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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Away for an event...

Hi all! I'm going on vacay for my sister's baby shower...and since I'm planning it, I'm bringing all the desserts! See you Monday with pictures!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Fresh Ricotta Makes the Tart

Hello all! It's Tuesday savory post time (I should really come up with a better phrase than that!). Last night I made one of my favorite brunch-for-dinner items: a ricotta tart, courtesy of Tyler Florence. This one is always a hit with my husband; I think it's best with fresh ricotta if you can get it (I get it from Whole Foods...but if you can't find it, the container from the supermarket works well too!). I also like to use pitted kalamata olives - adds a really yummy, salty kick! This is a great one to impress guests, be set 2 hours aside for this bad boy - there's a lot of resting, baking, and mixing!

Ricotta Tart with Fresh Tomatoes, Basil, and Black Olives
Tyler Florence


  • 11/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut in chunks
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 3 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed
Ricotta Filling

  • 1 head roasted garlic (see Note)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh Tomato Salad

  • 4 ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1/2 cup pitted and sliced kalamata olives
  • 5 fresh basil leaves, hand-torn
  • Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Tyler's Note: Using a food processor to make dough is a modern timesaver. The downside is that the blade can really overwork the dough; so be sure to use short bursts of power, not long, sustained ones. 
  1. Pulse the flour, salt, and sugar together in a food processor. Put in the chunks of butter, a little at a time, and pulse just until the dough resembles cornmeal. Add the egg yolk and the ice water; pulse again for a second just to pull the dough together. Lightly dust the counter with flour. Dump the dough out and briefly knead it by hand into a ball. Again, do not overwork the dough or it will become as tough as shoe leather. Wrap it tightly in plastic and let it rest and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or even overnight. This lets the protein in the flour relax and also firms up the butter particles.
  2. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to a 12-inch circle. Carefully roll the dough up onto the pin (this may take a little practice) and lay it inside a 101/2-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the edges into the sides of the pan. It is important to press the dough evenly into every nook and corner of the ring, especially the scalloped edges. Fold the excess dough inside to reinforce the rim. Put the tart in the fridge for 15 minutes to relax.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prick the bottom of the shell with a fork. Lay a piece of aluminum foil on the bottom of the tart shell and fill it with 1 cup of dried beans. The weight of the beans will keep the pie dough flat so it doesn’t bubble when hit with the initial heat. Bake for 30 minutes. Lift out the beans in the foil, return the tart shell to the oven, and bake for another 10 minutes, or until lightly golden.
  4. Beat the egg white with 1 tablespoon of water. Brush the bottom and sides of the pastry with the egg glaze to seal any tiny holes; it also gives the tart a nice sheen. Your tart shell is ready for filling.
  5. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins into a large bowl. Beat in the eggs and ricotta and Parmigiano cheeses; season with salt and pepper. Place the tart shell on a cookie sheet. Pour the egg mixture into the shell, filling it three-quarters of the way. Carefully transfer to the oven and bake for  30 minutes. The tart should still jiggle slightly in the center; it will set up as it cools.
  6. Mix the tomato slices with the olives, basil, and orange zest. Drizzle with a 2-count of oil; season with salt and pepper and fold everything together.
  7. Carefully lift the tart out of the ring and slide the tart off the base and onto a plate. Let the tart cool to room temperature. Cut it into wedges and drizzle with a little olive oil and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper. Spoon some of the tomato salad onto each plate and put a slice of tart on top.
  8. Note: To roast the garlic, bang the garlic head on the counter to loosen the cloves. Put the separated cloves in a piece of aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil, and close up the pouch. Bake for 30 minutes (you can bake them with the tart shell). The garlic should be soft.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Cookie Secrets From Your Favorite Cookie Stand

Happy Monday! Well...not really secrets, since they printed a cookbook. Mrs. Fields; Great American Cookie Company - they make deliciously soft cookies at the malls around America (though I fear what happens behind the scenes). The other day, on a shopping trip with my mom, we stopped for an M&M cookie, one of my childhood faves. I began to reminisce about the yummy cookies of yester-year, and I remembered that I'd inherited a Mrs. Fields Cookie Book years ago! That book brought back memories of my childhood, memories of when baking started coursing through my veins. So as a tribute to my childhood happiness, here are a few recipes from that cookbook!

