Peanut Butter Lover’s Day: Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe

peanut-butter-cookiesFebruary is almost over! We’re excited — not just because we’re that much closer to warm weather and sunshine, but because we’re one day closer to Peanut Butter Lover’s Day! That falls on March 1, so we’re making anything and everything we can with peanut butter! Today we kept it simple and made our best peanut butter cookie recipe.

peanut-butter-cookiesPeanut Butter Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy or chunky is fine)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Bowl of granulated sugar to roll your cookie dough in (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375℉.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the  flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt (you can use a fork). Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl fitted to a stand mixer combine, the brown sugar, butter and peanut butter. Using the paddle attachment on medium speed, cream together the ingredients until they are well-combined. Add the egg and vanilla and continue to mix until it’s smooth. Reduce the mixing speed to low. Slowly add the dry ingredients until it’s all incorporated. peanut-butter-cookies

Scoop the batter into 1” balls. Roll each ball in the bowl of sugar so they’re coated with sugar. Place each ball on a cookie sheet about 2” apart. Smash down each ball with a fork twice so it makes hash marks.

peanut-butter-cookies

Bake for 7 minutes. Let stand for about three minutes before transferring them to the cooling rack. Makes about 34 cookies.

These are classic peanut butter cookies — they’re perfect the way they are but you can add your own twist to them by adding chocolate or butterscotch chips. And if you’re a serious peanut butter lover, you can add peanut butter chips!

Enjoy your peanut butter cookies! Check back with The Lakeside Collection for more recipes, ideas and products for all your favorite quirky holidays!

peanut-butter-cookies

10 Things To Do To Pass The Last Week Of February

FebruaryWe have finally reached the end of February, and it seems like the winter will stretch on forever. Spring is right around the corner, but you need to find some fun ways to get through this last icy patch. Here are 10 things to do to pass the last week of February.

  1. Clean out your closet. Spring often means new fashions. Make some room for those new looks and get your winter clothes ready for storage with a little work. Check out these tips to get to the bottom of your closet clutter.
  2. Binge on your favorite show or movie series. Binge watching is the newest way to keep up with the best in entertainment. Thanks to online streaming services and DVDs, it is possible to watch entire seasons at once. Catch up with a show you love or are curious about, or dig into a film trilogy.winter-running
  3. Start training for a summer run. Join a gym and start off on a treadmill for an energizing workout. Talk with your doctor first, and follow a beginner’s program to get moving.
  4. Begin a new book. Feed your mind with a new and interesting book. Start a reading habit with a bestseller, or try out a piece of classic literature. Winter is the perfect time to curl up with a book.
  5. Build a winter campfire in the yard. If your city or homeowners’ association allows it, set up a backyard fire pit and have a winter campfire. Don’t forget the s’mores and hot chocolate.
  6. Play snow soccer. Give your favorite sport a winter twist while keeping warm by running around in the snow. Make sure to check out your playing space for ice before you start, and use a brightly colored ball so you will not lose it in the snow.
  7. Build a model or puzzle. A model or a puzzle is a wonderful way to pass the time alone or with a group. Start with a small puzzle and work your way up to something more complex.playing-game
  8. Make an indoor fort or a snow fort. It’s always delightful to create a space just for fun. If there is snow on the ground, use it to build your own fort to prepare for a snowball attack. Stay indoors and pile up pillows and combine it with a fort kit for hours of fun.
  9. Go on a winter scavenger hunt. Try one in the outdoors to show children the beauty of nature in winter, or set up some clues indoors for a cozy treasure hunt.
  10. Play a new board game. Set up a family game night, and try something you have never played before. Rolling the dice on something different will keep you from getting in a rut, and you may find a new favorite.

National Cherry Pie Day: How to Make Cherry Pie

Cherry-PieFebruary 20 is National Cherry Pie Day — you don’t need to twist our arms to celebrate this one! To celebrate, we are sharing our cherry pie recipe. It’s all from scratch, but there are shortcuts you can try and still call it homemade. Here’s how to make cherry pie:

Cherry-PieCrust: This recipe is for a 9” double crust.  Nora Ephron (she wrote When Harry Met Sally… Sleepless in Seattle, and Heartburn) was quite a cook and always said there is no reason to ever make pie dough from scratch. We don’t believe that’s true (you can use pie dough for so many things), but in case you don’t feel like rolling it out yourself, there’s no shame in using a store-bought crust. 

