When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Giant Lemon Sugar Cookies

I have never been overly excited about citrus flavored things. I mean occasionally it sounds good, but typically I don’t go out of my way for it. It feels more like a summer time flavor. Maybe because I associate it with lemonade and sunshine? But I’m sure that’s just me.

I do love sugar cookies. And when I was thinking about making a batch of sugar cookies, lemon just peaked my interest. Possibly the burst of warm weather and sunshine we had last week has something to do with it.

These are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside with the perfect balance of sweet and tart. And even though I’m not a lemon person, I will definitely be making these again. They turned out phenomenal.

I realize these are not vibrant yellow like what you might see in the store. That’s because natural lemon is not brightly hued. And I hate to use food dyes. It just feels wrong to me in most cases. Of course, if you really want to add food coloring to the dough, feel free to do so. No judgement here. With or without coloring, these cookies have a super delicious and intense lemon flavor.

Giant Lemon Sugar Cookies

Cookie Dough

1 cup butter

2 cups granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 Tbsp pure lemon extract

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp dried lemon peel

3 cups flour

2 tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

Lemon Sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar + 1 tsp lemon peel. Using a mini food processor or immersion blender, pulse until lemon peel is well blended into sugar. Set aside.

In large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, lemon extract, lemon juice, and lemon peel. Mix well. Combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Add to wet ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Dough will be very soft. Scoop 1/4 cup of dough and form large balls. Roll in lemon sugar to coat. Place balls on parchment lined cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with the bottom of a glass dipped in coarse sugar. Refrigerate 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake cookies 15 minutes until edges are slightly browned. Allow to cool on cookie sheet 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack to fully cool. Makes approximately 12 giant cookies.

Saturdays And Snickerdoodles

The weekend is here! And even though I wish it were a tad bit warmer, it’s a perfect day for baking. Low 60 degrees is optimum baking weather, in my opinion. So bakers start your ovens!

Continuing with my cookie obsession lately, I have yet another recipe to pass along. I know I tend to make lots of chocolate treats, but I’m a true chocoholic. I can’t help it. So, in the spirit of balance, I’m doing something different today.

Snickerdoodles are a loved childhood staple. And they also are good because they avoid worries like nut allergies or chocolate. It’s basically a cinnamon sugar cookie. And these are loaded with mini cinnamon chips for extra yumminess! Of course I made them extra large for fun, but you can adjust the size to your own liking. Just decrease the baking time and watch them carefully.

They are super simple to whip up, but don’t skip the chilling step. It makes a big difference. Also the addition of cream of tartar is important to keep them soft inside. I hope you give these a try. And BTW, have a fantastic Saturday. You deserve it ♥️

Supersized Cinnamon Chip Snickerdoodles

1 cup butter

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

2 3/4 cups flour

1 tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 pkg cinnamon chips

Cinnamon Sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar + 1 Tbsp cinnamon. Mix together in a small bowl and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars. Add eggs and extract, mixing well. Combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and fully incorporate. Gently stir in cinnamon chips. Form large balls of dough with 1/4 measuring cup. Roll in cinnamon sugar and place on parchment lined cookie sheets. Flatten balls slightly with the palm of your hand. Refrigerate 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake cookies 15 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool on cookie sheet 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Jumbo Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies

Hold onto your hats if you’re a true peanut butter fanatic! Today I’ve got a recipe that will knock your socks off. But first I have to give credit where credit is due. My youngest daughter came up with this cookie combination. She is the true peanut butter aficionado in our family!

I’ve been on a XL size cookie obsession lately. I really don’t know why. I’m sure if you wanted to make these a bit smaller, they would be just as yummy too, and yield a whole lot more cookies.

These peanut butter and bacon cookies are loaded with flavor. Peanut butter, peanut butter chips, crispy bacon, and roasted peanuts. They are the perfect combination of sweet and salty. Take care not to overbake them. These are meant to be a softer cookie. If you prefer a crunchier cookie, feel free to add an extra 1-2 minutes to your baking time.

I hope you give these a try for the peanut butter and bacon loving fan in your life! They are over the top amazing!

