Oh my gosh, I am so in love with this pie. I can’t even begin to tell you how completely and wonderfully delicious it was. I ate my first slice, glanced over at Jim still eating his first slice, and could not resist going back for slice #2. It is seriously one of the best pies I’ve ever had. So good, in fact, that after slice #2, I called my mom to tell her all about it.
I was lucky enough to have found Meyer lemons at my grocery store for the first time EVER, but average run-of-the-mill lemons would be just fine. Personally, I think the amount of sugar in this recipe would suit regular lemons better than it did the Meyer lemons, since Meyer lemons aren’t as tart. So my advice would be to try this pie with any lemons you can get your hands on. The sooner the better. You will be very, very glad you did. Maybe you’ll even call your mom.
Recipe: Meyer Lemon Chess Pie
(from Shockingly Delicious)
1 9-inch prepared (uncooked) pie shell
1 Tbsp. cornmeal
1 Tbsp. flour
Pinch of kosher salt
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. grated zest (from 2 Meyer lemons)
1/4 c. half and half or whole milk
4 Tbsp. melted butter
1/4 c. Meyer lemon juice
Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, mix cornmeal, flour, salt, sugar and grated zest. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each egg. Add half and half, butter and lemon juice and stir well. Mixture will appear to thicken slightly. Pour into prepared pie shell. Bake on bottom shelf of oven (so it is closer to the heating element) for 35-40 minutes. Center will be slightly jiggly when it is done. Remove from oven and cool on a rack.
The kids had a day off from school last week, so we browsed through my huge list of bookmarked recipes looking for something to keep us busy. We all love peppermint patties so this seemed like a no-brainer. The recipe couldn’t be any easier, but unfortunately, my guys weren’t very successful once the mixing was finished. Have you ever made oobleck or goop — you know, with cornstarch and water? It’s awesome stuff and a blast to play with, but really hard to hold in your hand. The way my kids were trying to shape these peppermint patties, you would have thought I’d given them oobleck. Claudia’s hands were literally covered in sticky mint candy, which she did her best to lick off. (I’m really teaching her to be very ladylike, can you tell?)
After a couple failed attempts of my own, I got into a good rhythm. The trick is speed. You have to powder your hands with powdered sugar, then quickly roll the peppermint sugar mixture into a small ball, and just as quickly release it onto a waxed paper-lined cookie sheet. Give the peppermint ball a gentle pat to flatten it a bit, and grab another spoonful of candy. Just keep moving, and you’ll have a sheet of naked peppermint patties in no time.
I highly recommend keeping these in the freezer for a good copycat of a peppermint patty. The freezing helps the chocolate have that nice little snap when you bite into the candy, but it doesn’t freeze the center. These homemade peppermint patties were delicious, but I must warn you that it is extremely tempting having a whole bag of them only a few steps away, no matter where you go in your house. Especially when you consider how often you walk past your freezer!
Recipe: Homemade Peppermint Patties
(found at Savory Sweet Life)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
5 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon peppermint extract
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons shortening
Add condensed milk, 2 cups of powdered sugar, and peppermint extract to a large mixing bowl. Mix everything on medium speed using the paddle attachment until all the ingredients are well incorporated. Add more powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough is stiff but still pliable.
Cover a cookie sheet with waxed paper. Sprinkle some powdered sugar on the palms of your hands. Roll 3/4″ balls of dough between the palms of the hands. Set each ball on waxed paper-covered cookie sheet and flatten slightly. Transfer peppermint disks to the freezer for no longer than 30 minutes. While the dough is chilling, temper the chocolate coating.
Place chocolate chips in a microwavable bowl. Melt the chocolate in 30 second increments, making sure to stir after each time until chocolate is smooth. Stir in shortening to thin the chocolate. Remove patties from the freezer. Place a patty on the tines of the fork and dip in the chocolate until completely covered. Allow excess chocolate to drip off the patty before setting each one on top of wax or parchment paper. Allow the chocolate coated peppermint patties to completely set up. This can be done quicker by placing the patties in the refrigerator. The peppermint patties are ready when they are dry to the touch.
