Cookies & Cream Waffles / #PureIngredients

Yup, I put cookies in my waffle batter. And now, I want YOU to put cookies in your waffle batter.

Earlier this month, I was contacted by the folks at Loacker--the brand behind these amazing little bite-sized Italian wafer cookies that I've been obsessed with for a while.

They were planning a recipe contest, and wanted to know if I'd be interested in taking part. I'm not usually super into recipe contests, but I was in a bit of a cooking slump and thought it would be a fun way to force me to get creative.

So I said yes, and waited for my supplies to arrive. The brand sent me one bag each of three of their most popular flavors, and I got to work.

(Work in this case meant eating cookies and thinking about things I can do with them.)

And then I heard this loud beeping coming out of the kitchen. Thinking it was a fire alarm, I ran in to see what the fuss was, when I noticed that I'd somehow accidentally turned on my waffle iron while wiping down the counter, so it was beeping to let me know that it was ready to cook.

You guys...the waffle iron was basically talking to me and telling me to make waffles.

So I did! Cookies & Cream Waffles, to be exact.

I decided to use the Quadratini Dark Chocolate cookies, which are layered waffle cookies filled with a dark chocolate cream. Chopped up into small pieces (think chocolate-chunk-sized), they were perfect to fold into a creamy, vanilla-scented batter.

And the results? SO SO good!

The waffle is light, sweet with the perfect amount of vanilla flavor, and the little chunks of cookies add a delicious crunchy chocolate surprise with each bite.

These are fun dessert waffles, and I actually prefer them served plain, but I wouldn't get mad if you drizzled a bit of syrup on top.

(I bet a scoop of ice cream would be good, too!)

(See how you can see the bits of cookies inside the waffle?) FYI that this recipe makes about 2 large waffles or 8 small square waffles (all waffle makers are different, but that should give you an idea. This, by the way, is my favorite waffle maker.)


Do you like this recipe? It would be so cool if you could please pin one of these images from this post and include the hashtag #pureingredients--that's how the folks judging the contest will be able to tell who the winner is.

And be sure to let me know how you like the recipe!

Want to try these cookies for yourself? Click here for a coupon on your next purchase of Loacker cookies.

You can also follow Loacker on Instagram or Facebook to learn about other fun contests and discounts. 

Thank you!!


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Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!    


Cookies & Cream Waffles
Fluffy vanilla waffles studded with chunks of chocolate wafer cookies. Recipes yields about 2 large waffles or 8 small waffles

Ingredients
2 cups chocolate wafer cookies (such as Loacker Quadratini Chocolate Wafers)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, melted

Directions
Preheat your waffle iron. Use a knife to chop wafer cookies into 1/2" pieces. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, vanilla extract, and butter.

Pour wet ingredients in to the dry and mix just until combined. Fold in the chopped cookies.

Prepare waffles in waffle iron, according to your manufacturer's instructions.

Serve immediately with your favorite waffle toppings.

Italian Chicken Meatballs with Saucy Kale

I am fairly certain I've eaten a version of this meatball dish for lunch or dinner at least 5 times over the past couple weeks.

Possibly even more than that.

(Probably even more than that.)

With a little prep, it's such a simple recipe. The chicken meatballs can be made and baked in advance, then kept frozen for fast meals on those days when you can barely handle more than a few minutes of waiting for things to heat up.

To make the final dish, simply combine the chicken meatballs with your favorite tomato sauce (homemade or jarred--I'm obsessed with Rao's Arrabiatta sauce) a little broth and a huge handful of kale. Let simmer and serve.

Boom!


So easy. So good. You don't even need pasta because the kale turns into the perfect base to soak up the sauce, and the meatballs are packed with flavor.

This also works with other meatball recipes, so feel free to substitute your favorite (or use one of my other recipes like this awesome Turkey Bacon Meatballs or these Pepperoni Meatballs).

P.S. Did you hear? I'm hosting an AMAZING 3-day culinary retreat this June! And YOU can join me for this super fun weekend of incredible meals, cooking demos, hands-on workshops, shopping, yoga, massage & more! All-inclusive rates start at just $585 per person. Click here for details.

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Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!   

