More dill

The other recipe I tried using dill was for biscuits, which I've never made before. These biscuits were good, but the butter was amazing... the biscuit ended up being more of a mechanism for eating the butter than a food itself.

Dill Biscuits
makes about 12

2c all-purpose flour
1t baking powder
1/4t baking soda
1t fine salt
12T cold butter, diced
2T chopped fresh dill
1/2c buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425.
Pulse flour, baking powder and soda, and salt. Add butter and pulse to pea-sized pieces.
Add dill and pulse in buttermilk until dough just comes together.
Transfer to a floured surface and knead 3-5 times. Shape into a disk.
Roll dough until 1/2" thick.
Cut into rounds using a cookie cutter or a glass.
Place on a baking sheet and brush tops with buttermilk.
Bake until golden, 10-12 minutes.

Honey Butter

4T butter, softened
2t honey
1/4t sea salt

Mix all ingredients together until smooth.



Another one of those ingredients that I've never used before is dill. I didn't even know what it looked like when I went to the store. It ended up coming in such a large quantity that I made more than one recipe with it. First...

Lemon Dill Green Beans
serves 10

2 1/2lb green beans
3T chopped dill
2 1/2T minced shallot
2 1/2T olive oil
2 1/2T lemon juice
2 1/2T whole-grain mustard
3/4t salt
3/4t pepper

Steam green beans.
Whisk dill, shallot, oil, lemon, mustard, salt and pepper. Add green beans and toss.

You can definitely taste the dill in these, so don't try if you know you don't like dill. I thought they were good, and I would make them again, but they definitely weren't nearly as good as these lemon herb butter green beans.


Garlic Ginger Chicken Thighs

Lately I've been trying to cook more than bake, and to try recipes with ingredients that I would never otherwise eat. This recipe is simple enough that I wouldn't have minded spending time on it if I didn't like it, and it uses ginger, which I wouldn't normally eat. (I even had to google how to peel it.)

Garlic-Ginger Chicken Thighs
serves about 4

2lbs skinned, boneless chicken thighs
1c thinly sliced red onion
2T minced garlic
2T minced peeled ginger
1/4c soy sauce
1/4c orange juice
1t pepper

Combine chicken, onion, garlic, ginger, soy, juice and pepper in a plastic bag.
Seal and shake to coat chicken. Refrigerate at least one hour.
Preheat grill to medium high heat. Oil grate (or grill pan). Grill skin side down, 5-6 minutes.
Flip and continue to cook, about 5 minutes.

I used boned chicken thighs for this (my grocery store doesn't sell boneless but skinned chicken). If you do this, add about 5-10 minutes to the cook time.


As promised...

The best part of Jim's welcome home party (besides him finally being home) was....


I saw these on bakerella.com a few months ago and had been wanting to try them, but was waiting for a good occasion. They're very time consuming and really easy to screw up, but once you get the hang of them they're fun too. I wasn't adventurous enough to try any of the crazy designs shown over at bakerella, but I'm pretty sure they taste just as good no matter what shape they're in.

To make:
Prepare a box of your favorite cake mix and let cool completely.
Crumble into tiny pieces, then add 3/4 can of your favorite frosting, and mix together.
Roll mixture into balls and let chill in refridgerator or freezer.
Melt chocolate.

Take out 5-10 cake pops from freezer.
Dip stick into chocolate, then stick into the cake ball about 3/4 of the way.
Dip entire cake ball and stick into chocolate.
Tap stick against side of bowl to remove excess chocolate.
Put stick into styrofoam block and allow to set.

I found these to be much easier when working in small batches. The first batch I did, I melted too much chocolate at once and it ended up burning. I also took out all of the cake balls from the freezer at once and they started to get too warm by the end, so they were falling apart when I dipped them into the chocolate. But my mess ups turned into cake balls instead of cake pops!

These really are SO good and are worth spending time making... check out bakerella for more ideas and instructions.


Jim's Welcome Home Party

When Jim came home after a 40 day trip to Asia I wanted to do something special for him, so I decided to throw a welcome home party. We mainly had frozen apps, but I made a few snacks as well.

