Saturday, October 15, 2016

Chicken Shawarma 7 Layer Dip

I was looking for a dip that would look fancy (and pretty) and that could be served in individual dishes for a party we were hosting. All I could come up with was the Mexican layer dip that I'm pretty sure everyone on the planet has tasted at one time or another. (AND - we did a baked version already - Click HERE for our recipe) 
Not that that dip isn't delicious, it totally is.... but I wanted something different. 
Then, I stumbled across this little gem over at Foxes Love Lemons (HERE)
Turning chicken shawarma into a dip is clearly genius and was just begging to be tried. I mean.... did you see the photos over there? Gorgeous. 
This just may be my new favorite thing ever. The flavors and textures are amazing. 

Chicken Shawarma 7 Layer Dip
(Ever so slightly adapted from Foxes Love Lemons)

Chicken Shawarma
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, diced small
2 Tbsp oil
8 cloves garlic
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp coriander
pinch cinnamon
pinch ground cloves
pinch caraway seeds
salt & pepper

Yogurt Sauce
1 cup Greek yogurt, plain (I used 0 fat)
1/2 cup shredded cucumber (water pressed out)
2 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt & pepper

Remaining Layers
2 1/2 cups prepared hummus
1 cup feta, crumbled
1/2 cup purple onion, finely diced
1 cup shredded romaine lettuce
1 large tomato, finely diced

Naan bread, for dipping
(could also use pita chips)

In a large Ziplock bag, combine the diced chicken thighs with the oil, garlic, lemon juice, and spices. Seal and squish to coat well. Marinade chicken for at least an hour, up to overnight.

When ready to cook - heat a large pan over medium/high heat. Add in the chicken from the bag and cook until chicken is done.

Drain off any extra liquid and set chicken aside to cool. Place in refrigerator to cool completely.
Prepare yogurt sauce - In a mixing bowl, whisk together Greek yogurt, shredded and drained cucumber, dill, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. 

Chill until ready to use. (Note - as it sits in the fridge a little liquid may be released from the cucumbers if it wasn't pressed completely dry. Simply give the sauce a good stir and it is fine.)

Assemble the dips:

Have all your ingredients ready to go. 
Layers go: hummus, feta, purple onion, chicken, yogurt sauce, lettuce, and lastly tomato. 

This makes about 15 individual dips and can easily be halved if you need less. 

You can also layer this in one large dish if you don't want to do individual dishes. I would say a 10 inch dish should do the trick. 
If you are making this for a party I would go ahead and put the chicken in the marinade the morning before the party then cook it the evening before the party, and make up the yogurt sauce the day before as well, that way, all you have to do is assemble the ingredients on the day of the party. 
Your guests will love how different this is and how absolutely delicious!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Lemon Coconut Scones

Just when you think there can't possibly be any more scone flavors, along comes another fantabulous one. We've done caramel apple scones, apricot scones, chocolate zucchini scones, Guinness scones, vanilla bean pumpkin scones, strawberry shortcake scones, cream scones, maple bacon scones, and on and on and on.
But today we bring you the lemon coconut scone.
Lemon and coconut go together smashingly well. 
And, as we all know, scones are super easy peasy to whip up so you could be in coconut and lemon heaven in a very short period of time. 
Thank me later.

Lemon Coconut Scones

4 cups flour
2 Tbsp baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
zest of 2 lemons
pinch salt
3/4 cup shredded coconut
3/4 cup butter, cold
2 cups whipping cream (or half and half cream)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp coconut extract
1 tsp vanilla

1 cup icing sugar
juice of 1 lemon

1/2 cup shredded coconut, toasted

Preheat oven to 400. Line a cookie tray with parchment paper, set aside.
In a large bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, sugar, lemon zest, salt, and coconut. Using 2 knives or a pastry blender, cut in the cold butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (NOTE - you can also place in a food processor or blender and pulse briefly until you get coarse crumbs.)
In a separate bowl, whisk together cream, lemon juice, coconut extract, and vanilla extract. 
Using a fork, stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until dough just comes together. Dump out of bowl onto a floured surface.
Roll or pat out to 1 inch thickness. Cut out with a biscuit cutter or cut into triangles (see photo below).

Place on prepared cookie sheet.
Bake at 400 until lightly golden brown and puffed up, about 15 or so minutes. Remove from oven and set cookie tray on wire rack.
Prepare glaze by whisking the icing sugar and and lemon juice together. Using a pastry or basting brush, coat the tops of the warm scones with the glaze.
Sprinkle with the toasted coconut.

Remove from the cookie tray and place on wire rack to cool completely.

Best eaten the day they are made BUT they do freeze very well. Simply remove from freezer and bring to room temp and enjoy. 
I love them warm but the lemon and coconut flavors really shine through at room temperature.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Easiest Bar Ever

Coming up with a name for this bar was so easy. Why? Because they truly are the easiest things on the planet to make. 
Not even lying.
3 ingredients (plus your favorite frosting), no measuring. What whaaaat!
"But what do they taste like?", you ask skeptically. 
They taste like heaven. Sweet sweet heaven in a square. You should probably be making these right now.

