Lemon ‘Swig’ Sugar Cookies

When my friend Molly shows up to a youth baseball practice with cookies in a cellophane bag,  tied with a ribbon…I knew it was going to be good!  

These cookies are a perfect mix of sugar, lemon, and goodness.  The texture is buttery and smooth.  The frosting compliments the cookie better than most.  Can you say hello Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting?    

Thank you Molly,  for sharing your mad baking skills and friendship with me!  To our lemon loving friends,  it’s not too late to bake these for a special teacher or friend.  Follow the directions closely, leaving thicker than normal and also baking a short amount of time.

LEMONCOOKIES300

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 1¼ cup sugar (plus ¼ cup reserved)
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 t lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 Eggs
  • ½ t baking soda
  • ½ t cream of tarter
  • 1 t salt
  • 5½ cups flour
  • Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese,
  • softened
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 t lemon zest
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 5 cups confectioners’ sugar

Instructions

  1. Get ready to enjoy these scrumptious cookies!
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cream of tarter, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, vegetable oil, sugar (1¼ C), powdered sugar, and water. Add in lemon juice and lemon zest.. Add in eggs.
  4. Slowly add in flour mixture until combined. Roll the dough into golf sized balls and place onto a non stick cookie sheet.
  5. To give the cookies their signature rough edge, dip the bottom of a glass into the reserved ¼ cup sugar and press onto the cookie ball to flatten the cookie. You still want the cookie to be thicker so don’t press them to thin.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the bottom is lightly brown. The cookies stay soft so do not over bake.

To make the lemon cream cheese frosting: Beat cream cheese, butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla together until smooth and fluffy. Add confectioners’ sugar. Beat until creamy.

Cinnamon and Sugar Sweet Rolls

I admit it.  Baking with yeast takes it up a notch.  The Easter Bunny prepared this yummy treat for our family.  When a recipe can be started the night before, I am all in.   Cinnamon and sugar is a win win.  Add a serving of bacon or sausage, done and done. High Five!  These were made with love for my boys.   I can only hope that sharing this recipe brings sweetness to your life.

overnight-cinnamon-twist5

INGREDIENTS

Dough:
    • 4 1/2 cups (22.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
    • 2 tablespoons instant yeast
    • 1/3 cup (2.5 ounces) granulated sugar
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    • 4 large eggs (7 ounces)
    • 1 1/4 cup hot water
    • 8 tablespoons (4 ounces) butter, melted
Filling:
    • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) butter, melted
    • 1/2 cup (3,75 ounces) granulated sugar
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Glaze:
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons milk, plus more if needed
  • Splash of vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large bowl (to allow for about 7-8 cups of dough to double in bulk), whisk together the flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.
  2. In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup, whisk together the eggs and pour them into the well. Use the same measuring cup for the hot water. Pour it around the edges of the well (not directly on the eggs) and then add the melted butter to the bowl. Use a large spoon to mix the ingredients together until a soft, rather wet dough is formed. It won’t look like traditional cinnamon roll dough; it will be much softer and it’s ok if it looks a bit lumpy. Magic happens overnight, I promise.
  3. Cover the bowl with greased plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for 8-10 hours.
  4. Using about 1/4 – 1/3 cup flour (more or less), dust a clean countertop. Lightly punch down the chilled dough and roll it out on the floured counter to a long, skinny rectangle (about 24-inches long and 7 or 8-inches wide).
  5. Spread the 4 tablespoons melted butter on the rectangle. It will solidify and be easier to work with as you spread it on the chilly rectangle of dough. Combine the sugar and cinnamon and spread it on top of the butter, lightly pressing it in.
  6. Fold one long edge of the rectangle up to meet the other long edge so the dough is folded in half. Use a pizza cutter or knife and cut the dough into 1-inch strips. With each strip, hold an end in each hand and twist it up several times and roll it around the center into a circle (see pictures below for a visual). Place on a large, rimmed baking sheet (11X17-inch) lined with parchment paper (about 12 per tray).
  7. Cover the trays with greased, plastic wrap and let the rolls rise until puffy and doubled, an hour or so.
  8. Bake at 375 degrees F for 12-14 minutes until just barely golden on top (don’t overbake or they’ll be dry).
  9. For the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar, butter, milk, and vanilla. Add more milk as needed until the glaze is thick but pourable. Let the rolls cool for 5 or so minutes before drizzling with glaze.