One of those things was chicken fingers. I've never found a homemade chicken finger recipe that I actually like better than fast food chicken nuggets until now. The cheese added into this makes them so good. And they're really quick and easy too!

Parmesean Crusted Chicken Tenders
serves 4

1/4c all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1/2c finely shredded parmesean cheese
1c coarse dry breadcrumbs
1lb chicken tenders
1T Italian seasoning
1t garlic powder
1/4t salt
1c marinara sauce, heated

Preheat oven to 450.
Place flour in one dish. Lightly beat eggs in another dish. Combine parmesean cheese and breadcrumbs in a third dish.
Toss chicken tenders with Italian seasoning, garlic powder and salt in a medium bowl. Coat in flour, shaking off excess. Dip in egg, then coat in breadcrumb mixture.
Place on baking sheet and coat top with cooking spray. Bake 10 minutes. Turn and coat other side with cooking spray. Bake about 10 more minutes.
Serve with warm marinara sauce.

And the even tastier dessert from that party is coming soon...


It's been a while...

I just realized it's been over 3 months since I last posted to here. I've still been baking and cooking, but every time I've sat down to post, I really haven't felt like it. But now with Christmas coming up, I'm finally motivated again... not that today's post will have anything to do with Christmas but those will be coming soon!

Over Labor Day weekend I was home and my parents decided to have a little party with some family and friends, and I couldn't have been more excited to try baking. Especially with my mom's big kitchen (and her help of course). We made lemon bars (see this post), and mini cupcakes.

Mini Vanilla Cupcakes
(from Magnolia Bakery)

1 1/2c self-rising flour
1 1/4c all-purpose flour
1c unsalted butter, softened
2c sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1c milk
1t vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Line mini cupcake pan with liners.
In a smal bowl, combine the flours, then set aside.
In a large bowl, cream the butter until smooth. Add sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla.
Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full. Bake 12-15 minutes.

French Silk Frosting

2 2/3c confectioners' sugar
2/3c butter, softened
2 1oz squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
3/4t vanilla extract
2T milk

In a medium bowl, blend confectioners' sugar, butter, melted chocolate and vanilla.
Gradually add milk and beat until smooth and fluffy.


Blackberry Lemonade

Blackberry Lemonade
2c blackberries
1 1/2c sugar
2c fresh lemon juice

Make simple syrup:
Bring 1 1/2c sugar and 1 1/2c water to a boil, stirring until dissolved. Let cool.

Make lemonade:
Muddle 2c blackberries with 2c simple syrup in a pitcher. Stir in 2c lemon juice and 2c water. Add ice and lemon slices before serving.


Chocolate Raspberry Bars

These are very rich bars, but if you're a big fan of chocolate, then you'll love them.

Chocolate Raspberry Bars
 2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 c cold butter
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 c semisweet chocolate pieces
seedless raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 350.

Place flour, brown sugar, salt, and cold butter in a food processor. Process until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set 1 1/2 c of crumb mixture aside. Press remaining mixture into bottom of a greased 9x13 inch pan. Bake for 14 minutes.

For the filling, heat condensed milk and 1 c of chocolate pieces over low heat until the chocolate melts, stirring constantly. Pour mixture over baked crust, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture. Drop teaspoons of raspberry jam 1 1/2 inches apart over the top and sprinkle with the remaining chocolate pieces. Bake for 30 minutes, then cool and cut into bars.


Brownie Pillow Cookies

I can't remember where I first saw these cookies. I've tried the brownie/chocolate chip cookie mixes from the grocery store before but they never quite come out right, so this recipe intrigued me.

Brownie Pillow Cookies
 For the brownie:
1/2 c butter, melted
1 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/3 c cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

For the cookies:
1 c butter, room temperature
1 1/2 c packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
1 T vanilla extract
2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
12 oz bag semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9 inch square baking pan.

For the brownies, stir together butter, sugar and vanilla. Add eggs, beating well. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add to egg mixture, beating until well blended. Spread evenly into pan and bake 20-25 minutes. Once cool, cut about 10 one inch squares.

For the cookies, beat butter until creamy. Add brown sugar and beat until smooth. Add eggs, yolk and vanilla, beating until smooth. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and beat until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Chill dough in refrigerator for an hour.

