Classic crème brûlée gets a nutty new twist in this ultra-creamy pistachio crème brûlée recipe, made with luscious pistachio cream for a gorgeous flavor and color. With a golden brown caramelized sugar topping a touch of gold leaf for added elegance, this dessert is as stunning as it is easy to prepare, making it perfect […]
Classic crème brûlée gets a nutty new twist in this ultra-creamy pistachio crème brûlée recipe, made with luscious pistachio cream for a gorgeous flavor and color.
With a golden brown caramelized sugar topping a touch of gold leaf for added elegance, this dessert is as stunning as it is easy to prepare, making it perfect for both holiday and everyday entertaining.
I originally set out to update my pumpkin crème brûlée recipe from years ago (which is delicious, but the photos could definitely be better).
But as I scrolled through the 70+ comments on that recipe (don’t you miss the olden days of blogging when we actually got comments?! *sob*). Anyway, one of the comments mentioned having recently made a pistachio crème brûlée and, well, I changed gears real fast.
Luckily I had some pistachio creme left in the pantry from previous recipe experiments (I seriously love this stuff), and so I whipped up a test batch of this pistachio crème brûlée.
This stuffed shells recipe is easy and a crowd pleaser! The ricotta stuffed pasta shells swimming in tomato sauce are a hit every time.
Here’s a recipe that’s simple, hearty and pleases a crowd: this easy Stuffed Shells recipe! Stuff pasta shells with ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan and spinach, then bake them up in a bath of garlicky tomato sauce. It makes your kitchen smell heavenly, and the first bite into one of those jumbo shells confirms it’s just as tasty as the smell. This Italian classic recipe is a favorite of ours: here’s how to bake up this easy dinner idea. (Even our spinach-averse kiddo was a fan!)
Ingredients in this stuffed shells recipe
You can make stuffed pasta shells with just about any type of filling. Here we’ve opted for a spinach ricotta stuffing, which is both classic and vegetarian. But don’t worry: meat lovers won’t miss the meat at all! Our friends and family can attest that this one is a winner. Here’s what you’ll need for this stuffed shells recipe:
Jumbo pasta shells
Fire roasted crushed tomatoes (or substitute purchased marinara sauce)
Dried oregano andsalt
Whole milk mozzarella cheese
Parsley, for garnish
Ingredient notes for stuffed shells
As with any Italian dish, this stuffed shells recipe depends on the quality of ingredients for a great result. Above all, we suggest making your own tomato sauce with fire roasted tomatoes. While you can use purchased marinara, a homemade tomato sauce heightens the flavors! Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Use fire roasted tomatoes in the tomato sauce. Fire roasted tomatoes make the best flavor: they taste sweet and smoky right out of the can. If you can’t find them, substitute best quality tomatoes and add 1 teaspoon sugar and ½ teaspoon smoked paprika.
If you choose to use purchased marinara, add the garlic and oregano in the recipe. This helps to infuse homemade flavor into the purchased sauce.
Whole milk mozzarella cheese makes a difference. This type of cheese melts much better than part skim and has a richer flavor (try it: you’ll notice a difference!). It also melts better when reheating.
Working with frozen spinach
Frozen spinach is the best ingredient to use in these stuffed shells: not fresh spinach! Of course if you like, you can cook down 10 ounces of fresh spinach until it is wilted very small. But frozen spinach really does have an advantage: it has just the right texture for using in filled pastas once it’s defrosted. Here are a few tips on using frozen spinach:
Defrost under warm running water or in the microwave. If you’re using warm water, each brand of spinach takes a different amount of time to thaw. Some brands thaw in a few minutes, others take a while of breaking apart the frozen chunks. The microwave can be quicker and easier.
Important: squeeze out all extra moisture with your fingers. If you’d like, you can place the spinach in a paper towel to do this. Or, just squeeze out the moisture over the sink before using it. It should feel very dry and crumbly before using it.
