Lavender Lemonade

The weather’s getting warmer, so you know what that means… lemonade! My kids love lemonade and I’ve been experimenting with lavender, so when I saw this floating around I knew we had to try it. I found my culinary lavender on Amazon – there are tons of options- and just plain ol’ Country Time lemonade. It’s also, like most things I make these days, extremely easy. I bet this would be pretty good with some vodka or gin to kick it up to adult beverage porch sipper. ๐Ÿ˜

Ingredients:

  • 2 quarts lemonade
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 heaping tbsp dried lavender
  • 2 cups boiling water

Directions:

1) In a medium bowl, combine the sugar and lavender. Mix together.

2) Pour the boiling water over the mixture and stir until sugar is dissolved.

3) Cover with foil or plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes (or longer if you just forget about it ๐Ÿคฃ).

4) After your syrup is made, pour through a filter/strainer to get buds out. Pour strained syrup into your lemonade, mix, and enjoy!

I used this recipe for the lavender simple syrup, but I wasn’t about that fresh lemonade biz. If you’re feeling ambitious, I’d bet it’s delish!

No Knead Bread

This bread, y’all. Aka “that good bread” according to Jack. And it. Is. GOOD. Crispy crust, chewy inside, and stupid easy. The only downside is that it takes a while to proof so you can’t have it IMMEDIATELY. I’ve made a loaf a day for the past… 5 days? ๐Ÿ˜ฌ We’re obsessed. Perfect with soup, dipped in olive oil with some Italian seasoning, slathered with butter fresh out of the oven…. just try it, okay??

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsps salt
  • 1/4 tsp yeast

Directions:

  1. Combine ingredients in a large bowl, then mix with 1 5/8 cups of water.
  2. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit for 12-18 hours (the longer the better), keeping it relatively warm- about 70 degrees. If your house is cold (like mine can be) you might put it somewhere it’ll get warmth from sunlight or near a heat source. It’s ready when little bubbles pop up on the surface, like this.
  3. Next, lightly flour a work space. I find my silicone mats work well for this. Turn the dough onto the surface and fold it just a couple of times, then cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit for about 15 minutes.
  4. Now flour your hands and work surface just enough that the dough won’t stick. Generously flour a cotton dish towel. Work dough into a rough ball shape, then place seam side down onto the towel. Lightly flour the top of the ball, then cover with another cotton towel. Let sit for 2 hours. You’ll know it’s ready if you poke it, and the indent stays. Pitting edema, if you will. (Occupational humor.)
  5. About 30 minutes before the dough is ready, preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. The original recipe says to put your pot in the oven as it heats, but I’ve not found this step necessary. I also don’t have a Dutch oven, but my 6 qt stockpot has worked just fine. Slide your hand under the bottom towel and flip dough into the pot. Shake it a little so it distributes a little more evenly but no worries- it’ll fill out as it bakes.
  6. Cover with a lid and bake for 30 minutes. Look at it. JUST LOOK AT IT.
  7. Remove lid and bake for another 10-15 minutes until it’s an even nicer golden brown.
  8. Try not to devour in an instant. We’ve tried, and failed miserably.

Wasn’t that easy?! I’ve been intimidated by bread for so long but this recipe is so simple and the results are consistently delicious. Big thanks to The New York Times for this classic!

Whipped Coffee

If you’re on any form of social media, chances are you’ve seen this making the rounds. Whipped coffee is the luscious little treat you didn’t know you needed to get you through these coming weeks at home without your Starbucks fix. It’s like you took an Sbux foam drink and flipped it- so there’s milk/cream on the bottom and the coffee is the foam on top. It. Is. Heaven. I highly recommend using a hand or stand mixer if you have one, or you’ll be getting a damn good arm workout. ๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿป

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsps instant coffee granules
  • 2 tbsps sugar
  • 2 tbsps hot water
  • Milk and/or coffee creamer to taste

Directions:

  1. Combine instant coffee, sugar, and hot water in a small bowl. It’ll look like mud. Do not be discouraged.
  2. Using a whisk or whisk attachment, beat ingredients together until light and fluffy and peaks form.
  3. In a glass of your choosing, add ice and your creamer/milk. (I use a splash of vanilla creamer and then milk.) Spoon your coffee mixture on top. Look how pretty!
  4. Now enjoy! You can drink it like this (like one of the Starbucks foam drinks) or mix everything together. Equally delicious.

Wasn’t that easy?! So simple to customize with syrups and add-ins to your heart’s desire. Tell me what you think!

