Lemon Tart 2.0

Yes, I know.  You’ve had it up to the gills with lemon tarts.  I don’t care; it was my birthday and that’s what I wanted for my birthday cake.  My able bodied sous chef was here on the Island with me so we decided to get fancy with Grandma O’s meringue recipe.  There was even a bit of a styling competition between my sous chef and the big G.

Normally, the meringue would be much taller, but I wanted to put a thin layer on each.  We made the meringue and scooped it onto each tart.  I think it ended up being about 1/2 inch deep.  Meringue isn’t my drug of choice, so I was quite happy with that amount.

My sous chef made the swirls and twirls.  I like the way the points get extra dark.  G got all fancy and and made the long swirls.  You choose; I think they both look good.  Don’t let anyone tell you meringue is tricky; it couldn’t be easier.  I read now where you have to have special equipment and super greaseless bowls.  Grandma O made hers with a hand beater.  You can do it!

For a 9 inch pie:

3 egg whites

1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter

6 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Beat the egg whites with the cream of tarter until frothy.  Gradually beat in the sugar a little at a time.  Continue beating until stiff and glossy.  Pile the meringue onto the pie filling, being careful to seal the meringue onto the edge of the crust to prevent shrinking.  If the filling is exposed to the heat, (not entirely covered) it may “weep”.  Swirl or pull up points to decorate the top.  Bake until delicately browned, usually 8 to 10 minutes works.  Cool gradually in a slightly warm place, away from drafts.  A chill may make the meringue fall.

*  From the Recipe Box:

I like a graham cracker crust.  Use any recipe you like best, or refer to the one I included a while back.

and remember what MLK Jr said:  History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the “good” people.  Big kiss, Lynn

Peppers and Goat Cheese

We love stuffed peppers.  We’re especially fond of jalapenos stuffed with sausage, but this recipe really caught my eye.  Anything we can use as a nibble is a good thing.  And since the 4th of July is coming, I need some new nibbles to serve my people.

G is the goat cheese fan in the family, but I think everyone would find these appealing.  The tang of the goat cheese will really add a zing to the peppers.  Sometimes you need to keep quiet about the goat cheese though; people get weird about new ingredients.

  • 8-12 mini sweet peppers
  • 1/2 cup goat cheese, softened at room temp – unflavored chevre is best
  • herbs and spices of your choice
  • black pepper
  • salt
  • olive oil

If you can’t find mini peppers, you can always cut a bell pepper into wedges, too.  I’m also wanting to try these with jalapenos.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the peppers in half and pull out the membranes and the seeds. They won’t add any spice – they’ll just taste bitter.

Place them on a baking sheet and drizzle them with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix them so every single pepper is nice and coated.

I used several pinches of dried pepper flakes and a couple pinches dill. And then I added a little extra black pepper, because G and I have a black pepper problem.  Use more then you think you need; the flavors can disappear.

Mix it until well combined.

Add a small amount of cheese to each pepper – press it down with your fingers as you fill them so it gets in all the nooks and crannies. It’s best to use one hand to fill them and one hand to hold them – otherwise you’ll end up with cheese everywhere.

Put them in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the peppers start to soften and wrinkle. The cheese should be beginning to brown as well as the bottom of the peppers.

They were good hot and at room temperature.

*  From the Recipe Box:

These aren’t the spicy peppers, so you won’t have to worry about the pain.

We love the oozing cheese and plan on making cheese crisps that way.

and remember what Khalid Hossani said:  And that’s the thing about people who mean everything they say.  They think everyone else does too.  Big kiss, Lynn

Peanut Butter Pie

This entry is brought to you by the dashingly debonair G.  We were watching a cooking show the other night and he saw a peanut butter pie.  Was it this pie?  Hell, no.  G cannot leave well enough alone; he must change it to be his own creation.  There was no recipe provided, but that has never stopped G.

So, the pie we saw was made with a graham cracker crust, crunchy peanut butter and cream cheese.  G wanted his to have a chocolate graham cracker crust  and creamy peanut butter, because that’s what we have.

This is a really good example of trying something new.  G didn’t have the pie baking skills necessary to make a pie, but he did have the desire to have a piece of peanut butter pie.  Sometimes that’s all it takes.  Don’t let fear stop you from trying something new.

Graham cracker crust

1 sleeve graham crackers, regular or chocolate, crushed

1/4 cup butter, melted

2 tablespoons sugar

Combine all, press firmly in pie pan and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Cool before adding filling.

Peanut butter filling

1 cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy (G used creamy peanut butter and added 1/2 cup chopped peanuts)

1 cup cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup whip cream, whipped

1 teaspoon vanilla

Using a hand mixer, whip peanut butter and cream cheese.  Set aside.  Whip cream and slowly incorporate it into peanut butter mixture.  Add vanilla.  Once it’s the desired consistency, pour into your prepared pie shell.

G drizzled chocolate syrup over the slices when serving.  Next time he said he’ll put a plop of whip cream on as well.  He says for the visual appeal, but we all know he’s lying.  He loves whip cream!

*  From the Recipe Box:

Be careful with the chopped peanuts.  G used salted peanuts and he had to scramble a bit to lessen the salt flavor in the pie.

The pie is really rich, but everyone but me loved it.  It was a bit much for me.

and remember:  I’ve decided to be happy because it’s good for my health.  Big kiss, Lynn

Bark, Bark, Bark

Over the years, G and I have turned into chocolate bark fans.  Today I want to focus on 3 different barks.  And you thought this was going to be about dogs.  Ha-ha.  I think both G and I like the white chocolate, pistachio and cranberry bark the best.  We made this the first time years ago to give as Christmas gifts.  We liked it so much, we kept thinking of other options to try.  We really liked the way it looked.  There’s something classy and sophisticated about bark.

I found these great discs on Amazon.  They melt really well and the chocolate has a decent flavor.  As I’ve mentioned, I’m not a huge chocolate fan and some chocolates really ….. offend me.  That isn’t the right word, but I don’t want to eat a KitKat due to the chocolate and yet it’s one of G’s favorite chocolate bars.  There’s a flavor profile that just offends the old tongue.  So, maybe it is the right word.

Bark # 1 White Chocolate, Pistachio and Craisin Bark

Melt 12 ounces white chocolate discs in the microwave for approximately 1 minute

Keep going in 15 second intervals if it needs more time.

Place parchment on cookie sheet.  Pour white chocolate on parchment.  Sprinkle pistachios and craisins over melted chocolate and cool in refrigerator.  Break into pieces when firm.

Bark # 2 Reese’s Pieces Milk Chocolate Bark

Melt 12 ounces milk chocolate discs in the microwave for approximately 1 minute

Keep going in 15 second intervals if it needs more time.

Place parchment on cookie sheet.  Pour milk chocolate on parchment.  Sprinkle Reese’s Pieces and cut up Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups over melted chocolate and cool in refrigerator.  Break into pieces when firm.

Bark # 3 Dark Chocolate, Pecan and Montmorency Cherries

Melt 12 ounces dark chocolate discs in the microwave for approximately 1 minute

Keep going in 15 second intervals if it needs more time.

Place parchment on cookie sheet.  Pour dark chocolate on parchment.  Place whole pecan halves and chopped Montmorency cherries over melted chocolate and cool in refrigerator.  Break into pieces when firm.

*  From the Recipe Box:

We love bark; it is the perfect Christmas gift basket addition.

These discs melt so easily, a quick stir will usually get all the lumps out.

Try your favorite flavor and let me know.  I’m always looking for new ideas.

We stirred the nuts and fruit into the white chocolate bark, and I will do that with the others next time.  I don’t like the bark chocolate spread too thin.

and remember:  You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy candy and that’s almost the same thing.  Big kiss, Lynn

Strawberry Cake

Strawberries are a little like apricots for me.  When I was a kid and living in Portland, apricots were just about my favorite fruit.  They were rich in flavor and so juicy.  My mom and grandma canned them every summer.  And then, I don’t know what happened, but they lost their flavor.  I don’t even bother to buy apricots anymore.  I still buy strawberries, but only because G loves them.
When I saw this strawberry cake, I thought eureka, I can combine the best of both worlds, strawberries one time and apricots the next.  So, let’s discuss the recipe.  It’s a very moist cake.  The sour cream is a great addition to the cake.  I baked it for an hour, but I don’t think that was nearly enough.  There were quite a few recipes on You Tube.  This one was by The CooknShare.  He has almost a million followers, so I assumed he’s doing something right and picked his cake to try.  He didn’t suggest a pan size.  I used a 9 inch springform, but next time I will use a 10 inch; that will help it cook a little quicker.
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp of baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ cup of vegetable oil
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 12 oz of strawberries
  • powdered sugar for dusting
  1. Heat your oven to 350 F
  2. Beat the eggs and sugar in bowl until they turn a pale color.
  3. Add the sour cream and oil and beat until well combined.
  4. Sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix over low speed until a smooth batter forms.
  5. Grease and line a 9 inch springform pan with parchment paper.
  6. Pour half the batter in and top with diced strawberries.
  7. Add the remaining half of the batter and cover with the remaining diced strawberries.
  8. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes.
  9. Allow to cool completely.
  10. Dust with confectioners sugar and serve.

* From the Recipe Box:

It’s hard to tell when this cake is done.  It’s a nice light color and it springs back even when still very raw in the center.

I’d frozen my berries.  I wouldn’t do it again if fresh was an option.  I didn’t like the way they bled on top of the cake.  I always want perfect.

and remember:  Charles Bukowski said it best:  The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts while the stupid ones are full of confidence.  Big kiss, Lynn

Impossible Chicken Pie

This is the third of the “Impossible” recipes.  They were so trendy once upon a time.  The whole ‘new’ thing is a big deal for a lot of people, but it doesn’t really ring my bell, I’m more of a tried and true type.  There were so many picky eaters in my family, I didn’t have the time or the money to be very creative.  Now that I have both, I’ve lost my desire.

This could be the last of the impossible dishes.  Mom’s Betty Crocker Cookbook featuring Bisquick yielded a ton of memories.  You kids know how I hate being redundant though.  Ha-ha.  So, why do you suppose these recipes fell out of favor?

Due to my love of chicken pot pie, my mom would make this every so often for me.  Do you see a trend here?  The old broad loved making things she knew her family would love.  I do think I inherited this quality.

2 cups thawed mixed vegetables

1 cup chopped chicken

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 cup Bisquick

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

Combine veggies, chicken and soup in a 9 or 10 inch pie pan.

In a separate bowl, mix the Bisquick, milk and egg. Pour batter on the veggie mixture. Bake for 30 minutes.

If you don’t usually have Bisquick, use Jiffy Baking Mix or anything else you might have on hand.  I’ve always loved Jiffy.

* From the Recipe Box:

Today I broke one of my cardinal rules.  I sent G to the store for 1 item.  I only did it so I could make the recipe as written.  Big mistake.  There was no Bisquick, there was no Jiffy, there was no anything on the shelves.  He came home feeling like a failure.  That’s the problem when you have been the most complete caregiver.  So we did what anyone would do, we went on-line and got a recipe to make our own Bisquick.  This is the recipe we used:

6 cups white flour

3 tablespoons baking powder

1 tablespoon salt

1 cup shortening

Combine the dry ingredients and sift them 2 to 3 times.  We used a fine mesh strainer, but anything that will sift flour will work.  Cut the shortening into the sifted flour until the mixture resembles corn meal.  I’m going to store my leftover ‘Bisquick’ in the refrigerator.

Keep this recipe handy if you use a lot of Bisquick.  This works for pancakes and waffles too.  Thank goodness for the Internet.

and remember:  If you think education is costly, try ignorance.  Big kiss, Lynn


Strawberry Muffins

Why yes, it is strawberry season in the great Pacific NW.  We are lucky enough to grow the most beautiful strawberries.  When I was a kid you could be hired to pick them.  Your mom or dad would drop you off up at Safeway and the buses would pick you up and take you out near Monroe to pick berries.  The pay was horrible, but the camaraderie was excellent.

The biggest difference in the strawberries now versus then is the size.  I really don’t like the huge berries.  I know they look cool and they ship ever so well, but they’ve gotten woody.

This is a new recipe for me.  I find strawberries bland even though they can be quite acidic.  If I had to give you a quick fix for these muffins, up the salt to 1 teaspoon and don’t forget the lemon juice.  Yes, I was disappointed.

2/3 cup chopped strawberries

3/4 cup granulated sugar plus 2 tablespoons sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

2/3 cup milk

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. Make the muffins: Toss the strawberries in a small bowl with 2 tablespoon granulated sugar; set aside. Whisk the flour, remaining 3/4 cup granulated sugar, the baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl; make a well in the center. Add the eggs to the well and gently whisk. Stir in the milk, melted butter and lemon juice until just combined with small bits of flour remaining. Stir in the strawberry mixture.
  3. Divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling them most of the way.  I keep about a teaspoon or 2 of diced strawberries to put on top.  Bake until the muffins are lightly browned  and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.  Let the muffins cool 5 minutes in the pan, then remove to a rack to cool completely.  Dust with confectioners’ sugar if desired.

* From the Recipe Box:

Next time I’m making cheddar and jalapeno muffins.  I need more oomph in my muffins.

and remember:  Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.  Big kiss, Lynn