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cold, unsalted butter, cubed (you can also use ¾ shortening)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (milk or water are adequate substitutes)

Cherry-PieWhisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add butter. With your hands, squeeze the butter and dry ingredients together until the butter is coated with flour and the pieces are about the size of peas. Make a well in the mixture. Pour all of the buttermilk into the well.

Cherry-PieWith a fork, mix it all together. When it’s all moistened, form two balls of dough equal in size. Don’t knead it yet — it should be a bit messy. Wrap them in plastic and refrigerate them for an hour.

Cherry-PieFilling: Cherries are not in season — they have a short growing season in the summer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have cherry pie in the middle of February — you just won’t have fresh cherries in your pie. We used canned cherries packed in water — they still make a fabulous pie. Alternatively, you can use two cans (14.5 oz) cherry pie filling.

  • 3 cans (14 oz) of tart or sweet cherries in water
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Cherry-Pie

In a saucepan over high heat, combine all your ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for ten minutes. Set the pan aside to let it cool.

Preheat oven to 375℉.Cherry-Pie

Roll out one ball of dough to about ⅛”. It should be a little bit bigger than your pie plate. Fold it in quarters and place the corner in the center of your pie plate and unfold the dough.

Cherry-PiePress the dough into the pan and pierce the bottom in random spots with a fork. Roll out the second ball of dough, fold it in half and set aside.

Cherry-PiePour the filling into the pie plate lined with dough. Unfold the reserved dough on top of the filling. Press the two layers of dough around the edged. With kitchen shears, cut the excess dough around the edges leaving about an inch hanging over the edge. Fold the edges under to seal the pie.

Cherry-Pie Crimp the edges. With a paring knife, pierce three slits in the middle of the pie. Whisk together one egg with a tablespoon of water. Brush the top of the pie and edges with the egg wash. Refrigerate your unbaked pie for about 30 minutes.  When you’re ready to bake, cover the edges (without touching them) of the pie with aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and lower the oven temperature to 350℉. Bake for another 20 minutes, occasionally checking to make sure the crust doesn’t get too brown. When you can see the filling bubbling up through the slits, it’s ready.

Let your pie cool on a wire rack for at least two hours. If you just can’t wait to dig in, you can, of course, serve a slice earlier than that, but the filling might be a little soupy — it thickens while standing.

Cherry-Pie

How to Treat Yourself for Valentine’s Day

ValentineValentine’s Day is a day we set aside for honoring our sweethearts. It feels good to do something thoughtful for the ones we love, but it’s nice to do something nice for ourselves occasionally. This Valentine’s Day, don’t be afraid to indulge! Here are 5 ideas to treat yourself for Valentine’s Day.

Eat Chocolate. We love chocolate. It’s the best! Not only does it taste awesome, but, if you get the dark chocolate, it’s good for your health, too! Chocolate has antioxidant properties that reduce the risk of heart disease — among other benefits. While you’re losing yourself in that sweet, velvety chocolate bar, you’re also undoing any damage you might have done with that bag of potato chips.

Entertain Your Guilty Pleasures. Read the tabloids. Find out who’s wearing what to the Oscars. Listen to boy bands, Justin Bieber or Ariana Grande. Dance and get silly. Watch romantic comedies and get lost in the boy-meets-girl-boy-loses-girl-boy-chases-girl-and-wins-her-back-with-a sugary-sweet-fairy-tale-ending. Do the things no one else knows you like to do (and that you’re a little embarrassed about).mask

Take Five. Shut off your brain and relax. Meditation sounds corny and a little new age-y, but there are real benefits from getting complete silence for a few minutes. You can even meditate while giving yourself a facial treatment. According to the Mayo Clinic, it reduces stress, helps you focus on the present and reduces negative emotions. Who wants to feel anxious and angry on Valentine’s Day?

Make Something. Crafting and artistic challenges are not only fun, they also have psychological benefits. According to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, making art helps people focus on positive experiences and increases self-worth. Not only will you be creating a one-of-a-kind keepsake, but you’ll feel better about yourself while you’re making it.

