Citrus Granita


It’s April and we have been lucky to start this month with the most beautiful weather!  All I want to do is be outside with my girls and nothing is more refreshing on a spring day than a frozen treat to end the day. Citrus granita is a semi frozen dessert made with water, sugar and a citrus juice of your choice to create a shaved ice that will cool you off all season long.IMG_6221IMG_6239

Lemon Lime Granita
Serves 6
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  1. 3 Cups Water
  2. 1 Cup Sugar
  3. 6 Mint Leaves
  4. 1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
  5. 1/4 Cup Lime Juice
  6. 1 tsp Lemon Zest
  7. 1 tsp Lime Zest
  1. In a small saucepan combine water, sugar and mint leaves
  2. Cook the simple syrup until sugar is dissolved and comes to a slight boil
  3. Turn the heat off and allow the simple syrup to cool down and then cover and refrigerate until chilled
  4. Once the simple syrup is chilled, remove mint leaves and stir in lemon juice, lime juice and zest and pour into a 9x13 baking dish
  5. Place in the freezer for 1 hour and using a fork stir up the mixture to create shaved ice
  6. Continue to freeze mixture and shave the ice every 30 minutes until fully frozen
  7. Once you are ready to serve, shave the ice with a fork into the bowl of your choice and garnish with fresh mint
  8. Enjoy!
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Easter Bread…A slice of an international tradition

IMG_6437A sweet bread full of tradition and lives through many cultures is one that has been passed down from generation to generation in my family. Italian Easter bread is a rich, eggy bread with a pop of citrus flavor, eggs (dyed or whited) braided into the dough, a sweet sugar glaze, and the best part…covered in rainbow sprinkles.

A tradition that my great grandmother started and has been shared and enjoyed by many is one of my favorite Easter morning memories. Every year this sweet brioche like bread would stay on our counter and throughout the weekend would be sliced and buttered until the whole thing was gone. Although is it typically made for the Easter holiday, I tend to crave it all year long.

Throughout many years of sharing our family’s Easter Bread, I quickly learned that it is not only an Italian tradition, but one spans many other cultures.

Italian Easter bread (Pane di Pasqua) 
The wreath symbolizes the crown of thorns, and the eggs represents birth and life.

Greek Easter Bread (Tsoureki)
This is very similar to the Italian tradition.  Three strands of bread symbolize the holy trinity, and red dyed eggs represent the blood of Christ.

British Easter Bread (Hot Cross Buns)
These are spiced sweet buns made with currents or raisins and enjoyed on Good Friday. 
The cross represents the Crucifixion of Christ.

Croatian Easter Bread, Pinca
Round loaf with a cross cut into the surface of the bread symbolizing the Crucifixion.  It is flavored with raisins, rum and citrus zest.

Spanish Easter Bread, Mona de Pascua
-Mona de Pascua means “gift of Easter”and is very similar to the Italian tradition as well, but is typically made with quail eggs, olive oil instead of butter and accented with flavors of orange zest and rosewater.

I hope you enjoy this special recipe from my Nanny’s kitchen to yours!

Nanny's Easter Bread
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  1. 4 cups all purpose flour
  2. ¼ cup granulated sugar
  3. ½ cup vegetable shortening
  4. ½ cup whole milk
  5. 1 envelope active dry yeast (2 ¼ tsp)
  6. 4 eggs
  7. 1 orange, zest and juice
  8. ½ tsp salt
  9. ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  10. 4 eggs (for decoration)
  1. 2 cups powdered sugar
  2. ¼ cup whole milk
  3. Sprinkles for garnish
  1. Place flour and sugar in a large mixing bowl with dough hook attachment and add shortening until a course crumb forms. Heat milk in a saucepan until warm to the touch (110 degrees F) and add yeast.
  2. Combine eggs, orange zest and juice, vanilla extract and salt in a mixing bowl and whisk until combined. Slowly add yeast mixture to the flour mixture and knead until it comes together (it will be dry at this point). Add egg mixture a little at a time until fully combined.
  3. Knead the dough in the mixer or by hand until dough is soft and elastic. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise until doubled in size (approximately 1 hour).
  4. Divide dough into two pieces and roll each piece into 24-inch-long pieces. Twist the two pieces together. Form the rope into a 12” round circle, pinching the ends together to seal, and nestle 4 eggs into the dough. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size (approx 45 minutes).
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F; once the bread is ready, bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown on top. Allow the bread to cool completely before glazing and adding sprinkles.
  1. Whisk together powdered sugar and milk, adding more of either ingredient to achieve the desired consistency. Use a pastry brush to glaze the top of the Easter Bread.
  2. Before the glaze dries, garnish the bread with rainbow sprinkles
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Waffles…Morning, Noon or Night!

waffles 1As young as I can remember and now raising my own family, I find it very important that we all sit down to eat, rather than grabbing and going. As our lives are getting busier and busier with early morning school routine and all the extracurricular activities it is becoming harder to insure that all our meals are enjoyed at the table. Menu planning, prepping and stocking the fridge and freezer is the best way I know how to to quickly get everyone fed with whole, natural and nutritious ingredients.