Scoop batter into 1/2 c portions. Place on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Make an indentation in the center and put brownie square into indentation. 

Work remaining dough into ball around brownie.

The cookies will get very large, so put only 4-5 per baking sheet. Bake for about 18 minutes.


Sugar Cookie Bars

I originally saw these on Love and Olive Oil. They're really tasty, and the bar form makes them very easy to make.

Sugar Cookie Bars
 For the cookies:
1 c unsalted butter, room temperature
2 c sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
5 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

For the frosting:
1 c butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 c confectioners sugar
5 T milk
food coloring

Preheat oven to 375.

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Mix in vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking soda. Gradually add butter mixture and mix until just combined. Grease a large rimmed baking sheet (13x18) or line with parchment paper. Evenly spread batter into pan. Bake 15-20 minutes until light golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

To make frosting, beat butter until fluffy. Mix in vanilla and salt. Add confectioners sugar, one cup at a time, until combined and then add milk and mix until smooth. Add food coloring if desired. Spread over cooled cookies, then cut into bars.


Chicken Burger

Chicken Burgers
1lb ground chicken
1/2 c panko crumbs
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 T plain Greek yogurt
pinch of salt

Mix together all ingredients. Shape into 4 patties and chill.

Brush patties with oil and grill 4-5 minutes per side. Serve on toasted bread or bun with sprouts and avocado.


Mango Sorbet

I recently purchased an ice cream maker, so for my birthday my awesome sister sent me an ice cream recipe book called The Perfect Scoop. I had a few mangoes sitting around so I tried some mango sorbet right away, adapted slightly.

Mango Sorbet
2 large mangoes
2/3 c sugar
2/3 c water
4 tsp lemon juice
1 T dark rum
pinch of salt

Peel the mangoes and cut into cubes. Put mango cubes into blender with sugar, water, lemon juice, rum, and salt. Puree mixture until smooth. Chill mixture before freezing in ice cream maker.


Jim and I have birthdays a week apart, which makes for lots of baked goods to consume within a very short time. 

Since Jim loves airplanes so much, I made him airplane shaped brownies:

And he got me an amazing cake from Wilson Farm in Lexington:
It was a vanilla cake with a strawberry and whipped cream filling - SO good!


Homemade Oreos

I love oreos... so much that I could eat an entire package in one sitting. When I came across a recipe for homemade oreos (I forget where I saw it), I knew I needed to try making them. These cookies taste almost like the real thing, but are a bit sweeter. Luckily I like them that way because it makes me stick to one or two instead of eating the whole batch.

Chocolate Wafer Cookies
For the wafers:
1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 c sugar
1/2 c + 2 T butter, room temperature
1 large egg

For the filling:
1/2 c butter, room temperature
1/2 c vegetable shortening
2 c confectioners' sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375.

Using a mixer, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt and sugar. While on low speed, add the butter and then the egg. Continue mixing until dough forms a mass. Place rounded teaspoons of batter on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Slightly flatted the dough with your hands. Bake for 9 minutes.

For the filling, mix butter and shortening, and gradually beat in sugar and vanilla. Turn mixer to high and beat for 2-3 minutes, or until filling is light and fluffy. Pipe blobs of cream into the center of one cookie and place another cookies of equal size on top, pressing to work the filling to the outside edges of the cookie.

Crab Cakes

As I was reading Food Network magazine a few weeks ago, I saw a recipe for a low-fat crab cake. I'm not the biggest fan of crab cakes because I'm never sure what else is in them besides crab, but figured I'd give this one a try since I like most of the ingredients. For one serving of these (2 crab cakes), there is only 220 calories. There's 9g of fat and 26g of protein as well. Granted, this will change based on what brands of ingredients you use, but that's not a bad range.

Crab Cakes

1 T + 2tsp olive oil
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 c finely chopped red bell pepper
1 c panko bread crumbs
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 T nonfat milk
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 T fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
dash of hot sauce
1 lb lump crab or crab claw meat
salt and pepper
cooking spray

Heat 2 tsp olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add scallions and bell pepper and cook until they begin to soften.