Debbi's drop cookies...
Blue-Ribbon Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield: 3 1/2 dozen cookies


  • 2 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 C dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 C white sugar
  • 1 C salted butter, softened (Lizzy Bee's Note: Knowadays, most recipes call for unsalted - that's fine too! Salted butter, plus salt in the recipe, is a lot of salt!)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 C (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees (F).
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, soda, and salt. Mix well with a whisk. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl with an electric mixer blend sugars at medium speed. Add butter and mix to form a grainy paste, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add eggs and vanilla, and mix at medium speed until just blended. Do not overmix.
  4. Add flour and chocolate chips, and blend at low speed until just mixed. Do not overmix.
  5. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake 22-24 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer cookies immediately to a cool surface with a spatula. 

Debbi's fancy cookies...
Brown Sugar Shortbread
Yield: 2 1/2 dozen 

  • 1 C salted butter, softened
  • 3/4 C light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 C AP flour
  • 1 T salted butter
  • 1 C (6 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 C (4 oz) pecans, finely chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed. Scrape down sides of bowl. Then add vanilla and flour, and blend thoroughly on low speed.
  3. Shape level tablespoonfuls of dough into 1-in balls, then form into logs 2 inches long and 1 inch wide. Place on ungreased baking sheets, 2 inches apart.
  4. Bake 17-19 minutes, or until cookies spread and turn a light golden brown. Transfer to a cool, flat surface. 
To make topping:
  1. Melt butter and chocolate in a double boiler over hot (not boiling...Lizzy Bee's Note: Simmering) water or in a microwave oven on high power. Stir chocolate every 30 seconds until melted.
  2. Dip top of each cooled shortbread cookie into melted chocolate, then into chopped pecans. Place cookies on waxed paper and refrigerate to set.

Happy baking!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

When a Brownie Isn't Just a Brownie

Hello all! So today I want to talk brownies. If you haven't tried Lizzy Bee's Bakery's world famous brownies, you're missing out! You should order them ASAP (shameless plug finished). But in the meantime, here are a few different brownie recipes to delight the taste buds.

White Chocolate Brownies
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan - one of my faves!!

For the brownies:

  • 2/3 C AP flour
  • 1/2 C finely ground almonds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 stick (8T) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 4 oz premium-quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 C sugar
  • 2 tsp grated orange zest
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 C fresh raspberries
For the meringue:
  • 3 large egg whites, room temp.
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 325. Butter a 9x13 inch pan, line bottom with parchment, butter the paper and dust the bottom and sides with flour; tap out excess. Put the pan on baking sheet.
  2. Whisk together flour, almonds, and salt. 
  3. Set heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Put the butter in the bowl, top with the chopped chocolate and stir frequently until the ingredients are melted - you don't want them to get so hot that the butter or white chocolate separates. Remove bowl from pan of water. 
  4. Working in the bowl of a stand mixer or in another large bowl, rub the sugar and orange zest together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and aromatic. Add the eggs and, with the paddle or whisk attachment, or hand mixer, beat on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, or until pale and foamy. Beat in vanilla.
  5. Reduce mixer speed to low and blend in melted butter/chocolate. Still working on low, mix in dry ingredients, stirring only until they disappear in batter.
  6. Scrape the batter into prepared pan, sprinkle raspberries evenly over batter. Set aside while you make meringue.
  7. In clean mixer bowl with the clean whisk attachment, beat the egg whites with the salt on medium speed until they are foamy and just turn opaque. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and add sugar in a slow, steady stream. Whip whites until they form firm but glossy peaks.
  8. Gently spread meringue over brownie batter.
  9. Bake 30-35 min or until meringue is browned and crackly and the brownies pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer pan to a rack and cool to room temp.
  10. Cover a cooling rack with parchment, dust the mat with confectioners' sugar and very gently, so you don't squish the meringue, turn the brownies out onto the rack. Peel away parchment lining and carefully invert brownies onto cutting board. Cut into 32 bars. 

