Creamy Raspberry Jalapeño Dip

There are few things in life that I'm addicted to that do NOT involve chocolate. But, this creamy, raspberry jalapeno dip is one of them. It's the perfect combination of spicy and sweet and and is perfect for game day or anytime.

Check out the video:

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 Creamy Raspberry Jalapeño Dip
 
Ingredients:
 
- 1 brick of cream cheese, (8 oz)
- 1 cup of raspberry jam
- 1/2 cup of pickled jalapeño slices
 
 
 

1. We'll start with our trusty food processor and use the s-blade attachment. Add the cream cheese -- I use the original version, but if you want to save calories, you can certainly use lower-fat, or fat free cream cheese.

 
2. Then, add the raspberry jam. If you don't like raspberries -- or don't have any on hand -- you can use any kind of fruit jam. I have subbed this with strawberry before and had similar, delicious results.
 
 
3. Lastly, we'll dump in the pickled jalapenos. You can add more or less jalapenos depending how hot you like it. Now normally, I don't like spicy things, but I love this dip. I think it's the addition of the sweetness that makes it sooooo good.
 
 
 
4. Then, we just pulverize the ingredients. You'll notice the mixture turns creamy and light purple in color. Make sure there are no stray jalapeño, or someone might get a bite of more than they bargained for!!!!
 
 
When the mixture looks like this... you're all done! This creamy, raspberry jalapeño dip is just the perfect amount of sweet and spicy...it will be the hit of your party or game night....and just watch how people will talk about "the dip" for days and weeks to come.
 
 

Sugar Cookies, Part 2 – How to Decorate the Perfect Cookie, the Easy Way!

In this article….

Find out the absolutely easiest way to decorate sugar cookies, from this self-proclaimed Lazy Girl.

Sugar cookies are one of my current, favorite projects — it’s food that is art! This is part two in our series, where I show you how to decorate professional-looking sugar cookies with royal icing. Watch the video or follow the step-by-step blog post, complete with pictures. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do! Let me know if you have any questions, I’d love to help. Also, I’d love to see your sugar-cookie results. Share them with me in the comments below!

Check out the video and see how simple it is to decorate the perfect sugar cookie, the easy way:


Perfect Sugar Cookies, Part 2 – Decorate the Perfect Cookie, the Easy Way!

Royal Icing Recipe

Ingredients:

1/2 cup water

4 tablespoons meringue powder*

1 teaspoon clear almond extract (optional)

1 lb (about 4 cups) powdered sugar


Directions:

1. Add water and then meringue powder to your mixing bowl and beat on slow speed  until just combined.

2. Add the almond extract. This is optional, but it really makes the cookies taste sooooo good! Make sure it is clear, though, as we want the icing to be as white as possible. Mix on low till combined.

3. Add 1 lb or about 4 cups of powdered sugar to your mixing bowl. (A lot of recipes call for sifting the powdered sugar first, to help prevent clumps, but honestly, after doing both ways for more than a year now, I haven’t noticed a difference. Since I’m always looking for ways to help make life simpler, I just skip it. But this is just my experience. If you love to sift, then sift away 🙂 Also note, that 1 lb of sugar is usually half a bag, as they tend to come in 2-lb bags.)

4. Mix on low until combined, then move the speed up to high. We’re looking to take our meringues to the stiff peak stage.

5. After a few minutes, take a look. Here, mine are not quite stiff enough. I’m going to beat them for a few more minutes.

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6. And this is what we are looking for….nice stiff peaks. Another way you can tell if you’ve reached this stage is that the beater gets filled with the icing.

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7. Next remove the beater and place a towel over your bowl to keep the icing from drying out.

8. Scoop some of your icing into a smaller bowl (like a cereal bowl) and add food coloring. I like to use gel food coloring from Wilton* or AmeriColor. Here I’m adding twice as much green drops as yellow. It’s always surprising to me how much food coloring it takes to color icing. I wound up adding more to get just the right shade of Christmas-tree green.

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9. Now that we have the right color, we need to find the right consistency.

