Sunday, November 29, 2015

Pumpkin Scones

I woke up last Sunday morning feeling like a lazy morning in bed was highly needed. But, I also found myself with an itch to make something new. Scones were calling my name. And they needed to feel like late autumn. So I grabbed the canned pumpkin from our laundry room / pantry and decided some dried cranberries would be a great addition too. 

Between the raw sugar sprinkled on top to the soft morning window light streaming through the bedroom, that Sunday morning couldn't be beat. 

Now it's time for you to have an adventure and then take a load off.

Pumpkin Scones
*Adapted from America's Test Kitchen 


  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar (plus some raw sugar for dusting on top)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces 
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries 
  • One 15 ounce can pumpkin 
  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment 
  • Get your food processor out, pulse the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together for about 3 pulses. 
  • Scatter the butter in the processor and pulse the mixture until it looks fine like cornmeal. 
  • Transfer your mixture into a large bowl and add the dried cranberries. 
  • Stir in the pumpkin using a spatula until the dough just begins to form. 
  • Flour a surface on our your counter. Turn out the dough to that surface and knead until it forms a rough, sticky ball. 
  • Mold the dough into a 9-inch cake pan. Pop it out, and get a large, sharp knife out. Cut the dough into 8 wedges. Lightly sprinkle the wedges with some raw sugar.
  • Place the wedges on your baking pan and bake for 12-15 minutes. Should be golden brown. 
ProTip: wait until the scones are completely cooled until eating. The flavor is better that way!

Here's to more lazy Sundays ahead.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

DIY Cauliflower Fried Rice

I've been reading this awesome book about dieting, food, and why we eat what we eat called,"The Foodist". Essentially, Darya's argument can be summed up with this picture....

Darya is a food writer (check out her blog, the Summer Tomato here), she is a neuroscientist, and an overall smart lady. Her book pretty much tells you to be patient with yourself, but you need to start eating REAL foods. It starts with veggies and clean protein, beans, quinoa, etc... And though that may sound completely tasteless and boring. It doesn't have to be! Darya explains that if you buy FRESH produce when it's in SEASON and close to home, those veggies taste like heaven. And once you allow yourself to learn a few easy ways to prep those fresh foods, you'll never want to go back to that processed stuff. 

Now, enter my take on on a take-out classic: chicken fried rice. Here's the catch though....there's absolutely NO RICE in this dish. 

All you need is a food processor to pull this recipe off. If you don't have one, may I strongly encourage you to get one? I haven't used one until recently, and now it feels like my left hand. You can chop veggies with ease, combine flour and butter to the right cornmeal texture, and so much more... 

The cauliflower is chopped and shredded in the food processor. After that, all you have to do is fry it in your wok along with the other ingredients, and it takes on a texture very similar to a grain like quinoa. It's really good! See how to do it yourself here, thanks buzzfeed!

Ready to make it yourself? Here's what you do:


  • 1 head cauliflower, shredded in food processor 
  • 2 cups brussel sprouts, shredded in food processor 
  • 1 cup edamame 
  • 2 heads broccoli
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 serrano chile, sliced and divided 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or sesame oil 
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 2 large chicken breasts
    • season the chicken with salt, pepper, chile powder, tumeric, coriander, and ground mustard (to your liking) 
  • Chop and prep all your veggies first. Cut up your chicken into bite sized chunks. 
  • Heat up your wok over medium heat with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil with 1 clove garlic and 1/2 of your serrano chile. Once fragrant, brown your chicken. About 5 minutes. Then take your chicken out and set aside. 
  • Put your wok back over medium heat with the other 1/2 tablespoon oil, garlic, and serrano. Stir fry your onion for about 2 minutes. Then add the broccoli. 
  • The broccoli will need to stir fry the longest. Let it cook with the onions for another 5 minutes. Stirring constantly. 
  • Next add the edamame. Cook for another 3-5 minutes. The veggies should look really vibrant in color. 
  • Now add your brussel sprouts. Stir fry for about a minute and then add the shredded cauliflower. Let it cook and gain some color. For about 3 minutes. 
  • Add the chicken and soy sauce, combine thoroughly. 
  • Push your stir fry mixture to one side of your wok. Crack the eggs in the newly opened space in the pan, scramble in the pan. Once cooked through, combine the eggs with the rest of the mixture. 
  • Salt, pepper, and season how you see fit. I added coriander, chile powder, ground mustard, and salt throughout the entire cooking process. 
  • Serve with siraccha. I also added salted sunflower seeds to my own plate, which was surprisingly delicious. 

