One of my favorite summer drinks is a cherry limeade. Actually I love going to Sonic and grabbing any of their summer drinks and sipping on them all day long. I have a weakness that started when my brother was a carhop back in high school. It’s never really left me, I’ve just grown up a touch.
When I saw the recipe for a Cherry Limaretto on Today’s Nest, I knew I had found the perfect drink for me. A cherry limeade with some amaretto in it sounded too good to be true. There’s only a trace of alcohol in it so you don’t get too tipsy and it doesn’t overwhelm the cherry lime flavor of the drink. The drink tastes just like my favorite summer drink and it’s perfect for sipping at your next picnic.
From the Fresh Nest blog
- 3 ounces Amaretto
- 3 ounces sour cherry juice
- juice of one lime
- ginger ale
- Fill a cocktail shaker 2/3 full with ice. Pour amaretto, cherry juice, and lime juice into shaker. Shake for 10 seconds.
- Fill 3 glasses with 3 ice cubes. Strain the drink into the glasses, then fill the rest of the way with ginger ale.
I’ve been in a mood for a picnic all year long. The 4th of July screams picnic time to me so I’m in picnic mode right now. All this week I’ll be sharing some picnic-themed projects in case you’re as excited about picnics as I am.
For today I’m sharing my favorite potato salad recipe. It calls for just 5 ingredients- potatoes, eggs, bacon, mustard and mayonnaise. It ends up tasting like a baked potato in salad form. You can season it to your tastes, I like some dill, pepper, and sea salt mixed into mine. This is a great recipe to make ahead the night before. The flavors do well sitting overnight and the food will be chilled just in time for your picnic.
- 2 pounds red potatoes
- 4 strips bacon
- 2 hard-boiled eggs
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- Wash the potatoes and place in a large pot. Cover with cold water and boil till soft, about 15-20 minutes. Strain the potatoes and let them cool completely.
- While the potatoes are cooking, fry the bacon. Let it cool and crumble into small pieces. Set aside. If your eggs aren't hard-boiled yet, this is a good time to do it. Chop the egg into small pieces.
- Once everything is cooled, cut the potatoes into medium-sized pieces. Mix the mayonnaise and mustard together in a large bowl. Stir in the potatoes and coat them evenly with the sauce. Add in the bacon and eggs and stir until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
After I went blueberry picking I got right to work cleaning the berries so I could start using them. I had all the ingredients on-hand to make my blueberry muffins so I just jumped right in. My recipe has a sturdy enough batter that you don’t have to worry about coating fresh berries with flour to prevent sinking, the berries just stay put on their own. If you don’t have almond extract you can easily substitute vanilla.
- 1 stick butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 cups blueberries
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- Line 18 cupcake pan spaces (or 12 regular and 12 mini cupcakes)
- In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, stirring after each one. Mix in almond extract.
- Add baking powder, salt, and half the flour and lightly mix. Pour in half the milk, stir, then the rest of the flour and milk and stir till just mixed. Fold in blueberries and spoon into cupcake liners.
- Stir together the sugar and nutmeg for your topping and sprinkle on each muffin.
- Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes for regular muffins and 15 minutes for mini-muffins.
In the summer there’s nothing better than throwing food on the grill and eating leftovers for days. Just because I like to eat some tasty food doesn’t mean I don’t love an effortless meal. When I saw the idea of these Pesto Chicken Skewers that La Kocinera shared, I knew I had to try them.
To prep for this recipe I soaked 7 skewers in water so they wouldn’t catch fire on the grill. I also pulled out 3 of my frozen pesto cubes to thaw during the day. The only other ingredients you’ll need are 2 chicken breasts and a half pint of grape tomatoes. Just cut up the chicken into bite-sized pieces and alternate the pieces on the skewer with the tomatoes. Brush on some pesto and grill until the chicken is done. That’s it! It’s so easy you barely even need a recipe.
I served this recipe with some sirloin skewers and some of my frozen twice-baked potatoes along with a salad. Like I said, my goal is to eat off a meal for days and we had a weekend’s worth of food with this meal.
Recipe from La Kocinera
- 2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 pint grape tomatoes
- 1/4 cup prepared pesto
- If using wooden skewers, soak in water for at least 20 minutes to prevent burning on the grill.
- Alternate sliding chicken pieces and grape tomatoes onto your skewers. Brush with pesto.
- Heat your grill to a medium heat and cook about 5 minutes per side until the chicken juices run clear.
