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Food Writer · Amanda Biddle  🍴Gourmet Recipes. Seasonal Ingredients. Confident Home Cooking 📍Greater NYC 📧 ⬇️ Get the recipes on Striped Spatula ⬇️

Apple cider caramel is one of my favorite treats to make in the fall! Rich and sweet with a hint of tartness and spice, it’s great for drizzling over ice cream and waffles, and for making caramel apples. What’s your favorite way to use caramel? (Don’t forget to hit the save button to keep the recipe, below!)
- 4 cups sweet apple cider
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup heavy cream

1. Bring apple cider to a boil in a high-sided, heavy bottomed pot. Reduce heat to medium/medium-low to maintain a steady bubble, and cook until cider is reduced to 1/2 cup, about 35-60 minutes. Stir occasionally and watch it closely toward the end so it doesn’t burn.
2. Strain reduced cider and return to a clean pot. Stir in sugars, salt, cinnamon, and heavy cream.
3. Bring to a boil and cook until the caramel reaches 225-230 degrees F on a candy thermometer for caramel sauce (the caramel will coat the back of a spoon), or 250 degrees F for dipping caramel apples.

4. Caramel will thicken as it cools (considerably so, depending on the final temperature). I like to store it in a microwave safe container in the refrigerator so I can warm/loosen it for 10-20 seconds on half power before heating further or using in a recipe.

I’m slightly behind schedule this week (and it’s only Monday! 😂), but these Apple Cider Caramel Apples are coming to the blog in the next few days! 🍎🍎🍎
What’s your favorite add-on for caramel apples? Walnuts? Chocolate drizzles? Candy? (I like a sprinkling of flaked sea salt 👌)

Cheese lovers! Have you tried my Gorgonzola Mac & Cheese yet? It has a blend of Gorgonzola, Fontina, and Parmesan cheeses with leeks, pancetta, and a buttery Panko topping. Hungry yet? Save the recipe (below) for your next Mac & Cheese craving!
- 8 oz short-cut pasta
- kosher salt and black pepper
- 1/2 c. Panko
- 1/4 c. plus 2 Tbsp. Parmigiano Reggiano, divided
- 1/2 c. crumbled Gorgonzola
- 2 c. shredded Fontina
- 1 c. half and half
- 1-1/2 c. whole milk
- 3 Tbsp. all purpose flour
- 1 leek (white and light green parts only), washed and cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 4 oz diced pancetta
- 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided, plus additional for buttering ramekins
- chopped parsley or snipped chives

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch square baking dish, or six, 10-oz ramekins. Place on a baking sheet and set aside.

2. Mix Panko, 1 Tbsp. melted butter, 2 Tbsp. Parmigiano Reggiano, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.

3. Cook pasta to "al-dente" in a large pot of salted boiling water. Reserve 1 c. of the pasta water before draining well.

4. While the pasta water comes to a boil, melt 4 Tbsp. of butter in a large pot until foaming subsides. Add pancetta and cook over medium-high heat until fat is rendered and pancetta is just beginning to crisp.

5. Add leeks and 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper to the pot. Cook until leeks are softened, about 5 mins. Reduce heat and continue cooking, stirring often, until leeks are soft and caramelized, about 15 mins longer.
6. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Add milk and half and half, stirring until smooth and thickened, about 3 mins.
7. Whisk in Fontina, Gorgonzola, and 1/4 c. Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

8. Add cooked pasta to the sauce, stirring until well combined. Stir in enough pasta water to make the sauce creamy, but not watery (I usually add about 1/4 c). 9. Transfer pasta to prepared baking dish(es) and top with breadcrumb mixture. Bake 15-20 minutes, until sauce is bubbly and breadcrumbs are toasted. Sprinkle with parsley or chives, and serve hot.

