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  1. Thursday, March 28, 2013

    Sweet and Salty Holiday Popcorn {Bunny Bait}…and a few thoughts on parenthood

    I’m an artist and designer, so I like things to look good. Sadly, though, I am also lazy lazy LAZY. Rarely do I pull out all the stops for cute holiday crafts and treats and such. Once in a while, though, I stumble on an idea that is super cute but also very simple and I actually do get a little holiday pizazz goin’ on.

    Bunny Bait is one of those very ideas! My friend Erin wrote about it on Today’s Mama. She got the idea from Sing For Your Supper, who got the idea from Bake at 350, who got the idea from Nest of Posies. Bottom line? Bunny Bait gets around, people.

    Here’s the thing. Bunny Bait is perfectly cute for Easter and I love the name. But the beauty of this recipe is it is so easily adaptable to any holiday or event. Just pick up the M&Ms du jour and change up the candy melt color and you have deliciously sweet and salty popcorn goodness for any holiday. In fact, this is what we will be making for our holiday gifts this December. It’s easy to throw together a large batch, the popcorn is super cute, it tastes awesome and you can dress it up with matchy-matchy baggies and bows. Done and done.

    Erin mentioned that Bunny Bait may be slightly addictive. She’s right, and here’s why. You inevitable take a bite that has popcorn and an M&M. And it’s delicious, but then you realize that you didn’t get a pretzel in that bite, so you dig back in and get a pretzel-ful bite, only to discover it was missing the popcorn. And the cycle continues until you have eaten the whole bowl. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Probably best to make this with purpose and get it bagged up and given away ASAP.

    Also, lest you look at these pictures and think we are a perfect family with a patient mother who cooks with her kids while birds flit about our heads and sing pretty songs…Anna did have a lot of fun making this with me and it was really sweet and cute. But, I must admit, towards the end a few things got me frustrated (that had nothing to do with the recipe or with Anna but everything to do with me and my lack of sleep and patience) and I ended up yelling at her for something stupid and felt terrible as she ran away crying with her blankie. I realized my mistake immediately and was overcome with regret and sadness. I hate these moments as a mom. I ran to my sweet girl and gave her a good, long hug. She quickly forgave (kids are amazing that way) and we finished our Bunny Bait adventures with smiles. But, looking at these photos of the Bunny Bait, I still have a twinge of guilt. But I also have a resolve to do better next time. This parenting gig certainly is salty and sweet, but I suppose the salty just helps me truly appreciate and seek after the sweet.

    Sweet and Salty Holiday Popcorn {Bunny Bait}
    From all over the place, original idea from Nest of Posies
    • ½ cup unpopped popcorn (yields about 24 cups)
    • 8 ounces candy melts (you can just use white and let the M&Ms and/or sprinkles add the color, but feel free to use a colored candy melt, too!)
    • 1½ cups rod pretzels, broken into smaller pieces
    • 1 12-oz package M&Ms (holiday themed)
    • Sprinkles to match your color theme (optional)
    1. Pop your popcorn (I used my Whirley Pop). Pour into a giant bowl. Add pretzels and M&Ms, but don’t stir anything yet. Melt the candy melts as per package instructions, then drizzle over the popcorn mixture. Toss and toss and toss to coat. (It takes a lot of tossing!) The pretzels and M&Ms will want to sink to the bottom, so when you serve it or put in bags for gifts, be sure to toss again and then scoop. Also, if you do plan to bag it for gifts, let it sit out for a bit to allow the candy melts to temper.
    2. For the bunny bait, I used pink and green candy melts. I poured the green first, tossed it, then let it sit for a bit before drizzling the pink, so that they didn’t mix together. The result was cute, but next time I’m just going to use one color – it’s just as cute and less effort.


  2. Tuesday, March 20, 2012

    Tres Leches Cake from The Pioneer Woman

    This giveaway is now closed, but you really should keep reading because this cake is DELISH.

    It’s no secret I love Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman. I am very grateful to know her. She is lovely. And she deserves every bit of success she is having. I like it when good karma just works like that. Plus, her food is yummy.

    I am delighted to share Ree’s latest cookbook with you! The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier just came out and it is every bit as scrumptious as her last cookbook and her delicious website. This book is also brimming with cream. LOTS of cream, people. Like, you might need to buy a cow or at least some stock in your local dairy.

