nesting * geeking * critiquing

Posts tagged “recipes

Lemon Crinkle Cookies a la Cake Mix

Baking is among my favorite hobbies, but that’s not to say that I do it often or even especially well. Nevertheless, I  know an awesome recipe when I find one. And if it tastes delicious with relatively little effort involved, all the better.

Because we’re all friends here, I’ve decided to share my latest discovery: the single best, easiest lemon cookies you’ll ever eat. And they start with a boxed cake mix.Lemon Cookies a la Cake Mix |

Lemon Crinkle Cookies a la Cake Mix

  • 1 box lemon cake mix
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • Dash of lemon juice
  • Powdered sugar, at least 1 cup to be on the safe side

Preheat oven to 350 and prepare a baking sheet.

Mix all ingredients until combined, except powdered sugar; I used my trusty stand mixer, but you could probably do this by hand if necessary. The dough will essentially be one big, greasy-looking blob. Don’t let that deter you.

Scoop out batter by tablespoon (or smaller depending on desired size). Roll each dough ball in powdered sugar and place on baking sheet. Note: applying cooking spray to your hands and tablespoon makes this step much easier. A little spray after each couple of scoops goes a long way.

Bake 8-10 minutes until edges are set. I  found that trying to lift up the edge of a cookie right around the 8-minute mark helped me gauge how much longer to leave them in. It’s not a science, I assure you. In fact, I really don’t think you can do these wrong unless you forget to take them out altogether. My general rule of thumb is to check early and check often to ensure they’re nice and chewy.

Dust with more powdered sugar after you take them out of the oven. Leave on baking sheet for a few minutes then move to cookie rack to cool.

Let me tell you, these are divine! If I still had the metabolism of 17-yr-old me, I’d make these suckers at least once a week. They’re sweet and lemon-y without being overpowering on either count, and the texture is chewy but also silky.

I’d imagine you could manipulate this recipe for any flavor of cake mix. I intend to try strawberry or confetti cake soon (minus the salt and lemon juice, of course).

Small investment, big return…what’s not to like?!


Half-Scratch Lemon Cake

When I was in fourth grade, I decided I loved lemon cake. It wasn’t a staple around our house, so I’m not sure from whence the lemon muse came. Nonetheless, it became a fast favorite since I could bake it myself…from a boxed mix, of

Twenty years later, I still enjoy making lemon cake from a boxed mix. These days I do it a little differently, though, and it tastes sooo much better.
The “half-scratch” cake is moist and lemony, and the canned frosting makeover yields creamy yumminess.

Adapted from the recipe at Your Home-based Mom.

Half-Scratch Lemon Cake

  • 1 boxed lemon cake mix (ignore everything it says on the back of the box)
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • 3/4 c. water
  • 3/4 c. oil
  • A couple of squirts of lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 eggs

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees(F) and grease a 9″x13″ pan.

Throw all of the ingredients in your electric mixer and beat on medium-high speed for a couple of minutes, until it looks like cake batter.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, depending on your oven. As with any cake, check early and often so you don’t leave it in too long and wind up with dry cake.
I started checking mine around 22 minutes—toothpick should come out clean with a few crumbs—with 25 min being just about right. Cool completely before frosting.


  • 1 can of the pre-made stuff, lemon flavor
  • A couple of squirts of lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt

Using your stand mixer’s whisk attachment, whisk on high for several minutes. You’ll notice it become fluffier and the color less chemically yellow. After you’ve “let ‘er rip” for a few minutes (no set time, just until it looks right to you), put it in the fridge for a few minutes to stiffen back up a bit.

Frost your cooled cake and refrigerate again before serving if the frosting looks a little melty. (I also store mine covered in the fridge just to keep it nice and fresh.)


Cookie Corner: Deluxe Sugar Cookies

Good news, friends, Cookie Corner is back!

I scored this recipe from a friend at work, so my apologies for not crediting the source. Regardless, I have a new favorite sugar cookie and want to share these gems with you.
The cookies are soft and chewy, the frosting squishy and delishy…a perfect springtime treat!

Deluxe Sugar Cookies
1 cup butter (softened)
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Thoroughly mix butter, powdered sugar, egg, vanilla, and almond extract. Blend in flour, soda, and cream of tartar. Cover; chill 2 to 3 hours.

Heat oven to 375.
Divide dough in half. Roll out on lightly floured area. Cut into desired shapes. Place on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake 6 minutes or until light brown on edge.

Cream Cheese Frosting
4 ounces cream cheese (softened)
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Dash of almond extract
Dash salt
2 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar

Blend cheese, milk, vanilla, and salt. Gradually add sugar, beating until frosting is smooth and of spreading consistency. If necessary, stir in additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time.

Learn from my mistakes:
• Be sure you don’t accidentally use an entire package of cream cheese, otherwise you’ll have a runny mess that will require exponentially more powdered sugar and salt, vanilla and almond extract. Trust me.
• I recommend using a smaller cookie cutter. I used the giant ducky one and only got about 13 cookies out of the whole batch. Plus, the cookies grow quite a bit so a big cutter yields humongous cookies.

