Caprese Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs + cheese + basil + tomatoes + balsamic = DELICIOUS! Add a little kick to the classic recipe to add a some variety to your Easter dinner menu. These eggs are only slightly more work than the regular recipe but the additions bring so much flavor! I would recommend making extra, as you’ll probably sneak a few before company comes over.

Caprese Deviled Eggs

Makes 12 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 dozen hard boiled eggs (I recommend using a BeepEgg or electric pressure cooker to hard boil eggs.)
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp yellow mustard
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil, reserve some for garnish
  • 2 tbsp shredded mozzarella cheese
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes, for garnish
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, for garnish

Instruction:

  1. Cut eggs in half and scoop yolks into a bowl. Add mayo, butter, mustard, chopped basil (excluding a little to use for garnish), and mozzarella cheese. Mix until smooth with a fork or hand mixer. Taste and season with salt/pepper as needed.
  2. Scoop egg mixture back into egg halves. You can also put mixture into a piping bag to make a pretty swirl, but I feel you lose too much egg mixture this way.
  3. Slice sun-dried tomatoes into small strips. Place one strip on each egg. Top with a few pieces of reserved basil. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar just before serving.

Lemon & Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Do you capitalize Brussels sprout or leave it as brussels sprout? How about the “s” at the end of brussel? According to my research, the following are all correct: Brussels sprout, Brussel sprout, brussels sprout, brussel sprout. Regardless of how you say it, I do hope you try this recipe. It would make an excellent side for Easter brunch or served for dinner alongside salmon or chicken. I recommend cutting the sprout in half no matter what size they are. Why? The best part of a roasted brussels/brussel/Brussels/Brussel sprout are the crunchy leaves that fall off when the veggie is cut in half. There is nothing more delicious than a hot and crispy brussels sprout leaf. Trust me.

Lemon & Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb brussels sprouts
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 lemon

Instruction:

  1. Preheat oven to 425º.
  2. Wash, trim ends, and cut brussels sprouts in half. Do not throw away the loose leaves; those are the best part! Mince garlic.
  3. Add brussels sprouts, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper to a bowl and toss to combine.
  4. Dump onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Roast at 425º for 25-30 minutes.
  5. When brussels sprouts are done, transfer to a serving bowl. Quickly zest lemon over the sprouts and finish with a squeeze of juice over the top.

Scotcheroo Chocolate Layer Cake

There’s some debate on whether the sticky, peanut buttery, chocolate topped rice krispie bars are called “scotcheroos” or “special k bars.” Personally, I believe they are scotcheroos unless they are made with Special K cereal, and only then should they be called special k bars. Makes sense, right? Regardless of which side of the debate you land on, we can all agree the bars are delicious. This cake is next level play on the famous bars, adding a chocolate cake layer to wow your guests. It’s made in three parts: bar layer, cake layer, and then the frosting and assembly. If you only have one cake pan, start with the bar layer as it can easily be removed from the pan within about a half hour. If you have two pans, start with the cake layer as it can cool while you work on the bar layer. When assembling, keep the bar layer on the bottom as it is heavier and would squash the cake layer when cutting if they were reversed.

Scotcheroo Chocolate Layer Cake

Chocolate Cake Layer Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa, plus more for dusting pan
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 hot coffee, boiling water with instant coffee crystals or reheated coffee from breakfast (haha!)

Instruction:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8″ cake pan with oil (or use butter) and use cocoa powder to dust the inside.
  2. In the bowl of a mixer with the whisk attachment, mix flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix on low to thoroughly combine.
  3. In a separate smaller bowl, add egg, vegetable oil, vanilla, milk, and lemon juice. Whisk together. Slowly pour in hot coffee while briskly whisking so it doesn’t cook the egg.
  4. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix until just combined, scraping edges of the bowl as needed. It will be very runny.
  5. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes, until toothpick inserted at center comes out clean.
  6. Once baked, let cool for about 15 minutes and then flip onto a cooling rack, gently tapping the outside of the pan to release. Let cool completely.