Jumbo Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies

1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup peanut butter

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp maple extract

1 Tbsp milk

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 pkg peanut butter chips

1 cup roasted peanuts

8 slices bacon, fried/crumbled/drained

Combine butter, peanut butter, and sugars. Mix well 2-3 minutes. Add egg, extracts, and milk. Fully mix in. Add flour, baking soda, and salt. Combine until all flour is incorporated. Stir in peanut butter chips, bacon, and peanuts. Measure 1/4 cup of cookie dough and form into large balls. Place on parchment lined cookie sheet and flatten slightly. Refrigerate 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake cookies 15 minutes until they are just lightly browned. Do not overbake. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes on cookie sheet before moving them to a cooling rack. Makes approximately 16 cookies.

Quarter Pounder Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies aren’t particularly unique. Delicious, but not what I would call unique. There are probably a million different recipes out there for them. Ok, maybe not a million but there’s a lot.

This recipe isn’t unique. It’s more of what I’d call a “novelty”. The dough is pretty standard but a little more on thick side, combined with the add ins of chocolate chips and chopped candy bars and nuts. The novelty comes in on the size. Each cookie is a ball of dough that weighs 4 oz. That’s right, folks. A full quarter pound of cookie dough. I weighed each and every one. Seriously!

They are super easy and take less time since the butter and eggs don’t need to be room temperature when you mix it up. A quick 20-30 minutes chill in the fridge after measuring out the cookies and they are ready to bake. This recipe makes approximately 16 – 4 oz cookies.

If you really wanted to take these up a dessert notch, sandwich a large scoop of vanilla ice cream between two cookies. The best part is telling people that you had a quarter pounder for a snack or a dessert! Enjoy ♥️

Quarter Pounder Cookies

1 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

3 cups flour

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 – 10 oz package dark chocolate chips

6 – regular size Hershey candy bars, broken in pieces

1 cup pecans, roughly chopped

Cream butter and sugars in large mixing bowl. Add eggs and extract and mix well. Add flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix until all flour is incorporated. Add chocolate chips, chocolate chunks, and pecans until just mixed in. Using a kitchen scale, measure out 4 oz of dough and form into balls. Place on parchment lined cookie sheets. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake 15-17 minutes until cookies are lightly browned. Cool 5 minutes on cookie sheet before moving them to cooling racks.

Cookies – How Do I Love Thee, Let Me Count The Ways

I may have mentioned in the past that I love cookies. When it comes to sweets, cookies are number one at the top of my favorite foods. Followed by cakes, then donuts, and then maybe pies. And after that, whatever else is left if it includes chocolate.

Cookies are the “complete package” when it comes to sweets. They are utensil free, perfect on-the-go treats. Easy to mix up and a million different flavor combinations. I bet you could make a different cookie everyday of the year and not repeat the same recipe. But that is a lot of work, and to be honest most of us already have a standout favorite cookie that is one of our tried and true comfort foods.

My favorite is the classic chocolate chip. This goes way back to the dark ages of my childhood. My mom always kept a batch in an old tin coffee can on the counter by the wall phone in our kitchen when I was a kid. Isn’t it weird how you can remember certain things so clearly?

Since it’s TBT (throwback Thursday), I decided to crank out a batch of chocolate chip cookies for nostalgia sake. Nothing crazy fancy. But there are a couple of notes about most cookie recipes. It helps to chill the dough for at least an hour before baking. This helps reduce the dreaded spreading during baking. Also, you can use shortening for part of the butter in most cookie recipes. But I don’t recommend oil unless a recipe specifically calls for it.

I hope that you give these a try. And if chocolate chip cookies aren’t your thing, I hope at least you get inspired to whip up a batch of your own favorite cookies and share pics or memories about them with me! I would love to hear from you ♥️

Dark Chocolate Chips And Kisses Cookies

1 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp chocolate extract

2 eggs

2 1/4 cup flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 – 10 oz package dark chocolate chips

12 Hershey’s dark chocolate kisses, roughly chopped

1 cup nuts, roughly chopped (optional)

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in extract and eggs until well blended. Add flour, baking soda, and salt, and fully combine. Stir in chocolate chips, kisses, and nuts (if using). Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Using a large cookie scoop, place 2” apart on cookie sheet. Bake 9-11 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on cookie sheet 1-2 minutes before transferring to cooling racks. Once fully cooled, store in covered container at room temperature.

Classic Mashup Makeover- PB&J Rolls

Lunch has probably changed drastically since I was in school. The iconic PB&J sandwich was a staple item. For those of us who never got to have the coveted “hot lunch”, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich took some of the sting away. And the lunchroom trading value was always good.

