Sunday, June 27, 2010

If you make nothing else this summer...

Do yourself a favor...and make these cookies. I know what you are thinking, I have pushed these cookies time and time again. And it is true, I have. But I cannot tell you how perfect they are for a summer treat or a surprise guest or for something small when you are really craving an entire pan of brownies.

And the very best part about these cookies is that you can keep them in the freezer indefinitely and they don't need to be thawed before you eat them!

So anyway, listen to me, you need to make these cookies! And then keep some ice cream in the house and you're set. Your friends will love you!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Frozen Lemonade

I happened to have a lot of lemons. It was relatively warm outside. What could be more refreshing than a tall glass of frozen lemonade? You've got it, nothing! Unfortunately as you can see in these pictures I was low on tall glasses, but it's still delicious in a bowl. I highly recommend this sweet treat for all the hot days of summer to come. You could probably make it with any citrus. Some people call this granita...I call it frozen lemonade.

This recipe only made two huge bowls for us and about 1/4 cup of lost recipe to the floor. Probably it serves four normally but it is so refreshing its hard to share! You could double the recipe and still have room in your ice cream maker. OR if you have extra time or no ice cream maker (I can't believe there are people who don't have one!) you can just put this in an 8x8 pan and freeze it for 2-3 hours and then slush it up with a fork. OR you can use your slushi maker...I remember that Katie had this cup that turned stuff into slushies and she wouldn't let me use it.

I followed the directions exactly from Pinch My Salt and it worked like a charm. So delicious!

scant 1 cup sugar
1 1/2 C water
fresh squeezed juice of 2 1/2 lemons

1. Heat water and sugar in a pan over medium heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
2. Juice lemons over a juicer thing to strain out seeds.
3. When sugar syrup is cooled, add lemon juice and chill in the fridge until cold.
4. Pour lemon mixture into your ice cream maker and freeze 20 minutes or until appropriately slushed. Serve immediately in a tall glass.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Brussel Sprouts

I went to the farmer's market last weekend and was drawn to the brussel sprouts. Do I even like these? I wasn't sure, but they were fresh and cheap so I got them. Then I scoured the internet for an enticing recipe. I found something but then when I went about making them I changed the recipe so much that I'm not even sure it could be called the same one.

If you already like brussel sprouts, this recipe is for you. It is flavorful and would be great with any vegetable, particularly anything that doesn't start with brussel and end with sprouts.

It turns out that even with bacon and garlic, I do not like brussel sprouts. But who knows, maybe you love them!

Some brussel sprouts (sorry I don't know how many I had but it seemed like wayyy too many), cut in half
1 shallot, diced
3 large garlic cloves, crushed
3 slices bacon
I T olive oil
1/4 water
Balsamic vinegar

1. Boil water, add sprouts and cook one minute. Remove, drain and place in ice water for another minute.
2. Meanwhile, cook bacon, drain on paper towels and cut into bits, set aside.
3. In the same frying pan, add shallot and garlic and cook 30 seconds in bacon grease. Add sprouts and bacon and oil if you didn't have enough bacon grease.
4. Add water and sprinkle some vinegar on top. Cook until liquid is reduced and sprouts are fork tender. Serve warm

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ice Cream Pie

We had some friends over this weekend and decided to make this dessert, Kona Coffee Ice Cream Pie. We've made it before but now with pictures! This is a simple dessert we make complicated by making all the layers ourselves. The easy way is to buy a chocolate cookie crust, 1 quart of ice cream (any flavor), some hot fudge and some whipped cream and layer it all together. What we did was make our own cookie crust, hot fudge and ice cream and then layer it all together and it tastes fantastic--maybe a little too coffee flavored for some but hey, you don't have to use coffee ice cream. Try it with peanut butter ice cream or mint or a dulce de leche instead of hot fudge...the possibilities are endless, the flavors are amazing and your guests will be thrilled.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Lemon Lavender Sugar Cookies

During my daily blog reading, I spotted a recipe for lavender sugar cookies and thought those would be just the thing for the shower I held yesterday. But then I read the recipe and learned that it was vegan. It is very possible that it is still delicious, but it required me to pick up all these ingredients with which I was unfamiliar. I suppose I could have just substituted the non-vegan varieties but that didn't even occur to me at the time.

