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Easy Rhubarb Custard Cake

A layer of creamy, tangy sweet custard forms the base of this easy to make Rhubarb Custard Cake. 

Rhubarb Custard Cake is an easy dessert that's perfect for spring!

 

Have you ever played the game 2 Truths and a Lie? It’s a classic icebreaker, where someone shares two true statements about themselves along with one lie, and everyone else in the group has to guess which one is the lie.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had my stock answers:

I once cleaned a gas station bathroom.

I was a starting forward on my high school basketball team.

and my grandparents grew up Amish.

Want to guess which one is a lie?

The first one is (disturbingly) true. It happened on a high school mission trip where we set out to surprise local businesses with extraordinary acts of service. Cleaning a gas station bathroom (for free!), seemed about as extraordinary as we could get. The look on the manager’s face when we asked if we could clean his bathroom almost made it worth it. Still, I wouldn’t mind NEVER doing that again.

The second one? Definitely a lie. While I spent nearly ever summer of my growing up years at basketball camp, my love for the game never translated into actual talent. I think my high school (and everyone else) is very glad I decided to stick with watching, and not playing, basketball.

Then comes the last one, which, obviously, the second truth. My grandparents on both sides were raised Amish, but left the church as young adults. They remained in the conservative Mennonite faith for the remainder of their lives, and passed on the values of that community to my parents and on to me. I credit at least some of my love for food and gathering at the table to my Mennonite heritage. If you ever find yourself at a Mennonite family reunion, you can count on at least one thing: there will be plenty of food, and it will all be delicious.

This Rhubarb Custard Cake is made with only 6 ingredients and comes together in a flash!

Though I’ve branched out to cook and enjoy recipes from many different cultures, I still have a soft spot in my heart for the comfort foods I grew up with–Amish Apple Fry Pies, Amish Chicken and Noodles, and the best Homemade Amish White Bread, just to name a few.

That’s why I was thrilled to discover the new Amish Community Cookbook, filled with recipes gathered from Amish and Mennonite cooks across the U.S. and Canada. I spent an evening flipping through the pages, dog-earring recipes I knew I had to make. The book is filled with classics like Chicken Pot Pie and Ham and Bean Soup, but also has a few surprises (Dandelion Salad, anyone)? Alongside traditional Amish desserts like Shoofly Pie was this unexpected recipe simply titled Fresh Rhubarb Dessert. I scanned through the ingredients and was shocked and intrigued to discover there were only four, with one of them being cake mix.

It might surprise you to find cake mix in an Amish recipe, but sometimes Amish families need shortcuts just as much as the rest of us (and maybe even more)! While I love to bake from scratch, there are days when a quick cake mix dessert is all I have time for. And when that day comes, I guarantee you I’m going to come back to this Easy Rhubarb Custard Cake again and again.

This Rhubarb Custard Cake has a fluffy cake layer and a creamy sweet rhubarb custard layer. It's beautiful, delicious, and SO EASY to make!

Wonderfully moist and perfectly sweet with a hint of tang from the rhubarb, this cake is made by sprinkling cake mix batter with sugared rhubarb then pouring whipping cream over top. Honestly, I felt almost certain this wasn’t going to turn out. It felt positively wrong to drench a cake in cream, but I trusted whoever contributed this recipe knew what they were doing. Sure enough, the cake was a beauty. After 45 minutes, the cream and rhubarb had sunk to the bottom, forming a wonderful custard layer topped with fluffy, golden cake. I dove into the cake warm, because I have no self control around fresh baked goods, and it was heavenly. I almost always prefer baked goods warm over cold, and this one is no different. However, if you refrigerate the cake for a few hours, the custard layer firms up and allows you to serve up neater slices, with a more pronounced and pretty layer of pink custard. The cold cake almost takes on the texture of a tres leches cake, where every morsel is soaked in rich cream. It’s really a delightful cake, and a great way to use up rhubarb. I’m so glad to add this quick and delicious recipe to my arsenal!

If you’re interested in checking out the cookbook for yourself, you can order the Amish Community Cookbook here.

Easy Rhubarb Custard Cake

Cook Time 0:45 2017-05-25T00:45:00+00:00Prep Time
Preparation 0:15 2017-05-25T00:15:00+00:00Cook Time
Total Time 1:00 2017-05-25T01:00:00+00:00 Total Time
Serves 12     adjust servings

This creamy, fluffy rhubarb custard cake is so simple to make and is a lovely recipe for spring!

Ingredients

  • 4 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 yellow cake mix + Ingredients for making the cake mix
  • 2 cups whipping cream

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour a 9 x 13 inch cake pan.

Place the rhubarb in a bowl and sprinkle sugar over top. Allow to sit while you prepare the other ingredients. Prepare the cake mix according to package instructions then pour the batter into the prepared pan. Toss together the rhubarb and sugar then sprinkle evenly on top. Pour the cream over the entire top.

Place the cake in the oven and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until top is set and a toothpick comes out clean (the bottom third of the cake will still be wet so don't base the toothpick test on that portion). Serve the cake warm (it will be messy!), or chill for a few hours or overnight to have neater slices.

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Recipe Notes


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This Rhubarb Custard Cake with a fluffy cake layer and a creamy rhubarb custard layer is the perfect spring dessert. And did I mention how incredibly EASY it is to make?
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Banh Mi Burgers with Quick Pickled Carrots and Daikon

These Bánh Mì Burgers with Quick Pickled Carrots and Daikon were developed in partnership with Ohio Beef. As always, all opinions are my own. 

Banh Mi Burgers are loaded with quick pickled veggies for a summer meal that's bursting with flavor!

Last week I had the opportunity to visit several beef farms here in Ohio. One of the things I love about living in Columbus is we enjoy all the benefits of big city living while only being a 45 minute drive from country life. I grew up in a rural community surrounded by cornfields, so while I love city life, something about wide open fields, silos, and the faint scent of cow manure will always feel like home.

Just a little south of the city, we met the Jepsens and the Hoffmans, first and second generation beef cattle farmers. Every time I have the opportunity to speak with a farmer, I come away with renewed respect for the incredibly difficult but important job they have. I was grateful to have the chance to speak with each family, and was amazed by their transparency and openness about the entire process of raising, butchering, and bringing beef to our tables. These men and women have an impressive level of expertise about everything from cow behavior and biology to efficient, sustainable land usage. They work long hours in 90 degree heat and below freezing temperatures. No one becomes a farmer because they want to make a lot of money and live a super comfortable life. You have to have a passion for this type of work, and that passion was evident in both farmers we spoke to. The Jepsens and Hoffmans are just two of the 17,000 beef family farmers who are committed to providing excellent care of their animals and protecting the environment for future generations, often without thanks or recognition for the vital role they play in bringing safe, quality food to our tables.