Fall lunch done right! I adapted this Cranberry Chicken Salad with Walnuts from my family’s recipe for Classic Chicken Salad and it’s been a favorite ever since! Perfect on your favorite 4-grain bread, a buttery croissant, or lightly-toasted farmhouse white. Hit the save button to keep the full recipe, below!
Serves 6
- 2-1/2 cups cubed chicken breast*
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (to taste, depending on how tart you like it)
- 1/3 cup diced celery
- 1/4 cup diced red onion or shallot
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup toasted chopped walnuts
- 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Stir in celery, red onion, cranberries, walnuts, and parsley. Fold in cubed chicken. 
2. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour for the flavors to meld. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper before serving. *I like to use poached chicken breasts for this recipe. Instructions for poaching chicken are on the blog, link in profile @stripedspatula.

Some nights just call for a rich mug of hot chocolate, don’t you think?
Get the recipe for Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate (white and dark chocolate versions, spiked with bourbon if you want 😉 on the blog, link in profile, @stripedspatula)

Last fig photo of the season! (I might be lying, but we’ll see what happens at the market. 😂) I wanted you to see a closeup of the Cambozola Stuffed Figs with walnuts and honey before we move on. SO good! I wish fresh fig season lasted forever! Get the full recipe below. ⬇️⬇️⬇️
- 12 large figs (I used Brown Turkey)
- 3-1/2 ounces Cambozola cheese, cut into cubes
- 1/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
- honey, for drizzling

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the stems off of the figs. Use a paring knife to cut an "X" in the top of each fig, stopping about 2/3 of the way down.
2. Gently open the fig and stuff with a cube of Cambozola. Place stuffed figs in an ungreased baking pan or a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 5-8 minutes, until cheese is just beginning to soften.

3. Remove figs from the oven, sprinkle with chopped toasted walnuts, and lightly drizzle with honey. Serve immediately, either on their own or with slices of crusty bread. 6 servings.

Happy National Pumpkin Spice Day! Cozy up to a decadent mug of Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate, made with your choice of dark or white chocolate. (If you’d like, spike it with a splash of bourbon for an adult treat. 😉) Hit the SAVE button to keep the full recipe, below. (And click through to the blog post for my brown sugar whipped cream!)
Makes 1 large or 2 small mugs hot chocolate.
- 1-1/4 cups milk
- 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
- 1 to 2 tablespoons light brown sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
- pinch ground cloves
- pinch kosher or sea salt
- 3 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
-1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)

Omit brown sugar and substitute 2 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup) for the semisweet chocolate.
1. In a small pot, whisk together all ingredients except for the chocolate you're using. Heat over medium low flame until bubbles start to form around the side of the pan.
2. Reduce heat to low, add chocolate, and stir or whisk until melted, glossy, and smooth, about 1-2 minutes. If desired, stir in bourbon.

3. Pour into mug(s) and top with lightly-sweetened whipped cream and a dusting of ground cinnamon. Serve immediately.
Note: the dark chocolate version is especially rich (and delish!). For a lighter hot chocolate, decrease chocolate to 2 oz.

If you have 40 minutes, you can have my Creamy Pork Marsala on the table, prep to finish! It’s a cinch to make and a reader favorite. Hit the save button to keep the recipe on hand for a busy night!
-4 thin-cut boneless pork chops (1/4- to 1/2-inch thick)
-kosher salt and black pepper
-1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus 2T
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-2 tablespoons unsalted butter
-8-10 ounces cremini mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed, and caps cut into 1/4-inch slices
-1 large shallot, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
-3/4 cup dry Marsala wine
-1/2 cup chicken stock
-1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
-1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
-1/3 cup heavy cream


1. Season pork chops on both sides with salt and pepper. Dredge in the 1/4 cup flour, shaking off excess.
2. Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until foaming subsides. Cook pork about 3 minutes per side, until browned and centers read 145 degrees F with a meat thermometer. (Very thin chops might need as little as 2 minutes per side.) Transfer to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.

3. Add shallots and mushrooms to pan with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Sauté until mushrooms are soft and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. 
4. Stir 2 tablespoons flour into the mushroom mixture and cook for 1 minute. Add Marsala and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 5-8 minutes, until sauce is slightly thickened.
5. Stir in thyme, rosemary, and heavy cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

6. Add pork back to the pan with any accumulated juices and simmer for 2 minutes.

7. Transfer pork chops to a platter and spoon sauce over the top. Garnish with chopped fresh herbs and, if desired, a squeeze of lemon juice. 
8. Serve with mashed potatoes or noodles. Serves 4.