Nick Malgieri's Supernatural Brownies
I believe he created these for Green and Black Organic Chocolate...but use whatever you want. 

  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 8 oz Green and Black bittersweet chocolate, cut into 1/4 in pieces
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 C granulated sugar
  • 1 C dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 C AP flour
  1. Butter and line with parchment one 13x9 in pan. Set rack in middle level of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. 
  2. Bring a saucepan of water to boil and turn off heat. Combine butter and chocolate in heatproof bowl and set over pan of water. Stir occasionally until melted.
  3. Whisk eggs together in large bowl then whisk in salt, sugars, and vanilla. Stir in chocolate mixture, then fold in flour. 
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake 40-45 min, until top has formed shiny crust and batter is moderately firm. Cool in pan on rack. Wrap in plastic wrap and keep at room temp/refrigerate until next day to make cutting easier.
  5. To cut: Unmold onto a cutting board, remove paper, and replace with another cutting board. Turn right side up. Cut into 2 in squares.
Variations: Add 2 C walnut or pecan pieces

Happy baking!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Healthy and Well-Balanced for Summer!

Happy Wednesday! I didn't get a chance to post my savory dish last night, blame it on the "summer vacation" daze. Last night I made a really delicious, colorful dinner from the latest edition of Bon Appetit. The meal called for harissa paste, which I shockingly couldn't find. Instead I substituted lemongrass paste for an interesting, refreshing twist. Enjoy!

Grilled Harissa Shrimp
Rebecca Jurkevich

  • 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled, tails intact, deveined
  • 2–3 tablespoons harissa paste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 radishes, trimmed, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Prepare grill for medium-high heat. Combine shrimp, harissa, and oil in a medium bowl; season with salt and toss to coat.
  2. Grill shrimp until cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and let cool.
  3. Toss shrimp, radishes, basil, and cilantro in another medium bowl; season with salt and pepper.
DO AHEAD: Shrimp can be grilled 2 hours ahead. Cover and chill.

Lizzy Bee's note: I couldn't grill last night - there was lightening in the sky! So I seared my shrimp in a pan...still delicious! I also used a packet of lemongrass paste (I found it in Whole Foods, but it's also online) in replace of the harissa paste.

Herbed Green Beans with Feta
Rebecca Jurkevich

  • 1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons torn fresh mint leaves, divided
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, divided
  • 2 tablespoons matchstick-size strips lemon zest, divided
  • 2 tablespoons (or more) fresh lemon juice
  • 2 ounces feta, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Working in two batches, cook beans in a large pot of boiling, generously salted water just until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Using tongs, transfer to a colander set in a bowl of ice water; let cool. Drain well, then pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Toss beans, oil, 2 tablespoons mint, 1 tablespoon dill, 1 tablespoon lemon zest, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and half of feta in a large bowl; season with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired.
  3. Serve beans topped with remaining feta, 2 tablespoons mint, 1 tablespoon dill, and 1 tablespoon lemon zest.
DO AHEAD: Beans can be cooked 1 day ahead. Wrap in a paper towel, place in a resealable plastic bag, and chill.