After meeting with local beef farmers, we had the pleasure of dining and cooking with Peter Chapman, Regional Chef at Cameron Mitchell restaurants. In about a 36 hour window, we tried beef in about 10 different forms, some familiar and some not so familiar. We had roasts and ribeyes, meatballs and carpaccio, hangar steak and shepherd’s pie. Everything was carefully made and artfully plated. You might think in a line up this exquisite the humble burger couldn’t stand up, but you’d be wrong. Even amidst a sea of lovely and delectable beef dishes, the simple burger held it’s own, enticing all of us with it’s rich flavor and dribble-down-the-chin-juiciness.

Banh Mi Burgers are a fun, summer take on the banh mi sandwich that's perfect for grilling!

I’ve made a lot of good burgers over the years (these All American Bacon Cheeseburgers and Red Wine Burgers with Caramelized Onions come to mind), but these Bánh Mì Burgers are a new favorite.

If you’re not familiar with the traditional bánh mì sandwich, here’s a quick run down. This Vietnamese favorite is stacked with juicy roasted pork and pickled vegetables, typically a combination of carrots, daikon radish, and sometimes cucumber. It often has a spicy mayonnaise based sauce and fresh herbs like cilantro and mint. It’s fresh and crunchy, with a range of textures and tastes to enjoy.

To be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure how the bright, sweet and sour flavors of a classic báhn mì would convert to burger form, but it turns out beef and pickled vegetables belong together. The puckery crunch of the carrots and daikon really helps balance out the richness of the beef. Think about how dill pickles give a burger that hint of crunch and acidity, now multiply that effect by about five. It’s perfection. Pair it with fresh jalapeno slices (for those how can handle the extra heat), fresh cilantro, and a spicy Sriracha mayo and you have yourself one heck of a burger.

Banh Mi Burgers topped with quick pickled vegetables and spicy Sriracha mayo are a great way to bust out of your burger rut!

A few notes on the process: Normally bánh mì vegetables need to sit for several hours or days to get their trademark sweet and sour flavor. The problem is, sometimes you need a bánh mì burger TONIGHT. That’s where these quick pickled vegetables come in. Made in the time it takes you to fry up the hamburgers and set the table, these vegetables are ready to go in 30 minutes. However, if you happen to have the time (and foresight) to make classic pickled vegetables, I recommend checking out the White on Rice Couple’s Vietnamese Pickled Vegetable recipe.

I like to use a mixture of carrots, daikon radish, and cucumber for these burgers, but you can omit the cucumber if you prefer. I was able to find daikon at my local Kroger, but if you have trouble finding it, I think you could substitute red radishes with good results!

The quick pickled vegetables stay good for a few days, and make enough for 6 (heavily loaded) sandwich. If you need less, I recommend halving the recipe.

To make perfect grilled burgers, be sure to preheat your grill to at least 450 degrees. The high heat gives the meat a nice sear. After a minute, you can reduce the heat to around 350 for the remainder of the cooking time. I like to shape the beef patties, then put a small thumbprint in the center so they cook evenly and don’t get that domed shape typical of homemade burgers. Most importantly, DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT, smash, poke, prod or otherwise torment your patties while they’re cooking. This causes all those delicious juices to escape and end up in the bottom of your grill rather than in your mouth where you want them. Leave the patties alone (besides flipping and testing for temperature), and you’ll be rewarded with tender, juicy burgers everyone will love.

Banh Mi Burgers

Cook Time 15 mins 2017-05-25T00:15:00+00:00Prep Time
Preparation 30 mins 2017-05-25T00:30:00+00:00Cook Time
Total Time
Serves 5     adjust servings

Ingredients

Quick pickles

  • 1 cup shredded carrots (about 3 large carrots)
  • 1 cup daikon radish (about 1 daikon)
  • 1 cup cucumber ((about 1 English cucumber)
  • 3 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt

For the burgers

  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • Sliced jalapenos
  • Cilantro
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons sriracha

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, toss together the carrots, radish, cucumber, vinegar, sugar, and salt. Allow the mixture to sit for at least 30 minutes. If you're preparing this ahead of time, cover and refrigerate. Note: It will smell horrendous the following day, but will still be good to eat. You've been warned.
  2. Preheat the grill to 450 degrees. For the burgers, gently mix the salt into the ground beef using your fingers. Shape into 5 patties and place a small thumbprint divot in the center of each one. Grill the burgers for about a minute on high heat, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and continue to grill until liquid starts to form on the top of the burger and it easily lifts off the grate. Flip and grill until the internal temperature reaches 145 for medium rare or 160 for medium well.
  3. To serve, place the burgers in buns and top with cilantro, jalapenos, and pickled vegetables. Mix together the mayonnaise and sriracha and spread on top.

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Banh Mi Burgers topped with quick pickled vegetables and spicy Sriracha mayo are loaded with flavor and perfect for summer cookouts!
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The Mean Girl in My Head

I sank into the cushions of my couch, feeling the full weight of two rounds of colds in our household in the last month. My little guy was sleeping, and I longed to do the same. The pillows stared back at me like temptresses, willing me to rest my weary head. I couldn’t resist. I grabbed our fuzziest blanket, curled up, and buried my face in the fluffiest pillow in the pile. And that’s when I heard it. My inner mom voice.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa. You aren’t going to take a nap, are you?’

“Have you looked at this house lately? It’s a pig sty!”

“The baby is sleeping. This is your only chance. Those dishes aren’t going to do themselves!”

“Oh, and don’t forget about dinner prep. You’ve been eating waaaay too much mac and cheese around here. We don’t want little P to grow up addicted to sugar and carbs now, do we? By the way, when’s the last time your son ate something green? You really aren’t pushing those veggies enough. He’s probably already on the path to obesity!”

On and on the little voice rattles, until I drag myself up off the couch and pick up a vacuum or a sponge or my laptop and get back to work.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about that voice. I don’t know about you, but sometimes my inner monologue sounds more like a 17 year old mean girl than a grown adult mother. Sure, she seems well meaning enough at first. She appears to want what’s best for me and my family. None of what she says to me is necessarily wrong. Sometimes my house really does need cleaned. Sometimes I can’t remember the last vegetable my son ate. Sometimes I really could use a good workout.

Ever feel like you have a mean girl on your shoulder pointing out all of your flaws? That voice can be deafening, but it's not the truth. You are precious and deserve to be treated with kindness, not just by other people, but by yourself as well.

But here’s the thing about my inner mean girl. She‘s never satisfied. I can do yoga and scrub the floors and lose weight and attend all the toddler development play dates in the world, and she’ll still tell me I’m not enough. Like Regina George dressed in pepto-bismol pink, she seems pure and good and sweet until she rips your heart to shreds. My inner mean mom paralyzes me with guilt when I take an hour to read or watch Netflix or, God forbid, take a nap. She tells me everyone else is getting along so much better than me, and why can’t I just do ALL THE THINGS like so-and-so seems to (so easily) do?

