Cornbread Stuffing- Tis the Season

Stuffing. Oh stuffing. Easily my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner. And then I want it all holiday season. Along with all the other carbs that come with this time of year. I’m decidedly trying not to do things like continue to eat holiday food for the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas since I know from past experience it can be a slippery slope– what starts as one piece of persimmon bread for dessert in late November becomes three pieces of persimmon bread, a slice of apple pie, a slice of pumpkin pie and five chocolate chip cookies by the new year. I don’t want that tolerance/numbness to sugar to build up in my body as it has in the past. But. But. I don’t see why that means I can’t share my stuffing recipe with anyone out there who is throwing a dinner party this holiday season, or just happens to want a week-long supply of stuffing because he or she has the proper amount of all-in holiday attitude to be able to handle it. That doesn’t mean I’m condoning gorging on sweets (or stuffing for that matter) on any sort of regular basis. As a nutritional therapist, I know way too much about how our bodies handle sugar to suggest that. But, I am first and foremost of the school of thought that the holidays are made for traditions, that many of those traditions involve food that is sometimes rich and sticks to your ribs, and that it is ok to indulge in the treats that make you the happiest. So here is one of my favorite recipes that has become tradition. I’ve been working on it for a few years and feel I’ve perfected it to the point where it is share-worthy this year. For the cornbread, I base my recipe off the Alber’s cornbread box recipe, but I modify it to use olive oil instead of vegetable oil and I cut the sugar in half, replacing it with maple syrup. I also use more cornmeal and less wheat flour than the original recipe. It’s these little tweaks that allow me to tell myself I can still be a nutritionist and eat my favorite things. At least that’s how I choose to see it.

Indulge and enjoy!! More holiday recipes to come.

FullSizeRender-2

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups cornmeal

1 1/2 cups flour

1/4 cup raw sugar

1/4 cup  maple syrup

1 Tbs. baking powder

2 tsp. salt

2/3 cup olive oil (or good quality unsalted butter, melted)

2 large eggs

2 cups liquid (you can use milk if you don’t have a problem with it, you can use organic unsweetened soy milk or almond milk or even a combination of milk and water)

1 large onion, diced

3 large celery stalks, diced

3 large carrots, diced

1 large apple, peeled and cubed

1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins

4 sage leaves, chopped

olive oil for cooking

2 tsp. fresh thyme

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 tsp. honey

2-3 cups chicken broth (or veggie broth)

Grease a 9 x 13 inch rectangular baking dish with butter or oil. Preheat oven to 400. Mix cornmeal, flour, salt, sugar and baking powder with a wooden spoon. In a separate bowl, beat together oil or butter, maple syrup, eggs and milk. Combing wet and dry ingredients. Stir well to combine. Pour into greased baking dish. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until edges are golden and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cornbread cool for 15 minutes, then slice it into cubes and set aside.

Turn oven down to 350. In a large stock pot, heat 1 Tbs. olive oil over medium high heat. Add in onion, celery and carrot. Season with thyme, sage, salt and pepper to taste. Stir well. Sauté 10 minutes, until onions are translucent and start to brown. Add in apples and cranberries or raisins. Cook another 5 minutes. Add in the honey and stir well. Transfer veggies mixture to a bowl and set aside.

Heat 1 Tbs. olive oil in the pot and add in half the cornbread cubes, stirring well to coat. Continue to toast, stirring every few minutes, until cornbread starts to brown. Pour into a bowl and heat another Tbs. olive oil and repeat with the other half of the cornbread cubes. Remove from heat. Pour all the cornbread cubes and the veggie mixture back into the stock pot and still well. Pour in 2-3 cups chicken or veggie broth to add moisture. Pour a little, then stir to see how much the cornbread soaks up. You want to just moisten it, not drown it. It is normal for some of the cornbread to fall apart and become crumbly. This is still delicious.

Transfer mixture to a casserole dish and bake at 350 for 20 minutes with a cover on and 20 minutes without a cover.

Enjoy alone or as a side dish and definitely with gravy!