*I don’t know where this originated and a friend shared the recipe with me, so I don’t have a source to link here.*

Ice Cream Sundae Cupcakes

These babies are a labor of love, I tell ya. The end result is so fun looking and delicious, but these are definitely not in the “throw something together quickly” camp. A standard white cake with 3(!) icing flavors to mimic a scoop of Neopolitan ice cream, and of course, the fixin’s… sprinkles, hot fudge drizzle, and a cherry on top. I brought these to work and was told this flavor quickly propelled to the top of several coworkers’ fave flavor list! I think they would be adorable for an ice cream themed party ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿฆ I might try making them in ice cream cones next time! 

Ingredients (makes 2 dozen cupcakes):

For the cupcakes

  • 1 cup whole milk, divided
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • ยผ tsp. almond extract
  • 2ยพ cups (11 oz.) flour
  • 1ยฝ cups (10.5 oz) sugar
  • 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ยพ tsp. salt
  • 12 tbsp. (ยพ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the frostings

  • 1ยฝ cups plus 2 tbsp. (3 sticks plus 2 tbsp.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups confectionersโ€™ sugar, sifted
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 1/2 cup finely diced strawberries 

For garnish

  • Sprinkles
  • Hot fudge sauce
  • Maraschino cherries

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degreees Fahrenheit and line muffin tins with liners. In a small bowl, add 1/4 cup of milk, the egg whites, and extracts. Whisk to combine, then set aside. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix gently for 30 seconds, then add butter. Mix until reaches the texture of wet sand. Add the other 3/4 cup of milk and mix just until combined. Finally, add the egg white mixture in 3 parts, mixing for about 20 seconds between additions. Divide batter equally among wells. Bake for 15-18 minutes, turning halfway through baking. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely. 


While your cupcakes are cooling, start on your icings. Place butter in the bowl of your stand mixer and beat on medium with the whisk attachment until smooth, ~1 minute. Turn mixer down to slow speed and slowly add confectioner’s sugar. Gradually increase speed, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Slow speed again and add salt, heavy cream, and vanilla. Gradually increase speed to medium high and beat until lift and fluffy, ~4-5 minutes. Take half of the icing out and place either in a small bowl or directly into pastry bag. Divide what’s left in the bowl into two, leaving one portion in the bowl. Melt chocolate in 30 second intervals, stirring between. Once melted, allow to cool for a couple of minutes, then add on low speed to vanilla icing already in mixing bowl. Beat until fully combined. In a new, clean bowl, place the second smaller portion of vanilla icing and your strawberries. Again, beat until fully combined. 

Begin by piping vanilla icing onto the top of each cupcake, then smoothing down flat across top and sides. 

Pour some sprinkles on a plate, then slowly roll the edges of the cupcakes in the sprinkles until you have a sprinkle border all the way around. 

Next, squeeze a dollop of vanilla icing on top of each cupcake. If you have a small scoop, like a melon baller or small dough scoop, that would be perfect too! Repeat with the chocolate and strawberry icings. *Note: this batch my colors did not turn out as vibrant in the past because I’d subbed cocoa powder for the chocolate in a pinch and leftover strawberry cream cheese icing. Normally the chocolate and strawberry are much more vibrant; I’ve just not photographed the good ones. ๐Ÿ˜‚* 

Next, drizzle a small amount of hot fudge sauce in the center of each cupcake. 

And last but not least, the cherry! 

There you have it! Like I said, SUPER cute and fun, just a few more steps than my average cupcake. I hope you enjoy these as much as I do! 

Original idea, cake and vanilla icing recipe adapted slightly from Annie’s Eats.

DIY Italian Dressing Seasoningย 

If you’re anything like me, one ingredient always seems to be forgotten when you mentally check off what you need for dinner. For me, it’s almost ALWAYS one of those premixed spices. Taco seasoning, dry ranch, and this – dry Italian dressing seasoning. Thankfully my spice cabinet is pretty well stocked otherwise, so I will generally make my own spice mixes. I prefer homemade mixes as well because they aren’t chock full of preservatives. This makes enough for about 2 packets worth. I used mine for a one pan chicken, green bean, and potato dinner. Maybe I’ll get around to posting that recipe too if it’s good. ๐Ÿ˜œ Give this spice mix a try and let me know what you think! 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 tbsp garlic salt
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 2 tbsps dried oregano 
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme 
  • 1 tsp dried basil 
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley 
  • 1/4 tsp celery salt
  • 2 tbsps salt 

Cast of characters, minus sugar. Because I’m lazy and refused to take another photo. ๐Ÿ˜

Directions:

Are you ready for these super complicated instructions?