Leftover storage and make ahead tips
This stuffed shells recipe takes about 1 hour to make, which doesn’t always work for weeknights. We like to make this one for dinner parties or on weekends, but you can also meal prep some of the components. This recipe also freezes well, which makes it great for a quick leftover dinner. Here are a few ideas for make ahead and storage:
Cook the pasta shells and make the tomato sauce in advance. This saves about 20 minutes off the timing of the recipe. Refrigerate both until ready to fill.
Leftovers store refrigerated for up to 3 days. You can make the entire dish in advance and refrigerate if you like. Leftovers tastes great after re-warming in a 375 degree oven. Using whole milk mozzarella cheese is nice because it re-melts nicely when left over.
Freeze leftovers in a sealed container for up to 3 months. Place on the counter or in the refrigerator to thaw, or you can place it right into a 375 degree oven and reheat until warmed through and the cheese is melted.
What to serve with stuffed shells
How to make these stuffed shells into a meal? Use the 30 minute bake time to prepare some simple side dishes. We love it with a crunchy salad or quick sauteed vegetables. Here are a few ideas:
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Boil the shells until al dente, according to the package instructions. Drain them and return them to the pot. Stir in a drizzle of olive oil to prevent sticking.
Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce: In a medium bowl, mix the fire roasted tomatoes, grated garlic, olive oil, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, and ¾ teaspoon kosher salt. Mix well until all the olive oil is incorporated.
Make the filling: Thaw the spinach following the package instructions, then squeeze out as much water as possible with your hands (it should feel dry and crumbly before using it). Mix it with the other filling ingredients: the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, lemon zest, egg, 1 teaspoon oregano and ¾ teaspoon kosher salt.
Spread half the tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch pan. Take the shells one at a time and stuff them with the cheese mixture. Top with more tomato sauce and then mozzarella cheese (we spread them in lines over the top of each row of shells, so you can still see the shell shapes).
Cover the pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Then uncover and bake for 5 to 10 minutes more until the cheese is melted. Garnish with chopped parsley or basil and serve. Leftovers last refrigerated for 4 days; reheat in a 375°F oven until warmed through. You can also freeze leftovers for up to 3 months.
*If desired, you can use purchased marinara sauce instead of making your own. If so, still add the 1 clove grated garlic and 1 teaspoon dried oregano to enhance the flavor.
Caprese skewers are a fun and easy summer appetizer! This spin on the classic salad is ideal to impress guests or for a meal al fresco.
Here’s a fun summer appetizer that pleases nearly everyone: Caprese Skewers! This easy appetizer is visually stunning and irresistibly tasty, spearing all the components of a Caprese Salad onto a skewer. There’s nothing better than basil and tomatoes in summer, and combined with seasoned mozzarella and a balsamic glaze: you won’t be able to eat just one!
Elements in caprese skewers
Caprese skewers are so simple, you barely need a recipe. What’s more fun than caprese salad on a skewer? We’ve got a few tips for maximum flavor in this pared back combination. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make caprese skewers:
Ripe cherry tomatoes
Fresh basil leaves
Small fresh mozzarella balls (aka ciliegine) or marinated mozzarella
Italian seasoning, garlic powder and salt
For the mozzarella
Often, fresh mozzarella balls can be deliciously chewy but rather bland tasting. For this caprese skewers recipe, we wanted to punch up the flavors of the mozzarella! All you have to do is mix the balls with a hint of olive oil, Italian seasoning, garlic powder and salt: and it adds a big boost of flavor.
When you’re shopping for mozzarella, also look for ciliegine, the Italian word for this product. If you can find them, you can also use marinated mozzarella balls to add a tangy, herby undertone.
Use homemade or purchased balsamic glaze
Balsamic reduction is balsamic vinegar that has been heated and reduced until it thickens into a syrupy glaze. Caprese salad is often served with a flourish of this drizzle (especially in American restaurants). For these caprese skewers, it adds a nice visual interest as well as tangy pop to the flavor.
You can make an easy homemade balsamic glaze with balsamic vinegar, which takes about 10 minutes to reduce on the stovetop. It’s also very easy to find bottled balsamic glaze at the grocery store these days: and the flavor isn’t drastically different than homemade. Do what works for you!