Serves 10-12

 

Breakfast (or Lunch or Dinner) Kale and Potatoes

My go to meal these days is some sort of potato hash topped with an egg. In it’s most basic form, it can just be potatoes, onions and spices, but jazzed up with extra veggies and perhaps a little bacon (just sayin’…cause, why not?) it becomes a cost-effective, healthy and satisfying meal. And it takes very little time out of your busy life! Plus you can make a big batch on the weekend and eat it for several days. This is a basic recipe with kale and garlic. My favorite variation is to add sweet potatoes, bell pepper, onions and carrots.

1907708_665976573492100_7703441944478412620_n

Ingredients:

6 medium organic yukon gold or red potatoes

4 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 Tbs. unsalted butter

1 Tbs. olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

a few shakes of red chili flakes

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

1 bunch green kale, de-stemmed and broken into bite-sized pieces

Wash potatoes well. Cut each potato in half, lengthwise, and then in half lengthwise again, so that when you slice it into thin pieces, they look like quarter-moons. if you have small fingerling potatoes, which you can also use, those can be half or full moons :). Heat oil and butter in a large frying pan. Add minced garlic over medium-high heat and sauté until it just barely starts to brown. Add potatoes, spices and salt and pepper, starting with a few pinces of each. Cook, stirring every few minutes, so that the potatoes brown a bit. After 10 minutes, add the kale, turn the heat down to medium low, and cover the pan. Continue to cook for 8- 10 minutes until potatoes and kale are tender. Taste to see if you want to add more salt. You probably will. Potatoes suck up salt like a sponge.

Fry or soft boil or poach an egg, begin sure to leave the yolk nice and runny and pop it on top of a plateful of these. Or serve at dinner alongside a main dish of beef or chicken.

Serves 4 for one meal or just you for many meals!

Chicken Soup for All that Ails You

It’s freezing in Seattle! And I love it! Freezing and clear blue skies. Chicken soup is the ultimate aid in warming you up after a day out and about in this kind of weather. It is so simple and full of good minerals and nutrients (especially if you’ve roasted a chicken and made some broth the day before) and depending on how much chili you put it, I swear it’ll knock a cold right out of you! You can put any vegetables you want in this soup or add in noodles or rice if you’re so inclined. I think it’s plenty satisfying without any grains. Try roasting a chicken on Saturday, eating half and using the rest of the meat for the soup and then making a bone broth. On Sunday, you can make this big batch of soup and eat if for the next few days or freeze for later.

FullSizeRender-2

Ingredients:

Meat from half a 5-6 pound roast chicken, shredded

1 Tbs. unsalted butter

1 Tbs. olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced

4 large carrots, peeled and sliced into half moons

4 large yukon gold potatoes, diced

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1 tsp. sea salt

pepper

1/4 tsp. chili flakes

1/2 tsp. oregano

2 bay leaves

2 cups frozen or freshly hulled peas

5-6 cups chicken broth (preferably home made)

Melt the butter and oil together in a large soup pot. Add the diced onions an sauté until translucent. Add salt, pepper, chili flakes, oregano and bay leaves. Add in diced potatoes and carrots. Stir well and let cook down for 5 minutes. Stir in parsley. Pour broth over vegetables. Turn heat down to medium low and let simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes, or until veggies are cooked through. Stir in peas and chicken. Simmer 5 more minutes. Taste to see if you want to add more seasoning. And that’s it!

 

Serves 4-5.

 

 

Spicy Tomatoes and Kale with Fried Eggs

Andddd…it’s officially winter in my book. I don’t care what the calendar says– as long as the clocks have been turned back and it’s getting dark at 4:45 pm, it’s time to hunker down. So I’ll continue with my theme of warm and cozy recipes adding spices that will give your sinuses a jolt of life. At least for a few minutes.

I’ve been eating eggs for breakfast most days while doing the Whole30, so I’ve been eating them all different ways to keep it interesting. The secret to this particular recipe (and any egg recipe really) is to splurge on the best quality eggs you can get. That’s how you get these bright yellow-orange yolks and the flavor difference is very significant. I’ve been buying Vital Farms eggs from Fred Meyer when I can’t get to the farmer’s market. They are best eggs I’ve ever found in a grocery store and from the looks of their website and the little newsletter you get when you buy the eggs, it seems like they are the real deal.

This dish is a simple and delicious answer to a winter breakfast, lunch or dinner.

