February 29, 2012

Lofthouse Style Soft Sugar Cookies

Yet another Valentines Day recipe that I'm really late posting, I know.  I'm sorry.  Here's another way to look at this, sugar cookies can be cut into any shape so just imagine I cut mine into four leaf clovers and frosted them green. There.  Now I'm not late.

I invited some friends over for a little dinner one night and decided our kids might have a blast cutting these out and frosting them.  Boy was that true.  There were cookies cut into every shape imaginable (considering they only had a heart cutter to work with) and then they played while we baked them.  I shoved the first batch into the freezer in an attempt to cool them off so they could frost and decorate them and then let them go to town with sprinkles, frosting, these little sugar ball things.  It was so much fun watching them (less fun cleaning up after them) but still, totally worth it!

I know this might come as a surprise to you but I love cookies.  I'm sort of picky about them however.  I'm not a huge fan of crunchy cookies, you won't see me eating half a bag of thin mints or gingersnaps. I like soft and or chewy cookies best and these fall into the "soft" category.  Lovely vanilla flavor, thick and delicious topped with buttercream frosting. 

Make some of these with your little kiddo's this weekend.

Lofthouse Style Soft Sugar Cookies
Recipe found on "Two Peas and Their Pod" here

For the Cookies:
6 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1½ cups sour cream
For the Buttercream Frosting:
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons heavy cream

Food coloring and sprinkles optional.

Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and set aside.

Use your stand mixer bowl to add the butter and sugar.  Mix on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, processing after each addition. Add the vanilla and sour cream and mix until blended.

Add the dry ingredients a little at a time until well mixed.  Divide the dough into two even pieces and form into a square.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Pull one square of dough out of the refrigerator, flour your work surface and rolling pin and begin to roll out to 1/4 inch thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut into desired shapes.  Place the cut pieces on the prepared cookie sheets and bake for about 7 minutes.  The cookies will maintain a light color in the middle but will get slightly golden around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Once completely cool you can begin frosting.

For the frosting:
Mix the butter and vanilla and powdered sugar at low speed until combined.  Add the salt and heavy cream and mix until smooth.  If you're using food coloring add it now.

February 27, 2012

Gingerbread Muffins

Yes it does seem that I'm on a gingerbread kick lately.  I don't know why.  I started out trying to find something to pair with the Lemon Curd that I made here.  Gingerbread and Lemon is a great combination!  I really liked how these turned out and even though the muffins were yummy on their own.

I've been a sucker for molasses ever since I was little.  My gramma's molasses cookies are the best ever and they got my addicted to anything with a molasses flavor.

I'm still clinging to the hope that we're not done with winter here (or that we might actually get a winter) even though the trees are budding and allergies are kicking in.  These gingerbread muffins will make you feel warm and cozy inside.

I filled my muffin cups 3/4 full and they turned out perfectly.  The original instructions indicate you should fill them 1/2 full.

*Just made these again for the holidays 2015 and took the opportunity to update the picture.  I love this recipe.  I used store bought lemon curd this time around.

Gingerbread Muffins
Recipe from Taste of Home

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup molasses

Add all the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl and then add the egg, milk, oil and molasses in a separate bowl.  Combine the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until just moist.  Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake for 15-20 in a 375º oven. 

Serve by themselves or top with lemon curd. 


February 24, 2012

Dinner Club - Theme Valentines Day

I was the host of the latest Dinner Club in our neighborhood and I KNOW I'm late posting about something for Valentines Day but on the other hand I'm really early for next year, right? I made the chocolate covered strawberries you see above and the Salisbury Steak that I had posted back in August of 2011 here.  I think that people brought some of the most delicious items to this months Dinner Club.  I haven't received all of the recipes from that night but I still wanted to get this post out there before we're out of February for good. I'll get recipes soon (I hope)

 Lynn brought a totally delicious salad, homemade balsamic vinaigrette and garlic bread!

