Category Archives: Summer

Lemon Rosemary Cookies

Happy August! It’s the beginning of the end…of the summer, that is. The sky-high temperatures may make the days seem longer than ever, but the countdown to the end of my beloved favorite season is on. For those of us who plan to enjoy as many ice cold glasses of lemonades and frosty glasses of iced tea as we can before they’re replaced by oversized mugs of steamy chocolate and cider drinks, this recipe is for you. These cookies’ petite size make them perfect for an afternoon snack or a light breakfast and they pair with a tall glass of lemonade or iced tea the way that peanut butter goes with…well, you know where I’m headed with this one. Don’t be fooled by these quarter-sized confections – a full-sized cookie’s worth of buttery lemon and rosemary flavors await you. Trust me – these cookies will make the rest of your summer a little bit more satisfying.


4 oz. (1 stick) butter, softened

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp. finely chopped rosemary

1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest

2 egg yolks

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup flour

1/3 cup corn flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup turbinado or sanding sugar for decorating


1. Beat butter, sugar, rosemary, and lemon zest with electric mixer 3 minutes, or until creamy. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla.

2. Whisk together flours, baking powder, and salt in bowl. Add to butter mixture, and beat until just combined. Shape into 2 1-inch-wide logs. Wrap in wax paper, and chill 2 hours.

3. Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray 2 baking sheets with cooking spray. Slice cookies into 1/3-inch-thick rounds. Place turbinado sugar in bowl and press one cut side of cookies into sugar. Place sugar-side up on baking sheets. Bake 15 minutes, or until golden brown on bottoms. Transfer to wire racks to cool.


Summer Fruit Pocket Pies

I don’t know about you, but I can’t believe how fast this summer is flying by. Between my work schedule and my belated honeymoon to Italy, I don’t think I’ve had very many long and lazy summer evenings this year. Long gone are the days of my teenaged years that I spent in the swimming pool, climbing out only to eat a sandwich or to drip through my mom’s kitchen to go to the bathroom. I miss giggling with my best friend on the front porch, with the crickets and lightening bugs keeping us company. My parents had long since gone to bed and we giggled and talked until we saw the headlights of her mom’s car pull into my driveway. And I can still imagine waking up in the morning to the summer sounds of humming lawnmowers, ticking sprinklers and bouncing basketballs throughout the neighborhood.

To remind myself that it’s summer and that summer is meant for quiet evenings doing nothing but enjoying life, I turn to fruit pie and ice cream. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a steamy August morning, a scorching July afternoon or a muggy Indian summer night, everyone finds the time to slow down the pace for pie and ice cream. This recipe is perfect for making pocket pies. That’s right – everyone gets their own personal pie to bring out to that backyard hammock or front porch swing and watch the world go by and the summer slip away all too soon. Here’s to summer and to savoring every moment of it!

Fruit Pocket Pies (adapted from Williams Sonoma and can be used with their Pocket Pie Mold)

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

2 tbs. sugar, plus more for sprinkling

16 tbs. (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter

6 to 8 tbs. ice water

½ – 1 cup frozen or canned fruit pie filling (I use cherry, blueberry or apple)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tsp. water

Vanilla ice cream for serving


In a food processor, pulse together the flour, salt and 2 tablespoons of sugar sugar until combined, about 5 seconds. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 pulses. Add 6 tablespoons of ice water and pulse twice. The dough should hold together when squeezed with your fingers but should not be sticky. If it is crumbly, add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, pulsing twice after each addition. Divide the dough in half, wrap with plastic wrap and press each into a disk. Refrigerate for at least two hours or up to overnight.

Let the dough stand at room temperature for 5 minutes.

On a floured surface, roll out one dough disk into a round 1/16 to 1/8 inch (2-3mm) thick. Brush off the excess flour. Using a pocket pie mold, cut out 8 of each shape (4 solid and 4 with the decorative cutout). Reroll the dough scraps, if necessary, and cut out more shapes. Repeat with the remaining dough disk.

Place a solid dough shape in the bottom half of the cutter and gently press the dough into the mold. Fill the center with 1 to 2 tbs. of pie filling and brush the edges of the dough with some of the egg wash. Top with a shape with a decorative cutout. Press the top half of the cutter down to seal and crimp the edges of the pie. Remove the pie from the mold and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling. Freeze the pies for 30 minutes.

Preheat an oven to 400°F. Brush the top of the pies with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is gently bubbling, about 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the pies to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream. Makes about 8 pocket pies.

Fourth of July Patriotic Berry Trifle

This is my kind of birthday cake! And by birthday I mean our country’s birthday as well as mine! I was born sometime between the fourth and fifth of July (I was adopted from South Korea, so time differences considered, it was  probably the fourth of July here in the U.S.), and Independence Day has always been my favorite holiday. Yes, I love all things fireworks, picnics, American flags and red, white and blue.

This is the berry trifle that I made for my crab feast in the beginning of June, but I think it’s the perfect dessert to kick off the holiday weekend. If you’re trying to find a festive dessert to serve at your Fourth of July picnic, this is it! Not only is it light, sweet and delicious, it serves a LOT of people. The recipe calls for store bought angelfood cake, but I think a homemade angelfood cake would definitely up the wow-factor with your guests. This trifle is originally from Food Network Magazine, but I used regular vanilla extract instead of the almond extract that the recipe calls for. I think it was just as good with the vanilla and I saved myself from having to buy yet another ingredient for my party.

Happy Birthday America (and me, too)!


