Liam’s Lemonade

Liam’s Lemonade

My son Liam loves to cook!  The other day he asked if he could make homemade lemonade.  I was happy to oblige.  I got out the stuff and he told me to walk away.  He was going to do it all.  I told him that I would need to help as he hasn’t graduated to using the stove or a sharp knife yet.  While he objected, he finally agreed as he really wanted lemonade.  Just to set the record straight, all I did was cut the lemons in half and heat up the simple syrup.

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Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

The past week the weather has been a little cold.  My son told me that he really wanted some hot chocolate to heat him up. I was too happy to oblige, as I love hot chocolate. I went to all of the stores around me and every single hot chocolate mix that I found, contained sugar and sucralose (an artificial sweetener). I don’t have any issue with people using artificial sweeteners, but my son and I both get an off taste from them. I can’t explain it, but it just does not taste right to us. So after a quick scan of three supermarket aisles, I decided that the commercial brands were out. Therefore, I had to make my own mix. Come to find out, making homemade hot chocolate is quite simple. Mix a few ingredients, add some hot water and boom. Homemade Hot Chocolate!  The homemade hot chocolate mix, is simple and delicious!

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Pizza Sauce

Pizza Sauce

I make a ton of homemade pizzas and I always make my own pizza sauce.  The number one question that I get is, what pizza sauce recipe should I use?  So the other day, I searched my website looking for it and I did not find it.  To be honest, I thought that I had already wrote a pizza sauce post.  I guess I was wrong.  Here is my favorite pizza sauce recipe!

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Valentines Day Pressed Cookies

Valentines Day Pressed Cookies

My family loves to eat cookies.  Some of our favorite cookies are pressed cookies.  They are easy to make, equal in size and consistent in quality.  They are basically the easiest cookies in the world to cook the same repeatedly.  In order to make these we had to pick up a cookie press.  After looking at  various reviews online we decided to pick up an Oxo Cookie Press.  Next since it is Valentines day we decided to make some Valentines cookies.  This was easy as a few of the various cookie cutters included with the Oxo cookie press were hearts, flowers and teddy bears.  Perfect for Valentines Day!  The go to dough for these cookies, is Dana’s Mother’s recipe.  Thanks for letting me reprint this Jane.

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Cutout Sugar Cookies

Cutout Sugar Cookies

My wife Dana is a great baker.  She also has a great eye for design.  So I have to put it out there, these cookies are all her.  My hands are not steady enough and my decorating ideas are not good enough to make these cookies. However, she was happy to share them with all of you.  So a big thank you to Dana! How awesome do these cookies look? By the way, these sugar cookies are perfection.  They are not too sweet, thus allowing you to coat them in super sweet royal icing.  Plus, they hold up great without overly rising.  Therefore, your cutouts look exactly as they should.

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Bill’s Sangria – Thirsty Thursday!

Bill’s Sangria – Thirsty Thursday!

My Father-In-Law Bill is a wine fanatic. When I told him that I needed a new drink for the blog he went right for Sangria. It is a light and refreshing wine based drink that is perfect for this summer weather that we are all having. Bill’s Sangria has a few twists which add to the uniqueness of it. In addition to wine he adds flavored seltzer, Cointreau and rum. Together it is awesome!

Best Sangria Recipe around!Bill’s Sangria

First you need to assemble the ingredients.

The Ingredients

Next you need to slice the fruit. We sliced the lemons and oranges. Then we cubed the apple and peaches.

Slice the fruit

In a 2 liter jug or larger add the fruit.

Add the fruit to the jug

Then pour in the wine, Cointreau, Rum, sugar and Seltzer.

Fill the jug

Mix and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Time to drink

Serve and enjoy!

Bill's Sangria - Thirsty Thursday!
Author: 
Recipe type: Cocktail
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
The ultimate summer cocktail. Bill's Sangria is light and refreshing!
Ingredients
  • 750 ml red table wine (dry)
  • 1 oz Cointreau
  • 1 oz Rum
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • ½ liter orange flavored seltzer
  • 1 apple (cubed)
  • 1 peach (cubed)
  • 1 orange (halved and sliced)
  • 1 lemon (halved and sliced)
Instructions
  1. First you need to assemble the ingredients.
  2. Next you need to slice the fruit. We sliced the lemons and oranges. Then we cubed the apple and peaches.
  3. In a 2 liter jug or larger add the fruit.
  4. Then pour in the wine, Cointreau, Rum, sugar and Seltzer.
  5. Mix and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

 

Apricot Thumbprints

Apricot Thumbprints

Apricot Thumbnail Cookies

The next cookie that Dana made for our Christmas Cookie tins was a nice Apricot Thumbprint cookie.  The Apricot jam accented the sugar cookie nicely.  Just like the other cookies, I could not keep these out of my mouth.

