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CHOCOLATE WHISKEY CAKE

CHOCOLATE WHISKEY CAKEAre y’all ready for the most delicious thing your Monday has ever seen? It’s boozy, chocolatey, & perfect for literally every occasion. It’s our new favorite dessert, the Chocolate Whiskey Cake! One bite of this & your life will be changed forever! xoxo, LK


Hello there! Constance here. Confession: I definitely ate more than half of that cake pictured above. I’m not sure how it happened, but just beware, it’s sort of dangerous! Perfect for a birthday, celebration, “hooray we made it through Monday” party, or just because – no matter the occasion, this cake is perfect for a crowd and will please even the most dessert averse friends. Trust me when I say this, you are about to become everyone’s favorite baker. Bring this to your next dinner party & you could start a fan club. Not such a terrible thing to be known for fantastic whiskey cake, you know?

CHOCOLATE WHISKEY CAKEINGREDIENTS FOR CAKE:

-1.5 cups of dark chocolate chips
-1 cup water
-1/2 cup instant espresso
-1/2 cup cocoa powder
-4 cups flour
-1/2 tsp sea salt
-2 tsp baking powder
-2 cups of unsalted butter (4 sticks)
-6 large eggs
-3 cups sugar
-1.5 tbsp vanilla extract
-2 cups whiskey (we used Knob Creek)

INGREDIENTS FOR ICING:

-1/2 cup egg whites
-1 cup granulated sugar
-1 1/2 cups butter (cubed, room temperature)
-1 tsp vanilla
-3 oz dark chocolate (melted and cooled)
-Ground cinnamon for dusting
-1/2 cup of dark sweet cherries

CHOCOLATE WHISKEY CAKECHOCOLATE WHISKEY CAKE

INSTRUCTIONS FOR CAKE:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 4 8-inch cake pans with coconut oil spray & in a medium sized saucepan, slowly melt the dark chocolate and set aside to cool.
2. Bring the water to a boil, add the espresso and cocoa powder and set aside to cool. Add the chocolate to the espresso/cocoa mixture, and whisk until evenly combined.
3. In a medium sized bowl, sift together the flour, salt and baking powder and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, whip the butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, sugar and vanilla and beat until combined.
4. Add the whiskey to the coffee/cocoa mix and then combine that mix with the batter. Slowly add the flour mixture to the batter. Beat until evenly combined. Divide batter evenly amongst pans and bake for 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
5. Let cool for 10 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR ICING:

1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites and sugar until until the mixture becomes a meringue (approx. 10 minutes.) Slowly add the cubed butter and mix until smooth. Add the vanilla, melted chocolate and whip until smooth.
2. Frost cake and top with a light dusting of cinnamon and the sweet dark cherries.

CHOCOLATE WHISKEY CAKE


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TURKEY BACON AVOCADO BREAKFAST SANDWICH because breakfast sandwiches are the best

BREAKFAST SANDWICH

Hello friends! Constance here. Hope you’re all having a wonderful week! Guys-it’s almost March. Can you believe it? I’m not quite sure how that happened. I feel like I’m just now ready for Christmas. We’re getting ready for a crazy influx of house guests over the next month. Spring training starts soon here in Phoenix, and while I like to pretend everyone’s coming in town for some good quality hang time, let’s be real….it’s all about baseball.

Regardless, I’ve been working on coming up with some foolproof recipes that don’t have me slaving away in the kitchen all hours of the day. I definitely want our guests to have a hot meal, but I also want to keep a small ounce of sanity while doing it. My solution? Recipes that you can make in bulk and freeze for later. We’ve got more of these coming your way, but to start–biscuits. My plan is to make at least a few dozen of these before our guests begin to arrive so we can all eat our weight in breakfast sandwiches. Truly, they’re just the best. You can customize to fit any and all diets, and it’s as easy as frying a few eggs and some bacon and voila!

BREAKFAST SANDWICH

INGREDIENTS:

-2 slices thick cut bacon

-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

-1 large brown egg

-1 buttermilk biscuit

-sriracha

-1-2 oz. roasted turkey

-1/2 avocado, thinly sliced

-Sriracha

INSTRUCTIONS:

-In a medium sized pan, cook bacon over medium heat until crispy.

-Remove bacon from pan and add olive oil. Continue to heat on medium until olive oil is hot.

