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Category Archives: Cooking for family and friends

One of my ways of showing the love!

Spring Mint Sweet Tea

 

As we are receiving hot spring weather in Houston, I name this Sweet Tea Season. Sweet Tea Season runs from the first weekend of hot, sweaty yard work until pumpkin spiced latte month. Last year I started experimenting with making a variety of sweet tea flavors and shared my recipe for peach tea (July 2017 archives). Today I kick off Sweet Tea Season with refreshing mint tea. Here are the simple steps:

  1. Heat kettle of fresh water to a boil.
  2. While water is heating, pour 1/4 cup honey into heat-safe, 4-cup measuring cup. It’s best to use local honey.
  3. Unwrap 2 family-size tea bags and set them aside. Our house brand is Lipton decaffeinated so we can enjoy iced tea all day and evening.
  4. Pour boiling water over tea bags and into honey to a little over the 4-cup measure mark. Stir gently to melt the honey. Steep tea for 8 minutes.
  5. While tea is steeping, thinly slice 1/2 lemon and harvest 5 mint leaves.
  6. Fill pitcher with ice cubes, about 3/4 full. Add lemon slices and mint leaves.
  7. When timer goes off, use a large spoon to remove tea bags and squeeze excess tea into measuring cup by pressing another spoon against them.
  8. Let tea cool for several minutes until it is safe to pour tea into your pitcher. Pour cooled tea over ice.
  9. To serve, fill a glass with ice cubes and pour tea over ice. Garnish with another mint leaf. Store pitcher in ‘fridge. It’s okay if the ice melts, but drink the tea in the next day or two.

Happy spring, y’all!

 

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Chocolate Almond Buttercream Frosting


Has anyone else noticed the Hershey’s cocoa special every holiday baking season? Buy this and get free a carton of Hershey’s cocoa; buy that and get free a carton of Hershey’s cocoa… I am buying these baking items anyway, so I take the free carton of Hershey’s cocoa… And eventually soon I had in my pantry a collection of about 7 containers of Hershey’s cocoa. Seems instead of buying chocolate to melt for recipes, I could start using up this abundance of free cocoa. So, I’ve created an easy version of my Dark Chocolate Buttercream Frosting recipe (February 2014 archives).

This is my easy chocolate frosting creation:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 tsp instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 tsp very hot tap water
1 tsp quality vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1  cup confectioners sugar
1/2 cup Hershey’s cocoa, of course

Beat softened butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Mix into butter: espresso + vanilla + almond extract.
Gradually add and mix: confectioners sugar + Hershey’s cocoa.

*I made this frosting to frost The Bomb Cherry Chocolate Cake (January 2014 archives), so I used Tahitian vanilla for a nice flavor with the cherry. And I thought almond sounded good too. This is like if Jergen’s lotion were a chocolate cake.

Lanie’s Pink Lemonade Cherry Ice Cream

I am blessed each month to attend Inspire Women’s Inner Circle where the sweet staff and wonderful teacher, Anita Carman, refresh and encourage women’s ministry leaders. This month we celebrated Anita’s birthday, so I brought ice cream to go with cake. I like to make a pink ice cream to match Inspire Women’s signature color, so I created pink lemonade cherry ice cream with white chocolate morsels. Here is another refreshing summer ice cream creation:

2 hours in advance, in a small bowl combine:
2 cups pitted, dark sweet cherries (I prefer Trader Joe’s frozen);
1/2 cup sugar;
Zest from 2 lemons;
Fresh juice from 2 lemons.

Let cherries macerate. When it’s time to mix the ice cream, strain cherries and reserve cherry juice. Mash half the cherries to mix in the ice cream mix, and reserve half to add in later.

In a large mixing bowl, mix on low speed until sugar is dissolved (2 minutes):
1 cup whole milk;
1/2 cup sugar.

Stir in:
2 cups heavy cream;
1/2 cherries, mashed;
Reserved cherry juice;
1 tsp Tahitian vanilla.

Turn on electric ice cream maker, and pour in ice cream mixture.
Let mix until beginning to thicken, about 15-18 minutes.

Add in:
Reserved cherries;
Heaping 1/2 cup white chocolate morsels.
Let mix another 5 minutes.

Ice cream will be soupy. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer to firm up. Remove frozen ice cream from freezer to soften for about 10 minutes before scooping.

This is so fresh and delicious! Maybe try amping up the sour by adding the zest and juice of a third lemon… Happy summer!

Unpaid ad, but FYI: My ice cream maker is the Cuisinart Classic Frozen Yogurt – Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker.

July Flame Sweet Tea

I caught an episode on Food Network where two actress friends cooked lunch and made sweet tea. Between my brother’s delicious iced coffee and my determination that my parents made a mistake and I should have been born in the South, I was inspired to create my own icy, sweet beverage. Also, my Father-in-law gets a kick out of how I drawl, “Sweet tea,” since I first ever heard, “Sweet tea,” at restaurants in Memphis. I just say it the way my friends and the waitresses said it.

