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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Pink Lemonade Cookies

We went out to lunch today after church and decided to stop at one of the outlooks on the way home. While we were there we saw the largest dog. He was black and shaggy and probably up to my waist at least. He looked so cute we had to stop and say hi to him and his owner. He turned out to be a Newfoundland whose name was Zipper. He was probably one of the most friendly dogs that I've ever met.

As he continued his walk everyone wanted to stop and give him pets.  We got in the car and I decided our second dog should be a Newfoundland. So I started googling images of them. I changed my mind when I saw a picture of a Newfoundland drinking directly from the faucet.

Do you want to know what is the exact opposite of the dog we saw? These cookies. They are sweet and a little tart just like a glass of lemonade. They taste like lemonade because you actually use thawed frozen concentrate to make them. I'm sure that kids would love the idea of making cookies out of lemonade. They would be perfect for a summer BBQ or a girls baby shower.

These cookies are super fluffy and moist in the center. I frosted mine, but I tried one without frosting and it was still amazingly good.

Pink Lemonade Cookies

Yield: 24 cookies
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 egg, slightly whisked
  • 2/3 cup frozen pink lemonade concentrate, thawed
  • 5 drops pink food coloring
  • 3.5 cups flour
  • 4 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 tsp frozen pink lemonade concentrate, thawed
  • 8 tsp milk
Cooking Directions
  1. The butter and sugar should be added to a large bowl. Beat together until fluffy.
  2. Add in the baking power and baking soda and mix again.
  3. Mix in the egg and the lemonade concentrate.
  4. Drop in the food coloring and mix everything well.
  5. Start to add the flour 1/2 cup at a time, mixing in between until all of the flour has been added.
  6. Put the cookie dough in the fridge for at least an hour.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  8. Measure out 2 Tbsp of dough and form it into a round circle about the size and thickness you want the final cookie to be.
  9. 6 cookies will fit on each sheet comfortably.
  10. Bake for 10 -12 minutes.
  11. Cool the cookies on the cookie sheet for at least 2 minutes before removing them to cool completely on a wire rack.
  12. For the frosting, beat together the butter and powdered sugar.
  13. Mix in the lemon concentrate.
  14. Add 2 tsp of the milk in at a time, beating between each addition and stopping when you get a spreadable consistency.
  15. Add food coloring if you would like pink frosting.
  16. Frost the cookies and enjoy.

Recipe adapted from Red Velvet Cupcake Murder by Joanne Fluke.

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Key Lime Pudding Cookies

 Lemon White Chocolate Muffins

Pineapple Cookies

Friday, June 20, 2014

Blog Tour

I started blogging a little over a year ago. It started as kind of whim really. I had gotten into baking more and started to follow some food blogs on the web. I loved reading all of their recipes and trying them at home. As I started to make more and more treats...i got more excited and started to put the pictures on Facebook. This lead to several people asking me for different recipes.

A good friend then suggested that I start a blog. I told them that I certainly wasn't an expert on baking, I just liked doing it. In return she said that she would love to read a blog from someone who is just learning, because then they would feel more confident trying the recipes themselves.

So Laura's Baking Talent was born. I started the blog and at first I didn't really let too many people know about it. However over time I shared it with more family and friends and eventually I even started to venture out to other blogs where I left comments from Laura @ Laura's Baking Talent.

The cool thing about leaving comments on other blogs is that it gives you exposure to so many new faces, and they start to come to your blog as well. You then go back to their blog.. and before you know it you start to learn more about their personalities and their families and you become friends with people that you haven't even met.

One of these blogging friends is Megan from The Emotional Baker. Most of  Megan's recipes are vegan, but they are also very tasty. You should really check out these baked key lime donuts. Megan was nice enough to nominate me on her blog tour.

Lime Donuts

As part of the tour I need to answer a couple of questions for you and then I get to nominate a couple of my favorite blogs.

What am I working on?

For those who have followed Laura's Baking Talent from the beginning you know that I started out doing theme weeks. I had a lot of fun doing different themes, however it kind of limited me on the variety of posts that I could put on the blog. So I'm working on two things. The first is trying to add more variety to the food posts that I am writing about. The second is that I'm also trying out some non food posts. For example this one about my square foot garden.

How does my work differ from others in the genre?

I really don't strive to necessarily make my blog different. I just strive to have tasty recipes, that use simple easy to find ingredients and are relatively easy to make. I have a few non baking friends and a couple of nieces that love to try my recipes. So I want to be creative, but keep everything simple enough that people want to try making the recipes they see on the blog.

Why do I write about what I do?

I love baking and cooking in my kitchen. I feel like there is a simple satisfaction in following a recipe, getting a tasty result and sharing that with family and friends. So I write to share the recipes I find and create, so that others can have the same joy in their kitchen.

How does your writing process work?

