The Baker Upstairs: June 2014


fresh strawberry lemonade

This sweet and refreshing fresh strawberry lemonade is the perfect summer drink!

This sweet and refreshing fresh strawberry lemonade is the perfect summer drink!

Of all the things I've posted on the blog in the last few months, I think this one might be my very favorite! Strawberry lemonade is one of my very favorite treats in the whole world. I order it whenever I see it on a restaurant menu (even when it's outrageously expensive!) and I still can't get enough. It's so refreshing and sweet, and the perfect way to cool off on a hot day. I love slurping the chunks of strawberries up through my straw and I love the contrast of tangy and sweet. Yum!

This sweet and refreshing fresh strawberry lemonade is the perfect summer drink!

This homemade version is as good as any I've had at a restaurant, but it's so incredibly easy to make at home! I mentioned earlier this week that I've been making batch after batch of my new favorite strawberry sauce, and this drink is the reason why! I do recognize that it's a super unconventional way to make lemonade, but it seriously couldn't be easier, and I love making it this way. Give it a try and I think you'll love it too!

Fresh Strawberry Lemonade

3 lemons, washed well
1 cup sugar
6 cups cold water (more if you like your lemonade a little less strong)
2 cups ice
for each serving: 2 tablespoons fresh strawberry sauce

Cut the ends off the lemons, then cut each lemon into sixths or eighths. Add the lemons, the sugar, and 3 cups water to a blender, and pulse 6-8 times, or until the lemons are broken up but not smashed to bits. Pour the mixture into a pitcher through a fine mesh strainer. Add the remaining water and ice. To serve, add some ice to the bottom of a glass. Top with 2 tablespoons strawberry sauce, then fill with lemonade. Enjoy!

This sweet and refreshing fresh strawberry lemonade is the perfect summer drink!


fresh strawberry sauce

This fresh strawberry sauce is pretty much just the essence of summer… it's so fresh and delicious and full of juicy berries!

This fresh strawberry sauce is pretty much just the essence of summer… it's so fresh and delicious and full of juicy berries! I made this for the first time a few weeks ago and I've been looking for any excuse to make it again and again! This sauce is super easy to make and ready in just a few minutes, and is super versatile, too! It works great as a syrup for waffles or pancakes or as a topping for ice cream or yogurt. And I can't wait to share with you my favorite way to eat it later in the week… stay tuned!

This fresh strawberry sauce is pretty much just the essence of summer… it's so fresh and delicious and full of juicy berries!

For now, it's pretty safe to assume that I'll be sneaking spoonfuls of this delicious sauce any chance I get!

Fresh Strawberry Sauce

3 cups chopped strawberries
1/4 - 1/2 cup sugar (depending on the sweetness of your strawberries)
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon corn starch
2 tablespoons water

Add the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice to a medium pot and stir well. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. While the mixture is heating, dissolve the corn starch in the water and whisk until smooth. Add the corn starch mixture to the strawberry mixture and stir well. Let simmer 2-3 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Remove and let cool slightly before serving. Store in the refrigerator.

This fresh strawberry sauce is pretty much just the essence of summer… it's so fresh and delicious and full of juicy berries!


Dubliner cheese scones


Happy Monday! How was your Father's Day yesterday? We had a nice breakfast in the morning of blueberry muffins, turkey bacon, and fruit salad. The girls filled out some cute questionnaires (found here) about Geoff and had us giggling with their answers. I particularly liked when Lizzy said her daddy is "small feet and big inches tall" and weighs "all the pounds." He's such a wonderful dad to our girls and I'm so grateful to have him in my life! Unfortunately Geoff had to work in the afternoon and evening, so I was home with the girls and missing him. The giant block of Dubliner cheese we bought at Costco this week was in the fridge calling my name, so I decided the only thing for it was to make some delicious scones!

Lizzy helped me make them and we had a great time. I haven't cooked with her very much yet (usually I just let her sit on the counter while I cook) but this time I let her add all the ingredients and even let her help me crack the eggs. I was pretty amazed and impressed that she didn't spill anything and did exactly as I asked her to do. Maybe she'll love cooking as much as her mommy does! The scones turned out absolutely wonderful and so tender and flaky. The sharp cheese gives them such a nice texture and flavor, and they're so light they almost melt in your mouth. The girls and I shared one hot out of the oven, and it was so good! We made turkey and cheese sandwiches with them for dinner, and the girls ate every last bite. Yum!

Dubliner Cheese Scones

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
1 cup + 2 tablespoons shredded Dubliner cheese (or another aged sharp cheddar), divided
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk (or milk + a splash of vinegar)
1 egg white

Preheat the oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in the butter using a pastry blender or two knives, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Toss one cup of the shredded cheese in the in the flour mixture, reserving the . Whisk together the eggs and buttermilk, then stir the mixture into the dry ingredients until just combined (do not over mix!). Pat the dough into a 3/4 inch thick layer on a lightly floured surface, then use a cup or a biscuit cutter to cut out scones (mine were 1 3/4 inch). Reshape the remaining dough and cut out more scones, using all the dough. Whisk the egg white with a dash of water and brush over the scones. Top with the remaining shredded cheese. Bake 12-14 minutes or until golden brown (I turned on the broiler for the last minute to make them perfectly golden and crispy on top). Enjoy!

adapted from Will Cook for Smiles


chicken enchilada pasta bake


I have such a yummy dinner to share with you today! I can never get enough mexican/southwest food, and this pasta bake was awesome! I made it for dinner a few nights ago when Geoff was working late, and the girls loved it. Abby actually ate two servings, which is super unusual for her, and kept asking for more "spicy macaroni." (For the record, it's really not spicy at all, but Abby thinks anything that doesn't taste like paste is spicy.) I ate mine with fresh tomatoes and avocado on top, and it was so good!

