The Baker Upstairs: 2019

7.12.2019

Easy Swedish Meatballs

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These quick and easy Swedish meatballs are so savory and delicious!

These quick and easy Swedish meatballs are so savory and delicious!

When you think of comfort food, what kinds of food do you think of? My kids definitely think of my stovetop mac and cheese. It's what they ask for when they're sick or hurt or sad, and it's their favorite thing that I make (which is why I seem to end up making it at least once a week). My husband's favorite comfort food is turkey and mashed potatoes with gravy. He grew up eating traditional meat-and-potatoes type food, and it reminds him of home and family. For me, though, it's kind of an eclectic mix of things - chicken enchiladas, cheeseburger macaroni, and Swedish meatballs. They're three of the foods I remember eating most frequently in my childhood, and any of them make me feel happy when I'm having a hard day.

I've asked my mom a few times for her recipe for Swedish meatballs, and even though she's given it her best shot writing it down for me, it never seems to translate very well when I cook them at my house. I think it's probably because she's more of an intuitive cook, and just throws in a little of this and a little of that until everything comes together. They always taste great when she makes them, but I can't replicate her recipe myself. Because I still love Swedish meatballs, and my mom lives 700+ miles away from me, I've been developing my own recipe for them over the last few years, and I think I've finally cracked the code!

These quick and easy Swedish meatballs are so savory and delicious!

My Swedish meatballs are a little different than my mom's, but they're equally delicious! They have a silky smooth and savory sauce, with just the right amount of cream. A bit of worcestershire sauce adds some delicious umami flavor, and combines really nicely with the beef broth. I like to use homemade meatballs in these (which I try to always have on hand in my freezer), but if you're in a pinch, store-bought meatballs will work as well. My husband likes these meatballs over mashed potatoes (again, with the meat-and-potatoes type food!), but I love them over cooked egg noodles, just like my mom always serves them. These Swedish meatballs are one of my favorite meals!

These quick and easy Swedish meatballs are so savory and delicious!

Easy Swedish Meatballs

1 pound frozen meatballs (make your own with this recipe)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 3/4 cups beef broth
2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup heavy cream
for serving: cooked egg noodles or mashed potatoes

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When the butter is bubbling, whisk in the flour until no dry spots remain. Cook 3-4 minutes, or until golden and bubbling. Slowly whisk in the broth, a little at a time, mixing well to prevent lumps. Add the meatballs to the skillet, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the meatballs are warmed through and the sauce has thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the salt, pepper, and heavy cream. Return the pan to the heat and cook until the sauce is slightly thickened and creamy. Serve hot over egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

These quick and easy Swedish meatballs are so savory and delicious!

7.10.2019

Turkey Sloppy Joes

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These simple turkey sloppy joes take less than 30 minutes to make, and they are so flavorful and delicious!

These simple turkey sloppy joes take less than 30 minutes to make, and they are so flavorful and delicious!

One of the weirdest things about my family's new house is that our kitchen has no accessible air vents. It appears as though the kitchen was remodeled 3-4 years before we bought it, and for reasons I can only guess at, they closed off the only air vent in the room and put the fridge in front of it. There's still a range hood over the stove (so there's some ventilation), but there's no way for air conditioning or heating to enter the kitchen. This means, of course, that it's freezing cold during the winter, and boiling hot during the summer. We moved in at the end of July last year, and we were so busy with house projects and getting unpacked that I hardly cooked at all during the rest of the summer. 

This year, though, I've been trying to keep up my normal routine of cooking dinner 5-6 nights per week, and it is getting sooooooo hot in there! Even with a portable fan going, it gets unbearably hot. (It doesn't help that the kitchen window is west-facing and blasted by hot sun all afternoon.) We're saving up the money to remodel the kitchen (and in the process relocate the vent so I can have some sweet, sweet air conditioning in there), but for now I'm just trying to stick to quick and easy meals that don't heat up the kitchen too much. These turkey sloppy joes are perfect! They take less than thirty minutes to make, and my whole family loves them. The simple homemade sloppy joe sauce is flavorful and delicious, with a perfect mix of sweet and savory flavors. These sloppy joes are one of my go-to meals when nothing else sounds good, and we eat them often. They're perfect served on a warm toasted bun (extra points if you butter your bun for maximum deliciousness!), and if I'm feeling extra festive, we throw on a slice of cheddar or pepper jack cheese. They're totally delicious!

