Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Summer Fruit Salad with Lemon and Mint

It’s hot this week.  Like 100 degrees hot.  Which means spending time in water (if you can handle the heat then), or spending in in air conditioning (if you can’t).  Either way, this salad needs to be on your menu.  Maybe even twice every day, it is simply that good.  The mint and lemon simple syrup adds an amazingly refreshing quality, and I am considering making it for every fruit salad I ever make in the future. 

You can definitely stray from the recipe here.  Add any fruit you want, although I think the watermelon needs to stay.  I also found that the syrup (for me) was enough for two salads.  You can decide what is enough for you!

 I liked the strength of the mint, but if you aren’t too sure, only steep one or two mint sprigs in the syrup, and skip the mint garnish.  My husband thought it was a bit strong, so I will skip the garnish next time I make it.

Which will probably be tonight.

Summer Fruit Salad with Lemon and Mint
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¼ cup sugar
¼ cup water
3 sprigs fresh mint
1 lemon, zested
Juice of 1 lemon
Dash of salt
3 cup cubed watermelon
2 cups fresh blueberries
Chopped mint (optional), for garnish

Bring water and sugar to a simmer in small sauce pan.  Remove from heat, and add mint sprigs.  Cover and steep for 10 minutes.  Add lemon zest, juice, and dash of salt.  Toss with fruit, and let stand 15 minutes (I refrigerated it at this point). Top with chopped mint and serve.

Source: Food Network Magazine

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I'm Back...

I apologize for being gone so long!  We were camping for two weeks, and while I had planned to post during that time, my photos were not uploading properly, and, really, who wants a recipe without a photo??  I will have new recipes later this week, but for now, this is some of what we cooked while camping.

Cherry Cream Cheese Hobo Pies (at least that's what we always called them--is that offensive???)

Classic Pizza, probably my favorite.

Marshmallow and Reeses.  That was pretty good too!

Grilled Chicken & Avocado Pizza--there's a recipe coming for this one, it is one of my favorites!

 Of course we had LOTS of these...

Friday, June 24, 2011


I was able to go pick strawberries with my mom, sister-in-law, and cousin this past week.  We had three 3-year-olds with us, and we were able to fill our baskets surprisingly quick with very little distractions!  We also had very little help from the three-year-olds, but at least they didn't keep us from picking  :)

I know I've already said this, but I just love summer and all of the fresh produce and berries that it brings.  You could use any fruit (or even a combination of your favorites) with these shortcakes, and not go wrong.  Try blueberries, raspberries, or peaches!  When you make a batch of shortcakes and freeze some, you can simply reheat however many you want, and serve it up with whatever fruit you have on hand.  What a great, quick and easy summer dessert!

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2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar, plus more for dusting tops
4 tsp baking powder
12 Tbs cold butter, cut into squares
2 eggs, lightly beaten
8 oz light sour cream
1 tsp vanilla

Berries and ice cream or freshly whipped cream to serve.

Preheat oven to 425*F. Lightly grease a large baking sheet.
Combine flour, sugar, and baking powder in a medium bowl.  Using pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles large peas.  Stir in eggs, sour cream, and vanilla, just until mixture is moistened.  If it still seems dry, add a little bit of milk, 1 Tbs at a time, until combined.

Scoop 1/4 cup of batter for each shortcake, spacing 2 inches apart on baking sheet.  Sprinkle each shortcake with some sugar.  Bake 12-14 minutes, until deeply golden on top, rotating pan halfway through.  Let cool slightly, then cut in half horizontally to serve.

Store extras in the freezer, then thaw and toast (sliced in half) in toaster to reheat/crisp.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Grandma Pipp's Cinnamon Rolls

I am picky about my cinnamon rolls.  Maybe it has something to do with growing up on these.  They really are the best.  And it's certainly not just me who thinks so!  I am guessing that there are literally hundreds of people who know Grandma's rolls, and request them often.  The first time I made them, I remember smelling the dough as it mixed, and it bringing me back to Grandma's kitchen.  I love having recipes that are just as special (if not more so) for their memories as they are for the actual product. 

