Sriracha Spiced Pecans

Necessity is the mother of invention. Or in my case the loathe of going to the store twice in one day. I forgot appetizers to pickup some pre-dinner snacks so I had to improvise with what I had on hand. I’ve had a 3 lb. bag of pecans taking up space in the fridge for far too long so they were top on my list.


Thankfully, the weather is finally more closely resembling spring than winter. It was nice to have the doors open and let the sun in. Blasted some music and I got to cooking. I mixed up a savory snack mix type coating for the nuts, Sriracha for heat. Everything is better with Sriracha, right?

Sriracha Spiced Pecans


They baked up nicely. Great snack and even better thrown in a salad. They could use more heat though, another 1/2 tsp. of Srirachi would have been just right.

Sriracha Spiced Pecans

Sriracha Spiced Pecans
Recipe Type: Appetizer
Author: Jacky Hackett
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 10
  • 4 cups (1 pound) pecan halves
  • 5 Tbps. butter, melted
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. Sriracha sauce, or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  2. Place the pecans in a large mixing bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the melted butter, Worcestershire sauce, salt, garlic powder, ground mustard, Sriracha, and cayenne.
  3. Pour the mixture over the pecans and stir until well coated.
  4. Spread the pecans on a large sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes until lightly browned, stirring halfway cooking time.


Sunday Funday

Sunday  started blustery, but was everything a Sunday should be in the end.

Little Goat

Brunch, every Sunday should include brunch.

Little Goat

We hit up Little Goat, out first visit. Nothing little about this place.

Little Goat Shrimp and Grits

Well except for the wait. We got there at about 8:30 and had no problems getting a seat. But the place filled up QUICK, 9 am seems to be the start of the busy time.

Little Goat Bloody Mary

Best bloody Mary I’ve had, it included smoked pickle juice and the olive stuffed with horseradish cream cheese. I hate olives, but the cream cheese was amazing.

Little Goat Shrimp and Grits

There is a large menu to select from, with breakfast, lunch, and dinner selections. I went with the shrimp and grist, which was from the Cereal Killer section of the menu. A bit more soupy than I expected, but delicious all the same. The food was incredible and the service was amazing! I am glad it is close to us, because we definitely plan to go back soon.

After brunch we went to see the movie Muppets Most Wanted. Two thumbs up! Tina Fey was awesome, like she can be anything but. This movie was even better than the last

I spent the rest of the afternoonaccomplishing some really not fun outdoor chores, but hey at least the sun was out. Finished it all off with home cooked Chicken Vesuvio. I can’t believe I have never attempted this dish before now. It turned out pretty OK, but needs some work.

Little Goat Bread

Though, the bread I brought home from Little Goat smeared with the garlic cloves baked with the chicken was perfection. I also must say, even though the cold and snow make summer seem so far away, it is awesome to still have the sun up after 7 pm.

Sunday funday, too bad it can’t last all week-long, but I’ll take it!

Irish Cake Bomb

Winter was nothing if not persistent. I loved all the snow!

The time change and St. Patrick’s Day are welcome signs of spring, even if there is snow in the forecast again tonight. The St. Patrick’s Day parade this year was snowy and cold but fun as always.

Forest Park parade

We’ve had a lot of fun celebrating St. Pat’s Day over and over. Tonight is another celebration at a friend’s house. I’m bringing my favorite dessert loaded with tasty Irish treats.

Guinness cake

My friend brought me some Dutch cocoa from their trip to Holland. Great quality ingredient, especially for baking.

Guinness cake

The outside of the cake was a little more cooked than I would have liked, should have taken it out of oven about 10 minutes sooner than I did.

Guinness Cake

The cake is dense and a deep chocolate color.  The flavors are all so rich so a little slice goes a long way.
Guinness Cake

Here is my variation on the this gorgeous cake.

Irish Cake Bomb
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: Jacky Hackett
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 10
  • 1 cup and 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup Guinness
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt (I used Irish sea salt)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • Chocolate Whiskey Ganache:
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, grated
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 t. Jameson Irish whiskey
  • Bailey’s Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. Bailey’s
  1. Add butter, cocoa and Guinness to a saucepan. Heat over medium flame and stir until melted. Set aside to cool.
  2. Add flour, baking soda, sugar, and salt to a large mixing bowl and mix well. Pour in the Guinness mixture, mix to combine, add vanilla, eggs and sour cream and beat together until well combined.
  3. Pour into a greased and lined 10″ pan (I used a Springform pan) and cook in the oven for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
  4. Cool completely before adding ganache and icing.
  5. Make ganache, put grated chocolate in a bowl. Heat cream and pour over chocolate. Stir until smooth and then add in butter and whiskey. Cool until thickened enough to spread.
  6. Make Bailey’s icing, beat cream cheese until smooth, add in powered sugar and Bailey’s until well combined.
  7. Once cake has cooled, remove from pan, and slice in half around the middle to create two layers.
  8. Spread ganache on the bottom layer, place the top layer on it. Ice the top layer with the Bailey’s icing.
  9. Store in fridge until ready to serve.


