What’s your favorite part of the holiday season?
Spending time with family, gift-giving, and some time off of work probably rank high on your list. But what about the food?
The holidays are a time to indulge in deliciousness, and this post will help you do just that in the coming weeks. Read on for 1st Lake’s list of holiday baking ideas that will keep you, your family, and your friends full of cookies for the entire season!
Perfect Sugar Cookies
Delish breaks down the process of baking the perfect batch of classic holiday treats:
Ingredients (Cookie Dough)
- 3 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 c. (2 sticks) butter, softened
- 1 c. granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp.
- pure vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp. milk
Ingredients (Buttercream Frosting)
- 1 c. (2 sticks) butter, softened
- 5 c. powdered sugar
- 1/4 c. heavy cream
- 1/2 tsp. pure almond extract
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- Food coloring
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
- In another large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy and pale in color. Add egg, milk, and vanilla and beat until combined, then add flour mixture gradually until totally combined.
- Shape into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate 1 hour.
- When ready to roll, preheat oven to 350º and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Lightly flour a clean work surface and roll out dough until 1/8” thick. Cut out shapes and transfer to prepared baking sheets. Freeze 10 minutes (so your shapes hold while baking!).
- Meanwhile, make frosting: In a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat butter until smooth, then add powdered sugar and beat until no lumps remain. Add cream, almond extract, and salt and beat until combined.
- Bake cookies until edges are lightly golden, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Let cool, then frost and decorate as desired.
Photo by tasteandtellblog.com via Pinterest
Cake Mix Cookies
What if you could eat cake AND cookies at the same time? Well, with Taste and Tell’s cake mix cookie recipe, you can!
- 1 cake mix* (dry ingredients only)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup mix-ins
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with a silpat liner or parchment paper.
- In a bowl, mix together the cake mix, vegetable oil and eggs until combined. Stir in the mix ins.
- Scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet, at least 2 inches apart. Bake just until the cookies are set in the middle, 10-12 minutes.
- Cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheet then transfer to a cooling rack or a sheet of waxed paper.
Gingerbread Cutout Cookies photo by Taste of Home
Sally’s Baking Addiction describes these delectables as “perfectly spiced, molasses and brown sugar-sweetened holiday goodness.” Quite a review!
Complete your holiday baking vision with these iconic holiday cookies from Taste of Home.
- 3/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 3/4 cup molasses
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Vanilla frosting of your choice
- Red and green paste food coloring
- In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and molasses. Combine the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until easy to handle, about 4 hours or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350°. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/8-in. thickness. Cut with floured 2-1/2-in. cookie cutters. Place 1 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets.
- Bake until edges are firm, 8-10 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool. Tint some of the frosting red and some green; leave remaining frosting plain. Decorate cookies.
Bake Your Holiday Treats in Your New 1st Lake Apartment!
Now that you’ve got the recipes that it takes to fill the holiday season with delicious snacks, let us help you find a beautiful apartment to bake them in! Contact us today for information on our private residential communities.
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Fall is a perennial favorite for so many reasons. The Saints season starts again (who dat!), the weather cools down just a touch, and fall festivals help everyone get in the spirit. There’s also nothing quite like pulling on a cozy sweater and sipping on a warm drink brimming with the flavors of fall. But you don’t have to hit Starbucks for that famous Pumpkin Spice Latte. Save some cash by taking the DIY route — the results are just as delicious!
A homemade pumpkin spice latte. (Photo via Pexels)
Fall Drink Recipes
Pumpkin Spice Latte
This is a classic, of course. But instead of waiting in line at Starbucks, you can make your own at home with this recipe from the Food Network.
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons pure pumpkin puree
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, plus more for sprinkling
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup hot espresso or strong brewed coffee
- Sweetened whipped cream, for serving
- Combine the milk, pumpkin puree, sugar, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla in a medium microwave-safe bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and vent with a small hole. Microwave until the milk is hot, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk vigorously until the milk mixture is foamy, about 30 seconds.
- Pour the espresso or coffee into a large mug and add the foamed milk. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice.