The first delicious batch was traditional with thinly sliced lemon added to the pitcher. For the next batch, I decided to try peach tea, and I noticed the variety name July Flame on my box of Trader Joe’s peaches. It is dang hot in Houston these July days, so this is my refreshing July Flame Sweet Tea:

  1. Heat kettle of fresh water to a boil.
  2. While water is heating, unwrap 2 family-size tea bags and place them in a heat-safe, 4-cup measuring cup. Our house brand is Lipton decaffeinated so we can enjoy iced tea all day and evening.
  3. Pour boiling water over tea bags to the 4-cup measure mark. Steep tea for 8 minutes.
  4. While tea is steeping, thinly slice 1/2 lemon and 1/2 peach.
  5. When timer goes off, use a large spoon to remove tea bags and squeeze excess tea into measuring cup by pressing another spoon against them.
  6. Stir and melt 1/4 cup honey into hot tea. It’s best to use local honey. Let tea cool for several minutes.
  7. Fill pitcher with ice cubes, about 3/4 full. Pour cooled tea over ice. Add sliced fruit, and use large spoon to push fruit through ice into pitcher.
  8. To serve, fill a glass with ice cubes and pour tea over ice. Fish out a piece of fruit for a garnish, if you’d like. If there is any tea left after serving your friends, store pitcher in ‘fridge. It’s okay if the ice melts, but drink the tea in the next day or two.

Enjoy, y’all!

 

Lanie’s Green Granny Dressing

My basil plant is flourishing and Saturday evening Hubby grilled steak for dinner, so I hit the garden to whip up a batch of green goddess dressing for our salads. Since it was the first time I referred to my Green Goddess Dressing recipe (June 2016 archives) this season, I realized I was short parsley on the ingredients list. Rather than make a second trip to the market for one ingredient, I tried substituting Granny apple I had on-hand. It’s green, so I decided to give it a whirl, and the apple gave a nice freshness to the dressing. This is my new spin on Green Goddess Dressing I call Green Granny Dressing:

 

 

 

In food processor, blend until creamy green:
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 oz fresh basil, rinsed and patted dry (I loosely fill a regular-sized colander when I go to the back yard to pick basil, and that weighs in at 1 oz when I check it on the kitchen scale. Fresh basil at the market tends to be packaged in 1 oz containers.)
1/4 Granny apple, cored + chopped
2-3 scallions, whites + greens, sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, smashed + chopped
2 anchovy filets, chopped
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Especially tasty on a BLT salad (February 2015 archives), spinach salad with cucumbers & berries & feta or even on fresh watermelon.

 

Lanie’s “Summer Delight” Strawberry Watermelon Ice Cream

For Hubby & me, Memorial Day marks the start of summer watermelon season. We have watermelon with every meal from Memorial Day through Labor Day. With so much watermelon sliced in the ‘fridge, I decided to create a watermelon ice cream recipe. Strawberry is another summer favorite fruit, so I modified my strawberry lime ice cream recipe (June 2016 archives) to make this summer delight creation. Here is my latest scoop on ice cream:

2 hours in advance, in a small bowl combine:
1 cup fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled, thinly sliced;
1 cup fresh watermelon, cut in chunks, thinly sliced;
1/2 cup sugar;
Fresh lime juice from 2 limes.
Let fruit macerate. When it’s time to mix the ice cream, strain fruit and reserve fruit juice. Mash half the fruit to mix in the ice cream mix, and reserve half to add in later.

In a large mixing bowl, mix on low speed until sugar is dissolved (2 minutes):
1 cup whole milk;
1/2 cup sugar.

Stir in:
2 cups heavy cream;
1/2 fruit, mashed;
Reserved fruit juice;
1 tsp Tahitian vanilla.

Turn on electric ice cream maker, and pour in ice cream mixture.
Let mix until beginning to thicken, about 15-18 minutes.

Add in:
Reserved sliced fruit.
Let mix another 5 minutes.
Ice cream will be soupy. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer to firm up. If you can wait long enough that ice cream is frozen hard, remove from freezer to soften for about 10 minutes before scooping.

This is a cool, delicious, summer fruit delight! Enjoy!

Unpaid ad, but FYI: My ice cream maker is the Cuisinart Classic Frozen Yogurt – Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker.

Easter Ham Soup

I started posting recipes on my blog because it’s a convenient way to keep them documented, and one of the first recipes I shared was Easter ham soup. I finished the Easter leftovers yesterday, so this is this year’s soup recipe:

Sauté in warm olive oil: 1 small yellow onion, diced; 1-2 carrots, sliced in nickel discs; 1-2 cloves garlic, minced.
Add seasoning: kosher salt to taste (I end up using 3 tsp); 1 tsp parsley; 1 tsp oregano; 1 tsp thyme; 1/2 tsp basil; freshly ground pepper.
Add: ham hock; other leftover ham, cut into chunks; 1 can diced tomatoes (no salt); 8 cups water; 1 tsp Louisiana or Cholula hot sauce.
Bring to boil; reduce to simmer. Simmer, simmer.
Remove ham hock to a cutting board, and pick off meat and add meat to pot.
Add: 1 lb lentils (rinsed). Simmer another 30 minutes, until lentils are tender.

Serve with warm, crusty bread or a grilled cheese sandwich and fresh fruit.

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