Who said simple dishes weren’t worth making? Phampants shows how to make the classic Italian comfort dish, Cacio e Pepe — cheese and pepper — and a Parmesan Cheese Bowl for it to be served in. Simple, delicious and perfect for a day when you need comfort food. 

Casio e Pepe // @phampants for @speckledpalate

Today for your maternity leave guest post, my running coach and pal John Pham[pants] is sharing a dish. Pham and I go way back, and I was thrilled when he said he would create a guest post for TSP during my time off. He’s a video blogger and does some spectacular work… and we teamed up last summer and fall for our 30th birth #project330 projects. Without further ado… here’s Pham!

I hope your St. Patrick Day’s hangover isn’t as bad as you thought it would be because under normal circumstances, I would show you how to make pho, the Vietnamese hangover cure. Unfortunately, that isn’t going to happen today because the last two times I made it, I set not only my kitchen on fire, but also my friend’s kitchen.

So instead, you’re going to have to suffer through your hangover and learn how to make Cacio e Pepe.

Though, instead of your typical cooking post, I thought I do something different. I’m going to actually show you how to make Cacio e Pepe with my worst Anthony Bourdain impression ever.

Please enjoy this delicious video:

Here’s how you make the pasta and Parmesan bowl:

Cacio e Pepe
Prep time
Cook time
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The classic, grown-up Italian comfort dish, Cacio e Pepe -- cheese and pepper -- served up in a delicious Parmesan Cheese Bowl. What's not to love?
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4 servings
Parmesan Cheese Bowl
  • ¼-1/2 cup Parmesan cheese per bowl, finely grated
  • 1 small to medium-sized bowl
Cacio e Pepe
  • 1 lb. fresh spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ lb. Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
  • ¼ cup pasta water
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Make the Parmesan Cheese Bowl
  1. The size of cheese bowl you want to create will reflect on how much cheese you should use.
  2. Heat a large pan on low heat until warm.
  3. Spread the Parmesan cheese evenly around the pan. The cheese layer can't be too thin or too thick lest it breaks or falls apart.
  4. Once the cheese is fully melted, remove from heat and let it cool for 3-5 minutes until soft.
  5. With a spatula, turn the pan upside down and CAREFULLY peel the cheese over your upside down bowl.
  6. Let the cheese cool over the bowl until semi-hard.
  7. Once semi-hard, remove the cheese from the bowl. Mold the bowl as desired.
Make the Cacio e Pepe
  1. Cook the spaghetti al dente style.
  2. Remove the spaghetti but save the pasta water.
  3. Melt the butter on a large pan on medium heat.
  4. Add a generous layer of cracked pepper over the melted butter.
  5. Add the pasta water and heat until boiling.
  6. Toss in the pasta and mix well with the buttered water.
  7. Add ¾ of the pecorino cheese.
  8. Mix until the pasta and cheese are well melted together.
  9. Add more cracked pepper if desired.
Put everything together
  1. Serve over the Parmesan cheese bowl.
  2. Garnish with the rest of the pecorino cheese & more cracked pepper.

PhampantsJohn Pham, phampants as he is best know on the Internet, is a schemer of all things awesome while owning his awkwardness.  You can often find him on YouTube, Tumblr and the tweetsophere.  He’s also single, ladies, and likes long runs along the Chicago lakefront.

Guinness Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting Drizzle // @speckledpalate

St. Patrick’s Day always makes me think of the Wearin’ of the Green in Baton Rouge, even though I never made it to the parade during my collegiate years.

One of those years, I actually lived on the parade route, and I slept through the parade and all the hubbub pertaining to it.

Admittedly, I was a bit of a mess. But I was a college student, so it was what it was.

Guinness Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting Drizzle // @speckledpalate

However, I attended the Wearin’ of the Green post-parties… and when we lived in Baton Rouge a few years back, we enjoyed all the festivities the parade, pre- and post-parties had to offer.

While we didn’t live on the parade route, some of our friends did, and we were able to hike from our house to their homes for the festivities.

