Simple & Healthy Ingredients Make For Delicious Mediterranean Style Salad Dressing

So, welcome 2015! 

Like many people who make new year resolutions, eating healthier options of the things I like always tops my list.  I’m always optimistic coming out of the gate but somewhere along the line I start lose my momentum, fall off the wagon, and resort to my old (not so wise) eating habits.  I vow every year that “this year is going to be different”.   And in the end, I’ve only fooled myself into believing that I could forgo delicious sweets, homemade bread, second helpings of my favorite dish of macaroni and cheese, and of course the great wines found here in the Finger Lakes Region and abroad. 

But… In a good faith effort to try try again, I’m sharing a recipe I found at The Pioneer Woman’s blog for a healthy and delicious homemade salad dressing she has named Aunt Trish’s Salad Dressing.  I made a couple adaptations to the original recipe.

I decided that Aunt Trish’s dressing has a Mediterranean taste to it – which I love.  It tastes so fresh and healthy, and the fact that there are no preservatives makes it all the better.  I do have to warn you that this recipe makes a considerably small batch.  My suggestion is to double or triple the recipe because I’m sure it will keep well in the fridge for a week or two – if it lasts that long!  At some point you may want to remove the garlic if you don’t want garlic overkill.

Mediterranean Style Salad Dressing ( This recipe is adapted from The Pioneer Woman)

3/4 c. olive oil

Juice of 2 lemons

4 tbsp. of freshly grated parmesan cheese

Pinch of salt & pepper

Dash of paprika

1/2 tsp. honey

2 whole cloves of garlic (peeled and cut in half)

Put all ingredients together in a jar or dressing shaker and shake until mixed.  Refrigerate for 24 hours before serving.

 

Have you made any new year resolutions?  If so, what are they?  Do you think you’ll stick to them?

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Lemon Melt Away Cookies

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With a few lemons rolling around in bottom of  the refrigerator drawer that needed to be used up, and the urge to bake, I did a quick search on-line for something lemony to make.  Thinking along the lines of cookies actually helped narrow my search down.

I found a lot of recipes for lemon cookies that called for a lemon cake mix but I didn’t have such great luck finding a lemon cookie recipe made from scratch.   I eventually found a delicious looking recipe from Landolakes.com that fit the bill – with a few changes of course.

I transformed their cookie, described as “crisp and tender”, into a soft and tender cookie – just the way I like them.  I also made a vanilla buttercream frosting for my batch of cookies, whereas they made a lemon glaze for theirs.

My version of the recipe appears below. Follow the Land O Lakes link above to find their recipe and check out their cool website.  It’s one you’ll want to add to your favorites!  (*This is just my opinion – Land O Lakes did not compensate me to say this.)

Lemon Melt Away Cookies

1/2 c. margarine, softened

1/2 c. butter, softened

1 c. granulated sugar

1/2 c. powdered sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1/3 c. lemon juice (about 3 large lemons)

1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

1 tsp. baking soda

1/8 tsp. salt

3 c. all-purpose flour

Line 4 cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream together butter, margarine, eggs, sugar, and lemon juice.  Add cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt; mix thoroughly.  Add flour one cup at a time mixing well between each addition. 

Drop by spoonful on prepared cookie sheets about 2 inches apart.  Bake for 6 minutes, or until cookie is a light golden color.  Remove from oven an allow to cool before transferring to a cooling rack. 

Frost when completely cool.  For a hint of color I topped mine with Pearls.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

2 tbsp. butter, softened

1 tsp. clear vanilla extract

2 c. powdered sugar

1-2 drops of milk

In a large bowl, add softened butter and vanilla; mix thoroughly.  Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time.  Add a drop or two of milk to get frosting to your desired consistency while mixing.  Beat until smooth and creamy.

I’ve had several people ask me about getting your frosting to the right  consistency.  Here are a few of my tips. 

1. Always soften the butter before mixing up a frosting, but don’t melt the butter.  Melting is bad! 

2. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time; beat thoroughly after adding.  If the frosting seems to stiff, add a drop of milk to thin it, but be careful not to add too much milk at once.  A little milk goes a long ways.

3. Add vanilla extract before adding and mixing final cup of powdered sugar.

4.  Beat for 1-2 minutes for best results. 

5.  If the texture isn’t to your liking carefully add a bit more sugar, or a bit more milk – which ever you need to get to your desired consistency.

These cookies will melt in your mouth.  You will hear oohs and ahs from the lucky tasters of them!

