Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

Mexican hot chocolate cookies, spicy cookies, mexican cookies, spicy chocolate cookies

I first had Mexican chocolate while vacationing with my family in Mexico. As a teenager, I did not appreciate the intense flavor profile of this chocolate. Luckily, my palate has evolved and I have since learned to appreciate this beautiful marriage of sweet and spicy.

The history of chocolate takes us to

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Rosemary Roasted Carrots

carrots roasted with rosemary

During the 100th episode of MasterChef, I was the first round draft pick to join Nick Nappi’s team. We set out to create a menu to celebrate this huge milestone. The guests of honor included previous MasterChef contestants, restaurateurs, and food bloggers!

Our menu consisted of an appetizer of oysters and caviar (so fancy!) and our entree was duck breast with rice and roasted carrots!

We had little time to prep everything and I was worried about having to peel carrots for 50 people! But then, Mr. Stephen Lee, master gardener, ultimate veggie connoisseur had a brilliant suggestion! He handed me a 

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Mona’s minty mini cakes!

My youngest sister, Mona is in town and I am so excited to be spending time with her. She arrived in time for the Seahawks game and to bake these delicious cupcakes with me! I decided to dedicate these to her, for her help in making them 🙂

And her name conveniently starts with an ‘m’. 😛

These cupcakes are SO good. The peppermint extract elevates the white cake and leaves a subtle minty flavor in your mouth. The crushed candy canes that are folded into the cupcake leave little red polka dots throughout the cake-what a surprise!


Here is my recipe:


Makes 36 mini cupcakes

Prep: 25 minutes     Bake: 15 minutes



1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup white sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon table salt

3 large eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), at room temperature

2 teaspoons peppermint extract

1/4 cup crushed candy canes


*I forgot to photograph the milk! Sorry


Butter Cream:

1/2 cup butter, unsalted at room temperature

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

5 cups powdered sugar

1-2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

1/2 cup crushed candy canes or other sprinkles or jimmies

red food coloring

Icing bag

Wilton 1M tip



1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line mini cupcake pan with cupcake liners. I used the Wilton brand candy cane liners.

2. Using the paddle attachment of your stand mixer, cream together butter, eggs, sugar and extract. Add in milk.

sugar and butter egg

3. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking powder. Mix in to wet ingredients. As always, DO NOT OVERMIX.


4. Using a spatula, fold in the crushed candy canes. Using a small ice cream scoop, pour about 1 1/4 tablespoon batter into each cupcake cup.

ingredients  ingredients

5. Bake for 13-15 minutes until golden brown.

6. While cupcakes are baking, make the butter cream. Using the whisk attachment, cream together butter and shortening. On low speed, slowly add in powdered sugar. Add in milk, 1 tablespoon at a time.

*you may only need 1 tablespoon. Turn off your mixer and check the consistency of your butter cream.

fluffy buttercreamThe next steps are completely optional. I love the swirled butter cream look! It looks just like a candy cane! 😀

7. Remove half of the butter cream from the bowl. Add a few drops of the red food coloring and mix well. You want half the butter cream to be white and the other half to be red.

IMG_4292 buttercream

8. Using a butter knife, carefully place white butter cream into the pipping bag. You want the butter cream to cover only 1/2 of the bag like pictured below:

butter cream  9.   Next add in the red butter cream.

10. Ice your cupcakes and top with the crushed candy canes.

Butter cream

11. Enjoy 🙂

Mona's Minty Mini Cupcakes



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Biscoff Banana Bread

Biscoff. Where to begin?

I guess on the airplane because that was the only place I had ever eaten a biscoff cookie. Until the great marketing folks at Lotus decided to start selling these in large grocery stores across the good ole USA.

And then they turned this beautiful cookie into a spread.

It is similar to the cookie butters sold at Trader Joes.

I altered my mothers amazing banana bread recipe to incorporate the spread! Yay for family recipes which make my recipe development easy 😀 Thanks, Mom!


I decided to make these into mini loaves so that I could share them with several friends before I left home.

I found some great little paper bread pans with bags and tags, made by Wilton.

Feel free to make this in a regular sized bread pan 😀


Here is my recipe:


Prep: 10 minutes  Bake: 40 minutes   Makes: 6 mini loaves or 1 large loaf



1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup brown sugar

3 medium size ripe bananas

1/2 cup biscoff spread

1/4 cup canola oil

1 large egg


For the topping:

1/2 cup chopped biscoff cookies

2 tablespoons all purpose flour

1/4 cup brown sugar

dash of ground cinnamon

3 tablespoons melted butter

1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used peanuts and pecans)




1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray bread pan with non stick spray.

2. In a large bowl, mix together bananas, brown sugar, vanilla, Biscoff spread, egg, cinnamon, salt and canola oil.


3. Mix in flour, baking soda and baking powder. DO NOT OVER MIX.

4. Pour into bread pans. Make the the topping, by combining all the ingredients. Sprinkle atop the batter.

bread pan

5. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until top is golden brown and tooth pick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the bread.