Trust me, you may never go back to that old take out stuff. Your mouth is going to be opened up to some amazing flavors in this dish. And it's mostly just veggies! Yummy!

Did you make this dish? Snap an instagram pic and tag me @karenleannkirsch 
Eat well! Be well! 
And follow by email below :)

Monday, November 16, 2015

DIY Cranberry Bliss Bars

I just realized after doing my post about Salsa, how COOL it is to do things yourself. Why buy salsa from the store when you really have no idea what's in it? Why buy something that is SO easy to make yourself? So, be ready folks. You may find a new series has developed over here at Karen's Place, and it's called 'DO IT YOURSELF!' 

Okay, as you can tell by all the CAPS, I'm excited about this idea. And here's the next installment. 

I have been spending a lot of time in Starbucks lately. Not because I especially love their coffee. It is because in the new suburb digs I live in, that's the only coffee house they will accept. Also, it is not because I MUST have coffee made by someone else. The real reason is that I have no internet in my new place, currently. Hopefully that is going to change this week, and then I'll be back to blogging at home. 

So, since I have been blogging and editing from a Starbucks for the last two months. I found myself there last week while I made the Salsa post. Just as I am doing the same now for this post. And while I drank my Americano from a controversial red cup, I noticed that the change of cups also brought also a change in the drinks and snacks menu. Next to the egg nog lattes and other sugary excuses for coffee, there it favorite indulgence... the beloved Cranberry Bliss Bar. 

I was so excited that I almost went back to the counter to order myself one. But then I realized. I could totally do this myself. It's really just a blondie with cranberries and cream cheese frosting. So after I finished last week's post, I found a recipe I liked, thought about changes I would make, and went to the store. 

And you can make it too! This recipe is really, really good. It's sweet, and definitely an indulgence. But save your $3.75, make this for yourself and share the rest with friends and family this holiday season.  

Cranberry Bliss Bars
Adapted from

(for the bars...)2 sticks butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature 
  • 3 teaspoons Orange extract
  • 1 tablespoon Vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger (freshly grated would be fantastic, too)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped hazelnuts 
(for the frosting)
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened 
  • 2.5 cups powdered sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Splash of milk, if needed (aka...if the frosting is too thick)
(for the topping)
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries 
  • Lemon zest from 1 lemon 
  • 1/3 cup melted white chocolate chips (add a capful of vegetable oil when melting)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (325 for a glass or dark pan). Prepare a 9x13 by lining it with parchment paper or use a non-stick spray.
  • BARS: Beat together softened butter and sugars 3-5 minutes until light; gently blend in eggs and the extracts. Add the flour, baking powder, and ginger and beat briefly. Add the cranberries and chips, stirring just until incorporated.
  • Spread thick batter in prepared 9x13 pan. Bake 350 for 24-28 minutes until light brown at the edges. Cool completely. 
  • FROSTING: Blend cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add the extracts and confectioners sugar and beat until frosting is fluffy and spreadable (adding 1 t. milk if needed). Spread evenly over COOLED bars.
  • GARNISH: Zest your lemon over the bars. Chop 1/3 cup dried cranberries coarsely; sprinkle over frosted bars. If you have leftover hazelnuts, I'd sprinkle those over everything, too!
  • DRIZZLE: Mix white chocolate and oil in a glass measuring cup. Microwave 1 minute; stirring every 15 seconds until melted. Use a fork or whisk to drizzle the white chocolate diagonally across the bars.

