Lemon Zucchini Cookies

– johanna | July 31st, 2009

Filed under: RECIPES - Treats

Zucchini Lemon Cookies

I love using vegetables and fruit in baking they add a depth of flavor and most importantly vitamins and fiber in an otherwise empty calorie treat. It was brain wracking trying to figure out what the two little zucchini on my counter should be made into. I was not in the mood for zucchini bread which also eliminated the pineapple or chocolate muffins idea. Zucchini chocolate chip cookies seemed like a glorified chocolate chip cookie. I wanted something different.

I used a lemon glaze patterned after the orange glaze used in a recipe for pineapple orange muffins.

Source: Adapted from Epicurean
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 tsp grated lemon peel
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt

Lemon Glaze:
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon water

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix sugars, butter and eggs. Stir in remaining ingredients.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake until almost no indention remains when touched; about 8-10 minutes. Do not over bake. Transfer cookies to wire rack.

Whisk the frosting ingredients together. Spread over warm cookies.

Makes 3 dozen

Variations:
-Lemon Glaze: Whisk 2 cups confectioners sugar with 3-4 tablespoons lemon juice until sugar is completely dissolved. Brush warm cookies with glaze.
-Substitute zucchini with carrots.

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Making Time for the Family: Weekend Togetherness

– johanna | July 29th, 2009

Filed under: CREATING MEMORIES

For many households the weekend is encumbered with catching up on sleep, yard work, errands, DIY home projects and much needed recreation. As parents we need our time to unwind from a hectic work week. Fitting in time for the family can sometimes be just as hard on the weekend as during the weekdays; especially when older kids are involved.

Set aside at least a couple of hours for family on the weekend. Here are just a few examples of ways we can relax while spending time with our family:

0 I know a dad who enjoys a relaxing bike ride in the morning then spends a few hours in the afternoon with mom and the kids playing sports.

0 Chef Ramsey of “Hells Kitchen” and “Kitchen nightmares” gathers with his family for a mandatory Sunday brunch.

0 My brother-n-law enjoys cleaning with his family.

0 My friend Emi and her mom went to IHOP every Sunday morning for breakfast.

0 Maybe your family has a soccer player or a tike in t-ball. Arrive in force to cheer them on.

0 Cool off at the lake while enjoying a picnic or barbecue.

0 Take the family out on the boat in the summer or to play in the snow in the winter.

0 Go camping.

0 Complete a project together: gardening, home repairs, hobbies.

0 Go to the zoo, museum or theme park.

0 Serve the community.

0 In our family we like to pack a knapsack and head up into the mountains, go on a bike ride or nature walk around the block. Being outside away from the distractions allows us to open up, converse and listen to each other.

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Peas Au Gratin

– johanna | July 27th, 2009

Filed under: RECIPES - Sides

It is close to the end of the month and I wanted to use utilize items from the freezer rather than shell out extra cash at the grocery store. I paired this recipe for peas au gratin with barbecue pork chops slathered with my favorite barbecue sauce.

I had a problem with the bread crumbs never soaking up the liquid resulting in a powdery mess underneath a hard layer of cheese. To combat this press the bread crumbs and cheese down into the liquid enough to moisten. You could even mix the cheese and bread crumbs into the creamed peas. Use the left overs to make chicken pot pie.

Source: Adapted from Emeril
1 tsp plus 2 tbsp butter
1 cup minced onions
Salt
Freshly ground white pepper
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
4 cups sweet green peas
1/2 cup fine dried bread crumbs
Essence, recipe follows
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease an 8 cup oval gratin dish or baking dish with 1 teaspoon of the butter.

In a large saute pan, over medium heat, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the onions. Season with salt and pepper. Saute for 2 minutes. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in the milk and bring to a simmer. Cook for 4 to 6 minutes or until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Add the peas and mix thoroughly.

Pour into the prepared pan. Season the bread crumbs with Essence. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the peas pressing down to moisten. Top with grated cheese. Place in the oven and cook until the peas are bubbly and the top is golden, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Emeril’s ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):
2 1/2 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp black pepper
* 1 tbsp onion powder
* 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
* 1 tbsp dried oregano
* 1 tbsp dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly. Yield: 2/3 cup

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Mini Pigs in a Blanket

– johanna | July 24th, 2009

Filed under: RECIPES - Appetizer, RECIPES - Main Dish, RECIPES - Snacks

mini pigs in a blanket

Talk about blast from the past. I have not eaten a “pig in the blanket” since I was a little girl. The kids were a little skeptical at first, you know the whole something new hurdle. My sister-n-law Roxanne showed us how to make these mini pigs in a blanket.

1 package refrigerated biscuits
1-2 packages hot dogs

Preheat oven to 400. Cut each biscuit and hot dog in half. Wrap the biscuits around each hot dog. Seal the seam and place face down on a baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes. Or until golden brown.

Variations:
– Use croissants or bread dough in the place of biscuit dough. We used the temperature and time as indicated on the package.

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Sparkling Ginger Sorbet Floats

– johanna | July 22nd, 2009

Filed under: RECIPES - Beverage

Ginger Sorbet Floats

Summery light sorbet floating in sparkling Ginger Ale. Ooo, it just exudes summertime goodness. The ginger ale we used is Reed’s. It is a refreshing blend of honey, ginger root, pineapple, lemon and lime. This is powerful stuff.

Ginger ale
Flavored sorbet

Use a melon baller or ice cream scoop to fill a glass with balls of sorbet. Pour the ginger ale over the sorbet.