Serving caprese skewers
These caprese skewers are great for parties and hold up well when sitting at a buffet table. You can leave out caprese skewers for up to 2 hours at room temperature, then make sure to refrigerate due to the cheese.
You can refrigerate leftover skewers for a few days, but keep in mind: the basil can turn dark over time. If you’re making these ahead, make them no more than 3 hours in advance.
More summer appetizers
Summer is great for entertaining with parties, picnics, and cookouts! Here are some more fun summer appetizer ideas:
Dry the mozzarella and toss in bowl with the olive oil, Italian seasoning, garlic powder and kosher salt.
Thread each skewer as follows: cherry tomato, basil leaf (folded in half), mozzarella ball, basil leaf, cherry tomato. Place all skewers on a platter and drizzle with balsamic glaze. Serve immediately. Skewers can sit at room temperature up 2 hours (you can refrigerate leftovers but the basil can turn dark over time.). If making ahead, make no more than 3 hours in advance.
Talk about the perfect dessert, this stunning tart is basically a giant raspberry-flavored s’more with a silky chocolate ganache and fluffy, pink-tinged marshmallow meringue topping flavored with freeze-dried raspberries. Chocolate, raspberry, graham cracker, and marshmallow: not sure about you, but that’s what my dreams are made of. But this surprisingly simple tart is no dream: […]
Talk about the perfect dessert, this stunning tart is basically a giant raspberry-flavored s’more with a silky chocolate ganache and fluffy, pink-tinged marshmallow meringue topping flavored with freeze-dried raspberries.
Chocolate, raspberry, graham cracker, and marshmallow: not sure about you, but that’s what my dreams are made of. But this surprisingly simple tart is no dream: it’s a rich, decadent reality.
What do you get when you combine a classic milk chocolate s’more with fresh and fruity raspberry flavor? Something gosh darn delicious, that’s what.
This tart has everything: a sweet and salty graham cracker crust, bold raspberry jam, a silky smooth chocolate ganache, and a fluffy, raspberry-scented toasted marshmallow meringue to top it all off.
For as impressive as it is, it’s surprisingly simple.
I call this recipe nearly no-bake, because the crust does need a few minutes in the oven. If you truly can’t stand the thought of turning on your oven in the summer heat, you can set the crust in the fridge or freezer before adding the jam and ganache. However it might be a little less cohesive and slightly more crumbly when you cut into it.
This unique chocolate loaf cake is made with olive oil for a unique flavor and perfectly moist crumb. Not to mention it comes together in mere minutes, no mixer required! This moist and tender cake is made with olive oil for a unique flavor and perfect texture. The drizzle of olive oil chocolate glaze on […]
This unique chocolate loaf cake is made with olive oil for a unique flavor and perfectly moist crumb. Not to mention it comes together in mere minutes, no mixer required!
This moist and tender cake is made with olive oil for a unique flavor and perfect texture. The drizzle of olive oil chocolate glaze on top is just, well, the icing on the cake (literally and figuratively, in this case).
You gotta love a loaf cake; they’re second only to bundts in my mind in terms of ease of preparation and presentation. Too often I think we relegate loafs to quick breakfast breads. Nothing against banana bread or anything, but I think dessert loaves are seriously underrated, especially when it’s a loaf as impressive and delicious as this one!
Can you ever have too many chocolate cake recipes, though? I’d argue that, while similar, they all serve different purposes and thus are all three completely necessary to include in your recipe repertoire.
While the ultimate chocolate cake is a perfect option when you need a multi-layered showstopper, and the sour cream chocolate cake is ideal for when you’re craving something ridiculously decadent but can’t bear to wait a minute longer than necessary… if you’re looking for a simple and impressive chocolate loaf cake, this one fits the bill perfectly.
