Categories
Grill Master Recipes Salads

Citrus Spinach Salad with Lime Grilled Chicken

Citrus Spinach Salad

 

Date night can be as informal as holding hands while watching a movie or an episode of a tv show we like to watch together. We used to get all gussied up to the nine’s all the time when we were dating, so ya, we’ve gotten lazy for a number of years. Well, I take part of that back. Lazy and complacent came after the necessity of pinching our pennies due to lost jobs early in our marriage. We never really bounced back to even a reasonable semblance of our courting days. Does any couple, really? I can’t say for sure, but I do know for us a “fancy date night’ includes getting dressed and actually leaving the house. The particular fancy date night is what inspired my Citrus Spinach Salad with fresh Citrus Vinaigrette. I love me a dang good salad slathered in an even better dressing! The toppings are great, but for me it is all about the dressing. Bottle dressing, especially ranch, usually inhibits my “food-gasmic” experience. Give me a fresh, custom crafted, full flavored dressing, and I’m putty for the duration of my salad consumption. I could drink a good dressing…well, not literally…but an out-of-this-world dressing can send me into rapturous visions of pouring that dressing all over my whole body…that’s how important dressing is to my salad 

 

The coolest thing about our “fancy date date” that inspired this recipe is that a group of my Pre-Calc students whom I affectionately call my “cheeky monkeys” got together and gave us a gift card to go out! WOW!!! Of the gifts I’ve gotten from students this was so special because of the coordination it took on top of the thought that went into it. Now, let’s get real for a moment–high school kids do not deluge their MATH teacher with gifts (which usually only happens around Winter Break). Honors kids are more likely to give a gift than, say Algebra 1 classes in high school, but it just isn’t common, so the gifts I do get are always heartwarming to me. I definitely don’t measure gifts monetarily, and I’ve received letters that only cost the giver the time to write that I consider my best gifts because of how moving they are and how they remind me of why I teach because that “why” can get lost in all the red tape and “stuff” that simply is not teaching stuff. Basically, it’s my long winded way of saying this was extra special.

We went to Claim Jumper for our fancy date night. We LOVE their bread, but I can’t say we have been often enough, nor have I had anything memorable enough to where I KNOW exactly what I’m gonna order just about every time I’m there like I do at The Cheesecake Factory (which is usually a toss between the Sante Fe Salad and the Chicken Madeira–BOTH of which I have a marvelous home adapted recipe I will share in a later post, don’t worry). I do KNOW about Claim Jumper’s Mother Load cake, and I have a funny story I will have to tell if I adapt my own version of that cake, but it isn’t a motivation to go eat there for me. Being we had our gift card to use, we were gonna splurge and I got the Filet and the CA Citrus Salad. Ok, just saying that salad just made my mouth water so you know it was beyond memorable for me…in fact it was a MUST to make my own, which I like to tweet and kick up a notch..or ten…so I can enjoy it anytime I want.

That CA Citrus Salad was divine! Oh dear me…I did not hold back on my food comfort noises the whole time I devoured that salad. I did not care who was looking because I was too involved in my salad…well, to be honest, I generally do not care what people think in general. The only thing I found myself wanting was spinach or mixed greens rather than just romaine lettuce, and a peppier apple in the mix…and maybe some blueberries!

You will notice in my full recipe, I have more ingredients than pictured below to the right. I will on fly modify the recipe, and use what I have on hand. Last night when I was gathering all my ingredients, I saw The Olive Press Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar & Master Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil that my husband bought in the gift store at the Jacuzzi Vineyard in Sonoma, CA after our tour. We don’t drink alcohol and they didn’t have any grape juice like we were hoping, so to our delight there was something we could fully enjoy: their olive oil and massive selection of traditional and flavored balsamic vinegar. Being that this was such a fond memory of our trip to San Francisco and Valntine’s day is around the corner, I thought it would be extra special to use those instead of the vegetable oil and apple cider vinegar I had planned. In my excitement, I forgot the paragon, thyme, and honey. I tend to cook by taste so I just added more sugar to get the balance I am used to with this dressing even absentmindedly, thought very happy lost in the memories of our trip, omitting the honey. Sadly, the older I get the more I get side tracked like this, but I ALWAYS taste as I go and adjust accordingly. Hence, I didn’t even notice until typing up my recipe and looking at the photo I took. Classic Bloomy’s Dictionary! The moral of the story is that these things are NOT the end of the world, and as you get familiar with recipes they become more of a formula that you are adjust to achieve different nuances and flavor profiles. In fact, using a balsamic vinegar and olive oil made the dressing much more full bodied but the citrus was not a front note; it was still amazing and I couldn’t stop groaning in pure bliss eating my salad tonight. A vegetable, or rather soybean oil and apple cider vinegar will allow the citrus to really shine. When I planned this post, knowing was valentines around the corner, I picked up blood oranges for their color. In the past I tend towards tangelos if available, or about 4 tangerines, or 2 navel oranges depending on what is ripe; I will go for the tangelo or tangerines before the navel orange because I am head over heals for their sweet tanginess! If you have not had an tangelo yet, you need to! So good. Imagine the sweet juicy tanginess of a tangerine in the size of a navel orange!