This weekend I finally made good on my plans to try my hand at making one of Jeni’s ice creams from her cookbook. I decided to try my hand at a recipe that didn’t include any hard-t0-find ingredients and would be a flavor both my husband and I would probably enjoy. That’s how I ended up with my cookbook turned to the recipe for Salty Caramel Ice Cream. It’s Jeni’s most popular flavor so why wouldn’t I want to try that?
Before you start this recipe, measure out every single ingredient and prep all your equipment. Your ice cream maker should be frozen 24 hours before even starting. I even poured my milk into a measuring cup so I could pour quickly when the moment came. The first half of this recipe goes low and slow and then suddenly you’re all in, racing to get everything in the recipe so you can start counting down the half hour it takes to chill it. For all things stovetop, I used a 4-quart pot for the process. I wouldn’t risk going any smaller than that with all the boiling this recipe takes.
Now the next part was the scariest for me: I had to make caramel. I don’t do well with sugared products because I’m impatient and easily distracted and that usually leads to sugar burning. Jeni has you make the caramel for your recipe by using the dry burn technique (see recipe notes) where you just heat sugar on the stovetop until it starts going through a transformation and then you invite all the other pieces of sugar to the party by melting them down.
Jeni says the look you’re going for is an “old penny” but I wasn’t sure if she meant 2001 penny that has seen my whole town or a 1953 penny that looks like it’s going green so I chose the more appetizing color. It seems to have worked out. Somewhere in the middle of the stirring process you’re likely to think you’ve failed and there’s an awful goopy mess but 1 minute later you’ll be screaming in glee “I’ve made caramel!” Embrace that moment because this is when the going gets crazy.
You’ll want to add just a bit of your cream + corn syrup to the cream while off the heat. It’ll crackle and pop so be careful. Jeni doesn’t suggest putting the pot back on till all the cream is added to your caramel but I found my caramel hardening too much so keep a close eye on things and introduce the heat as needed. After you add the milk you’re almost in the clear. You will need to keep a watchful eye on it so it doesn’t boil over and then add your slurry to thicken, stirring continuously. You can see above the soft golden tone the recipe starts to take on (and the mess this dish leaves behind)
You’ll then pour your ice cream through a sieve placed over a bowl with your cream cheese and salt in it. All the little hard pieces of caramel will be left behind and then you stir stir stir! Make sure to add the vanilla in this step. I use my own homemade vanilla but whatever you choose, make sure it isn’t imitation.
You’ll then want to chill your ice cream base as fast as possible. Pour your mix into a gallon sized Ziploc bag, seal it, and surround it with ice and ice water. Chill in your fridge for half an hour. Note: It’s very important not to let water get into your mix at this point. After your half hour is up, pour the mix into your ice cream maker and let it run about half an hour.
Now you have to freeze it for at least 4 hours. Overnight is even better. I know, I’m a cruel and awful person to suggest such a thing. I scooped up a batch after waiting and sat down to test it. It was so smooth, just like the version I bought in the store. You can copy that quality perfectly in your own kitchen. My own version was lighter in color than Jeni’s official version so maybe you should aim towards an older penny than I did. I also expected more salt but that’s an easy fix. Overall I was thrilled with my results and have to say this is the best (but also the most complicated) homemade ice cream I’ve made to date. The only real disappointment I had was that it was eaten up so quickly. I guess I’ll need to make another batch or try a new flavor. If you’re a Jeni’s fan, let me know what flavor I should try next.
Source: Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch (or just 4 teaspoons- it's the same thing)
- 1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry.
- Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.
- Mix the cream with the corn syrup in a measuring cup with a spout.
- Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
- Heat the sugar in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat until it is melted and golden amber in color (see note below). Remove from the heat and, stirring constantly, slowly add a bit of the cream and corn syrup mixture to the caramel: It will fizzle, pop, and spurt. Stir until well combined, then add a little more and stir. Keep adding the cream a little at a time until all of it is incorporated.
- Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the milk. Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.
- Bring back to a boil over medium-high and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat. If any caramel flecks remain, pour the mixture through a sieve.
- Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla and whisk. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.
- Pour into frozen canister and spin until thick and creamy in ice cream maker.
- Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid.
- Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.
Danger! This is the dry-burn technique. I don't add water to the sugar before putting it on the heat, as some chefs do. Caramelizing sugar dry means it goes faster, but you have to watch it more closely and be ready with your cream. Here is an overview of what you are going to do:
Stand over the pan of sugar with a heatproof spatula ready, but do not touch the sugar until there is a full layer of melted and browning liquid sugar on the bottom with a smaller layer of unmelted white sugar on the top. When the edges of the melted sugar begin to darken, use the spatula to bring them into the center to help melt the unmelted sugar. Continue stirring and pushing the sugar around until it is all melted and evenly amber in color — like an old penny. When little bubbles begin to explode with dark smoke, give the sugar another moment and then remove from the heat. Immediately but slowly pour about 1/4 cup of the cream and corn syrup mixture into the burning-hot sugar. Be careful! It will pop and spit! Stir until it is incorporated, then add a bit more cream and stir, then continue until it is all in.