Although I would love to have a three course meal ready on all occasions, that is not likely at this stage in our life and I am totally fine with that. Breakfast for dinner, dinner for lunch, or an array of appetizers for any meal is what you might find in my kitchen, but the girls are happy and we are fed!

Breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert, waffles are a favorite in my family. There is something so comforting about a homemade waffles, whether you are enjoying them alone or garnishing them with eggs, bacon, prosciutto, roasted bananas, chocolate or anything other toppings of your choice. The crisp outside and soft doughy center makes for a perfect meal. Two of my go to waffle combinations is thinly sliced prosciutto and shaved gruyere cheese for a savory twist and on the sweeter side, roasted bananas topped with a butterscotch syrup.waffles 2

The beauty of waffles is that they can be found all over the world. These perfectly shaped treats are on restaurant menus of all cuisines. From steakhouses, southern to American fine dining, waffles are sure to make you feel like a kid again.waffles 3

Classic Waffle
Yields 10
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  1. 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  2. 1 Tbsp Baking Powder
  3. 1/2 tsp Salt
  4. 4 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
  5. 1 1/2 Cups Whole Milk
  6. 2 Eggs, Separated
  7. 1/2 Cup Butter, Melted
  1. Preheat the waffle iron
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl
  3. In a separate bowl whisk egg yolks and milk and whisk into dry ingredients
  4. Pour the melted butter into flour mixture and mix until fully combined
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks and slowly add in granulated sugar
  6. Gently fold egg whites into batter just until combined, do not over mix or the batter will deflate
  7. Scoop the desired amount of batter onto a greased and warmed waffle iron and cook until golden brown (use according to the manufacture of your iron)
  8. Remove waffle when ready and serve immediately or freeze the extra waffles!
  1. Prosciutto & Gruyere Waffle
  2. Make the classic waffle recipe
  3. Whisk in 1/2 cup shredded gruyere cheese into the waffle batter
  4. Scoop the batter into waffle iron until golden brown
  5. Remove waffle from the iron and garnish with thinly sliced prosciutto, shredded gruyere and chopped chives
  6. Serve immediately!
  7. Roasted Banana & Caramel Waffles
  8. Heat oven to 350 degrees F
  9. Slice bananas into 1/2” thick banana rounds and place on a foil lined sheet pan
  10. Sprinkle the bananas with granulated sugar and roast for 10-15 minutes or until bananas are soft and sugar is bubbling.
  11. While the bananas are roasting, make the classic waffle recipe
  12. Whisk in 1/2 cup chopped pecans into waffle batter
  13. Scoop batter into waffle iron until golden brown
  14. Remove waffle from the iron and garnish with roasted bananas, toasted pecan pieces and caramel sauce of your choice
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Some of my favorite waffles around Dallas:

Nick and Sam’s Steakhouse
Brioche Waffle on Fois Gras
Jalapeño Cheddar Waffle on a Southern Fried Quail Egg with Molasses Syrup

Buttermilk Fried Chicken over a Belgium Waffle with Red Pepper Flake Syrup

Del Frisco’s Grill
Red Velvet Belgium Waffle with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese

Double Dose Bakery
100% Grain Free and Gluten Free Frozen Waffles shipped to your door!

Favorite Waffle Irons
Breville No Mess Classic Round Waffle Maker

All Clad Belgian Waffle Maker

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Smokey Sweet-Smoked Sea Salt Chocolate Truffles

smoked trufflesWhen I think of eating dessert, I imagine sweet, sometimes salty or maybe sour, but I rarely think smoky. Smoke-flavored desserts are surfacing on restaurant menus and in gourmet goods. The woodsy flavor adds dimension and brings out the sweetness and rich flavors.

Just like smoking meat or vegetables, adding a smoky flavor to a dessert is a slow process, but there are a few ingredients in the market to create a quick dessert full of depth and flavor.