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Deviled Eggs

– johanna | July 20th, 2009

Filed under: RECIPES - Appetizer

Deviled eggs are as different as the humans making them. I for one am a traditionalist. While shrimp or chipotle deviled eggs sound divine I prefer the basic taste of deviled eggs I have grown up eating at every Easter feast and picnic.

The past few years the project of making deviled eggs has been assigned to me. Every year I panic because I forgot how I made them the year before. This year I remembered to write it down. I used a recipe from Paula Dean as a base. I figure the woman is from the South she should know how to make basic eggs.

Source: Adapted from Paula Dean
12 large eggs, boiled
1/4 cup Mayo
1 tsp Dijon Horseradish
2 tbsp sweet relish
3-4 shakes Tabasco sauce
Salt and Pepper
Paprika

Slice the eggs lengthwise. Scoop out the yolk and put in a bowl. Set aside the whites. Mash the yolks completely with a fork. Add mayo, mustard, relish, Tabasco, salt and pepper.

Scrap the mixture into a plastic sandwich baggie. Cut one of the corners off. Squeeze the mixture into the hollow of each egg white. Sprinkle lightly with paprika.

**To boil Eggs place eggs in a sauce pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Turn off heat and let sit 10 minutes. Drain and run under cold water.

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Lemon Buttermilk Cake

– johanna | July 17th, 2009

Filed under: RECIPES - Treats

Lemon Buttermilk Cake

Think celestial rays of sunshine coursing through the vibrant cover of blue sky. The pure taste of summer. The stringent scent of lemon pops with tart clean refreshment. But, in cake form. I had a blast making this cake. I loved the velvety smooth texture of the batter. The fragrant aroma of the lemons reminiscent of lemon ice. And the silky buttery lemon flavor that makes it irresistible not to cut another sliver.

Source: Cook’s Country August/September 2008
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature
3 tbsp grated lemon zest (about 3 lemons)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk, room temperature

3 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp buttermilk

Adjust oven rack to middle position. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a glass 13 x 9-inch baking pan.

Combine flour, powder, soda and salt in a medium bowl. Combine buttermilk, lemon juice and vanilla.

Beat granulated sugar and lemon zest until moist and fragrant, about 1 minute. Reserve 1/4 cup of sugar mixture; cover and set aside. Add butter to remaining sugar mixture and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs and yolk, one at a time, until incorporated. Reduce speed to low. Add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk mixture in 2 additions. Mix until smooth about 30 seconds.

Scrape batter into prepared pan an smooth top. Bake until cake is golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes. Transfer cake to wire rack and let cool 10 minutes.

For the glaze:
While cake cools, whisk confectioner’s sugar, lemon juice and buttermilk until smooth. Gently spread over warm cake. Sprinkle evenly with reserved sugar. Cool completely, at least 2 hours.

Variations:
Substitute for cake flour- 2 cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour and 5 tablespoons corn starch.

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Book Review: Elephant and Piggie Series

– johanna | July 15th, 2009

Filed under: THE BOOKSHELF


I was suckered into joining the Children’s Book of the Month Club last year. What can I say, we love books around here. If there is a major holiday that warrants gifts you can bet the kids are getting a book from us. Doesn’t sound very fun; but, books are one of the few things the kids never loose interest in.

So far I have been responsible enough to decline all the monthly selections before they ended up at my house. This month I got a little busy and forgot. I was just about to send the package ‘return to sender’ when curiosity got the better of me. Usually I can go online and see what books are the featured selection of the month past and present, but surprisingly CBOM.com revamped their site. In the end I tore into the package.

We love Elephant and Piggy. It is the tale of two best friends who love to have fun; one a little more reserved than the other. The way they interact reminds me so much of Adelin and Mason. Mo Willems, the author and creator of Pigeon, packs a whole lot of humor and fun into the award winning tales in the Elephant and Piggy series.

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Chicken Spinach Salad with Potatoes and Warm Mustard Dressing

– johanna | July 13th, 2009

Filed under: RECIPES - Soup / Salad

Chicken Spinach with warm mustard dressing

When it is 109 degrees outside the last thing I want to do is stand in the hot kitchen cooking. This week our meals have mostly consisted of dinner salads. They are fast, easy and there is not a lot of clean up.

In this recipe the chicken and potatoes are simmered in a brine giving them flavor without all the extra fat. The dressing may be a little powerful for some tastes. If that is the case your favorite salad dressing could make an excellent substitution.

Source: Adapted from Health
1 pound new potatoes
2 tbsp salt, divided
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp white Dijon mustard
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/4 tsp pepper
4-6 cups spinach, stems removed
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shaved

Bring potatoes to a boil in a large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt, reduce heat and simmer 15-18 minutes or until tender. Drain and run under cool water to cool.

Fill a saucepan halfway with water. Bring to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon salt. Add chicken, reduce heat to medium; gently simmer 12-14 minutes or until cooked through. Let rest 15 minutes before shredding.

To make the dressing, whisk together the oil, mustard, vinegar and pepper; set aside.

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The Art of Bubbles

– johanna | July 10th, 2009

Filed under: KITCHEN SCIENCE

During the summer when it is really hot, I have to come up with something enticing to get the kids outside. The car wash has always been an instant hit. It is pretty hard to keep them away from buckets of water overflowing with soap.

After they are bored of washing the cars, the atmosphere turns bubble hysteria. I have to patrol the dish soap or else they will use the whole bottle. Practically anything with a hole can be used to blow bubbles with. Drinking straws, string, slotted spoons, even strawberry baskets. See what will make a bubble and what does not. Will a square hole make a square bubble? Bubbles Anyone?

Homemade Touchable Bubble Solution: 2 cups bubble solution, 1 1/2 cups of water, 4 tablespoons dish washing liquid, 4 tablespoons light corn syrup.

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