I like football and I was sad to see college football season come to a close. But I’m glad that the Superbowl is coming up! Not because I care about any of the teams that might be playing (the ones I cared about are out of it now) but because of the food. Oh, Superbowl food. Few things are better. Am I right? I think I am.
In preparing for Easter lunch this coming weekend I wanted to make a dessert that was light and fresh and beautiful. These coconut pavlovas with tart lemon curd and fresh raspberries will fit the bill perfectly.
A good friend made pavlovas for Easter a few years ago and they were not only delicious but beautiful. When served individually, they’re an extra special dessert for your guests. Pavlovas might sound fancy, but they are just baked meringue layers. Topping them with lemon curd and berries makes them completely lovely. You can use the recipe below for lemon curd, or buy lemon curd at your grocery store. I love the combination of raspberries with the coconut and lemon, but blueberries, strawberries or blackberries would be nice. And in fact, pineapple might be amazing…
You can make the lemon curd and the meringue a day in advance. This will free you up on the day of your lunch or dinner to tend to everything else you have to do. But this also means that if you’re bringing these somewhere you don’t have to worry about them in transit. Bring everything in separate containers and assemble right before serving. No balancing cake plates in your lap and getting mad at the driver for taking those corners too quickly!
If you’re not a fan of coconut, then you can leave it out and make plain meringues. You could also add nuts, pulsed well in a food processor, in place of the coconut to create a different flavor. The coconut adds a texture you won’t find in a plain meringue, which I found to be really nice against the smooth and creamy lemon curd.
These are gluten free, not because I did anything to make them that way but because the ingredients are all gluten-free friendly. It’s nice to serve something like this when serving a group that may contain some people who do not or cannot eat gluten. Since it’s becoming more and more common, at least in my experience, to encounter those people, it’s great to have some recipes that don’t leave anyone out or make it hard for them to enjoy the meal. Any gluten-free readers who see something wrong with the recipe below, please let me know so that I can correct it. Enjoy!
1/4 cup creme fraiche OR 1/4 cup whipping cream + 1 tablespoon buttermilk
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 9 chunks
3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon vinegar
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
fresh raspberries for serving
Combine the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice in a medium sized saucepan. Whisk together over medium low heat, whisking constantly until mixture begins to thicken. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook and whisk until mixture reaches a pudding-like consistency.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the creme fraiche or cream mixture all at once. Add in the butter, 3 chunks at a time, and stir to almost melt them before adding the next few pieces. Stir until all the butter is melted.
Pour the lemon curd through a fine mesh sieve to remove any pieces of cooked egg.
Let cool at room temperature for about an hour, then cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface so that a skin does not form, then refrigerate until cold or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Find a cup, bowl or glass that will serve at your guide for piping the meringue. It should be small enough to fit 6 circles on the cookie sheet with enough space for them to spread a bit. Trace the circle with a pencil on one side of the parchment, turn the parchment over on the cookie sheet and set it aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, or using a hand mixer, beat the egg whites and the vanilla on high speed until mixture is very foamy.
Add the sugar in a steady stream, and continue to beat on high until mixture is very thick.
Fold in the cornstarch, vinegar and coconut.
Transfer meringue to a large ziploc bag, cut off one corner, and pipe circles onto the parchment paper. With the back of a spoon smooth out the circles and make a crater in the center of each.
Put pan into the oven, then reduce the oven temperature to 300°F and cook for 45 minutes.
Remove from the sheet to a wire rack and cool completely.
If not using right away, store in an airtight container.
Assemble the Pavlovas
Divide the lemon curd evenly among the meringue circles.
Place a few raspberries on top of the lemon curd, then sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with this lemon cream pie. Nothing at all. Simple flavors, creamy filling, slightly tart and slightly sweet with a crunchy, buttery crust. There is one lone slice left in the fridge and I am tempted to eat it for breakfast. It can’t be any worse than a donut, right?
This came about at the last minute the other night when some sweet friends brought dinner for us after I’d been out of town all week. Since they were bringing everything, I said I’d make something for dessert. It was 5 o’clock. As fate would have it, I had everything I needed for this pie, including a box of Mi-Del graham crackers that, in my opinion, took this pie to a place it would never have gone with a box of Honey Maid. They’re more substantial in texture and flavor and provided a great base for the pie.
I started this pie at 5 and we ate it at 8. With 2 hours of that being chilling time this pie is pretty quick and easy. And there isn’t really an hour of active time since cooling time for the crust and pie is factored into the hour. What I’m saying is that if you’re in a time crunch and want to give something more impressive than a box of Oreos to dinner guests, make this pie.
