Lemon Sugar Cookies

It is clear that I live in a house of cookie monsters.  My boys love to see the cookie jar filled with cookies.  This past week we created a new sugar cookie.  I love adding lemon to desserts.  Lemon makes foods taste fresh.  These cookies were easy to make.  The boys loved them and we have decided they will be part of the cookie rotation.

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1 cup Butter cold, cut into cubes

2 cups Sugar

2 Eggs

1 t  Vanilla Extract (I used Mexican Vanilla)

1 1/2 Fresh Lemon Juice

1 T Lemon Zest  (you can add more to add extra flavor)

3 cups Flour

1 1/4 Baking Powder

1/4 Baking Soda

1/2 Salt

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Using a mixer, cream butter and sugar for 4 minutes until light and fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest and stir to combine.
Stir in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and mix just until combined.
Spoon about a tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball.
Drop dough onto a prepared baking pan.  Sprinkle the rolled dough balls with white sugar.
Bake for 9-11 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool on cooling rack.

Patriotic Shortcakes

So, I have been busy!  I know it has been a few weeks since I have added any recipes.  At the beginning of the month, we had a great visit with my parents.  I was able sing and dance around the kitchen for fun family meals.  Although my broadway moves are polished and poised, I did receive a few raised eyebrows from my father.  Nevertheless, I wanted to make a special treat on July 4th.  Chris loves REAL strawberry shortcake (not that spongy junk) so I decided to kick it up Uncle Sam style.  Fireworks!  Plus there were leftover shortcakes for a repeat the following evening.  It is easy to say that I believe it has become a family favorite.  Enjoy!- Amanda

Patriotic Shortcakes

1 (16-oz.) container fresh strawberries, rinsed & quartered

1 pint container fresh blueberries, rinsed

3/4 cup sugar, divided

1/4 t almond extract

1 cup whipping cream

2 T sugar

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

4 t baking powder

3/4 cup cold butter, cut up

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 (8-oz.) container sour cream

1 t vanilla extract

Combine strawberries and blueberries, 1/2 cup sugar, and almond extract. Cover berry mixture, and let stand 2 hours.   Beat whipping cream at medium speed with an electric mixer until foamy; gradually add 2 T sugar, beating until soft peaks form. Cover and chill up to 2 hours.


Combine flour, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and baking powder in a large bowl; cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender until crumbly.  Whisk together eggs, sour cream, and vanilla until blended; add to flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Drop dough by lightly greased 1/3 cupfuls onto a lightly greased baking sheet.  Bake at 450° for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden. 

Split shortcakes in half horizontally. Spoon about 1/2 cup berry mixture onto each shortcake bottom; top each with a rounded spoonful of chilled whipped cream, and cover with tops. Serve with remaining whipped cream.  Using 1/3 cupfuls you will make around 12 shortcakes

Bite-Sized Tomato & Mozzarella Salad

On this Meatless Monday, I wanted to share a favorite “meatless” salad. In the summer, I make this salad once a week to accompany pasta dishes, steaks, or even hamburgers. It perfect to bring as your side to the next neighborhood cookout. And with the 4th right around the corner, serve your salad in a blue bowl to capture all the red, white, and blue! Taste the summer!- Amanda

Bite-Sized Tomato & Mozzarella Salad

1 cup small cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1 cup fresh mozzarella, diced

4 fresh basil leaves, chopped into pieces

1 1/2 T olive oil

1 t soy sauce (we use low sodium)

1 t balsamic vinegar

pinch of sugar

freshly ground pepper

Mix together the tomatoes and mozzarella. In separate bowl, whisk together oil, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and sugar. Toss the tomatoes and mozzarella in dressing. Then add the fresh basil. Top with fresh ground pepper.

Strawberry Spinach Salad

After a long, hot summer day, my family wants something cool and refreshing for dinner.    I believe in the summer you need to enjoy beautiful, seasonal fruits.  We will be eating lots of fruit salads (more to come).  This yummy salad is easy and leaves everyone feeling full but not heavy.  Serve as a side dish or add grilled chicken for the main entree.  Gotta love strawberries!- Amanda  

 Strawberry Spinach Salad

1 T poppy seeds

1 1/2 t minced onion

1/2 cup white sugar

1/4 t Worcestershire

1/4 t paprika

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 bag (10 oz) spinach

1 pint (or more) strawberries, sliced thin

In blender, combine sugar, poppy seeds, onion, Worcestershire, paprika, oil, and vinegar.  Blend well.  If seems thick, add a few drops of water.