This voice is not driven by love for my child or myself (a lie that’s quite easy to believe), but by judgmental comments, comparison shopping, and jealousy. It gets it’s power from articles like “5 Ways to Make Your Baby Sleep Through the Night by 4 Months” or “How to Raise an Angel Baby Who Never Cries and Will Definitely Never Have an Epic Meltdown in a Target.” Even articles telling us to ignore the dirty dishes and “be really present” can feel like eternal judgments on our parenting. According to the Internet, when I’m cleaning, I should feel guilty about not soaking up precious minutes of my child’s life, and when I’m busy “being present” I should feel stressed about the food hardening to diamond-like strength on last night’s dinner dishes.

My mean girl lurks behind the noise of tractor toys and Bob the Builder (“ah, ah, ah, better be careful about that screen time!”), laying on the sarcasm and the judgement wherever she can. She’s Regina, only perhaps worse, since she’s armed with a decade’s worth of expectations about what “good moms” or “good women” do (or don’t do).

Here’s the thing. We all know our inner Regina isn’t good. She’s a life ruiner, remember? It may not be the most “fetch” lesson we learned from Mean Girls, but it’s just as important. Mean girls steal our joy and destroy our relationships, making them nothing more than a game of jealousy and comparison.

Almost every mom I know is battling an inner mean girl. But when we start heaping ourselves with guilt and judgment, we have to remember what Mean Girls taught us all those years ago. That mean girl voice is a life ruiner. She ruins people's lives.

Deep down, I know that judgmental, condescending voice taking up space in my brain and heart isn’t my real voice. The reason I know that is because it sounds completely different from the voice I use with my own child when I’m at my best. My genuine voice, the one that loves my little one so much it hurts, is full of tenderness and grace, patience and good humor. That voice doesn’t condemn or shame or weigh down with guilt. Instead, it gently leads, corrects, affirms, and encourages. It assumes we’re on the same team. We are a work in progress, but we’re growing and learning together. I expect there to be mistakes made along the way, lessons to be learned, and consequences to learn them from. But my truest inner mom, or at least the mom I long to be, doesn’t ever want my child’s life to be ruled by guilt and unmet expectations. I want him to grow up joyfully believing he is fearfully and wonderfully made and loved exactly as he is–imperfections and all.

I want to say I’m DONE listening to my mean mom voice, but even as I make that declaration, I hear her whispering, “You can’t do it. You’ll just go back to the way you’ve always been. You NEED me.”

And you know what? She’s right. I will fail. I will continue to hear her voice, and sometimes I will listen to it. That doesn’t mean I am a failure. That means I am a human. Because I’m human, I will sometimes fail. I will yell. I’ll use the TV as a crutch. I’ll eat junk food too many days in a row. I’ll look at my phone too much. I’ll clean when I should be playing or play when I should be cleaning. I’ll make mistakes I don’t even realize I’m making until years later. Perfection is not an option, despite what Instagram or Pinterest would have us believe. The only option we have is our response, the voice we choose to listen to. We can talk to ourselves like Regina George on a power trip or meet ourselves with the same grace and gentleness we long to give our own children. This Mother’s Day my heart is so tender towards all of you who are battling the same mean girl I have in my head. This motherhood business is hard enough without listening to a mean girl judging you all day long. Be kind and take care of yourself this year.

Take a nap.
Read a book.
Go to Target by yourself.
Write or paint or work out or hike or garden.

And when you make a mistake or feel like you’re failing, treat yourself with the same tenderness you give your own children. Because the truth is you are a child too, sweet friend. And you are just as precious as them. Our heavenly Father doesn’t want His children to live with the crushing weight of guilt, envy, or impossible expectations. If you can quiet the mean girl long enough, you’ll hear the whisper of the truth–you are fearfully and wonderfully made and loved exactly as you are, failures and all.

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Strawberry Icebox Cake

When life hands you strawberries, make strawberry icebox cake. When life hands you a crazy week with little access to your kitchen, eat strawberry icebox cake for dinner. 

Strawberry Icebox Cakes are so easy to make, with only five ingredients and no baking! They're creamy, refreshing, and perfect for summer!

Last week was one of THOSE weeks. It was the kind of week where you wake up with a head cold, resolve to spend the entire day watching Bob the Builder in your pajamas, then realize with horror that contractors are arriving at your home in less than 30 minutes, which means you not only have to put on proper pants, but you’ll also need to leave the house if you want to use the bathroom any time in the next 8 hours.

The whole house was basically in disarray for the week, with furniture crammed to the center of most rooms for painting, and the few untouched rooms housing all the crap we couldn’t fit in the center of the other rooms. Yikes. Nothing makes you realize how blessed you are with more than you need than having to move all the stuff you own to new locations.

Since I clearly had not planned well for this disruption in our usual routine, we ate out a whole lot last week. More chicken nuggets were consumed than is probably advisable. I had made this Strawberry Ice Box Cake for a get together on Sunday, and we may have eaten the leftovers for dinner once or twice. I’d be embarrassed if it weren’t so darn good. Plus, it’s got fruit and it’s creamy, so this is practically a smoothie. JUST GO WITH IT.

Strawberry Icebox Cake is one of the easiest desserts to make and it tastes like summer!

This recipe first appeared on the blog way back in 2011, when dinosaurs still roamed the Internet and the only people reading this blog were me and my mom (hi, mom!). Over the past few months, I’ve been going through old posts, trying to decide what’s worthy of an update and what needs to go. I had almost forgotten about this lovely Strawberry Ice Box Cake, which is a shame because it’s a simple, beautiful, and tasty dessert that’s perfect for summer. It went onto the update pile immediately, and here we are.

Back in 2011 I said this dessert tastes like “chocolate drizzled strawberry cream clouds,” and you know what? I stand by that claim. Made with layers of graham crackers, whipped cream, and strawberries fused together by nothing more than a few hours in the fridge, this “cake” is about as basic as you get, and I mean that in the best way possible. This is the best summer has to offer–simple flavors, minimal prep time, maximum enjoyment.

Strawberry Icebox Cakes are a cool, creamy, no bake dessert that's perfect for summer.

Ice box cakes can really be made with any kind of juicy fruit and creamy filling, but strawberries and homemade whipped cream is still my favorite. If I’m feeing really fancy, I like to swirl some vanilla bean seeds into the whipped cream and top the cake with fresh bananas and a generous drizzle of bittersweet chocolate ganache. After a few hours in the fridge, the graham crackers soften into thin, sponge cake-like layers, and the cake can be sliced and served like any other layer cake. I like the cake best when it’s really cold, so chilling for several hours and serving it straight from the fridge is definitely a bonus. Feel free to add banana slices to the layers for more of a banana split flavor profile or branch out with other fruits.

This Strawberry Icebox Cake recipe is so easy to make! It's the perfect cool, creamy, no bake dessert for summer!