Once I made the dressing, I was able to reuse and fill The Olive Press bottles from the balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil for the dressing I made. Even more sentimental now. I had emptied one of the olive oil bottles, and the white balsamic vinegar oil, but had not thought to fill them until I used up the other two this time. I had under a cup left I put in a small smoothy hard and twist top. Put them all in the refrigerator, and now every time I open the fridge I not only see that crazy good dressing but the bottles knowing I saved them and found a great way to reuse them extending the sentimental value.

You will find the recipes for the vinaigrette and lime grilled chicken below, but let me list the salad toppings I chose to go with this dressing, inspired by our face date to The Claim Jumper and the CA Citrus Salad I had: mandarin oranges (drained), Pink Lady apples (diced), red onion (sliced thin), dried cranberries, fresh blueberries, crumbled Black River Blue cheese (a mild Blue Cheese, but crumbled Gorgonzola is also lovely), pecans. Did I miss anything? I don’t think so. Now, The Claim Jumper uses green apples, and I do not recall the dressing being this yummy that’s for sure. I also did not have time, but would have preferred to candy my pecans. I will definitely post about candied pecans, as they are such a treat in a salad balancing out the sweet, salty, and tang of the vinegar. SO good. So worth the extra time.

In a nut shell: 1) just throw everything for the dressing in a blender until it’s smooth and frothy, then throw in a container or jar to set in the fridge. 2)Blend all the marinade ingredients, and throw that in a zip lock or bowl with the butterflies chicken breasts, seal or cover, and throw that in the fridge. 3) Forget about it until you are ready to grill…get those errands done…do that laundry…paint that painting…take a nap…do what you gotta do and it is doing it’s magic so don’t think about it until you are hungry…maybe even HANGRY because it will be ready in a jiffy. 4) Pull that chicken out and let it come up to room temp while you prep the salad topping. 5) Heat that grill on med high heat to about 400-450 degrees F, then throw that chicken on the grill and DO NOT move it for 4 min; flip it for for more min. 6) Remove the chicken and cover it with foil to rest for at least 5 min, turn off the grill or if you have briquettes you better dang well have some S’mores goin’ on later. 7) Slice that chicken against the grain, build your salad, and BOOM, you’re in salad Nirvana!

Citrus Vinaigrette
Are you ready for a fresh, tangy, citrus vinaigrette packed full of flavor? Are you ready for that full flavored dressing to be as easy as throwing ingredients in the blender? Are you ready to chuck that bottled dressing for good? Then you are ready for this show stopping vinaigrette. Your mouth will be singing an anthem of delight after eating a fresh salad with this drizzled on top.
3 c. mild, or light extra virgin olive oil, or vegetable oil

2 c. apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar

1 c. corn syrup

3/4 c. honey

 

3 T. sugar

1 shallot (or 2 T dehydrated onion)

1 1/2 tsp. taragon

2 tsp. dry thyme

2-3 T. minced garlic

1 T. koser salt

1-2 tsp white pepper, to taste

2 blood oranges, tangelos,  or navel oranges, juiced

1 lemon, juiced

zest of the citrus used 

1) Throw all the ingredients in a blender. Blend on high until all incorporated. Pour into an airtight jar. Refrigerate overnight for all the flavors to merry. Enjoy!
Lime Grilled Chicken
3 limes, juiced, or rind trimmed off

1 c. brown sugar

1c. soy sauce 

 

1/2 c. oil

1 T. garlic

5 lbs. boneless chicken breasts, butterflied

1) Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. If you are using the whole limes, minus the rinds you have cut off, throw all the ingredients in a blender; blend on high until smooth.
2) Butterfly the boneless chicken breasts. Place the chicken in the bowl, or a gallon sealable bag with the marinade for 2 or more hours. Overnight is best. I also use the marinade setting on a Food Saver twice which takes about 10-15 minutes, and it is ready to throw on the grill.
3) Heat your grill to about 400-450 degrees F. Use tongs to apply a paper towel doused in oil to prep the grill for the chicken. It is best to grill chicken that has warmed to room temperature. Place the chicken on the grill, and do not move for 4 min. Flip to the other side for another 4 min. Remove from the grill, and cover with tin foil to let rest for at least 5 min.