It's a delicious cheesy enchilada sauce tossed with shredded cooked chicken, egg noodles, corn, and black beans, then baked with a little cheese sprinkled on top. The best part is that it's super easy to make and ready in about 30 minutes. Total dinner win!

I seriously can't believe how fast and easy this was to make… I can't wait to experiment with it a little and try some new flavor combos (like green enchilada sauce and pepper jack cheese). This is definitely a great one to have on hand for busy nights!

Chicken Enchilada Pasta Bake

1 10 ounce can enchilada sauce
4 ounces cream cheese (I used neufch√Ętel)
2 tablespoons greek yogurt or sour cream
1 1/4 cup shredded cheese, divided (I used a mexican blend)
1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken (I used rotisserie chicken)
3/4 cup frozen corn
dri1/2 can black beans, rinsed and drained
8 ounces egg noodles
avocado, fresh tomato, and cilantro for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350. Cook the pasta according to the package directions and set aside. While the pasta is cooking, add the enchilada sauce, cream cheese, and greek yogurt to a large saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the cream cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Add one cup of shredded cheese and stir until combined. Add the chicken, corn, and black beans, and cook until heated through. Toss the pasta with the sauce and spread in a 9 x 9 baking dish. Top with remaining cheese and bake 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

adapted from Buns in My Oven


strawberry banana smoothie


How about another awesome smoothie to start the week off right? My kids are just crazy about them, and it seems like no matter how many I make, they are always eager for more. This strawberry banana smoothie is super simple and easy, and the kiddos adore it. The strawberries right now are so luscious and sweet! It's one of my favorite times of the year for eating… I love all the fresh berries, and everything is so vibrant and full of flavor. We've been going through a 4 pound container of strawberries from Costco every week, and I still can't get enough! I'm still loving using frozen bananas in my smoothies… I think they give them the perfect texture and level of sweetness. Here's to a summer full of delicious smoothies!
Strawberry Banana Smoothie

1 frozen ripe banana
1 cup chopped fresh strawberries
1/2 teaspoon ground flaxseed (optional, but I like throwing it in)
3/4 - 1 cup milk (or soy milk, almond milk, or orange juice, or any combination of liquids)

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Add more liquid as needed to thin to desired consistency. Enjoy!


orange creamsicle cookies


This last weekend was my in-laws' 50th wedding anniversary! My husband is the youngest of eight kids, and it was fun to have all his siblings together this weekend to celebrate. We held an open house for my in-laws on Saturday and I offered (probably stupidly!) to do a dessert buffet. Let's just say it involved a crazy amount of baking over a short period of time… yikes! All things considered, though, everything turned out really well and the food was delicious. I'm excited to share some of the recipes I made over the next few days.

I've made these orange creamsicle cookies before, but it's been forever and I decided they needed a new post with some new pictures. These cookies are so soft and flavorful! Geoff and I agreed that they taste just like a creamsicle. I love the contrast of the orange zest with the white chocolate chips. Yum!

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 firmly packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange extract
2 tablespoons orange zest
2 cups white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375. Line two baking sheets with parchment or spray with cooking spray. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla, orange extract, and orange zest,  and mix until combined. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt, and mix until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips. Drop rounded scoops of dough onto the prepared pans (I used a cookie scoop to make them more uniform). Bake 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned on the bottom.

adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything


lion house rolls


These rolls are fantastic! If you're not familiar with the Lion House, it's a historic building in Salt Lake City that is now a venue for special occasions and meetings, and has a restaurant in the basement. Their food is delicious and homey and comforting. The first time I tried these rolls was at a wedding luncheon for a good friend, and I loved every last bite! They are incredibly soft and buttery and flavorful, and just all around perfect. Because I couldn't stop raving about these rolls, my aunt gave me the Lion House cookbook for Christmas the year Geoff and I were married, and I was thrilled to find the roll recipe inside. Unfortunately, I was so intimidated by the thought of baking with yeast at the time that I never got around to making them for myself… until now!

I was looking through my cookbook collection a few nights ago and decided there was no time like the present to make a batch of these lovelies. The rolls were actually relatively easy to make, and turned out beautifully on the first try. I think the key with any bread is to not over-flour the dough. That's a mistake I made when I first started baking with yeast, and it led to a lot of disappointing results. Just add a little at a time until the dough is just firm enough to be manageable but still soft and slightly sticky. These rolls are delicious and perfect for any occasion!

Lion House Rolls

2 cups warm water
2/3 cup nonfat dry milk
2 tablespoons yeast (I always use active dry yeast)
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 egg
5 - 5 1/2 cups flour (I used all purpose, but bread flour would also work)
2 tablespoons butter, melted, plus more for brushing on hot rolls

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the dry milk in the warm water. Sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of sugar over the top, and stir to combine. Let sit 5-10 minutes, or until the yeast is bubbling. Add the sugar, salt, butter, egg, and 2 cups of flour, and mix to combine. Add another 2 cups of flour and mix until combined. Add the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, and knead until a soft and smooth dough forms. The dough should be soft and slightly tacky. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

After the dough has risen, punch it down. Roll it out into a large rectangle that is 8 inches tall by 18 inches wide. Brush with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut the rectangle in half lengthwise to form two rectangles that are 4 inches by 18 inches. Cut each rectangle into nine strips that are 2 inches wide by 4 inches tall. Starting with the short end, roll each strip of dough into a spiral, and place seam side down on a lightly greased baking sheet. Repeat with remaining strips. Cover and let rise 30-60 minutes, or until doubled in size. During the last 15 minutes of rise time, preheat the oven to 375. Bake 15-18 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter.

from the Lion House Classics cookbook