Let it Snow! {Eggs Baked in Tomato Sauce}

I celebrated the New Year in Michigan this year. It started snowing in the afternoon on New Year’s Eve and didn’t stop anytime before I left. White knuckle drive home, though shout out to Indiana, of the three states I drove through they were the only one with plowed roads. I arrived home to more snow, and again it hasn’t stopped. I’ve shoveled three times, you can’t much tell. We measured about 12″ of  snow on our deck.


snow fall


I tried to get where I needed to go, I got the car out of the garage but could not get much further. Luckily, I was able to get the car back in the garage without having to get a push (good thing since no one was around). Love an excuse to stay home. Bonus, an evening home alone. What to do? Simple meal to warm my belly and a movie of MY choosing of course!


eggs baked in tomato sauce


Admittedly, eggs and tomato sauce did not sound like a good match when I first saw this dish. Though once I tried it I became a huge fan. It is so easy, works for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It is a great comfort meal on a snow chilly day.


Eggs Baked in Tomato Sauce
Recipe Type: Vegetarian
Author: Jacky Hackett
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 1
  • 1 cup [url href=”” target=”_blank” title=”Quick Homemade tomato sauce”]tomato sauce[/url]
  • 1 egg
  • 1 oz. cheese
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat over to 400 degrees.
  2. Pout tomato sauce in an ovenproof ramekin
  3. Crack egg into tomato sauce, top with cheese
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste
  5. Bake in oven for 15 minutes


Even better, I usually have all the ingredients I need on hand. Even better on a snowy day when you can’t get out. I made a quick tomato sauce, just cook up a sliced clove of garlic in oil olive for a minute, add a can of tomatoes.  Crushed or diced, try fire roasted for even more flavor.


eggs baked in tomato sauce


Use whatever cheese you have on hand. Fresh Parmesan would be great. I used goat cheese. Cook until heated and season to taste. Easy peasy. Cook the eggs to the desired doneness, I like them cooked like that of a poached egg which is just about when the egg white sets. Baguette slices, or really any bread slices, are necessary to get every last drop of tastiness.

No fuss, no mess, and so good that I had it for dinner last night and breakfast today. Oh, and I watched The Way Way Back, two thumbs up.

Peace Out 2013

2013 was a spectacular year, I am a little sad to see it go. But I appreciate the time to reflect on the past, plan the future, and use the new year as a reset button. Besides, there are a lot of great things ahead in 2014. No specific resolutions for me, though I really love these combined approaches to New Year’s resolutions.  First, assign a theme to your year. Next, define measurable goals to manage it. A good plan for making and keeping those resolutions. A few specific things I hope to tackle, breaking most of these bad tech habits, keeping up on my reading, and getting back to my regular postings here.

Happy New Year!







Plenty {Caramelized Garlic Tart}

We had a very low-key weekend, it was soooo nice. I even found a few hours to park myself on the couch under a nice warm blanket and read my book uninterrupted. It has been months since I finished a book, such a rare treat.

I was also able to spend some time in the kitchen, took on another recipe from Plenty, the cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi. I have made a few recipes from this book, and they all are better than the next. Recipes like sweet potato wedges with lemongrass dipping sauce, burnt eggplant with tahini, and smoky frittata. The smoky frittata is my fav! HIs cookbooks have a cult following, now I know why.

Caramelized Garlic

This time I gave the caramelized garlic tart a try. Easy enough recipe, though peeling all the garlic cloves was a pain in the ass, and I reeked of garlic. Quick wipe of my hands on the stainless steel faucet and I was good as new.

Caramelized Garlic Tart
Author: Jacky Hackett
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • 2 medium heads of garlic, separated and peeled
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • ¾ tbsp sugar
  • 1 rosemary sprig, whole
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 4 oz soft goat cheese
  • 4 semi-soft goat cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Roll puff pastry, and place in pie pan. Bake 20 minutes.
  3. Place garlic cloves in small pan, cover with water, bring to a simmer, and blanch for three minutes. Drain.
  4. Warm olive oil over high heat, add garlic, and fry for 2 minutes.
  5. Add vinegar and water, bring to a boil, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Add sugar, herbs, a pinch of salt, and continue to simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated and liquid becomes syrupy, about 10 minutes.
  7. Set garlic aside, discard rosemary sprig.
  8. Break the cheeses into big bite-sized pieces and scatter into the partially baked crust.
  9. Add the garlic and syrupy sauce.
  10. Whisk together the eggs, cream, and sour cream, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and generous pinch of pepper. Pour over everything.
  11. Bake 45-55 minutes, until the filling has set and the top is golden brown.