Categories
Frosting Home Recipes

Cooked Frosting

 

Cooked Frosting: frosting that will beat any boring buttercream’s butt, total KO with one bite! Frankly this is the only frosting I knew or made growing up, and every time I make it people rave about it. All my mom knew is that she got it from a roommate in college, and it was called Cooked Frosting.  I have looked everywhere for this recipe online and cannot find it. I am pretty sure it has a proper name unbeknownst to me.  Just like a rose called by any other name, I really don’t give a flying flip what it is called because it is the BOMB when it comes to frosting, and if you have never tried it, dive down that rabbit hole and give it a go! I promise, you will come back to it for cookies, cakes…hey, even a stale graham cracker can taste like the most exquisite cookie with this frosting.  I have used my fruit cake fillings to stripe this or mix it in to add another depth and dimension of flavor.  The standard of vanilla and almond extract is delightful. I also love adding coconut extract in addition…or Creme Bouquet or lemon…it truly is a magnificent canvas to frosting masterpiece to flourish with any flavor you love. 

 

Pictured above you see this frosting on my Valentine’s Cookies 2/5/2019 where the frosting by itself, striped with my mixed berry cake fruit filling, and the fruit filling fully mixed in all with sprinkles. SOOOO delicious! You also see it colored with green and yellow food coloring to get a light chartreuse color with one of Wilton’s Christmas sprinkles. You also see it in the first Valentine’s Day I celebrated with my now husband who I was dating. Truth be told, that weekend we went exclusive and my husband has since confessed that is when he knew he loved me…or did he love the frosting? Wink wink. It’s all good, and the rest is history as we say. The cupcakes with the frosting almost neon bright colored was celebrating my 33rd birthday…I think…you know you hit 42 and you think you’d never forget things and all of a sudden you find yourself forgetting EVERYTHING….ya, I wish I wrote more things down…but I digress. I LOVE SweetTarts so that is what I put on the cupcakes to pump up the volume and the inspiration to the color theme for that party. These were a hit! This frosting on a rich almost fudge cake is one of my weaknesses. Hence the heart cupcakes for the hub’s and my first Valentine’s together. Whether that move was to impress my man or to indulge myself, my lips are sealed…with a mouthful of this frosting! Ha!

This is the recipe my  mom hand wrote and oddly I don’t remember if she gave to me or if it came with me after I was on my own. BUT, that is neither her nor there and I will go with the first option. You can see her hand writing versus mine at the wee bottom so I could glue the backside down in my recipe binder. Of course the minimal directions are easy for me to follow because I have made this so many times I could do it in my sleep. Oh, that’s exaggerating a tad, but let’s just say this is how I prefer my recipes and all my well loved ones are just like this. Minimal, and mostly in my head.  

So on to decoding this recipe and give explicit directions. No, no, not THAT explicit…the explicit that is CLEAR, understandable, ya know what I mean? Before we go there, a couple things always stood out when I was learning to make Cooked Frosting which I feel helps in making this particular frosting because it is very different to what most may envision or expect when making frosting. My mom always said to use the cheapest shortening you can get. I generally go with the white store brand version of shortening. You end up making the frosting in 3 parts: an egg white mix, a powder sugar/lard mix, and the pastry dough part. I always have the egg white part in my stand mixer, the power sugar in a large bowl, and the pastry part in a pan on the stove. My mom always said the powder sugar part looks all crumbly and dry, you add add the powder sugar mix and the pastry dough mix in thirds to the egg white mix and whip it up on high in between each added third. She also said if it looks weird and like it will not actually be fluffy frosting, just keep mixing on high and it will fluff up almost magically. I have only felt that way a couple times, and my impressions are that those times were when I first started making it in my early teen, and after college when I had not made it for a number of years while going to college.

This is what the pastry part of the frosting looks like before you add it in thirds with the sugar mix to the egg white mix. I’m pretty sure the “cooked” part of the name comes from this element, and I never really thought about it until now. The cooked part is like a pate a choux used to make eclairs, profiteroles, croquembouches…basically a light pastry. It doesn’t take long and I have always started by melting the butter and adding the milk to heat up, and sprinkling the flour on top and mushing it around with a silicone spatula on med heat until it all comes together like the picture.

I will use a dough blender and cutter to start mixing the powder sugar, salt, and shortening. I end up using my hand to mix it until it is evenly fine and will stick together in my fist like fine wet sand. This is when I know I am done.