Sugar: Smoked sugar can be sprinkled over a crispy tart, used as a garnish for your coffee or added to fresh fruit. Bourbon-smoked sugar is raw sugar smoked in bourbon barrels to create an oaky caramel flavor. It can be found in specialty markets or on Amazon. Bourbon Barrel Foods sells Bourbon Smoked Sugar for $2.50 to $20 at

Chocolate chips: Add smoked chocolate chips to your favorite cookie recipe or your favorite vanilla ice cream for intense flavor. Smoked chocolate chips are cold-smoked for more than 10 hours to get the purest smoky flavor. You can find Smoked Chocolate Chips at for $15.

Sea salt: Smoked sea salt can be used in many ways. Sea salt is typically smoked over oak, hickory, mesquite or applewood and will enhance any dish it accompanies.  Place smoked sea salt into a food processor or coffee grinder to make a powder. It can then be mixed into cocoa powder to coat gourmet truffles for a rich flavor. Bourbon Barrel Foods also has a smoked sea salt.

Smoked Sea Salt Chocolate Truffles
Yields 24
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  1. 2 1/2 Cups Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
  2. 1/2 Cup Smoked Chocolate Chips
  3. 1 Cup Heavy Cream
  4. 1 Tbsp Grand Mariner
Smoke Sea Salt Cocoa Powder Coating
  1. 1/2 Cup Cocoa Powder
  2. 1/2 tsp Smoked Sea Salt, Powdered
  1. Place chocolate chips in a large bowl
  2. Heat heavy cream in a saucepan over medium heat until cream comes to a boil
  3. Remove the cream from the stove and pour into chocolate
  4. Gently whisk chocolate mixture until chocolate and cream are fully combined (do not whisk to fast or your will create air bubbles in the chocolate)
  5. Add in 1 Tbsp Grand Mariner to the chocolate mixture and whisk
  6. Cover and refrigerate ganache for approx. 1 hour or until hardened
  7. Scoop 1 tbsp balls of ganache and place on a parchment lined baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes
  8. Roll ganache in hands to create a smooth ball; refrigerate for 30 minutes
  9. Remove ganache balls from the refrigerator and roll in the sea salt cocoa powder coating
  10. Refrigerate truffles until ready to serve or store in an air tight container
  11. **Smoked Sea Salt Cocoa Powder Coating
  12. In a small food processor or coffee grinder, grind up smoked sea salt until powder
  13. Mix into cocoa powder before coating ganache
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 Recipe featured in The Dallas Morning News, Arts and Life!  

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Chocolate Bark

bark 3As you are preparing for one of the most chocolate-filled months of the year, when everyone is trying to buy or make something extra special for their loved ones, a no-bake and no-recipe treat will be your new best friend. Chocolate bark is not only one of the most beautiful chocolate treats you can package up, but it is also so decadent with its pure flavors. As you prepare to make chocolate bark, it’s imperative you select a high quality chocolate, whether it be white, milk or dark. Once you have decided on the chocolate you would like to use, you need to decide how to top it. For dark chocolate, I prefer nutty and dried fruit flavors such as cranberries, almonds, candied ginger, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, dried figs and dried apricots. The options are endless for chocolate bark, you can nearly put anything your taste buds desire.bark 1

Chocolate Bark
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  1. 1 pound dark chocolate, finely chopped
  2. 1/4 cup almonds, lightly chopped
  3. 1/4 cup candied ginger, chopped
  4. 1/4 cup pistachios, shelled
  5. 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  6. 1/4 cup dried figs, chopped
  7. 1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
  8. 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
  1. Prepare a half-sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Place three-fourths of the dark chocolate in a microwave safe glass bowl.
  3. Microwave chocolate on high for 30 seconds, remove bowl and stir chocolate.
  4. Place chocolate back in the microwave for 30 second intervals until the chocolate is melted.
  5. Remove the bowl from the microwave and add the remaining one-fourth of chocolate into the melted chocolate and stir until fully melted.
  6. Pour chocolate onto prepared sheet pan and spread until even in thickness.
  7. Sprinkle dried fruit and nuts all over chocolate (add as much or as little as you like).
  8. Allow the chocolate to cool and harden at room temperature or refrigerate if you want the chocolate to set up quicker.
  9. Once the chocolate is cooled, crack the bark into medium size pieces.
  10. Keep in an airtight container or package up for gifts.
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bark 5