Pet-ThrowCuddle Up with a Furry Friend. While we love having our pets for companionship, having them around actually has health benefits. According to the American Heart Association, owning a pet reduces the risk of heart disease and can even lower your cholesterol. Cats and dogs are a lot of work to take care of, but they’re worth the love, affection and long life they provide.

While you’re planning Valentine’s Day for your sweetie, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Remember what Samantha Jones told Smith Jerrod: “I love you, but I love me more.” If we don’t take care of ourselves, we can’t take care of others.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

 

5 Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

valentine-coupleOn Valentine’s Day, chocolate and flowers are what we expect, but not everyone needs more sweets or flowers in a vase. Every valentine wants or needs something different — even if it’s a practical gift, it can be a thoughtful gift. Here are 5 Valentine’s Day gift ideas.

Treats If you don’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen, try making a treat from scratch. You’ll have to spend time putting something together and baking it — that you went outside of your comfort zone to make something with your own hands is a gift that will melt your valentine’s heart.

maskSpa Day A gift of relaxation is appreciated by just about anyone, but doing the treatment yourself is priceless. Wrap up spa-wear, body scrubs and facial kits to package your gift and let your sweetheart choose a day to cash in on cupid’s coupon.

Flowers… That Take Root Anyone and everyone loves to get a bouquet of flowers — but they never last as long as we want them to. For a gardener, give the gift of flowers your sweetheart can plant that will sprout, grow and bloom beyond February. It’ll be a gift to remind your sweetheart of your love for months rather than days.

A Day Off Between running the kids to and from school and getting to work on time, life is tough to keep up with. Give your beloved the gift of a day off  to show your appreciation. For one day, take over all the errands, chores and cooking your honey does in a day. Sometimes the best gift if the gift of “nothing.”

Clean-houseA Clean House Having a clean house is not only lifting the burden of doing housework, but it can also be quite relaxing. Removing clutter from your field of vision and not having chores hang over your head can ease some of the daily anxiety adults get bogged down with. Whether you take on the responsibility yourself by organizing each room and scrubbing everything from top to bottom or you hire someone to do it for you, your partner will be grateful for such a thoughtful Valentine’s Day Gift.

Valentine’s Day is a day to show your appreciation to the person you love. You don’t have to give chocolates or cards to let your dear know he or she is special — sometimes thoughtful Valentine’s Day treats are nothing more than making your sweetheart’s life a little easier.

Regional Foods for the Big Game

This weekend, the New England Patriots face the Seattle Seahawks for the big showdown in Arizona. From coast to coast, people will be pledging their allegiance to each city — regardless of how they feel about football, challenges abound in many forms. For some, it will be in the kitchen. We love food from every corner of the country — and, while salmon and clam chowder are great to eat, they’re not suited for a game day party. However, we’ve put together a list of football party favorites with regional flair to honor the top two teams. Here are some regional foods for the Big Game.

ChiliChili The perfect accompaniment to a football game on Sunday is chili — every region has their favorite way of serving it, and Seattle and New England are not exceptions.

Seattle In Seattle, a favorite bowl of chili is found at Geraldine’s Counter. They call it the Kick Butt — a fitting name for a super bowl of chili! It has three meats, red beans and plenty of spice to be tempered with a topping if shredded cheddar and sour cream.

New England In New England, their go-to chili is found at the All Star Sandwich Bar. The “Texas State Penn Chili” is different from Seattle’s favorite is that it contains no beans — it’s all meat and spices. And, of course, the meat is shredded beef brisket. As a garnish, the use sour cream, jack cheese and a slice of lime.

Lobster-rollSandwiches As far as food for football goes, you can’t go wrong with a sandwich. They’re easy, compact and you don’t need utensils to eat them. For both Seattle and New England, seafood dominates favorite sandwich fillings.

Seattle Salmon is one of the most popular foods in Seattle — the industry churns out some of the best in the world, so it’s not a surprise people in Seattle like to put it between two slices of bread. At Market Grill at the famous Pike Place Public Market, they serve it blackened on French bread.

New England New England is known for their “chowdah” and all eats sea-related. In the form of a sandwich, the lobster roll, hands down, is a local favorite. The Lobster Pool in Rockport, Massachusetts serves fresh lumps of lobster mixed with mayo on a bed of lettuce wrapped in a buttered, split-top bun. It’s simple, but what makes it really fabulous is that the lobsters are handpicked from neighboring Gloucester every day.

beerBeer Beer and football go hand-in-hand. Both Seattle and New England have a healthy amount of local suds to sip on.

