Thumbprint Cookies.

File these little gems under “best after school snacks”. The only thing that might make these even better is homemade jam. Bonne Maman is never a bad stand in though.

Thumbprint Cookies

2 cups (284g) flour
1/2 cup (50g) almond flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter, at room temperature 
3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar, plus 1/2 cup more for rolling
1 large egg plus 1 large yolk 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup strawberry (or your other favorite!) jam 

1. Adjust oven rack to the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line sheet pans with parchment paper. 
2. In a medium bowl, whisk dry ingredients – flour, almond flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside. 
3. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed for about a minute. Add the 3/4 cup sugar and mix on medium until light and fluffy – about 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and then add the egg, yolk and vanilla. Mix on low until combined.
4. Add flour and mix on low until combined. Use your rubber spatula to scrape down the sides to make sure it’s evenly combined. 
5. Roll the dough into 1/2 oz (15g) or about 2 teaspoon balls. Roll each ball into the remaining 1/2 cup sugar. 
6. Place cookies on each sheet pan and use your thumb to make an indentation in the middle of each ball. Fill with a heaping 1/2 teaspoon of jam. 
7. Bake one pan at a time, rotating halfway through. Bake until cookies are puffed, sides are set and bottom is just beginning to turn golden brown. About 10-12 minutes. Let cool on pan and store in an airtight container. 

Meal Plan This Week.

We had the sweetest weekend with the best Mother’s Day a mama could ask for. On to a wonderful week where it’s all about the food, as usual.

Sunday – Steak, Brussels Sprouts, Scalloped Potatoes, and Bitter Greens & Orange Salad.

Monday – Sheet Pan Shrimp and Asparagus with Rice and Aioli.

Tuesday – Lemon-y Linguine with Garlic Bread. (adding peas and spinach to the pasta for some extra veg)

Wednesday – Warm Grain and Vegetable Bowl.

Thursday – Leftovers (or Meatballs in the likely case of – no leftovers left over) Going to post that meatball recipe here this week so it’s easier to find!

Friday – Pizza!!!

Saturday – Grill Party! Hot dogs, burgers, potato salad and all good grill food.

Bake – Mother’s Day Angel Food Cake with Vanilla Sugar Whipped Cream and Berries.

Treat – Blueberry Hand Pies with Buttermilk Ice Cream.

Mrs. Whitney’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars.

For years, it was tradition that my dear teacher friend, Mrs. Whitney, would bring these chocolate peanut butter bars to every school potluck. When she retired a few years ago after 30 years of teaching at our school, she handed the recipe down to me to continue the tradition. And now I’m handing the recipe off to you! they are so simple, but so good.

Bookmark it for your next potluck!!

Mrs. Whitney’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

1 cup butter
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 lb powdered sugar
10 sheets graham crackers, crushed to crumbs
12 oz semisweet chocolate chips

  1. Melt butter in large pot and remove from heat.
  2. Add peanut butter to pot and stir until mixed. Add powdered sugar and stir until incorporated. Add graham cracker crumbs and stir again until fully incorporated.
    Batter will be thick. You may want to use your hands to make sure all crumbs are mixed in.
  3. Press mixture into 9×13 pan with flat, heavy spatula.
  4. Melt chocolate chips. Microwave in 30 second increments & stir until smooth. Spread evenly over pan.
  5. Chill in refrigerator for about 30 min. Cut into small squares. Mrs. Whitney says 48 squares but l’ve never been able to get quite that many!
  • monitor the 30 min cool time. If kept refrigerated to long, the chocolate will crack when cut. Take out when the chocolate loses its glossiness.

Meal Plan This Week.

An easy, summer-y week of meals based around a pork shoulder done in the crock pot on Monday night.

Sunday – Grilled Chicken, Green Beans, Hasselback Potatoes with Sour Cream Sauce (I left out the Horseradish), and a Lazy Caprese Salad

Monday – Husband threw the pork in the crock pot this morning. For dinner we’ll have Buddha Bowls with Rice, Pulled Pork, Roast Broccoli, and the leftover sour cream sauce from Sunday.

Tuesday – Crispy Pork Carnitas Tacos with Lazy Slaw

Wednesday – Pork and Sharp Cheddar Croissants with Oven Fries

Thursday – Leftovers – But nachos if we don’t have enough leftovers!

Friday – Pizza, of course

Saturday – Hot Honey Chicken on a big salad

Cocktail – Tequila Spritz

Bake – Berry Pie

Treat – Strawberry Ice Cream

Happy Eating this week, friends!

Warm Grain and Vegetable Bowl.

If you are in need of a simple and nourishing meal that warms you up from your insides out, you’ve found it here. I found this recipe in Ina Garten’s Go To Dinners (everything in it has been amazing so far), and it’s one that is going to be in heavy rotation at our house. I’m writing the recipe as I made it, which differs from the original. And of course, as always, you can make it your own by using different vegetables and grains, but you really should make the dressing as is. That’s what makes it all so very good. Now, please excuse me while I go add all of this to our shopping cart for next week.