-Crack egg slowly over pan, and immediately reduce heat to low.

-Cook slowly until whites are set and yolks begin to thicken but are not hard.

-Remove egg from heat, top with fresh cracked black pepper, and set aside.

-Cut biscuit in half, and spread a light layer of Sriracha on the bottom half.

-Top with turkey, bacon, avocado, egg and the other half of the biscuit.

-Cut sandwich in half and serve immediately.

BREAKFAST SANDWICH


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COQ AU VIN Subtitle Text Goes Here to Capture Audience

COQAUVIN0017Oh, hey friends! Today quite possibly marks the day that LaurenKelp.com officially got fancy. We whipped up the most gorgeous twist on a traditional Coq au Vin dish in our new Le Creuset mix & match Dutch Oven (you know, to break it in and stuff) & the results were nothing short of mindblowingly delicious. We’ve always been a big fan of the Dutch Oven, but this little beauty seals the deal. It’s stunning!
COQAUVIN0015Now, I know we talk a lot about simple recipe and quick little cooking hacks, but today is the day we flex our cooking mussels. Our take on Coq au Vin isn’t wildly difficult to make, it just takes a bit more prep work and a little more patience, but the results are nothing short of magnificent. COQAUVIN0012Traditional Coq au Vin calls for chicken thighs & breasts, but we felt a bit daring so we switched it up and used Cornish Game Hen. The best part about the Dutch Oven is that it does a lot of the heavy lifting, flavor-wise, for you. This dish is perfect to make for a special night, a fun dinner-party, or if you just want to elevate your kitchen game. As always, it won’t go perfectly, but that’s the best part! Who knows, you may just add something that makes the dish perfectly your own! COQAUVIN0009

INGREDIENTS:

8 ounces slab bacon, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

2 cups full-bodied red wine (we used a Cabernet Sauvignon)

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

1 Cornish Game hen

Olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

10 white pearl onions, blanched and peeled

1/2 pound small cremini mushrooms

1 tablespoon tomato paste

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons Cognac

5 fresh thyme sprigs

2 bay leaves

Flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

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INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Place Game Hen in a large bowl, and add wine. Cover, and refrigerate overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

3. Remove Game Hen from wine, and pat dry; reserve wine. Season Game Hen with salt and pepper.

4. Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium-low heat until crisp, about 20 minutes. Transfer bacon to a plate, leaving drippings in pot.

5. Raise heat to medium-high. Working in batches, cook Game Hen, flipping once, until golden, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate. Add chopped onion to pot, and cook 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic, and cook 2 minutes. Add pearl onions and mushrooms, and cook until brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and flour, and cook 2 minutes. Add Cognac, and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

6. Return bacon and Game Hen to pot. Add thyme and bay leaves. Cover, and place in oven until Game Hen has cooked through and vegetables are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Discard herbs, and skim fat from surface.

7. Serve & enjoy! Pairs wonderfully with mashed potatoes and your favorite bold red!

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Recipe adapted from the queen herself, Martha Stewart

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GINGER & WALNUT DARK CHOCOLATE BARK

DARK CHOCOLATE BARK - LAUREN KELP

Happy Monday! Constance here. Please tell me I’m not the only one who is seriously struggling with coming off of the chocolate high after the holidays?! It seems to be so much more difficult than it was last year. I’m a firm believer in the gradual change, and I think that this little recipe falls a bit more into the power bar/trail mix category than the dessert category. Right? And dark chocolate is basically a superfood. Thus, I bring you Ginger & Walnut Dark Chocolate Bark. It’s easy. It’s delicious. And it’s obviously super healthy…

DARK CHOCOLATE BARK - LAUREN KELPDARK CHOCOLATE BARK - LAUREN KELP

INGREDIENTS:

-18 oz. dark chocolate chips or chunks

-2 tablespoons almond extract

-1 cup candied ginger, chopped

-1 cup walnuts, chopped

-1 cup shaved almonds

DARK CHOCOLATE BARK - LAUREN KELP

INSTRUCTIONS:

-Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
-In a medium sized saucepan, heat chocolate on low until melted. Stir often.
-Once melted, add almond extract and whisk until smooth.
-Remove from heat and add all but 1/3 cup of ginger, 1/3 cup of walnuts and 1/3 cup of almonds.