This recipe makes plenty for sharing. If you have a smaller (or bigger) crowd, you can also feel free to adjust the size by adding more or less graham crackers to the bottom layer. Of course, I recommend making the full size, that way you have the leftovers to eat for dinner all week long. 🙂

Strawberry Icebox Cake

Prep Time
Preparation 30 mins 2017-05-25T00:30:00+00:00Cook Time
Total Time
Serves 8     adjust servings

Layers of graham crackers, strawberries, and whipped cream combine to make a creamy no-bake cake that's perfect for summer.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 3 cups whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla or 1 vanilla bean, seeds removed and saved
  • 24 graham crackers (3 sleeves)
  • 1 banana, sliced

For the ganache

  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Instructions

  1. Place whipping cream in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whip with a wire whisk until it begins to hold stiff peaks. Add powdered sugar and vanilla or vanilla bean seeds and whip to combine.
  2. On your serving tray, spread a thin layer of whipped cream. Cover with a layer of six graham crackers. Place another thin layer of whipped cream on top of the graham crackers. Cover with a layer of strawberries. Add a layer of graham crackers and repeat this process three times, until there are four layers of graham crackers, ending with a final layer of whipped cream.
  3. On the last layer, swirl the whipped cream to desired "look" and top with fresh sliced strawberries and bananas, if desired. Refrigerate for 4 or more hours.
  4. For the ganache, heat the whipping cream over medium heat until bubbles begin to form around the outside. Remove from heat and add chocolate. Allow to sit for about two minutes. Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Allow to cool slightly before drizzling over the cake. To drizzle, place ganache in a small ziplock bag and cut a tiny hole in one corner. Squeeze top of bag to drizzle over cake.

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Strawberry Icebox Cake is a creamy, refreshing, no bake dessert that's perfect for summer. It's so easy to make, it'll be your go-to dessert all season long!
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Easy Balsamic Grilled Vegetables with Goat Cheese

Balsamic Grilled Vegetables use the best summer produce to make a sweet, tangy vegetable side dish with the fire-roasted taste of the grill!

Easy Balsamic Grilled Vegetables are loaded with the best summer produce in a sweet, tangy marinade.

I am a bargain hunter to my core. Over the years, our income has fluctuated along with our jobs, bills, and life circumstances, but my commitment to finding a good deal has never wavered. I’m pretty sure even if we struck it rich someday, I’d still check Amazon before buying something at a store just to make sure I couldn’t save a couple bucks. I literally spent two years looking for a pair of good winter boots, because my brain couldn’t justify spending $40 on a pair (clearly I hadn’t bought boots since 1999). My husband finally convinced me boots actually cost more than $40 these days, and avoiding frost bitten toes is a prudent investment.

With most pantry items, I will buy the store brand, clip coupons, and use every mobile app at my disposal to keep the grocery bill under control, but there are a few things even my clearance loving heart knows not to cheap out on. One of those things is balsamic vinegar. While you might not be able to tell the difference between a Cheerio and a Kroger-O in a blind taste test, you can absolutely tell a difference in the range of quality balsamic vinegars. On the low end, you’ll come up with something that is watery, acidic and abrasive. But if you can save a few extra pennies and splurge on the good stuff, you’ll be rewarded with thick, rich balsamic that’s so naturally sweet you don’t even need to reduce it.

So what’s a bargain hunter to do? My money saving heart actually recommends keeping two different kinds of balsamic on hand. Buy a cheaper variety to use in marinades and other scenarios where it will be cooked, then buy a more expensive balsamic to use for finishing a dish. If you have an oil and vinegar tasting bar near you, I highly recommend checking it out (bring a friend! It’s a great date activity!). You’ll quickly be able to get a sense for the different tastes and textures of various balsamics. My current favorite is a 25 year aged balsamic I get at The Oilerie here in Columbus. You can also mimic the rich flavor and texture of an aged balsamic by simmering a cheaper balsamic on the stove top for 20-30 minutes until syrupy and slightly sweet. Warning: it will make your house smell like a kimchi factory and may cause watery eyes, but it IS super delicious. Keep the reduced balsamic around for use in salads, tomatoes, or bread dipping. It’s also the perfect finishing touch on grilled meats or vegetables, including these Easy Balsamic Grilled Vegetables with Goat Cheese.

Balsamic Grilled Vegetables are the perfect easy side dish for grilling season. Loaded with bell peppers, zucchini, asparagus, and onions these flavorful veggies are sure to be a hit!

I got the idea for this recipe from a magazine that called it “Marvelous Mediterranean Grilled Vegetables.” The original recipe called for a store-bought Greek dressing. It was dead simple to make, but the results were just okay. It needed something. After trying it, I went to the cupboard and pulled out my BFF balsamic, drizzled it on, and a few minutes later we were all eating these vegetables by the forkful, loving every sweet tangy bite.

The next go-around I decided to whip up the marinade myself, using a mixture of balsamic and red wine vinegars, oregano, basil, and a bit of dijon to make a hybrid Greek/Balsamic vinaigrette. It’s still incredibly fast to throw together, and because these veggies can be thrown right on the grill, they require almost no clean up. The marinade is also great with chicken, so feel free to add that to the mix and have your entire dinner prepared on the grill in a jiffy. I like to add some chunks of creamy goat cheese to the grilled vegetables because it goes SO WELL with these flavors, but if you’re avoiding dairy or you’re a goat cheese hater (WHHHY?), feel free to leave it out.

Balsamic Grilled Vegetables are an easy, flavorful side dish for the summer!

This recipe includes A LOT of different vegetables, and it’s one of the reasons I like it so much. Each bite is a little different, with loads of texture and different flavors to enjoy. That said, feel free to substitute to best suit your family. I loved throwing asparagus into the mix with the bell peppers and squash, but next time I think I’ll be adding mushrooms to the mix as well. This makes a large batch of vegetables so you can either feed a crowd or feed yourself all week long (<<I highly recommend this approach). Here are just a few things you can do with the leftovers: throw them on a pizza with fresh mozzarella cheese and prosciutto (FAB), stir into scrambled eggs (breakfast win!), add to a bowl with quinoa, hummus, and salad greens (yay power lunch!), or roll into veggie tacos or a Sweet Potato Black Bean Burrito (BOOM-freezer lunch!).

These Easy Balsamic Grilled Vegetables are a super flavorful, no mess side dish for summer!

Easy Balsamic Grilled Vegetables with Feta

Cook Time 15 mins 2017-05-25T00:15:00+00:00Prep Time
Preparation 20 mins 2017-05-25T00:20:00+00:00Cook Time
Total Time
Serves 6     adjust servings

Summer's best produce is marinated in a sweet and tangy sauce then grilled to perfection and topped with fresh goat cheese.

Ingredients

For the marinade

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • A few turns of fresh cracked pepper

The veggies

  • 2 sweet bell peppers (red, orange, or yellow)
  • 2 yellow squash
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1 small onion (I prefer red, but anything works)
  • 1 lb. asparagus stalks
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 2 additional Tablespoons high quality balsamic vinegar or balsamic reduction

Instructions

  1. In a measuring cup, whisk together all of the marinade ingredients until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the marinade over the vegetables and allow to sit for at least 15 minutes or place in the fridge and marinate several hours.
  2. Heat the grill over medium high heat. Spread the vegetables out over a vegetable basket, cast iron griddle, or heavy duty foil on the grill. Grill for 4-5 minutes or until veggies are starting to brown and caramelize on one side. Flip and grill an additional 5 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Remove from the grill. Drizzle with a few more Tablespoons of high quality balsamic and chunks of goat cheese.