    I needed a dessert the other night because, well, I just needed one, okay? I flipped open Ree’s book and discovered Tres Leches Cake, which I am tempted to rename Patience Cake. Seriously, you need some patience for this recipe. There is a lot of waiting. But it is worth the wait. Believe me.

    Tres Leches Cake is my daughter Anna’s dream dessert. She’s not big on dessert or chocolate. (I am still wondering if she’s really my child.) But she loves milk. And she loves whipped cream even more than milk. She ate THE ENTIRE PIECE OF CAKE. I don’t think she’s ever eaten all of her dessert.

    Before we get to the recipe, how about a giveaway? I love giving away great cookbooks!

    THREE of you lucky, randomly-selected people will each win a copy of Ree’s new book The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier. Simply leave a comment on this post by Midnight PT on Monday, March 26. The winners will be announced on Tuesday, March 27. Good luck!

    And, to help quench any whipped cream and/or milk and/or cake cravings you may be having, here is the Tres Leches Cake recipe, with my notes. Enjoy!

    Tres Leches Cake from The Pioneer Woman
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1½ teaspoon baking powder
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • 5 large eggs, separated
    • 1 cup sugar plus 3 Tbsp, divided
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • ⅓ cup whole milk (Jane note: I used 2%, everything came out fine)
    • 1 pint plus ¼ cup heavy cream, divided
    • 1 12-oz can evaporated milk
    • 1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9”³ x 13”³ pan.
    2. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
    3. Mix egg yolks and ¾ cup of sugar in a mixing bowl. Beat until very light in color (Jane note: I used my hand mixer, you can also use a stand mixer). Add milk and vanilla and beat until just combined. Pour this over the flour mixture and stir gently to combine.
    4. In a separate mixing bowl beat the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. Add ¼ cup of sugar and continue beating until the whites are stiff but not dry.
    5. Gently fold the egg whites into the other ingredients. Don’t over mix, stop stirring just before everything is mixed together.
    6. Spread the batter in the pan and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. (Jane note: Mine was definitely done by 30 minutes, so keep an eye on it!)
    7. Let cake cool completely. (Jane note: Here is the first part requiring waiting and patience”¦) When the cake is cool, invert onto a platter and poke holes in the surface with a fork. (Jane note: I just left it in the pan because we weren’t serving it to guests and didn’t need it fancy on a platter. Also, I used a steak knife to poke the holes – my fork was sticking to the cake too much, the sharp, thin knife worked better.)
    8. Combine the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and ¼ cup cream. Slowly pour milk mixture over the cake, getting it all around the edges and evenly coating the surface. It will puddle, which is fine. Let cake sit for at least 30 minutes to absorb the milk. (Jane note: more waiting!)
    9. Whip 1 pint of cream with 3 tablespoons sugar (Jane note: I use powdered sugar here because that’s what I like in whipped cream) until thick. Spread over top and sides of cake (Jane note: or just the top if you left the cake in the pan).
    10. Jane note: Here’s the last bit of waiting”¦the cake was good at this point, but it was REALLY good the next day after being refrigerated. I highly recommend eating after it is cold! Totally worth all the waiting and your patience skills will be well-honed! Regardless of when you eat the cake, leftovers need to be refrigerated.

  3. Wednesday, February 15, 2012

    Pots de Crème au Chocolat

    Despite my busy day yesterday (p.s. Owen does not have an ear infection, which is good…but he is still grumpy!), did you really think I would let Valentine’s Day pass without whipping up some sort of chocolate decadence?

    Last night, after the kids were in bed, dinner was done and Nate and I had another Breaking Bad episode under our belts (romantic, eh?), I ventured to the kitchen to make pots de crème au chocolat. Our friends Ana and Tom made these a few weeks ago when they had us over for dinner. (p.s. Ana and Tom are not only fabulous cooks, they are both hilarious. I wish I could eat dinner at their house every night. Hint, hint, Ana.) The dessert was pretty much divine and, after Ana assured me it was easy to make, I decided to give the recipe a go.

    Ana was right. They were in fact easy to throw together and required only a few ingredients. My kind of cooking.

