier. Which is always more betterer

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Halloween Cookies- Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

I love fall. I love the weather turning chilly. I love sweaters. I love changing leaves. I love cinnamon. And I love pumpkin.

I was thinking about cinnamon which led me to thinking about snickerdoodles. (recipe here). I really associate those cookies with Christmas, though, so I started thinking about how to fallify them. And landed on pumpkin.

So, here are my pumpkin snickerdoodles.

For this recipe you will need:

  • 2 sticks salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • plus more cinnamon and sugar for rolling

This dough is really easy to make. Just keep in mind it needs to be refrigerated for 1 hour before you roll and bake your cookies.

To make the dough, start by creaming two sticks of butter.

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When the butter is fluffy, add sugar, brown sugar, pumpkin, vanilla and egg and stir to combine.

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In a separate bowl, mix your remaining ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon) and slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet.

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Stir until combined

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At this point, the dough needs to go into the fridge for at least one hour.

…Time lapse…

Preheat the oven to 350, grease two cookie sheets and take your dough out of the fridge. in a small bowl, mix together cinnamon and sugar. I tend to a 2:1 sugar : cinnamon ration, but mix to your taste.

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Let’s start making cookies! I made roughly ping pong size balls of dough and wound up with 6 dozen cookies.

Roll the dough into a ball

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Roll the dough ball into the cinnamon and sugar and place on the cookie sheet.

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When your cookie sheet is full, lightly press down on the dough balls to flatten them. These cookies don’t spread, so flattening them is necessary.

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Bake at 350 for 11-13 minutes.

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The best part? The house smells like pumpkin pie. The bestest part? You get to eat cookies that taste like pumpkin pie. And who doesn’t love a cookie?

And the bestest bestest part? You’ll have 72 cookies to share with friends or coworkers.

Happy Halloween!

Shrimp and Grits

When we were in South Carolina earlier this year, we were sure to eat our weight in that good Southern food that just isn’t quite the same above the Mason Dixon line.

With no trip to the South planned any time soon, though, and a craving for some shrimp and grits, we had a problem.

So, my husband and I put our heads, and our kitchen skills together, and tag teamed an awesome shrimp and grits dinner.

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It’s actually a fairly simple recipe that you can tweak to fit your craving or flavor profile.

We kept ours fairly classic with cheddar, bacon and scallions, but this could easily take an Italian turn with Parmesan and garlic, or have more of a Mexican flair with some green chiles and pepper jack cheese.

So for this recipe you will need:

  • 1 cup grits (or polenta)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
  • 3 slices bacon
  • 1/2 pound shrimp (frozen works great. Cleaned, deveined, shell off, tail on)
  • scallions

Get started by preparing your grits according to package directions. Ours called for boiling 3 cups of water and then adding in the grits, stirring and leaving on the stove for twenty minutes with the lid on.

In the meantime, prepare your shrimp mixture. Start by placing your bacon, cut into small pieces, into a frying pan and cook until crispy.

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Remove the bacon from the skillet, but leave the grease. Place the shrimp into the bacon grease. Hey, this is a Southern dish. We’re cooking with bacon grease y’all.

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Cook the shrimp, turning to cook on both sides, until they are pink.

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When the shrimp are cooked, add the bacon back in. Also add in your chopped scallions. Lower the heat and let everything warm through.

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Meanwhile, add the shredded cheddar to your cooked grits and stir until it melts in.

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Serve up a a few big spoonfuls of grits in each bowl and top each with half the shrimp mixture.

 

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And there you have a five ingredient Southern Fix!

 

Ratatouille Over Couscous

I was thinking about the name of my blog, and I was thinking about what really makes a dish Itty Bitty City Kitchen friendly.

And I came up with a few factors.

As the name implies, the kitchen is itty bitty, so dinners need to not need a lot of ingredients. They also need to not require a lot of pans or any fancy gadgets that can’t be stored in said itty bitty kitchen.

Also, as the name implies, this kitchen is in a city, which means that it’s probably in a bustling, crowded area that’s packed with people and noise. It also probably means that work hours are long and by the time you get home, what with the crowds and noise, meal prep has to be fast. And easy. You’re probably tired.

So, with all of that in mind, here is what I think is one of the most itty bitty city kitchen friendly meals, ratatouille. You can vary the ingredients, but think five vegetables and some seasonings. Also, one pot. Also, also, you throw said ingredients into said one pot and just stir it once in a while. Small number of ingredients, one pot, and super fast and easy.

Oh. And Delicious.