Warm Vegetable and Grain Bowl

1 cup quinoa
Salt and pepper
1/2 red onion, cut into 8 wedges through the stem
1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, diced (I used a frozen bag for ease)
1/2 pound carrots, scrubbed and cut into sticks
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 oz greens such as spinach, kale, arugula or a mix
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup toasted walnuts or pecans
creamy goat cheese, thickly sliced

For the dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Make quinoa according to package instructions, set aside.
  3. Combine the onion, butternut squash, and carrots on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper and toss. Spread the vegetables out in one layer and roast for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing once halfway through until all the vegetables are tender.
  4. Combine the dressing ingredients in a bowl with a whisk, or in a jar with a lid. Set aside.
  5. In a large salad bowl, combine your greens, cranberries, and toasted nuts (I just toast them in a cast iron skillet over medium for a couple minutes until they smell nutty and are golden brown. Watch them closely so they don’t burn.) Pour a little bit on your greens and toss.
  6. Serve the salad into your bowls, add quinoa, the goat cheese to taste and roasted vegetables on top. Drizzle a little more vinaigrette on top and season with salt if needed.
  7. Serve warm and inhale the whole thing.

Lavender Cake.

I know I’ve talked about Lemon Everything for spring, but you know what else I am in love with this time of year? Lavender. I bought a giant package of food grade lavender for different treats this month. I’m making lavender lemonade, lavender tea, lavender simple syrup for lavender lattes, and a couple weeks ago I started my lavender adventures with a yummy little lavender cake. The thing you have to remember is that lavender can be pretty strong. You have to be pretty into it to really enjoy these treats. Maybe you don’t know if you like lavender! Maybe you should try it! I really love it, and think it’s beautiful, soul filling to cook with, and maybe you will too.

Lavender Cake with Lavender Frosting

For the cake:
1/2 cup milk, plus 2 tablespoons to be used in frosting below
2 tablespoons culinary lavender
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of one lemon
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons mild-flavored vegetable oil

For the frosting:
1/2 cup (one stick) butter, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons lavender milk (from above)

Prepare the Cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch round pan or 9-inch square pan with butter and line the bottom and sides with parchment paper.
  2. Over medium heat, bring the milk and lavender to a boil. After it comes to a boil, turn off heat, cover with lid and let it steep for about 10 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs together. Set aside.
  4. Place the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and mix with a fork.
  5. Using mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter for 30 seconds on medium speed and then gradually add the sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Continue beating on medium speed for another 4 minutes or until light in color and fluffy.  Add vanilla and lemon zest and beat until combined.
  6. With the mixer still on medium speed, gradually add the eggs. On low speed, add the flour mixture and then the oil and 1/2 cup of your lavender milk, making sure to reserve 2 tablespoons for your lavender frosting; mix until just combined. Don’t overbeat. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 40-50 minutes. When a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, and the cake bounces back when lightly pressed, remove the cake from the oven and let it stand for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the cake to gently release. Invert the cake, peel off the pieces of parchment paper and cool on a wire rack.

To make the frosting:

  1. Cream butter in mixer with paddle attachment until smooth and fluffy.
  2. Add powdered sugar and vanilla.
  3. Add your lavender milk and continue to beat for 3-4 minutes. If it seems too thick – add a bit more milk, if it seems too thin – add more powdered sugar.
  4. Make sure to wait until your cake is completely cooled before frosting or you may be dealing with a slippery, sliding mess.

Let me know if you try it!

Creamy, Lemony, Garlicky Pasta for Spring.

When you hear the word Spring, what do you think of first? My answer: Lemon. Second answer: Daffodils. I’ll save the daffodils for another day, but the color, the smell, the feelings I get when I close my eyes and taste lemons – it just screams Spring. Don’t you think? I could admittedly go for lemon at any time of year. Lemon bars, lemon cake, lemon tart, lemon poppyseed bread, lemonade, yes, even lemon butter popcorn. Give them all to me. But especially around this time of year, I really crave everything lemon. I made this pasta on Sunday night, and I didn’t really know how much the lemon would come through, but it ended up being so very good. Different than Alfredo or Mac and Cheese, yummier than Pasta al Limone. The lemon makes it zippy and fresh. The perfect meal for a lovely evening in Spring. I highly recommend grilling chicken and trimmed asparagus (wrapped up into foil a foil packet, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper) and adding that to your bowl too as we did. And if you needed any more convincing – even my kids ate this one.

Creamy Lemon Garlic Pasta

1 pound angel hair pasta
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup dry white wine, such as sauvignon blanc
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoon flour
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
zest and juice of one lemon
kosher salt and pepper, to taste
chopped/torn parsley, to garnish

  1. Fill a large pot of water and add a few pinches of salt. Bring to boil, add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat oil over medium high heat. Add garlic and saute until golden. Add wine and cook until the wine has reduced by half. Add butter, and whisk until melted. Sprinkle in flour and cook, whisking constantly until incorporated. Pour in chicken stock, heavy cream, parmesan, salt and pepper. Turn heat to high, bringing liquid to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and cook, stirring often until it begins to thicken ~10 minutes or so.
  3. Remove from heat, stir in lemon zest and juice. Add pasta, mixing into sauce with tongs until all strands are coated. Serve, topping with grilled chicken, fresh parmesan, and parsley.