Italian Chicken Meatballs with Saucy Kale
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
2 cups stale bread torn into pieces (I like something crusty and whole grain)
1/2 cup whole milk
1 medium onion, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 lbs ground chicken (mix of white and dark meat)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 small bunch parsley, finely chopped
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano

2 cups prepared tomato sauce (such as marinara)
3/4 cup chicken broth
5 cups chopped kale
parmesan cheese, for serving

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine bread and milk in a large bowl until soaked.

In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and add the onion and garlic. Saute until softened, then add to the bread and milk mixture along with the ground chicken, cheese, parsley, salt, pepper, and oregano. Divide into 24 meatballs and arrange on baking pan.
Bake 20 minutes, or until cooked through.

Combine meatballs with sauce in large pot over low heat, add broth and cover with kale. Cover pot and let simmer 10-15 minutes, or until kale is tender and sauce has thickened. Stir once, then serve topped with parmesan cheese.

Homemade Chocolate Coconut Water


The grocery service I use occasionally surprises us by adding a free thank you gift to my usual order. These little gifts range a sample of a new product to a sweet treat from their bakery. It's always a welcome surprise, and--more often than not--I find that the new product is actually so good that it ends up in regular rotation on our future grocery orders.

A couple years ago, they added a bottle of Zico chocolate coconut water to my order. I tried it, and was instantly smitten. The drink was refreshing with tons of great chocolate flavor, but then I flipped the bottle around to check out the ingredients, and was disappointed to find the addition of sugar as well as other additives.

I tweeted a message to the company, expressing my disappointment that they would add sugar to something like coconut water that is already naturally sweet, but they said it wasn't very much and still much less sugar than one would find in store-bought chocolate milk.

True, yes, but I would never purchase or drink chocolate milk so it was a moot point.

I never purchased that brand again, and soon moved on to preferring 100% raw coconut water brands like Harmless Harvest and Copra, which are about as close to coconut water that is fresh out of a coconut as you can get.

And then a few days ago, I had an idea!

While sipping from a bottle of coconut water, my eyes laid on an open container of cocoa powder leftover from an earlier baking project. I added some to my water, shook, and took a taste.

It was AMAZING!

Chocolatey coconut water with the perfect level of sweetness and zero added sugar or other additives.

A tiny pinch of sea salt added a bit more balance, and suddenly I knew I had something amazing on my hands. It's become a new favorite around here, and so I figured I'd share.

It's so simple, but so good, and wonderful when you're craving something chocolate.

Even though coconut water is pretty high in natural sugars (about 21g in my 11oz bottle), those sugars are mostly glucose, which is metabolically easier on your system (fructose is the bad stuff).

With the addition of a few teaspoons of antioxidant-packed natural cocoa, it's a refreshing, healthy treat you can feel good about drinking.


P.S. Did you hear? I'm hosting an AMAZING 3-day culinary retreat this June! And YOU can join me for this super fun weekend of incredible meals, cooking demos, hands-on workshops, shopping, yoga, massage & more! All-inclusive rates start at just $585 per person. Click here for details.

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Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!   



Homemade Chocolate Coconut Water
Makes 1 serving. Multiply as desired.
Ingredients
1 cup (8oz) coconut water (preferably choose an organic raw brand like Harmless Harvest or Copra, or use coconut water fresh from a young thai coconut--the flavor will be so much better than the processed varieties!)
1 1/2 teaspoons natural cocoa powder
1 small pinch sea salt or kosher salt

Directions
Combine coconut water, cocoa, and salt in a small bottle or jar. (You can add the cocoa and salt to the coconut water bottle, if you'd like.) Cover and shake vigorously. Best enjoyed within 24 hours. 
NOTE: I found that the bottles of Copra coconut water come in 11oz bottles; if you use that size, just increase the cocoa to a full 2 teaspoons.

Guacamole with Mango and Pomegranate

I first made this fruity guacamole recipe back in January for a live morning TV segment I did on Univision about Super Bowl party foods. The theme was party foods with a twist, so I shared this Guacamole with Fresh Mango and Pomegranate.

The recipe was a hit that day. So much so that as I sat in the break room at the station sipping coffee and waiting for my car service, I watched as one-by-one the producers, camera operators, and even the anchors came into the kitchen to serve themselves a plate of the leftovers from my set.

By the time I left, the bowls were totally clean and people were asking if I had anymore.

(And this was at about 7 in the morning!)

I was inspired to make this guacamole again last weekend after I received my first box of goodies from a new subscription box company called Hampton's Lane.

