Thursday, July 9, 2015


In honor of National Sugar Cookie Day, I am sharing the recipe for some of my favorite sugar cookies, LEMON SUGAR COOKIES!
To me, anything that has sugar, butter and lemon is a hit so I took a basic sugar cookie recipe and made them extra yummy by adding lemon juice, lemon zest and increasing the baking powder.   
The reason I love these cookies so much is that even though they are a "sugar" cookie, they do not taste overly sweet. They have a nice buttery, lemon favor and are perfect for any occasion, with or with out frosting.
In honor of National Sugar Cookie Day, you  must give these YUMMY cookies a try!  

Happy Cooking Everyone!
Lemon Sugar Cookies

Cookie Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3/4 cup softened butter (sweet cream)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of one lemon
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Icing Ingredients:
2 cups powdered sugar
6-8 tablespoons milk
3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add the lemon zest to the bowl and press/squeeze the zest between your fingers to release the oils from the zest into the flour.

In the bowl of your stand mixer (or with a hand mixer), cream the butter and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy.

Add egg, vanilla and lemon juice and mix at low speed until combined, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. 

Gradually add the flour mixture at low speed until combined, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. 

Remove the dough from the bowl, shape into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least one hour. 
Place dough on a well floured surface and roll out into 1/4" thickness.  Do not be skimpy with the flour, you will need plenty in order to be able to remove the cookies once they are cut.

Cut into shapes using your favorite cookie cutters.

Place approx. 3" apart on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in a 400 degree oven for 6-8 minutes.


Remove to a wire cooling rack to cool completely. While cookies are cooling, make the icing.

Mix all of the icing ingredients together in a bowl adding milk one teaspoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency. The icing should be thick, but spreadable.

Frost and decorate cookies as desired. Allow frosting to harden before serving/storing.

Store at room temperature in an air tight container for up to 3 days.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

4th of July Blueberry and Raspberry Pop Tarts for The Leftover's Club

Who doesn't want to eat pie for breakfast, right? And these homemade pop tarts (aka hand pies) are a good excuse!
This month's Leftovers Club swap was a 4th of July theme so I knew I wanted to make something with berries since we're at the height of berry season. For the "blue" in my Red, White & Blue treat, Blueberries was pretty much a no brainer, but for the "red" I decided to go with raspberries for a more tart option.
The dough is a little unique in that it is made using sour cream which gives the flavor a slight tang.
To further embrace the patriotic theme, I tried to cut cute little stars into the top by hand, but I will be the first to admit that I am not the most artistic person in the world, so my stars came out a bit distorted and I quit after 3 tries. Sorry for the deformed stars, Hetal!
I opted to leave the glaze off of the tarts since I was shipping them in the mail and didn't want them to get soggy. I highly recommend that you make a simple powdered sugar glaze and drizzle it over the top for a little added sweetness. After all, what's a pop tart without the glaze?
So let me tell you a little bit about my partner for this month's swap. Her name is Hetal, and her blog Pretty Polymath, has a lot of amazing recipes (including these cute little meringue cookies she sent to me). Plus she is a contestant on this season of Master Chef! How exciting is that? Go Hetal! I'm rooting for you, girl! I have always wanted to compete on Master Chef so you're my inspiration...
I hope Hetal enjoys my 4th of July inspired Pop Tarts as much as I enjoyed making them for her!
If you'd like to join in the of the fun of The Leftovers Club, sign up here! New members are always welcome!!

Blueberry and Raspberry Hand Pies
Makes 8 pies

If you decide to make both fillings, you will have some leftover. Either make more crust or just make one of the fillings.

Plan ahead, the dough should be refrigerated overnight if possible or at least for a few hours so it is well chilled.


Crust Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup of very cold unsalted butter cut into tablespoon size pieces
1/2 cup very cold sour cream

Filling Ingredients

Blueberry Filling
1 cup fresh blueberries
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 tsp fresh lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

Raspberry Filling
6 oz fresh raspberries
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cornstarch


Make the pie crust

Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Whisk to combine.

Add the butter and cut into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter until most of the butter is the size of peas. Stir in the sour cream with a rubber spatula just until combined. There may be some residual flour left at the bottom but that will get mixed in when you form the ball of dough.

Using your hands, quickly form the dough into a ball then turn out onto a lightly floured surface, then roll into an 8"x10" rectangle. Fold the long ends over like a letter, then repeat the rolling and folding process one more time. During this process you make need to use a bench scraper to scrape the dough from the surface and add more flour as needed to prevent sticking. Once you have done the folding and rolling process twice. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Overnight preferred.

Make the fillings

Place all of the Blueberry Filling ingredients in a medium sized sauce pan and cook over medium low heat until thickened. This happens pretty quickly, but be sure to allow some time for some of the blueberries to break down. Your filling should be pretty thick (like the consistency of thick jam). If it seems too thick before the berries start to break down, add a little more water and cook just a little longer. Place the mixture in a bowl and allow to cool.