It whips up beautifully white and delicious! It is soft and easy to frost right away, and when chilled it stiffens quite a bit. I keep it in an air tight container in the refrigerator in between uses. It does make a lot, but I have never measured the amount because it doesn’t last very long. If you want to frost a cake or cookies and it is fully chilled, I set it out until it softens to almost room temperature. Also, on a side note, if I want to use part of the batch using a different flavoring, I will just add it to the amount I need and add other flavoring to taste. I find this gives me the flexibility I want so the main batch is more of my blank canvas and I modify as needed, as the wind blows, or according to my mood. However, the basic recipe with the vanilla and almond extract is delightful on its own.

Cooked Frosting

This is frosting is unlike any buttercream you may be used to; it is fluffier, feels lighter, and full of flavor without the sickening sweetness other frosting recipes offer, or the bakery type buttercreams that leave a shortening film in your mouth. It is simply amazing on its own, or kick it up with flavoring with fruit fillings or flavorings to add complexity and different flavor notes. It is fantastic on cookie cut outs, cupcakes, and cakes alike. It is initially made in 3 parts, which are combined for this lovely, fluffy, snow white frosting. Enjoy!

the sugar mix:

1 1/2 c. shortening

6 c. powdered sugar

1 1/2 tsp. salt

the pastry mix:

3 T. butter

6 T. flour

6 T. milk

the egg white mix:

3 egg whites

6 tsp. vanilla

3 capfuls almond extract

 

1) For the sugar mix: mix all the ingredients in this section together until it is evenly incorporated in even crumbles.  

2) For the pastry mix: in a pan on medium heat, melt the butter, add the milk, and sprinkle on the flour. Use a silicone spatula to mix until the dough forms and comes clean from the pan all together.

3) For the egg white mix: in a stand mixer, add the egg whites and extracts and beat on high until fluffy, but no peaks forming (Tip: use this time to use your hand to evenly mix the sugar mix while the mixer runs). 

4) Add a third of the sugar mix and a third of the pastry mix to the egg mix, and beat on high until all combined. Repeat 2 more time to use up the remaining 2 thirds of the sugar and pastry mixes.

5) Mix the frosting on high until white and fluffy. If it doesn’t not look fluffy at all, just turn up the mixer speed and mix until fluffy. 

6) Store in the refrigerator in an air tight container. Let soften to room temperature when you want to spread on cookies or cakes.

 

Categories
Cookies Home Recipes

The Last Sugar Cookie Cut-Out Recipe You will Ever Need

 

Growing up, my mom had this sugar cookie recipe we used for cut-outs and a wonderful frosting she called Cooked Frosting.  I used those recipes and those alone, no questions asked.  Fast forward to sometime during the last 5 years since moving from Huntington Beach to Las Vegas after getting married, and amid various home improvements including two straight years of replacing the floors upstairs and downstairs, my cookie recipe got mangled. This was BAD! I’ve been on the hunt since then for the perfect recipe, and there are 10,000 out there to sort through. I started with the ones that used powdered sugar (okay, confectioners sugar…I’m from the midwest and it is powdered sugar to me), like Swig copy cat recipes. The problem is that any I made were not memorable! That’s a problem. If I made something I want it to be memorable. In other words, if it is a meh in my book, it doesn’t get made a second time. 

 

This picture attests to the last time I used the beloved sugar cookie recipe from my childhood. It was my first Valentine’s day with my husband, who I was dating at the time, and not yet exclusive. Now, the question as to whether these cookies and heart individual cakes with the special Cooked Frosting were the reason we become exclusive, remains to be seen.

And the search continued…then a major break through!

I was at a math teacher conference in Palm Springs, getting my fill of Sherman’s dessert selection and Reuben sandwich, Norwegian style (no thousand island dressing, only yellow mustard–of course I can’t go without a CUSTOM order). While I was waiting to order, I was chatting with this delightful fellow food snob. Pardon me, but I own it, and we were commiserating on how we detest ordering anything out we felt we could have made better at home. We got on the topic of desserts, and somehow on BROWNED BUTTER! It hit me. DUH, use browned butter!!!