This really cool service delivers a box of curated ingredients and kitchen gadgets based on a different monthly theme. This month, the theme is Southwestern Fiesta, and the box (2 boxes, actually!) arrived with a jar of spicy Mexican salsa, two different spice mixes, a jar of Salt Trader's Pink Margarita Salt with Chipotle, a bright green lime juicer, and a GORGEOUS authentic Mexican molcajete.

There are a billion different subscription services out there, but I was really impressed with the quality and value that came in this box (those molcajetes alone are often sold for up to $50!). In fact, I reached out to them and asked them if they could offer up an exclusive discount code for my readers and they agreed.

So if you're interested in trying out a Hamptons Lane box, pop on over to their website and use the code "CincoDeMayo" and you'll save $10 off your first box, so you'll only pay $35 and get $75+ worth of goodies.


Now back to the recipe!

As you may have heard, there is a lime shortage going on here in the US, thanks to a mix of bad crops and crazy Mexican cartels who are literally holding limes hostage (seriously?!). The cool thing is that the tart pomegranate and fresh mango actually mean that you have to use less lime juice than you typically would for this recipe.

Although mangoes and pomegranates are probably still more expensive than the most expensive lime, so you'll probably still end up in a hole...


Whatever. It's still worth it! ;)

P.S. Did you hear? I'm hosting an AMAZING 3-day culinary retreat this June! And YOU can join me for this super fun weekend of incredible meals, cooking demos, hands-on workshops, shopping, yoga, massage & more! All-inclusive rates start at just $585 per person. Click here for details.

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Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!  


Guacamole with Fresh Mango and Pomegranate

Ingredients
1/4 red onion, finely diced
1/2 jalapeño, seeded and finely minced (Use more if you like it super spicy!)
1 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
3 ripe hass avocados
1/2 mango, dice into 1/2" cubes
1/3 cup fresh pomegranate arils
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Directions
Combine the onion, jalapeño, salt, and 1/2 the  cilantro in a molcajete or bowl and mash together to form a paste.

Add the avocados, and mash into the paste until evenly incorporated (I like to leave it a little bit chunky, but keep mashing if you prefer it super smooth.)

Fold in the diced mango, pomegranate arils, and remaining cilantro. Mix in the lime juice, and then taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

21 Party Cocktail Recipes

Whether you're planning a cocktail party or just looking for a little something fun to sip during dinner, take a look at these 21 easy and creative cocktail recipes for a little boozy inspiration!

You'll find everything from fresh summery drinks to hot beverages for cozy nights in. Pull out your shaker and mix up something new this week!

1. Double Apple Spritzer Cocktails are bubbly, lightly sweet, and full of fresh, crisp apple flavor. The secret is all in the Homemade Apple Cider Simple Syrup!

2. Not a fan of sugary cocktails? Try this Savory Cucumber Herb Sangria. It's made with white wine, citrus, and fresh herbs.

3. If you've ever been to New Orleans, you've probably tried this sweet and creamy Brandy Milk Punch. It's one of my favorite brunch drinks! (But watch out, because it's one of those that just sneaks up on you!)

4. If you love spice, you should try this Spicy Watermelon Tequila Cocktail.

5. Like a Slurpee for grown-ups! Frozen White Peach Sangria Slushy Cocktail.

6. Fresh pomegranate arils make this Pear and Pomegranate Spritzer Cocktail an elegant sipper.

7. Here's a fun idea for grown-up parties! Pour champagne or sparkling wine over your favorite fruity popsicles! It's equal parts dessert & cocktail.

8. Love history? This Green Whiskey Smash cocktail is based on an 18th century Irish bar punch recipe.

9. A cranberry twist on the classic French 75 cocktail--The Cranberry 75!

10. Make Papa Hemingway proud by serving this Cilantro Daiquiri all summer long.

11. Want a fun low-carb option? Try The Splendito! It's a mojito made with Splenda (or your favorite sugar alternative.)

12. Warm things up with a steaming mug of this Hot Spiked Apple Pie Cider.
13. Hosting a Mad Men party or other retro bash? This 60s-inspired Sparkling Gin Punch will be a hit--I promise!

14. Or...mix up a pitcher of Lemon Cucumber Vodka Martinis!


15. Passion fruit is seriously one of my favorite flavors ever (EVER!)--combine it with fresh basil to make an amazing Passion Basil Mojito.