Scotcheroo Layer Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 5 cups Rice Krispie cereal
  • Pinch of salt

Instruction:

  1. Grease an 8″ layer cake pan. Set aside.
  2. Pour corn syrup and sugar into a 4 qt or larger pan. Bring to a boil on medium heat on the stovetop, stirring frequently. (Tip for corn syrup- spray your measuring cup before pouring syrup in. It’ll come out of the cup much easier.)
  3. Remove from heat and add peanut butter and salt, stirring until completely melted and combined.
  4. Add rice krispies and stir until well mixed.
  5. Press into prepared cake pan with greased hands. Smoothing out the top as best as you can.
  6. Let cool about 30 minutes and then flip onto a plate to cool completely.

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5-7 tbsp of milk

Instructions:

  1. Add butter, peanut butter, and vanilla to a mixing bowl with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed until smooth and fully combined, scraping edges of the bowl as needed.
  2. Add powdered sugar, cocoa, and salt and mix in on low speed. It will be very dry and look like coarse sand.
  3. Beat in milk until desired consistency is reached. Beat well so it’s light and fluffy.

Assembly:

  1. Put a clump of peanut butter on the middle of a plate and place the scotcheroo layer on top (this keeps it from moving around). Top with frosting and a few small dollops of peanut butter, if you want.
  2. Place cake later on top. Stick three toothpicks into the cake about 1″ in from the edge (this keeps the top layer from shifting off).
  3. Frost sides first using a frosting spatula and then frost the top. Decorate by pressing rice krispies into the sides of the cake. Enjoy!

Buttered Mushroom and Herb Gnocchi

Mushrooms are like little fungus sponges full of liquid that can be manipulated to soak up flavor, which sounds gross but tastes delicious! When cooked with lots of butter, they first release all their own moisture and then soak it back up along with the melted butter. It’s magical and creates these incredibly delicious savory morsels that work perfectly with gnocchi. Squeeze lemon on top for an acidic finish and sprinkle with a little cheese for richness. Tip- rinse your mushroom tops without flipping them over. The gills on the underside of the cap will hold onto the rinsing liquid, making the mushroom mushy and slimy.

Buttered Mushroom and Herb Gnocchi

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz mushrooms, rinsed, hard ends trimmed, and sliced
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp sage
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 16 oz package of gnocchi
  • 2 oz fresh grated parmesan
  • 1/2 of a fresh lemon

Instruction:

  1. Start a pot of boiling water for the gnocchi (don’t cook gnocchi yet).
  2. Add butter to medium fry pan at medium heat. Once melted, add garlic and stir for about 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add all mushroom and stir to coat. Let cook at medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms soften and turn brown, about 5-10 minutes.
  3. Add thyme and sage to mushrooms and stir until mushrooms are coated. Taste and add salt & pepper as needed.
  4. Add gnocchi to boiling water. Drain when gnocchi float to the top of the water. This will only take a few minutes. Once drained, add gnocchi to mushroom pan. Stir all together so gnocchi are also covered in herb butter blend.
  5. Divvy into bowls, squeeze lemon over each and top with 1/2 oz of cheese.

Gouda Stuffed Chicken Breast with Ginger Blackberry Sauce

South Dakota has incredible berries! We are lucky in Brookings to be close to Sanderson Farms and their delicious pick-your-own strawberries and raspberries. However, when it’s not summer, fresh berries can get crazy expensive, like $6 for a 6 oz container of blackberries. That’s nuts but makes sense as the berries need to be flown or trucked in quickly at the peak of freshness as they don’t stay ripe for long. Now imagine my shock when I saw containers of blackberries available at a Brookings grocery store for only 69 cents. I bought four and have been savoring every single berry, including using a container for this herby, bright, and just sweet enough blackberry sauce served over a savory Gouda cheese stuffed chicken breast.