-Stir until evenly combined.
-Pour chocolate mixture into prepared pans.
-Sprinkle the remaining ginger, walnuts and almonds evenly on both prepared pans.
-Refrigerate bark for at least one hour (preferably overnight) until firm.
-Remover from refrigerator, cut into squares, and serve.

DARK CHOCOLATE BARK - LAUREN KELP


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HONEY & ROSEMARY BAKED BRIE

HONEY & ROSEMARY BAKED BRIE - LAUREN KELPOoh, dear, dear friends, you are in for a treat today. For all of my cheese lovers out there, today’s recipe is for you! We’ve got the most glorious baked brie and it’s basically a cheap & easy lifesaver. It takes no time, is cheap to make, and makes you look like a total pro! Go ahead invite the mother in law over, you just popped a brie in the oven 😉 – xoxo, LK


Oh friends. Constance here. Is anyone out there as excited as I am that the holidays are over? Never before in my life have I uttered that sentence. I almost feel ashamed saying it, but it couldn’t be more true this year! I think it must be a combination of a way too busy holiday season around our house (I literally felt like I couldn’t breathe for a couple of days there!) and an overwhelming sense of excitement about 2016. I can’t quite pinpoint it, but there’s something about this year that has me giddy. I have a feeling 2016 is going to be quite the game changer.

HONEY & ROSEMARY BAKED BRIE - LAUREN KELP

All of this excitement, however, doesn’t come without some sort of reflection. I’ve been thinking a whole lot about the art of entertaining, especially when it comes to the holidays. Confession: I’m 100% certain that that busyness I mentioned earlier had much to do with me spending way too much time in the kitchen trying to impress our guests rather than cooking smarter and spending more time actually enjoying my loved ones. There’s a way to be intentional and make much of your guests, without entirely missing the celebration yourself, and I truly believe that if that’s not happening there’s a big problem.

So to remedy this for future celebrations, I’ve decided to learn from my mistakes this year, and share with you the recipes that truly did work. The ones that are simple and quick, but still communicate to your guests that the dinner you’ve invited them to is a celebration! And you guys, this is the pièce de résistance. Because who doesn’t love brie…

HONEY & ROSEMARY BAKED BRIE - LAUREN KELPINGREDIENTS:

-12 ounce wheel of good brie (a younger brie works best, but ask your cheese monger for a good option)

-honey (the more the better)

-3-4 sprigs of fresh rosemary

HONEY & ROSEMARY BAKED BRIE - LAUREN KELPINSTRUCTIONS:

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

-Remove brie from packaging and place in camembert baker or on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle liberally with honey (we prefer to completely cover the top of the brie, but it’s up to you). Top with fresh rosemary sprigs.

-Bake for 12-14 minutes.

-Remove from oven, and serve with crusty french bread.

HONEY & ROSEMARY BAKED BRIE - LAUREN KELP


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CRANBERRY + PISTACHIO ALMOND BARK

XMAS0004Hello merrymakers! Constance here! If you’re anything like me, you’re in full scramble mode. It’s Monday and that means you have less than one week until THE day of gifting. No matter how hard I try and how much I plan, I’m always working, shopping, cooking up until the last minute. Wasn’t it Steve Jobs that said the best work is done under pressure? No? Well….someone did, and I’m sticking to that nugget of wisdom!
And friends, if you’re in the same boat, this recipe is clutch. Total prep time? About 10 minutes. Total time? About 8 hours. BUT 7.5 hours of that is spent in your refrigerator which means this little recipe is foolproof! And better news? It’s truly so, so good. And it just to happens to be red, white, and green!

XMAS0001 INGREDIENTS:

-18 oz. good white chocolate
-2 tablespoons almond extract
-1 cup chopped unsalted pistachios
-1 cup chopped dried cranberries

XMAS0002INSTRUCTIONS:

-Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
-In a medium sized saucepan, heat chocolate on low until melted. Stir often.
-Once melted, add almond extract and whisk until smooth.
-Remove from heat and add all but 1/2 cup of pistachios and 1/2 cup of cranberries.
-Pour chocolate mixture into prepared pans.
-Sprinkle the remaining pistachios and cranberries evenly on both prepared pans.
-Refrigerate bark for at least one hour (preferably overnight) until firm.
-Remover from refrigerator, cut into squares, and serve.