6. Enjoy 🙂


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Chocolate Bark

Looking for an easy dessert to bring to a party? Look no further than this chocolate bark recipe. It is versatile and can be customized to your liking! Add your favorite nuts and fruits. Use different types of chocolate, add marshmallows, crushed peppermint sticks, pretzels… the possibilities are endless!

Chocolate bark comes from the French word Mendiant; bars or disks of chocolate. Chocolate bark or Medniants differ from chocolate bars in that the nuts and fruit are left visible, giving the chocolate a pop of color and texture. It is made in large flat slabs and then broken into smaller pieces.


Here is my recipe:


Prep: 5 minutes   Cool: 1-2 hours


16 ounces good dark chocolate ( I used Godiva Dark Chocolate Melting Wafers)

1 cup toasted, salted walnuts

1 cup dried cranberries




1. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. In a double boiler, melt chocolate.

melting chocolate

2. Pour chocolate on pan and spread evenly using an offset spatula. Sprinkle with nuts and fruit. Allow chocolate to cool and harden. Break into smaller pieces.

chocolate chocolate

3. Enjoy 🙂

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Candied Cranberries


These cranberries are the perfect garnish to all your holiday treats or to enjoy on their own 🙂

cran-orange cupcakes

This recipe requires a 1 to 2 hour dry process so it is best to make these ahead of time. I made a large batch to keep on hand as I made my Cran-Orange Cupcakes


Candied Cranberries
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1½ cups
  • ¾ cup water
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup sugar to roll cranberries in
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1½ cups fresh cranberries
  1. Wash cranberries and ensure all stems are removed. Place in bowl.
  2. In a saucepan, heat water, ¾ cup sugar, orange juice and bring to a boil. Keep on high heat until all sugar is dissolved.
  3. Remove from heat and then add in orange zest. Pour over cranberries and allow them to sit in the syrup for 1 hour.
  4. Drain the cranberries from the syrup.
  5. Place ½ cup sugar onto a sheet tray.
  6. Roll cranberries in the sugar, remove and place on parchment paper.
  7. Allow cranberries to dry for 1-2 hours.
  8. Enjoy! 🙂





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Roasted Garlic and Parmesan Green Beans

I enjoy Thanksgiving for several reasons. I appreciate a day that is set aside to remember, reflect and give thanks for all the blessings we have, to remember those less fortunate, to give thanks by sharing in our blessings and spending time with family.

Thanksgiving is now only a few days away. Is your menu planned? Have you done your shopping? Do you have things prepped and ready?


Green beans are a traditional accompaniment to holiday dinners. They come dressed in sauces and spice, are blanched and baked and are so very delicious!

These green beans were inspired by roasted garlic and Parmesan potatoes by husband made a while back (recipe is in the comments section of my Instagram page: AmandasPlate).


Here is my recipe:


Prep: 10 minutes    Bake: 10 minutes    Servings: 6



1 pound green beans, trimmed

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1/4 cup sliced garlic cloves

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese



1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss green beans in olive oil and place on baking sheet. Roast for 7 minutes. Remove from oven.

olive oil

2. Using the same bowl you tossed green beans in the oil, combine green beans with garlic, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese. Place back on baking sheet and roast for another 3-4 minutes.

IMG_3445 procedure

3. Remove from heat. Place on serving platter and add more freshly shaved Parmesan (optional but who doesn’t love extra cheese).

garlic parmesan green beans

4. Enjoy 🙂


*The sun set faster than I was able to cook, so I apologize for the poorly lit photos of the finished dish. Trust me they are delicious 😀

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This dish has been in the back of my mind since I have watched Disney Pixars Ratatouille. Chef Remy created a marvelous dish of layered vegetables in a tomato sauce. The dish was stunning! Look it up 😉

Ratatouille is a great side for your holiday meal. It is an easy way to incorporate vegetables into a traditional Thanksgiving menu. It is also very flavorful! Using fresh rosemary and oregano brightens up the vegetables and creates a great earthy balance to the acidity from the tomato.

This dish can also be made into a meal with the addition of your favorite protein!

I added sweet potato and tomatoes to the layers of vegetables. It is important to use firm tomatoes so they don’t break down completely in the baking process.


Here is my recipe:


Prep: 20 minutes   Bake: 45 minutes     Serves: 6-8



1 large sweet potato

1 large eggplant

1 yellow squash

1 green zucchini

3 firm tomatoes

2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons tomato sauce

1/4 cup red onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

1/2 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped

large pinch kosher salt

Fresh ground pepper



1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Thinly slice vegetables into 1/4 inch pieces. This is best done with a mandolin (or a super steady hand and equally sharp knife).


3. In a casserole dish, pour 2 tablespoons olive oil and tomato sauce into the bottom on the pan. Add in chopped onion and garlic.

base sauce base sauce

4. Arrange chopped vegetables in alternating layers, atop the tomato olive oil mixture. Using a pastry brush, brush the vegetables with remaining olive oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, thyme and oregano.

layers of vegetables  brush with olive oil

5. Cover casserole dish with foil and place in oven for approximately 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender.


6. Enjoy 🙂


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