I made this batch of rolls to bring to my new neighbors.  She came over just a couple hours after I brought them to her house, and could not stop raving about them.  She said Arnie's (a local bakery/restaurant) has nothing on these cinnamon rolls.  I always just smile and give credit to Grandma.  The dough is perfectly sweet and tender, and I think the real kicker is the glaze.  Nothing beats brown sugar and butter in my book, and I usually find myself wishing I could just eat the entire bowl of glaze.

Friday, June 10, 2011


I am so sorry that I have been MIA for over a week.  Last weekend, I was busy working on these cupcakes for my brother's graduation open house.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

PayDay Bars

I’ve always wondered who buys those candy bars in the check-out lane.  I’ve never bought them.  I’ve never seen anyone else buy one.  And really, apart from Halloween, I just don’t buy candy bars at all.  They just seem kind of gross.  Then, the other day, I realized that I may not BUY candy bars, but I do EAT them.  Remember these?   And how about those other bars?  And now, here’s another one.  They’re basically candy bars in homemade bar form!  Who knew?

PayDay Bars
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1 package vanilla cake mix
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 egg
3 cups mini marshmallows
2/3 cup light corn syrup
¼ cup butter
1 bag peanut butter chips
2-3 cups dry roasted peanuts

Preheat oven to 350* F.
Mix cake mix, butter, and egg using electric mixer until combined.  Press into lightly greased 9x13 pan.  Bake 10-12 minutes.  It will still be light, and not baked through.  Carefully sprinkle marshmallows over the top.  Return to oven until marshmallows are puffed and lightly browned.  Cool.

Bring corn syrup and butter to a rolling boil.  Remove from heat and add peanut butter chips.  Stir until combined.  Pour over marshmallows.  Immediately sprinkle with peanuts.  Let cool completely before cutting into bars.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

White Chicken Pizza

We very rarely order pizza.  Partly because I am cheap, and partly because it’s healthier when you can make it yourself!  I just recently tried this pizza dough from Annie’s Eats, and it will definitely be my new go-to crust.  I knew the second I grabbed the dough out of the mixer and felt how smooth and soft it was that it was going to be good.  Because I didn’t have any parchment paper on hand, I made my pizza on a non-pre-heated pizza stone at 400*.  It was still fantastic, so I am super excited to try it again with the parchment paper.  Baking it so hot on a pre-heated stone makes the bottom of the crust crispy while the top stays soft, just like it does from a restaurant. 

This white chicken pizza is one of my favorite ways to make pizza when it is just for me and my husband.  The flavors blend so well together, and the white, red, and green is pretty and looks like the Italian flag.  If you feel like changing up your regular pepperoni, this is a great way to do it!

White Chicken Pizza

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½ recipe pizza dough (freeze other half, or top as desired)
Cream Sauce (recipe below)
1 cup part-skim Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup shredded chicken
½ of a large tomato, diced
2-3 stalks of green onions, finely chopped
¼  cup shredded parmesan cheese

Cream Sauce

4 oz. reduced fat cream cheese
¼ cup skim milk
1 clove garlic, finely minced OR ½ tsp garlic powder
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Combine all ingredients in small sauce pan.  Stir to combine as cream cheese melts, adding  more milk by the tablespoon if too thick. Once smooth, remove from heat.

Pizza Dough

Friday, May 27, 2011

Spinach Smoothie


Come on, keep reading!  Would I lead you astray??  The truth is, you don't even taste the spinach in this, it's just a great boost of iron, beta-carotene, and fiber.  And a great way to get a serving of vegetable in before 8:00!  The great thing about this recipe (and, really, most recipes), is that you can adapt it to whatever you have on hand.  You could sub frozen strawberries or peaches for the blueberries, add more fresh fruit, or change what juice you use.  Just make sure it's 100% juice.  This smoothie is a great way to start the day, and makes enough for me to share with my 3-year-old, who LOVES it.  I find that I make better food and exercise decisions throughout the day when I start my day right.  Go ahead.  Give it a try.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Caramel Apple Pie

Pie Crust

This is by far my favorite pie crust.  It is flaky and tender and just plain yummy.  Just beware that it kind of wants to be the star of your pie! :)

Pie Crust
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3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups shortening
1 egg
5 Tbs cold water
1 tsp vinegar

Cut shortening into flour and salt mixture.  Beat egg, water, and vinegar together.  Blend with flour mixture just until moist.