 

So this sat in my mind, filed in the back “as needed.” Life went on. As my mind got through teaching, got through Thanksgiving, vacation mode, and turned to planning for my annual Christmas Kick Off Dinner, my mind started to swirl around all the Christmas related to-do items I needed to accomplish. As soon as I remembered the annual cookie exchange a gal in my ward at church hosts, I thought, “Dang it, I am gonna bring sugar cookie cut outs this year, and I’m gonna use BROWNED BUTTER.” Never mind that lost original cookie recipe had nothing to do with browned butter. Ok, time to upgrade, and shift. Time to let that recipe from my childhood lie in the past. Time to move up and move on. Enough with the obsession to find a like recipe that used powdered sugar like I remembered using. And while I am at it, I might as well find one that has a tang I like. So I found a Taste of Home Recipe for White Velvet Cutouts. Ooooh, White Velvet, as my thoughts immediately went to Black Velvet by Alannah Myles, and images of me dancing all sultry like with the kitchen fridge door. Hot…but I digress. So then I’m thinking, “ya, but I don’t want a crispy cookie.” Not wanting to change it, I did a quick search on Pinterest and found this recipe. This was all coming full circle, and now all I needed to do was add my BROWNED BUTTER…and 4 dozen cookies for this exchange plus at least a dozen to keep. Ok, so I don’t work on a small scale basis…nor do I measure reliably… and I go a lot by feel and taste as I go when I cook or bake…I understand, this poses a problem for duplicating a recipe. I tried my best to write down any and all ways I strayed from the recipe to my best when in my fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants mode and it’s-get-this-done-now-or-never time crunch. I leave notes cards all over the place for various projects. Last week I made the recipe to confirm my measurements, and by golly, it worked! Woo hoo!

BROWNED BUTTER: adds a rich, toffee-esque, almost nutty, full bodied flavor to these cookies. No sweet cardboard here! Take my word for it…or don’t, and try a “regular” sugar cookie next to one of these babies. The difference in flavor will knock your socks off. The number of calls, texts, emails, FB posts to get this recipe after the cookie exchange surprised me, until I tried another sugar cookie. I knew these cookies were delicious, but until I had the side-by-side taste test with cookies I got from the exchange, I couldn’t fully grasp it. 

I am the type of baker that needs to do things in stages. I’ve got multiple things to get done at any given time of the day, and any wasted time just sitting there waiting just doesn’t cut it. SO, if I bake a cake, cookies, whatever it may be, and it needs to have rest time somewhere from beginning to end, I usually break it up into multiple days if it’s during the week. For example, when I brown my butter and I need to chill it, in goes the pan I browned it in on a hot plate in the fridge, and I forget it until I have time to go to the next step. Fortunately, this works phenomenally for me and my browned butter. While one person may insist this is WAY too much work for extra flavor, I just want to say it is totally worth it and it is totally do-able if you break it down into phases. Browning  and chilling the butter is phase one

Phase One: Make the browned butter, and chill completely before using in the sugar cookie recipe.

Phase Two: using the browned butter and make the dough. Then pop the divided and wrapped dough into the fridge to chill, possibly overnight…one to two hours if it is a weekend and I can get other things done in the meantime.

Phase Three: Take out the dough and let it warm up a bit so it’s pliable while I do something else like make the frosting that will chill in the fridge until it has it’s turn. I also pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. 

Phase Four: Get out the cookie sheets. Line them with parchment paper. Dust my work surface with flour. Roll the dough out to a beautiful 3/8 of an inch using this rolling pin or a couple spoon handles about that diameter on each side. Cut them and place them on the cookie sheet, spaced about 1/2 to 1 inch apart. These cookies should not spread. If they do, something went amiss. Pop two full cookie sheets into the over, and get the next two cookie sheets loaded. Set the timer for 12 minutes and sit my hiney down to breathe. It’s a well oiled machine if done right.

At this point, I chuck the phase mentality, and I adopt the “I better not forget the timer or go somewhere and burn these puppies so all my work goes down the tube” mentality and rest on the couch. Unfortunately, this is when I realize how tired I am, but the sheer will to not waste my efforts to this point trumps my will to stay parked on the couch.

Once the cookies rest on the cookie sheet until cool enough to handle, I will pick up the whole parchment paper and transfer the cookies to cool on my beloved, hand made–ahem, CUSTOM–wood cutting board. You can also put them in an airtight container if they have cooled enough until ready to frost.

I generally do NOT frost my cookies the same day I bake them. You can call this another phase, but I call this experience from melted dripping messy frosting because I am not patient if I try to wait.

 

Didn’t these turn out so adorable? I sure thought so. Here is the link to the frosting recipe and the sprinkles I used. I also used this mixed berry filling to add flavor and color to the frosting. If I need color I can use a fruit filling to get, as well as add to the flavor, you bet your bottom dollar I will pass up the food coloring!

I need to admit something. I LOVE the designs so many amazing cookie masters make with royal icing, but I CANNOT get myself to try it. I have confidence in my piping and design skills, but I LOVE thick, yummy, flavorful frosting, and royal icing just doesn’t do it for me.