Garlic bread:  
2 sticks of butter at room temp., 3 cloves of garlic pressed, 2 teaspoos of oregano, 2 teaspoos of fresh parley chopped, 1 LARGE loaf of Italian bread.  mix all herbs in the butter until combined, add salt and pepper to taste.  split the load of bread in half, butter both sides, put the bread on a baking sheet and cook  in a preheated oven @400 degrees until golden brown and crisp around edges.  Take out of the oven, put top back on the bottom, of the load, slice and serve.
GREENS WITH BALSAMIC DRESSING: Any type of salad greens, pepperoni slices, Asiago cheese either cut into small pieces or shaved.
Balsamic Dressing:
1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar
3/4 cup E xtra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cloves pressed garlic
1 Tbsp brown sugar

Combine the vinegar, sugar, garlic and then whisk in the olive oil very slowly until combined. Put in a glass jar with a lid. Shake before serving.


Uncle Arnold's Macaroni and Cheese Casserole
8oz elbow macaroni
1 small onion, grated (I chop it)
1 chipotle pepper in Adobo Sauce (original recipe calls for 1 2oz. jar of pimiento)
3 Tbs. Melted butter
1 can cream of mushroom sauce (undiluted
4c Shredded Cheddar cheese
1c Mayonnaise
1c Ritz Cracker crumbs

Cook and drain macaroni. Combine macaroni w/soup, onion, cheese, Chipotle pepper (or pimiento) and mayo. Pour into a greased 9x13 glass baking dish. Combine butter and cracker crumbs, sprinkle on top. Bake 350 for 30 minutes.

Pasta Salad brought by Lisa F. She said she pretty much just looked for things she had on hand and added them here.  It was yummy!  

Mushroom Risotto brought by Shannon.  Shannon didn't really follow a recipe for this one but she did tell me that she added leeks and heavy cream.  I'll see if she can pass along a list of ingredients and a rough estimate of measurements. 

Chicken and Sausage Saute was brought by Melissa Y. and was a hit with all of us.  This recipe adapted from  Heart & Soul, The Junior League of Memphis, Inc., Memphis, Tenn.

6 chicken breast halves, skinned and boned.  About 1 1/2 pounds
salt and pepper
1/2 Cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausage links
1 Tbsp butter or margarine
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried oregano, crushed
1 tsp dried basil, crushed
1 Tbsp chopped parsley

Cut the chicken into bite sized strips.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roll the chicken in the flour to coat and set aside. 
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat. add the sausage links and cook until browned.  Set aside. Drain the oil from the pan reserving 1 Tbsp. 
Add butter and crushed red pepper to the reserved drippings in the skillet. Add the chicken and cook for about two minutes.  Cut the sausage into 1/4 thick slices.  Add the sausage, chicken broth, roasted red peppers, garlic, oregano and basil to the skillet.  Heat to boiling; reduce heat for 20 minutes.  Sprinkle with parsley.

Pimento and Jalapeño dip and Chocolate Dipped Marshmallows provided by Wendy.

February 22, 2012

Gingerbread Ice Cream

I'm not sure if you noticed the ice cream kick I've been on lately.  I have no idea why other than it seems like there are an endless number of recipes out there and I feel like I have to put in an effort to keep up.  Having said that, this recipe seemed time sensitive since when I think of gingerbread I think of the holidays.  I also think of cold weather.  I also just like gingerbread.

I knew I would love this recipe when I read it on "Tracey's Culinary Adventures".  I thought it was just different enough to make an interesting blog post and just common enough to appeal to people.  I'm really happy with how this recipe turned out.  So rich and creamy.  So rich in fact that a little goes a long way but I consider it diet food for that reason.  OK, maybe that's a stretch.

I figured I'd better post this before winter turns into spring - which has already happened here it seems.  Feels like we just skipped winter this year.   I might have to take a drive to the mountains soon just so my little girl can play in the snow.  Yep, I think that's just what we'll have to do!

Gingerbread Ice Cream
Found at Tracey's Culinary Adventures

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk (I used 1%)
  • One 3-4 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Use a medium sauce pan to combine the cream, milk and fresh ginger.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat and then turn the heat off and set aside for about 30 minutes to an hour.  This will allow the ginger to infuse with the milk mixture.  Strain the mixture and discard the ginger.  Bring the milk mixture back to a simmer. 