    If you’ve had pots de crème au chocolat before, you know what they’re like. {Delicious.} If you haven’t, it’s sort of like the custard in crème brûlée, only chocolate flavored. This chocolate dessert is rich yet still kind of light. And, if you’re not feeling up to the task of using and washing 20 bowls to make Julia Child’s mousse au chocolat, this is a great alternative – not quite so thick and rich as the mousse, but still delicious. I mean really – can you go wrong with cream, chocolate and eggs? Nope, you can’t.

    Pots de Crème au Chocolat
    A mish mosh of two Williams Sonoma recipes and comments from Ana Haymore
    Recipe type: Dessert
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 3 ounces semi-sweet (or bittersweet) chocolate, chopped
    • 3 egg yolks
    • ¼ cup sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 4 pinches of salt (I’m sure I could give you an actual measurement, but I did four pinches, so there you go)
    1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
    2. Heat cream in a saucepan over medium heat until small bubbles appear around the edges, stirring occasionally. Remove from the stove and stir in the chocolate until melted. Let cool while you do this other stuff”¦
    3. Whisk together egg yolks and sugar in a bowl for about 5 minutes. You want the eggs to be pale yellow. Just keep whisking. The more the merrier. (I had Nate do this last night”¦what a whiner, by the way. Oh wait, I mean, he was such a sweetie to do this for me and didn’t complain once! I suppose you could get out a hand blender”¦but a little wrist exercise never hurt anyone, right?)
    4. Slowly stir the chocolate cream into the egg mixture. Stir in the vanilla and the salt.
    5. Pour the chocolate mixture through a fine sieve into 6 ramekins, dividing evenly. Place ramekins in a 9×13 baking dish or pan. Pour boiling water around the ramekins in the 9×13 pan, 1 inch deep. Cover the ramekins and dish with foil.
    6. Bake for around 20 minutes, until the edges are set but the chocolate still trembles a bit (I cooked mine a minute or two too long and they still came out fine).
    7. Let cool on a wire rack. The Williams Sonoma recipes say to refrigerate for at least four hours and up to 2 days before serving”¦but we also have eaten them right after they’ve cooled but still sort of warm and they were delicious.

  4. Tuesday, January 3, 2012

    Julia Child’s Chocolate Mousse

    Yeah, yeah, I know. 95% of you just made new year’s resolutions to eat healthier. And here I am tempting you with chocolate mousse. I’m kind of evil. Plus, I’m looking out for the 5% who didn’t make such lofty goals…there is far too much health food talk going on around the food blogosphere right now. We want chocolate. We need chocolate!

    Resolutions be damned, this mousse is too good not to share. For those of you who are crazy enough to have cut sugar and/or chocolate out of your life, well, just tuck this recipe into the back of  your brain for a day that you feel like cheating.

    After Thanksgiving I had a hankering for some honest-to-goodness chocolate mousse, mousse without whipped cream mixed in. I did a little web search and came across a blog post by David Lebovitz where he had made Julia Child’s recipe. Since both of these people are beyond trustworthy in the chocolate department, I decided to give it a try. All I have to say is Julia knows her chocolate. It was beyond rich and the texture was just what I was looking for. Ooo. La. Laaaaa.

    Observe the texture. THAT is mousse.

    Warning: you may die eating this mousse. That is how rich this dessert is. A dollop of whipped cream on top is advised.

    Warning #2: This recipe requires lots of bowls. That’s just how Julia rolls.

    Julia Child's Chocolate Mousse
    Adapted from David Lebovitz’s adaptation of Julia Child’s recipe found in Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Knopf) (the only reason I made adaptations is because I didn’t have all the ingredients on hand, and the mousse still came out. PHEW. Click here to check out David’s version that is more true to Julia’s recipe.)
    Recipe type: Dessert
    • 6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
    • 6 ounces unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (Jane note: my butter was salted, it’s what I had)
    • 4 large eggs, separated
    • ⅔ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 3 tablespoons water
    • pinch of salt
    • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
    1. Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler over simmering water until smooth. Remove from heat.
    2. Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside.
    3. In a bowl large enough to nest securely on the saucepan of simmering water, whisk the yolks of the eggs with the ⅔ cup of sugar and water for about 3 minutes until the mixture is thick, like runny mayonnaise. (Jane note: David suggested that you can also use a handheld electric mixer, which is what I did.)
    4. Remove from heat and place the bowl of whipped egg yolks within the bowl of ice water and beat until cool and thick, as shown in the photo above (Jane note: again, I used an electric mixer). Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg yolks.
    5. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt until frothy. Continue to beat until they start to hold their shape. Whip in the tablespoon of sugar and continue to beat until thick and shiny, but not completely stiff, then the vanilla.
    6. Fold one-third of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remainder of the whites just until incorporated, but don’t overdo it or the mousse will lose volume. (Jane note: but be sure that it is ALL incorporated”¦I was so worried about losing volume that there were pockets of mousse that didn’t get the egg whites that were all wrong texture-wise”¦a bit more mixing would have solved that.)
    7. Transfer the mousse to a serving bowl or divide into serving dishes, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, until firm.
    8. The mousse can be refrigerated for up to 4 days. Servies 6-8.


