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.