Tastes Like Chicken

If you have never experienced my white chicken chili, I feel sorry for you. Literally, you make me sad. Not as sad as those Sara McLachlan pet-adoption commercials but almost.

I will thus perform a noble public service and share my recipe. You’ll have the key to yumminess, I won’t feel guilty, it’s a win-win!

This is the quintessential chicken chili; you’ll not find one better so don’t waste your time. Unless, of course, you’re looking for a really healthy option, then it’s probably best to move along. This isn’t the chili you’re looking for.

Here’s the thing: I refer to the actual recipe very loosely. The stated quantities are basically just suggestions as far as I’m concerned—start there and adjust to your taste. My ‘suggestion’ has a little kick but isn’t super spicy. It makes enough for the two of us to have a couple of hearty helpings with another small serving or two for lunch the next day.

The Best White Chicken Chili. Ever.

Get these:
1-2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 cups half & half
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cup shredded colby-jack cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 large white onion, diced
1 can white beans (use 2 if you’re bean people)
Some of those pickled jalapeño slices, chopped, with just a little of the juice mixed in to taste (Old El Paso is good because we use scant amounts and just keep the jar in the fridge to use multiple times)

(baking is much easier)

(baking is much easier)

First, season your chicken with salt, pepper and chili powder to taste (this is just a little bit in addition to the measurements listed above).

Bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes until cooked through. If you really wanted to, you could cook it on the stove, which could end up setting off your smoke detector and making your dogs cry. Baking it in the oven is way easier. Trust me.
After the chicken is cooled, you’ll want to shred it into little bits.
I use my hands, but you could use a stand mixer* or forks or something, I suppose.
*UPDATE: if you have a KitchenAid stand mixer, throw the paddle beater on it and let that puppy shred the chicken for you; just drop it in hot out of the oven and let ‘er rip. It’s like magic, only yummier!

While you’re waiting on your chicken, cook the diced onion in 2 Tbs of butter. You want the onions to be soft and look translucent—it only takes a couple of minutes. Set aside.

In a big ol’ dutch oven pot, melt the rest of the butter over medium-low heat and whisk in the flour. This step is creating a roux that will thicken the chili. Whisk constantly as it cooks for about 2-3 minutes. It might look awful, and you might feel like you screwed it up…don’t get frustrated…as long as you don’t let it burn, you’re okay.
Slowly mix in the broth, half & half and onion. Keep whisking!

Bring the mixture to a boil then let it simmer for about 5 minutes until it’s thickened.
You’ll want to whisk it occasionally so nothing burns or sticks to the bottom of your pot.

Add the spices then the chicken, beans, peppers and cheese. Cook on low heat for 20-30 minutes (or longer if you’d like), stirring occasionally. Stir in the sour cream a few minutes before serving to make it even creamier.

chili!Dish it up and enjoy!


“Come to the Dark Side…We Have Cookies”

Well, I gave in to my desire to do some baking this weekend. Which basically just means I’ll have to spend some extra time in elliptical purgatory.

Should you desire a similar fate, here’s my favorite recipe for roll-out cookies.

gimme some sugarSoft Cut-out Sugar Cookies
1 cup margarine
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Cream the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at time, mixing well after each addition.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Gradually add to the creamed mixture.
  3. Cover and chill dough overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
    Roll out dough on a floured surface to 1/8″-1/4″ thick, and cut out as desired. Place cookies onto the prepared baking sheets.
  5. Bake at 375 degrees F for 5 to 8 minutes or until cookie is golden brown.

Glaze (optional)
1 tablespoon cream cheese, room temperature3 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract (optional)

  1. Whisk cream cheese and 2 tbs of milk in a medium bowl until smooth. Incorporate vanilla or almond extract if desired.
  2. Whisk in the powdered sugar until it is again smooth, adding the remaining milk until glaze reaches desired consistency.
  3. Drizzle or spread on cooled cookie.

This dough is remarkably easy to work with and produces consistent results with a tender crumb. Need to make it a few days ahead of time? No problem, just keep it wrapped tightly in plastic wrap in the fridge.

As with any roll-out dough, be sure to use plenty of flour on your work surface, the rolling pin and cookie cutter edges. I re-formed the scraps and rolled out the dough no fewer than three times.

Depending on intricacy of the cut-out design and the reliability of your oven temperature, I suggest checking on them at five minutes…unless you like crisp edges. I’m also a strong advocate for baking your cookies (any recipe) on a sheet lined with parchment paper. It may seem like a petty extra step, but it will save you cleanup time and give the cookie-bottoms a nice, consistent color. Plus, no messy cooking spray!

I put coarse sugar on some and a simple glaze on others (no glaze pictured). Easy and delishy.

Do yourself a solid and bake a couple dozen of these babies. I guarantee you will be amazed at the ease of the process and delighted with the result. But if you’re not, don’t blame me.