Guinness Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting Drizzle // @speckledpalate

That year, I made us Guinness Cupcakes with Bailey’s Cream Cheese Icing and Jameson Simple Syrup. And they were delightful.

This year is a bit different since we have a newborn, and we didn’t make the annual Dallas St. Patrick’s Day Parade this past weekend.

That didn’t stop us from celebrating at home.

Guinness Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting Drizzle // @speckledpalate

Enter these Guinness Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting Drizzle.

They’re just as decadent as they sound… and they’re really, really good if you’re a chocoholic.

The dark chocolate sings with the Guinness. And then, as if these dense brownies weren’t enough on their own, you drizzle some festive green cream cheese frosting on top of them as a finishing touch.

Chocolate lovers? You definitely want to make these for your St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

Non-chocolate lovers? You should make these for the chocoholics in your life.

Here’s how you can do it:

Guinness Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting Drizzle
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
These decadently rich Guinness Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting Drizzle are the perfect dessert to bake for your St. Patrick's Day celebration. Dense, dark chocolate brownies topped with a festive green cream cheese frosting drizzle... what's not to love?
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 25 small brownies
  • ¾ 62% dark chocolate chunks
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • ¾ cup Guinness (or any dark stout)
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup 62% dark chocolate chunks (for topping)
Cream Cheese Frosting Drizzle
  • 1 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1½ teaspoons half-and-half (or heavy cream)
  • Green food dye, optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9"x9" square baking pan parchment paper and spray with cooking spray (or forgo the parchment paper, and butter and flour the dish.) Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine ¾ cup of dark chocolate chunks and the applesauce. Heat the mixture in the microwave in 30 second increments, removing the bowl and stirring after each session. Once all the chocolate is melted, the mixture is good to go.
  3. Measure the sugars and vanilla into the chocolate mixture. Stir until combined.
  4. Crack the eggs in a small bowl, and break the yolks using a fork. Pour into the chocolate and sugar mixture, mixing until combined.
  5. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder and salt.
  6. Sprinkle the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, stirring, then add the Guinness. Stir until there are no longer lumps, and the mixture is well combined.
  7. Pour the brownie batter into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the additional ¾ cup of 62% dark chocolate chunks on top of the brownies.
  8. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the edges are firm and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  9. While the brownies bake, combine the frosting ingredients with a hand mixer, and mix until smooth.
  10. Let cool for 20-30 minutes before drizzling with the cream cheese frosting, then slicing.
  11. Enjoy with a glass of milk... or a pint of Guinness.
Adapted from Joy the Baker's Beer Brownies recipe.

 Guinness Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting Drizzle // @speckledpalate

How will you be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this year?

  • Jenna @ A Savory FeastMarch 16, 2015 - 8:12 am

    Oooh, these sound delicious! And they are so pretty. I’ve had a Guinness burger, but I don’t think I’ve ever tried it in a dessert. I should give it a try for St. Patty’s tomorrow!ReplyCancel

  • Kelly @ Hidden Fruits and VeggiesMarch 16, 2015 - 11:28 am

    Ugh, guiness is sooooo good in chocolate baked goods! My friend made chocolate guiness cupcakes this last weekend, and I was in heaven. With a cream cheese drizzle, these sound even better!ReplyCancel

  • Savita @ ChefDeHomeMarch 16, 2015 - 1:42 pm

    Guinness brownies look so perfect, Erin! loved it! perfect for st. partick’s day!ReplyCancel

  • Shanna Koenigsdorf WardMarch 17, 2015 - 5:28 pm

    Beautiful, green (and chocolate-covered) St. Paddy’s day post. Brownies and cream cheese icing are a weakness around these parts. Congratulations on your new addition; I’m glad to discover your gorgeous blog and passionate food voice via Laura’s Mess.ReplyCancel

Spring “officially” begins next Friday… but we’re celebrating a bit early with a delightful salad! Laura Campbell from Laura’s Mess shares a delicious, vibrant salad featuring fresh greens, edamame, asparagus, sugar snap peas, strawberries, goat cheese, lemon zest and more!