Apricot Thumbprints

In a large bowl combine butter with sugar, eggs, vanilla and almond extract.  Using and electric mixer, beat  on high speed until light and fluffy.

Combine the ingredients

In another bowl combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt).

Incorporate the dry ingredients

Turn the mixer to low and gradually stir into the butter mixture.  Once the dry ingredients are incorporated, increase the speed to medium and beat until well blended.

Wrap in plastic and chill

Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours.

 

Set oven to 400°F.

 

Line cookie sheets with parchment paper (do not grease cookie sheets, use parchment paper only).

Form into balls and flatten by using your finger to create a well

Roll the dough into tablespoon sized balls and place on the cookie sheet.

Fill with jam

Make a well in each ball with your thumb or teaspoon, and then fill the well with apricot jam.

Bake

Bake 8 Mins at 400 degrees.

Fully Cooked

Cool on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

 
Ingredients
Sugar Cookie Base
  • 1 cup butter, softened (no substitutes)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 3¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
Thumbprint Filling
  • ½ Cup Apricot Jam
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl combine butter with sugar, eggs, vanilla and almond extract; beat using an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy.
  2. In another bowl combine the flour with baking powder, baking soda and salt; gradually stir into the butter mixture until well blended.
  3. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours.
  4. Set oven to 400°F.
  5. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper (do not grease cookie sheets use parchment paper only).
  6. Roll the dough into tablespoon sized balls and place ont he cookie sheet.
  7. Make a well in each ball with your thumb or teaspoon, and then fill the well with apricot jam.
  8. Bake 8 Mins at 400 degrees.
  9. Cool on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Notes
Adapted from http://www.food.com/recipe/kittencals-buttery-cut-out-sugar-cookies-w-icing-that-hardens-261889?oc=linkback

These were some of the most popular cookies.  They had a nice sweetness and the jam added a nice texture.  These were delicious cookies.

Soft Sugar Cookies With Light and Fluffy Frosting

Soft Sugar Cookies With Light and Fluffy Frosting

I was trolling around the internet looking for some inspiration and discovered these tasty cookies over at SavorySights.com.  They were posted by Fake Ginger and they reminded me of the super soft and delicious sugar cookies that the local Ukrop’s Bakery inside of Martin’s makes.  They were perfect.  Light and fluffy and exactly what I expected.  These cookies are almost like eating sugary air.  They are a must try.

Light and Fluffy Sugar Cookies

Soft Sugar Cookies With Light and Fluffy Frosting – from Fake Ginger via SavorySights

The Dough

In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  Whisk together.

Cream the butter and sugar

In the bowl of a mixer combine the butter and sugar.  Cream together on medium/high until the mixture is light and fluffy.

Add the eggs

Beat in the eggs one at a time.  Make sure to fully mix in each egg before adding the next.  Then add the vanilla and mix.

Add the flour

Turn the mixer to low and slowly add the flour mixture.  Mix until everything is incorporated.

Chill

Cover the bowl and chill in the refrigerator for an hour or more.

Time to Bake

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

When the dough has fully chilled, scoop out 1/4 cup portions and roll into a ball.  Then place the balls on the parchment lined baking sheets about 2-3 inches apart.  Then flatten the balls slightly to form disks.  Repeat with the remaining dough.

Portion the dough

Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes or until they are just set.  DO NOT OVERBAKE!  The edges should be just be lightly turning brown.  You do not want the cookies to get any color.  If so they will start to harden.

Cooked

When the cookies are just set, remove them from the oven and let cool on the baking sheets for 5-10 minutes.  Then transfer them to a wire rack to fully cool.

The Frosting

While the cookies are cooling place the confectioners’ sugar to a mixing bowl.  Add the melted butter, vanilla and milk. Whisk the mixture until smooth.  If the frosting is too hard, slowly add another tsp of milk to the mixture.  Whisk and repeat until you have the desired texture.  If you want colored frosting add the desired color to the frosting now and whisk.

Frosting

Frost the cookies and add sprinkles to finish the cookies.