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These Easy Balsamic Grilled Vegetables with Goat Cheese use the best summer produce to make a sweet and tangy side dish with the fire roasted flavor of the grill!
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Berry Frozen Yogurt Bites with Honey Granola

Greek yogurt, honey granola, and berry jam combine to make these cool, creamy Berry Frozen Yogurt Bites, the perfect afternoon treat!

Berry Frozen Yogurt Bites are like a fruit and yogurt parfait in frozen form. They're a great healthy snack or breakfast kiddos and adults will both love.

I’m beginning to think the next big foodie TV hit won’t include Gordon Ramsey, but instead star a panel of picky, whiny, hangry toddlers. You thought pleasing the great Chef Ramsey was hard? Try coming up with something to suit that bunch. They’re harsh, have no filter, and have a palate that seems to be different every day. You never know if you’re going to get a sweet and gentle Paula Abdul or a crabby, critical Simon Cowell with these guys. Anyone who can please a trio of toddlers deserves all the awards. Give the winners a vacation to a tropical island, and make sure it includes a lot of back rubs, glasses of wine, and long bubble baths. They’ll have earned it.

In all truth, little P isn’t the pickiest eater, but I’ve still found it challenging to come up with things that he’ll like that are also wholesome and convenient. Most foods seem to hit two of those criteria, but it’s tough to find something that hits all three. My Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins were one of those rare finds, and I’m happy to report these Berry Frozen Yogurt Bites with Honey Granola fit the bill as well.

I started making these little snacks a few weeks ago, and I’ve found them to be the perfect snack for that strange time in between nap and dinner. Really, this is just a classic fruit and yogurt parfait in a convenient, fun new delivery system. These bites start with a layer of granola sprinkled in the bottom of a mini muffin tin. I’ve included my favorite simple granola recipe below. It’s bare bones–just a combination of oats, nuts, coconut oil, and honey–but it’s absolutely delicious and can be made in about 20 minutes.

On top of the granola is a layer of Greek yogurt sweetened with a quick mixed berry jam. Normally jam is made with fruit and sugar, but honey is actually a wonderful substitution in jam. Not only is it all natural, but it also contains trace amount of minerals, vitamins, and amino acids. I used honey to make bacon jam for my Breakfast Burgers with Bourbon Bacon Jam, and discovered it works equally well for a quick, fruit-based jam. You can use any fruit you like here. I used a frozen mix of berries, but feel free to experiment!

Berry Frozen Yogurt Bites are an easy and healthy treat kids love! They're the perfect cool, creamy snack on a hot day.

I like to gently fold the jam into the Greek yogurt so it has a nice swirl throughout, but if you’re short on time or patience, feel free to just blend them together. A final sprinkling of granola tops off the bites before they’re sent to the freezer to firm up. After a few hours, they’ll be perfectly poppable bites you and your kiddos will love! I like to pull these out of the freezer about 10 minutes before snack to let them thaw a bit before serving. They are a great cool, creamy treat on a hot afternoon, and they’re definitely little P approved!

I understand the thought of making homemade granola and jam can feel really overwhelming on a crazy day. I’ve been there. If it’s one of those days, feel free to sub in your own favorite store-bought granola, and keep things really simple with  plain Greek yogurt sweetened with honey to taste on top. Just three ingredients and about 10 minutes of time will yield a big batch of frozen treats. Trust me, you’ll feel like you’ve won the greatest competition of all when you pull these out of the freezer. And if we can’t get our all expense paid vacation for winning at life, know that I’m over here giving you a giant fist bump and a high five. We’re moving on to the next level, friends!

Berry Frozen Yogurt Bites are a great healthy, easy snack to have on hand on a hot day!To learn more about the many benefits of honey and find more recipes, visit the National Honey Board’s on honey.comFacebook, Pinterest, TwitterInstagram and YouTube. When you’re shopping for honey, be sure to check the ingredient list. Honey is only one ingredient-honey! The color and flavor may vary from light golden to dark brown, depending on the nectar source of flowers visited by the honey bee, but any variety should work well in this and other honey recipes on NeighborFood!

Berry Frozen Yogurt Bites with Honey Granola

Cook Time 30 mins 2017-05-25T00:30:00+00:00Prep Time
Preparation 10 mins 2017-05-25T00:10:00+00:00Cook Time
Total Time
Serves 24     adjust servings

Get your fruit and yogurt parfait in frozen form! These granola, fruit, and yogurt bites are a perfect cool, creamy treat on a hot day.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Greek yogurt (I use whole milk yogurt)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup milk
  • 3 Tablespoons honey

For the jam

  • 2 cups mixed berries (I used a frozen mix)
  • 1/4 cup honey

For the granola

  • 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats (certified gluten free if needed)
  • 3/4 cup chopped nuts of your choice
  • 3 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 3 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, mix together the oats, nuts, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the oil, honey, and vanilla extract until well combined. Spread the mixture out onto a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, then stir. Return to the oven and bake another 7-10 minutes or until granola is golden brown. Scrape the pan as soon as it gets out of the oven, then leave on the baking sheet to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, make the jam. Combine the berries and the honey in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to an active simmer, and continue to cook for 8-10 minutes, or until berries are thickened and jam-like. Cool to room temperature or refrigerate overnight.
  3. To make the bites:
  4. In a bowl, whisk together the greek yogurt, milk, and honey until the texture is pourable but not runny. Gently fold in the jam so a swirl remains throughout the yogurt, or, if you prefer, mix completely together.
  5. Line 2 mini muffin pans with 24 liners (foil liners work best, but paper works in a pinch). Place a couple pinches of granola in the bottom of each one. Spoon the yogurt mixture over top, filling each one nearly to the top of the cup. Sprinkle the tops with a little more granola. Cover with saran wrap and freeze for at least three hours or overnight. We've found these taste the best when they're removed from the freezer about 10 minutes before eating.

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This post is sponsored by the National Honey Board. As always, all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands who help keep NeighborFood afloat!

Berry Frozen Yogurt Bites swirled with berries and granola make a great healthy treat for summer!
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Philly Cheese Brats

Philly Cheese Brats bring your favorite Philly sandwich to the grill!

Philly Cheese Brats turn the classic philly into a great meal for the grill! This 30 minute meal will definitely be a hit at your summer cookouts!

A few weeks ago, on a balmy spring evening, the whole family decided to take a trip to Kroger. We left the house without coats, assuming it would be a quick run. The air was humid and still, and I remember commenting on what a lovely evening it was. We arrived at the store and were only five minutes into the produce section when the eery sound of dozens of emergency tones going off sliced through the air. Everyone gave their phone a quick glance, noting we were now under a tornado warning.