 

IMG_4011

 

Ingredients:

2 cloves garlic, chopped

olive oil for cooking

1/2 tsp. oregano

1/4 tsp. red chili flakes

1/4 tsp. cumin

salt and pepper to taste

2 cups chopped organic canned tomatoes and their juice (I say canned because it’s winter, but if you happen to have frozen or jarred tomatoes from summer time, use those!)

4 large leaves of kale (any variety), de-stemmed and chopped

4 eggs, organic and pasture raised if possible

Coat a large frying pan with olive oil and add garlic, heating over medium high. Once garlic just barely begins to brown (after about 3 minutes), add spices, salt and pepper and stir. Add in tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Turn down to medium low and let cook 5 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper to you taste. Add in chopped kale, stir well, cover, and let cook down 5 minutes. Remove lid and once again taste. You will most likely need to add more salt (both kale and tomatoes can take a lot of salt to flavor) and you might find you want more spice. My spice tolerance is wimpy. Once you’re happy with the flavor, divide the tomato kale mixture among two shallow bowls. Wipe the frying pan clean with a paper towel.

Reheat the frying pan over medium high with olive oil, coconut oil or butter. Fry your eggs, two at a time, to your liking and serve over the stewed tomatoes.

Serves 2.

Cardamom Chicken with Caramelized Onions and Apples

This Whole30 eating experience hasn’t been nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. Well at least so far. I’m only on day four, but I already feel like by pre-planning and prepping meals that are delicious and packed with nutrients, I’ve avoided the anxiety of eliminating certain foods from my diet. Instead of going out to eat, I’ve been inviting friends over (which is my favorite thing to do anyway) and making feasts of veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds and quality meat for everyone to enjoy. I love all the colors an fall flavors I’ve been bringing to the table. This chicken dish is my favorite recipe creation of the month (maybe the last few months) and it is just pure, whole foods of the best quality and packed with fall flavors. The key is cooking it on low heat for a good chunk of time so the flavors really have time to come together. In case it hasn’t been apparent, I have a bit of an obsession with cardamom. I think it makes most things more delicious, especially in the fall and winter when a warming spice is really a welcome addition. That being said, if cardamom isn’t your cup of tea, you can make this recipe with less cardamom pods, or substitute more cinnamon and some fresh ginger. I ate this chicken with a side of baked sweet potatoes and a salad topped with pumpkin seeds to really cover all my bases of fall foods.

IMG_4367

Ingredients:

4 bone-in organic chicken thighs

3 Tbs. coconut oil or olive oil

1 medium yellow onion

2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

1 medium fuji apple, peeled

1 tsp. cinnmon

1 tsp. turmeric

1/4 tsp. ground cardamom

6 cardamom pods

1/2 tsp. red chili flakes

sea salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup thompson or golden raisins

3/4 cup chicken broth (preferably home made)

Heat 1 tbs. oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat. Thinly slice onion and add to the pot. Stir well. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Turn heat down to medium and let onions cook down for 10 minutes. Thinly slice peeled apple and stir into the onions along with the balsamic vinegar. The vinegar will help the caramelization process. Allow to cook down for another 3-4 minutes. Then remove the apples and onions from the pot. Add the remaining 2 tbs. of oil and brown chicken thighs, 3 minutes on each side. Also season each side of the chicken with salt and pepper. Add the onions and apples back into the pot and stir in the rest of the spices. Stir in the raisins. Add the chicken broth, bring to a simmer and then turn the heat down to medium low, cover the pot and let cook 35-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to disperse spices. It’s hard to over cook a chicken thigh because they have a lot of moisture. If it starts to look like the apples and onions are sticking to the bottom of the pot, turn the heat down and add a splash more broth. If you have large pieces of chicken you might need more time. Use a small knife to cut into one of the thighs to make sure no part of the meat is translucent or stick in a meat thermometer to make sure the temperature of the meat is at least 165 F. Taste the apple, onion and raisin mixture surrounding the chicken to see if it needs more salt and season to taste.

Enjoy!