I always have about 30 more ideas for posts than I've actually done. I will get inspiration from a tv show, a book I'm reading, or from another blog. All of these ideas end up in a little spiral bound notebook that I have.

Once I have an idea I finalize the recipe. Make it, take pictures and then I will start writing the posts. I really do love the whole process of creating the recipe and making the treats. Even though the photography will sometimes frustrate me I still enjoy taking the pictures.  However I have a hard time writing specifically about how great the food tastes, or to much about the specifics of food science. There are only so many ways to say that a recipe tastes AMAZING, DELICIOUS, etc. When I was starting the blog I read some advice that you should just write like you are talking to your sister. So I end up doing just that. I write about the little things that I would talk about with my sister or mom. Like the garden, the latest antics of any of the animals, or the latest book I'm obsessed with right now.

I would like to continue my blog tour by introducing you to David from Spiced.

 David Dial Blogger

I specifically remember seeing a comment from David on one of the other blogs that I followed and finding my way to his website. It didn't take me long to fall in love with his recipes. I love that he has lots of grilling recipes like these Copycat Chili's Chicken Fajitas.

I pretty much tell the hubby that Spiced has a new recipe for him to try and he is game to try it. There are also some mouthwatering desserts like this Classic Greek Baklava that I always have on my list to try.  I also have to add that David is married to a female engineer, so that gives him extra bonus points in my book.

The next blog I would like to feature is Jocelyn from Grandbaby Cakes. She lives right across the big lake from me in Chicago. I absolutely love that her blog is inspired by her grandmother.

jocelyn delk adams

She has classic twists on some southern recipes, like this Mexican Cornbread that will make you want to bake them immediately. However I probably love her blog most for some of her creative desserts. This Raspberry S'more Pie really says it all.

s'more pie

Please be sure to check out these other blogs. I'm sure you will love all of their recipes as much as I do.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Homemade Crackers

I was rolling the dough out to cut these crackers and my sister calls.
Sister: "What are you doing?"
Me: "Making homemade crackers."
Sister: "Really. You know that saltines are like $1.99 a box."
Me: "They are for the blog."
Sister: "Ok?"

2 minutes later and hubby calls on the way home from a business trip.
Hubby: "What are you doing?"
Me: "Making homemade crackers."
Hubby: "Crackers? How?"
Me: "I made this dough last night and I'm rolling it out and then I get to cut it with the pizza cutter!"
Hubby: "What are you cutting it on?"
Me: "Oh don't worry I have the cutting board...."
Hubby: "Ok... Well don't cut yourself."

After the crackers are cooked.
Me: "G dog these crackers are smaller than I think they should be"
Gdog: Pant.. Pant... They smell good.
Me: "Lets have a couple of them...."
Gdog: Yum!
20 crackers later.
Me: "Gdog we have to stop eating these crackers until I take pictures of them!"
Gdog: Ok.. I'm off to watch the birds.

Homemade Crackers

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 oz or 2 tsp instant (fast rise) yeast
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • seasoned salt
Cooking Directions
  1. In a large bowl mix together the flour, yeast, salt, baking soda, cream of tartar, and sugar.
  2. Add the water, butter and vegetable oil into a small saucepan. Heat at medium heat until the butter has melted.
  3. Test the temperature of the mixture, it should be slightly warmer than lukewarm.
  4. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ones.
  5. Beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds, then on high speed for 30 seconds, and then at medium speed for an additional 30 seconds.
  6. The dough should be soft, put it in a greased bowl.
  7. Cover the bowl and put it in the fridge overnight.
  8. When you remove the dough allow it to warm up for about 15 minutes.
  9. Pick a flat surface that you can roll and safely cut the dough on.
  10. Flour the surface and roll the dough to a size of about 13" X 15". Remember to always roll away from the center of the dough.
  11. After reaching the desired size fold the dough into thirds, similar to how you would fold a letter.
  12. Roll the dough out again to an approximate size of 11" X 19".
  13. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  14. Sprinkle the dough with the seasoned salt.
  15. Cut the dough into the appropriate sized cracker. Mine were about 3/4 inches square, but you could make them larger.
  16. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and fill with crackers.
  17. The crackers can sit close together, since they will not get larger.
  18. Peirce the top of each cracker with a fork.
  19. Bake for 10 minutes. Leave the crackers in the oven.
  20. Turn off the oven and open the door. Allow the crackers to remain on the oven rack until they are completely cool.
  21. When cooled store in an airtight container.
Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour 

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Pimento Cheese Spread

Tzatziki Sauce

Saturday, June 14, 2014

My Square Foot Garden

This is the first year that I've done a vegetable garden, and I'm super excited by how its progressing. I did lots of research when it was still cold and snowy here. I considered a traditional garden, container gardening, and then finally landed on doing a square foot garden.