Nothing about this situation was particularly strange, except that I seemed to be the only one who really cared that WE MIGHT BE IN THE PATH OF A KILLER TORNADO. Tornadoes are one of my biggest fears, and one of the only recurring nightmares I have. I glanced around at the other shoppers, who continued to pick out apples and bag asparagus like nothing was happening. Meanwhile, I was anxiously checking the windows for tell tale signs of a storm and wondering if there was enough room in the deep freezers for the deli workers plus a mom and her baby. Of course, then I remembered we didn’t have coats, which started an internal argument about which would be more dangerous–chancing a tornado running through the store or hanging out in a deep freeze without a coat.

Luckily, my husband was there to talk me down from my panic, and convinced me to wait out the storm in the relative safety and comfort of the climate controlled grocery store. Within 20 minutes, the warning had passed, and our cart was full of all the ingredients we needed to make some killer Philly Cheese Brats. We made it home unscathed, though slightly damp, and I vowed to fire up the grill, just as soon as it wasn’t torrentially down pouring.

Philly Cheese Brats are a great 30 minute meal you can make almost entirely on the grill! Perfect for summer cookouts!

Thanks to the incredibly mild winter we had this year, our grill never went fully into hibernation. We managed to cook out at least once in January, but by April grilling becomes a main stay in our weekly meal plans. You can’t beat the easy clean up, quick cooking, and time enjoyed outdoors that grilling affords. These Philly Cheese Brats were inspired by a desire to turn one of my favorite sandwiches into an easy grilled meal we could enjoy al fresco. For my summer-time friendly version, I start with Honeysuckle White turkey bratwurst, which has all the juicy, savory flavor of traditional bratwurst with only 9 grams of fat.

Everyone seems to have a different opinion about what exactly goes on a Philly Cheesesteak, but my favorite variations always include onions, green peppers, and mushrooms. Luckily, it’s easy to throw all of the veggies on the grill right alongside your brats. If you have a grill pan, they work great, but you can also just toss them on a large sheet of heavy-duty foil. The veggies take on the wonderful charred and caramelized flavor that can only come from the grill.

Of course, no Philly is complete without cheese sauce! I tried a couple different recipes for the cheese sauce before settling on this one, which combines the smoky flavor of provolone with the mild creaminess of white American cheese. It strikes the right balance between flavor and texture and helps bring all of this char-grilled goodness together. We like to serve these with a side of Greek Pasta Salad or a nice, light Summer Berry Salad.

Philly Cheese Brats are a quick 30 minute meal perfect for grilling! Juicy brats with bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, and a creamy cheese sauce!

You can find Honeysuckle White in your local grocery store, or if you’re on the East coast, look for Shady Brook Farms. Juicy bratwurst, fresh grilled veggies, and creamy cheese sauce…this is the prescription for one great summer meal!

Philly Cheese Brats

Cook Time 30 mins 2017-05-25T00:30:00+00:00Prep Time
Preparation 5 mins 2017-05-25T00:05:00+00:00Cook Time
Total Time
Serves 5     adjust servings

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 green pepper, sliced thin
  • 1 large or 2 small yellow onions, sliced thin
  • 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 5 Honeysuckle White Turkey Brats
  • 5 brat buns

For the cheese sauce

  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, cut into small chunks
  • 1 cup shredded smoked provolone cheese
  • 1 cup shredded white American cheese
  • Salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper

Instructions

  1. For the grill:
  2. Preheat the grill to medium high heat. If you don't have a vegetable basket, spread a sheet of heavy duty foil over half of the grill.
  3. Toss the green pepper, onions, and mushrooms with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place the vegetables in a grill basket or spread them out over the foil on the grill. Add the brats directly to the grill grates. Grill with the cover closed for about 6-7 minutes. Check the vegetables. If they're getting browned, flip them over. If the bottoms of the brats are browned, flip them as well. Cover, and continue to grill, checking every few minutes, until the veggies are softened and starting to char and the brats reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees.

For the cheese sauce:

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook until thick and fragrant, about a minute. Remove from heat and slowly whisk in milk. Add the cream cheese cubes. Return to heat and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly. Turn the heat to low and stir until cheese is melted and cream cheese is completely smooth. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. I usually don't need much salt, but like a lot of fresh cracked pepper in mine!
  2. To serve, place the brats in the buns and top with the grilled veggies and sauce!

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This post is sponsored by the wonderful people at Honeysuckle White Turkey. As always, all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands who keep NeighborFood running!

Philly Cheese Brats are loaded with green peppers, mushrooms, onions, and a smoky cheese sauce. The perfect grilled summer meal!
{ 4 comments }

Smoked Salmon Egg Salad Sandwiches

Traditional egg salad is kicked up a notch thanks to grainy mustard, capers, and chives in these springy Smoked Salmon Egg Salad Sandwiches.

Smoked Salmon Egg Salad Sandwiches take traditional egg salad up a notch! Topped with capers and red onions, this recipe is great for spring brunches or showers!

Got leftover eggs? ME TOO. I love the tradition of coloring eggs for Easter, but it’s easy to get carried away. This year, I experimented with natural dying for the first time. To be honest, I had a hard time believing a bunch of onion skins, cabbage, leaves, and panty hose were going to make beautiful dyed eggs, but I was wrong. The eggs were lovely. The only problem was they were so lovely (and time consuming), that I had a hard time peeling them to eat them.

I also couldn’t resist trying some of my friend Emily (of Jelly Toast)’s fun painted, striped, and marbled designs. Needless to say, I’VE GOT HARDBOILED EGGS. And one can only eat so many Jalapeno Popper Deviled Eggs before an intervention is required.

Egg salad is, of course, the go-to for leftover hardboiled eggs, but I quickly tire of traditional egg salads. This year, I knew I wanted my egg salad to have a little extra oomph, something to make me feel like I wasn’t just eating hardboiled eggs for the millionth time this week.

Smoked Salmon Egg Salad Sandwiches are perfect for spring brunches or showers. Made with capers, grainy mustard, and chives, these sandwiches are packed with flavor!

The answer came in the form of smoked salmon, briny capers, and an herby egg salad all piled high on rye bread. Egg salad is one of those dishes I almost never make the same way twice. I love that you can taste as you go, adding a pinch of sugar or another squeeze of mustard to get it just to your liking. Some days I like a lot of tangy mustard, other days I load up on the herbs. For this version, I used Greek yogurt and mayonnaise, swirled with a generous amount of whole grain mustard and fresh chives. Whole grain mustard is the darling of my condiment collection right now. More complex than yellow or dijon mustard, I love the subtle heat it brings to this egg salad. Of course, you can feel free to substitute with dijon or yellow mustard to your liking.