In a heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks, brown sugar, molasses, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt. Whisking constantly pour some of the simmering milk mixture in with the egg yolk mixture to temper the eggs.  Once the eggs have been heated slowly with the milk mixture add the egg mixture back into the saucepan and whisk until smooth and thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.  Strain the mixture into a heatproof bowl and add the vanilla. 

Let the mixture cool to room temperature in a bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and then refrigerate overnight or thoroughly chilled. 

Freeze your ice cream in your ice cream maker following the manufacturer's instructions.  Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until firm or at least 1 hour. 

February 20, 2012

Easy Alfredo Sauce

In my constant efforts to find something my daughter will eat I decided to try this Alfredo recipe.  As a kid I used to love Fettuccine Alfredo so I thought she would too.  Well, she did eat some of it but then decided she didn't like it.  I however LOVED it.  My husband ate the leftovers and he loved it too. My daughter is nuts.  Clearly she doesn't know good food when she tastes it.

The cream cheese made the sauce really smooth and yummy.  I wouldn't really put this in the "diet" category but if you're looking for something quick and different for dinner you should give this a try.

Alfredo Sauce
Recipe found at "All Recipes" here

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 cups milk
  • 6 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a non-stick sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the cream cheese and garlic powder and whisk until smooth.  Add the milk a little at a time so it'll stay smooth.  Add the Parmesan and black pepper (I used white pepper so my daughter would eat it) and whisk.  Sauce will thicken as it cooks.  Remove from the heat when the desired consistency is reached.  When reheating or if the sauce gets too thick just add a little milk. 

February 16, 2012

Baked Pork Chops

I'm always on the lookout for a new pork chop recipe.  Mostly because I'm not a huge pork chop fan, I like them OK but it goes back to my general dislike for white meat (which I'm trying to overcome).  If I'm going to have white meat I need it to be buried in some sort of gravy or chopped into really small pieces. I know, I'm weird.

I found this recipe at allrecipes.com and I'm a fan already.  I love the creamy sauce and the fact that it uses a little bit of wine for a special flavor.  The recipe calls for 6 pork chops but I only used two and I didn't decrease the sauce at all.  It was yummy, I'll be making it again.

Baked Pork Chops
recipe from AllRecipes.com here

6 pork chops (I used 2)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon seasoning salt
  • 2 egg, beaten (I used 1 egg)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (I used a couple of Tbsp's)
  • 2 cups Italian-style seasoned bread crumbs (I used 1 cup)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil (I used 2)
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup white wine

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Season the pork chops on both sides with the garlic powder and seasoning salt.  In a small dish add the egg, in a separate dish put the flour and in a third dish put the bread crumbs.  

In a large skillet add the oil and heat over medium heat.  Take the pork chop and dip in the flour, then the egg, then the bread crumbs and place in the skillet. Cook for for about 5 minutes per side. Transfer the chops to a baking dish (I used an 8x8) but for six chops use a 9x13 and cover with foil. 
Bake for 1 hour.  I baked my two chops for 45 minutes and they were perfect. 

Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl add the soup, milk and wine.  Whisk until smooth.  Set aside. 

Halfway through cooking the chops, take out and pour the sauce over the top then replace the foil and cook for the remaining time.   

February 13, 2012

Lemon Ice Cream

 I know, I know.  This is one of those recipe's you would make this summer but certainly not in the throws of winter.  Here's the thing.  It's not very winter like here.  Well, at least it hasn't been up until recently and I've still got my fingers crossed for snow.  We'll see.

Who am I kidding, I'll eat ice cream year round.

Just being honest.

Save this recipe for this summer if you'd like, it's very refreshing, perfectly lemony, and lovely sandwiched between two gingersnap cookies.

 Here's a tip about the sandwich variety.  Make your sandwiches and put them in an airtight container in the freezer for a while.  The cookies tend to be quite crunchy and they soften a bit in the freezer.