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CHOCOLATE FUDGE

CHOCOLATE FUDGE - LAUREN KELP

Hello & Happy Monday, you beautiful birds! It’s chocolate day here at LK HQ and we are busting out a good one – chocolate fudge! It’s pure heaven and it’s perfect to share, gift, or indulge in after a good meal. Thankfully, Foodie Bad Ass Constance Higley brings her A-game and knocks this guy out of the park. Can’t wait to hear what y’all think! – xoxo, LK


Hello friends! Constance here. Remember how we said Mondays were made for chocolate? We weren’t kidding. It’s what we live for…at least on Mondays. I’ve always steered clear from any sort of fudge recipe, thinking it was way out of my league. And the whole tahini thing (see recipe) threw me for a complete loop. But like with anything that may seem scary, once you get started you realize it’s truly easy and so worth it. And any recipe that I can make the day before a dinner party and freeze overnight is 1000 times worth it!

If you love chocolate, dessert, a good time, or a delicious recipe – this little guy is absolutely for you! Check it out and see what I mean…

CHOCOLATE FUDGE - LAUREN KELP

INGREDIENTS:

-1/2 cup pure maple syrup

-3 tablespoons coconut oil

-340g hulled tahini

-2 tablespoons cocoa powder

-3 teaspoons vanilla extract

-sea salt flakes

CHOCOLATE FUDGE - LAUREN KELP

INSTRUCTIONS:

-Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper.

-Slowly heat the maple syrup and coconut oil until just melted.

-Remove mixture from heat and add the tahini, cocoa powder and vanilla extract.

-Mix together until combined into a smooth, runny paste.

-Transfer mix to prepared 8×8 pan, and top with sea salt flakes.

-Place pan in freezer for at least 4 hours to set.

-Remove from freezer, but into small squares, and serve immediately.

CHOCOLATE FUDGE - LAUREN KELP


constanceRecipe adapted from My Darling Lemon Thyme.

PROSCIUTTO WRAPPED DATES WITH GOAT CHEESE

PROSCIUTTO WRAPPED DATES WITH GOAT CHEESE - LAUREN KELP

Well, hello! We are helping you step up your entertaining game this holiday season with the most delicious (and easy!) prosciutto wrapped dates with goat cheese! You can make it in under five minutes, it tastes delicious, and it packs a major WOW factor – what could be better? See the recipe below! – xoxo, LK


Friends! Constance here. It’s official! I’ve found it. The ultimate Christmas party appetizer that is, in fact, equal parts super easy and super fancy-ish. Parties, dinners and last minute get-togethers are in full swing for the holidays, and if you’re anything like this gal, procrastination can get the best of you. Rather than opting for that weird and slightly disturbing store bought dip, I beg of you, try this prosciutto wrapped dates with goat cheese combo out.

PROSCIUTTO WRAPPED DATES WITH GOAT CHEESE - LAUREN KELPPROSCIUTTO WRAPPED DATES WITH GOAT CHEESE - LAUREN KELP

INGREDIENTS:

-15-20 dates

-goat cheese

-proscuitto

-fresh thyme

 

PROSCIUTTO WRAPPED DATES WITH GOAT CHEESE - LAUREN KELP

INSTRUCTIONS:

-Spread 1/2 tbsp of goat cheese on each date.

-Wrap each date with one slice of prosciutto.

-Top with a small sprig of fresh thyme.

PROSCIUTTO WRAPPED DATES WITH GOAT CHEESE - LAUREN KELPSo next time you are in a bit of a bind and need a fancy appetizer in a snap, don’t forget about this little gem! Nothing says, I am a serious hostess-with-the-mostess like prosciutto wrapped dates with goat cheese! PROSCIUTTO WRAPPED DATES WITH GOAT CHEESE - LAUREN KELP


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THROW A WINE TASTING BIRTHDAY PARTY

KJWineTasting0013Hello, hello, hello! Today we are mixing things up a bit and talking about how to throw a party that is very near and dear to everyone’s hearts – a birthday party! If you are like me, you might not be the biggest fan of your birthday. The older you get, the more pressure there seems to be to do something really fun, or not do anything at all. We say, ditch the pressure and throw a fun event that just so happens to coincide with your birthday.

For us, it was a wine tasting party this year! We loved it because it took the pressure off of being the center of attention, gave everyone something to do, and was interactive in the best way. Plus, who doesn’t love an excuse to drink wine and eat yummy bites?