My favorite way to serve this egg salad is platter style, with plenty of sliced red onion, arugula, and tomato for topping. This would make a great lunch for a baby or wedding shower. Allow guests to make their own sandwiches, and mix and match the toppings themselves. They’ll love the hearty flavor of the smoked salmon paired with the creamy egg salad, and you’ll love how easy it was to throw together this lovely and tasty platter.

Smoked Salmon Egg Salad Sandwiches are a great quick lunch or spring shower idea. Perfect for using up hardboiled eggs!

If you didn’t go on an egg-dying spree and don’t have a few cartons of leftover hardboiled eggs in your fridge, I’ve included instructions for no-fail eggs in the recipe below. For easier peeling, I recommend using older eggs. Fresher eggs are much harder to peel. And if you still need help using up those leftovers, check out my Strawberry Cobb Salad!

Smoked Salmon Egg Salad Sandwiches

Prep Time
Preparation 15 mins 2017-05-25T00:15:00+00:00Cook Time
Total Time
Serves 6     adjust servings

Traditional egg salad gets kicked up a notch with capers, smoked salmon, and rye bread.

Ingredients

  • 8 hardboiled eggs, peeled *see note
  • 3 Tablespoons whole milk Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 Tablespoon small capers (if you buy the big ones, you'll want to chop them up first)
  • 2-3 teaspoons grainy mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Dark rye bread slices
  • Thinly sliced red onion
  • Arugula
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • 8 ounces smoked salmon

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, use a pastry cutter to chop up the eggs until small pieces. Stir in the yogurt, mayonnaise, capers, 2 teaspoons mustard, and chives. Taste. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add additional mustard if desired. The egg salad can be served immediately, but tastes even better after being refrigerated for a few hours.
  2. To serve, place bread, red onion, arugula, tomato slices, and smoked salmon on a platter, along with extra capers and herbs, if desired. Allow guests to assemble the sandwiches to their taste, leaving them open face or making them into a regular sandwich.

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Recipe Notes

Note: To hard boil the eggs, place the eggs in a single layer at the bottom of a large pot. Cover with a few inches of cold water. Cover the pot, turn the heat to high, and bring the water to a boil. Turn off the heat, leave the pot on the burner, and set a timer for 10 minutes. At the 10 minute mark, check one egg for doneness, leaving the lid on for the remaining eggs. If it's not quite done, leave them for an additional 2-3 minutes. I recommend using older eggs for hardboiled eggs as they peel much easier. To peel, crack the egg on a countertop then roll it under your palm to crack all over. Peel under a small stream of cold running water.

This recipe was originally developed for Ohio Eggs. As always, all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands who keep NeighborFood afloat!

These Smoked Salmon Egg Salad Sandwiches are perfect for spring brunches or quick lunches. Packed with protein and fresh, herby, smoky flavor, everyone will love these!
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Lemon Sandwich Cookies

These Lemon Sandwich Cookies are a lemon lovers dream! Soft and chewy lemon sugar cookies are sandwiched around a zingy lemon cream cheese frosting for the ultimate spring cookie!

Lemon Sandwich Cookies are filled with a fresh and zingy lemon cream cheese filling that's perfect for spring!

Every winter, I almost forget we have neighbors. Despite the fact that our homes are literally feet away from each other, we scarcely see our neighbors from December to February. Like bears, we all seem to hibernate for the winter, only coming outside for absolute necessities. In the dreariest months, a neighbor sighting is rare and only results in a quick wave before we each retreat to the warmth and coziness of our homes.

But, oh, how delightful it is on those first sunny days. Suddenly the sidewalks come alive. Mommas push their babes in strollers and dogs pull their owners along, determined to sniff every fresh blade of grass along the way. Everyone seems cheerier. We stand at fences and chat, wave across the street, and park ourselves on the front porch. The smell of grilled meats fills the air at dinner time, and the sound of mowers roaring to life joins the chorus of birds in the morning.

Lemon Sandwich Cookies are a bright and tasty way to welcome spring.

It’s the time of year when you’re likely to find me on your doorstep with a plate of cookies, the results of my latest baking adventure. It’s also the time of year when I’m likely to develop an insatiable craving for all things lemon, which means chances are really good the contents of that plate look something like these Lemon Cream Sandwich Cookies.

Though I have no authority to do so, I would like to declare Lemon Sandwich Cookies the official cookie of spring. Sure, I might get some push back, a few angry dissenters, but then I’ll show up at their door with a plate of cookies and win them over. These cookies are just so happy, I don’t know how anyone could resist their charm. The cookies themselves are a simple sugar cookie that’s triple infused with lemon from juice, zest, and extract. They’re chewy and zesty and sweet and, thanks to a little sprinkle of coarse sugar, even sparkly.

The cookies are extremely munchable all on their own, but they really shine when sandwiched around a dreamy lemon cream cheese filling. While these may look fancy, they’re actually quite easy to make, so they work equally well on an Easter table or at an informal neighborhood potluck. They are good immediately after making them, but they get even better after a few hours in the fridge. The cookies and cream meld together and become something greater than the sum of their parts. I actually love eating these straight from the fridge, but they’re also perfect for taking to a party (or a neighbor’s house), and will hold up well if left out of the fridge for a few hours.

Of course, good cookies need good neighbors to give them to. I recently had the pleasure of visiting and baking in a model home in a new M/I community in Westerville. Truth be told, I’ve always been a little wary of new homes. I had never really spent time in a newly developed community, and I imagined it would feel sterile, cold, and uninviting. The truth turned out to be quite the opposite. The home we visited was vibrant and welcoming. Rather than feeling like it was engineered by robots, it felt like it was thoughtfully planned, down to the last detail, to make you feel at home. It goes without saying that the kitchen was beautiful. Honestly, I hardly knew what to do with all the counter top space. The island was so expansive, I could make my entire recipe right there and leave the rest of the kitchen completely undisturbed. It was dreamy. But the thoughtfulness didn’t stop there. It was the perfectly sized mud room nook (complete with hooks and cubbies) and upstairs laundry room that made my inner mom squeal with delight.

Lemon Sandwich Cookies filled with a zesty cream cheese frosting are perfect for spring. Lemon lovers will LOVE these!

Of course, home for me has always been about more than just some shwanky countertops and a stunning fireplace. Home is family pictures hung on the mantle, a well-loved sidewalk worn out by strollers and dogs. It’s standing in the driveway chatting with your neighbors, and gathering at the fire pit with friends and family. What impressed me most about my time with M/I wasn’t the home itself (though it was stunning), but more about their commitment to building neighborhoods, not just homes. Most of their communities have almost 50% green space, many with walking trails, ponds, and wooded areas. They work closely with the surrounding neighbors to make sure their homes will integrate well into existing communities. They treat their neighbors well, and that’s pretty much what I’m all about here.

After all, what would a home be without neighbors? And what says welcome home better than bright and happy lemon cookies dropped off at your doorstep? If you’re in the Columbus area and interested in learning more about the new communities M/I is building in Westerville, be sure to visit their website, or even better, hop in the car and visit a model home! It’s really the best way to get a feel for what they’re building, not just in brick and mortar, but in making a house a home.