Lemon Ice Cream
Recipe found at Epicurious here

1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 cups half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a saucepan, combine the zest, lemon juice, sugar and eggs and whisk until smooth.  Add 1 Cup of the cream and whisking constantly bring to a simmer.  Remove from the heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve and then let cool to room temperature.  Refrigerate until cold.  When cold, add the remaining 1 cup of half and half and vanilla and process in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturers instructions. 

February 10, 2012

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

So, Valentines Day huh? Have you started thinking about what you're going to do or is it just another day for you? I happen to really like Valentines Day.  It could be that I love pink and red.  It could be that I love chocolate.  It could be that I'll use any excuse to celebrate.  Having said all that, I recently had a Valentines Day themed Dinner Club at my house (to be shared soon) and I needed something yummy and easy to make in the short period of time that I had from getting home from work at 5:45ish and having guests arrive at 6:30.  Enter - Chocolate Dipped Strawberries.

  • I can't think of one person who doesn't like them.
  • They look super duper cute and fancy but are oh so easy to make.
  • When you see Chocolate Dipped Strawberries you automatically think ~Valentines Day~ ...or at least I do.
  • They are so easy to do that my 3 1/2 year old helped me.  It went something like this: Mommy this one is too small so I'm going to eat it.  Mommy, there is some chocolate on my finger so I'm going to have to eat this strawberry too.  Mommy can I have chocolate strawberries for dinner? 
  • They are health food, sort of.

Now don't you wanna go make some? Happy Valentines Day!

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

1 bag of milk chocolate chips (You can also use dark chocolate or white chocolate or a combination)
1 Tbsp shortening (if you're using a good quality chocolate you probably won't need this)
1 Pound of large strawberries, washed and dried.

Line a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with some wax paper. Use a heat proof bowl to pour the chips and shortening in.  Place the bowl over a sauce pan of simmering water.  Stir until melted and smooth. Dip each strawberry while holding onto the stem, if you need something more stable to hold onto you can put a toothpick in the top. After you dip your strawberries place them on some wax paper and refrigerate leftovers.

February 8, 2012

Meyer Lemon Curd

Lemon Curd, what is it and what do you use it for? I'll explain. It's a condiment that you can use to fill cupcakes or spread on toast or even use in ice cream or other recipes.  It's sort of thick like a pudding.  It's delicious but I have never actually made any before.  Fast forward to me buying Meyer Lemons and looking for the perfect recipe's to try and you'll find me making Lemon Curd.

The process wasn't difficult and aside from my lemon curd not getting quite as thick as I'd have liked it (I blame the fact that I don't own an instant read thermometer) it's delicious and I plan to fill some cupcakes with it soon.


Recipe found at "Tracey's Culinary Adventures" here
Meyer Lemon Curd

1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice (from about 4 Meyer lemons)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

*As noted on Tracey's website - you can also use regular lemons, just increase the amount of sugar to 3/4 cup.*

In a medium heat proof bowl combine the juice, zest, sugar and eggs.  Whisk together.  Place the bowl over a saucepan with a small amount of water in it (to create a double boiler) and heat the water to a simmer.  Add the butter and whisk until the lemon curd has thickened and has reached 160 degrees. 
Strain through a fine mesh sieve and let cool to room temperature before refrigerating. Curd will keep for a week in the refrigerator.

February 6, 2012

Blood Orange Sorbet

I was at the grocery store the other day and found these delicious Blood Oranges.  I grabbed a bag not really knowing what I would use them for, so I hopped on the Internet and quickly found this Blood Orange Sorbet recipe from David Lebovitz and knew I'd found the right recipe. If you're not familiar with Blood Oranges they are slightly smaller than a regular orange and their skin can sometimes be multicolored (light and dark patches).  They are usually harder to peel than a regular orange as well.  As far as taste goes, I've read it described as a slight raspberry flavor.  The color is created when the fruit develops with low temperatures during the night.

I love using these oranges, they are delicious and so pretty to use in drinks, desserts or just to snack on.