KJWineTasting0017So, today, we are showing you, step by step, how to throw the most fun wine tasting birthday party. Who knows, you might have to keep the theme going annually, it will be such a hit!

STEP ONE:

 It’s all about the wine! As you know, we can’t say ‘no’ to a good bottle of Kendall-Jackson wine, so we decided to stick with our favorites and try a bunch of different varietals in their portfolio. We got a good mix of white, a hearty variety of red (those are my favorite) and some fun dessert wines to spice things up.

It is important to get a variety of wines, even some that are outside your comfort zone. For example, I don’t really drink Chardonnay’s, but after this party, the Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay is my new favorite. The goal is that you find some new pairing, whether it is food or wine, that you like. So have some fun!

wine tasting 2STEP TWO:

Build the perfect spread! What is a wine tasting party without the magnificent cheese board that goes with it? Again, if you’ve been following along, you know that we’ve never met a cheese board we didn’t like. The more sliced fruit, roasted nuts, and varieties of cheese – the better in our book!

So go a little wild and have some fun!

I recommend pulling out a series of boards and placing them around your space. Have a board in reach no matter where your guests is sitting, sipping, or mingling. On the sofa, on the coffee and side tables, and definitely a few on your breakfast or dining room tables. This allows the guests to pair their wines with a new snack wherever they are.

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STEP THREE:

It wouldn’t be a party without the cake! For (seriously) the most delicious birthday cake, hop on over to Kendall-Jackson’s blog and read all about our Dark Chocolate Olive Oil cake. It’s the best thing since sliced bread and, in the spirit of wine pairing, it is made even better with a crisp glass of Kendall-Jackson’s Merlot.

Don’t believe me? Hop on over and see!

wine tasting 1STEP FOUR:

Have fun! Yep, that’s it. Three easy steps and you are well on your way to having the most fun birthday party yet. If you want to make your wine pairing party a bit more difficult, feel free to have your guests sip out of black glasses (so they can’t see what they are sipping) or tie a brown paper bag around the bottle to prevent user bias (me with white wine!).

Or, do what we did and just let your guests guide the experience. No matter how it’s thrown, this bash is always a good time had by all and it is absolutely a party for the books!

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lauren kelp author buttonconstance buttonThis post is sponsored by Kendall-Jackson but all thoughts, opinions, and food obsessions are our own.

SALTED CARAMEL APPLES

SALTED CARAMEL APPLES - LAUREN KELPHello party people! I know everyone is gearing up for the holiday season, but we are still enjoying this gorgeous Fall weather here in Chicago. It’s beyond rare that we don’t have snow on the ground at this point in time, so I am basking in all the “light jacket” glory.

Our fabulous Food Contributor Constance must have taken my Fall musings to heart as she whipped up the most gorgeous salted caramel apples the universe has ever seen. Just in time for Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, and all those potlucks you are about to attend.

Dip, serve, and repeat – that’s what I say! For the perfect shareable dessert, put in the refrigerator for a few minutes so the caramel hardens and cut into easy to serve slices.

SALTED CARAMEL APPLES - LAUREN KELP

INGREDIENTS:

– 2 cups granulated sugar
-12 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced into 1-inch cubes
-1 cup heavy cream
-3 teaspoons of SEE SALT

SALTED CARAMEL APPLES - LAUREN KELPINSTRUCTIONS:

– In a semi-deep non-stick pot, heat sugar over medium high heat, stirring often.
-The sugar will soon start to clump together. This is ok and what it is supposed to do!
-The sugar will soon start to break down into a liquid and you’ll want to switch to a whisk to get rid of the clumps.
-Once the sugar is in liquid form, you’ll want to continue stirring for about 2 minutes.
-Carefully add the butter. The mixture will hiss and splatter a bit. Continue stirring until all the butter has melted.
-Once the butter has melted, CAREFULLY add the heavy cream. Since the heavy cream will be cold, your mixture will bubble and splatter a bit as well. Stir the mixture then let boil for 3 minutes.
-Remove from heat, stir in the SEE SALT, and let completely cool before you pour it into any jars.
-Store in the refrigerator and warm up slightly to drizzle or use for desserts.

SALTED CARAMEL APPLES - LAUREN KELP

Recipe by Table for Two.


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