It’s a rainy night here and a bowl of my French Lentil Soup with smoky bacon, Le Puy lentils, red wine, and escarole was just what I needed. Hit the save button to keep the full recipe below for a chilly day!
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 ounces bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
2 large leeks, cleaned and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 cup French green lentils (Le Puy)
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups water
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 to 1 pound escarole, cleaned, trimmed, and torn into bite size pieces
kosher salt and black pepper

1. In a large pot, cook bacon in olive oil until crisp. Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

2. Add carrots, leeks, and celery to the pot with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Saute over medium-high heat until vegetables are softened and beginning to brown. Add garlic, and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.

3. Deglaze the pan with red wine and cook for 1-2 minutes, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Stir in lentils, followed by stock, water, thyme, bay leaf, reserved bacon, and an additional 1/2 teaspoon salt.

4. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, for 25 minutes. Stir occasionally.
5. Add escarole to the pot and stir it into the soup (it will look like a lot of escarole; it will wilt down.) 6. Bring the soup back to a boil, partially cover the pot, reduce heat, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until lentils and escarole are soft.

7. Remove bay leaf. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, black pepper, and croutons, if desired.

If you love figs and cheese, I have THE recipe for you! I stuffed Brown Turkey figs with Cambozola (triple cream-style blue cheese), baked them until just warm, drizzled them with honey, and added a few toasted walnuts before serving. SO GOOD. Hit the save button to keep the full recipe below!
12 large figs
3-1/2 ounces Cambozola cheese
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts
honey, for drizzling

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with the rack in the middle position.
2. Cut the stems off of the figs. Use a paring knife to cut an “X” in the top of each fig, stopping about 2/3 of the way down.

3. Cut Cambozola into 12 cubes. Gently open the fig and stuff with a cube of cheese. Place stuffed figs in an un-greased baking pan or a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 5-8 minutes, until cheese is just beginning to soften.

4. Remove figs from the oven, sprinkle with chopped toasted walnuts, and lightly drizzle with honey. Serve immediately with crusty bread on the side. 6 servings.

Hello, beautiful figgies! I made something good with you! Spoiler alert: there’s cheese involved. 😉 Recipe on its way this weekend.

These chicken breasts stuffed with goat cheese and sauteed mushrooms are an easy and elegant dinner that you can make for 2 or for a crowd! FULL RECIPE to save below!
-4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves
-2T olive oil, plus additional for brushing the chicken breasts
-8 oz mixed mushrooms (such as porcini, shiitake, and cremini), roughly chopped
-1 large shallot, chopped
-2 cloves garlic, chopped
-splash white wine
-2T chopped fresh parsley
-1 t fresh thyme leaves
-4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
-kosher salt and black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F with rack in the lower-middle position. Lightly oil a roasting pan and set aside.

2. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and shallots with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Saute until mushrooms are starting to brown, about 5-8 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.

3. Add a splash of wine to the pan, scraping up any brown bits. Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, until wine is evaporated. Stir in parsley and thyme and set aside to cool.

4. Loosen skin of chicken breasts by running your finger between the skin and the meat from the bone side outward. Be careful not to tear the skin or detach it completely from the chicken.

5. Add 1/4 of the mushroom mixture to the pocket underneath the skin, spreading it evenly across the length of the chicken breast.
6. Add 1 ounce of goat cheese per chicken breast on top of the mushrooms and pull skin over the filling. If the skin appears quite loose, secure it with skewers to keep it closed over the filling.

7. Place stuffed chicken breasts in a single layer in the roasting pan. Lightly brush the skin with olive oil and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
8. Roast for 35-45 minutes (depending on the size of the chicken breast), until the internal temperature in the thickest part, away from the bone, reads 165 degrees F.

9. Remove from oven, tent with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes. Serve with a wedge of lemon.

For recipe notes, click the link in my bio @stripedspatula.

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