Quinoa Salad with Peaches and Pickled Onions
Rebecca Jurkevich

  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa (any color) rinsed well
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt plus more
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large ripe firm peaches, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 bunch arugula, thick stems trimmed, leaves torn (about 2 cups)
  • 2 cups small cherry tomatoes (about 1 pint), halved
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup 1/2-inch pieces chives, divided
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Bring quinoa and 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Season with salt. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until quinoa is tender, 8–10 minutes. Drain, return quinoa to pan, and cover. Remove from heat and let sit 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and spread out on a rimmed baking sheet; let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, place onion in a small bowl. Bring vinegar, sugar, and 4 tsp. salt to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt. Pour over onion and let stand 20 minutes. Drain, reserving pickling liquid.
  3. Toss pickled onion, peaches, arugula, tomatoes, oil, 1/4 cup chives, and 3 tablespoons reserved pickling liquid in a large bowl; season with salt, pepper, and more pickling liquid, if desired. Fold in quinoa.
  4. Serve salad topped with remaining 1/4 cup chives.
DO AHEAD: Quinoa salad can be made 6 hours ahead (do not add arugula and chives). Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature and toss in arugula and chives just before serving.

Lizzy Bee's note: I chose not to pickle the onions for the sake of both time and I'm not the biggest fan of pickled veggies. I chose to saute the onions until very soft and yummy. Still delicious!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Holy Cannoli, it's National Ice Cream Month!

Happy Monday all! We've just passed the all important National Ice Cream Day (it was yesterday), but fear not my friends because Ronald Reagan declared this National Ice Cream MONTH! Phew. Since I've bombarded you with ice cream recipes lately, here are a few more recipes that give a twist to plain, ol' ice cream.

Emeril Lagasse


  • 2 cups coconut
  • 2 cups chocolate sandwich cookies
  • 2 cups candy coated chocolate
  • 2 cups roasted peanuts
  • 3 large resealable bags
  • 4 disposable pie tins
  • 4 large scoops chocolate mint ice cream
  • 4 large scoops vanilla ice cream
  • 4 large scoops chocolate ice cream
  • 1 cup sweetened whipped cream
  • 6 large whole strawberries
  • Shaker of powdered sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the coconut on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place the pan in the oven and cook the coconut until slightly toasted and golden, about 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool. 
  2. Place the cookies in a plastic resealable bags. Place the candy in a plastic resealable bag. Place the peanuts in a plastic resealable bag. Using a small meat mallet or the back of a large spoon, carefully smash each bag. You want to smash the pages enough so that everything is in small pieces. 
  3. Make sure your ice cream is very hard. Shape the ice cream scoops into balls. Place the scoops of ice cream on a parchment-lined baking sheet. 
  4. Place coconut, cookies, candy and nuts on four different pie tins. Roll the ice cream balls in which ever pie tin you want. Place the ice cream back in the freezer. 
  5. To serve, place two ice cream balls in each bowl. Drizzle the chocolate sauce over the ice cream. Garnish with the whipped cream, strawberries, and powdered sugar

Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream
Adapted from The Daily Scoop, Barrington, RI


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 ripe bananas, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup commercial peanut butter (not homemade or natural)
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
  • 2 tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the bananas, and sprinkle the bananas with the sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the bananas are soft.
  2. Combine the bananas, milk, and peanut butter in a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in a blender, and purée until smooth.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and stir in 3/4 cup of the cream. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture begins to steam; watch it carefully and make sure it does not come to a boil.
  4. While the mixture heats, combine the remaining cream, milk powder, cornstarch, salt, and vanilla in a small bowl, and stir until smooth and both of the powders have dissolved.
  5. Add the cornstarch mixture to the pan, and bring to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly. Whisk the mixture until smooth, and simmer the mixture over very low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, or until thickened. If the mixture is lumpy, strain it through a sieve.
  6. Transfer the hot liquid to a storage container and press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the mixture to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate the mixture uncovered until it is completely chilled (below 40°F).
  7. Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Serve immediately for a soft ice cream, or transfer the mixture to an airtight storage container and freeze until hard. Allow the ice cream to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving if frozen solid.

