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. 

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.

The Best Green Beans I’ve Ever Made.

I know, I know. Green beans. Decidedly un-sexy. When I think of green beans, the canned version generally comes to mind. A dull, lifeless grayish green with mystery liquid somehow deeming itself “fresh” for decades to come. Now, let it be known that I’m not above canned green beans. My kids love them. We throw them in casseroles and soups and anything that needs a little veggie oomph. These green beans, though, are not to be confused with those green beans. These, my friends, are the best green beans I’ve ever made. They’re flavorful, fancy enough for a dinner party, un-fancy enough for an easy weeknight. They’re in season at our farmer’s market right now, so I plan to get them again this week and make them this exact way to solidify what I’ve already decided – everyone needs these in their life.

You’ll find with most of my dinner recipes that I’m extremely unprofessional and don’t give exact amounts. I am just a mom who likes to cook after all. Treat these as an idea, or a shopping list. These are the elements, make with more or less of each of the elements as you prefer. That’s the fun part of cooking after all – the throwing things in with abandon and making it your own.

Green Beans with Cherry Tomatoes

1 lb green beans
sliced mushrooms
butter (1 – 2 Tablespoons)
olive oil
minced garlic
1 lemon
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1/4 cup roasted shaved almonds
goat cheese crumbles (or shaved parmesan if you prefer)

Wash green beans and snap off both ends. Boil until fork tender (10-15 minutes). Meanwhile, melt butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add sliced mushrooms and garlic and cook until tender goodness. Strain green beans and add to skillet. Season well with salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes to let the flavors combine. Turn the heat off, add the cherry tomatoes, squeeze lemon over the mixture and mix together. Quickly transfer to a pretty platter (you don’t want the tomatoes to cook, just warm slightly). Top with almonds and goat cheese (or parmesan) and enjoy!