Gouda Stuffed Chicken with Ginger Blackberry Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 4 small chicken breasts, about 6 ounces each
  • 4 oz smoked gouda cheese
  • 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 6 oz fresh blackberries
  • 2 tbsp red wine
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp ginger root (I use the pre-grated kind that comes in a jar or tube.)
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Water as needed
  • Salt & pepper

Instruction:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pat at chicken breasts dry. Season with salt and pepper on both sides. Cut a slit in the side to make a pocket into the chicken breast. Stuff 1 ounce of gouda into each chicken breast pocket. Use tooth picks to seal the hole shut so cheese doesn’t melt out.
  2. Heat a large oven-safe cast iron or stainless steel skillet on the stove over medium heat with the butter. Sear both sides of all chicken breasts in pan at the same time, about 3-4 minutes per side, until golden brown. Cover pan with foil and place in oven for about 15 minutes or until thermometer inserted in the center of the breasts reaches 165 degrees.
  3. Meanwhile, put blackberries, red wine, and sugar in a small sauce pan with lid over medium low heat. Heat with lid on until sugar is melted and berries begin to break down, about 10 minutes, opening lid to occasionally stir and check. You are basically steaming the juices out of the berries. Once berries begin to break down, reduce heat to low and add ginger, thyme, and lemon juice. Stir together until heated through, pushing berries against the edge of the pan to further break down. If sauce gets too dry or thick, add water. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. When chicken is done, let rest briefly and remove toothpicks before moving to plates. Top with a generous spoonful of sauce. This is delicious served with green beans and mashed potatoes or wild rice.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Overnight Oats

Chocolate covered strawberries are a Valentine’s Day classic. Turn this treat into the perfect February breakfast with this simple overnight oat recipe. It takes less than 5 minutes to throw together the night before, with only a few quick stirs in the morning. You can adapt the recipe to suit your taste, leaving out the chia seeds, adding a banana or yogurt, or mixing in any of your favorite supplements.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Overnight Oats

Makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp mini chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup frozen sliced strawberries
  • 3/4 cup almond milk

Instruction:

  1. Add all ingredients to a mason jar, adding almond milk last. Stir together, cover, and place in fridge overnight.
  2. In the morning, stir well and enjoy!

Cantina Egg Rolls with Southwestern Avocado Sauce

These tasty egg rolls are great for a few reasons. They are easy to make, filling, packed with veggies, a healthier baked version of fried egg rolls, and freeze really well. They’d be a perfect appetizer for a Super Bowl party or eat a few more for a tasty meal. The dip will only keep for about a day but ranch is a good substitute if you want something quick after reheating.

Cantina Egg Rolls with Southwestern Avocado Sauce

Egg Roll Ingredients:

  • 1 package of egg roll wrappers (typically 15 wrappers per package)
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed and drained
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 block frozen spinach, thawed and wrung out using cheesecloth so it’s very dry
  • 1/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 2 stalks green onion, chopped
  • 1/2 poblano pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • Spray cooking oil

Instruction:

  1. Preheat oven to 400º. Mix all ingredients (except wrappers) in a bowl until combined. Make sure spinach has been thoroughly drained before mixing. You can do this by thawing in a microwave, putting into cheesecloth or a floursack cloth, and wringing out over the sink.
  2. Prepare an egg roll wrapper by placing on counter with a point facing towards you (diamond shaped, not square). Place 1/4 cup of filling mixture into the middle of the egg roll wrapper. Wet the edges the furthest away from you with water. Fold bottom flap up, then fold side flaps in, and roll upwards. Push upper flap into roll to seal. Repeat until all egg rolls are sealed. (See silly diagram below.)
  3. Place all rolls on a cookie sheet and spritz the tops with cooking oil. Bake for 18-20 minutes, flipping halfway. Spritz the other side of the rolls once flipped. Let cool a bit before eating as the filling will be very hot.
How to fold an egg roll. I should have been a graphic designer. 😉

Southwestern Avocado Sauce

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 avocado, mashed
  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

Instruction:

  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl until well combined. Serve with egg rolls.