Trading lunch in elementary school was on par with being a little league stock broker. Deals were made. Reputations were on the line. It was brutal. Do you know how much value there is in trading a beef tongue sandwich in grade school???? Absolutely none. Don’t ask me how I know. Just don’t do it.

Back to the glorious PB&J. Today’s baking adventure involves two classics “rolled” in to one. Cinnamon rolls, and the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I’m not sure if this is a dessert or a breakfast bread or a fun substitute for a lunch sandwich. I am sure that it is delicious!

It starts with a sweet yeast bread dough. Then it’s slathered with peanut butter and your favorite jam or jelly. I used blackberry jam. Then it’s baked up and finished off with a yummy glaze! The basic glaze has vanilla extract, which is wonderful, but I added some raspberry baking emulsion for a little extra flavor.

I hope you give them a try and let me know your thoughts ♥️

PB&J Rolls

Dough

1 package active dry yeast

1 cup milk

1/4 cup butter

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup granulated sugar

3 1/2 – 4 cups flour

1 egg

Filling

1 cup peanut butter

1 cup jam or jelly

Glaze

2 cups powdered sugar

4 tsp milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

Heat milk and butter together until butter is melted. Cool to 110 degrees then mix in dry yeast and let sit 5 minutes to bloom. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 2 cups flour, sugar and salt. Add egg and milk/yeast/butter mixture. With a dough hook, combine ingredients at lowest speed. Then gradually add remaining flour until it is all incorporated. Continue kneading with dough hook for 5-7 minutes. Dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl but still be slightly soft and tacky. Place dough in lightly oiled large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place to rise until doubled, about 1 hour. When dough is ready, roll into a rectangle 12 x 16 inches on a lightly floured surface. Spread peanut butter over dough within 1/4 inch of the edges. Then spread jelly over peanut butter. Starting with the long edge, roll up and seal edges. Cut into 8 or 12 equal pieces (depending on how big of rolls you like). Lightly coat a 9×13 baking pan with nonstick spray and place rolls cut side down. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to raise until doubled in size in the pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove plastic wrap and bake 30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool in pan. As rolls are cooling, prepare glaze. Pour glaze over rolls and finish cooling. Enjoy.

Saucy Bacon Wrapped Asparagus

Sometimes the best things in life are the simple things. I tend to overthink everything and while it has its benefits, it also has a downside of making life more complicated than it need be.

Case and point, I was given the task of making a vegetable side dish for Easter dinner. I immediately started going through all the exciting possibilities of what to make. I mean there must be hundreds of vegetables. Thankfully my daughter helped narrow it down by requesting asparagus. I wanted something more tasty than just steaming but not as time consuming as a gratin or puff pastry combination.

I found a great recipe that sounded delicious but also had a lovely table presentation. And bacon. Bacon makes everything better. The sauce is very simple and the asparagus gets an extra flavor boost from the bacon as they cook together. Delicious flavor bonding!

I hope your Easter was blessed and wonderfully rich in faith, family, and friends! Give this recipe a go next time asparagus is on your menu. I think you’ll be pleased ♥️

Saucy Bacon Wrapped Asparagus

3 lbs fresh asparagus

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tsp garlic salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

12 slices bacon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small saucepan combine butter, brown sugar, garlic salt, and pepper and bring to a boil over medium heat. Wrap small bundles of asparagus (5-6) with a slice of uncooked bacon and place in large baking dish. Pour sauce over bundles and bake 25-30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Buona Pasqua With Sweet Italian Easter Bread

About three years ago I was on a journey to make as many kinds of culturally diverse breads and desserts as I could for a few months. I’m still on that path, but I have managed to cross quite a few things off my foodie bucket list so my path has slowed down some.

When I first made this bread for Easter three years ago I had no clue what I was doing. I was just fascinated by the pictures. It was so beautiful. I was totally determined to replicate it. So I read about twenty different recipes for comparison and gathered the ingredients. Then I carefully worked my way through making the recipe in steps. It took some time, but I even amazed myself at how well it turned out.

A word of advice – it’s a process. It’s not difficult but it does require patience and time, two things I definitely have issues with managing. But the end result is so worth it!

The recipe I used is https://www.christinascucina.com/individual-italian-easter-bread/ I really like this because it gives directions for both stand mixers and bread machines. I don’t have a bread machine, and my stand mixer is on its last legs, but I appreciate recipes that give you options on how to make things. I think the steps are super clear and easy to follow. A couple of things I did differently was use orange extract instead of vanilla, and I used dry active yeast, not a rapid rise/instant yeast. I don’t know why, but I have never had success with instant yeast. I realize this is probably just a “me” thing. So feel free to use whichever you have greater success with.