My Mom’s Breakfast Casserole

Truly think that everyone should have an easy breakfast casserole recipe in their back pocket. It’s a crowdpleaser, everyone is always impressed, it takes no time at all, can be made ahead and you probably have all the ingredients on hand anyway. Bookmark this one for every brunch for basically the rest of your life. It can be made the night before and baked in the morning, or just bake it up and re-heat it in the morning. My mom made this for every holiday/special event for my entire life, and still does to this day. And now I am her copy cat because she really did know what she was doing.

If we’re having a crowd, I make the full batch, but if it’s just our family of five, I halve all ingredients and bake in a smaller baking dish. I do not deviate with extra veggies or greens thrown in, but you certainly could! Recipes are meant to be played with. We serve with salsa, hot sauce and ketchup for condiments, and always a big bowl of berries and breakfast bread on the side. Enjoy this family favorite!

Breakfast Casserole

1 doz eggs
8 oz shredded Cheddar Cheese
2 c milk
Sliced white bread-crust removed, butter on both sides
1 1b fried bacon or 1 lb fried sausage
¼ t salt
¼ t pepper

Preheat oven to 350°

Spray a 9×13 baking dish with pam and cover bottom with your buttered bread. Sprinkle with ⅔ cup of cheese, ⅔ cup of bacon or sausage.

Beat eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour in your baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining meat and cheese. Bake 50 minutes or until brown on sides. Serves 8-12

A List of Recipes For Your Cookie Box

A little late, but links for cookie ideas for your own cookie box this year!

Last year’s box:

  1. Peanut Butter Blossoms
  2. Buckeyes
  3. Chocolate Chunk Shortbread
  4. Roll Out Sugar Cookies
  5. Gingerbread
  6. Peppermint Brownie Cookies
  7. Salted Caramels
  8. Molasses Cookies Dipped in White Chocolate

New Cookies to Try

How To Make a Cookie Box.

Two days until December and it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to assemble those cookie boxes this year. If you want to! Of course, it’s highly optional, but highly rewarding holiday gifting activity if you choose to do it!

Growing up in small town Indiana as part of a close knit and large extended family, cookie plates were a THING. You knew that Aunt Lee and Aunt Dianne and any number of any family members and friends were going to drop by the house the week before Christmas bearing cookie plates. Everyone had their favorite cookie on the plate and as one of six kids, you had to be quick if you wanted to get one.

Enter my own adulthood and last year I made my own cookie boxes for friends and neighbors down here in Florida. I’m not sure how other people do it, but I started early and it made for a really manageable Christmas cookie timeline that didn’t make me feel overwhelmed.

To do now: make your list of cookies/candies. I did 8 last year and will aim for the same this year. I’ll share recipes in the coming weeks, but I did – caramels, buckeyes, sugar cookies, molasses cookies, peanut butter blossoms, gingerbread, chocolate chunk shortbread, peppermint brownie cookies. I’m switching out a few but will keep most the same because part of the joy is the predictability.

To do each week from now until gifting time: make a couple doughs and stick it in the freezer. Did you know you can freeze cookie dough for up to 3 months? Last year I waited until the week before Christmas and made one dough each night and froze. It wasn’t awful but I think two a week is more manageable and doesn’t take away the joy. I’ll do one on a quiet night during the week and one on the weekend. Wait until the week of to make any candies (caramels, fudge, peppermint bark, candied oranges, etc) as those won’t freeze well. I have my sugar cookie dough in the freezer already and molasses cookies are slated for tonight.

To do at any time leading up to Christmas: find your cookie boxes. This actually gave me some trouble last year, so this year I’ll be scouting ahead. Hobby Lobby and Michaels seem to be the best resources for these little cardboard boxes for small or medium batches. Source your sprinkles and any cute decorations you want to use! Buy early as they sell out quickly. And get the giant cookie sheets. It’s 100% worth not having to do multiple batches and just getting the cookies all in the oven in one go. For your pretty instagram picture, you’re going to want to find a nice wooden box to arrange them all. I found a couple in the dollar spot at Target this year, and last year mine was from Michael’s. Check the jewelry section. They have a little wooden box with compartments that are perfect for cookies.

The night before baking day: put your doughs into the fridge to defrost overnight.

The week of: make your candies, your frostings. Pick up any extra supplies you might need.

The day before: bake your roll out sugar cookies. Stick them in the fridge after baking so that you can decorate them on baking day. You could even get these completely done and also ice them as they’re the most time consuming.

On baking day: set aside much of your day for baking and clean up. You’ve done the hard work! Now you just have to get it all baked and decorated. If you’re not dropping off your cookies on the same day – don’t make the boxes yet. Especially if you’re making a cookie with a peppermint or peanut butter profile. The taste will definitely seep into the other cookies.

Try to gift your cookies asap! The fresher the better!!

I’m going to do another post this week with some suggestions of cookies that are yummy! If it’s your first year, maybe just try a couple cookies and gift them to friends and family. Happy baking season friends!!

Any questions?? Drop them in comments! I