Will be flakier if frozen.

Yield: 2 double pie crusts (if you are better at rolling out pie dough than I am)
Source: Kathy Crawford

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Baked Oatmeal

My girls prefer a hot breakfast each morning, so I am always on the look-out for new ideas.  While they do not get bored of eggs or pancakes, I do!  I found this baked oatmeal, and knew it could be great not only for weekday mornings, but for weekends or even as part of a brunch menu.  You can sub in any fruit or nut combo that you like or just use whatever you have on hand!  The texture is almost cake-like with the egg, butter, and brown sugar, and it is so warm and comforting.  Try making it this weekend for your family!  If you need more than four servings, simply double it and bake in a 9x13 instead.

Baked OatmealPrinter-Friendly Version

3 cups old-fashioned oats (quick-cooking will not stand up to the baking)
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup melted butter

splash of vanilla
1 egg

1/2 cup skim milk (any fat content will work)
Handful dried cherries (if desired)

To serve:

Fresh berries
Pistachios or toasted, sliced almonds\
Hot milk, to serve

Preheat oven to 350*F
Stir dry ingredients together.  Whisk butter, vanilla, egg, and milk in separate bowl, then stir into dry mixture.  Fold in dried cherries.   Pour into a lightly greased pie plate.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Caramel-Swirl Blondies

I was eight years old when my baby brother was born.  I loved babies, and I became a sort of "second Mom".  I carried him with me all over and I played with him.  I liked to dress him.  When he got a little older, I was the one he wanted to tuck him in if my parents were gone.  We've always been close, and I've always seen him as my baby brother.

My baby brother is all grown up now.  He's six feet tall, turns eighteen in a couple of weeks, AND...he has a girlfriend.  Which is so weird to me.  Good, just weird.  She's a sweet girl who comes from a great family, and they are cute together.

My brother called last week to see if they could come watch the hockey game with us.  I wanted to make a sweet treat, and I wanted something quick.  I went to my new Williams-Sonoma Baking cookbook and found these yummy Blondies.  I also wanted a caramel swirl in them, so I made up some caramel, swirled it in the Blondies, and hoped for the best.  They were super yummy, and were perfect with a cup of strong coffee (is there any other kind??).  Which, by the way, my baby brother drank.  Again, weird.  Life is making me feel a little old lately, for the first time ever.  My brother will be going away to college in the fall, and that will be weird, too.  I'll miss him.  Love you, Buddy!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Three Tips for Thursdays--Cinco de Mayo

Happy Cinco de Mayo!  I was hoping to have my Grandma's Enchilada recipe to share with you today,  but she has had a busy schedule the last few weeks and we weren't able to get together to make them.  Hopefully soon!  In the meantime, I will remind you of a few dishes you could make tonight to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in your home.

Shredded Beef Tacos

I Don't Have All Day Enchiladas

Salsa & Guacamole

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Help Me Name This Stuffed Chicken


I've tried BLT Stuffed Chicken, but it's Spinach, not Lettuce, and then you miss out on the Feta. BSTF is way too confusing.  Listing all the ingredients that are stuffed in it is really too long, and too much information for me.  I'm at a loss for a name.  Do you have a name that will fit this dish?  Please help me out!  This was super yummy, and it deserves a name!

Stuffed Chicken
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4 large, fresh boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/3 cup spinach leaves, cut into thin strips
1/4 cup tomato, diced very small
3-4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
16 tooth picks
salt and pepper
4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, plus more for pan
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp dried oregano

Combine feta, spinach, tomatoes, and bacon in a small bowl.  Lay 16 tooth picks out on a plate so you can access them without contaminating anything (You will need them to secure the chicken breasts).  Trim any excess fat off of the chicken breasts.  Using a sharp knife, make a cut through the side of the chicken breast, slicing along the entire length of the chicken to make a pocket.  Repeat with remaining chicken breasts. There are no pictures of this step because I am a germophobe--especially when dealing with raw chicken!