I searched the web for another lemon sugar cookie recipe and used that for the cookie base and then also made lavender sugar for the topping. Also unfamiliar with the properties of lavender, I made the sugar topping two ways. First, I contacted my sister about getting some lavender direct from her garden so that I could bake with it. Nobody knew if this was the right kind of lavender for baking but I thought I'd give it a try anyway, I didn't know where else to get it.

Next I took 3-4 lavender flowers and put them in a container with about 1 cup of white sugar. I sealed the container and let it sit for about 4 days. When I removed the flowers the sugar was clumpy but a good shake and some fork raking took care of that. This sugar lasted in the container a couple of weeks until I needed it.

The other lavender sugar I made the day of baking. I took 4 lavender flowers and ground them with 1/2 cup of sugar in the mini chopper. This made the sugar superfine and also gave the cookies a nice design with the little pieces of flowers inside. I think this looks best but both cookies have the same light lavender flavors on top of the tangy lemon. This is a perfect spring into summer dessert!

Lavender sugar of your choice
1 1/2 C sugar
Zest of 2 lemons
1 C. butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 T. lemon juice
2 3/4 C flour
1/4 t. salt
2 t. cream of tartar
1 t. baking soda

1. Cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla, eggs, lemon juice and zest
2. In a separate bowl mix the salt, cream of tartar, baking soda and flour
3. Add the flour mixture into the butter mixture slowly, mixing in between
4. Refrigerate the dough covered for at least an hour
5. Preheat the oven to 350
6. Roll dough between your palms (I was going for small cookies, you choose your size). Then roll dough balls into the lavender sugar
7. Place 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet and bake 7-10 minutes or until lightly browned and puffy. The cookies will flatten when they are cooled, cool fully on wire racks.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Boysenberry Jamble Shortbread Bars

I'm holding a shower today and did a lot of advance baking. Some people are scared of advanced baking. They think that once something is in the freezer it automatically tastes like the freezer. Through my childhood, however, my mom proved to me that it is possible to freeze desserts and then have them taste as fresh as from the oven when you serve them. My sister has proved this more recently and I am proving it for the shower. Besides, all the recipes say you can freeze the cookies and bars so I'm set!

These bars are actually called Blackberry Jamble Shortbread Bars--but I switched it up and used Boysenberry jam filling because I really enjoy the stuff. It is slightly sweeter than blackberry and equally delicious. I think it is a great fit to these bars. This recipe is from the Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey cookbook I have been using recently.

This recipe was easy to make with minimal dishes (a big plus!). The only thing I did wrong was that instead of making a crumble on the top, I just made a second crust. This stemmed from the dough being too soft (I was impatient) and it didn't crumble. I also had a bunch of left over dough which is just weird...I don't know how that happened because my bottom crust seems thicker than it should've been. So, whoops. Now I'll have to make some shortbread cookies, darn. ;)

1 lb unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 C firmly packed brown sugar
1 C sugar
2 t vanilla
1 t salt
3 3/4 C unbleached flour
1 C almond flour or very finely ground almonds*
1 1/2 C boysenberry preserves (or flavor of your choice)
1/2 C chopped almonds
confectioners sugar for dusting

*Use a spice grinder or mini chopper to grind sliced raw almonds smaller. Add 1-2 t flour so that they don't grind into butter

1. Combine butter and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat until creamy on med-low. Add vanilla and salt and beat until combined
2. Beat in flour and almond flour at low speed until a smooth soft dough forms.
3. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray and press 1/3 of the dough evenly into the pan. Wrap remaining dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold and firm--this takes more than 30 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 325. Bake the bottom crust until firm and just beginning to turn pale brown around the edges, about 20 minutes.
5. Remove the pan from the oven and spread with preserves, it may help to stir the preserves before spreading. Crumble the rest of the shortbread dough over the jam to form a pebbly topping. Sprinkle the chopped almonds over the top.
6. Bake at 325 for 30 minutes or until topping is firm and crisp and lightly golden in color. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
7. Cut bars into squares and then halve them diagonally for triangles. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar if you are serving them immediately. If not, freeze and sprinkle right before serving.