This recipe came from a friend of a friend and then from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, which has many fabulous recipes.  (thanks Mandy for the find!)

Baked BBQ Chicken

This recipe is outstanding.  Bragging rights for the best and easiest BBQ chicken start here. The extra step in marinating before baking makes it all worthwhile.  I never knew baked chicken could be so yummy.  The smoked paprika gives the chicken a subtle smoky flavor.  If you don’t have that ingredient, invest now…..as we use it in the delicious fish tacos featured on this website as well.  The perfect tenderness of the chicken comes from marinating in four simple ingredients.  Enjoy!

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, thawed
3 T. olive oil
2 T. lemon juice
1 1/2 t. smoked paprika
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 t kosher salt
pepper to taste
BBQ sauce

Pre-heat over to 350 degrees.

Place the chicken breasts in a Ziploc bag and pound out until flattened to 1/2 inch.  I do this one breast at a time. Mix olive oil, lemon juice, smoke paprika, and garlic and place in a large Ziploc bag with all of the chicken breasts.  Marinate for a couple of hours.

Remove the chicken from the Ziploc bag and placed in a glass casserole dish.  Season with salt and pepper.  Bake for 20 minutes and then brush with BBQ sauce.  Brush with more sauce every 5 minutes for an additional 20 minutes.

I am sure that this chicken would be equally as good cooked on the grill!

Eclair Dessert

Seriously delicious.  At a recent get together,  MJ knocked it out of the ballpark with a sinful dessert.  Anything that remotely resembles an eclair….I’m in. I feel confident that it was made with full strength fat and sugar, although a low-calorie version might be worth a try.  Layered desserts can be fun.  It involves no baking and relatively simple.  This would be a great recipe to make with your children.  Close your eyes and dream about a Parisian bakery without the travel.  Enjoy.

Crust
8-10 whole graham crackers

Cream
2-4 oz packages of French vanilla instant pudding (I used one regular vanilla and one French)
3 cups milk
9 oz Cool Whip

Frosting
2 squares unsweetened chocolate
3 T. margarine
5 T. milk
1 t. vanilla
1 ½ cup powdered sugar

Line 9×13″ pan with graham crackers until completely covered with one layer of crackers.

Combine pudding and milk.  Beat on low-speed for 3 minutes. Fold Cool Whip into pudding mixture.

Spread ½ of the creamy mixture over the graham crackers. Place as second layer of graham crackers over the cream. Use the rest of the cream over this layer of graham crackers. Place a third layer of graham crackers over cream.

Make frosting: Melt butter and chocolate in a saucepan over low heat. Gently add milk and vanilla.  Add powdered sugar, whisking until well  blended and smooth.   Cool for 5 minutes. Pour frosting over 3rd layer of graham crackers.

Cool 8 hours.

Dutch Baby Pancakes

dutch baby

Need a special treat for a weekend breakfast?  Get out your favorite seasoned iron skillet or purchase one and start a whole new world of cooking.   I felt super special recently when a friend made these for my son (age 12) and I.  Chris served these pancakes (cooked in the oven, but more like thicker version of crepes) with blueberry syrup, maple syrup, powdered sugar, and a wedge of lemon.   A side of sausage and bacon was the perfect touch.  Hospitality at its best. Thanks Chris and Darci, you know how to make your house guests feel extra special.

3 T. butter, room temp
3 large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. vanilla
1/4 c. sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In a medium cast iron skillet or oven proof nonstick skillet, Melt 2 T. of butter over medium heat.

In a blender, combine eggs, milk, flour, salt, vanilla, and 1/4 c. sugar.  Blend until foamy, about 1 minute.  Pour batter into skillet, bake until puffed and lightly browned, about 20 minutes,

Dot pancake with a tablespoon of butter, powdered sugar, and a small amount of lemon juice.  Slice into wedges and serve immediately.