These simple turkey sloppy joes take less than 30 minutes to make, and they are so flavorful and delicious!
Turkey Sloppy Joes

2 pounds lean ground turkey
3/4 cup ketchup
3/4 cup barbecue sauce (we like Sweet Baby Ray's)
2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon mustard
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Cook the turkey in a large skillet over medium heat, crumbling it into pieces, until cooked through. In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the ketchup, barbecue sauce, worcestershire sauce, mustard, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Pour the sauce over the turkey and mix until blended. Cook 2/3 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened slightly and darkened in color. Serve hot on toasted buns.
These simple turkey sloppy joes take less than 30 minutes to make, and they are so flavorful and delicious!

7.06.2019

Pear Walnut Gorgonzola Pizza

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This pear walnut gorgonzola pizza has a delicious combination of flavors, and is super easy to make!

This pear walnut gorgonzola pizza has a delicious combination of flavors, and is super easy to make!

Yay! It's another homemade pizza recipe! We've been a little on and off with pizza night lately, mainly because the temperature here keeps fluctuating wildly and some weeks it's just too hot to heat the oven to 500. One of my goals for the summer is to learn how to cook pizza on the grill, so if I can figure that out, I'll be sure to share my tips and tricks with you. For now, it's oven-baked pizza, and only on nights when it's not too hot outside. 

This pear walnut gorgonzola pizza is one of my favorites! I first had this combination at a friend's house a few years ago, and I have been hooked ever since. It's so sophisticated and delicious, and the flavors complement each other perfectly. Make sure to use a pear that is ripe and sweet, but not over-ripe, or it will be mushy when the pizza is cooked. I absolutely love the way the savory rich gorgonzola interacts with the sweet, mellow pears, and the walnut adds some delicious texture to the pizza. I know it's an unusual combination for pizza, but trust me, it is fantastic!
Pear Walnut Gorgonzola Pizza

1 ball of pizza dough (make your own or use store-bought)
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 medium ripe pear, thinly sliced
1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
fresh cilantro, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 500 with a pizza stone or overturned cookie sheet inside for at least 30 minutes. Sprinkle a sheet of parchment paper with cornmeal. Gently stretch the pizza dough out into a circle that is 12-14 inches in diameter. Spread the olive oil over the dough, then spread the mozzarella cheese evenly over the top of the pizza. Layer the sliced pears over the top of the mozzarella cheese in an even layer. Sprinkle the gorgonzola and walnuts over the top of the pizza. Transfer the pizza to the pizza stone or cookie sheet using a pizza peel or a large cutting board. Bake the pizza for 8-9 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the crust is lightly browned. Sprinkle with the chopped cilantro. Serve hot.
This pear walnut gorgonzola pizza has a delicious combination of flavors, and is super easy to make!

7.03.2019

Fresh Blueberry Sauce

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This homemade fresh blueberry sauce is so flavorful, and perfect for topping ice cream, pancakes, waffles, and more!

This homemade fresh blueberry sauce is so flavorful, and perfect for topping ice cream, pancakes, waffles, and more!

It's summer in Oregon, which means it's finally berry season! I look forward to it all through the cold and rainy winter months, and it's one of my family's favorite traditions to go pick berries at a local farm. So far this year we've picked strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries. I've already canned more than 50 jars of jam, and made cobbler and crumb bars. I'm even working on a berry ice cream recipe! We've picked all of the other berries multiple times, but we've always been out of town or busy with other things in previous years when the blueberries were ripe, so this was our first time picking blueberries. It turns out that they're really fun (and easy) to pick, and we had a great time!