Remove stems of spinach (or not).  Arrange on plates, top with strawberries.  Drizzle the dressing over strawberries and serve.

To give a good punch of protein, add some grilled chicken.

Amanda Jean’s Chicken Salad

Chicken Salad is another one of those items that everyone has opinion to add.  At the end of the day, you have chicken usually mayo and then all the other ingredients that you love in your chicken salad.  This is my plain “jean” chicken salad.  We have several favorites but this is an easy go to.  I’ll share our others soon.  This was a special request from Chris for Father’s Day lunch.  We love our plain “jean” chicken salad on flaky croissants.  Happy Summer!- Amanda

Amanda Jean’s Chicken Salad

1 1/2 cups chicken, cooked, finely shredded

1/2 cup celery, chopped

1/2 cup green onions, thinly sliced

1 T lemon juice, freshly squeezed

1/8 t pepper, freshly ground

1/3 cup Hellmann’s light mayo

2 T bell pepper, finely chopped

2 t prepared mustard

In a mixing bowl combine chicken, celery, green onions, lemon juice, and pepper.  Stir in mayo, bell pepper, and mustard.  Cover and chill for at least one hour.

Serve your chicken salad on crackers or our family favorite, croissants.  This makes about enough chicken salad for 4 croissant sandwiches.  Plus it makes great leftovers.

Zucchini Fries

It’s that time of year when the grills are heating up with yumminess.  I promised I would be sharing my favorites and some new summery side dishes.  This past week when Chris was grilling hamburgers we thought it was no better time to create a french fry substitute.  In about 25 minutes, I created zucchini fries that were devoured without any guilt.  This recipe is versatile and can compliment any meal.  It’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure in the kitchen.  You pick the veggies and seasonings.  Could it be any easier?  Eat your veggies! -Amanda

Zucchini Fries

Choose your Veggies– Zucchini, Carrots, Bell Peppers, Squash (you get the idea)
Choose your Seasonings– Always start with pepper and sea salt.  Just stick with one extra seasoning to make sure your veggies don’t come out crazy! Need some ideas: paprika, cumin, cayenne, crushed red peppers, thyme, rosemary, sage.  You can also use premixed spice blends like Spike, Italian, Mexican, Old Bay.

Cut your veggies into 3-inch sticks.  Try to keep the same thickness to help even out cooking.
Now it’s time to play with your seasonings.  Start with pepper and easy on the sea salt.  Then get creative with a seasoning that excites your palate or compliments the main dish you have planned.  This time I used freshly ground pepper, sea salt and Spike (a favorite premixed spice blend).
Lightly toss your veggie with olive oil (not too much) and the herbs and spices.
Spread your seasoned veggies over a baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper and a light layer of olive oil.  Bake at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes (flipping halfway through) or until golden and slightly browned at the edges.

Shredded BBQ Chicken

Memorial Day weekend marks the official beginning of summer!  My mind begins to think about all the yummy summer foods our family enjoys.  Throughout the coming weeks I will be sharing favorites from our table.  These recipes allow you soak up the sun and spend little time in the kitchen.  You will begin to learn that Chris has a little “Bobby Flay” attitude around the grill.  While he is the master of the grill, I play with fun side items to make our meals come alive.  There are times that we can’t make it to the grill and still want some yummy barbecue.  This Shredded BBQ Chicken will change your life.  There is no thinking involved and the outcome is delicious.  Serve as mouthwatering small sandwiches or individually with your favorite BBQ sides.  You will enjoy your leftovers the next day.  Here’s to summer!- Amanda

Shredded BBQ Chicken

3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 6 large)
1 T onion powder
1 T smoked paprika
1 t garlic powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
8 oz of beer* (I used Stella Artois)
32 oz barbecue sauce (I used Mark’s “Red” Sauce- Louisville, KY local- Our new favorite)

Season chicken with onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Add to crockpot, then add beer and 24 ounces of barbecue sauce. Cook on low for 8 hours, tossing once or twice if desired. After 8 hours, shred and add remaining barbecue sauce. Toss chicken to coat and let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving to absorb everything. This chicken is delicious on your favorite rolls.  We used sweet Hawaiian rolls.  I tossed up some coleslaw and dill pickle spears.  Great leftovers the next day!
*You can substitute beer with water.  I have found beer to tenderize the meat.  And we all know that alcohol cooks out, just in case you were worried.