Spiced Hot Chocolate
Hot chocolate is a go-to drink for cold weather, but you can also add a taste of autumn during the fall months. Try this recipe for Spiced Hot Chocolate and enjoy while you watch the leaves change color.
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 Tbsp vanilla sugar (use store-bought or see recipe below)
- 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- ½ tsp ancho chile powder
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground cardamom
- ½ fresh vanilla bean
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- Sift all ingredients together into a large bowl. Whisk the mixture together to be sure the spices are evenly distributed.
- To serve, stir 3 tablespoons of the mix into 1½ cups (12 ounces) of hot milk. Serve in large mugs. Store the remaining mix in a tightly-sealed jar.
- Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with the back of a knife. Combine the sugar, vanilla pod and seeds together and store in an airtight container for at least 1 week before using.
This Whole Foods recipe is perfect for when you’re craving autumn flavors but the weather is still warm!
- 1 cup pumpkin purée
- 1 large ripe banana
- 1 cup unsweetened soymilk or coconut milk beverage
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 5 ice cubes
- Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into 2 glasses and serve.
Make These Recipes and More in Your New Home at 1st Lake!
Get more great recipe ideas by checking out all of our Cooking Tips on our blog, and contact us today for more information about our residential communities!
Brunch isn’t an everyday occasion, which might make it the best meal you can have. It usually signifies that you have some time to relax, or that it’s the weekend.
If you have time off and want to spend it at home, you don’t have to miss out on brunch. There are plenty of easy recipes you can make in your pajamas, or with friends during the weekend.
Read on for 4 easy stay-at-home brunch recipes!
Photo by Danielle Occhiogrosso via Pinterest
Bacon Gruyere Breakfast Pie
This recipe from Good Housekeeping is a great idea for weekend brunch. It looks very much like a pizza, except it has all of your favorite breakfast ingredients.
- 1 sheet (half of 17.3 oz. package) frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 1/3 c. sour cream
- 3/4 c. shredded Gruyère cheese
- 4 slices cooked bacon
- 3 large eggs
- Fresh thyme leaves, for garnish
Preheat oven to 400°F.
On large sheet parchment, roll pastry to 12″ by 10″ rectangle. Fold 1/2 inch of edices to form rim; using a fork, seal rim and poke holes all over pastry. Place pastry on cookie sheet; bake 20 minutes or until golden brown.
In small bowl, combine sour cream and Gruyére. Spread onto tart, creating 3 wells for eggs. Arrange bacon strips over topping. Crack eggs into wells; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Bake until egg whites are set but yolks are still runny, about 12 minutes. Garnish with thyme.
Photo by Ethan Calabrese via Pinterest
Caprese Stuffed Avocados
This Delish recipe is like a “portable garden,” and super simple as well.
- 2 avocados, pitted
- 1/2 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 c. chopped fresh mozzarella
- Italian seasoning
- Balsamic vinegar
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Basil, for garnish
Scoop out avocados, leaving a small border. Dice avocado and set aside.
In a large bowl, toss diced avocado with tomatoes, mozzarella, Italian seasoning, balsamic, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Divide salad among 4 avocado halves and garnish with basil.
Easy Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise Sauce
Now it’s time for a classic. Use this recipe from Dine & Dish to make your stay-at-home brunch complete.
- 1 poached egg
- 1/2 English Muffin toasted (try making homemade)
- 1 slice thinly sliced deli ham
- 3 Tablespoons Hollandaise Sauce
- For the Hollandaise Sauce:
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 egg yolks
- 3 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream
Directions for Hollandaise Sauce
In a small saucepan, heat butter, salt and lemon juice until bubbly (do not boil)
Remove from heat.
Place egg yolks in a medium bowl and slowly pour in butter mixture, stirring continuously. Whisk together until smooth and creamy. Stir in heavy whipping cream.
Directions for Eggs Benedict
- For each serving, top 1/2 toasted English Muffin with a folded slice of deli ham, 1 poached egg and 3-4 Tablespoons of Hollandaise Sauce. Serve warm.
It’s hard to call it brunch if there aren’t mimosas available. That’s why we’re including this classic mimosa recipe from Inspired Taste.