I've made blueberry jam in the past and wasn't thrilled with the results (too soupy, and I didn't like the texture of the blueberry skins in the jam), so I've been trying to come up with fun ways to use the five pounds of blueberries that we picked. I'm definitely planning to make a batch of my favorite blueberry buttermilk muffins, as well as freeze some blueberries for smoothies, but I thought it would also be fun to make a batch of fresh blueberry sauce. I made it the same way I make my fresh strawberry sauce, and it turned out just as delicious! It's so simple to make, and lets the blueberry flavor shine. We like it on vanilla ice cream, as a topping for pancakes or waffles, or spooned over french toast (bonus points if you make your french toast with homemade french bread like I did). You can also mix a few tablespoons of the sauce into lemonade for a delicious and refreshing blueberry lemonade. The sauce will keep in the fridge for a few weeks, so it's a great idea to whip up a batch and use it for whatever you like. It's a must make this summer!

This homemade fresh blueberry sauce is so flavorful, and perfect for topping ice cream, pancakes, waffles, and more!
Fresh Blueberry Sauce

3 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 - 3/4 cup sugar (depending on the sweetness of your berries)
1/2 tablespoon corn starch
2 tablespoons water

Add the blueberries and sugar to a medium pot. In a small bowl, whisk together the corn starch and water. Pour the corn starch mixture into the pot and stir to combine. Heat the sauce over medium heat, stirring frequently, until simmering. Simmer 2-3 minutes, gently mashing some of the blueberries with your spoon, until thickened. Serve warm and refrigerate any leftovers.

6.01.2019

Snickerdoodle Blondies

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These soft and chewy snickerdoodle blondies have the best cinnamon sugar flavor, and are so easy to make!

These soft and chewy snickerdoodle blondies have the best cinnamon sugar flavor, and are so easy to make!

I have to say, I'm generally much more of a brownie person than a blondie person. I love a good rich chocolate brownie, especially when it's dense and fudgy and flavorful. Crisp on the edges, crackly on the top, and soft and decadent in the middle... yum! Blondies just never seem to measure up. They're often dry or crumbly, too sweet, and just overall not great. They never seem to be very flavorful. But these snickerdoodle blondies? They could go toe to toe with any brownie out there and hold their own. They have a sweet and crisp cinnamon sugar top, are perfectly crisp on the  edges, and have a soft and chewy middle. They are addictingly delicious! 

One of the great things about these blondies is that the recipe makes a big 9 x 13 pan, so there are plenty to go around! They will keep for a few days if stored in an airtight container, but they never seem to last very long at my house. They're great to bring to summer picnics and potlucks because they're so quick to throw together, and they won't melt in the sun. I like them with a cold glass of milk, but my over-the-top husband loves them with a scoop of ice cream and caramel sauce on top. Either way, they are totally delicious!
Snickerdoodle Blondies

for the blondies:
2 2/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla

for the topping:
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350. Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment or foil, and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the brown sugar and butter together until well combined. Add the eggs and vanilla, and mix until combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and mix until the dough comes together. Spread the dough evenly in the prepared pan. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the dough. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted two inches from the side of the pan comes out clean. Let cool completely before serving.
These soft and chewy snickerdoodle blondies have the best cinnamon sugar flavor, and are so easy to make!

5.26.2019

Stovetop Mac and Cheese

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This stovetop mac and cheese is so creamy, cheesy, and all around delicious!

This stovetop mac and cheese is so creamy, cheesy, and all around delicious!

My family was super lucky to make it through cold and flu season mostly unscathed this year. Unfortunately, this month it all caught up with us, and 3 out of 4 members of my family (including me) have had the most miserable cold ever. I'm normally pretty good at just pushing through, even when I'm sick, but this cold totally knocked me flat! For over a week, I wasn't able to do much more than just lay on the couch and watch TV, or read books. I probably read somewhere between 1500 and 2000 pages, and watched the entire series of Fleabag and the first season of Killing Eve. We're finally crawling out of the haze of sickness now, and I'm trying to get back into the swing of normal life again, but it's hard! I need to deep clean my house, restock the fridge and freezer, catch up on all of my emails and snail mail, and get caught up on all of the work I've let slide while I've been sick.