Chocolate-Ginger Bathing Beauties
Martha Stewart Kids, Summer 2005


  • 3 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 1/3 cup (2 ounces) candy-coated chocolates
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips, melted
  • 2 pints chocolate ice cream
  1. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium bowl; set aside. Put shortening and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 1 minute.
  2. Mix in egg. Reduce speed to medium. Mix in vinegar and molasses. Reduce speed to low. Gradually mix in flour mixture until soft dough forms. Let stand at room temperature until slightly firm, 10 minutes.
  3. Divide dough into thirds. Roll 1 piece between 2 sheets of parchment paper to just over 1/8 inch thick.Transfer parchment and dough to baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, stacking them on the same baking sheet. Refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours (or chill in freezer 1 hour).
  4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Transfer 1 sheet of dough on parchment to a lightly floured work surface. Peel off 1 layer of parchment, and then pat it back into place. Flip dough; peel away second sheet of parchment, and discard. Cut out shapes using a 4-inch gingerbread-man cookie cutter, transferring to parchment-lined baking sheets as you work. Roll out scraps; repeat.
  5. Bake cookies until edges are just browned, about 7 minutes. While cookies are warm, poke eyes and noses on half of them using the blunt end of a skewer. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Repeat with remaining dough and scraps.
  6. Decorate the cookies that have faces with candies, using a small amount of melted chocolate to adhere them. Let ice cream stand at room temperature until slightly softened, about 10 minutes. Spread 1/2-inch-thick layer of ice cream onto the underside of an undecorated cookie. Place a decorated cookie on top. Smooth edges using a knife or small spatula. Transfer to a baking sheet in freezer. Repeat with remaining cookies and ice cream. Freeze until set, about 1 hour, before serving.

Happy baking!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Before the Cherry Goes on Top!

It's Friday everyone! Woot woot. I realized I've been giving you a lot of ice cream ideas lately, but what I need to do is give you the tools to make a fabulously homemade ice cream sundae! Now that you have lots and lots of ice cream recipes, here are a few ideas to drizzle on the top to make the perfect ice cream sundae! My mouth waters just thinking about it...

Dark Chocolate Sauce
Gourmet January 1991

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 4 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons Amaretto, or to taste

  1. In a small heavy saucepan combine the cream and the brown sugar, bring the mixture to a boil over moderately high heat, whisking occasionally, and boil it, whisking, until the brown sugar is dissolved. 
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolates, whisking until they are melted. Whisk in the butter and the Amaretto, whisking until the sauce is smooth, and let the sauce cool slightly. 
  3. The chocolate sauce may be made 1 week in advance and kept covered and chilled. Reheat the chocolate sauce over very low heat, stirring occasionally, until it is warm.

Strawberry Sauce
Emeril Lagasse

  • 2 pints fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons kirsch or brandy
  1. Combine berries, sugar, water and zest and cook until berries are soft and the liquid is thick, about 10 minutes. Stir in the kirsch or brandy and cook for 1 minute.
  2. Remove from the heat and let cool. 

Classic Butterscotch Sauce
Grace Parisi


  • 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons Scotch whisky
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, water and salt and cook to dissolve the sugar. Add the cream and simmer, stirring, until thickened, 10 minutes. Add the whisky and vanilla and simmer over low heat for 2 minutes. Let cool, then transfer to jars.
MAKE AHEAD The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 months.

Happy baking!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Thank You!

4000 page views and still going strong! Thank you to all of my faithful readers, old and new!

Color My Rainbow!

Hello again! Not only do I want to talk about paella, but I'm also going to give you Wednesday's baking tip! Let's talk food colors. Usually the supermarket offers the four basic color package - I think you know what I'm talking about. It includes red, yellow, blue, and green and the result to your frosting is never that fabulous. You put all of this hard work into making a gorgeous cake or cupcakes and you want to frost them to match a's so disappointing when you're stuck with drab results. Here's your professional baker's tip to help make your cake standout!