Frost the cookies

If the frosting starts to harden, whisk in another tsp of milk to the frosting.  This will loosen it up to all you to finish frosting the cookies.

The perfect sugar cookie

Store in an airtight container.

Soft Sugar Cookies With Light and Fluffy Frosting
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 30
 
Light and fluffy sugar cookies that will sweeten even the Grinch's heart.
Ingredients
  • Cookies
  • 4½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 4½ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1½ cups butter (3 sticks), room temperature
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 5 tsp vanilla
  • Frosting
  • 5 cups confectioners' sugar
  • ⅓ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tbs vanilla
  • 7-8 tbs milk
  • food coloring (optional)
  • sprinkles (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together.
  2. In the bowl of a mixer combine the butter and sugar. Cream together on medium/high until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Make sure to fully mix in each egg before adding the next. Then add the vanilla and mix.
  4. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add the flour mixture. Mix until everything is incorporated.
  5. Cover the bowl and chill in the refrigerator for an hour or more.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  7. When the dough has fully chilled, scoop out ¼ cup portions and roll into a ball. Then place the balls on the parchment lined baking sheets about 2-3 inches apart. Then flatten the balls slightly to form disks. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  8. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes or until they are just set. DO NOT OVERBAKE! The edges should be just be lightly turning brown. You do not want the cookies to get any color. If so they will start to harden.
  9. When the cookies are just set, remove them from the oven and let cool on the baking sheets for 5-10 minutes. Then transfer them to a wire rack to fully cool.
  10. While the cookies are cooling place the confectioners' sugar to a mixing bowl. Add the melted butter, vanilla and milk. Whisk the mixture until smooth. If the frosting is too hard, slowly add another tsp of milk to the mixture. Whisk and repeat until you have the desired texture. If you want colored frosting add the desired color to the frosting now and whisk.
  11. Frost the cookies and add sprinkles to finish the cookies.
Notes
If the frosting starts to harden, whisk in another tsp of milk to the frosting. This will loosen it up to all you to finish frosting the cookies.

 

These cookies are awesome! They are light and fluffy.  Plus since they are so light they just dissolve in your mouth.  The perfect cookie.

Individual Peach Upside-Down Cakes

Individual Peach Upside-Down Cakes

Peaches are in season right now and they are sweeter than ever.  I have a pantry full of them.  I was looking for a new recipe that I have never even contemplated before.  Dana and I were brainstorming and one thing I have never made was an upside down cake.  So I looked around and my favorite celebrity chef Alton Brown had made a similar recipe.

Individual Peach Upside-Down Cakes – (From Alton Brown)

  • 3 tbs unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 medium peaches, peeled
  • 3 tbs finely chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ice cream and whipped cream for topping

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Peel the peaches and slice them into 12-14 pieces each.  A quick tip for peeling peaches is to place them in boiling water for 3-4 seconds and then the skin just peels right off.

Easy way to peel peaches

If you find that the skin is still tough to remove, add back to the water for another 3-4 seconds and repeat.  That way you waste no fruit and the skin comes off easily.

Perfectly peeled peaches

Divide 2 tablespoons of butter between 4 six-ounce ramekins.  Then evenly sprinkle the brown sugar between the ramekins.

Lay out the peaches

Then lay the peaches evenly over the top of the sugar.  Then divide the ginger between the ramekins.

Mix the batter

Melt the remaining 1 tbs of butter.  In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  then add the sugar, buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla.  Stir until just combined.

Evenly distribute the batter between the ramekins

Then pour the cake mixture divided evenly over the top of the peaches.

Bake on the middle rack at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until the cake is fully cooked.

Peach upside down cakes

Remove from the oven and let cook for 5 minutes.  Then run a knife around the edge of each dish and turn upside down onto a plate.

Top with ice cream and whipped cream

Top with ice cream and whipped cream and serve.

Peach upside down cakes

These little cakes were the perfect after dinner treat.  Put them in the oven when you sit down to eat and they are ready when you finish eating.  Delicious!

Cinnamon Sugar French Toast

Cinnamon Sugar French Toast

The other day I was strolling through the local Super Market when  I came across an amazing loaf of Challah bread.  I knew I had to make something with it.  So I decided to make my favorite French Toast for dinner.  Who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner.  Plus, a little brown sugar and Cinnamon to round off my French Toast.  The perfect complement for a savory sweet breakfast for dinner treat.

Cinnamon Sugar French Toast

Top with a little powdered sugar and this breakfast treat is going prime time.

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