I pinned a great idea for a nighttime swim in a pool full of glow sticks. Wouldn’t that be a blast? For my kids, it would mean staying up really late, plus getting to swim in the dark. They’d love it. But that got me thinking that taking a bath with glow sticks would be a hoot too. Glow sticks seem to be a staple in the dollar section of Target, so I picked some up and voila! A glow-in-the-dark bath! (And just to set the record straight, the glow-in-the-dark bath was for Claudia, not me!)
I have a love-hate relationship with yeast. I don’t really blame the yeast, and truthfully, I don’t blame myself either. I’m kind like that. Instead, I blame the temperature in my kitchen. It’s just never warm enough for the yeast dough to rise nicely. I typically end up with breads that never reach the height intended for them. At this point, I only attempt to make yeast breads on sunny days, when I know I can leave a bowl on a bench in our little sunroom and it will be warm enough to help the dough rise.
Last weekend, when it was unseasonably warm and beautiful outside, I made this Parmesan garlic pull-apart bread. And joy of joys, the dog and the cats mercifully left the bowl of rising dough alone the whole time! The resulting bread was fun to eat and tasted great, though I’m thinking that the next time I’m also going to add shredded mozzarella cheese. Some of those cute mini pepperoni slices might be a good idea too. Hmm. Pizza pull-apart bread, here I come!
Recipe: Parmesan Garlic Pull-Apart Bread
(slightly adapted from The Pastry Affair)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/3 cups barely warm water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 cups all purpose (or bread) flour
6 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the yeast and water. Let sit 5 minutes until yeast is foamy. Mix in the olive oil, salt, and flour. If you have a stand mixer, attach the dough hook and knead the dough for 5-6 minutes, or until elastic. If you are doing this by hand, knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until dough is elastic, 7-10 minutes. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Allow to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until dough is doubled in size.
In a small bowl, combine melted butter, parsley flakes, and minced garlic. Set aside. Lightly spray a bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Punch down the dough. Tear off small pieces of dough (roughly the size of the bowl of a medium spoon), coat in the butter mixture, and place in the bottom of the bundt pan. Repeat this process until you have one layer of dough balls. Sprinkle on 1/3 of the Parmesan cheese. Continue layering the dough balls and cheese until you have 3 layers. Cover the pan with a clean towel and allow to sit until dough has doubled in size, 20-30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until bread is golden brown. Serve hot with a side of marinara or tomato sauce.
When I get called to sub, I’m usually in a huge rush to get myself and the kids ready and out of the house early. And since I know I’m going to be busy all day, I have to make sure to eat something good and filling for breakfast. This porridge was born to help me out with that. It’s kind of a twist on oatmeal, cream of wheat, and grits. Something warm and filling to get my engine running.
I made a batch of quinoa following the package directions – 2 cups of water to 1 cup of quinoa. Once that was cooked, I added a cup of almond milk and simmered it until it thickened up a little. Now comes the creative part. Spoon one serving into a bowl and start adding in your favorite extras. Since I used unsweetened almond milk, I drizzled the porridge with honey and tossed in some thawed frozen blueberries. A little applesauce and cinnamon is a good combination too, but my favorite is to just quickly add some flavored coffee creamer and honey. Yum. Use whatever stir-ins you like and start your day on the right foot.
(Store the remaining quinoa in an airtight container in the fridge and you’ve got breakfast for the next couple days too.)
Snack cakes can’t be beat when your kids want to bake with you. And since peanut butter and chocolate is probably my kids’ favorite flavor combination, so I wasn’t very surprised when Sam chose this cake to bake. He pretty much made this on his own with me just keeping an eye on things, and he did a great job. All the kids hanging around loved it, and it made a perfect after school snack. Guess that’d be why it’s a snack cake, eh?
Recipe: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cake
(from Bake or Break)
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 c. light brown sugar
1 c. creamy peanut butter
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a 9″x 13″ baking pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
Whisk together flour, brown sugar, peanut butter, and butter in a large bowl. Remove 1 cup of mixture and set aside. Mix in baking powder and baking soda. Mix in milk and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Sprinkle top with reserved flour mixture and chocolate chips. Bake 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.