Seattle A safe bet for Seattle-brewed beer is anything from Elysian Brewing Company. It’s been pleasing Seattle beer drinkers for almost two decades — they have a brew pub that’s been rated one of the best in the country by ratebeer.com. If you’re looking for something a little more tame than craft beer, Washington’s Rainier Beer is still on the market.

New England The craft beer industry is thriving in New England — Farmhouse Ale is a New England favorite, but local beers don’t tend to be available to the entire country. If you want to serve New England beer at your party, Sam Adams is still a favorite among New Englanders and it’s available across the United States.

Even if we can’t be in Arizona for the big game or host a party in our favorite team’s town, we can bring a little of it home. A little taste of Seattle or a big bite of New England, give your party for the big game some local flavor with hometown favorites this weekend.

Valentine’s Day: Show Your Dogs You Love Them

Puppy-loveWith Valentine’s Day coming up, you want to show your love to everyone important to you — not just your sweetheart. Of course, your cute canines are on the short list for affection — and we have a few ideas to make their Valentine’s Day special. Here are 5 ways to show your dogs you love them.

Grooming Dogs spend a lot of time licking themselves. They do this mostly to keep themselves clean, get rid of parasites and to remove chemical irritants from their coats that they picked up from our environment. It’s a lot of work to keep that coat shiny, so why not give your dog a break? Show your pups some love by doing a good grooming for them. You can do it yourself or make an appointment to see a professional. The American Society to the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals recommends having them groomed every three months.

DogGet a Checkup As humans, we go to the doctor regularly — even when we’re feeling OK — just to make sure everything is in working order. Dogs need the same kind of routine. They can’t tell you they have aches or pains or even if they’re feeling anything unusual. Veterinarians are trained to see and feel things on our pets that we can’t. It’s worth taking them to the vet to make sure nothing is wrong and for peace of mind. The Humane Society recommends taking your dog to the vet at least once a year.

Keep Your Dog Fit Every dog owner wants their pups to stay active and healthy for as long as possible. Just like humans, they need to keep their weight down for longer, healthier lives. Talk to your vet about how much food your dog should be getting every day. Keeping an eye on how much they eat and taking them out for walks and giving them toys to keep them active can help keep them maintaint a healthy weight to prevent health problems like arthritis, heart disease and diabetes.

Play Dates and Dog Parks Dogs are pack animals — instinctively, they are drawn to other dogs for socializing and playtime. Not only is it fun for them, but getting used to people and animals outside your family helps train them to be calm and cooperative outside of the home. While your love and affection is important to keep them happy, show them a little bit more love by taking them out to play with other dogs.

Dog-bedCreature Comforts Just like humans, dogs love a good soft toy or blanket to cuddle up with at night. Not all dogs do this, but it’s not unusual for some to get attached to items to bring them comfort. Give them a little bit of love by getting them a new comfy pet bed or a new cushion to make their house a little more cozy.
However you decide to honor your dog on Valentine’s Day, The Lakeside Collection has ideas and products keep your pup feeling loved and happy. If you haven’t done it already, check out our Paws and Kisses Pet Photo Contest and show us just how lovable your pet is!

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas: Products to Show Your Sweetheart You Love Him

Valentine-coupleValentine’s Day is coming up! But, after the holidays, we might be a little drained from figuring out what to give everyone — coming up with a gift for your sweetheart might not come to you very easily. We have a few ideas for your Valentine to take a little pressure off you. Whether he is a sports fan, a history buff, or just needs to relax, we have something he will go wild over! Here are a few Valentine’s Day gift ideas to show your sweetheart you love him.

sports-cardsSports Fan A die-hard fan can never have too many pieces of home decor and accessories with his team’s name and colors on them. Complete his collection of sports cards with ones decorated with 23-Karat gold. If he has other interests in addition to sports, you may be able to find a way to combine them in one gift, like a grill cover with his team’s logo on it or golf balls.

history-booksHistory Lover If your “honey-sop” relaxes by exploring the past, you can give him a gift that takes him back in time. Look for a book or DVDs on a favorite topic or era, or fascinate him with shocking crime stories. For something more personal, check out a coin set from a significant year.

beer-holsterPersonalized Decor Personalized decor for his home or office lets you give him something made just for him. A sign with his name on it announces to all who visit just who the king of the man cave is. Personalized pint glasses or beer steins are a distinctive touch for any home bar. Photo frames with your names on them are a wonderful way to display holiday snapshots. Even just a monogram brings sophistication to drinkware, a beer growler or even a beer holster.