Ratatouille is basically a stewed vegetable dish in a tomato base. You can swap out the vegetable and the spices based on your tastes, the season, and what you have on hand, but a can of diced tomatoes is essential.

I used:

  • 2 green bell peppers, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into one inch chunks
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes

You will also need vegetable oil, salt and pepper. I went slightly Middle Eastern and added turmeric, but you could do herbs de provence, thyme, Italian seasoning, anything really.

This is a throw everything in one pot dish, but you don’t want to throw everything in at the same time. We’re going to layer a bit.

Drizzle some vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add the peppers and onions and cook over medium until soft (10-15 minutes).

Add the eggplant, a drizzle more oil, salt and pepper and cook for another 10-15 minutes.

Lastly, add the diced tomatoes, chickpeas and turmeric. Let this cook, covered, for another 10-15 minutes.

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This can simmer for longer, but if you’re just home from work and starving because someone did not order lunch for the meeting you had from 12-3, then this is good to go.

This makes a great side dish if you wanted to have some grilled chicken or steak.

Or, if you want to make this the center of the meal, whip up some quick cooking couscous. This is sort of a small kitchen, busy cook staple. Bring water to a boil, pour in couscous, turn off burner, cover, and boom, five minutes later you have couscous.

So, to serve this over couscous, make the couscous and scoop a few spoonfuls into a bowl.

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Ladle over your ratatouille.

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And then to really bring the Middle Eastern flavor home, add a scoop of Greek yogurt.

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This dish is delicious, but the best part about it is that it gets even more delicious as it sits in the fridge.

What’s more itty bitty city kitchen friendly than a one pot dish that serves up two dinners?

Blueberry Fairy Muffins

We have many incredible neighbors down the shore. Maybe I’m biased, but I’d say we have the best street in Fenwick.

I mean, I’m almost certain we have the only street with a blueberry fairy.

You don’t know the blueberry fairy?

Well then, you, my friend, are missing out!

The blueberry fairy goes blueberry picking and then leaves bags of ripe, juicy blueberries on your door in the morning.

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They are the biggest and best blueberries ever, and they are just screaming to be baked into blueberry muffins.

Now, we used to have a blueberry muffin fairy on our street. She, sadly, has passed. So to keep the tradition alive, and to keep the fairy magic on our street, I sprinkled some flour and sugar pixie dust and whipped up these muffins. They’re not quite the same, but pretty darn close.

Thank you blueberry fairy (Colleen!) for the special ingredient.

For the muffins you will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3-1/2 cup milk (this estimated measurement will make sense later)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 400 and line a muffin pan with cupcake papers.

In a large bowl mix flour, sugar, salt and baking powder.

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In a large measuring cup (2 cup size is best) measure out a 1/3 cup of vegetable oil.

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add the egg

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and then pour in enough milk to bring the liquid to one cup (about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of milk)

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Whisk the liquids together.

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Then add to the dry ingredients and stir until well combined.

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Add your blueberries and carefully fold them into the batter.

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Fill your cupcake liners about 3/4 of the way.

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And bake the muffins for about 20 minutes, until golden and a toothpick comes out clean

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You can let them cool. Or you can break one open and dig in.

 

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Baba Ganoush

 

I love Greek and Middle Eastern food and I love eggplant.

So baba ganoush is right there in my wheel house.

I order it every time we are out at a Greek or Turkish restaurant, but for some reason I never thought to try making it. It’s funny, meme (husband’s grandmother) always made hummus and yogurt dips, but she never made baba ganoush. I guess because she, master chef, never made it, I assumed it was hard.

It’s essentially a fire-roasted or grilled eggplant puree mixed with tahini.

Well, I hosted Greek Easter this year for the first time, and, ya know, since I didn’t have enough to do what with all the other food, I turned to my husband and said I’m making baba ganoush.

Have I got news for you all: it’s so easy!

No, seriously.

You don’t need a grill or even a stove with gas burners.

All you need:

  • 1 eggplant
  • 2 tablespoons tahini (or more or less to taste)
  • salt
  • white pepper
  • food processor

Preheat your oven to 450.

Slice the eggplant in half lengthwise and then score the flesh with your knife in a cross hatch pattern, not going all the way through to the skin. Drizzle with a little olive oil.

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Place cut side down on a foil-lined cookie sheet and place in the oven.

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Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the eggplant has basically collapsed.

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Let cool then flip it over and scrape out the awesomely roasted eggplant with a fork.

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Place the scooped out eggplant into the food processor

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And add the tahini, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.

 

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Serve immediately or put it in the fridge to chill. Amazing with veggies or with pita.