Cherry Hand Pies are the epitome of personal pie goodness! Flaky pie crust and sweet cherry filling in a portable pie form – what more could you ask for? This post contains affiliate links. If you’ve been around here for a while, you might have figured out that I love individually sized desserts. They’re just so …
These seeds & cheese crackers are made from two kinds of cheese and five different kinds of seeds, baked to light and crispy perfection. They’d make a unique and delicious addition to any cheese board! If you love the lacy bits of crispy cheese that form on the edges of a grilled cheese sandwich, these […]
These seeds & cheese crackers are made from two kinds of cheese and five different kinds of seeds, baked to light and crispy perfection. They’d make a unique and delicious addition to any cheese board!
If you love the lacy bits of crispy cheese that form on the edges of a grilled cheese sandwich, these (naturally gluten free) crackers are for you! The addition of five different kinds of seeds makes for a unique textural experience that is deeply satisfying.
I was finally able to get out to California to visit my family last month, which was a lovely treat after so many months (er, years?) of not being able to travel.
Granted, I spent most of my time there loafing on my sister’s extremely comfy couch binge watching all the trashy TV that Taylor doesn’t like, which is pretty close to what I’d be doing at home. But being able to do so with my sister? Priceless.
One day we had a lovely lunch with my aunt and uncle who I hadn’t seen since… well it’s been so long I can’t even remember now.
Along with a lovely assortment of prepared salads, she set out a spectacular snack plate with a few different kinds of crackers and cheeses. One of those crackers happened to be a cracker made out of cheese, and after one bite I was hooked. I literally could not stop eating them.
After politely inquiring as to the origins of said crackers (my brain already running through recreation possibilities), my aunt revealed they were called Seeds & Cheese Crackle from Market Hall in downtown Oakland (if you’ve never been, it’s magical; like Disneyland for food lovers).
The ingredients list was short and simple, just seeds and (you guessed it) cheese, and I was certain I’d be able to recreate them at home.
Creamy, decadent Homemade Scalloped Potatoes are right at home alongside your holiday ham. This dish is deceptively simple to make but will impress all of your dinner guests. This post contains affiliate links. I’ve never met a potato that I didn’t like. Knowing how to bake potatoes is obviously a must, and I can’t get …
And that’s not even mentioning tots. Let’s just say we could have a sub-site called My Tater Tot Addiction without much effort.
Growing up, scalloped potatoes often frequented our dinner table and were usually peppered with pieces of leftover ham or slices of kielbasa. It was a quick, inexpensive dinner that was sure to please everyone around the table.
I remember searching for a homemade scalloped potatoes recipe a number of years ago. I actually remember doubting the recipes because I thought there was no way something so incredibly rich, decadent and delicious could be so simple. I was wrong.
Homemade Scalloped Potatoes are not only easy, they are also quite inexpensive and versatile. The beauty of scalloped potatoes is that although they are simple and economical, they can also be quite impressive – which makes them perfect for gracing any holiday table from Easter to Christmas.
Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole is everything you need for a cozy weeknight dinner. Even better, the recipe easily doubles or triples to feed a crowd! When Elle was little, she went through an anti-casserole phase. She would happily eat meals like Homemade Sloppy Joes or Ritz Cracker Chicken, but having all her food in one …
Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole is everything you need for a cozy weeknight dinner. Even better, the recipe easily doubles or triples to feed a crowd!
When Elle was little, she went through an anti-casserole phase. She would happily eat meals like Homemade Sloppy Joes or Ritz Cracker Chicken, but having all her food in one pot sort of freaked her out.
And man, did I really miss casseroles during that time.
There’s just something about casseroles that makes them so comforting to me. Plus, casseroles are such a game changer when you’re trying to better your dinner game in the midst of a hectic schedule.
So I was pretty excited when I finally got her to try this Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole and she loved it! It’s been a weeknight dinner go-to around here ever since.
This taco dip recipe is fast and easy: the ideal party appetizer for a crowd! Scoop up this irresistible creamy mix with tortilla chips.
Here’s a creamy, irresistibly spiced party dip you need in your life: our perfect Taco Dip Recipe! It comes together in minutes, and we can confidently say almost no one turns this one down. This one is even better than the standard: it’s got a quick homemade seasoning blend, Greek yogurt, and a colorful mix of fresh toppings for the absolute best flavor. Here’s how it’s done!
