Tag Archives: Lemon

A few weeks ago, I was honored to throw a baby shower for my sister Kelsey. Her and her hubby Jordan are expecting their first baby in August. We are patiently waiting for the first Smith cousin for Huntley! The shower was a wonderful success; great food, great company and an amazing location. 

I was lucky enough to host the shower at my aunt Christine’s house in Keystone, South Dakota. Her house backs up to the 1880’s train that runs from Hill City to Keystone. It was a real treat to enjoy lunch and games down by her wonderful waterfall and creek, all while waving to the passerby’s on the steam engine 1880’s train!

I enjoyed planning this baby shower, in part due to the fun theme; Woodlands Baby. The shower was everything woodlands – acorns, lanterns, trail mix, pine trees, babbling brooks, wildflowers, and baby animals galore!

Our menu consisted of a watermelon baby carriage (mom-to-be request), owl veggie tray, woodlands animal crackers, porcupine cheese dip, broccoli salad, and sandwiches. The baby shower showcase was the lemon-thyme vanilla cake with cream cheese buttercream.

These cakes were so delectable and the cream cheese frosting made for the perfect finish to the strong vanilla flavoring. I frosted these “naked” as I thought it looked appropriate in the forrest with the family of deer and added garnishes of fresh thyme to pull in our woodlands element and the thyme flavor. 

After the shower I got to snap a few photos of my sister, so that she will always remember her cute baby bump. It is so fun to watch my little sister in this special moment in her life. I can remember the months leading up to having Huntley where you prepare for every little moment, but nothing prepares you for the amount of love that is coming your way, until you hold that sweet baby in your arms. Baby Ellis will be here before we know it!
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Lemon-Thyme Vanilla Cake

INGREDIENTS
CAKE
3 c. sifted cake flour
2 c. sugar
4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
5 large egg whites
1 whole egg
1 c. whole milk
2 1/4 t. pure vanilla extract
2 t. lemon juice
2 T. thyme, minced
3/4 c. unsalted butter

CREAM CHEESE BUTTERCREAM
1 c. salted butter, softened
1/2 c. shortening
16 ounces of cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 T. vanilla extract
4 pounds confectioners sugar
*1/2 t. salt (if you use unsalted butter)

GUIDANCE
Prepare Cake: Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and line 3 6-inch cake pans or 2 8-in cake pans with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together egg whites, egg, milk, and vanilla extract.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients together on low speed. Gradually add in cold butter and continue to mix until mixture is a fine, crumbly texture. Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients in separate batches, making sure to scrape down the sides each time. Mix in the lemon juice and minced thyme. Mix until light and fluffy. Divide batter evenly into pans and bake for 25-35 minutes. Check with a cake tester to ensure the cake is done baking. 

Prepare Frosting: In a mixing bowl with paddle attachment cream together shortening and butter. Mix until creamy. Add in cut up cream cheese and vanilla and blend again. Then a little a time add confectioners sugar. Turn on high for 15 minutes to make frosting smooth and fluffy. 

Links to other menu items:
Pink Lemonade Sparkling Fruit Punch
Blueberry-Mint Lemonade
Broccoli Salad {Forrest of Trees}
Watermelon Baby Carriage
Owl Veggie Tray
Porcupine Cheese Ball 




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When I think of Alaska, many things come to mind: adventure, the last frontier, uncharted waters, cold (even though I think North Dakota temperatures are sometimes way worse), Sarah Palin, gold, but most importantly exploration. This new year is marked with more opportunities for exploring more of myself and more courage to try new foods and recipes. 

The beauty of Alaska is uncomparable to any other state and it’s access to abundant wildlife is remarkable. I actually have been to Alaska way back in the day, but unfortunately I have no memory of it (I was 2). My sister had the opportunity to visit Alaska last spring and the photos she brought home were spectacular. Not only that, she brought us fresh caught Alaskan halibut too! Although this fish waited patiently in my freezer for the past few months, it still tasted as just as fresh as the day it was caught.

I had fun using my ulu that my sister got for me, which is an all-purpose knife traditionally used by Inuit, Yup’ik and Aleut women. It is a very diverse tool, as it was used for almost everything; skinning animals, cutting food, and chopping up blocks of snow for igloos.

I wanted this halibut to resonate clean, healthy flavors so I used dill and lemon to add to the real star of this dish, alaskan halibut. The tomatoes added beautiful color and texture to the flaky fish. So what new avenues do you plan to explore this year? A new place? A new recipe? A new outlook on your health? The new year offers a great place to start a new and begin with a clean slate. The official state motto of Alaska is “North to the future”, what will guide your compass this year to your future explorations?

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Alaskan Halibut with Lemon Dill Sauce

INGREDIENTS
1/2 c. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 2 lemons
2 T. lemon zest
2 T. chopped dill
2 c. cherry tomatoes
salt
pepper

GUIDANCE
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut halibut into 1 inch filets. Rinse and pat dry with a paper towel. Mix olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, and dill in a small bowl. Sprinkle filets with salt and pepper and place in a cast iron skillet. Toss cherry tomatoes in lemon dill mixture and pour mixture over halibut filets. Cook 15 minutes until fish is cooked through. Broil for 3-6 minutes so filets are nicely browned on top. 