Springtime calls for desserts like this. Fresh flavors that don’t weigh you down or make you feel too full. This light citrus cake is filled with fresh raspberries and topped with a sweet cream cheese glaze-like frosting. It was the perfect end to the Mother’s Day lunch we had last weekend with some of our friends. The kids played in the pool while we sat outside enjoying the perfectly warm and breezy weather while eating our cake. I’d enjoy a day like that again anytime.
This recipe is from Cooking Light, and I chose it because I’d made it years ago and remembered it being really tasty. The original recipe calls for lemonade concentrate, which I could not find. Weird, right? They had all kinds of juice concentrate, and lots of frozen drink mixers, but no lemonade. I used limeade instead and it was great. My only complaint with the use of juice concentrate in this recipe is that you’re left with a lot left over. If I’d been thinking about not being wasteful, I’d have frozen the rest in ice cube trays and used them to ice down a pitcher of punch or something. But I don’t always think about stuff like that when it matters. I think about it after I’ve tossed what I could have saved.
I added the berries in the middle of the cake because I thought it needed some color and berries are a perfect match for citrus. Blueberries would have also been nice in the center, or a combination of the two. I squished and flattened the raspberries as I layered them on the cake to make sure they made a nice even blanket of berries.
A good thing to know about the cake is that the tops get sticky. When you take them out of the pans to cool, set them bottom side down or else the tops will stick to the cooling racks and make you very frustrated when you try to move them. I am speaking from personal experience and am trying to save you some heartache.
The frosting/glaze gave me some trouble when I frosted/glazed the cake. It’s not thin, like a glaze, but not quite thick enough to be used as frosting. It could be the concentrate that makes the consistency a bit sticky and strange, but it still tastes good. I thought about adding more sugar, but didn’t so as not to make it too ridiculously sweet. The final product wasn’t as pretty and clean as I would have hoped, but it was delicious. I made the cake the night before and refrigerated it overnight. This cake stores very well in the fridge. I did notice a little sugary crunch to the frosting when eaten cold from the fridge, but not so much after it had warmed up slightly. This recipe is one that I’ll come back to. I might try it as cupcakes for a baby shower I’m helping with in June.
Carson enjoyed this cake. Or maybe he just enjoyed the fact that I was letting him have his way with a real fork and a nice big slice of cake…
To prepare cake, place first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 5 minutes). Add eggs and egg whites, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda; stir well with a whisk. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat well after each addition.
Pour batter into cake pans; sharply tap pans once on counter to remove air bubbles.
Bake for 25-35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.
To prepare frosting, place butter, cream cheese, concentrate, zest and vanilla in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until fluffy. Add powdered sugar, and beat at low speed just until blended (do not overbeat). Chill 1 hour.
Place 1 cake layer on a plate; spread with 1/2 cup frosting. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Store cake loosely covered in the refrigerator.
Last weekend we went out of town to visit family and I brought my camera. I didn’t even take it out of the case the entire weekend, but still managed to leave it at my aunt’s house. So, for the time being I will be using my iPhone to document my food. This does bring me some relief since I will be able to put less pressure on myself to get the perfect shot. No moving plates of food from room to room, turning on and off lights, standing next to windows and changing settings on the camera. So I guess forgetting my camera is a blessing.
This meal was an adaptation of a recipe I found on epicurious, here is the link to the original recipe that uses snap peas and capers. I used haricots verts, added cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced my potatoes and used some different seasonings. Instead of grilling the packets, I baked them in the oven. Many of the comments on the website talk about the variations on this dish and all the many things you can use to make these packets fit what you like or what you have in the kitchen.
Ben and I both thought it was a nice, light dinner. We also liked the amount of clean up! As long as you don’t cut through the foil (like I did on one of the packets) you won’t have any pots and pans to clean. There are a few things I would do differently the next time I make these. I’d probably skip the tomatoes. While I love the color they add, they were just too mushy. Maybe a few slices of sun-dried tomatoes would have been better, or roast them separately and toss them on after the fish is baked. I’d also add less liquid, or serve with some nice crusty bread to soak up the sauce. If you want it less saucy, shoot for the smaller amount of liquid listed below. I did not make my foil long enough, so everything was really crammed together in the packets.
For the seasoning I used Citrus Seafood Rub from Adams Reserve seasoning that I bought at HEB. The ingredient list printed on the label includes garlic, onion, coriander, dill weed, tarragon, pepper, paprika, fennel seed, lime and lemon oil. If you can’t find this rub, but I would suggest you at least try to find it because it is so delicious, you could use some of the spices listed in the rub, or find another seafood rub or any spice mix you enjoy.