Spring Pea, Asparagus and Strawberry Salad // Laura

Happy Friday, y’all! I don’t remember how Laura and I met, but she’s become a lovely friend during the last few years of blogging, and I always leave her site drooling. I’m so excited to be sharing her gorgeous post with y’all today… especially because I desperately want a bowl of this. Laura, do you think you could bring one to me in Texas? I mean, it’s only half the world away!

Hello readers of The Speckled Palate! I’m Laura, and I’m writing to you all the way from the humid coast of Western Australia. We’re currently experiencing a summer heatwave. It’s been over 35°C (95°F) for the past four days with no signs of relief. Rather strange to think about, considering that Erin’s Instagram photos have recently looked like the Arctic tundra. By the time you read this post I’ll be waltzing through autumn leaves whilst you enter the green months of spring.  Weird.

Anyway, geography aside, it’s an absolute honour to write this guest post for someone who I’ve come to consider as a dear friend-across-the-seas. I don’t quite remember when I first came across Erin’s blog, but over the last year or so, we’ve entered a beautiful dialogue about our daily lives, Christmas cookies, our shared birthday (one year apart – yep, I’m the older wiser one) and – more recently – Erin’s pending motherhood. I am so, so excited for Erin, Winston and their (big sister!) furkid Lucy. I’ve been eagerly reading Erin’s pregnancy updates and can’t believe that it’s only a month or so ’til Lady Baby enters the world (by the time you read this she should already be here! That’s another wow.)

Spring Pea, Asparagus and Strawberry Salad // Laura

Anyway, before I start gushing like a mad thing, let’s move on to the topic of this guest post: salad.  More specifically, a spring-themed strawberry salad that’s bursting with flavour, colour and seasonal vegetables. I’ve been loving our Aussie spring and summer produce during the past few months, and it’s wonderful to think that you’ll soon be experiencing the same abundance of stone fruit, asparagus, chard, leeks and pea greens – perfect on their own or tumbled into a salad or side dish.

Spring Pea, Asparagus and Strawberry Salad // Laura

The salad recipe below is more of a concept than an absolute instructional. Feel free to experiment with flavours and textures, harnessing the best fruit and vegetables that you can find. Add a little avocado for creamy goodness or some pea shoots if you can find nice ones at the market. Swap the strawberries for juicy chunks of ripe peach, or add sauteed leeks or sweet onions as a beautiful accompaniment to the goat cheese.

As per my notes, feel free to bulk out this recipe with some cooked and cooled quinoa for a more substantial dish. I’ve also added the almonds as an ‘option’ as… well, I’d like to say I was catering for nut-free people but to be honest, I just forgot about them (honestly, I can’t even blame baby brain!). If you do add the nuts, they’ll provide a gorgeously satisfying crunch…

Spring Pea, Asparagus and Strawberry Salad // Laura

Here’s how you can make it:

Spring Pea, Asparagus and Strawberry Salad
Prep time
Total time
Spring is upon us, and what better way to celebrate than with a fresh salad? Laura Campbell from Laura's Mess creates a delicious and vibrant spring salad featuring greens, edamame, asparagus, sugar snap peas, strawberries, goat cheese and more!
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 2-4
  • 100g edamame beans, shelled (50g shelled weight) [About ¼ cup shelled edamame]
  • 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
  • 50g sugar snap peas, stringed [About ¼ cup sugar snap peas]
  • Large handful of fresh greens (I used baby spinach and rainbow chard, however watercress or rocket would be lovely)
  • 100 - 150g strawberries, washed, trimmed and halved (leave a few small ones whole for garnish) [About ½ - ¾ cup strawberries]
  • 100g fresh goat cheese (substitute feta), broken into chunks [About ½ cup goat cheese/feta]
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (from lemon below)
  • Small handful of mint, washed and chopped (reserve a few leaves for garnish)
  • 50g slivered almonds, optional [About ¼ cup slivered almonds]
  • 2 tablespoons cold-pressed sweet almond oil
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • Drizzle of honey or rice malt syrup, to taste
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. If using, scatter the slivered almonds over an oven tray and toast them at 180°C/350°F for 8 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside to cool.
  2. Blanch the asparagus spears in hot water for 2 minutes or until bright green. Refresh under cold water, drain and set aside.
  3. Slice the sugar snap peas into thin slivers on a diagonal. Place into a medium bowl with the shelled edamame and sliced strawberries. Pour over enough dressing to coat, then toss and adjust seasoning to taste.
  4. Scatter the leafy greens over a serving platter. Lay the asparagus spears over the top and spoon over the pea and strawberry mix. Combine the goats cheese with the chopped mint, lemon zest and a little extra dressing. Gently mix, then spoon over the plated salad.
  5. Scatter over the whole strawberries, remaining mint leaves and slivered almonds if desired.
  6. Enjoy immediately!
This salad is wonderful with seasoned grilled chicken, fish or pork on a warm spring day. You can also bulk it out with 1 cup of cooked quinoa and some flaxseeds for a wholesome vegetarian meal.

I mixed my salad dressing with just a tiny bit of honey to retain a 'tangy contrast' to the sweet, juicy strawberries. Don't overdo the sweetness, or you'll throw off the balance of your salad. The ingredients listed above make more than enough dressing for this salad. Add just enough to coat the strawberry and pea mix with a little extra for the goat cheese and leaves. Don't be tempted to pour over the remainder of the jar unless you're adding cooked quinoa as suggested above (save it for another salad!).

[Erin's note: I went in and roughly converted Laura's measurements for American readers who are salivating over this gorgeous salad and want to make it in brackets behind Laura's metric measurements!]

Spring Pea, Asparagus and Strawberry Salad // Laura

Erin, sending you, Winston and Lucy LOTS of love during your bonding time with Lady Baby. Can’t wait to read about your parenting adventures from my apartment across the seas!

@laurasmessLaura Campbell is a freckle-faced, English-born blogger who lives, works and writes in the sunny city of Perth, Western Australia. She’s a Medical Social Worker by day and spends most of her free time cooking up a storm in her tiny apartment kitchen. Laura loves craft beer, cultured butter, avocado and chewy sourdough. She shares her home with her husband, Aaron (an illustrator, 3D artist and bricklayer) and a scruffy brown puppy named Loki.

  • Amy @ Thoroughly Nourished LifeMarch 15, 2015 - 11:23 pm

    Hi Erin (and Laura) so lovely to stumble across your blog from Laura’s :)
    I’m a fellow Aussie but I live on the other coast of the country. Looking forward to following along with the Speckled Palate and getting a peek into Texan life!ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer from Milk and HoneyMarch 16, 2015 - 10:08 pm

    Deeelicious. Gorgeous colours and flavours. What a great way to celebrate Spring and Autumn and Friendship.ReplyCancel

This Sweet Sunrise mocktail is a play on the infamous Tequila Sunrise, omitting the tequila while adding orange-pineapple juice and a dash of orange bitters for more flavor. Susannah of Feast + West shows how to make this delightful party drink that will please guests young and old!

Sweet Sunrise Mocktail // @feastandwest for @speckledpalate

Y’all should know that I love a good drink — alcoholic or otherwise — and my pal Susannah is making a gorgeous drink for us to indulge in today! This special drink is perfect for all party guests, and y’all had better believe I’ll be giving it a try sometime soon, even though me and pineapples have a checkered past. {I’m willing to risk some itchiness because this sounds DELICIOUS.} Without further ado, here’s Susannah!

Hey friends! I’m Susannah from Feast + West. Erin and I have become friends through our blogs, and I am so excited she asked me here today to share a mocktail recipe with you!