Ingredients in this taco dip recipe
Taco dip is a party dip that’s a creamy mix of cream cheese and taco seasonings, topped with crunchy toppings like lettuce, tomato, and often black olives. Don’t think there’s anything Mexican about it: this one is solidly American or Tex Mex. It’s different from 7 layer dip in that it’s got one layer of cream cheese and one layer of veggies. But you can definitely mix it up with more layers: see below! Here’s what you’ll need for the base recipe:
Spices: cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper
Mexican blend cheese
Toppings: lettuce, tomato, and black olives
Optional: red onion, cilantro, pickled jalapeños
What makes this the best layered taco dip
This recipe has a few innovations from the classic taco dip recipe that makes it even tastier! Here’s what make this the best taco dip, in our opinion:
Greek yogurt makes it taste fresh (and cuts calories). Use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream for a deliciously creamy, tangy flavor. It also cuts calories by 1/3: 1 cup of sour cream is 445 calories vs 1 cup of Greek yogurt is 100 calories.
Homemade seasonings keep it fresh and healthy! Packets of taco seasoning can have additives and preservatives, and lots of salt. Use a quick blend of spices for mega flavor: you probably already have them on hand.
Extra toppings add color and flavor. The standard taco dip just has lettuce, tomato, cheese, and black olives. But step it up with our extra toppings that add color and flavor: red onion, cilantro and pickled jalapenos.
Secrets to the homemade taco seasoning
Sure, you can buy taco seasoning to make this dip. But as we noted above, often the packets have additives and preservatives. Here we made a shortcut to taco seasoning using ingredients you likely already have on hand. You don’t even have to make a homemade taco seasoning blend: it’s even simpler! Here’s what you’ll need:
Salt and pepper
You’ll be surprised at how these seasonings work together to provide a big pop of flavor to the taco dip. Say goodbye to taco seasoning packets!
Making a more layered taco dip
Were you looking for a dip with layers, more like a 7 layer dip? Don’t worry: you can do that too! Here’s what we’d consider adding on top of the cream cheese layer:
Refried beans seasoned with salt to taste (and/or cumin or chili powder)
A quick way to soften cream cheese
One trick to this taco dip recipe: most of the time we don’t think ahead when it comes to softening cream cheese. It’s important to soften it for this recipe, since it needs to be warmed up in order to mix with the other ingredients. Here are a few notes:
Use a microwave to quickly soften the cream cheese. Place it on a plate in the microwave. Microwave 5 seconds, then flip over the block of cheese and cook another 5 seconds. If it’s not room temperature and soft at this point, try another 5 seconds but air on the conservative side. You don’t want to overcook the cheese!
When you whisk the cheese with the ingredients, it starts out chunky. It takes a few minutes to whisk up, so be patient! We prefer mixing by hand than whipping it all with a stand mixer: but you could do that too if you prefer.
And that’s it! Let us know what you think of this easy taco dip in the comments below. Grab your tortilla chips and start dipping!
In a large bowl, whisk the softened cream cheese, Greek yogurt, salsa and spices until it’s fully smooth. The mixture will start out chunky, but keep whisking until the cream cheese is fully smooth. (It takes a few minutes, so be patient!)
Place the cheese mixture in the bottom of a circular glass pie plate or other circular dish. Smooth into an even layer.
Top with the cheese, chopped lettuce, chopped tomato, black olives, and other optional toppings. Serve immediately with tortilla chips, or refrigerate until serving. (Leftovers last up to 3 days refrigerated.)
*To quickly soften cream cheese, place it on a plate in the microwave. Microwave 5 seconds, then flip over the block of cheese and cook another 5 seconds. If it’s not room temperature and soft at this point, try another 5 seconds but air on the conservative side.
**You can also add more layers to the taco dip to make it like a 7 layer dip: consider topping with a layer of refried beans (seasoned with salt), guacamole, and salsa before adding veggie toppings.