This recipe may be my new favorite (and as the coworkers say, my new best). It’s simple since it uses no power tools, i.e. the Kitchenaid, and just fun to whip up with a little elbow grease.

Warning: if you hate chocolate goodness that melts in your mouth like pudding, this isn’t your recipe.

Flourless Chocolate Cake (Chocolate Torte)

9 ounces butter, melted (I used Kerrygold.)

9 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped

1 1/2 cup sugar

7 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon almond

Melt the butter and chocolate together and whisk until smooth. Add the sugar and combine fully. Allow the mixture to cool slightly, then add the eggs one at a time mixing each in. Add the extracts. Pour into a well-greased and parchment lined springform pan. Tap out the air bubbles. Place pan on a cookie sheet to prevent any mess, and bake in a 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Watch closely at the end. You want the center to still giggle when you take it out.

We have concocted the perfect cocktail for your weekend activities. The best part is you can customize it as you see fit (or your tastebuds do). Since I love the blueberry lemonade at Mammy’s Cupboard, I used their recipe as a base and built this drink from there. Get the girls together and enjoy!

Blueberry Lemonade Cocktail (or Champade)

1 cup blueberry juice

1 lemonade concentrate, thawed

Water

Champagne

Vodka

Combine the juice and lemonade mixture in a pitcher and fill with water. To adjust the sweetness, add sugar to taste. Depending on your preference, top off each glass you pour with either champagne or a shot of vodka (or both) and enjoy!

 

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So, this went better than expected. I played with a recipe I had on hand for a cheesecake and doctored it into a key lime version for another Country Roads office lunch. It was a hit! One particular co-worker was cleaning the excess from the spatula I used to serve everyone. Good to the last drop!

Now, instead of serving with whipped cream or a sour cream topping, I sugared down fresh Ponchatoula strawberries. That really made it.

Key Lime Cheesecake

1 graham cracker crust

4 limes, juiced and zested

16-ounces cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 eggs

In a stand mixer, beat together cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and eggs. Once combined, add the lime juice and zest. Once incorporated, pour filling into pie crust. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 45 minutes or until the center is set. Watch closely since the top of the pie will brown. Allow to cool completely and then refrigerate before serving.

 

I’m back to the mixer this weekend making sugar cookies for an upcoming bachelorette trip, but I thought I’d share this simple sugar cookies recipe that doesn’t require a rolling pin or cookie cutter. They are a little sandy in texture, but fluffy and delicious! They would be fantastic with a little lemon zest.

Amish Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter softened

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup powdered sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

In a stand mixer, beat together butter, sugar, and oil. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add in the baking soda and cream of tartar. Gradually add flour to the butter mixture, beating until just combined after each addition. Do not overmix. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Drop dough by small teaspoonfuls onto baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-11 minutes, or until edges and bottoms are lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Lately, I think you are aware that I’ve been baking like a mad woman since my best friend, Kitchen Aid, entered my life. She is shiny and bright, always works to her best abilities, and keeps me sane. However, this recipe I whipped up a couple of weeks ago for a Country Roads staff lunch didn’t require anything more than a good old-fashioned dose of elbow grease and patience. The original recipe was found on inspiredtaste.net, and all I did differently was leave out the almond extract.

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Fresh Strawberry Pie

Chilled pie dough

5 cups strawberries, chopped

1/4 cup cornstarch

2/3 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Juice of lemon

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon cream

Whipped cream, optional topping

Roll out pie dough to fit pie dish. Gently press dough down into dish so that it lines the bottom and sides of the dish. Fold edges of dough underneath itself, creating a thicker, 1/4-inch border that rests on the lip of the dish. Then, crimp edges.

Heat oven to 425 degrees, and place a baking sheet on a middle oven rack. Pierce bottom of the crust with a fork. Line the crust with two sheets of aluminum foil.  Then, fill foil with dried rice, dried beans, or pie weights. Refrigerate 30 minutes, freeze for 10 minutes, or until firm to the touch.