 

~Alaskan photos courtesy of Kelsey Ellis


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Achievement Days in our county was the day that 4-Hers would showcase all of their hard work and dedication through their 4-H projects. Growing up it was often an exciting day where all our projects were awarded a ribbon depending on the quality, craftsmanship, etc. For me this day was exhilarating , because I would wake up REALLY early to make cookies, cake, and fresh bread. I always wanted my food project entries to be as fresh as possible. And it paid off, most of my food projects always earned the coveted purple ribbon.

Food wasn’t the only category that I entered projects for Achievement Days. Horse, rodeo, visual arts, photography, horticulture, house plants, clothing, hobbies and collections were some of my other favorite areas. 4-H was a very pivotal program in my life and it makes me sad to see the program dying in communities around the country. I could talk for 10 days straight about why these programs are important, but I hope by sharing this with you all, you may encourage your family or another family looking for a great outlet to create and foster a sense of achievement.

So this year I got to relive my 4-H glory days by submitting entries in the Dunn County Fair. I spent the ENTIRE day cooking my entries and I loved every minute of it. It was really fun picking out my favorite recipes to cook and be judged on. I made a yummy zucchini bread recipe that is the perfect solution to an oversupply of garden zucchini. I tried a new recipe, Chewy Maple Cookies. Although they did taste great, the appearance wasn’t what I was hoping for. Chocolate Revel Bars were next up, these are an awesome treat. Rich chocolate is paired with a cookie base that is accentuated by oatmeal. My cake was a Lemon-Lavender cake, which utilized dried lavender buds in the mix. And finally the big winner was the Pecan Pie recipe. This is one of my favorite pies, especially for the holidays. 

In the end, my hard work paid off and I won the highest achievement, best in class with my pecan pie. The pie crust is extra buttery and the pie filling is to die for. What programs do your families support; 4-H, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, FFA? There are so many worthwhile youth programs out there and most counties have a county fair too. I encourage you to get out there, create a craft, bake some cookies, grow some vegetables, make a necklace. Whatever you do, your time and effort will give you a great sense of achievement. 

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Best in Class Pecan Pie

INGREDIENTS
Pie Crust                                                                                          
3 c. flour                                                                           
2 t. salt                                                                             
14 T. unsalted butter, cubed and chilled     
½ c. cold water                                             

Pie Filling
Flour for dusting
1 c. corn syrup
¾ c. sugar
¼ c. brown sugar
2 T. unsalted butter
2 t. vanilla
½ t. salt
3 eggs
1 ¼ c. chopped pecans plus ½ c. pecan halves

GUIDANCE
Prepare pie dough by pulsing flour, salt and butter in a food processor into pea size crumbles. Add water, pulse until dough comes together. Divide dough in half and wrap in disks. Chill 1 hour before using. Roll dough into a 12 in. round. Fit into a 9 inch pie plate. Chill 30 minutes. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk corn syrup, sugars, butter, vanilla, salt, and eggs in a bowl. Fold in chopped pecans. Distribute filling evenly over dough, arrange pecan halves around the inside edge of pie. Bake until crust is golden brown and filling is set, about 1 hour.

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Lemon Lavender Bundt Cake {Blue Ribbon}

INGREDIENTS
3 c. cake flour
1 ½ t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
¼ t. salt
16 T. unsalted butter
1 ½ c. sugar
1 T. dried lavender flowers
4 eggs, lightly beaten
½ t. lemon extract
1 c. plain yogurt
1 T. lemon zest

GUIDANCE
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a Bundt pan. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the butter, sugar, and lavender. Add the eggs, then beat in the lemon extract. Add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the yogurt. Fold in the lemon zest. Bake for 1 hour.

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Zucchini Bread {Blue Ribbon}

INGREDIENTS
3 eggs, beaten
3 t. cinnamon
1 c. cooking oil
2 c. peeled and grated zucchini
2 c. sugar
½ t. salt
3 c. flour
¼ t. baking soda
2 t. baking powder

GUIDANCE
Mix all ingredients together and put in bread pans. Bake bread at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean. Makes 2 loaves.

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Chocolate Revel Bars {Blue Ribbon}

INGREDIENTS
Cookie Layer                                               
1 c. shortening                                           
2 c. sugar                                                   
2 eggs                                                           
2 t. vanilla                                                    
2 ½ c. flour                                                  
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
3 c. oatmeal

Filling
1 (15 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 c. chocolate chips
2 T. butter
1/2 t. salt
2 t. vanilla

GUIDANCE
Mix shortening and sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients. Set aside and prepare filling. Melt chocolate chips, milk, butter, and salt in microwave. When smooth add vanilla. Spread 2/3 of oatmeal mixture in a 9×13 baking dish. Cover with chocolate filling. Dot with the remaining 1/3 oatmeal mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

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Chewy Maple Cookies {Red Ribbon}

INGREDIENTS
½ c. shortening
1 ½ c. flour
1 c. brown sugar
2 t. baking powder
1 egg
½ t. salt
½ c. maple syrup
1 c. coconut
½ t. vanilla

GUIDANCE
In a mixing bowl, cream shortening and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg, syrup and vanilla until well mixed. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; add to the creamed mixture. Stir in coconut. Drop by tablespoons 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

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Thanks to all of the volunteers at the Dunn County Fair. There were many excellent open class exhibits as well as amazing 4-H projects!

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