 

Serves 4

 

 

 

 

Creamy Spiced Oatmeal with Pumpkin Seeds and Figs

Here’s a perfect breakfast for a late fall morning. The days are getting so short up here in the north and we haven’t even changed the clocks back yet! I guess the plus side of turning back the clocks is that we’ll have a little more light in the mornings. For the past few weeks, I’ve found it difficult to adjust to waking up in the pitch dark. In the summer I forget that the flip side of  the long long days of a Northwest July are the dark days of fall and winter. But warm breakfasts and my vitamin D lamp are doing wonders. Plus, I appreciate this drastic change of seasonal light and the rainstorms rolling in when I think of the constant summers of my drought-stricken home state. This is the time of year when I start to miss California sunshine, but I have to be grateful for the well-hydrated town I live in and for the brilliant afternoon pauses in the rain when the sky opens up to reveal snow-capped Olympics over the sound. I get to visit L.A. soon enough. I only wish I could bring some rain with me.

Now, back to the food at hand. I am actually beginning the Whole 30 challenge today (basically paleo eating for a month–yikes) in an attempts to nip my seasonally typical bad eating (rainy weather + holidays= sugar consumption for me) in the bud. I’m also determined to prove that I can walk the walk of the program in Nutritional Therapy I just completed last week. This program trains practitioners to work with clients on the foundations of nutrition in order to support balance, health and holistic well-being. I am very excited to be starting my journey as  Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, but don’t feel like I can very well suggest to a client that they cut out all white sugar, when I can’t seem to mange that successfully in my own life for any extended period of time. So I’m more motivated than I’ve been in the past.

That’s not to say I won’t still be making delicious food this month. On this particular whole food challenge, it is suggested that you not eat grains of any form. So I’ll be trying that and won’t be having this oatmeal for a while. But in everyday life, I would suggest this oatmeal recipe to any client as a whole food alternative to sugary cereal, yogurt and granola (which can often be very sweet) or toast. The fiber in oats sustains you throughout the morning, and toasting them in coconut oil add an extra satisfying, stick to your ribs element that provides essential, healthy saturated fats that keep you full longer.

In the upcoming months, I’m going to be incorporating more nutritional advice into my blog and recipes and transitioning my recipe and cooking lesson mini business into a Nutritional Therapy Practice that includes recipes and cooking advice along with a client based practice focused on helping others discover vitality through food.

I’m excited to share with you.

Ok. Finally–the recipe!

 

FullSizeRender-4

 

 

Ingredients:

2 cups old fashioned rolled oats (preferable organic)

2 tsp. virgin coconut oil

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cardamom

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 tsp. black pepper

2 cups water

1 1/4 cups milk, cream or coconut milk

2 tsp. honey

4 figs, fresh or frozen (organic)

2 Tbs. raw pumpkin seeds

Melt coconut oil in a saucepan over medium high heat. Add in oats and spices. Stir with a wooden spoon until spices are aromatic and oats just start to brown. Pour in water and cream or milk. Turn heat down to medium low. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 5-8 minutes, until oats are tender but not mushy. Chop up figs and stir them in. Remove from heat and stir in honey. Divide among 2-3 bowls, depending on how hungry your family or guest are. Or, if it’s just for you, take you fair share and save the rest to be reheated later! Top each bowl with a sprinkling of cinnamon and pumpkin seeds.

Serves 2-3.

 

Curried Veggie Stew for a Fall Day

This is my take on curry made with whatever seasonal vegetables I have, coconut milk or coconut cream (depending on how decadent I’m feeling), some raisins and an apple for a bite of sweetness and warm spices that are perfect for a chilly day. About 5 years ago, I ate a coconut curry at the Drift Inn in Yachats, Oregon that had raisins and toasted coconut and pear. That dish has stuck with me ever since because of the balance of sweet and spicy that made it so comforting and it’s been an inspiration for my curry-making ever since. My version has more vegetables and I don’t use toasted coconut, though you certainly could throw some in at the end. I almost hesitate to call this curry because it doesn’t have actual curry powder in it, yet it has many of the spices that make up curry powder, so I figure that counts for something! Mostly it is something simple, inexpensive and unique that I wanted to share as autumn settles in. I think the vibrant color of the turmeric must work as a replacement for vitamin D for the day!