Mix 1/2 c panko crumbs, egg and milk in a small bowl. In another bowl, whisk Worcestershire sauce, mustard, lemon juice, Old Bay, and hot sauce. Fold in the crab meat, panko mixture, scallion-pepper mixture, 1/4 tsp salt, and a pinch of pepper. Shape into 8 patties and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Coat crab cakes with remaining 1/2 c panko. Heat remaining 1 T olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Mist crab cakes with cooking spray and cook, sprayed-side down for 3-4 minutes. Spray the tops and flip, cooking 3-4 more minutes. Serve with a lemon wedge.

Chocolate Pudding

It may not be the most summery dessert, but after coming across a recipe for chocolate pudding, I couldn't resist. This was super easy to make, but takes a while to chill before it's ready to serve so it's best made a day or two before needed.

Chocolate Pudding
2 egg yolks
1/2 c sugar
3 T cornstarch
3 c whole milk
5 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
pinch of salt
1 T vanilla extract

Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch together. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, chocolate, and salt. Stir until the chocolate melts. (It's very important to make sure the chocolate is fully melted, or the pudding will be lumpy.) Pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. (Again, you must whisk constantly or the pudding will be lumpy.) Once combined, pour back into saucepan and stir constantly until thick, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla, and divide into small serving dishes. Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and refrigerate until set.

To add a little something to this pudding, I made some cinnamon whipped cream to add to the top. Whipped cream is really easy to make and pretty much any flavoring can be added to this recipe to use with any dessert.

Cinnamon Whipped Cream
1 c heavy whipping cream
1 T sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Whip the cream and sugar in a bowl until soft peaks form. Fold in the cinnamon.

Cupcake Hero

One of the blogs I follow, I heart cuppycakes, holds a competition each month called Cupcake Hero. The competition is hosted each month by the person who won the previous month. Here's the link to this month's competition. The ingredient is raspberries, and since I just picked some really yummy ones up from a local farm (Wilson Farm) I thought it was time to get baking and enter the competition for once instead of just reading about it. I couldn't decide on one idea so I made two different kinds of cupcakes.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Whipped Cream
For these cupcakes, I used this cupcake recipe, which I've used before.
For the raspberry whipped cream:

1c whipping cream
1T sugar
1T raspberry sauce

Whip the cream and sugar for about 2 minutes, until it begins to thicken. Add in raspberry sauce and continue to whip until soft peaks form.
For the raspberry sauce, I used some of the filling from my other recipe below. You can also mash the raspberries and use the juice and small raspberry pieces from that. More or less raspberry sauce can be added to taste.

Raspberry Lemon Cupcakes
Makes 6

For the cupcakes (adapted from Love and Olive Oil):
1/2 + 1/8c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4c sugar
1/8c light brown sugar
1/8c olive oil
1/2c 2% milk
1tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon juice

For the raspberry filling:
1/2 pint raspberries
1/3c sugar
3T lemon juice
1T cornstarch

For the butercream:
1/4c butter
1.5c confectioners' sugar
1.5T raspberry filling
1tsp lemon juice
1/2 T 2% milk

Preheat oven to 350. To make the cupcakes, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, and brown sugar. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, milk, lemon juice, and vanilla. Mix into the dry ingredients. Fill cupcake liners and bake about 20 mins.

To make the filling, mash berries and add to a saucepan along with sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch. Stir constantly as mixture boils and thickens. Allow to sit at room temperature until cool and thick.

For the frosting, cream the butter until fluffy. Add confectioners' sugar 1/2c at a time. Add lemon juice, raspberry filling, and milk, and mix until light and fluffy. If too runny, add more sugar. If too thick, add milk.


Summery Drinks

I recently decided to try making Sangria. After trying multiple recipes and not being satisfied with any of them, I combined a few to make my own.

