The Baker Upstairs: April 2016

4.29.2016

Chicken Piccata

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This delicious chicken piccata is ready in less than 30 minutes and super flavorful. The buttery lemon pan sauce is amazing!

Goodness gracious, this chicken piccata is delicious! It's the kind of dinner that you make and enjoy, and then think about for the rest of the night just because it's so good. This recipe is one that I discovered about four years ago, and made over and over again in a short period of time. And then somehow it fell off my radar and I haven't made it in for several years. I came across it again as I've been working on updated some of my old posts, and realized I had all the ingredients to make it (score!). We had it for dinner last night and it was not only delicious, it was also incredibly quick and easy to make. Start to finish, it took less than thirty minutes and one pot. What more could you ask for in a dinner?

This delicious chicken piccata is ready in less than 30 minutes and super flavorful. The buttery lemon pan sauce is amazing!

It's been a little while since I've breaded and pan fried chicken, and I had forgotten how much I love it! I always think it's going to be a big annoying mess, and it really is simple and easy. I love that delicious golden brown crust!

This delicious chicken piccata is ready in less than 30 minutes and super flavorful. The buttery lemon pan sauce is amazing!

The sauce really could not be easier, and it adds so much delicious flavor to the dish. I know capers are a little controversial (people seem to either love them or hate them) but I adore them and think they add a special touch. If you hate them, by all means leave them out, and it was still be perfectly delicious!

This delicious chicken piccata is ready in less than 30 minutes and super flavorful. The buttery lemon pan sauce is amazing!

Chicken Piccata

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in half horizontally to form four cutlets
salt and pepper
1/2 cup flour
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon capers
lemon slices, for garnish
fresh parsley, for garnish

Sprinkle the chicken cutlets with salt and pepper. Add the flour to a plate or shallow dish. In another shallow dish, whisk together the egg and the water. Add the bread crumbs to a third dish.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Working one at a time, dredge the chicken cutlets in the flour, followed by the egg, then in the breadcrumbs. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Remove the chicken to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

Use a paper towel to quickly wipe out the skillet. Return the skillet to the heat and add the butter. When the butter has melted, add the lemon juice and chicken broth. Continue to simmer over medium heat until reduced by half. Add the capers and cook 1-2 minutes, until heated through. Spoon the sauce over the chicken breasts and top with fresh lemon slices and chopped parsley.

adapted from Ina Garten
This delicious chicken piccata is ready in less than 30 minutes and super flavorful. The buttery lemon pan sauce is amazing!

4.26.2016

Raspberry Crumb Bars

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These raspberry crumb bars are amazing! A buttery oatmeal crumb base combined with fresh raspberry jam makes for a delicious cookie bar.

From March until October, my fridge is always stocked (generally overstocked, actually) with as many fresh berries as I can find at Costco. I miss them all winter long, and the first day I can find fresh strawberries at Costco is like a mini holiday for me. :) We do pretty well with eating them all before they go bad, but occasionally I'm left with half a carton of berries that are rapidly going south and are just screaming to be used in a delicious recipe. Such was the case with the raspberries I used to make these raspberry crumb bars. I used them to make a quick raspberry jam using this method, then spread it on top of a buttery oatmeal crumb base and topped with more crumbled oatmeal mixture. They baked into these delicious, crumbly bars bursting with raspberry flavor. So delicious! If you don't have fresh berries on hand, you could definitely use store-bought jam and I'm sure they would be just as delicious. These bars are a must try this summer!

These raspberry crumb bars are amazing! A buttery oatmeal crumb base combined with fresh raspberry jam makes for a delicious cookie bar.


Raspberry Crumb Bars

1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup raspberry jam

Preheat the oven to 350 and line an 8 x 8 baking dish with parchment or foil, and set aside. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, oats, and sugar. Mix in the butter to form a crumbly dough. Press two thirds of the dough into the prepared baking dish. Spread the raspberry jam evenly over the top, then sprinkle the remaining dough on top. Bake 35-40 minutes, or until lightly golden on top. Remove and let cool before slicing and serving.

adapted slightly from Cooking Classy

These raspberry crumb bars are amazing! A buttery oatmeal crumb base combined with fresh raspberry jam makes for a delicious cookie bar.

originally published on I Heart Naptime

4.21.2016

Swig Sugar Cookies

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These copycat Swig sugar cookies are so addictingly delicious, and the creamy frosting is to die for!

These copycat Swig sugar cookies are so addictingly delicious, and the creamy frosting is to die for!