What’s in a name?

We’ve heard some funny variations of The Carrot Seed over the years from customers that can’t quite remember where they are shopping. A few of my favorites have been “The Onion Seed” and “The Carrot Stick”. But what’s with the name, “The Carrot Seed”? Where did that come from? What other names did we consider? We’ll give you all the details in this blog post, the first of our business-themed article series. We hope this behind-the-scenes look at The Carrot Seed with enlighten you, answer some questions, and maybe inspire you to try small business ownership for yourself.

Gathering Ideas

Back when The Carrot Seed was still just a silly idea, I started working on giving the research project a name so I could stop referring to it as the “maybe-kitchen-store-thing”. I was having a hard time working past my initial name idea of “Peppercorn Kitchen”. Peppercorn is one of my dog Jax’s middle names (along with P.Pup and Mr. Wiggoboddums), chosen because a few years prior I considered starting a wedding planning business named Peppercorn Events and named our dog “Jax Peppercorn Gjesdal” so I wouldn’t have to come up with an elaborate story of where the name came from. I just liked the word Peppercorn. Meanwhile this avoidance of deeper name meaning has become part of a larger elaborate story behind a completely different business’s name… Anyway, there were already a couple restaurants named “Peppercorn Kitchen” and a kitchenware store named “Peppercorn Gourmet” so I was back to day dreaming of new ideas. I compiled a list of other business names that I liked and a list of food terms that appealed to me.

A screenshot of my Word document of names of other stores and words I liked

In September 2014, my husband Mike and I went on a trip to Minneapolis to take a few cooking classes, visit the wholesale market, check out other kitchen stores, talk with a kitchen store owner, and generally gather inspiration and information about opening our own kitchenware store. We were excited (and scared) by the idea and we needed to take this four day trip to focus on obtaining knowledge to make an informed official decision on whether to officially pursue the idea or not. On the way there, I was in a group text with my entire family (mom, dad, two sisters and one brother), where they were suggesting name options for the potential business. There was a number of great ideas shared (NOT!) like “Kitchen Kaboodle” and “Kirsten’s Crap Store.” Clearly, my family was no help but it made for an entertaining drive.

Really truly, this is the only photo I have saved from the entire Minneapolis trip. Haha!

Finding the Name

When we arrived in Minneapolis, our first stop was a store call Hunt & Gather, a vintage amusement store filled with all sorts of new and old quirky items. My eye was drawn to a stack of quote cards that I dove into. The first card said “You should quit your day job.” The second card read “Don’t give up on your dreams.” I can’t remember exactly what the third card read, but it was something along the lines of “You can do it!” And then, the clouds parted, angels started singing, and a ray of sunshine lit one specific spot on the shelf. Just kidding…I turned the corner and there it was. A kid’s book called “The Carrot Seed”. I read the book, bought a copy, and settled on The Carrot Seed Kitchen Co. a few days later.

Ruth Krauss’ Book

Did you read Harold and the Purple Crayon when you were little? It was one of our favorites when my family visited our grandparents’ house growing up. The Carrot Seed is written by the same woman, Ruth Krauss, and illustrated by the same man, Ruth’s husband Crockett Johnson, published in 1945. It’s a sweet story illustrated all in red and orange of a young boy who plants a single carrot seed. His mom, dad, and brother tell him not to bother caring for the seed as it will never grow into anything. The little boy weeds and waters his little garden plot until one day he harvests a massive carrot, large enough to fill an entire wheel barrow. The story is very quick, only about 100 words, but it shows the power of persistence, listening to your gut, and the joy of growing your own food, all traits I would need in the journey of bringing The Carrot Seed Kitchen Co. to life.