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10. Decorating sugar cookies — and making them look professional — is all about the consistency of the royal icing. A lot of sugar-cookie bakers like to make a three different consistencies of icing for their cookies, but I’ve found a lot easier way to make them! I found a way that let’s me only make two different kinds of icing, and it helps with lots of other issues!

Royal Icing #1 – For outlining and flood cookies

Royal Icing #2 – Thicker for little details and decorations

My technique for icing sugar cookies…

  • virtually ELIMINATES air bubbles in your icing
  • saves time — you only have to make two different types and there’s no waiting for the outline to dry!
  • almost mistake-free! Outlining can be tricky….move your hand in the wrong direction, and your outline (and therefore your sugar cookie) is ruined! This way of decorating them, it is EASY TO CORRECT MISTAKES!

11. We’re going to make the 1st type of icing: for outlining and flooding. (I think the consistency resembles running peanut butter.)

12. Add small amounts of water to thin out your icing until it has the runny-peanut-butter look. I use 1/2 teaspoon of water at a time. It’s easy to add more water, but harder to make it thicker, if you’ve made it too thin.

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13. This is what we’re looking for. When I drizzle it with a spoon, it slowly loses its shape, and to me this resembles runny peanut butter. You can always try it out on a sample cookie or parchment, and if it doesn’t self-level, you can always squeeze your icing back into the bowl and add a bit more water to it. After a while it will be easy to spot if it’s the right consistency.

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14. Add your icing to a tip-less bag. I absolutely LOVE these Yueton bags that I found on Amazon. They are relatively cheap and make icing sugar cookies a dream. Because they don’t use a tip, there’s nothing to clean — no tip or coupler. They were definitely a game-changer.

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15. Once the bag is filled, make sure to run your fingers on the tip a couple of times. This helps prevent the bag from sticking to itself.

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16. Another bonus of the tip-less bags, is that you choose the size of hole you need. Just trim it to your desired size. Here’s I’m snipping it pretty small (similar to a size 1 or 2 size tip)

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17. Now it’s time for the fun part….decorating the cookies! First you’re going to outline the cookies. You want to hold the bag and apply medium pressure so that the icing flows out of the tip. Note that the tip doesn’t ever touch the cookie, but the icing floats down to where you want it to go. If the icing is breaking, try applying a little more pressure. Just float above the cookie, letting the icing fall onto it. After you practice a couple of times, it will get easier. You’ll know how to balance the amount of pressure with the speed you travel with your hand. Practice makes perfect. If you notice that your outline is breaking, and doesn’t seem to want to go where you want it too, the icing may be too stiff. You may want to thin it out some more.

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18. If you should accidentally make a mistake with your outline, no worries! Because of this method of outlining and flooding at the same time, you can easily re-draw your mistakes. Since we’re filling the outline in right away, you won’t see it. This epiphany took my sugar cookies from amateur to awesome.

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19. Once the outline is done, increase the pressure that you’re squeezing the bag and fill in the middle of the cookie. This is called flooding. Go along the edge and move around the cookie lightly moving the icing as you go. Remember, by using this same icing consistency to outline and flood the cookie, you are saving time, preventing air bubbles and are able to easily fix outlining mistakes.
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20. Next, we use the same consistency icing for the trunk of our Christmas tree.
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21. Now we’re making our second type of icing — the thicker consistency I use for the decorations. How do you know if you got it right? I usually test on some parchment paper, but it was too hard to see on camera, so I’m using a test cookie. I know the icing is thick enough because it holds it shape as a ball, but yet not too thick, as it were, it would have little spikes in the middle of the ball. Really, it’s all about trial and error and knowing what you’re looking for.
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22. We’ll make little Christmas lights on this tree to give it some decoration. The green part of our tree is not completely dry yet, but dry enough that the white christmas lights float above it.
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23. And there you have it….our finished cookie……made at home, but it looks like it came from a bakery. With a little practice you too, will be making these delightful treats just in time for the holidays.
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I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Don’t forget to pin it and share it with friends on social media.
Until next time, I’m Lori and this is Lori Garcia Studios.

*  (Tip: buy it at Michaels or Hobby Lobby using their 40% off coupon. I might just always have it available on my phone. And yes, Michaels will match competitor’s coupons!)

