Caprese Soup with Sourdough Grilled Cheese

Caprese Soup

Temperatures have FINALLY dipped below 50 degrees in Southern California, which can only mean it’s – da da da daaaah – SOUP WEATHER!

What to say about this recipe? It’s caprese. In a soup. And it’s A-M-A-Z-I-N-G with a buttery grilled cheese sandwich. Definitely a recipe for the ‘make this again!’ folder – enjoy!


Yields: 2 servings

  • 2 1/2 lbs fresh mixed tomatoes
  • 1 large garlic bulb, cut in half width-wise
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 sundried tomatoes in oil
  • 1 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 50 grams fresh basil leaves + extra to serve
  • 1 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 (125 gram) ball fresh buffalo mozzarella
  • 4 slices sourdough bread
  • Butter
  • Cheddar (or other preferred sandwich) cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius). Place the tomatoes and garlic on a large roasting tray, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and roast in the oven for 25 minutes, or until tomatoes have burst and garlic is soft. Remove tray from oven and set aside to cool slightly.
  2. Squeeze the roasted garlic from its skin and place in a blender with the roasted tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, sugar, 50 grams of basil, vinegar and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Blitz until smooth, then run through a sieve (if desired, to remove tomato seeds).
  3. Spread butter on both sides of bread slices. Place one slice on a preheated griddle or grill pan, cover with cheese slices and grill until bread is of desired texture and consistency. Top with second bread slice, flip sandwich, and grill as desired. Repeat with remaining bread slices and cheese.
  4. Transfer soup to serving bowls and top with shredded buffalo mozzarella and remaining basil. Serve heated through with grilled sandwiches.

*Previously published to my old blog, Cucina Fresca*


Oatmeal Walnut Cookies

Oatmeal Walnut Cookies

Happy Sunday, baking gods and goddesses!

Today’s recipe is for soft, chewy oatmeal cookies – one of my all-time favorites! Aside from being insanely delicious, they remind me so fondly of my beloved grandmother Bonnie Jean, the original Baking Goddess. Although she passed away in 2012, her recipes (and spirit!) never fail to make an appearance in my kitchen. She LOVED these cookies – I can scarcely remember a time visiting her home when they weren’t baking in the oven – and I’m certain your family will love them as well. Enjoy!


Yields: 24 cookies

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup golden brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  1. In a large mixing bowl, blend butter, brown sugar and white sugar until creamy. Add beaten eggs and vanilla extract; mix well.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt and baking soda. Add to butter-sugar mixture, stirring until thoroughly combined. Add oats and chopped walnuts and stir to fully incorporate. Chill dough for 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Using a small, rounded spoon, scoop dough into balls and drop onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until thoroughly cooked through. Do not overbake.
  5. Cool on baking sheet for two minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool fully.

Layered Chocolate Cupcakes with Coconut-Pecan Frosting

Chocolate Cupcakes with Coconut Pecan Frosting

I’d love to write a proper post about these cupcakes, but my hands are covered in oohey-gooey, chocolatey, coconutty amazingness.


Yields: 24 cupcakes

For cupcakes:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup hot coffee
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 2 large fresh eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For chocolate buttercream:

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 5 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder

For coconut-pecan frosting:

  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups flaked sweetened coconut
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

To make cupcakes (recipe courtesy of

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two 12-mold muffin tins with paper baking cups; set aside.
  2. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, sift together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, and sugar. Add oil, coffee, and milk, then mix for 2 minutes at medium speed. Add eggs and vanilla, then mix for 2 additional minutes.
  3. Pour batter into paper baking cups until 2/3 full. Bake in preheated oven for 14 to 16 minutes. Cool in pans for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make chocolate buttercream (recipe courtesy of Add a Pinch):

  1. Add cocoa powder to the large bowl of an electric mixer. Whisk for 10-15 seconds to remove any lumps.
  2. Cream cocoa powder and butter until thoroughly combined. Add sugar and milk to cocoa mixture by adding 1 cup of sugar followed by about a tablespoon of milk. After each addition has been combined, turn mixer onto high speed for approximately one minute. Repeat until all sugar and milk have been added.
  3. Add vanilla extract and espresso powder and mix until thoroughly combined.

Note: If frosting appears too dry, add more milk, 1 tablespoon at a time until it reaches the desired consistency. If it appears too wet and does not hold its form, add more confectioner’s sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time until it reaches the desired consistency.

To make coconut-pecan frosting (recipe courtesy of my Mum):

  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, cook evaporated milk, sugar, egg yolks, butter, and vanilla extract until thick, approximately 12 minutes, stirring constantly.
  2. Strain thickened milk-egg mixture through a fine sieve to remove any lumps.
  3. Add coconut and pecans to strained mixture and stir until thoroughly coated. Remove from heat and cool for 15-20 minutes.

To assemble:

  1. Remove paper cups from cooled cupcakes; discard. Using a sharp, slightly serrated knife, gently slice cupcakes in half. Spoon a teaspoon of chocolate buttercream onto sliced side of upper portion, spread carefully using a butter knife, and press gently into lower sliced portion. Repeat until all cupcakes have been layered. To finish, top each cupcake with cooled coconut-pecan frosting.