Since opening the store in Brookings, I have made many connections to others over the name “The Carrot Seed”. Many people have memories of the book growing up or have a copy on their bookshelves for their own kids and grandkids. We have copies available in the shop and one at our kids table for the little ones to read while they wait for their parents. I have been gifted a few copies since opening, including a first edition print that I will cherish forever.

First edition copy is in back. Both of these were well loved in elementary schools before I received them.

Final Thoughts on The Carrot Seed

While I love the story of the little boy overcoming obstacles and sticking it out to prove his community wrong about the fate of his vegetable, it is the exact opposite of my story. The Brookings community, my family, and my business counterparts have been so incredibly supportive of our little kitchenware store. I have never been told “this won’t work” but instead a resounding “you can do this and we’ll help you!” I’m extremely grateful for the kind folks that help keep my little garden growing and hope it can continue to thrive for many years to come.

I leave you with a link to a song adaptation from the 1950’s, a longer version of the book. It’s a cute one! Click here to listen.

— Kirsten

Hearty Tuscan Soup with Creamy Poached Egg

Chicken sausage is an overlooked yet delicious meat that is lean, easy to cook, and flavorful! This hearty soup is packed with veggies while also being filling due to the chicken sausage and beans. The creamy poached egg adds beautiful color and another layer of flavor. It can easily be omitted if poaching eggs isn’t in your skill set! This recipe makes about 8 bowls.

Hearty Tuscan Soup with Creamy Poached Egg

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 carrots, peeled & chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 cups broth/water with bouillon
  • 15 oz canned diced tomatoes
  • 15 oz canned cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
  • 4 fully-cooked chicken sausage links (favorites are Al Fresco Roasted Pepper & Asiago OR Johnsonville Three Cheese Italian Style), sliced into 1/4″ slices
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 head of kale, ribs removed and chopped (about 3 cups)
  • Salt & pepper to taste (I used about 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper)
  • 8 Eggs
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • Balsamic vinegar to garnish

Instruction:

  1. Warm olive oil over medium heat. Sauté onion and carrots, seasoning with salt & pepper. Cook until onion is soft & translucent. Add garlic and sauté for a few more minutes, until fragrant.
  2. Add broth/water with bouillon to deglaze and get brown bits off the bottom of pan. Add tomatoes, rinsed beans, sliced sausage, seasoning, pepper flakes, and salt/pepper. Bring to simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in chopped kale. Cook for additional 5 minutes until kale is bright green and wilted. Keep soup warm until eggs are cooked.
  4. Meanwhile, fill a small sauce pan with water. Add 1 tsp vinegar and a pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer. Crack egg into a small heat-safe dish. Take a spoon and stir water briskly so it swirls. Pour egg into swirling water and cover with lid. Let cook ~3 minutes and gently remove to a paper towel to drain. (Swirling water keeps egg compact and stops it from “growing legs.”)
  5. Taste and adjust seasoning in soup if needed. Ladle into individual bowls and place poached egg on top. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Bark

Ingredients: 

  • 1 15 oz bag of pretzel twists
  • 1 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (I use a mix of semi-sweet and milk)
  • 1 tsp salt

Method: 

  1. Preheat oven to 375º. Completely cover a half sheet pan in parchment paper. Pour bag of pretzels onto pan and lightly crush. Set aside. 
  2. Add butter and brown sugar to a sauce pan over medium heat. Stir until bubbling. Stop stirring and let mixture bubble without touching for 3 minutes. Pour over pretzels in pan. Put pan in oven and let bake for 5 minutes. This will spread the caramel out to connect all the pretzels. 
  3. Remove from oven and immediately top with chocolate chips. Place back in oven for about 2 minutes, until chocolate chips are melty. 
  4. Remove from oven and immediately use an offset icing spatula or silicone scraper to smooth chocolate over pretzels. Sprinkle with salt. 
  5. Place in fridge for a few hours to set. Use a sharp knife or your hands to break into pieces. Enjoy!