Since our fridge is woefully understocked at the moment, I've been relying on our pantry staples to put together our meals. I'm still not feeling 100% yet, so I've been cooking easy, simple comfort food to get us by. This stovetop mac and cheese is an absolute staple at our house, and I make it at least once a week. It doesn't take any more time than making a box of mac and cheese, but it tastes way better. I've made this so many times that I could make it in my sleep at this point, and it's consistently delicious. My kids love it, and it's one of their most requested meals. Sometimes we change it up a little by adding chunks of ham, chicken, or tuna, and it's also delicious with steamed broccoli, asparagus, or peas mixed in. If you haven't mastered the art of homemade mac and cheese yet, this recipe is the perfect way to do it!

This stovetop mac and cheese is so creamy, cheesy, and all around delicious!

Stovetop Mac and Cheese

1/2 pound shell pasta or macaroni pasta
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, stirring well so that the flour is completely incorporated. Cook 2-3 minutes, until golden and bubbly. Slowly add the milk, a little at a time, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce is smooth and thick. Remove from heat and whisk in the cheddar and monterey jack cheeses. Add salt and pepper, taste, and adjust seasonings as needed. Stir in the cooked pasta and serve immediately.

This stovetop mac and cheese is so creamy, cheesy, and all around delicious!

5.20.2019

Bacon Breakfast Pizza

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This bacon breakfast pizza is perfect for any meal of the day! It's so flavorful and delicious, and easy to make too!

This bacon breakfast pizza is perfect for any meal of the day! It's so flavorful and delicious, and easy to make too!

I mentioned a few weeks ago that we've been trying to get back into the swing of weekly pizza nights lately, and this bacon breakfast pizza is one of our favorites! I've made it nearly every week for the last month, and we never get tired of it. Even my picky kids love it! It has all the flavors of our favorite breakfast foods, but in pizza form. It just doesn't get better than that! 

I'm not a fan of super runny eggs, so I like to cook the pizza until the whites are completely set and the yolks are soft but not runny. I try to be really careful not to break the yolks when I crack the eggs onto the pizza, but if you do happen to break one (as I did when I took these pictures) it's not a huge deal. The pizza will still be delicious! If you're very opposed to the idea of soft yolks on your eggs, you could scramble the eggs instead, and cook the pizza until the eggs are completely set. The recipe is pretty versatile and easy to tailor to your own tastes. We've tried it with both cheddar cheese and mozzarella cheese, and it's delicious both ways. I'm excited to try it with sausage or ham instead of the bacon, too! 

This bacon breakfast pizza is perfect for any meal of the day! It's so flavorful and delicious, and easy to make too!
Bacon Breakfast Pizza

1 ball of pizza dough
1/2 teaspoon corn meal
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
4 large eggs
salt and pepper to taste
fresh parsley (for garnish)

Preheat the oven to 500 with a pizza stone or overturned cookie sheet inside. Sprinkle a piece of parchment paper or a pizza peel with corn meal. Spread the pizza dough into a 12 inch circle, using your fingers to make an indented border around the outside edge. Brush the pizza dough generously with the olive oil. Sprinkle the cheese and Oscar Mayer Bacon on top of the pizza dough, leaving four open spaces for the eggs. Crack an egg into each space, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Carefully transfer the pizza to the pizza stone or overturned cookie sheet using a pizza peel or large cutting board. Bake 9-10 minutes, or until the egg whites are set and the crust is golden brown. Remove the pizza from the oven, and sprinkle with fresh parsley. Serve hot.
This bacon breakfast pizza is perfect for any meal of the day! It's so flavorful and delicious, and easy to make too!

4.30.2019

Everything Deviled Eggs

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These everything deviled eggs are just as delicious as classic deviled eggs, but with a fun pop of flavor from everything bagel seasoning!

These everything deviled eggs are just as delicious as classic deviled eggs, but with a fun pop of flavor from everything bagel seasoning!

