Lemon Pound Cake

To me, nothing says Spring better than a sour, yellow lemon. I love how versatile they are, whether you’re adding some tang to your sweets or brightness to your savories, all the while keeping that distinctive lemony flavor.
This pound cake is SO easy and SO delicious. My favorite thing about it is that it takes FRESH lemon juice and zest, which you can see when you slice it. Also, many recipes call for a sugary glaze, but I don’t think this one needs it. It pairs perfectly with fresh strawberries and cream, lemon or vanilla pudding, or simply on it’s own. Enjoy! ~Joanie

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Ingredients:

½ Cup butter, melted
1 Cup sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
Juice & zest from 1 lemon
¼ Tsp salt
1 ½ C flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ Cup milk


Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine butter and sugar. Add the beaten eggs and stir until incorporated. Add lemon juice and zest, mix well.


In a separate bowl, combine salt, flour, and baking powder. Sift flour mixture into lemon mixture and stir until smooth. Add milk and give one final stir until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Pour into a well greased loaf pan and bake for about 1 hour 325 degrees, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. (I doubled the recipe and used my mini loaf stone, so I only baked for 50 minutes).

Remove cooked loaves from pan and allow to cool completely before slicing. I actually prefer these the next day, after they have been wrapped over night. It gives the exterior a moist texture. Slice and serve!

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Thyme Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

I love fingerling potatoes and have had this simple recipe in my mind for the past couple of weeks.  They’re nothing fancy but very flavorful!   I served my potatoes with scrambled eggs with onion and green pepper, but they would go perfect with a roast, chicken, fish, steak or whatever your heart desires!  ~Janna

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Ingredients:

1/2lb fingerling potatoes, washed and patted dry
1 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp of fresh thyme
1/4 tsp kosher sea salt (more to taste)

Turn oven to 375 degrees.  Cut the potatoes in half length wise, toss with olive oil in a bowl, add thyme and toss again to coat evenly.  Add the salt and stir.

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Lay the potatoes skin side down on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until tender.

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Turn oven to broil and cook potatoes for an additional 2 minutes just to brown and crisp them.  Remove from oven and cool slightly.  Enjoy.

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Sweet Chili Cucumber Bites

This recipe is for our brother, Jamin.  I catered one of his art shows a few years ago, and he wouldn’t stop talking about these tasty little bites for a long time after that.  I was flattered!  Now every time I make them, I think of Jamin, and this recipe will forever be dedicated to him.  I hope you enjoy them as much as he does!  ~Joanie

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Ingredients:
2 Cups pre-cooked & chilled chicken breast meat, finely chopped
3 TBS Mae Ploy Sweet Chilli Sauce
2 TBS Lemon Grass Paste
2 TBS Lemon Juice
½ Cup Chopped Cilantro
2 Large Cucumbers

Directions:
Combine chicken, sweet chili sauce, lemon grass paste, lemon juice and cilantro, stir until ingredients are incorporated.

Wash, peel, and slice your cucumbers into about ½ inch thick coins.  Using a melon baller or a metal measuring spoon scoop out a portion of the seeds and flesh to make a well.

Top each cucumber with a scoop of the chicken mixture.  Garnish with cilantro or lemon zest.  Serve chilled and enjoy!

Potato Leek Soup

For this soup I started with Julia Child’s classic French potato leek soup recipe from her book “Mastering The Art Of French Cooking.” I found it a little bland so I added a few of my own special touches and it turned out AMAZING! I tricked my 10 year old into thinking it was potato cheese soup and she ate a whole bowl, which is a miracle since it’s hard to get her to even try new foods! Hope you enjoy as much as she did! ~Janna

Potato Leek Soup

Ingredients:

4 quart sauce pan
4 cups russet potatoes, skinned and cubed
4 cups leeks, cubed or chopped
2 quarts water
2 tsp salt (and probably more to taste)
1 tsp white pepper

1 Tbs butter
1/3 cup whipping cream
2 tsp better than bouillon (vegetable)
1 Tbs apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
3 Tbs Italian parsley, chopped (more for garnish)

Bring water to a boil, add potatoes and leeks and boil until tender, 10 minutes or so depending on how big your potato chunks are. Once the potatoes and leeks are soft, take out 2 cups of the cooking liquid and turn heat to a simmer. With an immersion blender, blend the soup until creamy. You can use a food processor or blender but be careful with boiling liquids! Once the soup is creamy add the butter and better than bouillon and vinegar and stir to combine. Add the whipping cream a little at a time and stir after each addition. Add the white pepper and more salt if needed. Chop the parsley and add to soup. Ladle into bowls and garnish with more fresh parsley.