Sugar Cookies, Part 1 – How to Make the Perfect Cookie

In this article….Find out to make sugar cookies that don’t lose their shape, and taste delicious!

Sugar cookies are one of my current, favorite projects — it’s food that is art. What’s not to love?! And since I dove head first into sugar-cookie making about a year ago, I have learned quite a bit, and found what works and what doesn’t. In this two-part series, I show you how to make professional-looking sugar cookies from start to finish. Watch the video or follow the step-by-step blog post, complete with pictures. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do! Let me know if you have any questions, I’d love to help. Also, I’d love to see your sugar-cookie results. Share them with me in the comments below!

Check out the video and see how simple it is to make the Perfect Sugar Cookie:


Perfect Sugar Cookies, Part 1 – Making the Cookies

Ingredients:

2 cups, or 4 sticks, of butter, softened

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons almond extract

5 cups flour


Directions:

1. Cream butter and sugar together until well combined. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the edges of the bowl.

2. Add eggs, salt and extract. It’s the almond extract that takes your cookies from dull to delicious! Trust me. It’s a game-changer.

3. Slowly add flour.

4. Continue to mix until well combined. Scrape the edges and bottom of the bowl a second time.

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5. Scoop about a cup of batter onto a cookie-sheet-sized piece of parchment paper. Place a second piece of parchment onto the dough.

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6. Use a rolling pin to roll out of the dough until its about 1/4″ thick.

7. Place the rolled-out dough onto a cookie sheet and place it all in the freezer for about 15-20 minutes until solid. This is a tip that will help your cookies be easier to cut out, and they won’t lose their shape!

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8. Remove from freezer, and take off the top piece of parchment paper.

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9. Use your cookie cutter to cut the dough.The dough should be like one solid piece, but you should still be able to get the cutter through. If it’s too frozen, you may have to let it thaw a bit before continuing.

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10. The cutout should come out of the dough along with the cookie cutter. Gently push the dough out of the cutter with your hands. Pay special attention to smaller areas, like the trunk in this case. Because the dough is frozen, it should keep its shape really well. If there are any stray pieces, use your fingers to smooth it.

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Sugar Cookies08

11. Place them on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, or until the edges are golden.

And there you go. The perfect sugar cookies, that taste divine and keep their shape. Join us for part two of the series, where we learn how to decorate sugar cookies like a pro. You’ll be making cookies for all your family and friends, and they’ll think they came from a bakery. That’s next time at Lori Garcia Studios.

Lemon Curd Cream Puffs

When I was little I had a cream puff for the first time, and I was mesmerized. It was so puffy and light with a creamy center. I also love lemon and when I found this lemon curd recipe, I knew it was a keeper. Combine the delicate lightness of the cream puff with the tart and tangy lemon curd….and well, it’s magical. The best part….both of these two things are actually easy to make. Really! Check out the video and see how simple it is to make these beautiful decadent dessert.

Here’s the recipe for reference:

Lemon Curd Cream Puffs

The Cream Puff:

Ingredients:

1 stick butter

1 c water

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 c flour

4 large eggs

The Lemon Curd:

Ingredients:

3/4 c water

2 large egg yolks

1/2 c sugar

1/4 c corn starch

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 c lemon juice

2 T butter

Cream Puff Directions:

  1. Bring butter and water in sauce pan over medium heat to a full boil and until butter is melted.
  2. Add salt and slowly stir in flour until the mixture turns into a ball.
  3. Remove from heat and place in a bowl to rest for five minutes. (This step helps prevent the eggs from cooking when added in the next step.)
  4. Add ball of dough into mixing bowl and beat slowly in the four eggs. Once combined, turn the mixer a bit higher until dough is smooth.
  5. Scoop dough into a pastry bag or zip top bag. If you use the zip top bag, make sure to snip a small hole in the corner to pipe the dough.
  6. Pipe the dough on a baking sheet (lined with parchment or buttered or silicone sheet) into circular piles.
  7. Bake at 425 F for 10 minutes.
  8. Turn the heat down to 375 F and cook for the remaining 20 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and let cool.