Eggs are definitely one of the staples of my family's diet. We go through at least two dozen eggs per week, and I love that they're a versatile and inexpensive source of protein. We use them for quiche, omelettes, breakfast tacos, and (my favorite) eggs and tortillas. I was never a huge fan of eggs as a kid, but now I can't get enough of them! A few months ago, I discovered the amazing combination of everything bagel seasoning with eggs (in pretty much any form) and now it's hard to eat them any other way. If you haven't tried everything bagel seasoning before, it's available at Trader Joe's (and I've also found it at Walmart), and it's a mix of things like poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dried garlic, dried onion, and salt. It adds a ton of flavor to whatever you sprinkle it on, but it's especially amazing with eggs. We like to sprinkle it on scrambled eggs, omelettes, or egg salad. It's so good! 

When I was trying to think of a fun appetizer for our Easter dinner, I decided to upgrade my basic deviled eggs by sprinkling them with some everything bagel seasoning. They turned out so delicious, and they were so easy to make, too! They only took about 10 minutes of hands-on time to make, which worked perfectly for me as I was trying to get all the other components of dinner finished. These eggs are so easy that they don't need to just be relegated to special occasions or holidays. I think they'd be perfect for a light lunch with a side salad, or for a quick snack. You definitely need to try these eggs!

These everything deviled eggs are just as delicious as classic deviled eggs, but with a fun pop of flavor from everything bagel seasoning!
Everything Deviled Eggs

8 large eggs, boiled and cooled (I made mine in the Instant Pot)
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon milk (optional)
1 tablespoon everything bagel seasoning

Cut the eggs in half and gently scoop out the yolks, being careful not to break the egg whites. Add the yolks to a small bowl and mash with a fork until they are broken apart. Stir in the mayonnaise and dijon mustard, and mix until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add a teaspoon of milk to thin it out. Spoon or pipe the yolk mixture back into the whites, then sprinkle with everything bagel seasoning. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
These everything deviled eggs are just as delicious as classic deviled eggs, but with a fun pop of flavor from everything bagel seasoning!

4.26.2019

Barbecue Chicken Pizza

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This flavorful and savory barbecue chicken pizza is the perfect way to jazz up your pizza night at home!

This flavorful and savory barbecue chicken pizza is the perfect way to jazz up your pizza night at home!

Once upon a time, when my kids were very little and life was much simpler and less busy, we used to have pizza night every week. My husband was working full time and going to school part time, and our schedule was very stable from week to week, so it was easy to plan a fun pizza night every Friday as a reward for getting through the week. I developed a great easy pizza dough recipe, and got so quick at making it that I could have a hot cheese pizza on the table in less than 30 minutes. It was something fun for our whole family to look forward to, and we did it religiously for about two years, from when my youngest was a baby until she was well into toddlerhood. 

As time went on, however, I started working outside of the home as a nurse, my husband started nursing school, our kids started elementary school and extracurricular activities, and life just got busier and busier. These days my husband's schedule at the hospital changes from week to week, my pre-teen has what seems like an endless social calendar, and my youngest is busy with gymnastics and school activities. I've been missing those simple pizza nights from years ago, though, and I decided it was high time we brought them back. They won't always be on the same night each week, since we have such varied schedules, but I think we can make it work. We've successfully had pizza night for the last three weeks in a row, and everyone in my family is pretty excited about it. It's fun to experiment with different toppings and flavor combinations, and we've had so much fun talking and laughing together over hot slices of pizza. 

This barbecue chicken pizza is a copycat of a pizza my husband and I had on our first date, from a little local pizza place called Gepetto's. I've been making it for years, and it is one of my favorite pizzas! It has a barbecue/marina sauce blend, and it's topped with chicken, mozzarella and feta cheeses, and red onions. After it's baked, it's drizzled with a little more barbecue sauce and sprinkled with some chopped fresh cilantro. It's so delicious and flavorful, and a favorite with both kids and adults! My nearly 12 year old is absolutely nuts for this pizza, and could probably eat a whole pizza herself if I let her. :) I'm looking forward to sharing more fun pizza recipes with you as week make them, so follow along to keep up with our pizza night adventures!
Barbecue Chicken Pizza