Cut and juice the oranges.  I used about 2 cups of juice but you can use as little or as much as you want in 1 cup increments.


Using the appropriate amount of sugar, place it in a saucepan and add just enough juice to saturate the sugar. Cook over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.

Pour the sugar/juice mixture back in with the rest of the juice and let cool.  After it's down to room temperature you can transfer it to the refrigerator.  I put mine in overnight. I also left the pulp in, if you don't like the pulp you can strain in before refrigerating.

When cold, add the mixture to your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturers instructions for processing times.

I found this recipe here from David Lebovitz. I recommend going to the link and checking out his other suggestions and tips for these oranges.

Juice the oranges and measure the juice.

For each 1 cup of juice you'll need about 1/4 cup of sugar.  I used 2 cups of juice and used 1/2 cup of sugar.

Use a small non-reactive sauce pan.  Pour in the sugar and just enough juice to saturate the sugar.  Cook over medium to medium low heat until the sugar has dissolved.

Pour the sugar/juice mixture in with the remaining juice and bring back to room temperature, then chill it in the refrigerator.

When cold, process in your ice cream maker using your manufacturer's instructions.

February 2, 2012

My Top Ten Super Bowl Picks

Crazy Feta

I fell in love with this dip the minute I read the word Feta.  I just love this stuff.  If you love Feta too you'll die for this dip.

Bacon Wrapped Smokies with Brown Sugar

How could you possibly go wrong with bacon wrapped little smokies?

Oven Baked French Fries

Seems like such a simple idea but you can flavor these up so many ways that you'll appeal to all your guests different tastes!

Lenny J's Barbecued Beef

Sort of like a homemade Sloppy Joe's, guy food at it's best.

Ashley A's Nana's Jambalaya

If you're looking for something a little different than Chili, you can't go wrong with this option.


Chips and dip are a staple at a Super Bowl Party, it doesn't hurt that this is healthy too!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Classic Chocolate and Peanut Butter flavors in this chewy cookie.  I love this one!

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

The browned butter makes these irresistible.  I adore this cookie.  Slightly crisp on the outside and chewy inside. Perfect!

Five Minute Fudge

Seriously, they only take 5 minutes!  Totally creamy and delicious!

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

I had to throw a brownie into the mix.  These have mini peanut butter cups mixed in and would go perfectly after a big bowl of Chili (or Jambalaya).

February 1, 2012

Chocolate Frozen Yogurt

So there I was, wondering what type of low fat treat to make.  You know.  For blogging purposes.  Not that I would EVER need to have random sweets in my house, no not me.  Anywho, back to my story.  There I was wondering what should be created to hit that chocolate craving right in the chin.  My husband suggests chocolate ice cream which makes me think chocolate frozen yogurt, you know, because I'm healthy like that.  So off I go to search the Internet and I stumble upon this recipe.  So I say to myself, self I say, you've never made frozen yogurt before so why don't you whip some up.  So I did.  The End.

Wasn't that story riveting?

I will say this for the frozen yogurt, my daughter liked it a lot.  I also liked it but wished it had been more creamy. However, having said that you save a lot of calories by NOT having all that creaminess so I guess you've got to give a little in that regard.  The flavor was good, you could really taste the yogurt aspect coming out.  It was nice and chocolaty.  You will also want to let this sit out for a few minutes before scooping as it did tend to get sort of hard in the freezer.

I found this recipe here

Chocolate Frozen Yogurt

2 cups whole milk
4 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups full-fat plain yogurt

Use a medium saucepan to heat the milk over medium heat until just under a boil.  Look for tiny bubbles around the edges.  Remove from the heat.

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl.  Add 1/4 cup of the hot milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then add the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan with the milk.  This will keep the eggs from cooking in the hot milk.  Turn the heat back on under the saucepan with the milk/egg mixture and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened.  You want the mixture to coat the back of a spoon or for it to register 170 degrees on a candy thermometer.
Stir in the melted chocolate and vanilla extract and then strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl.  Allow to cool to room temperature.  Stir in the yogurt and chill in the refrigerator until very cold.  Overnight is best. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.