kias kitchen: peanut butter snaps

Peanut Butter Snaps

Between life and moving into a new apartment, baking Kia homemade dog treats has not exactly been top of mind for me. And ya know, sometimes it’s just easier to pick some up at the store!

That said, Kia has been in my face in the kitchen as much as ever, so I started to get the hint…

Kia in the Kitchen

Story of my life right there.

So on to making dog treats I went!

As per usual, I like to take ingredients that I need to use up when I make Kia some homemade treats and this time around I had some chicken stock and cream cheese that was going to go bad if I didn’t use it soon. That, combined with some good ol’ peanut butter, a fire hydrant cookie cutter, and a lot of red food coloring, came to be a plate full of peanut butter snaps!

Peanut Butter Snaps Prep

When I was making the red icing, I actually started to count the number of red food coloring drops I was adding to the cream cheese to accurately write the recipe. Welp — turns out you need basically the whole bottle of red food coloring to actually get that fire-hydrant-red, so there’s that. Also, originally I was going to take some leftover cream cheese and yogurt to line the snaps with a white outline to make the fire hydrants even cuter than they already were, but that was an epic fail. I wasn’t getting the right consistency for the “icing,” and it was so time consuming! It just wasn’t going to happen, not that day anyway…

That little mishap aside, the thin, crisp snaps came out perfectly baked and the peanut butter aroma that filled the kitchen was amazing. The cream cheese frosting added a great pop of color and, I suspect, a little sweetness to the sugar-free snap.

Kia loved them! I kept them in an air-tight container in the fridge and they lasted for a few weeks, so it was definitely worth the effort!

Here’s the recipe for you to make for the pup in your life.


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live & laugh: the chef’s kitchen

Hosting The Chef's Kitchen

Earlier this year I had the amazing opportunity to be a guest host on a cooking show, The Chef’s Kitchen. I shot about a dozen episodes, a few of them some test shoots, and got to work with some amazing chef’s!

While I have worked on several commercials and done some print work in the past, working on a television show was a completely new experience. I can’t say I was exactly “a natural,” but I got to learn a lot and had the best time doing it. Some of the amazing chefs I got to work with included:

  • Chef Robert Wiedmaier who owns multiple restaurants in DC, including his first, Marcel’s
  • Chef Patrick Feury, executive chef/partner of Nectar in Berwyn, PA
  • Chef Tony Clark, 1997 Food & Wine’s Best New Chef in America and currently executive chef at Valley Forge Casino Resort
  • Chef Chip Roman who owns multiple restaurants in Philadelphia, including his newest The Treemont in Center City
  • Chef Luke Palladino of Luke Palladino Hospitality Group

Each chef was so fun to cook with and working with them helped me realize I have so much more to learn about food and cooking! Overall, it was an absolutely great experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

The show airs daily on public cable, so be on the look out! All the videos are up on YouTube as well, in fact, below you can watch me work with Chef Robert Wiedmaier who showed me how to make a popular dish from his restaurant, lamb tenderloins wrapped in phyllo — it was one of the best things I have ever eaten!


The Chef's Kitchen


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stuffed cheeseburger & carrot fries

Stuffed Cheeseburger & Carrot Fries

Everyone keeps talking about how summer is ending and they’re ready for fall — I mean there’s pumpkin flavored coffee out already. Um HELLO — it’s still August. While I love the fall (it is my favorite season after all), there is a time and a place.

August is not the time nor the place.

You know whats good in the summer? In August? Burgers.

With Labor Day weekend approaching and picnics and cookouts on the brain, I thought it would be perfect to post about a delicious cheese stuffed burger with a side of carrot “fries” that I recently made for dinner!

Cheeseburger Ingredients

Yes, that’s right. Carrot fries.

What’s up with carrots? Why do people make that face when they’re expected to eat carrots as a side vegetable? Carrots are better than a base ingredient in soup and tomato sauce or part of a medley of veggies!

Eat more carrots people. Turn them into “fries” if you have to, you’ll be happy you did.

As for the burger, I thought it would be fun to stuff the cheese inside the burger and create an ooey gooey melty center that would keep the burger from drying out while cooking. It’s fairly easy, all you have to do is take what would be your regular burger patty, split it in two, add cheese to the center, then form the two patties back together. Easy peasy.

The grated onion in the burger adds a subtle onion flavor, but more than that, it’s another great way to keep the ground beef moist, especially if you’re cooking your burgers well done.

Stuffed Cheeseburger Prep

Mmmmm yea. Cheesy flavorful goodness. Pop that burger on a toasted bun with some thousand island dressing, a fresh summer tomato and some greens and you’ve got yourself a winner! The burger had a great balance of flavors and the pepper jack cheese that stuffed the burger added a nice level of heat that wasn’t overwhelming.

The carrot fries turned out perfectly as well, crisped on the outside, but soft and velvety on the inside. The carrots have such a great sweetness to them, but the char from baking them and the salt and spice make it a perfect compliment to the burgers. I’m serious — try them. If you can get down with sweet potato fries, you can give these a whirl.