When I think of cakes, I tend to think of my old standbys, like chocolate, pound cake, and white cake. I don’t often think of lemon cake as a must-have cake except in the spring time. There’s something about eating a bright yellow cake on a sunny day with some fresh berries and whipped cream to really remind you of how delicious lemon cake is.
This recipe is another one of my doctored cake mix recipes. In addition to lemon cake and lemon juice and lemon zest, the secret lemon ingredient is lemon pudding. It makes the cake very moist and dense so it’s like you’re eating a wonderful lemon pound cake. When you top it with the lemon glaze, make sure to do it while the cake is still warm. You won’t regret the extra zing it provides.
- Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 Tablespoons)
- Zest of one lemon
- 1 (18 ounce) box lemon cake mix
- 1 (3.4 ounce) box instant lemon pudding
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup oil
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 cup of powdered sugar
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Zest a lemon and place shavings into a large bowl. Squeeze the lemon into the same bowl.
- Add the cake mix, pudding, eggs, and oil into the bowl. Stir until just combined.
- Fold in the sour cream.
- Pour the batter into a prepared bundt cake pan.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let cool 15 minutes before removing from pan.
- Combine powdered sugar with lemon juice.
- Pour over cake while it is still warm. Let harden before eating.
This recipe makes a delicious appetizer. You simply broil bread, brush it with garlic, broil goat cheese in marinara and dig in. You can use your favorite marinara, go bottled, or try Kevin’s Kalamata Olive Marinara. It pairs perfectly with a bowl of pasta and the goat cheese salad from yesterday’s post. Don’t forget a bottle of wine!
Recipe from Kevin at Closet Cooking
- 1 baguette (sliced)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
- 4 ounces goat cheese (sliced)
- Brush the baguette slices with olive oil.
- Broil the slices until golden brown on top. (Note: Watch them carefully as they can burn really quickly on broil.)
- Let the baguette slices cool and then rub them with the garlic.
- Place the marinara sauce in a baking dish and top with the goat cheese.
- Broil until the goat cheese is soft and golden brown, about 4-6 minutes.
My latest obsession is with goat cheese. I’ve never been much of a cheese eater but Aldi has these little 4 ounce packages of goat cheese and I just can’t get enough of them. My favorite way to eat goat cheese right now is to make patties, fry them in panko breading, and plop them right on a salad. They’re the perfect size for 2 people to enjoy with dinner.
To make the goat cheese easier to fry, just pop it in the freezer for 30 minutes before breading them and back into the fridge for another 30 minutes before frying. This way you’ll have soft cheese that stays right inside the breading. I like to top the salad with a vinaigrette dressing. Tomorrow I’ll show you my second favorite way to use these goat cheese packages- and it’s a perfect pairing with this salad.
- 4 ounce goat cheese log
- 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 dash dried parsley
- 1 dash dried thyme
- 1 dash garlic powder
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/4 cup of flour
- olive oil
- 4 cups salad greens
- Dressing of your choice
- Chill your goat cheese in the freezer an hour ahead of cooking
- While chilling, set up your dredging station. Mix your panko bread crumbs with parsley, thyme and garlic powder. Use one small bowl to hold your beaten egg and use another small bowl to hold your flour. Set up your station with flour first, then egg, then your breadcrumb mix.
- Half an hour before cooking, pull your cheese out of the fridge and cut into four slices, wiping the blade in between each cut.
- Dip your cheese into the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs, coating on both sides.
- Place cheese on a baking sheet covered in waxed paper and chill another half an hour.
- Heat your stovetop to medium heat and warm the olive oil. Fry each side of the goat cheese until golden.
- While cooking, prep your salad greens onto two plates and drizzle with dressing. Top with cheese and serve warm.
I’m in a fondue mood because I keep meaning to try Stone Cellar Fondue in St. Charles, Missouri. I was hoping to get over there this weekend to celebrate a mini-anniversary (my first date with my husband was 9 years ago this weekend) but we have a concert to go to instead (The Black Keys). So instead of going out, I decided to bring the fondue home. I hooked up my mini crockpot and while it warmed I mixed up some chocolate chips and cream on the stovetop. In 5 minutes the chocolate was ready to pop in the crock and for the dipping to start.