Whatever your guy is into, The Lakeside Collection has a wide variety of gifts to help you show him how much you love him. Our values and shipping deals make romance more affordable than ever. This Valentine’s day, celebrate your love with gifts and decor from Lakeside!

National Compliment Day: Compliments to Win Over Your Valentine

CoupleJanuary 24 is National Compliment Day — you may not think it’s an idea worthy of devoting an entire day to raise awareness of…. until you receive a compliment and feel how powerful it is. It feels good to be recognized and appreciated — especially by loved ones. With Valentine’s Day coming up, we thought we give you a few ideas for National Compliment Day with 5 ideas for compliments to win over your Valentine.cake

  1. Point out the little things. That cute mole, that wildly adorable cowlick, the crooked smile — those things that no one else would notice but you think is lovely should be said out loud. It’ll make your valentine melt.
  2. Highlight the things your valentine works hard on. The masterful way he or she can curate knickknacks on the mantel, how he or she can diffuse a heated situation between the kids, how well that chocolate cake came out on the first try. Your valentine will love you all the more when his or her hard work is noticed.
  3. Shout out loud that you are proud. Telling someone that you are proud of him or her is an all-encompassing compliment, but it lets that person know you are better person for having your valentine in your life.
  4. kids-on-ballsUnderscore parenting. Telling your valentine she’s a good mother or he’s a father, is about the best compliment you can give anyone. That someone is able to shape a child into a good and admirable person, is no small feat. While you’re at it, your in-laws might appreciate a similar compliment.
  5. Rare combinations. He’s smart and hilarious. She’s creative and warmhearted. He’s interesting and can sing beautifully. When your valentine understands you think he or she is the total package it will make your heart and your valentine’s heart swell.

While we want others to feel good, they want you to feel good, too. Remember that it’s just as important to graciously receive compliments as it is to give them — be prepared to give and receive lots of love this Valentine’s Day!

Our Favorite Valentine’s Day Treat: The Blondie

BlondiesJanuary 22 is National Blonde Brownie Day! The blonde brownie is also known as a blondie. They’re similar to brownies in how they’re made, only the recipe doesn’t call for chocolate. According to foodtimeline.org, blondies don’t derive from brownies at all — it evolved from gingerbread bars. However, they are as versatile as brownies — you can find them with all sorts of sweet embellishments: butterscotch, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, caramel, walnuts, coconut — just about anything you think would be delicious in a dessert. Some people take it to the extreme with Oreo blondies or birthday cake blondies — there’s even a recipe out there for Roasted Strawberry and Goat Cheese Blondies — but anyway you make it, it’s moist, dense and rich just like the brownie — and it’s way better than a cookie!

At The Lakeside Collection, our favorite blondie recipe includes white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts. It’s very simple — only seven ingredients (five if you make it without the nuts and white chocolate) Although we’re making blondies to celebrate National Blonde Brownie Day, it’s our favorite Valentine’s Day treat. Blondies

Blondies

  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • ¾ cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup roughly chopped macadamia nuts
  • ⅔ cup white chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375℉.

In a bowl fitted to a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment to cream together the sugar and butter on medium speed until it’s well-combined. Add vanilla extract and eggs one at a time and mix until it’s creamy and smooth. Slowly add the flour and mix well.Blondies

Turn the mixer down to low speed and add white chocolate chips and nuts. Spread mixture in a 9”x9” baking dish. Bake the blondies for 40 minutes or until the edges are dark brown and the top is golden brown. For extra measure, stick a toothpick in the middle. If it comes out clean, it’s done. Let cool completely before cutting.

Blondies

Of course, you can make blondies any day of the year — not just National Blonde Brownie Day or Valentine’s Day — they’re a perfect dessert for just about any occasion.

Blondies