Easiest Bar Ever

1 box Ritz crackers
1 bag Chipits Skor bits
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9 X 13 pan with cooking spray, line with parchment paper, and then lightly spray again. Set aside.
Crush the Ritz crackers using a rolling pin until it is mostly small crumbs. A few bigger bits are okay but you want the crackers well crushed. 
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the crushed Ritz, the Skor bits, and the sweetened condensed milk.

When well  mixed, press into prepared pan. 

Bake at 350 until edges are golden brown and top appears dry, about 15 - 20 minutes. 

Let cool completely before frosting with your favorite frosting. I used a browned butter, cream cheese icing - recipe below.

Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

1/3 cup browned butter, room temp
1 (8 oz) brick cream cheese, room temp
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Beat all ingredients together until smooth. 
Spread on cooled bars. (If frosting seems too thin simply refrigerate for a while to thicken up. 

Cut and serve.

These freeze very well also. When they come out of the oven they are a little crunchy but as they sit they soften and become these magically delicious squares. 
You can use canned frosting if you don't want to make your own but I find the browned butter cream cheese frosting really goes well with the flavors of the bar and it is super simple to whip up. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Individual Pear Pies and Honey Roasted Pear Ice Cream

I'm going to be honest with you. Pears are not my favorite fruit. Something about the texture is just a little weird. Like... you're expecting it to be the same as an apple but its just not. 
I can get past that though when you make pears into a deliciously smooth ice cream OR if you cover them with a flaky crust and cinnamon OR if you do both at the same time to create the ultimate magical pear combo dessert. 
You should probably just do that ALL the time. 
I mean... how adorable does a pear look covered in crust for an individual pie? (Totally adorable is the correct answer. Just sayin')

Individual Pear Pies

Pie crust
(Here is our recipe for "never fail" pie crust - Jo and Sue's Pie Crust or you can use your favorite recipe or even *gasp* store bought)

lemon juice

Prepare pie crust as per directions and set aside to chill while you prepare filling.
Preheat oven to 375. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking sheet, set aside.
Prep pears by peeling and cutting in half and placing in a bowl. Sprinkle liberally with lemon juice to prevent browning. 

Using a knife or melon baller, Gently scoop out a circle where the seeds are. 

Sprinkle the pear with cinnamon and place face down on prepared cookie sheet. Sprinkle with more cinnamon, if desired.

Roll out pie dough to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out a circle of dough large enough to cover a pear half. Gently press the dough over the pear half, molding it to its shape, folding any extra dough under the edges of the pear.
Repeat until all pears are covered. 
Cut one or two slits in the pear for steam to escape. If desired, cut leftover pie dough into leaf shapes and place under the top of the pear, lightly pressing it to attach.

Bake at 375 for 5 minutes, reduce heat to 350 and bake until pears are tender and crust is browned - about 30 - 40 minutes.

Let cool on tray for about 10 minutes before either serving or removing to wire rack to cool completely. (If you place in a wire rack to cool - be careful when you go to remove the pies as they may stick a little to the wire. Just use a spatula to loosen and then lift. If the leaves become detached - simply lay them back in place when you go to serve.) 

Of course.... you could just eat the pie and call it a day. 

But.... why not put this dessert completely over the top and whip up the honey roasted pear ice cream? Trust me... no one will be upset with you for doing so. 

Honey Roasted Pear Ice Cream

4 medium sized pears
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup honey
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 cups whipping cream
1 cup half and half cream
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
pinch sea salt

Preheat oven to 425. Line a cookie sheet (with sides!) with tin foil and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
Peel the pears and cut into about 1/2 inch slices. Place in a bowl and toss with the lemon juice. 
Spread the pears on the prepared cookie sheet and drizzle with the honey. 

Bake about 15 minutes, stirring once or twice, until pears are tender.  (Do NOT skip roasting the pears. It brings out the mild flavor of the pears and makes the ice cream outstanding!) Place pears and pan juices into a blender (or food processor). Add in the cinnamon and process until smooth. 
Add to the blender the whipping cream, half and half cream, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, and salt. 
Process until smooth - about 1 to 2 minutes. 
Pour mixture in to a bowl and chill completely - at least 2 to 3 hours. 

When chilled, pour into ice cream canister and process according to manufacturers directions.

Keep frozen until ready to serve.

Now. What you reeeeaallllly want to do is pair the ice cream with the pies.


So. Much. Better. 
You may have noticed I didn't put measurements for the pies. This is because you can do as many or as few pies as needed. I believe I got 8 pies from 1/3 of our Pie crust recipe (HERE
Fancy enough for company, easy enough for everyday. 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Old Fashioned Date Filled Oatmeal Cookies

This recipe has special meaning to me. It is the last recipe I got from our Aunt before she unexpectedly passed away. It is a recipe that our mom and our aunt's grandma used to make for them growing up. It does have "old fashioned" written all over it. 
Almost a date square in cookie form, if you will. 
The hint of orange is subtle but really elevates these simple cookies to another level.
When I make these now I always think of our aunt. I hope you give them a try and let us know what you think.