 

curry 1

 

Ingredients:

1 tsp. coconut oil

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

4 yukon gold or ozette fingerling potatoes, cut into half moons

4 medium carrots, cut into half moons

3 small zucchini and/or pattypan squash, cut into half moons

1 medium fuji apple, peeled and diced

1/4 tsp. chili flakes

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. ground cardamom

1 tsp. turmeric

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. salt (plus more to taste)

1/3 cup thompson or golden raisins

1 can coconut milk or coconut cream

1/4 cup chopped raw walnuts (optional)

2-3 cups cooked rice or quinoa

Melt oil in a large frying pan. Sauté onions 5 minutes. Add potatoes, carrots, and zucchini and cook, covered, over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the apple and the spices (through salt) and the raisins and stir well. Cover and let cook 5 minutes. Add the coconut milk or cream (milk if you want a lighter dish, though I really suggest you go for it with the cream because it’s just that good) and cook, uncovered for another five minutes. Stir in the walnuts and taste to see if you need to adjust the spices. It might need more salt or you might like it a little spicier than I do. Poke a potato with a fork to see if it’s tender. If not, turn the heat down to low and simmer, covered for 5-10 more minutes until potatoes are tender.

Serve over rice or quinoa. Make sure to serve this dish piping hot.

Serves 4.

 

 

Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Chèvre

For the weekend– this is the quickest, easiest crowd-pleasing appetizer I know. Top it with a little balsamic honey glaze, and you’re golden!

 

10678548_719719764784447_2886780140575388489_n

 

Ingredients: 

20-30 large medjool dates

16 oz. plain goat cheese (chèvre)

20-30 piece high quality, center cut bacon

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup honey

Preheat oven to 375. Use a pairing knife to slice each date open on one side and remove the pit. Make sure you keep half of the date intact (so it looks a little like a hot dog bun). Take a teaspoon full of goat cheese, roll into a ball, and stuff into each date. It’s ok if it overflows a bit. Next Wrap each goat cheese stuffed date with a piece of bacon, making sure it wraps all the way around. It is so worth it to splurge on the bacon. Really, it makes all the difference. If you’re in the Seattle area, go to the Ballard farmer’s market on Sunday and get bacon from Skagit River Ranch. It tastes like candy.

Arrange dates on a cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes, until bacon is crispy.

Meanwhile, heat balsamic in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Once it begins to simmer, stir in honey, reduce to medium low, and let cook about 8 minutes, until it thickens. When dates are done, arrange on a platter and drizzle with glaze.

Serves 12-16 as an appetizer.

 

Roast Whole Chicken and Bone Broth

Fall has come to Seattle. While it fills me with childlike wonder to see the leaves changing color and go for runs in the biting evening air, I also sense the return of the melancholy that comes over me each autumn. I see fall as a time for reflection, for patience, and for setting limits and caring for oneself. After summer, which is full of possibilities and often travel, the shift of the seasons is, for me, a welcome time to remember to put extra effort into nourishing my body with warm dishes and forgiving myself for whatever lofty goals I wasn’t able to accomplish during the summer, while remaining grateful for those I did accomplish and for my community, my space, my little corner of the earth. October is a season of birth and death in my family and I try each day to honor or celebrate a memory of days gone by through music, through food and through conversation.

It’s nesting time. The smell of roast chicken stirs up thoughts of the holidays to come in the next few months and it’s an easy way to give nourishment to the body and soul for days. Making a simple bone broth with the chicken carcass minimizes waste and provides vital nutrients and layers of flavor to all your fall soups.

Chicken:

1 organic, free range chicken (6-8 lbs)

1 large lemon, cut in quarters

3 sprigs rosemary

5 sprigs fresh thyme

5 sprigs fresh oregano

2 Tbs. butter, room temperature

2 Tbs. olive oil

salt and pepper

2 cups apple cider

2 cups dry white wine

Preheat oven to 375 F. Rinse the chicken and remove any organ meats from the inside cavity if the chicken came with any. Pat the chicken dry inside and out. Inside the cavity, stuff 1 Tbs. butter, the lemon quarters and the herbs. Drizzle the inside with 1 Tbs. olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Rub the remaining butter and oil over the outside of the chicken and sprinkle the outside generously with salt and pepper.

