Strawberry Lemonade Cookies

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We’ve made a lovely strawberry frosting before, and while it is amazing and just right for frosting on a cake, it’s difficult to get a lot of strawberry flavor into the frosting without compromising the texture and thinning it out (unless you want to use some sort of artificially-flavored strawberry something, which we generally don’t want to do). The solution is, of course, to use freeze-dried berries! Whoever thought of this is brilliant. You grind the berries to a powder in the food processor, and simply beat the powder into the frosting. It’s really that easy, and the result is a fresh-tasting strawberry frosting that is perfectly fluffy. Top a soft lemony cookie with the frosting, and you have a delicious and extremely simple dessert that is perfect for everyday and elegant occasions alike. Simple is best for us right now, because we’ve been very busy with work, babysitting, and preparations for college!

P.S. An unmentioned family member lost my beloved 50 mm f/1.8 lens at graduation, and I haven’t been able to track it down yet/order a new one, so I’ve been stuck with the kit lens and lower quality photos. Hopefully I can replace the lens soon!

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Strawberry Lemonade Cookies

Recipe from The Baker Chick

Makes about 24 cookies

Ingredients

For the cookies:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (12 tablespoons), at room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

1 large egg, plus one egg yolk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon extract

Zest of one lemon

For the frosting:

1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

2/3 cup freeze-dried strawberries, ground into a powder

2-3 cups powdered sugar

Splash of milk or cream
Directions

For the cookies:

Preheat oven to 350F. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl of a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and yolk and mix until smoothly combined.

Add the extracts and zest and mix until combined.Gradually add the dry ingredients and beat on low until just combined. Roll dough into balls and flatten slightly. Place dough a few inches apart on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for 9-11 minutes or until just set on the edges. Chill dough in between baking each batch. Allow cookies to cool before frosting.

For the frosting:

Cream the butter with the strawberry powder and 2 cups of powdered sugar until fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add a splash of milk and the rest of the powdered sugar gradually until frosting is smooth and spreadable. Spread frosting onto cooled cookies. Enjoy!

Grilled Chicken Fajitas

Chicken Fajitas

Celine and I don’t normally grill that much. While we both prefer burgers and chicken grilled, it can be a pain to stand over a hot grill trying to cook everything evenly. Also, I hate being enveloped in smoke after there is an inevitable flare-up. But, dare I say that my grilling skills are improving?

We made these chicken fajitas a couple of weeks ago, and they turned out perfectly! The marinade is awesome- it has jalapenos, cilantro, and lime juice, so you know it will be good. Before marinating the chicken, you set aside some of the marinade to toss the chicken slices and vegetables in after they’re grilled. I love this step because it brightens up the flavor of the fajitas- the bold flavor of marinades sometimes is cooked off a bit by the time the food is done, so this is a genius way to retain the great flavor of the marinade.

So, whatever you do, please make these fajitas! They’re the best I’ve ever eaten, and I guarantee that you will love them too!

Grilled Chicken Fajitas

Serves about 4-5

Recipe from the Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook

Ingredients:

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

6 tbsp. vegetable oil, divided

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1½ tsp. brown sugar

1 jalapeño, seeded and diced

1½ tbsp. minced fresh cilantro

1 tsp. salt

¾ tsp. pepper

1½ lbs. chicken breast (about 2-3), butterflied. Or, use 1 1/2 lbs. of chicken tenders.

1 large red onion, sliced into ½-inch thick slices (do not separate the rings)

2 large bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and quartered

8-12 (6-inch) flour tortillas, warmed

Directions:

In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, 4 tablespoons of the vegetable oil, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, jalapeño, cilantro, salt and pepper.  Remove 1/4 cup of the marinade and set aside. Place the chicken into a gallon-sized Ziploc bag. Pour in the marinade, seal the bag, and shake it to evenly coat the chicken with marinade. Place the chicken in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, brush both sides of the onion rounds and peppers with the remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil.  Season with salt and pepper.

Turn on your grill; high on one side, and medium-low on the other. Remove the chicken from the marinade and place on the hotter side of the grill (you can get rid of the leftover marinade). Put the peppers and onion rounds on the cooler side of the grill. Cook the chicken for about 3-4 minutes on one side, or until well browned. Flip the chicken and continue to grill until it is 160˚ F when an instant read thermometer is inserted into the center.

Grill the vegetables for about 8-12 minutes, or until they are charred in places and somewhat tender. Turn at least once halfway through.