Tilapia Packets with Potatoes and Haricots Verts
4 tilapia fillets
2-3 red potatoes, thinly sliced, larger slices halved
1-2 cups haricots verts, cut in half
12-15 cherry tomatoes, halved (optional)
salt and pepper
Adams Citrus Seafood Rub (or another seafood seasoning you like)
1 lemon, juiced
2-4 tablespoons white wine or chicken broth
2-3 tablespoons butter
Parsley, freshly chopped, for garnish
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Toss potatoes and haricots verts with about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of black pepper.
Cut 4 pieces of heavy duty foil into 18-inch pieces, fold each in half, then unfold. Spray one side with cooking spray and lay one fillet down. Season with salt, pepper and between 1/4 and 1/2 teaspoon of the spice rub. Sprinkle with 2-3 teaspoons of lemon juice.
Take 1/4 of the vegetables and spread them around the fish. Add halved cherry tomatoes now if using. Fold up the sides of the foil and pour 1/2-1 tablespoon of wine around the edge. Dot the top with a few small pieces of butter. Fold the top of the foil down and crimp all the edges together. Cut a small slit in the top of the packet and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.
Repeat with remaining fillets and bake packets for 15-20 minutes. Check a potato slice for doneness.
In honor of Bastille Day…or possibly just an excuse to use the madeleine pan that has been sitting in my cupboard for a few years now? Regardless, these French lemon madeleines are light and lovely.
This was one of those times in the kitchen where you begin to wonder, “Is this just not in the stars for me?” First the butter exploded in the microwave, with great flair, I should add. Loud popping clumps of butter going everywhere. Then I was separating eggs and almost added the whites instead of the yolks to the bowl. Then I spilled cake flour all over myself and the floor, something I really hate cleaning up for some reason. Really? It was just one thing after another. A lesson in patience and being slow to anger? Maybe so.
Madeleines are beautiful little treasures, but impossible to make without a madeleine pan. I only have one small madeleine pan and I didn’t feel like waiting for it to cool, washing it out and re-greasing it before making another batch, so I used my remaining batter to make little lemon rosemary muffins. Simply grease 24 mini muffin cups, fill them 3/4 full and bake for about 12 minutes, rotating halfway through, until the tops are just beginning to brown. Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy! They don’t have the same cute little ruffled shell shape, but they are just as good.
Fresh and light lemon flavor with just a subtle rosemary flavor, these little cake-like cookies are wonderful. I think they’d be perfect for a tea party, baby or bridal shower.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter two madeleine pans; set aside. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl; Mix in chopped rosemary and set aside.
Put eggs, egg yolks, granulated sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest and juice in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and thickened, about 5 minutes. Mix in butter. Using a spatula, fold flour mixture into egg mixture. Let rest 30 minutes.
Pour batter into buttered pans, filling the molds 3/4 full. Bake cookies, rotating pans halfway through, until edges are crisp and golden, 7 to 8 minutes. Let cookies cool slightly in pans on wire racks. Invert, and unmold. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if desired.
This was first mother’s day breakfast. Ben’s parents were here for Carson’s baby dedication, which was really special. Kate showed me this recipe, and we decided to make it. It was a good decision.
I’ve made another overnight French toast before, and it was much sweeter than this one, but not in a bad way…just different. They’re different enough that I can’t choose which one I liked better. The lemon adds a nice tartness to the slight sweetness of this one that doesn’t require any syrup, so the berries are a perfect accompaniment. The other French toast is one that welcomes a generous pour of syrup and a side of crisp bacon. Don’t ask me why sugar goes best with more sugar. It just does. Both are tasty and can be prepped the night before and baked in the morning. I love that.
The recipe called for brioche, but my rather poor choice of buying groceries at Wal Mart meant that we had to use a loaf of French bread. It is French toast though, and we found it to be a great bread to use in this recipe. The brioche would probably have yielded a denser and more rich breakfast.
We served the French toast with fresh blueberries and raspberries. The original recipe (found here) from the kitchn has a lovely sounding mixture for the berries of dry cava wine and mint, but we played it simple. We also decided not to dust the French toast with powdered sugar because of the sweet lemon glaze. It was plenty sweet for me, but serve some on the side if you have a sweet tooth. Enjoy!
One 16 to 20-ounce loaf of French bread (brioche or challah)
3 large eggs
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 cups 2% milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 lemons, juiced
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
If planning to bake immediately, preheat the oven to 425éF. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray or butter.