  5. Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    Swedish Apple Pie (a.k.a. Makes-Its-Own-Crust Apple Pie)

    I’m about to share a gem of a recipe with you. Seriously. It’s my new favorite apple pie recipe. So yummy and so easy.

    When my mother-in-law Pat was in town, she kept telling us how she was going to make us Swedish Apple Pie (which she did). She said it was a recipe from someone she knew named Grammy Dutton. I asked if Grammy Dutton was Swedish. Pat’s reply, with a laugh, was, “Not at all!” Apparently the real name for this recipe is “Grammy Dutton’s Makes-Its-Own-Crust Apple Pie.” But whenever Pat’s friends are looking for the recipe, they’ll ask for the Swedish Apple Pie recipe, and Pat will say, “The Makes-Its-Own-Crust Apple Pie recipe?” and then they’ll say, “Yeah, yeah, Swedish Apple Pie.” I guess this pie really wants to be Swedish. Because being Swedish is awesome. (That last sentence has nothing to do with the fact that I’m 3/4 Swedish, by the way.)

    Nomenclature aside, Nate and I both really loved this “pie.” I personally do think it’s better than traditional apple pie, but I’m sure there are people who would debate that point with me. But even those people would agree that this is a delicious dessert. The crust bakes on top of the pie and sort of seeps down into the apples in a super tasty, cobbler-like way, but it stays nice and crusty on top. Wow, that’s a terrible description for a really wonderful thing. You’ll just have to trust me. Plus, it’s way stinkin’ easier than making real pie crust. I’m all over easier!

    Swedish Apple Pie (a.k.a. Makes-Its-Own-Crust Apple Pie)
    From Pat Maynard who got the recipe from Grammy Dutton herself
    Recipe type: Dessert, Thanksgiving
    • Sliced apples, sliced but not too thin, peeled but you don’t have to be super meticulous about it (usually takes 4-7 apples, depending on the size of the apples - I start by slicing 4 apples, then slice more as needed)
    • About 1-2 Tablespoons of cinnamon sugar
    • 6 ounces (1½ sticks) melted butter
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 cup flour
    • 1 beaten egg
    1. Fill a pie plate or any 8×8 casserole dish/pan with sliced apples. Only the center can be slightly above level with the top of dish or the topping will spill over the sides, so don’t get carried away. Sprinkle the apples with ~ 1 tablespoon cinnamon sugar.
    2. Mix together the butter, sugar, flour and egg. Pour evenly over apples, sprinkle with more cinnamon sugar if desired.
    3. Bake at 350 degrees F until deep golden brown - around 40-45 minutes or so.


  6. Tuesday, May 10, 2011

    Grammy McCarthy’s Brownies

    Nate’s Grammy lives south of Boston in a perfectly scenic, coastal New England town. Her home is on a lovely little gulf where you can watch the tide and the plethora of birds go about their daily business. I have so many memories there, of time spent with Nate and his family, experiencing all the emotions and rites of passage you experience with family, including our own wedding reception.

    Of course, as is often the case, there are many food associations with Grammy’s home. The two food items that are always in abundance when we visit are blueberry muffins and brownies, both of which we all eat far too quickly!

    Nate loves Grammy’s brownies. There are a few things in Nate’s mind that I think no one will ever live up to in comparison with Grammy. Her brownies are one of those things. I, of course, am always trying oodles of different brownie recipes, so I actually rarely use her recipe. Not because I don’t love them. I’m just into comparing brownie recipes! So, on Mother’s Day evening, after Nate had cooked up a divine filet mignon dinner, he said, “Do we have stuff to make brownies?” To which I replied, “Yes!” And then he said, “Okay, I’ll make them, but I’m making them my way.” Which means Grammy’s way, of course.