- 1 (750 ml) bottle chilled dry sparkling wine
- 3 cups (750 ml) chilled orange juice (freshly squeezed is best)
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) Grand Marnier or triple sec, optional
Fill 8 champagne flutes 1/2 full with chilled sparkling wine.
Top with orange juice.
If you are using, top mimosa with 1 tablespoon of Grand Marnier or triple sec.
Let Us Help You Find the Perfect Apartment for Your Stay-At-Home Brunch!
Check out our website to find a 1st Lake residential community near you!
Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of summertime for many of us. We honor the lives of those who have fought for our freedom and spend time with friends and loved ones. It’s a time of picnics, pool parties and cookouts, all of which have something in common: great food!
To help you prepare, we’ve put together a list of simple recipes that will be easy winners for any Memorial Day gathering, whether you’re a host or just a participant. Read on for some delicious ideas that will help you spend less time in the kitchen and more time hanging out this Memorial Day weekend.
Taco Lime Grilled Chicken
Grilled chicken is sure to satisfy, and this recipe by Closet Cooking is an easy-to-make, delicious centerpiece for your Memorial Day gathering.
- 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
- 1/4 cup lime juice (~2 limes)
- 1 pound boneless and skinless chicken breasts
- Mix the taco seasoning and lime juice, cover the chicken in the mixture and optionally marinate for 30 minutes to over night.
- Grill over medium-high heat until cooked through, about 3-5 minutes per side, let sit for 5 minutes and slice before enjoying!
Photo by Blissful Basil
Grilled Corn on the Cob
There are few side-dishes that say summertime more than corn on the cob. Try this delicious recipe by Blissful Basil for a tasty twist on a classic recipe.
- 4 ears of corn
- 2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
- smoked paprika, to taste
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
- Sea salt, to taste
- Freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
Heat grill over high until hot.
If you want a bit of a char on the corn, pull back a few of the husks on each ear of corn. Place the corn directly on the grill, cover, and grill for 15 to 20 minutes or until the husks are charred on all sides, rotating occasionally. Remove and let cool until they can safely be handled.
Remove the husks and silk from each ear of corn. You can either discard the husks completely or fold them back to use as handles.
Use a pastry brush or your hands to spread the coconut oil over each ear of corn. Place the corn on a serving platter, sprinkle with the smoked paprika, spritz with the fresh lime juice, sprinkle with cilantro, and season with sea salt and black pepper. Serve.
Photo by DianaEatingRichly via Pinterest
Stove-Top Macaroni & Cheese
It’s not a real cookout if there’s no mac n’ cheese! This recipe for easy macaroni & cheese by Genius Kitchen requires only 30 minutes and serves 6.
- 16 ounces elbow macaroni
- 1⁄4 cup butter
- 1⁄4 cup flour
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 1 dash black pepper
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese or 8 ounces cheddar cheese
- Cook macaroni according to package directions.
- In medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; stir in flour, and cook for 3-5 minutes stirring constantly to form a roux; add salt and pepper; slowly add milk, stirring well after each addition.
- Cook and stir until bubbly.
- Stir in cheese a small amount at a time until fully melted.
- Drain macaroni; add to cheese sauce; stir to coat.
Photo by Family Fresh Meals
Flag Fruit Dessert
This ingenious dessert by Family Fresh Meals takes just a few minutes to prepare. It’s also a relatively healthy option for a dessert dish.
- 5-6 cups of red fresh fruit (i.e. strawberries, cherries, raspberries)
- 2 cups of blueberries
- 3 cups of yogurt or white chocolate covered pretzels
- Wash fresh fruit and dry.
- Lay out fruit and pretzels to represent the flag stripes.
- Place a small bowl of blueberries on the top left.
We wish you a great Memorial Day weekend, and hope these recipes make your gathering delicious!
This Sunday, February 4, is the big game, and although we wish the Saints were suiting up to play, we know the matchup between New England and Philadelphia will be an exciting one! If you’re hosting a game day viewing party in your 1st Lake home and feel overwhelmed with what to cook for your guests, start here! We’ve rounded up our favorite appetizer and snack recipes from New Orleans’ most celebrated chefs so you can add a little Louisiana to your football watching party this weekend.