Preheat oven to 350*F.  Have a plate ready to place chicken on after stuffed.
Stuff the first chicken breast with approximately 1/4 of the filling.  Make sure it is evenly distributed.  Secure the chicken breast around the filling with 4 tooth picks.  Stuff remaining chicken breasts.

Heat about 1 Tbs olive oil in a large oven-proof skillet over med-high heat.  When hot, add stuffed chicken, and brown on each sides, 3-4 minutes each.  While chicken is browning, combing oil, garlic, lemon juice, and oregano in a small bowl.  Spoon over each of the chicken breasts when brown, and place in preheated oven.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until internal temperature reads 170* and juices run clear.

Let rest 5 minutes, then slice into one-inch slices and serve.

Yield: 4-8 servings (I made 3 chicken breasts for my family of four and had almost an entire breast leftover.  Depending on your family, or whoever is eating this, you could have a varied serving size)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Caramel Shortbread Bars

How many times have we been told that it's not outward beauty that counts, but inner beauty?  I am a firm believer that this saying not only applies to people, but to food.  I've made a few beauties in the last few months.

Like this pull-apart bread.

And this Strawberry Mirror Cake.

But you know what?  For all the prep and all the showy appearance, they just didn't taste great.  The same thing happened the first time I made "Millionaire's Shortbread".  I was super excited about those bars.  I mean, what's not to love about shortbread, homemade caramel, and chocolate??  Especially to a short-bread lover as myself.  I made them.  I cut them.  They looked beautiful with a nice, tall, white shortbread, then the creamy brown of the caramel, and the dark chocolate (apparently I didn't take a picture of them).  Then I tasted them.  The shortbread was all wrong!  It was crumbly and dry.  I wanted it to be crisp.  More like a Twix candybar.  So as excited as I was to share the recipe with all of you, I knew I needed to make some changes first.  (Don't worry, changed-up versions of the above pictures are coming as well!)

So these are the next version I tried.  They're not beautiful on the outside.  But they are so SO beautiful on the inside.  I got the crisp texture I wanted from the cookie base, and the caramel and chocolate needed no changing.  I am planning to eat one with my coffee here in just a minute.  They're that good.

Caramel Shortbread Bars

For the shortbread:
2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt

For the Caramel:
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 Tbs light corn syrup
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

For the Chocolate:
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/2 Tbs butter or shortening

Friday, April 29, 2011

Whole Wheat Garlic Knots

Garlic and bread--they are a match made in heaven!  Especially when they are these soft, chewy rolls.  Because we had yet another cold and rainy day, I made soup (again).  And everyone knows that when you make soup, you have to make bread.  I've made these rolls a few times before, but this was the first time I used whole wheat flour.  To be honest, it was only because I had completely run out of bread flour.  I was a little concerned they just wouldn't be the same soft rolls that they are with all white flour, but I was so wrong.  My family, who previously thought they were "fine",  literally devoured these.  And the best part?  The leftovers (if you have any) make the best sandwich rolls.  Oh how I wish I had some leftovers today...

Whole Wheat Garlic Knots
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1 cup plus 2 Tbs lukewarm water (100-110*F)
1 Tbs sugar
2 tsp active dry yeast
2 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbs olive oil
1/4 cup milk

For the garlic butter
3 Tbs butter, melted
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning

Combine water and sugar in bowl of stand mixer.  Sprinkle yeast over and allow to activate and become bubbly, about 5 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients into yeast mixture and, using dough hook attachment, mix on low until a soft, elastic dough has formed, about 8 minutes.

Turn out into a greased bowl, cover, and let raise until doubled, about one hour.

Divide into 12 even piece (if you have a kitchen scale, it would work great here!).  Let rest about five minutes, until able to stretch.

Roll each piece of dough into a ten-inch-long rope.


Tie into a knot.

Tuck the excess piece that is on the bottom of the roll up around the top and into the middle.  Tuck the piece on the top of the roll around to the bottom and into the middle.  Place on a baking sheet, cover with a towel, and let raise for 45 minutes.