Sunday, January 25, 2015

Mom's Homemade Lemon Bars

One of my favorite sweets growing up was my Mom's Lemon Bars. She used to make them periodically through out the year and I would savor each sweet tart bite. The powdered sugar on the top is really what sets these apart! I always thought they were time consuming, challenging and had secret unknown ingredients. As a seven year old the whole world was magical including these Lemon Bars. About 25 years later, after my Mom had given me the recipe, I realized how easy they were to whip up. Just don't leave off the powdered sugar -- it is kind of a big deal :-) 
 
Ingredients:
 
Crust:
3/4 C butter
1/3 C sugar
1 1/2 C flour
 
Lemon Bar (or the guts):
3 eggs
1 1/2 C sugar
3 Tablsp flour
1/3 C lemon juice
lemon zest of one lemon
 
Topping:
Powdered Sugar
 
Preheat oven 300F
 
1) Mix crust ingredients together and press into bottom of a 9x13 pan.
2) Bake for 20 minutes
3) As it bakes, mix the guts up either whisking by hand in a bowl or electric mixer on medium-low speed.
4) After 20 minutes pull crust out of the oven and turn it up to 350.
5) Pour the guts on the hot crust.
6) Pop back in the oven for 20 minutes
7) Do not let these overcook! They will continue cooking as they cool and firm up.
8) Let them cool for about 30 minutes and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
9) Continue cooling for a few hour or until firm. Cut into bars and have at it :-) 
 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Lemon Loaf

As I have mentioned previously, we have a lemon tree in our backyard and this year we are yielding quite a large crop (does that even make sense? It sounds educated and smart!). You know what that means, I am coming up with recipes left and right on using the lemons! Today I made a divine lemon loaf. This is seriously delicious!  It is moist yet dense, tart and just the right amount of sweetness. If you have a lemon to spare, make this! You will not be disappointed :-)
 Lemon Loaf
 
Ingredients:
1 1/2 C all- purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 tblsp cornstarch
3 eggs at room temperature
1 C sugar
2 tblsp butter at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp lemon extract
1/3 C lemon juice
1/2 C vegetable oil
zest of 1 lemon
 
Glaze:
1 C powdered sugar
2 tblsp heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp lemon extract
lemon juice to thin if needed  
 
 
Preheat oven to 325 F
 
1) Grease and flour a 9x5 glass loaf pan.
2) In a large bowl sift together 5 times (yes, FIVE...I know that seems obsessive, but it helps incorporate the dry ingredients because you don't want to mix it to much when you add your wet to it because it will make for a dry lemon loaf, but we will get to that later) flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cornstarch. Set aside.
3) In a mixer beat together on medium eggs, sugar, butter and vanilla extract.
4) Slowly pour in the lemon extract and lemon juice with the mixer on low. The batter may curdle a bit and by adding it as it mixes it helps it not curdle as bad (but it still well and this is normal).
5) Add the oil and lemon zest to the batter on medium low speed until combined.
6) Make a well in your flour mixture like so:
 
7) Slowly pour the batter into the well in the flour mixture.
8) Fold together the wet and dry ingredients until just combined. It is critical that you do not over mix the batter at this point because it will cause the loaf to be a bit dry.
9) Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs attached.
10) Cool for 30 minutes and glaze the loaf
11) To make the glaze simply combine the powdered sugar, whipping cream and lemon extract. If it is to thick (you want it on the runny side) add a little bit of lemon juice until you have the right consistency.
This is a great loaf to serve with afternoon tea or coffee! 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Salted Toffee Bars

I wanted to get back into my kitchen this week and whip up a treat. However, I wanted it to be different than my usual cookies and cupcakes. I also wanted a break from chocolate (I know....what is wrong with me, right?). I have been craving something salty, sweet and rich so I came up with these awesome little nuggets of heaven! Not really nuggets of heaven, but you get the point :-) The shortbread crust paired with the caramel butterscotch center and topped with toffee bits and sea salt make it the perfect two bite treat. 
 This recipe is a little bit of work, but really require little measurement and ingredients. The hardest thing is waiting for them to cool so you can eat one. Even that process can be speed up by placing them in the refrigerator for about two hours instead of leaving them on the counter over night. I mean, let's be honest, if I were to have left them on the counter before they were cool I would have just taken a fork or spoon to the pan and made a meal of it.

Preheat oven 350

1) Line a 9 by 13 pan with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
 2) In your mixer combine the butter, brown sugar and flour until it resembles this:
 3) Press the crust into the pan as evenly as possible.
 4) Bake for 15 minutes.
5) As the crust bakes combine in a heavy sauce pan the can of sweet and condensed milk and butter. Stir constantly as the butter melts and the mixture becomes warm.
 6) Take the crust out of the oven after 15 minutes and carefully pour the milk mixture over it.
7) Return to oven for 15 minutes until milk mixture is darker and bubbly. It is okay if the edges are a little too dark. You are just going to cut those off :-)
 8) Sprinkle the butterscotch chips over the hot milk mixture and return to the oven for 4 minutes,
 9) Smooth and spread the butterscotch to the edges.
 10) Top the butterscotch with sea salt and let cool completely before cutting into bars. 
 Yummy for my tummy :-)
 Get in my belly!