Winter Citrus

citrus fennel saladDuring the coldest months of the year, citrus is in the back of our minds but we should be tapping in to the fresh aromatic flavors of winter citrus. The vibrant colors and burst of flavors are what make winter citrus a true jewel this time of year. Oranges, grapefruits, lemon, limes, and kumquats are just a few of the seasonal flavors that are ripe, refreshing and perfect to add any menu.

grapefruit sage 75

Fresh squeezed juice and citrus syrups will brighten and sweeten any winter cocktail or mock-tail. A favorite cocktail of mine, French 75, is a classic menu item that I have modernized with a splash of grapefruit juice and sweetened with an herbal sage simple syrup. Whether you are mixing or drinking the juice fresh, sipping on winter citrus is sure to keep the cold weather blues away.

Grapefruit Sage 75
Serves 1
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  1. 1 oz Gin
  2. 3/4 oz sage simple syrup (see recipe below)
  3. 3/4 oz grapefruit juice
  4. Champagne
  1. Shake the gin, sage simple syrup and grapefruit juice with ice until chilled
  2. Strain into a champagne glass and top with Champagne
  3. Garnish with a sage
  1. Sage Simple Syrup
  2. 1 cup granulated sugar
  3. 1 cup water
  4. 6 sage leaves
  1. Combine sugar, water and sage leaves in a sauce pan and stir until sugar is dissolved
  2. Bring sugar and water to a boil until slightly thickened; remove from the heat
  3. Allow sage syrup to cool completely and strain leaves out through a fine sieve
  4. Store simple syrup in a air tight container and store in the refrigerator for up to one week
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citrus fennel saladYour choice of winter citrus served with cheese, yogurt or sliced over a leafy greens, is a perfect way to kick off a meal. A variety of oranges; blood orange, cara cara, and navel and grapefruit will pair well with the pungent flavor of fennel, mint and silky goat cheese for a refreshing and light salad. Fennel not only has an aromatic quality, it is also rich in vitamin c. What we eat will help keep the common cold behind us.

Citrus Fennel Salad
Serves 4
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  1. 2 small grapefruit
  2. 2 blood orange
  3. 2 navel orange
  4. 2 cara cara oranges
  5. 1/2 fennel bulb, sliced thin
  6. 1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
  7. 2 Tbsp mint leaves, chopped
  8. watercress, garnish
  9. Champagne Shallot Vinaigrette
  10. 1/4 cup olive oil
  11. 1 Tbsp champagne vinegar
  12. 2 tsp shallots, chopped
  13. 1 tsp honey
  14. 1/4 tsp sea salt
  15. pinch of pepper (to taste)
  1. Peel all citrus, removing as much pith as possible
  2. Slice citrus into thin wheels, removing all seeds
  3. Layer the sliced citrus onto a serving platter
  4. Garnish the citrus with thinly sliced fennel, crumble goat cheese, chopped mint leaves and watercress
  5. Whisk together champagne vinegar, shallots, honey, salt and pepper
  6. Slowly add olive oil into vinegar mixture until fully combined
  7. Drizzle 4 Tbsp of dressing onto citrus salad (add more or less dressing to taste)
  8. Serve immediately
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kumquat upside down cakeA sweet finish to your evening, candied citrus is as simple as it sounds. The peel of citrus is equally as flavorful as the juice that comes from inside. To enjoy the most basic form of candied citrus, it is best to blanch the peel in order to remove the bitter flavor and later coat in sugar to add a crunch. Candied citrus can also be enjoyed as a cake with a variety of winter citrus. I absolutely love the idea of kumquats, they are small, you can enjoy the whole fruit (skin and all) and they are best during the winter months. Although kumquats can have a bitter flavor, once it is combined with brown sugar and butter topped with a decadent butter cake, there is only love for this tiny fruit.