caramelized garlic

I could have stopped at making the garlic, and just spread that on bread. Syrupy sauce not pictured, I removed the garlic and cooked it down to thicken some more.

caramelized garlic tart

My finished product is not purty, but it sure was tasty! The garlic flavor is not harsh at all. It is similar to flavor as roasted garlic, however the cloves have a more solid texture, it is not as spreadable (if that makes sense).  No matter, it was delicious! It is rich, so best served with a nice crisp refreshing salad.

Onto a crazy fun week, glad I was able to get some r&r to prepare.


Friends and Football {Artichoke and Spinach Dip}

Our family loves to spend a Sunday watching the Bears. The schedule this year has not coordinated with our family schedule. Lacrosse took most of our Sundays, and the Monday and Thursday night games are too late for school nights. Last weekend my husband was lucky enough to get to see the game, his two favorite teams, the Bears and Lions. This weekend is our first chance to watch and enjoy the Bears as a family. What goes better with football than, football food!

We always struggle to come up with new appetizer ideas. Always! Yet, most of the recent recipes I have posted are appetizers. Go figure. I decided to go old school and flip through my book or recipe cards for some ideas, and ran across a recipe for artichoke dip that caught my eye (and I had everything on hand)…

Artichoke Recipe Card

My friend Jill gave me this recipe. Jill and I worked together in NYC. Our office was on Park Ave in midtown, it was very shee-shee. It was the hey-day, breakfast was served every Monday morning, the kitchen was stocked with drinks and snacks, a show-shine came in once a week and shined the executive’s shoes at their desk, a masseuse came in once a week and setup shop in the conference room. An expensed lunch at a place like Le Cirque was standard practice. Good times! Of course, being the IT people in the office, we shared a counter for our desks in an inside space that was essentially the copy/server room.

The office occupied the entire floor of the building. The executives sat around the perimeter in the windowed offices. The admins around the inner perimeter outside the offices. Everyone in the office was so nice, especially considering I was an outsider and essentially squatting in their office while continuing to work for the folks back in Chicago. It was a very fortunate situation for me. Over time I came to realize the inner perimeters of admins had segregated each other around geographic origin. All the native Mid-westerners sat down one two walls, and the East Coasters down the other walls. The separation had happened naturally overtime, the two groups seemed to mix like oil and water. It was such an odd phenomenon to me.

That was over 15 years-ago. Jill and I are have both since moved back to the Midwest. We don’t get a chance to see each other often, but we keep in close touch. No one is better a host then she, no detail is ever overlooked. Her cooking is pretty fabulous too. She is always the first person I run to when I am in search of a recipe, or to get help with a party or dinner gathering, among other things. She gave me this recipe probably 13 years-ago after she came to stay with us in Chicago. What I really love about this recipe, is the flavor of the artichoke is not drowned in cream cheese or other overwhelming ingredients. While it is hearty, it is not too heavy.

Artichoke and Spinach Dip

Artichoke and Spinach Dip
Recipe Type: Appetizer
Author: Jacky Hackett
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8-10
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped fine
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 small package frozen spinach
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • dash of hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 small can chopped green chiles
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella, grated
  1. Heat butter in a skillet. Saute onion about 5 minutes. Add in garlic and cook 1 more minute. Let cool.
  2. Defrost spinach in strainer. Press water out.
  3. In a large bowl mix all(except mozzarella) ingredients.
  4. Transfer mix into greased casserole, top with mozzarella.
  5. Back at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
  6. Serve with pita chips or thick tortilla chips and vegetables.


I changed the original recipe a little bit. I cut back on the mayo and added some sour cream. I like this new Greek yogurt and sour cream mixture from Breakstone’s. It is essentially light sour cream cut with plain Greek yogurt.


Greek yogurt sour cream

The chiles provide a good zip, but not too much heat. The curry adds great flavor, but no one would guess it was an ingredient. The lemon juice adds some brightness. While leftovers are rare, they make great pita nachos (pitas, topped with dip, mozzarella, back and then top with chopped tomatoes and green onion) or as a pizza topping.

Artichoke Dip Pizza

This was a victory in the kitchen, I am 2-2 this weekend. Can’t win ‘em all! We got plenty of Bears time today, especially thankfully we escaped the worst of the storms. The pictures look devastating, heartbroken for those impacted.