How would you decorate these incredibly flavorful Browned Butter Cream Cheese Sugar Cookie Cut-Outs?.

The Last Sugar Cookie Recipe You Will Ever Need

Are you tired of boring, almost bland sugar cookies? Don’t even enjoy sugar cookies because they are almost like sweet cardboard? NOT these sugar cookies! There’s a slight tang from cream cheese, flavors pop with vanilla and almond extract, sweet and salty bring the best balance, and the secret ingredient: BROWNED BUTTER.  You cannot go wrong with these cookies. I like mine with a crisp edge, and an aldente but not quite soft texture. 

3/4 c. browned butter (1 1/2 sticks)

1/2 c. cream cheese (1/2 of a 8 oz pkg)

1 1/2 c. sugar

1 egg

2 tsp. vanilla

2 tsp. almond extract

2 tsp. salt

4 c. flour (reserve one cup as needed)

1) In a sauce pan on med heat, brown your butter. Watch the butter as it starts to froth up, and stir as needed. You will notice the froth will go down, and then start frothing again. By the 2nd froth/bubbling I have found this is about the time you want to stop browning the butter. Take the butter off the stove as you smell the nutty richness. Chill the browned butter until solid.

2) Let the browned butter and the cream cheese come up to room temperature. 

3) Cream the browned butter, cream cheese, and sugar until fluffy in a stand mixer, or using a hand held mixer in a large bowl. You will see the color turn light and the mix becomes fluffy. 

4) Add the egg, vanilla, almond extract, and salt. Scrap down the sides with a silicone spatula. 

5) Add 3 cups of flour and mix. Scrape down the sides. Add the remaining flour in 1/4 cup increments as needed. You know the dough is ready when it comes to a ball and is clean away from the side of the bowl. Depending on the humidity and elevation, you will need to be vigilant in how much flour you add, and may not need the extra full cup. The dough is pretty stiff, but not crumbly to where the flour is not incorporated. 

6) Split the dough into two equal parts. Wrap each dough section in cling wrap. Flatten into a rectangle, and chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours, overnight if necessary. An alternative step at this point(or just intentionally make a double or triple batch), if you choose to make frozen dough disks (I use an ice cream scoop and flatten the round dough to a puck shape, line a cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper, freeze on a cookie sheet, then place the pucks in a freezer safe ziploc bag to keep frozen sugar cookie dough on hand for in a pinch cookie hankerings–you can bake frozen, just watch the cookies because they may need extra time being baked from a frozen state).

7) When you are ready to roll out, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You may need to let the dough warm up a bit on the counter, especially if it has been chilling overnight. 

8) Lightly flour the surface, then roll out your dough to 3/8 inch for thick cookies. If you prefer thinner cookies, adjust the bake time down. Cut out your dough, and place on a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Space them at least a half inch apart. The cookies should not spread. If you want to sprinkle sanding sugar on the cookies and not frost them, do so before baking them. These are great cookies to eat without frosting, but I have an even better recipe for sugar cookies if you just want sanding sugar on them, but these work as well. 

9) Bake for 9-11 min. If your cookies are thinner or small cut out, watch them at 7-9 min. A perfectly baked cookie will show golden patches on the bottom, but not dark brown or worse.  Rest on the cookie sheet until cooled enough to move the parchment without damaging the cookies, and cool on a counter off the hot cookie sheet, or in a airtight container. If your first batch of cookies does not have the wonderfully crackled look on top, knead the rest of the dough before rolling out and baking. 

10) Completely cool before frosting. Check out my Cooked Frosting, which I think beats any butter cream frosting on these cookies hands down!

Categories
About Me

About Me

About Me

 

Hi there, I’m Heather.  I was born in Happy Valley, otherwise known as Provo, UT. I grew up in the Midwest, specifically the Minneapolis, MN suburbs, which I affectionately call “The Land of the Frozen Chosen”.  After going out west for university and 15 wonderful years in paradise– from SF’s Bay area to SoCal–I find myself a flower in the desert, learning to bloom in a different extreme climate. I’ve been a high school math teacher for 20 years now, but outside of the classroom,  I am obsessed with creating.  Whether I am tweaking a recipe, painting my wall calendar for the new month, using my power tools to cut scarp wood for a new holiday decoration, or planning my next dinner party, you can be sure it is not DIY, it is CUSTOM!

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Story

My Creative Obsessions Begin

My earliest creative memory was helping my dad build a shelf in our first home in Orem, Ut.  Well, “helping” is generous as I am sure I as more playing with daddy’s tools than anything.  It was a great time to grow up, and growing up to be meant a lot of creating. My dad was a carpenter and my mom an interior/exterior designer, so to say creating oozed out my pores is putting it lightly.  My mom designed and decorated our house since I can remember.