Kumquat Upside-Down Cake
Serves 6
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Fruit Layer
  1. 8 Tbsp unsalted butter
  2. 3/4 Cup light brown sugar
  3. 2 Tbsp honey
  4. 2 Cups Kumquats, sliced and seeds removed
  1. 8 Tbsp unsalted butter
  2. 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  3. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  4. 2 eggs
  5. 1 1/2 Cups all purpose flour
  6. 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  7. 1/4 tsp salt
  8. 1/2 Cup whole milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare 8” cake pan with oil or non stick spray
  2. In a sauce pan over medium heat, melt butter completely, but do not brown the butter
  3. Add brown sugar and honey to the butter and stir until fully combined
  4. Pour sugar mixture into the bottom of the 8” cake pan
  5. Arrange sliced kumquats to cover the entire bottom of the pan (it is ok to overlap)
  6. Prepare cake while fruit layer cools
  7. In a mixing bowl with paddle attachment cream butter and sugar
  8. Add vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time
  9. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt
  10. Alternate flour and milk into mixing bowl and beat until fully combined (do not over mix)
  11. Spread cake batter over kumquats
  12. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes or until baked through
  13. Allow cake to cool for 10 minutes before flipping onto serving dish
  14. Enjoy!
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In the midst of winter, we tend to eat heavy, warm and comfort foods that are very familiar to us and satisfy our cravings but with these recipes and the fresh produce at our local markets, lighten up your cold weather must haves and let the bold flavors of winter citrus work for you.

This story was featured in The Dallas Morning News 

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Berry Passion Fruit Pavlova

pavlova 1Each new year, it is tradition to make resolutions and look for opportunities to set new goals, be inspired, try new things and travel to new places. While most people try to cut food out, I challenge you to invite new flavors in for the new year. Bringing one of my favorite recipes to your table will be a perfect way to start. Pavlova is loved in so many countries, but the debate continues whether it originates from New Zealand or Australia. This light and crisp meringue is garnished with fresh whipped cream, seasonal fruits and flavors and will be loved by all. Happy new year and happy baking!
pavlova 2

Berry Passion Fruit Pavlova
Serves 6
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  1. 4 Egg Whites
  2. 1 Cup Sugar
  3. 1 Tbsp Corn Starch
  4. 1 tsp Vinegar
  5. 1/2 Cup Strawberries
  6. 1/2 Cup Blueberries
  7. 1/2 Cup Raspberries
  8. 1 Passion Fruit
Sweet Whipped Cream
  1. 1 Cup Heavy Cream
  2. 2 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
  3. 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F
  2. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan
  3. Place the eggs whites in a bowl of an electric mixer with whisk attachment
  4. Beat egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks have formed
  5. Slowly add in sugar and whisk until egg whites are shiny, about 2 minutes
  6. Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently fold in sifted cornstarch and vinegar until combined
  7. Pile the meringue onto the parchment paper and smooth it to form a circle, approx. 8”-9” round
  8. Bake meringue for 1 1/2 hours and then turn off oven and allow the meringue to cool completely in the oven
  9. Place the meringue on a serving dish and spread whipped cream in the center
  10. Arrange fruit covering the top of the whipped cream (add more or less if needed)
  11. Cut the passion fruit in half and drizzle the juice and seeds on top of the berries
  12. Serve Immediately
  13. Sweet Whipped Cream
  14. In a large bowl of an electric mixer with whisk attachment beat the whipped cream until it starts to thicken
  15. Slowly add the sugar and vanilla extract and continue beating until firm
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Pear + Almond Tart


With only a few days away from your Thanksgiving feast, I am sharing an all time favorite tart recipe that will be the perfect ending to your holiday.  Pears and almond are two flavors that I long for all year.  The key ingredient to this tart is Frangipane; almond cream, sugar, butter and eggs…you will want to use it in every dessert that you make, it’s that good!  

Here’s what you need:
my favorite flakey pie dough
frangipane (recipe below)
bosc pears
sliced almonds  

I hope your Thanksgiving week is filled with family, food and fun…we have a lot to be thankful for! IMG_4783IMG_4802

Pear Almond Tart
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  1. 1 recipe Pie Dough
  2. 1 recipe Frangipane
  3. 2 Bosc Pears
  4. 1/4 cup Sliced Amonds
  1. 1/2 cup Almond Paste
  2. 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
  3. 3 Tbsp Butter, unsalted
  4. 2 Tbsp Cake Flour
  5. 1 Eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Roll out pie dough into 9" round or rectangle tart pan, refrigerate until ready to use
  3. Prepare frangipane and spread a very thin layer on the bottom of the chilled unbaked tart shell
  4. Peal pears, cut them in half and remove seeds using a melon baller
  5. Slice each pear half into thin slices keeping the half together and place on top of the frangipane
  6. Sprinkle the area around the pears with sliced almonds
  7. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes or until frangipane is light golden in color and baked through
  8. Serve warm
  1. 1. Cream almond paste and sugar together in a mixer with paddle attachment
  2. 2. Add butter and cream together until fully combined
  3. 3. Add cake flour and then add egg
  4. 4. Mix until there are no lumps and all ingredients have come together
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