Sunday, April 20, 2014

Lemon Coolers

Yummy note: I have a slight addiction to Girl Scout cookies... I could post a picture of the big box full of different Girl Scout Cookies I’ve bought over the last month or so, but I’ll leave that out just to not embarrass anyone...wink wink. Let’s just say that I fully supported the Girl Scouts this year and consumed my fair share of cookies. This month’s Secret Recipe Club member had me wanting to eat even more cookies than I already had! Ugh! But I knew I had to try atleast one of these cookie recipes out from Dessert Before Dinner. So my plan is that if I recreate these copycat-like Girl Scout cookies I could eat them all-year round, instead of stock piling cookies! I knew these Lemon Coolers (or Savannah Smiles) were first, as I really like lemon flavors and I had a feeling these would not disappoint! Stephy from Dessert Before Dinner was right, they were sweet and tart. Oh, the Samoas- those are next on my list, the latest box wasn't enough caramel for me, so I think this recipe might just work. These Lemon Coolers were flavorful and it was such a fun spring-like dessert; lemony, light, and delicious. I even modified them easily to be a dairy-free cookie, so everyone in the family could enjoy them. 

Lemon Coolers

½ cup butter (or non-dairy alternative)
¾ cup powdered sugar
2 tsp lemon extract or zest from 1 lemon
juice from 1 lemon
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour (plus another tablespoon or so, if needed)
1 tbsp cornstarch
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup milk (or non-dairy alternative)
additional powdered sugar for dusting cookie

Cream sugar and butter together. Then mix in the vanilla, lemon juice, milk, and lemon zest. Add cornstarch, flour, salt, and baking powder. Mix dough until it is all combined. Place the dough on plastic wrap and shape into a log. Wrap in foil and freeze the dough for alteast one hour. Slice the log into thin slices and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Leave the cookies in the circle shapes or cut them in half moons for smaller cookies. Bake for about 12 minutes or until the cookies start to take shape and puff up a bit. Try not to overbake the cookies, as they stay nice and soft and flaky, and not too crispy. Once the cookies have cooled, coat them in the powdered sugar.

Mix dough together until it is nice and creamy.

Form the dough into a log shape and freeze. I wrapped mine in plastic wrap first and then in aluminum foil. 

Slice the log of frozen cookie dough and place on cookie sheet to bake.
Dunk the cooled lemon cookies into powdered sugar and coat until covered.

Next, enjoy some Lemon Coolers!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Stovetop Popcorn

Yummy note: I'm always trying to figure out how to make a healthier version of our butter-soaked popcorn, and I finally found a delicious alternative. Popping the popcorn kernels in coconut oil gives the popcorn a much more flavorful popcorn, rather than using like a canola or vegetable oil for popping the popcorn and then covering it in butter. I was surprised how the coconut oil worked so well; personally, I like the refined coconut oil better, as it is a little less "coconutty" of a popcorn. My kids start complaining sometimes when I used the unrefined coconut oil, so now we stick with either the basic coconut oil or use a specialty popcorn oil. For an added healthy kick to this popcorn, I enjoy adding a good shake or two of nutritional yeast on top, which is a good source of Vitamin B12, protein, and folic acid. Nutritional yeast is a somewhat acquired taste for some, but I think it a nutty-like, similar to parmesan almost, taste to the popcorn.  

Stovetop popcorn

2-3 tbsp coconut oil (other oil will work, but it doesn't have same flavor as coconut oil)
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
Optional toppings: Butter, salt, cheese, or nutritional yeast

Directions: Place 2-3 tablespoons of coconut oil (or if use about vegetable oil, you may need closer to 3-4 tbsp) in a large, heavy pot with a lid. Heat the oil over medium/high heat and add one or two kernels of popcorn to the pan. Wait for the kernels to heat up and pop, as this will tell you when your oil is ready. Remove the popped kernels and then add in the rest, about a 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels. Cover the pot with a lid, and give it a few shakes, so that the kernels have a single layer in the pan. You could also put a pinch of salt in at the same time as the kernels. Make sure to use potholders to lift/shake your pan over the heat, as it does get quite warm. Keep the lid shifted just a little to allow steam to vent, or sometimes it causes popcorn to get to mushy, and not the crunchy yummy popcorn you want! Be careful when shaking the pan and don't walk away from it or it might burn. Basically keep shaking the pan continuously and it should only take a few minutes of shaking to get all of the popcorn kernels to pop. Again, don't open the lid all the way, as you could get hit with a hot flying kernel, and trust me that hurts for a second, lol. While the popcorn is popping, melt a little butter if desired. Pour the popcorn into a big bowl; drizzle with the melted butter, margarine, or alternative butter/oil. Sprinkle with salt and nutritional yeast for a healthy treat.

Simple ingredients

Put one or two kernels of popcorn in first until oil is ready. 

Once the first kernels pop, remove them, and add the rest of the popcorn kernels. 

After a few minutes of popping and shaking the pan on the stovetop, enjoy fluffy popcorn!