 

Our first house in MN had an unfinished basement and no garage, and finishing the garage and the basement were not the only projects throughout my childhood. Our house was a blank canvas that was constantly being improved. Walls were blown out. Decks,  porches, and patios built.  The word “entertainment system” didn’t exist in my vocabulary. Going out to buy one was  not in my realm of life experience. We needed shelves, cabinets for toys, a place for the TV. No problem, so my mom and dad would design and build it. We needed curtains. We didn’t go shopping for them. We shopped for fabric and my mom sewed not only the roman shades for our windows, but upholstered the window valences my dad made the from MDF. The number of projects we did in that house, I honestly couldn’t count them. I can tell you that by 16, I announced that my parents were not allowed to do another project until I moved out to college.

 

Holidays were filled with not only great food from scratch, but homemade decorations. I have so many memories of my grandmas dinner rolls, caramel pecan rolls, mashed potatoes…food and lots of it was the center of any family holiday, celebration, vacation which was always a family reunion. My mom made my Pink Princess Leia costume, and it made zero different that most people would never be able to say they recognized I was a Pink Princess Leia.  What meant the most to  me is that my mom asked what I wanted to be, that is what I told her, and she sewed it.

 

Carving pumpkins isn’t my first thought when I think of Halloween; painting pumpkins is!  That is because my earliest tradition for halloween besides making our costumes, is painting pumpkins. Paint brushes were as common in my house as pencils or crayons…well, ok, maybe that is a stretch, but my point is that creating whether it is sewing, cooking, drawing, using power tools…whatever it was, it was custom. Custom to our needs, design ideas, and the space, event, holiday, or whatever we could think up. It wasn’t about finding a stock,  pre-made item that everyone else had; it was about dreaming it up and then making it a reality. It wasn’t DIY, it was custom. So, here I am. My whole life has been about custom design. I have a intatiable desire to create, and it is in my blood. My brain just won’t stop. It is wired that way. I find great joy in creating, I find great joy in sharing what I create, and seeing others add richness in their creations!

KETO Hawaiian Teriyaki Chicken, Grilled Veggies, & Coconut Cauliflower “Rice”

  I would have to rate this meal as one of my all time favorites!!! Total food nirvana. The flavors are spot on, go so well together, and the coconut cauliflower rice is beyond delicious. The best part of it are all the tasty left overs! I’m salivating...

KETO Indian Butter Chicken & Saffron Turmeric Cauliflower “Rice”

  Can I just try to tell you how much I LOVE Indian food and starting KETO I was soooo worried about all the food I wouldn’t be able to have I had no idea the variety of food I would be able to have. AND how delicious and satisfying everything would be. I...

Keto Lasagna

  One of my biggest fears starting a KETO lifestyle was giving up breads and pasta. I was so uneducated on KETO when I first started, all I knew is that it was high fat low carb and I kept seeing it with connected to IF (intermittent fasting) specifically for...

Keto Beef Stroganoff

  Who doesn’t miss comfort foods when you are trying to lose weight? I know I do!!! Thankfully you do NOT have to miss out on KETO. I LOVE Beef Stroganoff, and the wheels just started turning to make a keto friendly version of this delicious comfort food. I...

Keto Chicken Cordon Bleu and Keto Broccoli Salad

  Since starting the ketogenic way of eating, and lost 16 lbs in the first month on top of feeling great and enjoying what I can eat, I have been converting my favorite regular recipes into keto friendly recipes and they are turning out so yummy! My most recent...

Mexican Keto Beef Rice Bowl

  One of the food items I was so worried to give up starting Keto was rice. Finding a rice substitute didn’t cross my mind until weeks later. Hallelujah for cauliflower rice! This Mexican Keto Rice Bowl hit the spot and was so delicious. A guilt-free and...

Low Carb Keto Pizza: Less Than 4g Net Carbs Per Serving

  If you haven’t tried a Cauliflower Pizza and you are dying for pizza on keto, you need to!!! You will not miss the original thing. I was so worried, but thought I would go for it. It was amazing! My husband and guests are not keto and they loved it. I was...

Got-To Keto Avocado Ranch Dressing

  Avocado’s healthy fats are pretty widely known, but do you know about the healthy fats in Sardines? Can’t fathom eating sardines? I know I couldn’t, but knowing their nutritional value, I wanted to find a way I could add them to my meals.  I...