1 ball of pizza dough (make your own or use store-bought)
1/2 cup pizza sauce
1/4 cup barbecue sauce, plus more for drizzling
1 1/2 cups chopped or shredded cooked chicken
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
fresh cilantro, chopped

Preheat the oven to 500 with a pizza stone or overturned cookie sheet inside for at least 30 minutes. Sprinkle a sheet of parchment paper with cornmeal. Gently stretch the pizza dough out into a circle that is 12-14 inches in diameter. Spread the pizza sauce over the dough, leaving a one inch margin around the edges. Drizzle the barbecue sauce over the pizza sauce. Sprinkle the chicken over the top of the sauce, then spread the mozzarella cheese evenly over the top of the chicken. Sprinkle the feta and red onion over the top of the pizza. Transfer the pizza to the pizza stone or cookie sheet using a pizza peel or a large cutting board. Bake the pizza for 8-9 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the crust is lightly browned. Drizzle with barbecue sauce and sprinkle with the chopped cilantro. Serve hot.
This flavorful and savory barbecue chicken pizza is the perfect way to jazz up your pizza night at home!

4.22.2019

How To Freeze Cookie Dough

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Want freshly baked, perfectly delicious cookies whenever the craving strikes? Follow these simple step by step instructions to freeze cookie dough, for the best results every time!

Want freshly baked, perfectly delicious cookies whenever the craving strikes? Follow these simple step by step instructions to freeze cookie dough, for the best results every time!

Is there anything better than a warm, freshly-baked cookie? They are one of my greatest joys in life, and life just feels sadder when there are no cookies to be had. Since I definitely need a warm cookie several nights a week, the best solution that I've come up with is to freeze big batches of cookie dough, so I can pull out a few balls of dough and bake some cookies whenever the cravings strike. Through lots of trial and error, over years of cookie baking, I've developed a foolproof method for making perfect cookies using frozen dough. They're just as delicious as freshly made cookies (or maybe even more so!), but they're so quick and convenient to make. I keep cookie dough on hand in the freezer at all times, and it makes life sweeter!

5 Tips for the Best Frozen Cookie Dough

1. Start with a great recipe

I may be a little biased, but I do think my chocolate chip cookie recipe (listed below) makes the best cookies I've ever had! Of all the recipes I make, I think it's the one that I have made the most times. I made them about twice a week when I was in nursing school (as a way to process all of that nursing school stress), and they never disappoint. I don't even need to check the recipe any more, and I could probably make it in my sleep. It produces consistent, delicious results every time. As great as the recipe is when you make it and bake it, something magical happens to it in the freezer. The texture gets even better, the flavors meld a little more, and the resulting cookies are just fantastic!

Want freshly baked, perfectly delicious cookies whenever the craving strikes? Follow these simple step by step instructions to freeze cookie dough, for the best results every time!

2. Use a cookie scoop for uniformly-sized cookies

It's important to make sure all of your cookies are the same size, so they will cook evenly. I am totally addicted to using scoops for measuring cookies and cupcakes! They keep everything neat and tidy and make it really easy to measure out portions. For these cookies, I like to use a 1.5 tablespoon (#40) scoop. I have this one from Oxo and it has held up well over several years and thousands of cookies scooped. The finished cookies are about 2 inches in diameter, which is the perfect size for me!

Want freshly baked, perfectly delicious cookies whenever the craving strikes? Follow these simple step by step instructions to freeze cookie dough, for the best results every time!

3. Flash-freeze the cookie dough

Flash-freezing the cookie dough after it's scooped prevents the dough balls from sticking to each other, so it's easy to portion out just the amount of cookie dough you need when you're ready to bake. I like to scoop the dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet, then freeze for about 30 minutes. Since you're not baking on it, you can reuse the parchment sheet after you move the cookies to an airtight storage container.

* Bonus tip: Did you know that after you use a sheet or parchment paper, you can turn it over and use the other side to bake with? I learned that tip from Orson Gygi on Instagram a while ago, and it has blown my mind. I don't reuse my parchment sheets if I've cooked something super messy on them, like roasted vegetables or breaded chicken, but I always reuse them after baking cookies. It's a great money saving tip!