Lemon Curd Directions:

  1. Add water and egg yolks to a bowl and beat to incorporated.
  2. Add to saucepan and cook on medium heat. Immediately add salt, cornstarch and sugar.
  3. Stir continuously until thickened.
  4. Remove from heat.
  5. Use a whisk to stir in lemon juice and then butter.
  6. Place in bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
  7. Push the plastic wrap down to the top of the lemon curd so that it is touching the top. This helps prevent the top from forming a skin. Place in refrigerator until ready to use.
  8. Fill curd in pastry bag with medium round tip.
  9. Push tip into side of cream puff and pipe until it is full.
  10. Place cream puffs in refrigerator or eat immediately. You can also put them in the freezer to store. Let them defrost before eating.
Or watch the YouTube Video:
Bon Appetit,
Lori

Grow Green Onions in your Kitchen from Scraps!

A few years ago I learned that you can re-grow green onions…literally re-grow them, giving you two bunches for the price of one. I love this and do it all the time. I actually forgot this wasn’t “normal” until I posted about it yesterday. So don’t throw away the ends of your green onions, regrow them from your kitchen window. Simple and frugal.

Bon Appetit

Lori

Lazy Girl’s Guide to French Macarons

I get asked all the time how do I make French macarons and is it doable. If you’ve ever checked out some of the tutorials online, you might have given up, they seem waaaaaaaay too complicated! But don’t worry, macarons don’t have to be. I’m done the research and put in the time experimenting, and I’ve come up with The Lazy’s Girls Guide to French Macarons: Shortcuts that make making this impossible cookie, possible.

I hope you enjoy my first cooking video: The Lazy’s Girls Guide to French Macarons

Lazy Girl’s Guide to French Macarons

Ingredients:

– 210 g of powdered sugar (Don’t have a kitchen scale? See below)

– 125 grams of almond meal

– 30 g of sugar

– 3 egg whites

– gel food coloring

Directions:

1. The first thing you’ll need to do is prepare your baking surface. Some people use silicone mats with templates (and honestly, that’s my favorite way of baking macarons) but if you don’t have a macaron mat, you can use a cookie sheet covered in parchment. You’ll want to place a template under the parchment so that the cookies are uniform. If you do this, though, don’t forget to slip the paper templates out from under the parchment before baking.

2. Now it’s time to measure out the dry ingredients. You’ll need 210 grams of powdered sugar. Yes, it’s a pain to use a scale if you’re not used to it, but trust me, this step is critical. Then, measure out 125 g of almond meal (sometimes called almond flour.)

3. Dump both the powdered sugar and the almond meal into a food processor and blend for a couple of minutes. This helps to ensure that the mixture is smooth and doesn’t have any obvious clumps.4. Set the almond meal/sugar mixture aside and it’s time to whip the egg whites. Here’s another shortcut for you. You can just dump in the egg whites, sugar and the food color all at once. Most tutorials have you add the egg whites till foamy, then add in the sugar and mix and then add in the food color. This is totally unnecessary……your welcome! Also, a lot of tutorials say you need to have your egg whites at room temperature….not so. Take those bad boys straight from the fridge. One thing to note on the food coloring, is that you definitely want to use gel food coloring. I’m using one from Wilton that is a liquid gel. This is because your liquid food colors you get from the market make your egg whites too liquidy and tend to brown in the oven. No one wants a perfectly pink macaroon with brown edges…Also, note, that when you add color to the macarons, go a couple of shades darker than you want. That’s because when the egg white foam up and when the cookies bake, they tend to lose a little bit of color.

4. Now it’s time to whip your egg whites. I like to start low and make sure the coloring gets mixed up (and doesn’t fly out of your bowl) before turning the speed up higher.

5. Let the egg whites whip, paying attention to the changes that occur. They should start to lighten and get creamy. Check ever so often to see if they are to the stiff peak stage…..here I am checking them…..nope, still a bit too soft.

6. Now, you can whip them too long, but if you do it shouldn’t be a huge deal, but they will make for a more brittle cookie.