Ingredients:

Crust:
3/4 C butter brought to room temperature
3/4 C brown sugar
1 1/2 C flour

Filling:
1 can sweet and condensed milk
4 TBLSP butter

Topping:
2 C Butterscotch chips
1 1/2 C Toffee bits
1 TBLSP sea salt

Monday, January 12, 2015

Deconstructed Lemon Cream Pie

We have a lemon and orange tree in our backyard and right now there are about 100 lemons on our tree! I thought it would be fun to make individual deconstructed lemon cream pies for the family in mason jars. I was quite surprised with how easy it ended up being. Give it a try!
 
 
Ingredients:
 
Lemon Custard:
1 C sugar
juice from one lemon
5 eggs
1 stick of butter
 
Whipping Cream:
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/2 C powdered sugar
 
Crust:
 
Lemon wafers or lemon cookies (no cream filling though!)
 
Lemon Garnish:
 
Zest of 1 lemon (zest the lemon you are going to use in the custard first before you juice it.)
 
2 TBLSP of sugar
 Combine everything except for the zest of a lemon in a heavy weight pot.
 Whisk it at a moderate pace over medium low heat.
 Until it thickens up and looks like the picture below (about 8 minutes). Pour it in a glass bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night or at least 4 hours. I whipped up this custard the night before and let it set up over night.
 Zest your lemon and mix with sugar. Set your zest out on wax paper until ready to use. I usually do this as I make the whip cream. Speaking of whip cream lets do that next!

Pour all of your heavy whipping cream (1 pint of it) into a stand mixer bowl. Add powdered sugar and beat until thick and luscious.

In the meantime, smash your lemon cookies up into crumbs using a mallet and a gallon sized ziplock bag.

Now, it is time for the fun part! Layer lemon custard in five medium sized mason jars. Sprinkle on the cookie crumbs and then the whipped cream. Do this one more time and top with sugared lemon zest. Put a lid on each jar and refrigerate for at least two hours.
 When ready to serve, you can put a spoon in the center of each (It will stand up nicely :-) )  or you can just serve them straight out of the fridge :-)
On a personal note, I do not like 5 eggs in the custard because it taste to "eggy" to me (if that even is a word). I was the only one that noticed it, however. It could be because I knew there were five eggs in it, therefore was subconsciously looking for it on my taste buds. I prefer this with 4 eggs, but 5 gives it a nice consistency and texture. Rumor has it that you can actually treat the custard as lemon curd to use on scones if you have extra. I did not have extra so I just don't know about that ;-)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Make a Cape Drape

 Isn't she fashionable in her cape and Wonder Woman pajama pants? This is not about those awesome PJs she has on, it is about the amazing cape! And check out the back! It is just about as cute as the front:
 The great thing about this cape is it works for many body shapes and sizes. Above is my 12 year old daughter and below is me -- a curvy tall woman:
 I first discovered these capes over the 4th of July weekend with my Mother-in-law. We both were enthralled with them and walked away with a couple we found at a retailer. I have worn mine from time to time, but really have forgotten about it in the winter months (it is made out of a light jersey fabric). Then, my hair stylist stylist pulled out a fleece one she made and told me how easy it was to do. It required three cuts and no sewing. So I set out to make my own!

This is seriously the easiest and best DYI I have ever completed. It takes literally little creative talent, a few supplies and only 15 minutes (we timed it on the third one and if you have all your supplies ready to go it takes 7 minutes). You are going to need 1.67 yards of  fleece, yarn, scissors, (as you can tell I bought myself a pair just for this because I know just enough about sewing that you never use your paper scissors on fabric and vice versa), a pencil with a good eraser on it and either a fabric pencil or tailors chalk. I also had a fabric eraser on hand, but really did not need it to erase my marks I made.
 First you are going to fold your fleece into fourths making a square and smoothing out all the wrinkles like so:
 Tie one end of the yarn to your pencil close to the eraser:
 Measure the yarn out to the end of the fleece square cutting it about an inch shorter:
 Tie the other end of the yarn to your fabric pencil or tailor chalk:
 This is the most challenging part because you have to make your circle by holding the eraser with the yarn to the folded corner and using the other end as a compass of sort. Keep the fabric from bunching and you need to make sure you can see the semi circle you are drawing. I had my daughter hold the pencil in place as I pulled the other end taut and drew my semi circle. I had to go over some areas a few times:
 This is what you are left with:
 Do you see the line? Did it make a good semi circle? Good! Now take those scissors and cut on the line to get this:
 Before you open it mark the corner with your chalk so you know the center point. You can barely see my mark, but it is there:
 Open your semi circle up into a half circle making sure the folded side is facing you. It is time to measure out the arm holes (or head holes depending on how you wear it. No you don't have multiple heads, but you do have options on where to put your arms and head, but we will get to that later). From your center spot measure over 8 inches. Now, flip the ruler and draw a 7 inch line (I know you totally want my heart ruler. It is awesome!):
 Repeat on the other side and cut so that it resembles this:
 Now, open that bad boy up and wear it with a belt (and Wonder Woman pants if you feel so inclined and are a cute tween like my daughter ;-P ):
 You can even throw it over your head for a hood. I imagined myself in a red cape as Little Red Riding Hood:
 Or you can just wear it loose:
 Try putting your head through one arm hole and one of your arms in another:
 Make another one in a different pattern:
 Find your favorite winter team and have at it:
 Make a scarf if you have extra fabric by cutting a long strip and fringing the edges:
 Make another one for those gals in your life and let them show you their favorite way to take it out on the town (or back to bed if wearing Wonder Woman pants....it does make a nice warm type wearable blanket).
 