Serve with fruit and your favorite breakfast meat.

Rosemary Lemonade

tea

During my recent travels, I met interesting people and along the way found that they have memorable recipes. Nothing says Summertime like a good old fashioned lemonade.  Nothing says spruced up and unforgettable lemonade like Rosemary Lemonade.  Heather treated us to this delightful beverage at a recent porch illumination over the 4th of July in the Pacific Northwest. Americana at its best!  We had our choice of a snow cone, Coke float, or lemonade.  My taste buds led me to the refreshing recipe that I couldn’t wait to share.  Thank you, Heather, for your warm hospitality and new found love for lemonade.

12 cups of water, divided

1 cup of sugar

12 sprigs of rosemary

1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil, add the sugar and stir until dissolved.  Remove from heat and add 12 sprigs of fresh rosemary. Cover and steep for 30 minutes.  Remove rosemary, let cool, then add 1`cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice and 8 cups of water.  Chill and allow flavors to blend for several hours before serving.  If possible, make this the day before, as the taste will be smoother.  Enjoy!

3 Cheese Stuffed Pasta Shells

cheese shells

There is something about stuffed pasta shells that sounds fancy and hard. There is something about making them that is easy and fun.  It’s economical and great made ahead.  My first love is taking something to friends that maybe they don’t make themselves.  It’s hard, as most of my friends are excellent cooks.  I have made this several times over the past few weeks and everyone gives it two thumbs up.  Add a salad and a loaf of French bread and call it dinner!

1 package of jumbo pasta shells
1 (15 oz) container of ricotta cheese
2 cups of mozzarella cheese
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, divided
1 egg
1/2 t. salt
1/4  t. pepper
1 (26 oz) jar of your favorite pasta sauce  (I have used traditional, four cheese, Newman’s Marinara, etc.)
10 basil leaves (optional)
8 oz of sliced mushrooms (optional)
spinach (optional)
sausage, browned and crumbled (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cook pasta shells according to the package, about 9 minutes.  Drain and rinse in cold water.

In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella, egg, salt, pepper, and basil (optional).  Spread 3/4 of the spaghetti sauce on the bottom of the 13×9″ inch baking dish.  If you like meat/mushrooms/spinach in your spaghetti sauce, you may brown your sausage and add the sauce into the meat.

Place 1-2 Tablespoons of the cheese mixture into the cooked pasta shells and place into the baking dish, seam side up.  Pour the remaining sauce over the shells and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and a smidge of Parmesan cheese.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Uncover the last 5-10 minutes.

This is a great meal that can be made the night before.   It is also perfect for a potluck, dinner for a neighbor, and also easy to make to accommodate picky eaters by instructing them to “dip shallow” and only get the shells (without the veggies and meat).

Chocolate Fudge Marshmallow Goodness

The weather must warm up!  Spring is around the corner and I need to get out of the kitchen soon.  The downside is my backside,  The upside is that I have tested some of the best recipes that are now some of my favorites.  I have been blessed to share them with friends going through tough times.  Good weather is coming and so are better times for so many.  My heart is full, tummies are full, and love has been shown.  I stumbled upon this recipe and had every ingredient except the marshmallows.  We have enjoyed the leftover marshmallows in hot cocoa.  🙂  Is there such a thing as too much chocolate?

chocolate
3/4 cup flour
1 cup of regular sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder,sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 ounces butter, melted
2 large eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans (optional)
2 handfuls of mini marshmallows or enough to almost cover the top

For the frosting:
2 ounces butter, melted (1/4 cup)
1 ounce cocoa powder, sifted (1/4 cup)
2 ounces evaporated milk (1/4 cup)
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted (8 ounces)

Preheat  oven to 350 degrees. Use a 9 x 9 square baking pan and line with parchment paper (sprayed with Pam). Parchment paper is my new best friend.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Beat together the butter, eggs and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Stir in the toasted nuts. Pour into the prepared pan.