Creole Quesadillas from Chef John Folse
Now that crawfish are back in season, we can’t think of a better way to incorporate them into your game day offerings than in a melty, cheesy, and oh so spicy quesadilla. This recipe from Chef John Folse will certainly score you some big flavor points.
Melt their hearts with crawfish-stuffed quesadillas.
- 1 pound fresh crawfish tails
- ½ cup butter
- 1 cup sliced green onions
- 2 tbsps minced garlic
- ½ pound wild oyster mushrooms
- ½ pound sliced button mushrooms
- ½ pound Chanterelle mushrooms
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tbsps chopped cilantro
- 1 cup diced Creole tomatoes
- ½ cup diced yellow bell pepper
- ½ cup diced red bell pepper
- 1 tbsp Creole seasoning
- salt and black pepper to taste
- hot sauce to taste
- 8 large tortilla shells
- 1 pound grated Monterey Jack cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. You may wish to substitute shrimp, crab or even chicken if crawfish is unavailable in your area. In a large cast iron skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add green onions, garlic, and mushrooms. Sauté 3-5 minutes or until mushrooms are wilted. Add crawfish, thyme, cilantro, tomatoes and bell peppers. Continue to sauté until juices are rendered and liquids have almost completely evaporated approximately 10 minutes. Season to taste using Creole seasoning, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Place the tortilla shells on a large cookie sheet and sprinkle with a small amount of Monterey Jack cheese. Top with a portion of the crawfish stuffing and more of the Monterey Jack cheese. Fold each tortilla in half and bake 7-10 minutes or until cheese is melted and tortillas are slightly crisp but not over-browned.
Dooky Chase’s Shrimp Gumbo by Chef Leah Chase
The Queen of Creole Cooking, Leah Chase, shared her world famous gumbo recipe with The Food Network so you can make your guests feel like they’re dining at Dooky Chase in your 1st Lake living room! The weather will be a little chilly this Sunday, and a big pot of gumbo is a great way to warm up the football crowd.
Leah Chase’s gumbo is loaded with delicious fresh seafood! (Photo via The Food Network)
- 1/2 cup peanut oil
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 1 pound small white shrimp (30/40), peeled and deveined
- 8 ounces Creole hot sausage, cut into bite-size pieces
- 8 ounces smoked sausage, cut into bite-size pieces
- 8 ounces beef stew meat, cubed
- 8 ounces smoked ham, cubed
- 6 chicken wings, cut in half
- 1 tablespoon file powder
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 dozen oysters, with their liquid
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground thyme
Heat the oil in a skillet over low heat and add the flour to make a roux, browning until golden about 3 minutes. Add the onions and cook over low heat until the onions wilt about 4 minutes.
Put the shrimp, sausages, stew meat and ham in a 5-quart pot over medium heat. Pour the onion mixture over the ingredients and add 3 quarts water, the chicken wings, file powder, paprika, and salt. Bring to a boil and cook for 30 minutes or until broth reaches desired thickness.
Add the oysters, parsley, garlic, and thyme. Lower the heat and cook until the shrimp is pink, about 10 minutes more, before serving.
Bacon Wrapped Dates by Chef Emeril Lagasse
Bacon is always a crowd pleaser in our book! Chef Emeril Lagasse’s Bacon Wrapped Dates are a tasty and perfectly-portioned appetizer to serve before the game begins. These individually served treats are the perfect blend of salty and sweet, and they’ll complement those commercial breaks nicely.
These you might want to cook for yourself. (Photo via Emerils.com)
- 24 Medjool dates
- 24 Marcona or whole roasted almonds
- 4 ounces honey goat cheese
- 12 slices very thin bacon
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Slice the dates lengthwise, on one side only, and remove the pit. Place an almond inside each date. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of goat cheese into the other side of the date and press both sides together to close.
Cut each slice of bacon in half. Wrap each date with a slice of bacon and secure it with a toothpick.
Transfer the dates to the parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, take out the toothpick and turn the dates over. Bake for another 10 minutes or until the bacon is crisp on both sides.
Remove from the oven and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and let cool for 3 to 5 minutes before serving.