Lemon Bars from Ina

I have been making lemon bars for years, but I never expected to find a recipe better than my mother’s. And then I met Ina’s lemon bars. Cow-a-bunga. There is nothing like them. My mother’s called for sweetened condensed milk and a streusel topping. That can get a little frou-frou.

I want a lemon bar that singes the nose hair with its intense lemon flavor. I want Ina’s. Now don’t think it’s easy to make. Kidding. The hardest part is zesting all the lemons. Cramped fingers are us! Her recipes are amazingly simple, but so, so good.

I would love to spend time with her, but it is not going to happen. She lives a life I occasionally envy, but I’m unwilling to give up my treasures to see how she lives. Although those houses, wow!

1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 cups flour

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For the filling:

6 extra-large eggs at room temperature

3 cups granulated sugar

2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 cup flour

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees .For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill.

Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.

Cut into triangles and dust with powdered sugar.

*****From the Recipe Box:

These have great lemon flavor and they freeze well.

and remember: I wish it were socially acceptable to throw water balloons at people who annoy me. I don’t want to hurt them, but I do want to ruin their day.

Big kiss, Lynn

Chicken Pot Pie Attempt # 2

I want to perfect chicken pot pie, but I don’t seem to be making any headway. This is attempt number 2.

Using my cute 6 and 1/2 inch Lodge cast iron fry pans and some puff pastry dough, I began this attempt.

I made a basic white sauce:

1/2 cube butter melted in saucepan

1/2 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon dried mustard added to butter

Stir for 2 to 3 minutes to remove the flour taste.

Slowly add 2 cups milk and stir until thickened.

S & P to taste.

Add a cup of thawed mixed vegetables.

I’d cooked the puff pastry earlier, so I simply poured the white sauce and veggies into the Lodge pans and topped with the puff pastry. Duh-da, you have chicken pot pie. You don’t have to bake it or anything, just sit down and have dinner.

*****From the Recipe Box:

Whether you use puff pastry or pie crust, it will be good and easy.

This will be extra handy with leftover turkey on Friday. Simply double or triple everything for a family dinner.

and remember what Emma Watson said: Don’t feel stupid if you don’t like what everyone else pretends to love. Big Kiss, Lynn

Dog Humor

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The Pacific NW dealt with an atmospheric river event this week; some residents are still dealing with the horrible flood waters. G and I lost power and went to stay at our son and d-i-l’s house. Thank goodness we have a place to go; not everyone is as lucky. Rather than be totally maudlin about the experience, I thought I would share some dog humor. I’ll be back to normal next week I hope. Stay safe people.

Big kiss, Lynn

Creamy Chicken or Turkey and Wild Rice Soup

  • 1/2 cup long-grain Basmati rice, dry
  • 1/2 cup wild rice blend, dry
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 cup onions, diced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon parsely
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cup half n half
  • 3 cups turkey or chicken, shredded

Instructions

  • Prepare each rice according to package, drain and set aside.
  • In a large pot, heat olive oil.
  • Add in celery, carrots and onions and cook until carrots are tender.
  • Add garlic and cook until garlic is fragrant.
  • Pour in chicken broth and spices.
  • Bring to a simmer.
  • While soup is simmering, melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  • Stir in flour and cook until flour is golden, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Slowly pour in half and half while continuing to stir.
  • Stir until mixture has thickened into a creamy texture.
  • Pour this thickened cream into the simmering soup a little at a time, until fully incorporated.
  • Stir in the cooked rice and chicken.
  • Taste and add more seasonings if needed.
  • Serve hot.

We love, love, love soup. I found this one under the “Divas Can Cook” blog. And yes, yes they can if all the recipes are like this.

This is the best chicken rice soup we have had in a long time. This soup becomes very thick after the rice has had a chance to absorb the liquid, so the second time you go to eat it is almost like stew. Numm!

Fortunately our independent grocery store here on the Island carries bulk foods and I take full advantage of them. I especially love the grain options.

*****From the Recipe Box:

Sometimes you can’t find wild rice. I’ve even used Rice-a-Roni wild rice mixes.

Big kiss, Lynn: Instead of “Have a nice day”, I think I’ll start saying “Have the day you deserve” and let Karma take its course.

Peanut Butter and Jam Cookies

G and I were watching the Food Channel when one of my favorites, Molly Yeh, and her husband the Egg Boy came on. I have been following Molly’s written blog for years. She lives near my family in North Dakota, who also happen to grow sugar beets. Needless to say, I have a natural affinity for her.

Today she was doing something too, too easy. She was making 3 ingredient cookies. I know, how good could they be? Well, G and I are here to confirm easy squeezy is the way to go.

You have a couple of different options: a regular peanut butter cookie, a peanut butter cookie topped with jam, or a sandwich cookie.

Started with 1 cup of peanut butter. ( I used creamy Jif because that’s G’s favorite.) Add 1 cup brown sugar and 1 egg.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Add the peanut butter, brown sugar and egg to a large bowl and mix with an electric mixer on high speed until smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Roll pieces of dough into tablespoon-size balls and divide between two baking sheets. Flatten each ball with the tines of a fork to form a criss-cross pattern.  
  3. Bake until the cookies are set and just turning golden brown around the edges, about 10 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet for 1 minute, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, about 30 minutes. 

*****From the Recipe Box:

It’s a fairly dense cookie; I don’t think 10 minutes was enough. I’m going for 12 next time.

and remember what Orson Welles said: I don’t say that we ought to all misbehave, but we ought to look as if we could.  Big kiss, Lynn

Beef or Chicken or Pork Wellington Bites

We’ve talked so much about Beef Wellington. When I came across this recipe, I thought Eureka! I can try it without a major outlay of time and money.

So right off the bat, I made these with pork. I sent my sous chef to the grocery for a beef tenderloin and he came home with pork. But, I thought what the heck. It actually turned out for the best, because now I know it works with different meats. I even had the sous chef pound out the remaining pork loin into schnitzel. Numm.

  1. 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  2. 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, defrosted
  3. 2 lb. beef tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 1” cubes
  4. 1 tbsp. butter
  5. 6 oz. cremini mushrooms, minced
  6. 2 shallots, minced
  7. 1 tbsp. rosemary, chopped (plus whole sprigs for garnish)
  8. 1/4 c. Dijon mustard
  9. 1 Egg, lightly beaten
  10. S & P
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Pat meat dry with paper towels. Season all over with salt and pepper. Add to skillet and sear all over, until browned, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and clean skillet.
  3. Melt butter in the same skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and shallots and sauté until tender. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in rosemary and remove from heat.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, unfold puff pastry. Roll each sheet into a large square, about 1/8″-thick. Cut each into 9 squares. Place one piece of meat onto each square and dollop with about a teaspoon of mustard. Top the meat with about a tablespoon of the mushroom mixture. Fold pastry edges over the meat and pinch to seal. Place on baking sheets and brush with egg wash. Bake 14-16 minutes or until golden-brown. Garnish with rosemary sprigs before serving.

***From the Recipe Box:

This makes a great nibble with drinks.

Chicken breasts work as well I hear.

If someone can tell me why my pictures turn out yellow so often, I would totally appreciate it.

and remember what Buddha said: We are what we think.  All that we are arises with our thoughts.  With our thoughts, we make the world.  Big kiss, Lynn