1/4 cup plus 2/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 premade angel food cake, cut into 1-inch slices

1 pound cream cheese at room temperature

2 cups heavy cream at room temperature

2 pints blueberries

2 pints strawberries, hulled and sliced


Heat 1/4 cup sugar, the lemon juice and 1/4 cup water in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and stir in the almond extract.

 Brush both sides of each slice of cake with the syrup. Cut the slices into 1-inch cubes.

 Beat the remaining 2/3 cup sugar and the cream cheese with a mixer on medium speed until smooth and light. Add the cream and beat on medium-high speed until smooth and the consistency of whipped cream.

 Arrange half of the cake cubes in the bottom of a 13-cup trifle dish. Sprinkle evenly with a layer of blueberries. Dollop half of the cream mixture over the blueberries and gently spread. Top with a layer of strawberries.

 Layer the remaining cake cubes on top of the strawberries, then sprinkle with more blueberries and top with the remaining cream mixture. Finish with the remaining strawberries and blueberries, arranging them in a decorative pattern. Cover and refrigerate one hour.

Whole Grain Pasta Caprese Salad

My best friend Erin sent this recipe to me after she saw it on the Curvy Carrot blog. It looked so delicious that we decided to make it when she came to visit me in Arizona. We agreed that using whole grain pasta would be the healthier route to take, so we found some whole grain penne. The original recipe calls for regular rigatoni, but this dish is so flavorful I think I could have made it with cardboard noodles and it would still have been delicious!

Earlier that day we had lunch at the Queen Creek Olive Mill (a Phoenix area MUST for all of you foodie’s) and we picked up a fresh loaf of their rosemary bread (which cancelled out the healthier whole grain pasta) and a bottle of their own olive oil.

What a feast! I didn’t modify the actual recipe at all, except for using whole grain pasta. However, when Erin made the recipe for her in-laws the next week, she added some grilled shrimp and it was a hit!


5 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced. 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon salt

Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Pinch cayenne pepper (if you don’t normally cook with this, go to CVS Pharmacy and get a bottle for 99 cents!)

1 pound whole grain penne pasta

8 ounces mozzarella cheese, sliced or cubed as desired

Approximately 15-20 fresh basil leaves, finely shredded


To peel and seed tomatoes, cut a shallow “X” on the bottom of each tomato.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and place the tomatoes in the water for about 15 seconds.  Immediately remove the tomatoes with a slotted spoon and place into an ice water bath.  This will stop the tomatoes from cooking.  Now the skins should be easy to remove and the tomatoes can be easily de-seeded and diced.

Place the peeled and diced tomatoes in a colander for about 15 minutes to remove excess juices.

In a medium bowl, combine the drained tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper.  Mix the ingredients well and let sit for 20 minutes at room temperature.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat.

Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente.

Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.

Add the tomato mixture, mozzarella, and basil.  Toss gently, and serve immediately.

A Summer Crab Fest

My best friend Erin came to visit me for a week. I thought it would be the perfect time to throw a summer crab fest to welcome Erin (back) to Arizona and also to celebrate with a few of my AZ girlfriends. It took about three months to plan my party and it ends up that finding crab fest-themed decor and party supplies is no small feat. I could have taken the easy road and bought some inflatable crab bowls and some some plastic lobster claws, but I had an image in my head and plastic inflatable crab bowls it was not. I decided to channel my event planner creativity and I came up with some fun ideas.

Clockwork from the top: 1. I served everything on white platters. I think that all food looks the most appetizing on a white background and white is totally a summer color. 2. I made my invitations using aqua colored blank cards from Michael’s. The front is aqua and has a circular window to the inside of the card. I used the aqua and red color scheme for the invitation copy. The sparkly crab is made out of red cardstock and glitter, which I thought gave the invitation a little punch of glam. 3. I served water with mint (in a Crate and Barrel pitcher) and vodka thyme lemonade (in a five-way cake plate/punch bowl from Home Goods). I’ll post the lemonade recipe soon. 4. I placed the seafood crackers on this aqua colored fish plate I found at Marshall’s for about $7. 5. Two days before the crab fest I found these red and aqua crab-print napkins at Target. What luck! 6. I used this Martha Stewart crab punch to make the crabs on the invitations. I also used it to make a border on the craft paper I used to cover the kitchen table. 7. This is Martha Stewart’s Patriotic Berry Trifle. I’ll share this recipe soon, too. I picked up a smaller sized trifle bowl at Sur la Table for $14. 8. I also found these paper lanterns at Target along with the crab napkins. They came in packs of two – one with a crab and one with an anchor. I used thick giftwrap ribbon to hang them inside a large deep-set window next to the kitchen table. 9. Center photo: I covered the table in a red paper table cloth from Party City. I laid a length of brown craft paper down the center, and the crab punchouts turned into red crabs dancing along the tabletop. I used my white dinner plates (you’ll see these a lot on my blog) and the gorgeous wine glasses that my mother-in-law handed down to me last month. Crab cups from Target and the seafood utensil set from Sur la Table ($19.99 for ramekins and seafood picks for four and two seafood crackers) completed my crabby tablescape.

In case you’re wondering, my menu was: buffalo chicken dip and chips with salsa and guacamole for the appetizers, king crab legs, vegetable rotini and feta salad, spinach and strawberry salad with homemade dressing, chicken quesadilla for dinner and patriotic berry trifle for dessert.

My crab fest was a success and it was a great way to kick off Erin’s visit and to welcome the summer.