Key Lime Pie

Key lime pie is one of my husband’s favorite pies and definitely one of the dishes he requests the most.  Good thing this recipe is super easy and makes the most delicious key lime pie!  You can skip a step by purchasing a pre-made graham cracker crust!  You could also use cool whip, but homemade whipped cream is so easy and delicious, why would you want to? I hope you enjoy this recipe!   ~Janna

Graham cracker crust:  Skip this step if you have store bought crust.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 packages of graham crackers
3/4 cup of butter (melted)
2 Tbs granulated sugar

Put graham crackers in a food processor and blend until you have crumbs.  If you don’t have a food processor you can place broken up graham crackers in a large zip top bag and crush with rolling pin.  Put graham crackers in a 9′ shallow pie plate, add the sugar and butter, use a fork to incorporate.  Press a thin layer of graham cracker onto sides of pie plate, then press remainder into middle.  Fill with filling and bake.

Key Lime Pie:

Ingredients:

One 8 or 9″ graham cracker crust (recipe above)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks (whites not used)
1/2 cup key lime juice.  You can use fresh limes, or Nellie & Joe’s Key West Lime Juice
Homemade Whipped cream (recipe to follow)

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Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Combine the ingredients and blend well in an electric mixer, about 2 or 3 minutes.  Pour into graham cracker crust, bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes.  Let pie cool for 15 minutes and then place in refrigerator until cool.  Once cool, add whipped cream and serve!

Whipped cream:

Ingredients:

3 Cups whipping cream
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup powdered sugar

Place whipping cream into a cold metal mixing bowl.  I put mine in the freezer for a few minutes.  Mix with whisk attachment on med/high for a few minutes until soft peaks form, add vanilla and powdered sugar and keep blending until stiff peaks form.  Use generously to top key lime pie.  Keep pie chilled until ready to serve.

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Porter Braised Corned Beef

I don’t make Corned Beef often, but when I do I’m never disappointed. How can you go wrong with a tender, juicy piece of meat that requires so little prep and tastes so good? I love the beer in this recipe too, it adds a rich, smoky flavor to the brisket. What can I say, you just need to make it and taste for yourself. ~Joanie

Remember: If you buy your spices in the bulk section you can get the exact amount you need without buying an entire bottle.

Ingredients

1 Corned Beef Brisket, approx 2 ½ – 3 lbs (a flat cut will get better immersion in the braising liquid)
2 Large Shallots or 1 Small onion, quartered
5 Garlic cloves
2 tbsp Pickling Spice (some usually comes with the brisket, but you may need more)
2 tsp Caraway Seeds
2 12-oz bottles of porter (I used my favorite, Black Butte Porter. You can really use any dark beer)

Directions

Place all ingredients in a dutch oven or deep roasting pan. Braise in a 250*F for about 4 hours. Add the dill and allow meat to braise for 1 more hour. This is a good time to prep your side dishes. I served my brisket with garlic mashed potatoes and pan gravy.

To make the pan gravy, remove some of the braising liquid and strain it into a sauce pan. Add water to dilute the saltiness. Turn heat on medium-high. Mix about ½ cup cold water with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, slowly add a the cornstarch liquid a tablespoon at a time to the simmering gravy. Once the gravy thickens and begins to bubble, turn off the heat. Strain again if you have lumps. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Remove the brisket from braising liquid and separate into portions, removing the fatty pieces.

