Monday, March 28, 2011

Lemon Luscious Bars

207. When I think of dessert flavors that reign supreme to my palate, I have to say lemon is right up there next to peanut butter. Yes, I love chocolate, but when given a choice between peanut butter, lemon or chocolate flavors, I would choose in that order.
Once I heard Queen Martha say that lemon was one of her favorite choices as well...hmmm.
This recipe is a favorite of mine. My sister would make these yummy Lemon Bars from a Charlie Brown Cookbook when we were kids. Won me over every time! I found the recipe in a Taste Of Home Magazine but have improvised it to make it my own. You could make these bars lime flavored as well, just substitute the lemon juice and zest for lime. I always double this recipe because it disappears too fast. This recipe is also a beautiful and tasty addition to your Easter dessert buffet.

Lemon Luscious Bars

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup butter
pinch of kosher salt

Stir together the flour, sugar and salt; cut in butter until the mixture clings together. Pat into an ungreased 8x8 inch baking dish or pan; Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.

Lemon (or Lime) Filling:
2 eggs, large
3/4 cup sugar
zest of one large lemon, (or 2 limes)
6 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice, (or limes)
1 drop yellow liquid food coloring, (or green for lime bars)
2 Tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Confectioner's sugar for dusting

Beat eggs in a mixing bowl; add sugar, zest, lemon juice and drop of food coloring. Beat till thick and smooth and light yellow, approximately 8 minutes. Sift together flour and baking powder. Add to the egg mixture and blend till all the ingredients are moist and incorporated. Gently pour the egg mixture over the baked crust. Return to oven at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes till slightly browning on edges. Cool slightly and dustconfectioners sugar over the entire surface. Cool, cut into squares.

"When fate hands you a lemon, make lemonade."
~Dale Carnegie

"Martha Stewart showed up at Manhattan FBI Headquarters to have her finger prints taken and pose for a mug shot. Then Martha explained how to get ink off your fingers using seltzer water and lemon juice."
~Conan O'Brien

"I'm so degradetated. I owe at least a dozen limes."
~Amy March, "Little Women"

Ten minutes after I put up this post, I was looking through the USA Weekend newspaper and what recipe did they have in the CookSmart section? "Luscious Lemon Bars". And here is a video of Pam Anderson and her daughters:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Crispy Chicken Fingers

206. Everyone loves Chicken Fingers and here is an easy recipe for any night of the week.

Crispy Chicken Fingers

6 chicken breasts, cut into long strips
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
kosher salt
1 tsp garlic salt
1 cups Panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs opt.
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Mix in a shallow bowl eggs and milk; Mix in a separate shallow bowl salt, pepper, garlic salt, bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.
Trim fat off of chicken and cut into long strips.
Prepare a baking dish with sides by covering the bottom with oil.
Dip chicken pieces first in egg.
Then coat with bread crumb mix pressing coating to chicken.
Place coated chicken onto oiled baking sheet.
Bake chicken in a preheated 425 degree oven. The Panko bread crumbs give a great crispy texture to the coating.

"Talk much, sit long, eat well."
~ Anonymous

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Beef Empanadas

205. Empanadas...just the thought makes me hungry. We had an awesome Restaurant in town called "Raul's Empanada Town" that would make the most incredible Cuban Empanadas. But they closed. What a disappointment...the empanadas were fantastic. And that is not an exaggeration! If you live in New Jersey you can enjoy these wonderful little pockets of magical meat.

Without Raul's...I decided to make some of my own. Oh Raul...where have you gone?
Empanada Flour Dough

3 cups flour
3 Tablespoons shortening
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup cold water
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 egg /water

Place flour and salt in a bowl and cut in the shortening till crumbly. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the water and vinegar. Mix with a fork until the dough begins to come together. Then work with your hands and knead for a few minutes till dough is smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in fridge for one hour.
Empanada Beef Filling

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 medium onion chopped
1 green pepper chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup tomato, chopped fine
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 packet Sazon seasoning
1 teaspoon Adobo all purpose seasoning
1 cup salsa verde, opt.
1/4 cup Sofrito, Recipe Here
1/2 cup water
2 cups cheddar cheese

Saute beef, breaking up large chunks, till browned. Drain off fat drippings. Add onion, garlic and green pepper. Saute for 2 minutes. Add cumin, chili powder, cayenne, Sazon, Adobo and salt and pepper. Blend into meat and saute for 2 minutes. Add tomato, Sofrito or salsa verde and water. Saute on high to tenderize the meat and cook out the moisture. Once the liquid has dissipated, transfer the meat into a bowl and cool.

Begin to roll out dough by rolling out full recipe and cutting out circles or by pinching off small portions of dough and rolling out individually. Brush water around the edge of each round. Place a tablespoon of meat onto center of round. Then top with a tablespoon of cheddar cheese.

Fold over dough and crimp with the tines of a fork. If you are deep frying the empanadas, place in hot oil and fry till the crust is light brown in color. If you are baking the empanadas, heat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the empanadas onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper and spread with oil.
Mix the egg with water in a separate bowl and brush the top of each empanada with the egg wash. Prick tops with a fork to vent.
Bake for 16 minutes.
Serve hot or cold along with seasoned rice and a crisp salad.
Sofrito Sour Cream Sauce

2 cups sour cream
1/4 cup Sofrito, Recipe Here
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 packet Sazon seasoning
Mix all together and serve chilled with empanadas.
Thanks to Krystal at In Fine Fettle for sharing her Beef Empanada recipe.

"You know how I feel about empanadas.
It's the only food shaped like a smile. A beef smile."
~Danielle Sanchez-Witzel

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Irish Dinner


Our Irish Dinner was delicious today! What an easy meal to put together with great results.
My honey picked up a flat cut beef brisket at the supermarket.
The meat was beautiful. It was surrounded with brine, beautiful layer of fat,
and, a seasoning packet was included.
What a wonderful little collection of spices...I definitely used them.
I pulled out my slow cooker, placed the meat in the bottom and sprinkled the glorious spices over the meat.
Then poured cold water and covered the meat completely. Then plugged in the pot, set it on high for 6 hours, and off I went.

This is how lovely the meat looked after 6 hours and the smell was intoxicating!
In a large pot I placed cut cabbage, potatoes and carrots.
Placed the meat on top and then poured the hot liquid over all.
I brought this to a boil till the veggies were tender.
And this was the finished product! Wonderful!
The meat just melted in your mouth.
If you've never attempted Corned Beef and Cabbage because you thought it was difficult, think again. This meal is so's stupid!

"It is easy to be pleasant when life flows by like a song, but the man worth while is the one who will smile when everything goes dead wrong. For the test of the heart is trouble, and it always comes with years, and the smile that is worth the praises of earth is the smile that shines through the tears."
~Irish Saying

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread with Cranberries

203. Today, my honey brought home a beautiful homemade Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread. It was still warm from just being baked. My sweet friend baked it and shared it with our family. Instead of raisins, she used cranberries. They added a sweet surprise to every bite.
It was dense and crumbly, and when slathered with butter and jam, was a delicious breakfast meal.

Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread with Cranberries

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
3 Tablespoons honey
1 cup dried cranberries

Mix flour, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. Whisk together the egg, buttermilk and honey. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and the cranberries. Mix together just till ingredients are combined.

Place parchment paper on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with flour and place dough onto the parchment paper shaping into a circle. Bake bread at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Test with a toothpick. Serve warm with butter and jam.

"I believe in the sun when it's not shining,
I believe in love even when I feel it not,
I believe in God even when He is silent."
♣ Irish Quote ♣

Monday, March 7, 2011

Banana Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Filling

202. With a couple of over ripe bananas and a craving for something sweet and yummy, I decided to make Banana Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Filling.
My recipe is developed from several different recipes but the key is the Chobani Greek Yogurt. It adds such great texture and delicious flavor.

Banana Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Filling

1 stick butter, 1/2 cup
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 over ripe bananas
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
6 oz Chobani Greek Yogurt
1/2 cup milk

Cream butter and brown sugar till pale, about 3 minutes. Add bananas, egg and vanilla. Blend together well. Sift flour, baking soda and salt together in a bowl. Blend together yogurt and milk in a separate bowl. Alternate adding flour then liquids twice till all ingredients are incorporated. Do not over mix.

Drop by rounded teaspoons onto parchment lined baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool.
1 8oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
5 cups confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla
milk, add as desired to achieve right consistency of filling

Mix all together till smooth. Fill a piping bag fitted with a star tip. Assemble cookies by matching cookies that are the same size. Pipe a generous amount of filling onto bottom of one cookie and top with another.

"C is for cookie, it's good enough for me;
oh cookie cookie cookie starts with C."
~ Cookie Monster, Sesame Street

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Vegetarian Cabbage Rolls

201. Recently, our family meals have been "meat-free" meals. After making a large varieties of soups, salads and veggie casseroles, I decided to make stuffed cabbage. But, without ground beef??? Why, yes!

I prepared the cabbage as I usually do (recipe here), and then mixed up the filling next.
Vegetarian Stuffed Cabbage

cabbage rolls:
1 large green cabbage, cored

2 cups long grain rice
1 container tofu, rinse and crumble into small pieces
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 clove garlic, minced
1 egg
1/2 cup chopped tomato
1/4 cup chopped parsley

1 small onion, chopped
1 large can chopped tomatoes
1 clove garlic, minced
olive oil

Prepare the cabbage by dropping the whole cabbage in a pot of boiling salted water. As cabbage leaves come away from the head, remove each one from the pot and place in a cold water bath. Drain and set aside.

Prepare the sauce in a large dutch oven or deep, wide sauce pot. Saute onions in olive oil. Add garlic and saute for a minute. Add can of tomatoes and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer
Mix the filling ingredients together. Fill the cabbage leaves with a heaping tablespoon of filling. Wrap the cabbage leaves loosely to allow for rice to expand. Place wrapped cabbage leaves in the simmering sauce.
Cover the cabbage rolls and allow them to simmer for about 1 1/2 hours.
Cabbage rolls will be tender, rice will be soft and cabbage color will be faded.
Delicious and no meat was used.
I kept the "tofu" a secret and my 12 year old gobbled them down. She really liked the flavor.

“One of the delights of life is eating with friends,
second to that is talking about eating.
And, for an unsurpassed double whammy,
there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends.”
~Laurie Colwin 'Home Cooking'


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