Bake on a middle shelf of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Mine cooked in about 20 minutes.  Immediately sprinkle the marshmallows on top and return to the oven for a few minutes (3-4) to melt the marshmallows. Remove from the oven and carefully spread the chocolate frosting over top.

To make the chocolate frosting mix all ingredients together in a bowl, beating with an electric whisk until smooth and thick. Spread on the hot marshmallows. Let cool completely. Cut into wedges to serve after removing from spring form pan.

Note:  One shortcut is to use Milk Chocolate canned frosting. (gasp)   I heated it in the microwave for 30-40 seconds and poured half the can on top of the marshmallows.  I then used a knife to “swirl” the chocolate and marshmallows together.  I put in the the fridge for 30 minutes, cut,  and  stored in Tupperware at room temperature.

Strawberry Brownies

Cooking for friends this week, I searched for something outside of my box.  I love desserts that stand alone and also good with a good cup of morning joe. This is a different version of Strawberry Cake.  First, it’s dense.  Second, it’s easy with minimal ingredients. There are two ways you can make this.  I made both and like both.  The brownies with the glaze can be frozen.  The cream cheese frosted ones are rich and yummy!

  • 1 box strawberry cake mix (I use Duncan Hines)pic cake
  • 
2 eggs
  • 
1/3 cup oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 8″ square baking pan with parchment (and spray with Pam).  Mix strawberry cake mix, eggs, and oil with hand mixer until well combined.  Spread batter evenly into pan.  Batter will be thicker than normal cake batter and may need to be pressed in.   Bake for 15 minutes or until just set; be careful not to overcook.  Allow brownies to cool for 10 minutes.  Lift carefully from pan using ends of parchment to lift.

Choose between a glaze or cream cheese frosting.

Glaze

1 cup of powdered sugar  (I sift mine)

2 T of milk

Mix powdered sugar and water until smooth.

Pour glaze over brownies, spreading to edges so that glaze will drip down sides.

Allow brownies to cool and glaze to set before cutting into squares. Use a plastic knife to cut brownies.  These freeze well.

OR

Cream Cheese Frosting

1(8- oz) cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup butter (softened)

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Beat cream cheese & butter until smooth.  Add powdered sugar & vanilla.  Mix until smooth and creamy.  Spread over cooled brownies.

If icing  these brownies rather than glazing them, you’ll want to wait until brownies cool~at least half an hour .  The easiest way to ice the brownies is prior to cutting into squares.  Use plastic knife when cutting.  (great little tip)

Hearty Hodgepodge Soup

We are clinging onto Winter.  Therefore, we welcome a couple more soups to add to the menu.  At my house, we call this the rotation.  The rotation of things that will warm our bones.   I love so many things about this soup.  The simplicity, the heartiness, the rich flavor.  I also love my friend, Jessica that shared this with me.  There are many ways to make this soup depending on your time and taste buds. 

 

1 cup chopped onions ( I use onion soup mix instead)

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped bell pepper

1 can Rotel tomatoes (I used plain canned diced tomatoes)

2 cans Minestrone soup

2 cans ranch style beans with jalapeno ( I use beans without jalapeno), undrained

1 can mushrooms, drained  ( if you use fresh mushrooms, saute’ with the meat)

2 pounds stew meat (cut in bite size pieces) or hamburger browned and seasoned  ( I used Tony’s for the seasoning)

Brown the stew meat in a skillet with a little oil.  I seasoned with a dash of Tony’s seasoning and the Lipton Onion Soup Mix. Halfway through the browning of the meat, I added the celery and bell pepper.

Mix the tomatoes, Minestrone soup, and beans into a crock pot.  Next. add the meat and veggies and simmer in a crock pot.

Can be served either over rice or with cornbread,

Easily modified to fit taste.  You can use Rotel with green chilies, or not.  Ranch Style Beans with jalapeno, or not.  Canned mushrooms or fresh.  Fresh onion or Lipton Onion Soup Mix.  You are the boss of this soup.  Enjoy.

Can add beef broth for extra liquid if needed.