Want freshly baked, perfectly delicious cookies whenever the craving strikes? Follow these simple step by step instructions to freeze cookie dough, for the best results every time!

4. Store the cookie dough in an airtight container

This one's a no-brainer, since the cookie dough is going in the freezer and you definitely don't want it to be freezer burned. I've always used zipper top bags to store cookie dough in the past (labeled with the type and date), but I'm trying to reduce my plastic waste lately, so I bought these freezer-safe containers from Ikea, and I love them so far!  

Want freshly baked, perfectly delicious cookies whenever the craving strikes? Follow these simple step by step instructions to freeze cookie dough, for the best results every time!

5. Don't preheat the oven before baking

I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but I've tried it both ways, and the cookies turn out much better if you start them in a cold oven. If you're putting them into a hot oven, the outsides burn before the insides cook all the way through, and the cookies stay in their little domed shapes and don't spread nicely. It does take a little longer to bake them, but I always just set the timer on my watch or phone, and go watch a movie (or an episode of The Office) until they're done. They come out of the oven perfectly crisp on the edges, soft and gooey on the inside, and totally delicious! 

Best Cookie Dough Recipes to Freeze

The recipe below is my very favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, but the same techniques will work for other types of cookie dough too. Here are some of my other favorite cookies to freeze:


Happy Baking!

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

12 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the butter, brown sugar, and sugar. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla, and mix until combined. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix to form a soft dough. Gently fold in the chocolate chips. Roll the cookie dough into golf ball sized balls. Using your fingers, pinch each ball of dough into two halves. Place one half, rough side down, on the prepared baking sheet, then place the other half, rough side up, on top, to form a double stack. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until the bottoms are light golden brown.

*To freeze the cookie dough for later, roll or scoop the dough into one inch balls. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, and freeze 30-60 minutes, or until firm. Place in a zipper bag or airtight container and freeze up to 6 months. When ready to bake, place the cookie dough on a parchment lined baking sheet in a cold oven. Turn the oven on to 325. Bake 25 minutes.

4.20.2019

Beecher's Mac and Cheese

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This Beecher's Mac and Cheese recipe is truly the world's best! It's so thick and creamy and has an amazing cheesy flavor!

This Beecher's Mac and Cheese recipe is truly the world's best! It's so thick and creamy and has an amazing cheesy flavor!

A few weeks ago we decided to try something new for spring break, and we took a road trip up to Seattle for a few days. We're only about 3 1/2 hours away here in Portland, but somehow in the nearly three years we've lived here, we hadn't made it up there yet. I was a little intimidated by the idea of exploring a new city, but we totally had a blast! I think we will plan lots more weekend trips in the future, and enjoy everything Seattle has to offer. Like all good tourists, we of course needed to visit Pike Place, and it definitely did not disappoint! We went to the original Starbucks store, browsed all the beautiful fresh tulips in the market, marveled at all of the fresh seafood and fruits and vegetables, bought some prints from a local artist, and enjoyed the busker playing his saxophone outside. 


Of course the most important part of any vacation is the food, and there was SO MUCH GOOD FOOD at (and around) Pike Place. We started the day with biscuits and gravy from Biscuit Bitch, devoured garlic and cheese piroshki from Piroshky Piroshky, enjoyed macarons from Le Panier, and got a handcrafted soda from Shug's Soda Fountain. It's hard to choose a favorite, but the one food I keep dreaming about is the absolutely amazing mac and cheese from Beecher's Handmade Cheese.


I had heard of their cheese before, and of course the free samples they have in the store were a huge draw, but I had no idea about the mac and cheese wonderfulness that was waiting for me! The sauce was thick and creamy and silky smooth, with the perfect cheddar flavor, and unbelievably delicious. I shared a cup of it with my husband and two kids, and none of us could get enough! We bought some Flagship cheese to take home with us, but I couldn't get the mac and cheese out of my mind. Luckily, Beecher's has kindly shared the recipe online, so I was able to make it at home (and now share it with you!). 

This Beecher's Mac and Cheese recipe is truly the world's best! It's so thick and creamy and has an amazing cheesy flavor!