I would also recommend refrigerating the breads if you aren’t going to eat them right away, mainly because of the baked colored egg in the center. You can totally skip adding the colored egg if you don’t want to deal with it. I just think it looks prettier and adds a festive touch. The bread will be amazing either way!

Buona Pasqua! Happy Easter 💐✝️🐑

Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut… Almond Joy Coconut Macaroons

Miss Panda’s favorite candy when she was growing up was Almond Joy candy bars. And her favorite holiday cookie is a Coconut Macaroon. Especially at Easter. So, of course, I combined the two for an extra special treat for her this year.

This cookie is fantastic for so many reasons. Only 7 basic ingredients to make it. One bowl. No special pans or gadgets. It’s gluten free, dairy free, and no added fats like butter or oil. You can see why this is a real winner.

Start to finish, it’s less than 30 minutes to make. But for me, the time consuming part to making this was the extra hour I spent looking for a particular squeeze bottle that’s super handy for decorating. I knew it was here. I just couldn’t remember where I put it. Honestly, I swear I spend 50% of my time looking for things. But eventually I found it! Perseverance pays off.

If you’re looking for an easy recipe that is a real crowd pleaser, give this a try. The almonds and chocolate drizzle really dress them up, especially if you’re an Almond Joy fan. I may be showing my age here, but they always make me think of their old commercial jingle “sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t” ♥️

Almond Joy Coconut Macaroons

4 egg whites

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp almond extract

1/2 cup granulated sugar

4 cups sweetened coconut

12-24 whole roasted almonds

Melting chocolate for drizzle

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. In a medium bowl, combine egg whites, salt, sugar, and extract. Whisk until very frothy and soft peaks begin to form. Gently fold in coconut and stir to combine. Using a cookie scoop, place mounds on baking sheet about 1” apart. Place one almond on each mound and lightly press down. Do not flatten. Bake 15-20 minutes until coconut begins to brown on top and edges. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet 5 minutes before moving to cooling rack to cool completely. Once macaroons are cooled, melt chocolate and drizzle over tops. When chocolate has cooled and hardened, place in airtight container and refrigerate until ready to serve. May also be stored at room temperature if not using a chocolate drizzle. Makes approximately 12 large macaroons or 24 small macaroons.

Dark Chocolate Mocha Pudding

Yesterday I made an angel food cake, which was delicious! But the downside to that (if there is such a thing) is having lots of egg yolks leftover because angel food cake relies on whipped egg whites only to create the fluffy airy texture it’s known and loved for. So what is a cook to do when a recipe leaves them with an over abundance of yolks? I’ve got some ideas….

I shared a link to a recipe for lemon curd in yesterday’s post. Citrus curds like lemon, orange, lime or even grapefruit are really versatile. They make great cake fillings or lovely toppings for all kinds of breakfast breads.

I’ve also shared a recipe previously for salt cured eggs. It’s a process that is a little more time involved, but they end up being an amazing addition to salads, pastas, or many side dishes.

Custards and puddings are great ways to use up excess eggs and egg yolks. They’re simple to make with a wide variety of flavor options. Added bonus – most methods have minimal cleanup. One pan to cook and one pan to bake or refrigerate. Anything that uses the least amount of effort to make and cleanup automatically gets extra points in my opinion!

My personal favorite way to use up extra egg yolks is in good old fashioned chocolate pudding. I’m a sucker for anything chocolate, but I wanted to take this pudding to a new level. I also wanted to test out a coffee extract that I just ordered. And so this pudding was created. It did not disappoint. Chocolate + coffee + creamy pudding = ♥️ So next time you have a few too many yolks, don’t panic. Give this pudding a try!

Dark Chocolate Mocha Pudding

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/3 cup dark cocoa

2 1/2 cups whole milk

4 egg yolks

1 tsp coffee extract

In a medium saucepan, whisk sugar, cornstarch, and cocoa. Slowly whisk in milk and blend until cornstarch is dissolved. Add egg yolks and whisk until well combined. Cook mixture over medium heat whisking constantly until it begins thickens. Remove from heat and quickly stir in extract. Pour pudding into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface to avoid developing a skin on top. Chill in refrigerator at least two hours. Serve plain or with whipped cream.