Royal Icing

I was surprised to learn that I hadn’t posted my royal icing recipe years ago when I posted the sugar cookie recipe I used.  I know I posted my usual buttercream, but I on occasion also pull out the royal icing, which I have done a couple times recently to celebrate campus accomplishments — including our annual big concert, and a colleague who celebrated having worked on-campus for 20 years!  Here you can see our “C” to help recognize the students and staff who put in so much work.

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Royal Icing

1 lb powdered sugar
5 Tbps meringue powder
1/2 c water

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugar and meringue powder.  Mixing on low speed, add a scant 1/2 cup water.  Mix until icing holds a ribbon-like trail on its surface for five seconds.


Lemon Creme Bars

I found a recipe and an occasion when I wanted to make a new recipe.  With spring and Easter, I found a recipe for Lemon Creme Bars that to me were reminiscent of Chocolate Revel Bars on paper, and I had to see how similar they were.  I think they turned out pretty well.  But, instead of revel bars, I found them to be more similar to Rhubarb Bars.  I brought these in to our Registrar’s Office when they finished registration for next year.  The recipe is from a cookbook I found on eBay, The St. John the Baptist Collegeville, MN Parish Centennial Cookbook.  And, since I went to church there for a period of time, it seemed fitting to purchase the cookbook.

Lemon Creme Bars

Lemon Creme Bars

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c lemon juice
1 1/2 c flour
1 c quick cooking oatmeal
1 c brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2/3 c butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9×13 pan.  Combine sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice, set aside.  In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, mix at a low speed until crumbly.  Press half to 2/3 of the crumbs into prepared pan.  Spread the lemon mixture on top.  Crumble remaining mixture over all.  Bake 25-30 minutes until light brown.  Bars will be soft.  Chill.  Cut into bars.  Refrigerate.

Soda Cracker Bars

Like I said, I’ve been making some treats for staff members lately who have been doing some great things at work.  Interestingly, I was listening to the recent Bad Feminist episode of Stuff Mom Never Told You.  One piece of advice they shared on it was to never bring treats into work if you’re a woman because it may prevent your ability to get ahead.  This, of course, was somewhat ridiculous advice to bring but was something that caused me to ponder the advice.  They also discussed the difference between cooking because you enjoy it versus cooking because its an expectation.  I thought this was also an important distinction.  So, for those of you who bring food into work on occasion, I’d be curious to hear your two cents.

These bars are some that I brought to a couple staff members who helped organize our Relay for Life event on-campus.  We held it a few weeks ago, and these treats for them were a small thank you.  The recipe is from the Blue Earth St. Peter and Paul Cookbook, 1988.  I had crackers to use up and it seemed like a great way to do it.  I found them somewhat reminiscent of the kit kat bars I made a while ago.

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Soda Cracker Bars

Layer the bottom of a 9×13 with Keebler crackers


1 c brown sugar
1 c ground Keebler crackers, very fine
1/3 c milk
1 c coconut
1/2 c butter

Stir and cook the above mixture 6 minutes or until slightly thickened.  Spread over cracker layer and put another layer of crackers over the filling.  Spread any melted chips of your taste.

Lemonade Cookies

Lately, most of the cooking I’ve been doing has been based on recipes I’ve made before, so there hasn’t been a lot of new recipes to share.  However, you are also about to see a series of recipes that are baked goods I have made for staff, friends, and to celebrate people’s accomplishments.  The first of these is from Our Favorite Recipes, ALCW of Our Saviors Lutheran Church, Kiester, Minnesota, 1970.  How can I not be excited about a 1970s cookbook from a town near where I grew up?  And, how is spring not full of moments of citrus and lemon flavors?  These lemonade cookies were a great mix of not-overly-sweet and a subtle lemon flavor.  With the addition of frozen lemonade, a great memory of my childhood…

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Lemonade Cookies

1 c butter
2 eggs
1 c sugar
3 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 can frozen lemonade concentrate (thawed)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In mixing bowl, cream together butter and 1 c sugar.  Add eggs; beat well.  Stir dry ingredients into the egg mixture, alternately with 1/2 c of the lemonade concentrate.  Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.  Bake about 8 minutes; brush lightly with remaining concentrate and sprinkle with sugar.

Honey Popcorn

In the flurry of chilly, snowy nights we had earlier this month, I wanted to make some popcorn.  I don’t know what about the popcorn was appealing, beyond the fact that it was there and light and something to snack on, but I had never made popcorn on the stovetop and was excited to do so.  Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Fast has a quick recipe for how to make a rosemary popcorn, with a variation for flavoring with honey, which sounded just right.  So, I followed the instructions and made my own homemade honey popcorn.

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Honey Popcorn

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 c popping corn
1 Tbsp honey

Put 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add 3 corn kernels and cover the pot.  When the three kernels pop, add 1/2 c kernels, cover, and, holding the lid in place, shake the pot.  Cook, shaking occasionally until the popping stops, about 5 minutes.  Toss with honey and salt.

Quick Brownies

Earlier this month, we had a day where as soon as we arrived at work, notices started to arrive sharing that the local schools were closing after lunch.  We were about to get snowed in.  I walked to work and the walk home was full of snow falling and greeting my neighbors out clearing their driveways, as interstates and accidents were announced throughout Iowa.  And the only thing I could think about was making brownies.  I’m not sure what about brownies was appealing (it could be that I had all of the ingredients on-hand at home), but I was ready to throw some together.  So, after taking Meg for a quick walk, I threw together the brownies, and while they were baking, went out and cleaned off my driveway as well.  This recipe from Sara Mouton’s Everyday Family Dinners was one I had not previously made, but it was perfection.  I substituted some sea salt caramel chips for the walnuts the recipe calls for and added a layer of depth to the recipe that I could not have otherwise anticipated.

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Quick Brownies

8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 c sugar
2/3 c natural (not Dutch process) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 c flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c chocolate chips
1/2 c walnuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Generously grease a 9-inch square baking pan.  Melt the butter in the microwave or in a small saucepan over low heat; let cool slightly.  Combine the sugar, cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Add the eggs, melted butter, and vanilla and stir with a fork until a lumpy batter forms.  Stir in the chocolate chips and the walnuts, if using.  Transfer to the baking pan and bake until the center appears set, about 25 minutes.  Transfer to a rack to cool; let cool for 15 minutes.  Cut into 16 squares and serve warm.

Colorful Kale, Apple, and Fennel Slaw with Tart Cherries

Recently we had another death in my parish and, like I often do, I decided to bring a salad to the funeral luncheon. I was looking for something that would hold up well with refrigeration and this recipe from the Love Real Food cookbook seemed to meet those needs. The sweet lime dressing was a great contrast to the cherries and slight spiciness of the fennel. The flavors all complemented one another quite nicely.

Colorful Kale, Apple, and Fennel Slaw

Colorful Kale, Apple, and Fennel Slaw with Tart Cherries

2 c packed chopped Tuscan kale leaves, tough ribs removed
2 c thinly sliced red cabbage
2 c thinly sliced brussels sprouts, tough ends trimmed
1 c thinly sliced raw fennel
1 medium-large Granny Smith apple, cut into 1/2 in cubes
1/2 c chopped dried tart cherries

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp honey or maple syrup
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp sea salt

To prepare the slaw: In a large bowl, combine the kale, cabbage, brussels sprouts, fennel, apple, and dried cherries.

To make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, honey, vinegar, mustard, and salt until blended. Taste and adjust as necessary.

Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. For best flavor, let the salad marinate for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. This slaw keeps well, chilled, for 2 to 3 days.