OH and remember, summer doesn’t end until September 21 okay? Just because school is back in session does not mean summer is over — so hold off on the pumpkin and enjoy more burgers on the grill and beers by the water.

Here’s my recipe for stuffed cheeseburgers & carrot fries, enjoy!!

burgerfries burgerfries2 burgerfries4

basil, corn & tomato salad

Basil, Corn & Tomato Salad

Corn is one of those vegetables that you can enjoy any time of the year, but there’s something about corn in the summer, when it’s a little bit sweeter and a little easier to find on the cob, that I absolutely love.

One of my go-to recipes that is a perfect summer dish is my basil, corn and tomato salad. It sounds super simple, almost too simple, but the fresh ingredients dressed in the tangy vinaigrette come together to make something really delicious!

Basil, Corn & Tomato Salad Ingredients

Now, usually in the market there will be a barrel right by the ears of corn for you to shuck them in the store so you don’t have to make a mess at home; but, if you’re like me, that ain’t usually happening. So, this leaves us one of two options:

  1. Shuck that corn, fight the stubborn corn silk, keep fighting, eventually win the battle…
  2. Or, there’s always Ken and his “How to Shuck Corn Like a Boss” instructional video that shows you how a microwave and a few minutes can make all your corn silk nightmares go away : )

Basil, Corn & Tomato Salad Prep

Once you’ve got your cleaned ears of corn, it’s smooth sailing for the rest of this recipe. It’s basically: combine everything in a bowl and mix until evenly dressed in the vinaigrette.

Air-five for easy, yummy recipes!

I make this salad every summer because I love the flavors and textures it creates. The grape tomatoes and corn kernels give great pops of sweetness that are balanced out by the briny feta cheese. Chopped basil leaves add a layer of fresh flavor that really brightens up the salad and the whole grain mustard vinaigrette rounds it all out with its subtle acidity.

Whenever I make it, I usually enjoy it on its own for a light lunch, BUT it would be beyond perfect as a side dish to almost any summer dish (read: burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, etc). Heck, go crazy and use it as a corn salsa on grilled chicken or fish! Seriously, it’s a really versatile and delicious dish that is too easy to make you’d be silly not to try it!

Here’s the recipe again, so you can do just that. Enjoy!

cornsaladf4 cornsaladf2

harissa lamb leg with creamed spinach & herbed potatoes

Harissa Lamb Leg

A few weeks ago when the World Cup was just getting into the swings of competition, I decided to make some of Mirza’s favorite food to watch the Croatia vs. Cameroon match. Since he lived in Croatia for a while when he was younger, it was an exciting game to follow and the perfect opportunity to make lamb — one of his favorite proteins. I didn’t eat lamb too frequently before we started dating, but I’ve grown to really love the earthy flavor that is has to offer that is a nice change from a more typical cut of beef/steak.

I’m most comfortable making rack of lamb, but when I was at the butcher counter with lamb on the brain, I saw a beautiful boneless leg of lamb that I had to buy! I knew immediately I wanted a spice factor to compliment the lamb and found a great harissa seasoning in the spice aisle — and so was born my recipe for harissa lamb leg with creamed spinach and herbed potatoes.

Harissa Lamb Leg Ingredients

Harissa is a spicy pepper paste that is a great compliment to any protein if you enjoy some heat — which Mirza loves. So, when I saw the harissa seasoning (which has a mix of paprika, cayenne, chili pepper, cumin, garlic, caraway and coriander) I thought it would make the perfect rub for the lamb. I mixed the harissa seasoning with some rosemary and garlic to brighten the rub up a little.

Harissa Lamb Leg Prep

The sides for this meal are great to balance the bolder flavors of the lamb protein that has some more earthy tones than you may be used to tasting.

I have roasted potatoes a million times, but I decided to make these a bit more Mediterranean in flavor by adding a fair amount of oregano with some rosemary and thyme to make a delicious herbed potato.

As for the spinach — I think Mirza would have creamed spinach every day if I made it, but that’s not exactly “healthy” and so I usually sauté it sans creamy goodness. But, when I do splurge and make creamed spinach, it is all the more special. The parmesan cheese helps thicken the cream, that paired with the garlic infused oil make a beautiful balance of flavor for this side.

Herbed Potatoes

Spinach 1 Spinach 2 Spinach 3 Spinach 4

Overall, I absolutely loved this meal and will definitely be making it again!

The perfectly cooked, medium-rare lamb was really tender and the harissa rub it was roasted in delivered a great level of spice that wasn’t too powerful. Partnered with the sides of herbed potatoes, roasted to a crispy exterior and velvety interior, and creamed spinach, garlicky and creamy and amazing, really rounded it out perfectly. There was only one thing missing…


So, I poured a glass, turned on the game, and indulged in this delicious dinner!

P.S. Croatia ended up winning, which was great, but unfortunately didn’t make it much further. Nor did the US… The real winner of our little family was Kia, our German shepherd, who got to see her “bloodline” win it all!

Harissa Lamb Leg with Creamed Spinach & Herbed Potatoes Harissa Lamb Leg with Creamed Spinach & Herbed Potatoes

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