Cocktails are immense amounts of fun, even when you don’t add alcohol to them. Whenever I throw a party, I try to make sure I have several options for any guests who don’t drink. Mocktails are the perfect answer. With a beautiful virgin drink in hand instead of a plain ol’ soda, no one feels left out.

Sweet Sunrise Mocktail // @feastandwest for @speckledpalate

This Sweet Sunrise mocktail is a play on the infamous Tequila Sunrise cocktail. For that, you start with a base mixture of orange juice and tequila poured over ice. Then, you add cherry grenadine syrup which is heavy and will sink to the bottom, creating gorgeous striations in color — like dawn over a tropical beach.

For this non-alcoholic version, however, I opt for orange-pineapple juice and a dash of orange bitters for a bit more flavor. And, of course, I omit the tequila. The result is a sunny drink that only looks like a cocktail. You’ll love it as we move into warmer months, and it’s a great recipe to have in your back pocket for any gatherings you are planning this spring or summer. You’ll get extra points for being the thoughtful host with mocktails.

Sweet Sunrise Mocktail
Prep time
Total time
This Sweet Sunrise mocktail is a play on the infamous Tequila Sunrise, omitting the tequila while adding orange-pineapple juice and a dash of orange bitters for more flavor. A party favorite!
Recipe type: Drink
Serves: 1
  • Ice
  • 2-3 dashes orange bitters
  • 4 ounces orange pineapple juice, OR 2 ounces orange juice plus 2 ounces pineapple juice
  • ½ ounce grenadine syrup
  • slice of grapefruit, orange or pineapple, for garnish
  1. Fill a highball glass with ice.
  2. Add 2-3 dashes of orange cocktail bitters and top with orange pineapple juice.
  3. Add grenadine syrup, which will sink to the bottom, then rise to the top.
  4. Garnish with slice of grapefruit, orange or pineapple.
  5. Serve immediately.
For the alcoholic version, add 1 ounce of blanco tequila (also known as silver tequila) before adding the juice.

Sweet Sunrise Mocktail // @feastandwest for @speckledpalate


Susannah Brinkley // @feastandwestSusannah Brinkley is an Instagram-obsessed graphic designer and cat lady based in Charlotte, N.C. When she’s not designing or taking a zillion photos, she blogs about food, design and travel at Feast + West. Traveling inspires Susannah the most in her design work and in the kitchen, and she loves to recreate recipes at home. Keep in touch on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.


Guinness and Chocolate Milkshakes with Jameson Cream // @speckledpalate for @mycookingspot

St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner, and today, I’m sharing boozy milkshakes with y’all.

I figure it’s only right.

The combination of Guinness and chocolate is one of my favorites… and I’m thrilled to have nailed this boozy milkshake on the first go-round.

I was pregnant when I made and photographed this recipe, so Winston played taste tester. He, obviously, took the job very seriously. He slurped both these milkshakes down without complaint in a few short minutes, then told me they were delicious.

Consider me sold on the recipe… even though I couldn’t enjoy it myself.

Don’t y’all fret, though: I plan on making another batch of these milkshakes next week, and I will be indulging in one!

Guinness and Chocolate Milkshakes with Jameson Cream // @speckledpalate for @mycookingspot

Who’s down for making some of these beauties, too?

I’m sharing my Guinness and Chocolate Milkshakes with Jameson Cream recipe over at My Cooking Spot today! Come join me, and be sure to let me know if you’re planning on making anything special for this year’s celebration.

  • Kelly @ Hidden Fruits and VeggiesMarch 9, 2015 - 9:30 am

    Boozy milkshakes?! Sign me up!ReplyCancel

  • EriniMarch 9, 2015 - 10:44 am

    This is making me wish I could handle dairy a bit better. Might be worth the consequences though. ALSO: those glasses! Super cute!ReplyCancel

  • AlyssaMarch 10, 2015 - 11:44 pm

    I’m social media stalking you today for baby news! I hope you get enjoy this milkshake soon, mama! We have Guinness in the house right now so I may be partaking in one of these shortly!ReplyCancel