Keto Gelato: Best Fat Bomb Ever

  Are you on Keto and do you dream of Velvety Chocolate Peanut Butter Gelato? Or are you so sick of other “fat bombs?” You will LOVE this velvety Keto Chocolate Peanut Butter Gelato! There is not better way to use 15 egg yolks and 6 cups of heavy...

Best Gold Drip Technique

  Anyone else frustrated with painted chocolate gold drips gold? I know I am. And you definitely do not get the GOLD DRIP effect you would envision. I mean I don’t. Sure, it looks pretty like in this cake I did, but I just wasn’t complete happy about...

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About Me

Bloomy’s Dictionary…how did I get here?

This is one loaded question! Are you ready for it? Ok, here we go…

To say I knew I’d be right here right now one day is far from the reality of it.  AND, let’s just say if you knew all the going-ons of my brain, we’d both be in the looney bin. If I told you how many ideas, projects, recipes, holiday dinners I’ve come up with in my life, you would think I was exaggerating. In fact, just telling you for my wedding reception I made the invitations, sewed 6 bridesmaid dresses combining two patterns, a mother of the bride and mother of the groom dresses, 13 flower girl dresses, hair flower clips for all the bridesmaids and flower girls, a foam sucker display for the candy bar like a wedding cake, the table signs, the tea light stickers, a 3 tier chandelier from curved pvc pipe and twinkle icicle lights, all the flowers from my bouquet, bridesmaid bouquets, table centerpieces, to boutonnieres and corsages, as well as the 5 tier wedding cake…to start…you may not believe me without the photo proof.  It’s a sickness. We have our own sickness, and mine is creating. One thing I learned in my madness creating, it’s not DIY, it’s CUSTOM! I take great joy in my custom creations and all the artisanal work that goes into them. All my creations are one of a kind. I knew I needed to change the meaning or connotation of DIY to what I see it as–custom work without the custom price tag.

Let me give you some background about Bloomy…me! At 16, I couldn’t find a job during the week to pay for my gas and car insurance for my commute to the University of MN, which I was attending for dual credit my junior and senior year of high school. I started with a weekend paper route with the StarTribune, and taking the bus…well a couple bus transfers…to the U of MN. I got a call to fill in for an old gentleman who was not well; he had one of the bigger older paper routes of the depot that had not been divided up since he had it for years. After subbing the route for two weeks, I was given his route permanently because the gentleman’s health didn’t permit him to haul papers through high rises anymore. This rocked the paper-route world, of which I still had no idea of. Well, we are all creatures of habits, and here I am, this tall 5’11” 16 year old brunette stuffing papers every morning at the paper depot among most men who could be my father, or fathers and sons, maybe one husband and wife team…to say I stuck out was in understatement, AND I got the most lucrative route–meaning you could deliver the most papers in the shortest time being paid by paper you deliver on your route. I had no idea a paper route at that time was a serious source of income at that time for some people, and the best paying route basically fell into my lap. The guy who stuffed his papers on the other side of my table–who I later found out was doing his route to make up for past due tax money taken out of his pay checks, so to say he was jealous of my route was putting it lightly, but he was still friendly and social with me–started calling me “Bloomies” as in “Bloomingdales” because I was “making so much money for a 16-year-old.” This made me laugh, but it stuck. “Bloomies” was shortened to “Bloomy.”

Little did I know less than 8 years later, my now ex-husband whom I was dating at the time, would tease me about my creative use of words and made up words, for which I never apologized for, and basically just became part of my panache and style. He dubbed it Bloomy’s Dictionary.  An English teacher who I team taught with my first year teaching said I was “almost, not quite, but almost as good as Shel Silverstein at making up my own words.” I’ll take it, and I take it all as a compliment!

You see I LOVE to create, even down to my words! Shel has nothing on me!

So fast forward 20 years into teaching high school math from remedial to upper division in some of CA’s and now NV’s most challenging public schools…I’ve worked hard every step of the way. Many of those steps took me places, like the Bay Area of SF and now Sin City, I never would have expected. Life changes that often felt like left field hits to my face and the biggest life trials I wasn’t sure I’d overcome in the midst of it, became my happiest times…until 5 years ago. Now I’ve never regretted teaching until the red tape started choking me, and I dreaded getting up in the mornings. The only escape I had were my creations, in what ever form they came in. While teaching in Las Vegas, I started to get this nagging to do something else…something more…something I absolutely loved…creating! So, then what? Little by little it dawned on me to start a blog. I’m such the foreigner the world of blogging, and all I know is what I know…to dive in the deep end and learn to swim. So here I am…and it couldn’t have happened at a better time! Cheers to this new path and thank you for joining me. We are gonna have some FUN! And remember, it’s not DIY, it’s CUSTOM!

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