    The brownies tasted exactly like Grammy’s. Nate was beyond happy with the result. And it was a great Mother’s Day present for me…delicious brownies and happy memories of days and nights on the gulf. Who could ask for more?

    A note on this recipe. Yes, she uses shortening. And, yes, Nate used it, too. And, to be honest, these brownies come out with a great texture – not gooey at all, but not dried out, either.  They are the texture you expect a brownie to be and have a nice crust on top. Also, they are not uber chocolatey. If you have Julia Child’s brownies on one end of the spectrum (i.e. the super duper gooey moist chocolatey end of the spectrum), then these are on the other end. Chocolatey enough, but not overwhelming. Nikki, my anti-chocolate friend, might even give them a try!

    Oh, one more thing, unlike most brownies in my life, I actually think I like these better the second day.

    Grammy McCarthy's Brownies
    From Grammy McCarthy
    Cuisine: Dessert
    • 2 squares unsweetened chocolate (Grammy uses Fleishmans, we used whatever was on hand)
    • ⅓ cup shortening
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • ¾ cup flour
    • ½ teaspoon baking powder
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    1. Melt chocolate and shortening in a double boiler over hot water. Take off heat and add sugar. Add eggs when mixture has cooled a bit. Mix dry ingredients together then add to the wet ingredients. Mix in ½ C broken (wal)nuts. (Since it was Mother’s Day, Nate left these out for me. Because we all know how I feel about walnuts.) Spread in well-greased, 8”³ X 8”³ pan.
    2. Bake at 350 degrees for ~20-25 mins.
    3. There will be a dull crust when almost done – take out. You also want your fork or toothpick to come out clean.
    4. Cut when cool.


  7. Thursday, December 23, 2010

    Homemade Marshmallows Are Pretty

    This week I’m not writing much. It’s kind of my Christmas present to myself. And since so many of us are off of work and school, I’m think you probably aren’t reading much anyway. It’s the holidays, time to slack off, right? 🙂

    I did take these pictures of the homemade marshmallows I made last week, so I figured I’d share them with you. The pictures are just too pretty to let them go to waste. Who knew homemade marshmallows would be so photogenic?

    If you find yourself bored and needing some accessories for your hot chocolate this week, marshmallows are really, truly easy to make. I wrote about them last year on Make and Takes, and now I’m sharing the recipe again with you. They’re that good.

    Homemade Marshmallows
    • 3 packages unflavored gelatin
    • 1 cup ice cold water, divided
    • 12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1½ cups
    • 1 cup light corn syrup
    • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
    • ¼ cup cornstarch
    • Nonstick spray
    1. Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer set up with the whisk attachment along with ½ cup of the water.
    2. In a small saucepan combine the remaining ½ cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes (Jane note: it was longer than 8 minutes when I did it). Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.
    3. Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. (Jane note: as you can see in the picture, I used my ingredient-pourer-shield-bowl-attachment-thingy and it worked perfectly for pouring in the hot sugar.) Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.
    4. Combine the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.
    5. When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan (Jane note: I also used my not-so-lightly oiled fingers to press the the mixture evenly into the pan). Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
    6. Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners’ sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture (Jane note: this is my favorite part!), using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.


  8. Tuesday, May 11, 2010

    Homemade Berry Saucy Syrup

    I am a sucker for a beautiful container of berries. They’re just so pretty my wallet and I can’t resist. But half the time I forget I buy them and then the berries end up kind of sad. It’s a crime, really. But if my berries do reach this sorry state, I make good use of them…homemade saucy syrup (I can’t decide if it should be called sauce or syrup, hence saucy syrup.

    saucy syrup 2 web

    I’ve made my saucy syrup with raspberries and blueberries. Most recently I made it from a small container of blackberries. It was SOOOOOOOOOOOO good. If I do say so myself. This homemade saucy syrup pairs beautifully with the texture of my new favorite waffle recipe – the waffles didn’t get soggy at all.

    Sidenote: Baby’s Got Sauce by G. Love has been playing in my head while I write this post. Which automatically makes this post 10 times more fun.