The at-home version is just as delicious as the version in the store, and I love that I made it myself! The recipe is a little unusual in that it uses penne pasta instead of a traditional macaroni noodle, but it's a really fun change, and it means each noodle holds onto more sauce. The cheese sauce is so decadent and flavorful, and I love those gooey strings of cheese whenever you scoop up a spoonful of tender noodles and sauce.

This Beecher's Mac and Cheese recipe is truly the world's best! It's so thick and creamy and has an amazing cheesy flavor!

I changed the Beecher's recipe just a tiny bit, to add a few more noodles so it would stretch a bit further for my family. (Don't worry, there's still an excellent cheese sauce to noodle ratio!) I got six side dish-sized servings from it, but if you are serving it as a main dish, I would guess it would serve about 4. We ate it with some grilled garlic chicken sausage and sautéed vegetables on the side, and it was all delightful together. I think this is definitely our new go-to mac and cheese! 

This Beecher's Mac and Cheese recipe is truly the world's best! It's so thick and creamy and has an amazing cheesy flavor!
Beecher's Mac and Cheese

8 ounces penne pasta
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
8 ounces Beecher's Flagship cheese*, grated (about 2 cups)
2 ounces monterey jack cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat the oven to 350. Cook the penne for two minutes less than the package directions indicate, then drain and rinse with cool water. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and stir to make a paste. Cook 2-3 minutes, until golden. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Cook 5-7 minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in 1 1/2 cups of the Flagship cheese and 1/4 cup of the monterey jack cheese. Add the salt, 1/4 teaspoon of chili powder, and the garlic powder, and whisk until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Stir the cooked pasta into the cheese sauce and toss to coat evenly. Pour the pasta into a 9 x 9 baking dish and top with the remaining cheese, then sprinkle with the remaining chili powder. Bake 20 minutes, then let sit 5 minutes before serving.

* If you don't happen to live near Seattle, Beecher's cheese is available at various grocery stores (I have found it at Kroger and Albertsons stores near me) and also available online. This recipe would also work great with any extra sharp white cheddar (I really like Tillamook and Darigold brands).
This Beecher's Mac and Cheese recipe is truly the world's best! It's so thick and creamy and has an amazing cheesy flavor!

4.16.2019

Mexican Rice

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This easy and delicious Mexican rice recipe is the perfect side dish for tacos, enchiladas, or burritos!

This easy and delicious Mexican rice recipe is the perfect side dish for tacos, enchiladas, or burritos!

If there's one type of cuisine I cook for dinner more than any other, it's definitely Mexican food. My mom made it frequently when I was growing up, and to me it is total comfort food. My husband didn't eat any Mexican food when he was growing up, even at restaurants, so when we were dating and I started cooking dinner for him occasionally, it was like a whole new world of flavors opened up for him. He absolutely loves enchiladas, tacos, burritos, quesadillas, tamales - you name it!

As side dishes for all of our Mexican-inspired meals, I love to serve refried beans and this delicious Mexican rice recipe. I actually had a different Mexican rice recipe that I made for years and years, but my husband is not a big fan of tomatoes, and said it was a little too tomato-ey for him. We found this recipe on Lil' Luna about a year ago, and now it's the only recipe we use! I've made a few little tweaks to the recipe after making it several times, and it is absolutely delicious. It's so flavorful, and it has the perfect texture. The recipe makes a ton of rice, so I usually divide it into fourths and freeze the other three portions for future meals. This Mexican rice tastes just like the rice from our favorite Mexican restaurant, and I love that it's so easy and inexpensive to make at home!
Mexican Rice

2 cups rice
1/4 cup oil
8 ounces tomato sauce
4 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon cumin

Add the rice and oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the rice is lightly browned. Add the tomato sauce and stir until blended. Add the chicken broth, salt, pepper, garlic, and cumin, and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, then cover and reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer 20-25 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Remove from heat and let stand five minutes, then fluff with a fork before serving.
This easy and delicious Mexican rice recipe is the perfect side dish for tacos, enchiladas, or burritos!
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