The key to a great fondue is choosing the best ingredients to dip. I like to take pound cake and freeze it ahead of time for dipping. I love including cookies like Oreos and graham crackers, though today I decided to go the route of animal crackers and Oreos. Either way, make sure you have a good cookie to scoop out any accidental drops in the chocolate. Fruit is the other most important dipper. I love cherries and bananas but my absolute favorite dipper is the simple strawberry. My best dip today was a strawberry layered between two pieces of pound cake. If only I’d had some brownies laying around it would have been perfect.
- 1/4 cup of cream
- 6 ounces semisweet chocolate chip
- Heat the cream on the stovetop just until bubbles form.
- Remove cream from heat and stir in the chocolate chips.
- When chocolate is smooth, transfer it to a fondue pot or a mini crockpot.
- Serve with cakes, cookies, brownies, and fruits to dip into chocolate.
The hot weather finally calmed down but I don’t trust it will stay away for long so I wanted to make this next recipe before summer really sets in. The hour of baking for this recipe means you do not want to prep this in the heat of summer. Many people think you can’t freeze potatoes. I’ve had a failure where all the potatoes turn black and I’ve had mashed potatoes that did alright but were never quite as good as the original without a little work. This recipe for freezer twice baked potatoes is a standout because they taste incredible after being in the freezer. The secret is that you freeze them after only the single bake and then you cook them in the oven right in their frozen state.
I bought a 10 pound bag of potatoes from my local grocery store for only $2. I had used about 2 1/2 pounds of potatoes for other meals so I used 7 1/2 pounds (or 25 potatoes) for this recipe. I’ll share the full 10 pound recipe for you guys so you can just use a bag and not have to do a lot of guesswork. With so many potatoes, you’ll want to rotate the pans in the oven every half hour. I like to put my potatoes on baking sheets according to size so if the smallest potatoes finish after an hour I can just remove the small potato baking sheet and let the larger potatoes keep cooking until they have some give.
I like to make my potatoes a little healthier so I try to use skim milk, laughing cow cheese (the queso and garlic ones are my favorites), and I leave the shredded cheese off my pieces. When I bake them I add cheese and bacon to my husband’s portions and I top mine with sour cream or Greek yogurt after I’ve baked mine. These also taste incredible with some pesto drizzled on top. The possibilities are endless. If you don’t care about those adjustments, regular milk or even half and half work for your liquid and regular cream cheese works perfectly with this recipe. I’ve done it all.
When you store your items, make sure to let them freeze flat first. Then you can pop them in containers. I found these containers at the Dollar Store and I love the flat tops, they’re perfect for easy stacking. I usually fit between 4 and 8 halves in each container. When reheating I cook the entire package on a cookie sheet and eat any leftovers during the week with my lunch. My favorite way to eat these for lunch is to take some chili and pour it over a potato half. It’s perfection.
- 10 lbs large baking potatoes
- olive oil
- kosher salt
- 1 cup butter, melted
- 2 cups skim milk
- 6 ounces fat free cream cheese or laughing cow cheese
- 4 teaspoons salt (to taste)
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper (to taste)
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Clean potatoes and dry. Place them on baking sheets. 10 pounds of potatoes usually requires 3 baking sheets.
- Drizzle potatoes with olive oil and kosher salt.
- Bake potatoes for 1 to 1/2 hours depending on the size.
- Allow potatoes to cool around 15 minutes. While cooling, mix together butter, cream cheese (or laughing cow), salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl.
- Cut potatoes in half lengthwise taking care not to damage the rest of the skins.
- Use a large spoon to scoop out the inside of the potatoes, leaving a thin layer of potato attached to the skin. Put the middles you scoop out into the mixer with your butter cheese blend.
- Once you've scooped out all the potatoes, place the shells back on the baking sheet with the skin side down.
- Blend potato and butter/cheese mix in your mixer. Add milk as needed until potatoes resemble stiff mashed potatoes.
- Spoon the potato mix back into the shells. If you are adding shredded cheese, sprinkle and press onto potatoes.
- Place pan back into the oven and bake 15-25 minutes.
- Cover baking sheet with plastic wrap and place baking sheet in freezer until potatoes are completely frozen.
- Remove potatoes from baking sheet and place in plastic bags or foil containers with baking instructions written on them.
- Preheat oven to 350°F and place potatoes on baking sheet. Loosely cover with foil.
- Bake about 45 minutes. Uncover foil and bake an additional 15 minutes.