Hi friends! I know it's been a little while, but I'm popping back in with an awesome recipe for you! Last week I attended Snap Conference, which was my very first blogging conference and a great learning experience for me. I loved attending classes with other bloggers, learning new things, getting excited about making changes to the blog, and meeting some of my favorite brands. One of the absolute best things about Snap was that one of my favorite drink shops, Swig, set up a soda bar right next to the ballroom with unlimited refills. I was in soda heaven! :) My favorite drink at Swig is the Malibu, which is Dr. Pepper, coconut, and vanilla. Yum! Of course, one of the biggest reasons to visit Swig is their amazing sugar cookies. They're unique and delicious, and so rich that I usually can't even eat a whole cookie by myself.

These copycat Swig sugar cookies are so addictingly delicious, and the creamy frosting is to die for!

This copycat recipe is pretty close to the real thing, and a great substitute if you don't live within driving distance of a Swig. I'll give you a little warning that the cookies themselves are pretty bland, but in combination with the frosting, they are totally amazing! Even if you think you don't like frosting, you need to make them both together. Yum!
Swig Sugar Cookies

for the cookies:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup sugar (plus additional sugar for rolling)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

for the frosting:
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon sour cream
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
1-2 drops red or pink food coloring
1-2 tablespoons milk (more or less as needed)

Preheat the oven to 325. Prepare two baking sheets by lining with parchment or spraying with cooking spray. Beat together the butter, sour cream, sugar, and vanilla until blended. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix to form a thick dough. Shape the dough into golf ball sized balls. Roll in sugar and place on the prepared baking sheet. Flatten with a glass to about 1/2 inch tall. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned on the bottom. Let cool completely.

To make the frosting, beat together the butter, sour cream, powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt, until smooth. Add the food coloring and milk as needed to thin to desired consistency. Spread on cooled cookies and enjoy!

adapted slightly from A Bountiful Kitchen
These copycat Swig sugar cookies are so addictingly delicious, and the creamy frosting is to die for!

4.12.2016

Croque Monsieur

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These croque monsieur sandwiches are delicious and surprisingly easy to make. A perfect hearty lunch or dinner!

These croque monsieur sandwiches are delicious and surprisingly easy to make. A perfect hearty lunch or dinner!

Guess what? Today is national grilled cheese day! We eat a lot of grilled cheese at our house, but I have to confess that we generally stick with the boring, super easy cheddar on wheat bread and call it good. Knowing that I was going to post today with my #celebratingfood blogger friends, though, I decided it was time to step up my grilled cheese game. I've been looking longingly at croque monsieurs on Pinterest for ages, but never quite pulled the trigger and tried one. It was definitely time! While they're a little more complicated than the basic grilled cheese I can whip up in 10 minutes or less, the level of deliciousness is just out of this world. Creamy béchamel and gooey gruyere over ham and toasted bread - yum!

Though it might seem like a lot of steps, it's really pretty simple and easy. First you'll make a nice béchamel, made even better with the addition of gruyere. It's definitely one of my favorite cheeses! I love that it tastes almost like a combination of swiss cheese and parmesan... so good! 

These croque monsieur sandwiches are delicious and surprisingly easy to make. A perfect hearty lunch or dinner!

Next you'll layer dijon mustard, thinly sliced ham, and more gruyere. 

These croque monsieur sandwiches are delicious and surprisingly easy to make. A perfect hearty lunch or dinner!

Top with a second slice of bread, then drizzle with the béchamel and additional gruyere. Looking good already!

These croque monsieur sandwiches are delicious and surprisingly easy to make. A perfect hearty lunch or dinner!

Last, you'll bake the sandwiches in the oven for a few minutes, then broil until toasty and golden. That is some sandwich perfection right there!

These croque monsieur sandwiches are delicious and surprisingly easy to make. A perfect hearty lunch or dinner!

These croque monsieurs are gooey, flavorful, and so delicious! The perfect grown up twist on a grilled cheese sandwich. 

These croque monsieur sandwiches are delicious and surprisingly easy to make. A perfect hearty lunch or dinner!

Croque Monsieur

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
8 ounces gruyere cheese, shredded
8 slices french or italian bread
1/2 pound deli ham, thinly sliced
2-3 tablespoons dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 400. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Whisk in the flour to form a paste. Cook 2-3 minutes, until golden. Slowly stir in the milk, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Continue to cook, whisking frequently, until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the salt and about 1 cup of the gruyere.