Plate with your favorite sides and enjoy! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache and Mint Cream

These light and fluffy cupcakes are a perfect vessel for fudgy ganache.  They are very easy to make and require ordinary ingredients.  The mint cream adds a nippy not-so-sweet element, and the green candy garnish is a tribute to St. Patrick’s Day.  These cupcakes do take a bit of time to complete all the steps, but they are beatiful and delicious and well worth the effort.  Enjoy!
~Joanie


Ingredients 

Cupcakes:
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup half & half
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Ganache:
8 oz (approx 1 ½ Cups) Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream

Mint Whipped Cream:
1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
3 Tbs Confectioners Sugar (Powdered Sugar)
1 Tsp Mint Extract

Candy Garnish:
1/2 Cup White or Chocolate Baking Chips
Food coloring, if desired

Directions:
Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes about 24 cupcakes
Preheat oven to 350*F.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Add eggs, half & half, oil and vanilla.  Beat on medium speed for about one minute.

Stir in boiling water (don’t worry if the batter looks thin).
Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full with batter.  Bake for approximately 18-22 minutes.  Allow the cupcakes to cool completely.

 

Ganache Filling

Place chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl.  Bring the cream just to a frothy boil, remove from heat and immediately pour over the chocolate.  Let it sit about 1 minute to allow the chocolate to melt.  Stir gently until the chocolate is melted and the ganache is uniform in color and glossy.

 

 To Fill the Cupcakes

Make a slit in the cupcakes, about an inch long, and about half way deep with a plastic knife.  (The cake won’t stick to a plastic knife.)  Lightly pinch the cupcake so the slit opens up like a mouth.  Using a piping bag or plastic bag with the corner snipped, carefully fill the opening with ganache.  You want it to come to the top, but not overflow.

 

Mint Cream & Candy Garnish

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To create candy garnish, using a microwave safe bowl, melt candy for about 30 seconds in microwave.  Add food coloring to desired color.  Use a piping bag to create designs on wax paper.  Allow to cool completely in freezer before handling.


In a chilled metal bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks are just about to form. Beat in sugar and mint until peaks form.  If you want a sweeter cream, add more confectioners sugar 1 tablespoon at a time.  Be sure to taste between additions.

Tip:  You can make the whipped cream ahead, but don’t “frost” the cupcakes until just before serving.

Use an piping bag to pipe whipped cream onto cupcakes.  Top with ganache drizzle & candy garnish or fresh mint leaf, if desired.  Serve immediately.

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Savory Cilantro Sauce

Have I mentioned that I love cilantro?  It’s one of my favorite herbs.  I love the distinctive flavor and I use it in many of my dishes.  Unfortunately, fresh cilantro does not last very long once picked.  You can prolong the life of it by snipping the ends and storing it in your refrigerator in a cup of water, like a bouquet of flowers.  Or, preserve it in the freezer using this incredibly flavorful sauce.  Drizzle over meat or seafood, use as a marinade or a stand-alone sauce, toss with pasta, the sky is the limit!  ~Joanie

Ingredients:

2 cups cilantro, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic
¼ cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
½ tsp sea salt
⅛ tsp cayenne pepper

Directions:

Toss all ingredients into a food processor and puree, OR use an immersion blender.  The immersion blender takes a little more time and patience, but it works out.  Taste test it to make sure you have it how you like it.

  

Fill a clean ice cube tray with the sauce and let freeze overnight.  Once frozen, pop those babies out, throw them in a ziplock and store them in the freezer.  The small cubes make thawing a cinch, and you now can add that fresh cilantro taste to any dish.

  

White Chip Coconut Cookies

If you love coconut as much as I do, this is the cookie for you!  Sweet and chewy, they stay soft, AND they freeze incredibly well.  Just bake a batch and you will see.  ~Joanie

Ingredients:
1 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
¾ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¾ (1 ½ sticks) butter, softened
⅔ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 ½ cups white baking chips
1 ½ cups flaked coconut plus extra for topping
1 cup chopped candied pineapple (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F. 

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugars and vanilla until creamy.  Beat in the egg, then gradually stir in the flour mixture.  Stir in white chips, coconut and chopped pineapple (if desired).
 

Drop by rounded tablespoon onto un-greased cookie sheet.  Mine were about 1 inch.  Top with a pinch of coconut.

Bake approx 10 minutes or until edges are slightly brown and coconut is toasted.  Consume by the handful.  Makes about 4 dozen.