Slice the bread into 1/2-inch-thick slices, then cut each slice in half. Arrange half of the bread in overlapping layers in the baking dish.
Whisk the eggs in a large bowl until well mixed, then whisk in the brown sugar. Whisk in the milk, vanilla, salt, and nutmeg. Pour half of the custard over the bread. Layer the rest of the bread on top, and pour the rest of the custard over to coat. (At this point the casserole can be covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.)
When ready to bake, take the casserole out of the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes before baking. Heat the oven to 425°F. Bake the casserole for 30 minutes, or until slightly golden on top, and puffy.
Whisk the lemon juice with the confectioners’ sugar and drizzle the glaze over the hot casserole.
Let the casserole cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve in large slices, with fresh berries on the side.
A bottle of canola oil fell out of the pantry. The plastic cap busted, and oil spilled all over the floor. I found another container for what was left in the bottle, but there was still some that wouldn’t quite fit. What to do? I wasn’t going to throw it out. I needed to find something to make using about a cup of oil.
The ingredient search on allrecipes.com is nice when you’re trying to find something to make when you’re limited in your resources, or just want to use something specific. One of the problems I’ve encountered is that when I type in what I want to use I find a recipe that requires something I don’t have. That wasn’t the case this time! I found this pie crust recipe using that feature and figured I’d give it a try.
I’ve always made pie crusts using cold fats like butter or shortening, which are cut into the flour, adding cold water to bind the dough, and then refrigerating the dough before rolling it out, always being careful not to over mix so that a tender flaky crust is achieved. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a recipe like this one for pie crust. There’s no careful mixing, no chilling time, and canola oil is used instead of butter. You even mix it all up in the pie plate, so only one dish gets dirty! I had to give it a try.
This does not yield a traditional flaky crust. It’s more like a cross between a sugar cookie and a graham cracker crust in texture. The flavor is similar to a plain pie crust, a tad salty, which went well with the sweet and tart lemon filling. This lemon meringue recipe (also from allrecipes.com) was pretty good. My mom has a lemon meringue pie recipe that is more delicious, and a little easier. I need to get that recipe from her. This one is quite good though. I should know, since Ben doesn’t like lemon meringue, I had to eat the entire thing myself…over the course of a week.
If I find myself pressed for time, I would use this crust again. If I find myself pressed for time and happen to have a Pillsbury refrigerated crust…I would use that instead.
Here are the links to the recipes. I made no changes.
Summer is coming, and summer calls for light, refreshing summer-y desserts. These lemon blueberry cheesecake bars blend the perfect amount of sweetness, tartness, richness, creaminess and crunchiness.
You could probably use any berry with good results. I love the combination of lemon and blueberry, so these are my kind of dessert bar. They are very sturdy, so they would travel well. Bring them on your next picnic! Enjoy.
Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Bars
1 cup blueberries, chopped
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup old fashioned oats
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup butter
Cream Cheese Filling:
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Lightly grease the bottom of a 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan. Set aside.
In a small saucepan combine blueberry filling ingredients; stir until corn starch is dissolved. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thick and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, combine all crumb mixture ingredients except butter; mix well. Using a pastry blender or fork, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Reserve 1 cup crumb mixture for topping. Press remaining crumb mixture firmly in bottom of prepared baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes.
In a medium bowl mix together the cream cheese filling ingredients with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended; pour into baked crust.
Spoon blueberry filling over cream cheese filling, lightly swirl with knife.
Sprinkle reserved crumb mixture over filling.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely, then chill. Cut into bars.
This afternoon I made these lemon squares from Eatingwell.com. My mom makes the most incredible lemon bars. I could probably eat an entire pan if no one stopped me and if I wouldn’t go into a sugar and butter coma afterward. When I came across this recipe I had to see how it compared to my mom’s butter laden bars with tart and luscious filling.
Lemon bars must have a buttery, crunchy base, a smooth, lemony filling and a crunchy, sugary top. I was hopeful that these bars would measure up. There is a bit of butter in the crust to provide the richness, and the use of lemon juice and zest in the filling makes these bars incredibly flavorful. The recipe calls for white whole wheat flour, but since all I had was regular whole wheat I opted for plain old all purpose flour. I probably could have done half all purpose and half whole wheat, and will probably try that next time.
The verdict: Yum. Crunchy, sweet, buttery goodness topped with incredibly tart, sweet gooey lemon and a crunchy topping sprinkled with powdered sugar. I will definitely be making these again. Next time I will try to get some white whole wheat flour or use a mixture of all purpose and whole wheat.