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl or storage container of your choice. Give it a good couple of stirs or shakes… whichever you prefer. 


Look at that. Ready to use! 

Receipt from All Recipes

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Lactation Cookies

Y’all know I love my chocolate. When I started noticing my pumping supply taking a hit, I thought it was finally time to try my hand at lactation cookies. A friend gifted me a mix to try out and while they were delicious, I couldn’t fathom spending $25 on a cookie mix for 2 dozen cookies! A quick Google search returned this recipe and after ordering some brewer’s yeast on Amazon, I was off. This recipe makes 4.5 dozen cookies and it’s recommended to eat 2 per day to help increase supply… Good luck with that ๐Ÿ˜œ I have yet to eat less than 3 in 1 sitting and I’ve definitely noticed a slight bump in my milk production. Let me know how they work for you! 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 4 tbsps water
  • 2 tbsps flax seed meal
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 -4 tbsps brewer’s yeast (I used 4)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a couple of cookie sheets with parchment. Gather your ingredients, particularly your star milk-making players:  


In a small bowl, mix together flaxseed meal and water, then set aside for 3-5 minutes. It’ll gradually turn into a thick, almost paste-like mixture. 


In a medium mixing bowl, toss together the flour, brewer’s yeast, baking soda, and salt and set aside.  In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat together butter and sugars until well combined. Beat in eggs completely, then add vanilla and flaxseed meal/water mixture. On low speed, add the dry ingredients to the wet. Fold in the oats and chocolate chips with a spatula. 


Scoop dough in tablespoon-sized drops onto prepared baking sheets and bake for 8-12 minutes (depending on your oven- I think mine’s been running hot!). Allow to cool in sheets for a couple of minutes before transferring to a baking rack. Store in an airtight container.  

Happy World Breastfeeding Week from me and my milk-lovin’ chunk! ๐Ÿ˜ 

Recipe from Food.com

Homemade Tortillas

Homemade tortillas. Sounds like a lot of work, right? A gazillion ingredients, time, and -if you’re afraid of working with dough like me- messy. 

Wrong. So wrong.

I didn’t take any photos during because I was unsure of how they would turn out (again, dough and I tend not to get along!). It probably took me 30 minutes start to finish to make a small batch of 6 flour tortillas, including rest time. Was it messy? Absolutely, but clean cooking/baking has never been my strong suit. I thought they were a little bland on their own; Mark thought they were perfect… It didn’t matter since I served them drowned in enchilada sauce and cheese anyway! If you like your tortillas perfectly round and uniform, this isn’t the project for you. I just love knowing these are fresh and not full of preservatives. They’ll keep in the fridge for a week after cooking. Give them a try next time you’re craving Mexican! 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour (I used all-purpose, but you could easily healthy these up by using whole grain), plus more for rolling out
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil 

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Add the water and oil, stirring just until combined. Roll dough onto a well floured surface and knead 10-12 times, or just enough to form a smooth dough ball. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Pinch into 6 even portions (the recipe I used said 8, but I felt like they would have been too small). On a lightly floured service, roll each dough ball out into a 7-8 inch diameter round. Again, these won’t be perfectly round unless you trim them- up to you. I kind of enjoyed the imperfectness of them! Now spray a medium-large skillet (whatever you have that’ll fit the size of tortillas you’ve made) lightly with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Place a tortilla in the skillet, cooking just until bubbles start to form, then flip and repeat on the other side. Repeat until all tortillas are cooked. 

Voila! You’ve got chewy, homemade receptacles for tacos, burritos, enchiladas… Whatever your heart desires! Perfect with an icy cold margarita. Just sayin.
Recipe from Taste of Home.

Big A$$ Bakery Style Muffins

I don’t know what it is, but my breakfast kryptonite appears to be chocolate chip muffins. Put one in front of me and I. Will. DEVOUR IT. My son seems to have inherited my affinity for them. “Jack, buddy, what do you want for breakfast?” “Uuuuuum, chawcwat chip muffins? *devilish grin on adorable stinker toddler face*” Okaaaay, okay. ๐Ÿ˜‰ He gets to help mix these up too, so it’s a fun kitchen exercise for us both.  

 That being said, you could totally mix other things into this muffin base. But really, chocolate chip is the way to go here!

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 4 tsps baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 eggs, room temperature preferred
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil (or vegetable oil/melted coconut oil)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups  semi-sweet chocolate chips (or chocolate chunks; or dark chocolate; or milk chocolate- you get the picture.)