Red Sangria
1 bottle red wine, any variety depending on taste
3 shots brandy
1.5 shots Bacardi Dragonberry rum
1 shot cranberry liqueur
ginger ale
orange + other fruits

Mix red wine, brandy, rum, and cranberry liqueur in pitcher. (Any sweet flavored rum or vodka can be substituted for the dragonberry rum.) Cut 3/4 of orange into slices and add to mixture. Squeeze remaining 1/4 of orange into mixture. Add slices of apples, apricots, or any other fruit desired. Chill.
To serve, fill glass 3/4 with wine mixture and fruit. Fill remaining 1/4 of glass with ginger ale.

Chicken Tetrazzini

Growing up, I always loved when my mom made chicken tetrazzini - something about the crispy melted cheese on top... yum! I never realized how easy and quick it is to make, and it makes enough for dinner for multiple people (and lunch the next day too)!

Chicken Tetrazzini
1/4 c butter
1/4 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 t pepper
1 c chicken broth
1 c whipping cream
2 T sherry or wine
1 package spaghetti (or any long stringy pasta)
2 c chicken (or more, depending on taste)
bag of grated parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 350. Boil pot of water (for pasta). Begin cooking chicken, cut into cubed pieces. Cook pasta.
For sauce (takes approximately 10 mins), melt butter over low heat. Blend in flour and seasonings. Continue to cook over low heat, stirring, until mixture is smooth and bubbly. Remove from heat and stir in broth and cream. Return to heat and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Stir sauce, pasta, and chicken together. Pour into a greased casserole dish (13x9). Sprinkle top with cheese.
Bake uncovered, approximately 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and top is golden.


Relay for Life

A few weeks ago I participated in Relay for Life. My sister started a team 5 years ago when our grandmother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and our family and friends have been participating ever since. It always amazes me how many people are willing to donate their time and money to the event - it shows how many people have been impacted in some way by cancer and want to do what they can to find a cure.

Since this year's theme was birthdays, I decided to make cut out cookies shaped like birthday cakes and birthday presents. I didn't want sugar cookies so I tried making chocolate chip ones using the recipe from the Toll House chocolate chips bag. Unfortunately, they turned into big blobs so I tried using decorating icing to show the shapes. I've made cut outs with chocolate chip cookies before and they worked, so I'm guessing you need a recipe that's more of a sugar cookie base with the chocolate chips added.

I also made some ribbon cut out cookies, using a sugar cookie recipe and royal icing to decorate. For the royal icing, I bought Wilton's meringue powder and used the recipe included, but added a little bit of vanilla extract for flavor.

Vanilla Almond Sugar Cookies

3c unbleached all-purpose flour
2tsp baking powder
1c sugar
1c butter
1 egg
1/2tsp vanilla extract
1/2tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 350. Combine flour and baking powder then set aside. Cream the sugar and butter, then ass the egg and extracts. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat until just combined. Roll on a (heavily) floured surface and cut into shapes. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

With the royal icing, pipe the outline of the cookies. For the icing filling, thin the icing with water, 1T at a time, until it reaches the consistency of syrup. See tips here.

I chose to color mine purple since it's the color of the ribbon for pancreatic cancer and also the color of Relay for Life. I used a purple gel food coloring. Since the icing is initially white, you can divide it and color it however you like. Once the filling is added, let sit overnight or until completely dry.

And now the finished product - royal icing is hard to work with!


Strawberry Cake

Anyone know where to buy vanilla bean paste? This recipe called for it and I looked everywhere but nobody knew what I was talking about. It turned out to be an okay cake even without it, but was a little bit too dense and the frosting was too sweet for my taste.

Super Strawberry Cake

3 cups cake flour
1.5tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2c sugar
1c butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste (I used vanilla extract)
1/4 tsp almond extract
1c buttermilk
1/2c sliced strawberries

Preheat oven to 350. Sift together cake flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, beat together sugar and butter until creamy and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla and almond extracts. Add flour mixture, alternating with buttermilk. Fold sliced strawberries into batter. Divide batter between 2 8-inch round cake pans. Bake for about 35 minutes.

1/2c butter, softened
1tbsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
4c powdered sugar
3-5 tbsp milk
1/2c sliced strawberries

Beat butter, vanilla extract, and salt until creamy. Add powdered sugar in 3 parts, alternating with 3 tbsp milk, one tbsp at a time. Fold in strawberries. If frosting is too stiff, beat in remaining milk.