Old Fashioned Date Filled Oatmeal Cookies 

Date Filling
1 lb chopped dates
1 cup cold water
4 Tbsp brown sugar
4 Tbsp orange juice
2 tsp lemon juice
grated rind of 1/2 an orange

1 cup butter, room temp
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups rolled oats (not quick oats)
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
1/4 cup boiling water
1 tsp vanilla

Prepare date filling - In a medium saucepan, combine dates, cold water, brown sugar, orange juice, lemon juice, and orange rind. 

Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until thick and smooth. Remove from heat and let cool while you make cookies.
Prepare cookies - Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. 
Preheat oven to 375.
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until smooth, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Stir in rolled oats. Next, stir in flour, baking soda, and salt. 
Add in the boiling water and vanilla and stir until well combined. Dough will be crumbly but stick together when you press it in your hand. 

Scoop onto prepared cookie sheet and press with a fork (or the palm of your hand) to flatten slightly.

Bake at 375 until lightly golden brown, about 10 - 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool on cookie sheet for about 5 - 8 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely. 

When cool you can sandwich the cookies together with the cooled date filling.
Flip over half of the cookies so the bottom is facing up.
Scoop a generous amount of date filling onto the flipped cookies.

Top with another cookie - bottom of that cookie facing down to touch the filling. Gently squish them together. 

Continue until all the cookie are used up.

You can make them as small or as big as you like, just keep in mind that with that lovely date center they are very rich and filling.
I believe I used my medium cookie scoop and got approx 23 or 24 cookies - which means 11 or 12 fairly large sandwich cookies. 

These freeze well too, FYI.
Also, if you want even more orange flavor simply grate the rind of a whole orange instead of just half. 
Our mom loves these as she says they remind her of her grandmother (plus they taste fantastic). 
I love them because they remind my of our aunt (plus they taste fantastic). 

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Lavender Lemon Shortbread Cookies

When it comes to cookies I like to consider myself somewhat of an expert. Not because of any schooling I've had or research I've done. No... basically I'm a cookie expert because I've eaten a lot of cookies in my time. 
Like.... cookie monster has nothing on me. Not even lying. 
Anyway... to be a true cookie expert I decided that I'd have to step outside my cookie comfort zone and try something new. Since I've never tried anything baked with lavender (I was afraid it would taste like perfume...), that's the direction I decided to take. 
Our local U-pick farm (Old Airport Gardens in Lillooet) had some beautiful bundles of lavender so I knew I had to give it a try. 

Shortbread cookies are always a favorite around our house so I knew I would be safe using that as a base. I added some lemon just in case the lavender was too perfume-y so there would be a balance of flavors. 
If you are looking for a cookie to take you outside your safe place with baking then I definitely recommend giving these a try. They are different, light, and look so darned pretty. 

Lavender Lemon Shortbread Cookies

2 cup butter, room temp
1 cup icing sugar
4 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
zest of 1 large lemon
2 Tbsp lavender

juice of 1/2 a lemon (about 1/4 cup)
1 cup icing sugar

Preheat oven to 325. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until fluffy, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Beat in icing sugar, flour, and salt until crumbly. Beat in lemon zest.

Collect 2 Tbsp of lavender.

Add it to the dough.

Beat until dough starts to come together. Use your hands to press together. Dough should stick together but may be a bit crumbly. You can add a few spoonfuls of milk if it won't stick together.

Divide dough in half. Roll out half of the dough to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out with cookie cutters.

Place on prepared cookie sheet. They can be fairly close together as they don't spread.

Bake at 325 for 10 minutes. Rotate pan in the oven. Bake for another 10 minutes, or until bottoms of cookies are a light golden brown and edges are just starting to brown slightly. Tops of cookies will look dry.

Let cool on pan for 5 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely. Continue with remainder of dough. (Note - it helps to have 2 cookie sheets so you can continue cutting out dough and not having to wait until the one sheet cools.) 
Prepare lemon glaze - in a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice and icing sugar until mixture resembles glue. Using a pastry or basting brush, brush the glaze over the tops of the warm cookies.

If desired, sprinkle a teeny bit more lavender on each cookie while the glaze is still wet. (FYI - it dries quite quickly. I brushed about 5 cookies with glaze then sprinkled them with more lavender, then 5 more cookies, more lavender, etc...)
This recipes makes quite a large batch - about 7 dozen - but can easily be halved!

Aren't they super de duper pretty?
I was always under the impression that lavender would taste like perfume. 
Not so much.
Okay... maybe a teeeeeeeeny tiny bit. I don't think I'm going to run out and starting drinking lavender tea or anything BUT these cookies have a great layering of flavors. There is the buttery richness of the shortbread, the refreshing tang of the lemon, and then a subtle hint of the lavender to round things out. 
Overall a fabulous way to try something new!