    Homemade Berry Saucy Syrup
    From Jane Maynard
    Recipe type: Dessert
    • 1½ cups berries (one of those 5-6 oz containers) -OR- 1 C blueberries
    • ¾ cup sugar
    • ⅓ cup water
    • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
    • 1 tablespoon corn starch whisked with enough water to make a slurry
    1. Bring the berries, sugar, water and lemon juice to a boil. Lower heat. Simmer for a 5-10 minutes, while slowly adding some of your cornstarch mixture. Add enough to get it to the consistency you like (the cornstarch makes it less watery). Refrigerate leftovers, if you have any!

    saucy syrup 1 web

  9. Wednesday, March 31, 2010

    Lemon Bars…or is that Lemon Squares?

    Today I’m sharing my recipe for lemon bars. Or are they lemon squares? Whatever they’re called, they are lemonicious!

    lemon bar squares web

    I have no clue where I found this recipe. It was in my recipe box without any attribution. When that happens, it normally means I merged a few recipes together. If I have, in fact, stolen this recipe from someone, well, my sincerest apologies! Just let me know and I’ll throw your name on there lickity split!

    I made lemon bars for St. Patrick’s Day with lemon juice from the little squeezie lemon juice thingy in my fridge. No fresh lemons that day – so no fresh lemon juice or zest. When I made them again for this post, I used Meyer lemons and zest. I’ve gotta be honest…the St. Patrick’s Day version was better! The lemon taste was stronger and more tart, which added depth of flavor. Meyer lemons are great because they seem to sweeten up nicely, but for lemon bars I think they ended up being a little too sweet and mild/flat tasting. Take your pick…I’m sure it’s a matter of personal preference!

    Why is my recipe so good? I don’t know, it just is.  The shortbread and lemon layers meld together nicely and the texture is just right. This is a non-chocolate dessert I can get behind!

    Lemon Bars
    From Jane Maynard at This Week for Dinner”¦maybe!
    • Crust:
    • 2 cups flour
    • 1 cup butter
    • ½ cup powdered sugar
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • Top:
    • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind (if you don’t have fresh lemons, you can leave this out)
    • ¼ cup lemon juice
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 6 tablespoon flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 4 eggs
    1. Preheat to 350 degrees F.
    2. Mix crust together and press into bottom of 9X13 pan. Bake for 10 mins. Mix top ingredients and pour over baked crust. Bake for 25 mins more. Remove from oven and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Let set and cut into squares. Makes about a million squares.


  10. Tuesday, December 23, 2008

    Vanilla Hot Chocolate Mix

    Need to warm up now that we’re in the dead of winter?

    Then hop to it and make this great vanilla hot chocolate mix!  Our friends the Neilsons brought this mix over the other night (we have been so spoiled this year by homemade yumminess from so many friends!).  Nate and I have had hot chocolate the last two nights. I’m considering NOT sharing with Cate.  Yeah, I’m a great mom, eh?

    Here’s the recipe, if you want to make it for friends…or yourself!

    Vanilla Hot Chocolate Mix
    • 4 cups granulated sugar
    • ½ vanilla bean, split crosswise (see tips, below)
    • 1½ pounds high-quality semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
    • 8 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
    • 2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process (see tips, below)
    1. Place sugar in large bowl. Split half vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape seeds into sugar, and add pod. Work seeds in with your fingers. Cover snugly with plastic wrap and let stand overnight at room temperature.
    2. In food processor fitted with metal blade, process semisweet chocolate and milk chocolate until finely ground, using 4-second pulses. (Process in two batches if necessary.)
    3. Remove pod from sugar. Add ground chocolate and cocoa powder to sugar and whisk to blend.
    4. Store mix airtight at room temperature for up to six months.
    5. To serve:
    6. For each serving, heat 8 ounces milk in small saucepan over medium heat until scalded (or microwave 2½ minutes at full power). Whisk in ¼ to ⅓ cup mix. Serve with unsweetened softly whipped cream or marshmallows.
    ӢSave the other half of the vanilla bean for another use, such as a second batch of vanilla sugar, which keeps indefinitely and can be used in baking, coffee, or simply to sprinkle on fruit or waffles.
    ӢDutch process cocoa has been treated with an alkaline solution, which gives it a darker color and less bitter flavor and makes it dissolve more easily. Droste is a good brand.