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Cannoli Dip

 

This is the best dessert I have ever made.

Seriously.

It’s incredibly delicious.

It’s no bake.

It’s 4 ingredients.

And it takes like ten minutes to make.

That right there is the recipe for the best dessert ever.

You will need

  • 16 oz container of ricotta
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • mini chocolate chips

You will also need something to dunk into the dip. Strawberries were delicious. Italian cookies, biscotti, or even broken up ice cream cones would be great.

Into a large bowl, dump powdered sugar and ricotta.

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Carefully stir so you don’t get powdered sugar everywhere.

If the mixture is too thick, add a little bit of milk just to loosen things up. Then switch to a whisk and whip the mixture to incorporate some air.

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add your chocolate chips

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and stir

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place in a nice serving bowl and top with a few more chocolate chips

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You can serve immediately or refrigerate for a bit.

Serve with strawberries or cookies.

 

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So addictive.

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Enchiladas

Every time my husband goes to Austin he comes home raving about the enchiladas.

We make quite a bit of Mexican food, but I had never tried enchiladas.

This was a decidedly team effort.

  1. because he is the one who has eaten these fabled enchiladas from Austin
  2. and two, because as you read on, you’ll see you need four hands for this one.

I decided to keep the filling fairly similar something we would make for tacos. So I went with

  • 3 diced green bell peppers
  • 1 diced onion
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • shredded rotisserie chicken

Preheat the oven to 400

Start by tossing the peppers, onions and beans into a pot with a drizzle of vegetable oil. Cook over medium until the peppers and onions have softened.

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Toss in the shredded chicken. It’s already cooked so we’re just looking to warm it up a bit. Season with salt and pepper.

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You can stop there and have some awesome tacos. Just scoop the filling into tortillas and add some cheese and guac.

To turn them into enchiladas you will need:

  • 2 cans red enchilada sauce
  • shredded taco cheese
  • tortillas

You will also need a wide, shallow dish (like a pie pan) to dump the enchilada sauce in and a 9×13 baking dish to bake the enchiladas in.

Oh, and a partner. You definitely will want a partner for this one.

Pour some sauce into the 9×13 pan. Just enough to coat the bottom. Pour the rest into the shallow dish.

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Set up an assembly station with the pot of filling, cheese, tortillas, dish with the sauce and 9×13 baking dish. (ignore the bananas in the picture. We have a small kitchen. I had nowhere else for them to go)

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Fully dunk a tortilla in the sauce.

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Hold the tortilla and have your partner spoon some of the filling into the center. Careful you don’t overfill- you need to be able to roll these.

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Have your partner sprinkle on some cheese.

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Carefully roll the tortilla, bringing both sides together

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And place seam side down in the baking dish.

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Repeat this process until you are out of tortillas or until the baking dish is full.

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Pour the remaining sauce from the dish over the tortillas

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Top with cheese and bake for about 30-40 minutes

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Serve up with a side of guac.

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By the way, we made a lot of enchiladas because my brother in law was coming for dinner. But I definitely recommend making a big dish of these because 1. it’s a messy process, so get messy for a big reward, and 2. they keep well in the fridge, so you can have leftovers!

Warm Brie Salad

Remember last week when we were super French and made Croque Monsieurs and Ham and Cheese Quiche?

Also remember how we tried keeping the number of ingredients we had to buy to a minimum?

Well after a weekend in Atlantic City, we need some meals that don’t require a lot of ingredients (the slot machines are not always kind) and that are on the lighter side (there may have been a lot of drinks and 3am Taylor Ham sandwiches).

With the French theme from last week in mind, I kept turning to brie.

Now brie is not exactly light and healthy, but it packs a ton of flavor in a tiny amount. So used sparingly, and paired with fresh greens, we may be on to something here.

I’m a big fan of salads for dinner. And I’m an even bigger fan of cheese, so I thought about combining the deliciousness of brie with a salad. Then I thought, what’s better than brie? Exactly. Warm brie.

So for this dinner you will need:

  • greens, (I used a mix of baby spinach and spring mix)
  • some brie
  • some honey
  • I had walnuts on hand from the Mushroom Walnut Ravioli the other week, so I tossed those in as well.
  • Also added a handful of dried cranberries because I always have them in the fridge.

Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.

Place your brie in an oven safe dish and drizzle with a bit of honey.

 

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Bake for about 10 minutes, but don’t walk too far away from the oven. The brie goes from still coldish to melted like that.

You just want it to be a little soft and runny.

Carefully top your greens with the warm brie and walnuts. Add dried cranberries or whatever else you wish.

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