Toast the bread in the preheated oven for about five minutes per side. Spread half of the pieces of bread with a thin layer of dijon mustard, then top with ham and sprinkle with about half of the remaining cheese. Place the other slices of bread on top. Spoon the white sauce over the sandwiches, letting it drip down the sides and being sure to coat the whole sandwich. Sprinkle with the remaining gruyere. Bake 5 minutes, then turn on the broiler and broil until lightly browned and bubbly. Serve hot and enjoy!

These croque monsieur sandwiches are delicious and surprisingly easy to make. A perfect hearty lunch or dinner!

For even more delicious grilled cheese recipes, check out these awesome posts from my fellow #celebratingfood bloggers!


Grilled Chicken Melts from Real Mom Kitchen
The Ultimate Spicy Grilled Cheese from The Stay at Home Chef

Bacon Grilled Cheese from Butter with a Side of Bread
Bananas Foster Melt from Like Mother Like Daughter
Mushroom Lovers Grilled Cheese from Jamie Cooks It Up
Pesto Grilled Cheese Panini from Yummy Healthy Easy
Grilled Cheese Pizza Roll Ups from Life Made Simple
Quick Italian Panini from The Baker Upstairs
Four Cheese Grilled Cheese from Real Mom Kitchen
Caramelized Pineapple Grilled Cheese from The Stay at Home Chef
Southwestern Grilled Turkey & Cheese from Yummy Healthy Easy

4.08.2016

Minnie Mouse Cupcakes

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These Minnie Mouse cupcakes are adorable and so easy to make. Perfect for a little girl's birthday party!

These Minnie Mouse cupcakes are adorable and so easy to make. Perfect for a little girl's birthday party!

A few weeks ago, my daughter Lizzy turned five, and we finally got around to having her birthday party this last weekend! She wanted a big party with all her friends from preschool, and I think we did a pretty good job of it. She has been obsessed with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse lately, and especially loves Minnie Mouse, so it was a no brainer to pull together a quick and easy Minnie Mouse party for her. I'll share more details on her party soon, but I wanted to share these adorable Minnie Mouse cupcakes we made today. They were a huge hit with all the kiddos, and I love that they're so easy but still look fantastic. I used my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe for the base (although you could easily use a boxed mix or even buy undecorated cupcakes from your local bakery), and the frosting whipped up easily. When Lizzy came in the kitchen and saw the finished cupcakes, her jaw dropped and she squealed in excitement. I think that's a job well done!

These Minnie Mouse cupcakes are adorable and so easy to make. Perfect for a little girl's birthday party!

Minnie Mouse Cupcakes

24 white cupcakes, baked and cooled (I made mine from scratch with this recipe, but a boxed mix would work great too)
1 cup (8 ounces) butter, softened
5 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
1-2 tablespoons half and half or heavy cream
2 drops pink food coloring (or 1 drop red food coloring)
48 mini Oreos

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, salt, and one tablespoon half and half. Beat until light and fluffy. Add additional half and half as needed to make a fluffy frosting. Add the food coloring and mix to combine. Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes (I used a Wilton 2D tip), then add your mini Oreos to make the mouse ears.

These Minnie Mouse cupcakes are adorable and so easy to make. Perfect for a little girl's birthday party!

4.07.2016

Fresh Basil Pesto

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This fresh basil pesto is made with only five ingredients and is so flavorful and delicious!

This fresh basil pesto is made with only five ingredients and is so flavorful and delicious!

So, although I have been blessed with many talents, the ability to care for a plant without killing it is not one of them. It's something I'm hoping to work on, since eventually I would love to have an awesome garden (you know, someday, when we move out of this crappy tiny apartment and have a home of our own). For now, I've started with a small basil plant in our kitchen. Fresh basil is one of my very favorite smells, and I love having it on hand to add to dishes while I'm cooking. I bought an inexpensive basil plant at Walmart in January, and (wonder of wonders!) I have actually kept it alive since then!

This fresh basil pesto is made with only five ingredients and is so flavorful and delicious!

This week, I realized that I may have actually done too good a job, and my basil plant was overflowing with leaves. It was time to make pesto! I used to make pesto pretty regularly, but I haven't made it in several years (I think it's just too easy to buy the jar at Costco...). I had forgotten how easy it was to make, and how delicious! Somehow the basil flavor shines through a little better to me in the homemade version, and I like that I can adjust it a little depending on my mood at the moment. If you haven't made your own pesto before, it's definitely a must make!

This fresh basil pesto is made with only five ingredients and is so flavorful and delicious!

Fresh Basil Pesto

1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil

Add all ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth. Add additional olive oil as needed to reach a smooth consistency. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to a week, or in the freezer for three months.

This fresh basil pesto is made with only five ingredients and is so flavorful and delicious!
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