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a jumbo muffin tin, either with liners or coating lightly with cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together your flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside. In a medium bowl/large measuring cup, whisk together your eggs and sugar until combined. Mix in milk, oil, and vanilla.  

 

Fold the wet ingredients into the dry, mixing just until combined. The batter is going to be suuuuuper thick and slightly lumpy- this is good!  

 
Now fold in your chocolate chips, giving the batter just a few good turns.  

 
Divide the batter into your muffin tin, filling almost to the top. I get exactly 6 big ass muffins out of this recipe!  

 
Then pop ’em in the oven at 425 for 5 minutes, then drop the temperature to 375. Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes depending on your oven… Just give it the toothpick taste and watch for lightly golden tops, like this!  

 
Allow to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes before enjoying. One of these with a big glass of cold milk (or coffee if you’re like me!) is a wonderful treat for breakfast and destined to be repeated many times, at least in our house. ๐Ÿ˜€ Enjoy! 

Recipe slightly adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Chicago-Style Italian Beef

Anyone who grew up in or near the vicinity of Chicago knows the greatness that is Portillo’s. The hot dogs, the chocolate cake (!), and of course… The beef. While we sadly don’t own a meat slicer and therefore can’t truly replicate a Portillo’s beef, this comes pretty darn close. This past Friday was allegedly “Region Day” (pretty sure that’s a Region created event, but according to Facebook Indianapolis folks were getting in on the celebration as well), so what better excuse that to whip up a region favorite. Plus it’s a crockpot recipe, so you get to smell the deliciousness simmering all day long. Just don’t be like us- make sure you have some giardinara or even pepperoncinis on hand when you make these to really make them stand out, along with some good French bread or Italian rolls and cheese. Make these ASAP and make your mouth happy! 

Ingredients:

  • 5 lbs top round roast
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 1 packet Italian dressing mix
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp parsley flakes 
  • 1 tsp dried oregano 
  • 1 tsp dried basil 
  • 1 tsp onion salt 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Provolone or mozzarella cheese slices
  • Giardinara/pepperoncinis/sport peppers
  • Loaf of French bread or Italian rolls

Directions:

Line crockpot with liner if using. Add roast to crockpot.  Pour the broth into a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in all of the spices.  

 

The smell of this concoction should be enough to make the drooling start.

Bring mixture to a boil, then remove from heat. Pour over your awaiting roast.  

 
Yaaaaaaas. Set to cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-5 hours. Remove bay leaf and shred meat. Broil cheese onto bread if desired. Add meat to bread and garnish with peppers (if you’re not a bonehead and remembered them. Still kicking myself here!).  Finish with a Miller Lite for a true Region experience. ๐Ÿ˜œ

  

Recipe barely adapted from Food.com.

Pretzel Crusted Chicken Bites

How has this recipe been lingering on my Pinterest board, untouched, for at least a year? The ingredient list is pretty short and basically all things we usually have on hand. My kid loves chicken nuggets and pretzels, so why wouldn’t he love these? (Spoiler alert: he did!) And as I discovered once I put them in the oven and finished reading the recipe post- you can make these and freeze them for 2-3 months! Y’all know I love me a good freezer recipe. These were a hit with everyone in our house – the ones who eat solid food, anyway. ๐Ÿ˜œ Don’t be like me and wait; make these ASAP! With some honey mustard or cheese dip, yuuummmm…

Ingredients:

  • 1-1.5 lbs chicken breasts or chicken tenderloins
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper 
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups pretzels, crushed 
  • Cooking spray

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a baking sheet with foil or cooking spray. Get yourself three shallow bowls lined up. In the first, mix combine your flour, salt, and pepper. The 2nd, beat together the 2 eggs. Finally, put your crushed pretzels in the third. Line them up assembly line style to make your life easier!

  

Next, dice your chicken into 1-1.5 inch cubes (pound them down til they’re about 1 inch thick if using chicken breasts). Full disclosure- I don’t think I’d ever used my meat tenderizer for its intended purpose until today. For shame!

    

Next comes the fun part! Dip your chicken chunks into the flour mixture, shaking off the excess. Coat with the egg, then dunk in the crushed pretzels. 
 

Once you’ve got all your chicken coated, give the pieces a shot of cooking spray to help seal all that delicious coating in place. Bake for 8 minutes, give the pieces a turn, then bake for another 6-8 minutes. Let cool then serve! We had ours with mashed potatoes and roasted brocolli, which made for a filling and satisfying meal. Hope your family enjoys this one as much as ours did! 

    

Recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction.