Saturday, April 30, 2011

The joy of lemon (bars)

It's Spring and I'm in the mood for anything with lemons.  I have several recipes I plan on making and posting for you, but today I decided to make these delicious lemon bars. As I've said before, most of the recipes I post here are not my own personal creations. They are mostly recipes I have used for several years and simply want to share with my friends.

I found this one through "Joy of Baking". Here's a link to an instructional video.
Official Joy of Baking Lemon Bars VIDEO!

Even though you can get this recipe online, and see the pictures and watch the video.....I'm still going to post the recipe and my pictures for you here - it's REALLY easy and so yummy.

Lemon Bars

Shortbread Crust:
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature (I leave my butter out for several hours or the night before to ensure creaminess)
1/4 C powdered sugar
1 C all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt

Lemon Filling:
1 C granulated white sugar (I like to use baking sugar, which is very fine and mixes easily)
2 large eggs
1/3 C freshly squeezed lemon juice ( approximately 2 lemons)
1 TBL grated lemon zest (I use the zest of one lemon because I like it!)
2 TBL all purpose flour

Powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350, with rack in center of oven. Butter an 8x8 inch pan (I like to use parchment with the ends hanging over so I can lift it out of the pan) I used the spray to help the parchment stick to the pan.

2. For the crust, mix together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the flour and salt and and mix JUST until dough comes together. Do not over mix! Press into bottom of pan and bake for about 20 minutes or until edges are slightly browned. Remove from oven and cool on a rack while you make the filling.

3. For the filling, mix together the sugar and eggs until smooth. Zest the lemon FIRST, then add the juice, stirring to combine.  Fold or whisk in the flour. Pour the filling onto the crust and bake for 20 minutes or until the filling has set and does not "jiggle".  Remove from oven and place on rack to cool.

To serve, cut into squares and dust with powdered sugar. These are best eaten the day they are made but will last for a day or two of stored in the refrigerator.

Honestly....that's not a bite out of the one in just crumbled. did.

As an aside - I love these presentation papers:
Lovely dessert papers!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Time for Scones and Tea

There's a wedding about to happen in a few days - the ROYAL wedding of Kate and William.  Honestly, I'm not a "royals watcher" but this is a pretty big deal and I have a couple of friends who wanted a good recipe for scones in order to celebrate in a very British fashion. That is my reason for this post. That, and well......I needed a good reason to make them because I love to eat them.

If you've never eaten a scone, you have been missing out on one of the most delicious tea-time and breakfast treats. If you've eaten a well-made scone, then you know they are heavenly, ESPECIALLY with clotted cream!!!! (Google it).

If you've eaten a scone and thought to yourself, "this is a dry, crumbly mess that tastes like cardboard", then you've never really eaten a good scone and you need to do yourself a favor and make this recipe.

The key to lighter scones (and also in biscuits as well) is to NOT overwork the dough! Knead the dough JUST until it comes together and you will have a fantastic result.

(Said with a British accent) ~ DO enjoy these scones with a proper cup of tea.

Kate and William's Wedding Day Scones (DISCLAIMER - not actually eaten by Kate and William but only in honor of their wedding)

1/2 C dried sweet cherries
2 C all purpose flour
3 TBL brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 C cold butter, cut into small pieces
zest of one orange
8 oz sour cream
1 beaten egg yolk
1 slightly beaten egg white

(Preheat oven to 400 degrees)

1. Pour boiling water over cherries to cover; let stand 5 minutes, drain well.

2. In a large bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add butter to mixture and blend with fingers or pastry cutter until it resembles course crumbs. Stir in drained cherries and orange zest. Make a well in the center.

You can use a pastry blender, but I just use my hands.


3. In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream and egg yolk. Add all at once to flour mixture. Using a fork, stir until combined (mixture will be dry).

4. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Quickly knead dough by gently folding and pressing for 10 to 12 strokes, or until it comes together and is smooth. Pat into a 7 inch circle. Cut into 12 wedges.

5. Arrange wedges on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, about 1 inch apart. Brush with egg white. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Drizzle with Powdered Sugar Glaze if desired.

Powdered Sugar Glaze

Stir together 1 C powdered sugar, 1 TBL orange juice and 1/4 tsp vanilla. Stir in more orange juice if needed, 1 tsp at a time, til of drizzling consistency.  

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I need enchiladas. Now.

When you grow up in Southern California, you get spoiled by the amazing, delicious Mexican food that is available to you everywhere. Even though there are regional differences in Mexican food, just as there is in America, or any other country for that matter, my tastes go to the flavors I had when I was younger.

As a treat, when I was a kid, we'd go to a local restaurant that had the traditional favorites such as tacos, burritos and enchiladas. This was a "treat" because going out to dinner was not something we did very often, and as I've said in earlier posts my mom is an admitted bad cook so the thought of her attempting to cook traditional Mexican food was out of the question. Although, I will have to say on her behalf, that she made her own version of tacos and also enchiladas that were very good and are still in my memory banks as two of her best meals.

We would always begin the meal with warm flour tortillas and we'd smother them in butter. Then we would order our favorites (mom, dad, my brother and I). Cheese Enchiladas with rice and beans were mine. It's Mexican comfort food....a warm, cheesy, spicy concoction of happiness.

I found the following recipe in a magazine and have no idea (as usual) where to give proper credit. However, it is delicious and I want to share it with you anyway! This is a cheese enchilada recipe, but you could easily substitute grilled chicken in place of the cheese in the filling.

Cheese Enchiladas wtih Roasted Tomatillo Sauce

Cabbage Salad:
2 C finely shredded green cabbage
4 large radishes, thinly sliced
1 TBL each chopped cilantro and fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground pepper to taste

Tomatillo sauce;
1 lb tomatillos, husks and stems removed, washed
1 jalapeno chile, seeded, chopped
2 TBL fresh chopped cilantro
2 tsp each minced garlic and lime juice
1/2 tsp each dried oregano and kosher salt

1 1/2 C shredded cheddar cheese
1 C chopped red onion
8 corn tortillas

1.  Heat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray. Place tomatillos on sheet and roast for 20 minutes or until soft. (I don't like raw jalapeno so I threw it on the pan as well). After roasting, cover tomatillos with the foil and let steam for about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a blender with remaining sauce ingredients; blend until smooth. Reduce oven to 400.

2. Toss all salad ingredients in a medium bowl and refrigerate. (I also added about 1 TBL of canola oil to the cabbage mixture).

3. In a bowl, combine 1 1/4 C cheese and the onions. Lay tortillas on a flat surface. Place a heaping 1/4 C of the cheese mixture onto each tortilla and roll up, burrito style. Lay enchiladas in a row in an 8 inch square baking dish. Pour tomatillo sauce over enchiladas; top with remaining cheese. Bake 20 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Serve with cabbage salad (I also chopped up a bit of avocado and drizzled some plain greek yogurt on top but you could also use sour cream).


Saturday, April 16, 2011


Oh man....I wish I could express to you how much I love this song AND the video. They are both the epitome of the 1980's. It's called "Credit". Even the opening riff on the bass is a picture of the 80's and I LOVE it. Then the horns jump in with a POW!

If you aren't familiar with Tower of Power, here's a link to their website:

Fast forward to 2011 - people can hardly GET credit, let alone USE it to buy useless things to impress other people with! But the 80's were a time of excess. One of my favorite shots in the video is of Lee, joyfully sitting on a motorcycle (apparently, he bought it with his good credit).  He looks so foxy (another word from the past) with his 'stash, shades and MULLET!!  I just love it.  ah...the 80's.

I tried several times to imbed the video here...and I can't seem to do it! The best I can offer is to click on this link:


Ball and Chain

Ah....the old "Ball and Chain".   NO!! - that's not what Lee calls least not in front of me. (ha ha).

Lee recorded Ball and Chain with Tower of Power sometime in the 80's (I'll have to get that exact date from Lee). This video is from a live performance the band did on the Letterman Show during that time. Lee has recently re-joined the band and is having SO much fun playing the music of Tower of Power. I'm not sure they will resurrect Ball and Chain, but I'm hoping they'll put Monster On A Leash back in the lineup - oooh that's a good one too!


Friday, April 8, 2011

Slow Potatoes

There is a new movement taking over the world. No...I am not going to talk about politics or religion here. I'm talking about the Slow Food Movement. Lee and I happened to be at a certain hotel in Turin, Italy last fall and in the giant exposition hall attached to the hotel, there was a weekend event. It was called the Slow Food Convention. We were ecstatic and couldn't wait to get in there! We spent the entire day taking our time looking at all the booths and getting our fill of fresh veggies, aged meat, salami and cheese, pastas and even participated in an in-depth wine tasting. It was FAB.  Across the street from our hotel was a place called Eataly. We spent hours there as well. There is a new Eataly in New York and all I can say is GO THERE.

The slow food movement is the antithesis of fast food. Here's what it's all about in one sentence:
"Slow food aims to be everything fast food is not". That quote is from the Slow Food website, if you're interested in looking around there. Here's the link:

I saw this recipe for Slow French Potatoes on a food program.....and I am sad to say I have no idea who the host was! I caught it late at night, in the middle of the program.  I have been wanting to make this since I saw it and today was a bit chilly, so it was a good time to try it.

These potatoes would be delicious with roasted chicken or beef or lamb. They are rich and creamy and delicious.  Enjoy!

Slow Roasted French Potatoes

Preheat oven to 300.

Saute 2 chopped onions in a half a stick of butter on medium low heat until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes.

Thinly slice 1 lb of yukon gold, small white or red potatoes (any small waxy potato is fine). I used my mandolin for this and it made the job SO easy and fast.

In a square baker dish, layer onions, potatoes, salt and freshly ground pepper and chopped fresh thyme.
Layer 2 more times.

Add beef stock until it just barely comes up the sides of the dish to the edge of the potatoes.

Bake for 2 hours or until stock is gone.


The onions....cooked slowly.

Thinly sliced and ready to get in that oven.

Putting it together (got that from Sondheim).

Into the oven with you!

Yummy, creamy, potato-y, onion-y goodness......


So Cheesy............

Usually if you hear the comment, "That's so cheesy" it really isn't a good thing.  That phrase indicates something that is undesirable...tacky...dumb...unappealing...silly...cornball....dated. However, if you're using the phrase to describe a food WITH cheese, that is a whole 'nother matter.  If you see someone eating Macaroni and Cheese and they say, "That's SO cheesy"....well you get the picture.

I love cheese. When I saw Ina Garten making FRESH Ricotta cheese and realized how easy it was, I knew I had to try it. She wasn't kidding. If you can BOIL water, you can make fresh ricotta. it is light and delicious....and cheesy. 

After making it, I found a recipe of Ina's for Herbed Ricotta Bruschetta and that's what I had for dinner tonight. Wonderfully cheesy and satisfying, without being too heavy. I hope you try it and enjoy it's light cheesiness as much as I did!

Here's Ina Garten's recipe for Homemade Ricotta~


  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons good white wine vinegar


Set a large sieve over a deep bowl. Dampen 2 layers of cheesecloth with water and line the sieve with the cheesecloth.

Pour the milk and cream into a stainless-steel or enameled pot such as Le Creuset. Stir in the salt. Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar. Allow the mixture to stand for 1 minute until it curdles. It will separate into thick parts (the curds) and milky parts (the whey).

Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth-lined sieve and allow it to drain into the bowl at room temperature for 20 to 25 minutes, occasionally discarding the liquid that collects in the bowl. The longer you let the mixture drain, the thicker the ricotta. (I tend to like mine on the thicker side, but some prefer it moister.) Transfer the ricotta to a bowl, discarding the cheesecloth and any remaining whey. Use immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The ricotta will keep refrigerated for 4 to 5 days.

Here is the link for Ina's recipe, Herbed Ricotta Bruschetta:

The Ricotta....(SO cheesy).

The herbed ricotta, a la Ina!