Place, breast side up, on a roasting rack positioned in a roasting pan. Use twine or a silicon band to tie the feet together at the base of the cavity. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes, until the skin starts to brown. Turn the oven down to 350 and pour the cider and wine into the bottom of the roasting pan. Use a baster or a brush to coat the skin of the chicken with the mixture every 10-15 minutes. Continue to cook the chicken for another 1.5-2 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 165- 170 F.

Remove from oven and let rest 10-15 mins before carving.

Serves 6-8

10423860_665976546825436_7804926176148185353_n

Broth:

The bones and carcass from one chicken

1 large onion

4 carrots

3 stalks celery

salt and pepper to taste

2 bay leaves

1 tsp. oregano

1 Tbs. butter

1 Tbs. olive oil

1 clove garlic

1-2 corn cobs (optional)

1/2 cup fresh parsley

Filtered water

Make sure all the meat is removed from the bones ( you can use the leftover chicken meat to make stew or chicken salad!). Heat the butter and olive oil in a large stock pot over medium high. Roughly chop the onion, garlic and celery and add to the pot. Sauté until onion begins to turn translucent. Add the carrots, roughly chopped, along with the spices, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir well. Add the corn cobs if you want. This will make a bit of a sweeter stock. Add the chicken bones and carcass. Add enough filtered water to cover all the veggies. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to the lowest temperature and let cook, partially covered, for 2-3 hours.

Turn off the heat and strain out the bones and veggies. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

 

Garlic Toasties and Back to Blogging

It’s been over a month since I posted a recipe. This has been the longest hiatus I’ve taken from blogging recipes since I started at the beginning of the year, but it certainly doesn’t mean I haven’t been cooking and eating. I spent three weeks out at Quillisascut Farm School, and came back to Seattle to start piecing together the next phase of my life. In the nearly two weeks since I’ve been back, fall has come to the northwest and I’ve been putting my cooking energy into canning and freezing summer fruits and veggies to preserve for winter. Nothing fancy– just hoping to bottle up some sunny flavors for dark winter days ahead. I’ll post my applesauce recipe in a few days, since this is the perfect time to go apple picking and come home with fresh inspiration, but for now I wanted to post the recipe for what I call my garlic toasties. I’ve been asked about these by  multiple people and a friend pointed out yesterday that I’ve never posted the recipe, so I figured I’d get on it before it slipped my mind. The more detailed name of this appetizer and crowd pleaser would be “Mascarpone and Garlic Oil Toasts with Balsamic Honey Reduction,” but “Garlic Toasties” makes me laugh and is a lot easier to remember. They are a simple and inexpensive way to start off dinner for a crowd or to serve as a side to soup or salad. Words of advice: make way more than you think you’ll need because these fly off the tray!

10463944_665976513492106_1614876599505370697_n

 

Ingredients:

1 large loaf good quality ciabatta bread, thinly sliced

1 (8 oz) container mascarpone cheese (you can also use a large log of goat cheese)

5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1/3 cup olive oil

sea salt and pepper

1/2 tsp. oregano

1/2 tsp. thyme

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1 Tbs. honey

In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium high. Add the garlic, herbs and a dash of salt and pepper. Heat garlic, stirring every 30 seconds, for about 3 minutes, until it starts to brown. Turn off the heat and pour into a bowl. Set aside. Wipe the pan clean with a paper towel. Add the balsamic and heat over medium high. When it starts to bubble, stir in the honey. The honey is key here. It adds an extra sweetness that compliments the savory garlic oil and the tang of the vinegar and it thickens the consistency of the balsamic so you don’t have to reduce it for as long. Once you’ve stirred in the honey, turn the heat down to low and let reduce 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400. Line bread slices on two baking sheets. Spread each slice of bread with 1 Tbs. of mascarpone or goat cheese. Next, use a pastry brush to brush the garlic oil onto each piece. Make sure you get plenty of delicious garlic pieces on each slice. Once the balsamic glaze is thick but not sticky, remove it from the heat and use a small spoon to drizzle it across the top of each toast. You’re making Jackson Pollack style abstract art here!

And that’s it! Pop the toasties in the oven for 8-10 minutes until the cheese is melted (goat cheese won’t fully melt, but mascarpone will) and serve warm!

Serves 6-8.