 
Not only is this super easy and fast it is really CHEAP! I found all my fleece on sale and each cape cost me about $10 and 10 minutes of my time to make. These retail for $45 online and upwards of $100 in stores. This is a great piece to have in your wardrobe during the winter too! It economical enough to make several to wear with your outfits that will keep it interesting and chic :-)

Until next time -- HAPPY CRAFTING :-D

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Festive Christmas Cheer Cookies

 
I have been intrigued by the red and green baking chips the past few Christmas seasons, but have never known what to do with them. I would see them on the shelf at the market, pick them up, fondle them and immediately put them back. This year I decided to pick some up and give them a try in my baking. I am sure glad I did! I came up with these amazing cookies! I altered my traditional chocolate chip recipe and rolled them through festive Christmas sprinkles. Though, the base is similar to my chocolate chip cookies the taste is different and oh so good. If you still need or want one more cookie for your Christmas cookie tray that will not only taste out of this world, but will also add that special Christmas feel whip up a batch of these today!
 

Ingredients

4 1/2 C flour
2 tsp baking soda
4 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 C brown sugar
1 C sugar
3 bars of unsalted butter melted
3 large eggs
2 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 bag (equal to 2 cups) of red and green baking chips by Nestle
Christmas colored sprinkles

Preparation

1) In a large bow, sift the flour, baking soda, cornstarch and salt together twice.
2) In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugars and butter until smooth.
3) Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until well incorporated.
4) In the center of your flour mixture, make a hole by pressing your flour to the sides of the bowl. Carefully pour the wet ingredients in and mix until combined.
5) Fold the baking chips into the dough.
6) Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
7) Preheat the oven to 325 F degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
8) Take about 2 - 3 Tbsp of dough and roll into a ball.
8) Roll the ball in sprinkles making sure to get good coverage.
9) Place on prepared cookie sheet at least 2 inches apart from other cookies
10) Bake for about 10 minute or until the tops are light golden. Let cool on sheet from 3 minutes and transfer to wire rack
11) Store cookies in a sealed container for up to 5 days or freezer for 3 months.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Black and White Fudge


What cookie tray or treat dish is complete without at least one type of fudge on it? Today I am sharing with you an easy pretty much no fail fudge recipe that is pure perfection. You can even swap out the white chocolate chips for peanut butter, mint, or butterscotch chips. The texture on this fudge is not too hard and not too soft. It is just right. It also holds up nicely and does not get sticky all over your fingers when you eat it. The trick is to only keep the chocolate mixtures on the heat until all the chips are melted and stir it constantly as it melts down. Make sure you add the vanilla extract after you remove from the heat or it will cook out. Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips (2 cups)
1 bag of milk chocolate chips (2 cups)
1/2 Cup of white chocolate chips
2 cans of Sweetened Condensed Milk, divided
1/4 Cup + 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon + 1/2 tablespoon of vanilla extract

Preparation

1) Line a 9x9 metal pan with wax paper. First line the bottom of the pan and up over the side with paper making sure it overlaps the edges. Smooth out the bottom and the edges. Now, turn the pan 90 degrees and repeat.
2) In a large sauce pan melt together the chocolate chips, 1/4 Cup of unsalted butter, salt and 2 Cups of the milk. Remove from heat and stir in 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract.
3) In a small heavy saucepan melt together the white chocolate chips, remaining milk and 1/2 tablespoon butter. Remove from heat and add 1/2 tablespoon of vanilla extract.
4) Pour the chocolate mixture into prepared pan smoothing out the top to make it level. Drop it a few times on your counter about 2 inches from the surface to level it out and remove any bubbles.
5) Dab white chocolate randomly on chocolate.
6) Take a knife and gently swirl white chocolate in the chocolate making sure not to mix it in.
7) Place in refrigerator for 4 hours.
8) Carefully remove from pan and remove the wax paper. Cut into 1 inch squares and store in air tight container in refrigerator or freezer.