16. Muddled fresh raspberries give this Raspberry Lemon Punch Cooler that lovely bright pink color. (Flamingo stirrer is optional, but totally recommended.) 

17. Gin & Honey Soaked Mandarin Champagne Cocktail. Macerate mandarins overnight in a mix of gin and honey, then serve topped with champagne. It's an absolutely perfect brunch cocktail!

18. Black Velvet cocktails combine prosecco and Guinness beer for a richy, luxurious sip.

19. Coquito is a Puerto Rican cocktail made with rum, coconut, and spices. It's creamy, rich, and perfect for cozy evenings at home.

20. Or you can try the coffee version with this Coffee Coquito Recipe. (I think this would be a perfect after-dinner drink!)


21. Marshmallow vodka + peanut butter + hot chocolate = A Fluffernutter Hot Chocolate Cocktail. (Yup!)

Photo credit: Header photo by Christa Meola


P.S. Did you hear? I'm hosting an AMAZING 3-day culinary retreat this June! And YOU can join me for this super fun weekend of incredible meals, cooking demos, hands-on workshops, shopping, yoga, massage & more! All-inclusive rates start at just $585 per person. Click here for details.

****
Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!    

Blackberry Saffron Almond Cake

Last Saturday, Eugene and I went to his parents' house for dinner. I woke up with some vague plans to make something to bring, but got caught up working on a few projects and so it wasn't until late in the afternoon--about one hour before I had to start getting ready--that I decided.

"I'm going to bake a cake!" I told Eugene, who looked at the clock with horror.

Don't worry," I assured him. "I'll be ready."

I knew my mother-in-law was making lamb, so I decided to do something with slight middle eastern flavors. Hence, this Blackberry Saffron Almond Cake.

It's a simple cake--an easy golden batter that is then poured into a springform pan and filled with berries.

I've really been loving blackberries this year--big and plump with the perfect balance of tart and sweet. As simple as it is to make the cake, the results are anything but boring.

Scented with a heady mix of fragrant saffron, almond, and citrus, it's a sophisticated cake that's elegant enough to serve for company, but also equally lovely served with an afternoon cup of tea or as a sweet ending to breakfast.

The specialness is all in the saffron, which I really urge you not to skip. I know saffron can seem like a splurge, but the reality is that you really only need a pinch of it for this cake (and for any dish that calls for saffron). One jar (typically priced between $4 - $10, depending on where you shop) is often enough for 5 or 6 different recipes, and the flavor is such that it really makes an impact. You'd probably spend more on a random bottle of wine or a deli sandwich!

And, because I know people will ask, this cake is definitely customizable!

Swap out the blackberries for raspberries or cherries. In the summer, peaches and plums will work beautifully. Or you can even keep it plain, perhaps with a sprinkle of almonds on top.

P.S. Did you hear about my 3-day culinary retreat in June? Click to learn how you can join me for this all-inclusive weekend of amazing meals, cooking demos and workshops, yoga, shopping, massage, and more! Rates start at just $585 per person. Click for details.

****
Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!   


Blackberry Saffron Almond Cake Recipe

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup almond meal (or same amount of finely ground almonds blitzed in the food processor)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup granulated white sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1/4 cup whole milk
Grated zest of 1 whole lemon
2 teaspoons pure almond extract
1 1/2 pints blackberries (about 3 cups), rinsed and patted dry

Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a round 9-inch springform pan and line bottom with a round of parchment paper (this will help keep the berries from sticking). If you don't have a springform pan, you can use a regular 9 or 8-inch round cake tin as long as it has high sides (at least 2 inches), though note that you'll have to flip it out and then flip it again when cooling.

Sift together flour, almond meal, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

In the base of an electric mixer, beat the softened butter and sugar for about 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, waiting until each is incorporated before adding the next.

In a small saucepan or the microwave, heat the milk and saffron threads just until it bubbles, then remove from heat and let steep 5 minutes until the milk turns a deep saffron yellow.

Let cool slightly and then pour into your batter along with the lemon zest and almond extract.

With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the flour mixture and mix until well blended. Spread the prepared batter into the springform pan and smooth out the top.

Arrange the berries in concentric circles. Use all the fruit, even if you have to layer some on top of each other to fit (the fruit will sink during baking).

Bake in oven for 45-55 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Let cool in pan 5 minutes, then remove sides (or flip out and then over again if using a regular non springform tin) and let cool completely at room temperature before serving.

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