A Peachy Summer Dessert – Lemon Cheesecakes with Peach Glace’ Topping

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I couldn’t wait to buy my first quart of fresh peaches of the season because I knew exactly what I wanted to make with them. 

And while I’m not convinced they came from the Finger Lakes Region quite yet,  I am convinced they are from Pennsylvania – just over the border.

I strongly envy the folks in Georgia, or the South for that matter, who have fresh peaches far more often than we do here in New York.

This recipe is simple to make, yet so delicious. 

This cheesecake recipe was passed onto me by a co-worker quite a few years ago.  I substituted lemon juice for the vanilla extract that the recipe originally called for, and I cut the recipe in half.  *Warning – these are extremely dangerous to have in the house if you are lacking in the willpower department.

The peach glace’ topping is a slightly modified version of a peach glace’ pie my mom use to make every summer.

The two are a match made in heaven!

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Mini Lemon Cheesecakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 12 regular sized cupcake tins with paper cupcake liners.

1  (8oz.) package of light cream cheese, softened

1/2 c. granulated sugar

1 egg, beaten

1-2 tbsp. of lemon juice (I use 2 tbsp. for a stronger lemon flavor)

12 vanilla wafer cookies

Place one vanilla wafer in the bottom of each paper liner.  In a medium sized bowl, add cream cheese, sugar, and beaten egg.  Mix until smooth and creamy.  Add lemon juice and mix thoroughly.

Pour batter into each paper liner; filling about 2/3 full.  Bake about 20 minutes until toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center.

Remove from oven and allow the cheesecakes to cool completely in the cupcake tin.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Peach Glace’ Topping

2 ripe peaches

1/2 c. water

1/2 c. granulated sugar

1 tsp. butter

2 tsp. lemon juice

2 heaping tbsp. corn starch

Peel and dice one peach; set the other aside for later use.

In a small bowl, add sugar and cornstarch; mix thoroughly.

In a medium saucepan, add water, 1 tsp. of lemon juice, and diced peaches. 

Bring  to boil; continue boiling for 1 minute.  Temporarily remove from heat.

Remove half the boiled liquid from the saucepan and add to the bowl of sugar and cornstarch.  Stir quickly, and until all cornstarch and sugar are dissolved.

Return the saucepan to the burner on medium heat and pour the sugar mixture into the saucepan.  Stir constantly until mixture thickens. 

Remove from heat, add butter and 1 tsp. of lemon juice. 

Peel and dice 2nd peach and add it to the glace’; stir thoroughly.  Cool slightly before serving, or refrigerate until ready to use.

Homemade Whipped Cream

1 c. heavy cream

2-4 tbsp. powdered sugar

1-2 tsp. vanilla

Chill small bowl and beaters for 15 minutes in freezer. 

Add cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla to bowl.  Beat until stiff peaks are formed.  Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

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And lastly, don’t forget to spread the love on Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook!

ENJOY!!!

 

Made from scratch

What inspired me to make this recipe?

 

Lemons … Not really.   

And, what did I make?   Holy cow!

A Vanilla cake with lemon curd filling, and lemon buttercream icing. 

A four layer cake!

There is little, that is  more beautiful (in the world of baking) than a huge layer cake with a delectable filling nestled between each and every layer.  When I see one of these cakes, I ogle…  The cake, and lemon curd recipe was adapted from Elinor Klivans cookbook Cupcakes!   The icing recipe was adapted from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook

If you’re looking for the recipe email, or tweet me.

Change and Watermelon Ice

I’ve spent a good share of tonight trying to perfect my blog.  Needless to say, I’m still not satisfied.  I searched through all the photo’s I’ve taken and tried to narrow it down to some of my favorites so I could use one in the heading.  After picking a photo I had to decide what theme it worked the best with – this is all very time-consuming .  I’m sure you all know exactly what I’m talking about.   If you continue to notice changes on my site – please consider it my creativity hard at work and hang in there.

On a positive note, I did make a great a very refreshing dessert (Watermelon Ice) that we had as an after dinner treat .  It’s  a nice complement to a heavy dinner. 

The recipe:

6 cups of cubed (seedless) watermelon

1 tbls of lemon juice

3 tbls of confectioners’ sugar

1/4 tsp salt

Puree’ all ingredients in blender.  Pour into freezer safe dish and freeze solid.  Take out of the freezer about 10 minutes before serving.  I garnished mine with a fresh strawberry and a wedge of lemon that you can spritz on the ice for a little extra kick.