Once I read about the simplicity of square foot gardening I knew it was what I wanted to try. It was designed by a retired engineer, so maybe that was why I could easily relate with everything. This book explains everything that you need to do step by step All New Square Foot Gardening, Second Edition: The Revolutionary Way to Grow More In Less Space.

Basically you divide your garden in square foot sections and then in each section you can grow a different fruit or vegetable. I found this cool tool online where you can virtually design your garden. This was my virtual design.

On the first row: Tomatoes, Snap Peas, Cucumbers, Tomatoes
On the second row: Stir Fry Peppers, Basil, Green Peppers, Bush Beans
On the third row: Cilantro, Green Peppers, Carrots, Spinach
On the fourth row: Oregano, Strawberries, Radishes, and Cilantro

You put everything in a raised box that gives you 6 inches of a soil mixture that contains 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite, and 1/3 compost. It was kind of difficult for me to find the vermiculite, but everything else was easy to get at the local home improvement store. They will even cut the wood for you for free.

I grew everything except for the herbs from seed. It is amazing to see these big bushy plants and know that you started it all with a seed. We have already started picking and using lots of items from the garden. Today for a lunch salad Jim picked spinach, radishes, chives, oregano, basil, and cilantro. I'm kind of excited to see what his finished salad looks like.

Our radishes are HUGE (1 1/2 inch wide and 2 inches tall). We are planning to pick them all soon and put in seeds for another batch which will be ready in another 30 days. I have a new radish recipe that I'm hoping to try soon.

They have to be the easiest thing to grow. If you want to feel like a master gardener, plant some and you are sure to succeed.

I'm anxiously waiting for my strawberries to start growing. They are ever bearing so they should give me strawberries all summer long once they start. They did have a tragic beginning. I think that a rabbit got them.

The solution was the fence that you see added around the edge of the garden, and everything has been safe ever since. My nieces saw the garden yesterday and asked if we had any deer. I hadn't thought about that, but hopefully the garden will be safe. Although I think it may be kind of cool to see a deer in my backyard, since we live in a subdivision.

We built the trellis with this netting Dalen Gardeneer 5-Foot x 30-Foot Trellis Netting TP-30C and electrical conduit. They cut the conduit at the store for me, so I just had to screw it together when I got home. So easy, and now I love seeing the snap peas growing up it.

The first thing I do after I get home from work is let G dog out and then check on the garden. It is amazing to see how much it changes in one day. I can't wait to eat all the other tasty treats that will come out of it this summer.

You may also enjoy

Greek Pasta Salad

Cucumber Hummus

Veggie Pizzas

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Smore Ice Cream

I think that I've been living in a box. I didn't realize that you could make ice cream without an ice cream maker until this summer. I also hadn't read any of the books from  the Game of Thrones series. I remedied the ice cream situation with this raspberry cheesecake ice cream that I made a couple of weeks ago. We were eating it for weeks, and it was as good the last day as the first.

A couple of weeks ago I also started reading the Game of Thrones series. I'm now in the middle of the third book and I can't put it down. We have watched the first two seasons on dvd as well... and the hubby is chomping at the bit for me to finish book 3 so we can watch season 3.

Our favorite part of the raspberry cheesecake ice cream was the graham crackers, so I wanted to carry them over to the next ice cream flavor that I tried. When I think graham crackers I instantly thought of s'mores, so this delicious ice cream was born. While you drool over this ice cream.. I'm headed back to the Game of Thrones to see what will happen next....

S'more Ice Cream

  • 1 (8oz) container cool whip
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) condensed milk
  • 1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow creme
  • 3 Hershey Candy Bars, chopped
  • 5 graham crackers, broken into large pieces
Cooking Directions
  1. Add the cool whip, condensed milk and marshmallow creme to a large bowl and mix them together.
  2. Mix in the candy bars and graham cracker by hand.
  3. Put everything in a freezer safe bowl with a lid.
  4. Freeze overnight
Recipe Source: Laura's Baking Talent

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S'more Cookie Bars

Spiced up Campfire S'mores

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Strawberry Avocado Salsa

I wish I could meet the person who first combined strawberry and avocado... because if I did I would give them my eternal thanks. This salsa will be a staple in our house this summer. We have already made it twice already. The first time we shared a big bowl of it. The second time the hubby brought it out in two seperate bowls. I'm not sure if I ate too much the first time or if he was worried about eating it all himself. Maybe you should just make a double batch the first time.

It is super easy to make and so healthy for you. I mean avocados and strawberries mixed together its pretty much screaming .... "I'm so healthy I shouldn't taste good."  The great thing is that it tastes GREAT!

Strawberry Avocado Salsa

  • 7 large strawberries, chopped
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Cooking Directions
  1. Cut the avocado in half and scoop it into a medium sized bowl.
  2. Mush the avocado with the back of the spoon.
  3. Mix in the chopped strawberries.
  4. Add the lime juice, pepper, and salt and stir all together.

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Guac Waffles

Cucumber Hummus