Remove the chicken and vegetables from the grill and transfer to a cutting board. Separate the onion rings and place into a large bowl. Slice the bell peppers into 1/4-inch-thick strips and add to the bowl with the onions. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the reserved (unused) marinade. Slice the chicken into 1/4-inch slices and toss with the other 2 tablespoons of reserved marinade in another bowl. Serve the chicken and vegetables inside the warmed tortillas and enjoy!

 

Raspberry Lemonade Bars

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During the summer, I don’t tend to crave rich, warm chocolatey desserts as much as I do during the winter. It’s not that I would say no a chocolate chip cookie (who would?), it’s just that I prefer to have something a little more refreshing. Homemade ice cream, fruit cobblers, and anything involving lemon are some of my favorites.

I have always been a lover of lemon bars, so when I saw this raspberry version, I knew I had to try it. It did not disappoint. I love raspberry lemonade, and these bars definitely reminded me of it. There is still the zesty lemon flavor, but also a fruity sweetness from the raspberries. If I had one complaint about these bars, it would be the color. That’s partially my fault though- I was a little short on raspberries so my bars were not as deep of a pink as the source’s were (however, the flavor still came through really well). Though they may not be beautiful, I can guarantee that I will be making these bars again throughout the summer. In fact, I have a craving for one right now as I am writing this. I better go remedy that and make some more!

Raspberry Lemonade Bars

Serves a lot, at least 24

Recipe from Annie’s Eats, originally from Sophistimom

Ingredients:

For the crust:

2¼ sticks (18 tbsp.) unsalted butter, softened

½ cup sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ tsp. salt

For the raspberry lemon layer:

3 cups sugar

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

3 tbsp. lemon zest

¼ tsp. salt

3 cups frozen raspberries, thawed (feel free to use fresh raspberries if you have them)

6 large egg whites

2 large eggs

1 1/3 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice

Powdered sugar, for dusting

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

For the crust:

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth, 1-2 minutes.  With the mixer on low speed, add in the flour and salt and mix until just incorporated.  Press the dough into an even layer over the bottom of the pan. Bake for about 25 minutes or until light golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Keep the oven at 350˚ F.

For the filling:

Meanwhile, combine the sugar, flour, lemon zest and salt in a large bowl and whisk to blend.  Place the raspberries in a fine mesh sieve and press through, mashing with a spatula, to extract as much juice and pulp as possible, straining out the seeds. If you are using fresh berries, use a food processor or immersion blender to process them and then strain. Add the egg whites and eggs to the bowl with the dry ingredients and whisk well to blend. Stir in the raspberry puree and lemon juice until smooth.

Pour the mixture over the crust and bake until the center is just set and not longer jiggles when gently shaken, about 35-40 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator. Use the parchment paper to lift the bars out of the pan. Place on a cutting board and slice into bars.  Dust the tops with powdered sugar. Enjoy!

 

French Onion Toasts

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At our little brother’s first communion party a couple weeks ago, we served these lovely French onion toasts- or should I say, our little cousin served them! She walked around with a plate of them and helped serve them to guests, and it was super cute. These toasts were the hit of the party, and of course the server was a nice plus as well. The toasts have all the flavors of French onion soup but with less effort and in the perfect sized portion to serve as an appetizer. These were also very convenient to serve at a party since we caramelized the onions and grated the cheese the night before, and all we had to do at the end was slice the baguette, top the slices with toppings, bake them, and serve. These were so fantastic and we cannot wait to make them again!

French Onion Toasts

Recipe from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Makes 32 toasts

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter

1tablespoon olive oil

2 pounds (about 4 medium-large) yellow onions, cut into dice of about 1/3 inch

1/2 teaspoon table salt

Pinch of sugar

1 tablespoon Cognac, brandy, or vermouth (optional- we skipped it and the toasts were delicious)

1 cup low sodium beef, veal or mushroom stock or broth (we used beef broth)

Freshly ground black pepper

Thirty-two 1/2-inch-thick slices from a long baguette

2 cups (8 ounces) finely grated Gruyere cheese

Directions

Melt together the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions to the pan, toss them with the butter and oil, reduce the heat to medium or medium-low, and cover the pan. Cook the onions for 15 minutes, then remove the lid, stir in the salt and sugar, and saute without the lid for about 10 to 15 minutes, until the onions are fully caramelized and have taken on a deep-golden color.

Pour in alcohol (if you’re using it) and the stock, then turn the heat all the way up and scrape up any brown bits stuck to the pan. Simmer the mixture until the broth almost completely disappears, about 5 to 10 minutes. Adjust the salt, if needed, and season with freshly ground black pepper.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Dollop each round of bread with about a tablespoon of the onion mixture . Add 1 tablespoon or so of cheese and bake until the cheese is fully melted. Serve immediately. Enjoy!