Place pie crust onto preheated baking sheet and reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees. Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until the crust is golden. Make egg wash by whisking egg yolk and cream in a small bowl. Then, remove rice, beans, or weights and foil from pie crust. Brush bottom and sides of crust with egg wash. Bake until egg wash is dry and shiny, 3 to 5 minutes. Cool crust completely before filling.

Add 2 cups of strawberries to a small saucepan. Mash strawberries until chunky. Add sugar, corn starch, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves and glaze has thickened. Cool completely. Combine remaining 3 cups of strawberries with cooled strawberry glaze. Stir until strawberries are well coated. Spoon strawberry filling into cooled pie crust. Refrigerate overnight and top with whipped cream before serving.

 

Remember that one-pan fish dinner we made a couple of weeks ago? I revisited it with a Mexican flair for our first Lenten Friday feast last week. I modified the spice mixture and changed some of the vegetable to fit a fajita-like topping for our tacos. Also, we went light by using lettuce as our wrap versus traditional tortillas. Here’s what we ended up with:

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It was delish! The peppers and onions were perfect. And the fish topped with a dab of guacamole and the fresh lime crema sauce … YUM!

Fish Tacos with Marinated Vegetables and Lime Crema

For the marinade:

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Zest and juice of 1 lime

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon coriander

2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

For the tacos:

8 white perch fillets, dried completely

1 pound cherry tomatoes

1/2 Vidalia onion, sliced thinly

1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly

1 yellow bell pepper, sliced thinly

1 orange bell pepper, sliced thinly

1 head bib or large leaf lettuce

For crema:

1/4 cup sour cream

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

Zest and juice of 1 lime

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the marinade ingredients together. Add the peppers, tomatoes, and onions; and toss to coat with the sauce. With a large slotted spoon or spatula, transfer the vegetables to a large baking sheet. Keep the vegetables to one side or one half of the baking sheet and make sure they are spread out in one layer. Now, add the fish to the remaining sauce, toss to coat. Transfer the fish to the baking sheet next to the vegetables and pour any remaining sauce on top. Lightly sprinkle the fish and vegetables with a little salt. Bake in the 450 degrees heated oven for 15 minutes. Then transfer the baking sheet to the top oven rack and broil for another 3 – 5 minutes, watching carefully. The cherry tomatoes should begin to pop under the broiler. When ready, remove the tray from the oven.

To prepare the crema, combine the ingredients in a small bowl and chill until ready to serve. Build your tacos into the lettuce piece and top with crema, guacamole, or salsa.

I think I’ve finally got the royal icing game down pat. I’ll be honest. The people that refer to themselves as cookiers are real artists. That shit is not easy. I’m not patient one bit, so this is extremely trying for me. But, it’s probably good practice for me. Oh, and other thing. Thank God for my mixer. Without that beautiful piece of machinery, none of these adventures in baking would be possible.

Now this new recipe makes one big think batch of icing. You will then need to divide and add water and coloring as needed. This is where the guesswork starts, and I’m sure there is a science to it. But that’s not something I know anything about. I’m just trying as I go along. This one came from a Pinterest post that led to a blog called noshtastic.com. There are several great tips on that blog for cookie making.

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Royal Icing

2 pounds powdered sugar

1/2 cup meringue powder

1 cup water (minus 1 tablespoon)

Add in the meringue powder and water into the mixing bowl of your stand mixer and beat together for a few minutes until frothy. Add in the powdered sugar and mix together slowly until all the liquid and powdered sugar is combined. If you have a stand mixer set it at a medium high speed and beat it together for 4 minutes with the paddle attachment, don’t forget to set a timer! Your icing should have semi-stiff peaks (see photos in post) when the icing is ready, not floppy peaks! If the icing is not quite stiff enough then watch closely and beat for one more minute and check it again.