7. So now we incorporate the almond meal/sugar mixture into the egg white mixture. This is another critical part of making macarons. We want the eggs and the almonds to come together, but we don’t want all that beautiful air that we just whipped in to escape, so instead of stirring, we need to gently fold the almond mixture into egg whites. I like to hold the bowl kind of on its side and just scrape the sides and then fold the batter on top. So, like I said, this process is critical, and you have to really pay attention. You can fold this too much, letting out too much air, and it will be too runny. You want to keep folding the batter until it starts to smooth out just a bit, and to where it can slowly slip off the spatula….kind of like hot lava. If you don’t mix it enough, the shells will crack, but if you over mix it, then it becomes too runny for the cookies to set up.

8. Fit a pastry bag with a larger circular tip. I like to twist the end a bit to keep the batter from running out while I’m filling the bag. I also like to place the pastry bag in a cup to help keep it open while I fill.

9. To pipe the  macarons shells, hold the bag straight up, and gently squeeze until the batter fills almost the whole template circle. Then, slowly release up and out. This might take a bit of practice, but it gets easier. Don’t worry about them being perfect, they will settle a bit. Also, once you sandwich the shells together, you won’t notice any slight imperfections.

10. Another critical step is whacking the trays on the counter. This does two things…..1. It helps to release any air bubbles that might be trapped in your cookies, and 2. It helps even out the cookies a bit. The first time I did this, I was scared it would hurt the cookies, but now, it’s my favorite part of making them.

11.Now it’s time to let your macarons rest. Let them sit for 20 to 30 minutes on your countertop until they dry out a bit and form a skin on them. You might have to touch one to see if it’s dry enough. If it’s very humid in your area, it might take longer than 30 minutes….it could even take up to an hour. Waiting at this point may be hard, but it’s a critical step. That’s because the skin keeps the cookies from spreading during the baking process. You want your macarons to puff up, not spread out.

12. Bake at 300 degrees for about 13 minutes. When you remove them from the oven, let them cool before peeling them off your silicone mat or parchment paper. Hot macarons are fragile, but they should be easy to remove once cooled. Notice the trademark puffy edges of these macarons? These are called feet, and this is exactly what you want.

13. Now it’s time for my other favorite part….marrying your macarons. Pair them up, matching them by size and shape. Then, fill a pastry bag with your favorite filling. This one’s a homemade buttercream. Swirl it on one side of the macaron and gently sandwich the pair together.

And there you have it the lazy girl’s guide to the perfect little French Macarons….

Give it a try. They always impress at parties and dinners, and they also make a great gift. These babies are headed to some sweet friends who helped throw me a birthday party.

Bon Appetit,
 
Lori
Lazy Girl’s Guide to French Macarons – Minus the Kitchen Scale!

Ingredients:

1  2/3  cups of powdered sugar

1 cup of almond meal

1/4 cup of sugar

3 egg whites

gel food coloring

Note, I have not tried this conversion recipe. I looked up the conversion of the grams to cups in dry goods.

FAQ

Storing Macarons:

Macarons can store pretty well — usually about a week in the fridge in an air-tight-container. Many people like to wait to the macarons have set for a day or two — so that the flavors can mix well together. This is called “aging” or “ripening.”

 Freezing and Thawing:

You can freeze both macaron shells and filled macarons. They should keep for up to six months in the freezer. For the shells, layer them between sheets of parchment paper in an air-tight container. You can also free filled macarons this way. To unthaw, make sure to set them out of the freezer several hours before serving. Frozen macaron shells are crisper and will crack instead of being the traditional chewy consistency. 

What if I don’t have almond meal? Can I still make them?

If you don’t have almond meal, you can make your own using blanched almonds. (Blanched means they have been briefly placed in hot/boiling water to remove the skins. If you use regular almonds with skins, you will have brown bits in the macarons and they won’t be smooth.) Place the blanched almonds in a food process and pulse a couple of times till smooth. If you over pulse or mix too long, it will turn into almond butter! You may want to sift the almond flour to remove bigger chunks.

 What is the name of the song used in your video?

It is called “Spring in My Step” and can be downloaded to use in your YouTube videos for free. Enjoy!

 

Pictures from our Readers & Viewers

This picture was sent to us from YouTube viewer Melinda aka the Cake Pop Mafia from Pinterest. Did she do a fabulous job?! Go over and check out her Pinterest board and see all the fun things she’s creating in her kitchen. You won’t be sorry!