Lemon Sandwich Cookies are a lemon lovers dream! Soft and chewy lemon sugar cookies are sandwiched around a zingy lemon cream cheese filling for the ultimate spring cookie!

If you’re looking for some other treats perfect for welcoming new neighbors, check out my Giant Bakery Style Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Old Fashioned Iced Oatmeal Cookies, or Brownie Cookies.

Lemon Cream Sandwich Cookies

Cook Time 8 mins 2017-05-25T00:08:00+00:00Prep Time
Preparation 40 mins 2017-05-25T00:40:00+00:00Cook Time
Total Time
Serves 20     adjust servings

Ingredients

For the cookies

  • 10 Tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 teaspoon lemon extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Sanding sugar

For the filling

  • 1 8 ounce bar cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 Tablespoons (1/4 cup) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixture, cream the butter. Add the sugars and eggs and continue to beat until smooth. Beat in the lemon juice, vanilla, extract, and lemon zest.
  3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and beat on low speed until well combined, scraping the bowl as needed.
  4. Place heaping teaspoons of dough on a parchment lined baking sheet and flatten a bit with the palm of your hand. Sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake for 8-9 minutes, or until cookies are set on the edges and no longer jiggly in the center. Allow to cool on the pan for a few minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting:

  1. Combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium high speed until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, beating on low speed and increasing the speed slowly as the sugar is incorporated. Add the lemon zest and juice, to taste. I like a lot of lemon flavor, so I always use the full 3 teaspoons.
  2. Pipe or spread the cream cheese frosting on a lemon cookie and sandwich with a second cookie. Store the finished cookies in the fridge. I love the taste of these cold directly out of the fridge, but they can set out at room temperature for several hours and be fine.

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Recipe Notes

You will likely have leftover lemon cream cheese filling. It makes an awesome dip for fresh strawberries or use it to make little fruit pizzas.

This post was sponsored by the wonderful people at M/I homes. As always, all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the companies who help keep NeighborFood up and running!

Lemon Sandwich Cookies filled with a dreamy lemon cream filling are the perfect spring dessert!
{ 13 comments }

Green Pea Soup with Candied Bacon

This Green Pea Soup with fresh basil and smoky sweet candied bacon is the ultimate spring appetizer. Bright and creamy, it’s a great reason to give peas a chance. (I know, I know. That was a serious dad joke, but how can you resist??)
Green Pea Soup with Candied Bacon is a gorgeous, easy, and refreshing soup that's perfect for Easter or any spring occasion.

Like all good parents, mine made me eat my vegetables growing up. I don’t remember struggling too much with this rule, except when it came to the most dreaded vegetable of all–the pea. Those tiny green dots gave me fits, and I made sure my parents knew exactly how much they were torturing me with each and every bite. In full dramatics, I would plug my nose and screw up my face, barely mustering a swallow before I came back for air, gasping and begging for mercy.

I’m sure today my parents are laughing triumphantly, because here is their afflicted daughter, writing a food blog, and dedicating an entire recipe to the despised green pea. I can only say I’m sorry, mom and dad. I’ve had a change of heart. It turns out that peas are actually pretty delightful after all.

My change of heart started at G. Michael’s, where I celebrated my birthday last year. I must’ve been feeling particularly adventurous, because for some reason I ordered the pea soup. The bowl placed before me looked quite lovely, although not quite like food. It was a vibrant green, with none of the yellowed hue I seemed to remember from my childhood. After my first bite, I was surprised first off to discover the soup was served cold, and secondly to realize I actually loved it.

Green Pea Soup with Candied Bacon is a light, creamy soup that absolutely screams spring. It's perfect for Easter or spring brunches!

Since that night, I’ve had pea soup on the brain. I’ve waited nearly a year for spring to roll around again and give me an excuse to make it. When it came to recreating the recipe, I knew I wanted something with minimal ingredients, allowing the bright sweetness of the peas to be the star. I found a recipe at The New York Times entitled Possibly The Best Pea Soup and decided that would be a good place to start.

When it comes to simplicity, this recipe rules the day. With nothing but shallots, garlic, water, peas, and a bit of basil, this soup is light, silky, and the essence of spring. A little cream stirred in at the end gives it just a touch of richness. I used frozen peas, because fresh aren’t readily available in our area just yet, and also because I’m lazy and opening up a bag of frozen peas is about as easy as it gets.

Green Pea Soup with smoky sweet candied bacon is a party for your tastebuds! Light, but creamy, sweet and salty, it's perfect for any spring meal!

On it’s own this pea soup is delightful, but what truly puts it over the top is a crumble of candied bacon, which melts into the soup, giving it a hint of maple and just the right amount of savory crunch. I’ve included the recipe for a whole pound of candied bacon. You likely won’t need all of that for the soup, but I trust you’ll have no issues polishing off the leftovers (stacking it on this Strawberry Bacon Goat Cheese Grilled Cheese seems like a very viable option).

Just like the soup that started it all, this one can be served hot or cold, though I prefer it hot. I ate it for lunch three days in a row. It pairs beautifully with a grilled cheese or a slice of buttered homemade Amish White Bread. While pea soup can certainly make for a week’s worth of delightful lunches, it’s also a lovely appetizer to serve before your Easter dinner. If you’re serving this up for a special occasion, swirling the cream on top and giving it a sprinkle of chives makes it look absolutely beautiful. So beautiful that you might even be able to convince the pea-haters in your life to give it a try.

Pea Soup

Cook Time 30 mins 2017-05-25T00:30:00+00:00Prep Time
Preparation 5 mins 2017-05-25T00:05:00+00:00Cook Time
Total Time
Serves 6     adjust servings

Frozen green peas, garlic, shallots, and basil come together to make a fresh and creamy spring soup. The candied bacon adds just the right amount of indulgent sweetness.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 4 cups water
  • 24 ounce bag frozen peas
  • 5 fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 Tablespoon kosher salt
  • A few turns of cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup half and half or cream
  • 4 Tablespoons chopped fresh chives

For the bacon

  • 1 lb. thick cut bacon
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar

Instructions

    For the bacon:

    1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with foil then top with wire racks. Place the bacon slices on the racks. Brush half the maple syrup and brown sugar on the top. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Pull the bacon out of the oven and flip. Brush with remaining syrup and brown sugar. Bake for another 15-20 minutes or until bacon is crispy. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.

    For the soup:

    1. In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and stir until starting to soften. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes.
    2. Stir in the frozen peas, basil, salt, and pepper and return to a boil. Boil for about five minutes, then remove from heat. Transfer the soup into the blender in batches and puree until very smooth. I prefer to cover the blender hole with a paper towel to allow steam to escape. If desired strain the soup through a fine mesh sieve to remove any shells or lumps.
    3. Stir in the cream and reheat to serve warm or serve at room temperature or chilled. Top with candied bacon and chives.

    by


    Recipe adapted from The New York Times

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