Clean out the sauce pan and make the raspberry filling. Combine the water and cornstarch in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Place the raspberries and sugar in the saucepan, then add the cornstarch water mixture and cook over low heat until the mixture comes to a boil, stir a few times then remove from heat and place the mixture in a bowl to cool.

After the dough has chilled several hours (or overnight) and your fillings have cooled, assemble the hand pies.

Preheat oven to 425F

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 14"x14" square. Cut into 16 squares. Place on a baking sheet and place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. This will allow the dough to relax and get chilled again.

After 20 minutes, remove from fridge and brush the edges of 8 of the squares with egg wash, then place a tablespoon or more of filling in the center of 8 of the squares. Top with the remaining 8 squares of dough then crimp the edges with a fork. Brush with egg wash then sprinkle with turbinado sugar and cut a few small slits into the top. If you are using a small cookie cutter to cut a design in the tops, do this before you place the dough on top and do not cut any vent holes.

Place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven, cool on baking sheet for about a minute then remove to a cooling rack.

Drizzle with powdered sugar glaze before serving if desired.


Adapted from King Arthur Flour and My San Francisco Kitchen

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

LiveBakeLove Wine Tasting in Napa... "It's Not About the Wine"

LiveBakeLove hit the road this weekend for a wine tasting trip in the beautiful Napa valley to celebrate a milestone birthday for my sister, Freda. I won't say which milestone it was, but she looks fabulous so who cares, right?

Knowing we would be out for several hours consuming copious amounts of wine, Freda had the great idea to pack a picnic lunch to enjoy under the trees at Rutherford Hill and boy did we bring her vision to life!

This wasn't your "throw some food in a basket and call it a picnic" type of lunch. Oh no, we had individual kraft paper lunch boxes with wooden utensils and doilies. Not to mention cute min kraft bags with dessert!

While the setting was gorgeous, the picnic table was equally as impressive...

On the menu: Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Rustic Potato Salad, Charred Corn & Avocado Salad, Brie, Manchego & Crackers, 3 different types of wine along with the most delicious fresh mint Iced Tea I have ever tasted courtesy of Freda's friend, Diva. Seriously, it blows mine out of the water. I'm still dreaming about that tea and wondering what Diva's secret is...

The chilled Chardonnay and Rose were the perfect compliment to the fried chicken and the bite of the Devil's Peak topped it all off. 
The entire lunch was amazing, the setting was simply beautiful and the company was even better. What more can you ask for?
After a peaceful and relaxing lunch under the trees at Rutherfold Hill, it was time for a little "effervescence" in the form of sparking wine so we headed to Mumm Napa!

We were all looking forward to tasting Santana DVX Sparking Wine, however the favorite of the day turned out to be to be the DVX.

Last stop was Chimney Rock, where the power of persuasion (aka Freda's friend, Veronica) got us this cozy little spot on the back patio and a free tasting for everyone in our group...score!!

The Elevage Blanc 2012 was the hand's down favorite here. Probably the most buttery white wine I have ever tasted, it was aptly described as "liquid cream" (inside joke, you had to be there)....

Later in the afternoon, on the ride home, we enjoyed Italian Salami Sandwiches on the most delicious baguettes and German Chocolate Whoopie Pies.

 You can find the recipe for Freda's Italian Salami Baguette Sandwiches below. So simple, but perfect for a picnic lunch, especially with wine!
So, with all of the incredible food and wine we consumed, why is the title of this blog post called "It's Not About the Wine"? Well...because it's not. While the food and wine may have been phenomenal, the day was more about spending time with someone in my life who is more amazing than anything man-made, she was made by God and she's my sister, Freda.
I really can't describe how truly wonderful my sister is. She has been there for me in countless ways throughout my life, especially in adulthood. She gives genuinely without expecting anything in return and loves freely and unconditionally. If you're in need of help, she's the first one there. She really would do anything for the people she loves and I'm happy that she has surrounded herself by people who love and appreciate her in return. Life is too short not to.
I am so thankful my sister is at such a happy place in her life.
Cheers to birthdays, memorable times spent with family & friends and to life well lived!

 ** Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated in any way, however if Rutherford Hill, Mumm Napa or Chimney Rock want to send me some wine, I would glady accept! **
Freda's Italian Baguette Picnic Sandwiches
Good quality mini baguettes, preferably from a bakery
Good quality Italian Salami
Your Choice of Hard Cheese, sliced thinly
Butter Lettuce
Slice each baguette in half
Spread pesto on top and bottom
Layer Salami (approx. 6-7 slices per sandwich),Cheese and Butter Lettuce
Wrap in parchment or wax paper and tie with twine