Get some coffee in your cup and enjoy these babies!
Follow me on instagram @karenleannkirsch 
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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

DIY Salsa

Some days I truly believe that my main source of vegetables comes from salsa. There are nights when I sit down and graze over chips and salsa until I realize it has now become my dinner. Needless to say, I think chips & salsa are one of my main food groups. #thatadultlife

The other day, I opened up my fridge and realized that we were all out of salsa. Though I only live a block away from the grocery store, I was in anguish! Ha, not really. But that's all that sounded good to me. But then I realized, my sister Amy has this amazing recipe for salsa that she learned in her 10th grade Spanish class. Why have I never made it myself?!

So I texted her for the recipe. And today I am sharing it with you, because I had forgotten how GOOD it was. I really don't think I'll go back to the store-bought kind. It literally takes less than 10 minutes to make, and you get to use an that immersion blender of yours that just sits in the cupboard 364 days of the year. How cool is that? :)

Let's go! DIY Salsa, just for you.


  • 28 ounce can diced tomatoes 
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 small diced green chiles 
  • 1 small can diced jalapeños
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 fresh serrano pepper (optional) 
  • Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon (or lime)
  • Salt to taste
  • Dump the first 6 ingredients into a big bowl and combine using an immersion blender. You can just use a regular blender too. 
  • Last, season with lemon juice and salt to your liking.
  • Then give it a stir with a tortilla chip, and another...and another...
*Note from Amy: "Oh, and, I tried it with fresh ingredients instead of canned once, but it wasn't the same. The flavors didn't blend as much. And it gets spicer a day in the fridge. I think that's all now :)"

ENJOY!! And follow by email below :)

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Greek Pepper Stew

The funny thing about cooking is that when you find something you like it ends up falling into some kind of familiar rotation. On Tuesdays you have Tacos, Wednesday is a Pasta Salad, and every other night is Chicken and Roasted Veggies. Seems like a good plan, no?

I say NOT! It's fun when you master certain dishes. But, where is the fun in doing the same old thing week after week? That is why I love pinterest and I ADORE cook books. They are never-ending resources for inspiration, challenge, and deliciousness. 

Most of the time, I don't even follow the recipe. I look at the name and the picture and then I begin an adventure of my own. That's why I made this blog, and that's why I do what I do in the kitchen. Cooking is like any other kind of art form. You grab the ingredients you want to make your own symphony or masterpiece of flavors. 

That's how this week's recipe was born. I was flipping through a Greek inspired cook book when I came across an Autumn pepper stew with chicken sausage. I read through the ingredient list and instructions, and then quickly found myself walking through Trader Joe's. I went through the recipe over and over in my head, taking the parts from the book that seemed most necessary and adding the ingredients I think would be a fun twist of my own. And as you read this, I encourage you to do the same. Make it yours!

So here it is, the Greek Pepper Stew. Believe it or not, it's very light while also being extremely hearty and healthy. It's a perfect companion as you welcome cooler, darker nights, and makes for a great lunch the next day. 

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Shallot, diced 
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 3 peppers 
  • The juice of 2 lemons, divided 
  • 4 chicken sausage links, chopped
  • 1 can cannellini beans
  • 8 ounces chicken broth
  • 16 ounces stewed tomatoes 
  • 1 cup kalamata olives, diced 
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley 
  • Herbs de provence, salt, pepper, to taste
  • Feta cheese for topping
  • 1 cup cous cous, cooked (Optional for serving) 
  • Get a large soup pot or dutch oven out. Heat the olive oil over medium high heat. 
  • Sauté shallot, onion, garlic until fragrant and translucent (about 5 minutes).
  • Add the diced peppers, sauté for another 5-7 minutes. The peppers need to be soft. 
  • Add the juice of 1 lemon, the parsley, herbs, salt and pepper. Sauté for another minute.
  • Add the sausage (mine was already cooked), cook for 2 minutes
  • Add the drained beans, cook for another minute
  • Then add the chicken broth and bring to bubble. Be sure to scrape the bottom while you wait. This is akin to deglazing the pan!
  • Add the tomatoes and wait until it boils. Then add the olives. Turn down the heat to medium and cover. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. 
  • Top everything with the juice of the second lemon and stir.
  • You can serve this hearty stew over a bed of cous cous and top it off with some feta. Delish! 

Did you make this meal? How did it turn out? What did you change? Let me know on Instagram by tagging me: @karenleannkirsch

:) Eat well! Be well! And follow by email by adding yours below!