  • Chef's secret: I use Ateco or Americolor colors on my cakes. You only need a few drops to make bright, vibrant colors.
  • Chefmaster is Kosher and can be found anywhere, including Sears!
  • Wilton also sells colors in a variety of sets - from liquid dyes to color pens, these options are plentiful and usually very easy to find (Michaels carries all kinds of their supplies OR you can find it on the Wilton website).

For me personally, I think Wilton has great, accessible supplies, but for dying my frostings I would stick to the first 2 options. They guarantee you some really awesome results!

Have fun playing around with different colors - be sure to send me pictures of your results! 

Flavorful Paella Made Easy!

Happy Wednesday all! I forgot to post yesterday - so sorry! So today I'm sharing what I meant to yesterday. Last night I made a really delicious and easy paella, a recipe from Jose Andres, one of my favorite chefs in the MD-DC area. This recipe was extremely fast and easy, which is unusual for a paella, and included only seafood. I bet you would also get great results adding smoky sausage or another type of seafood. OR, leave it as is because it's really great that way too. Enjoy!

Smoky Paella with Shrimp and Squid
Jose Andres

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup arborio or Valencia rice
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 small pinch of saffron, crumbled
  • 2 cups clam broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 pound baby squid, bodies cut into 1/4-inch rings
  1. In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and add to the skillet. Cook over high heat until lightly browned on one side, 2 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a plate.
  2. Add the rice to the skillet and cook, stirring, until opaque, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, paprika, garlic and saffron and cook, stirring, until the rice is toasted and sizzling, about 1 minute. Add the clam broth and water and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil until the rice is still a bit crunchy and about half of the broth is absorbed, 10 minutes. Lower the heat and simmer until the rice is nearly tender and the liquid is soupy but slightly reduced, about 8 minutes. Stir in the squid, then lay the shrimp on top, cooked side up. Cover and simmer until the squid and shrimp are cooked through and the rice is tender, about 2 minutes longer.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Weekend Anniversary Extravaganza!

Hello again my lovely readers! Yesterday was my husband and my first year anniversary. We spent the entire weekend celebrating with food (shocker), starting with a special dinner at Marea Saturday night. After that, my original menu for the actual anniversary evening at home changed. Rather than sticking to homemade ravioli - delicious but really heavy - we went with our favorite number 2: the grill! So I made a wonderfully meaty Indonesian Grilled Swordfish, zucchini/red onions/patty pan squash (yum!) in my favorite grill pan (this one is similar, but mine is square) with removable handle (trust me, you want one of these pans!!!), and a really delicious bulgur salad with figs, radicchio, and parsley. For dessert we had (of course!) the top tier of our wedding cake - carrot cake made by the fabulously talented Ann Amernick and (I couldn't resist)  homemade burnt sugar low fat ice cream with bittersweet chocolate chips. If that wasn't enough, we also FINALLY opened a bottle of wine from our pre-wedding trip to Napa, Von Strasser cab. Such a fun night!!! 

My recommendation for you today is to buy Raising the Salad Bar by Catherine Walthers. This is one of my absolute favorite cookbooks. It is filled with salads of all kinds - meat, poultry, fish, bean, grain, leafy, potato...salad has it all! The aforementioned bulgur wheat salad comes from here, but I like to play with it, exchanging figs for apricots. You can really do anything as well, as this book lends itself to a lot of experimentation. It's really fabulous! So with that, enjoy your Monday my wonderful and faithful readers. See you tomorrow!

Friday, July 12, 2013

More Ice Cool Flavors

It's Friday and even though the sun isn't out, I can't help dream about an ice cream cone. Yum. So today I'm bringing you a few more ice cream ideas, but these flavors go beyond the usual chocolate and vanilla. Try something new!

Roasted Strawberry-Buttermilk Sherbert
Bon Appetit, July 2013 Susan Spungen

  • 4 cups strawberries (about 1 pound), hulled, halved or quartered if large
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Combine strawberries and sugar in a 13x9x2" baking pan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean and add pod; toss to combine. Roast berries, stirring occasionally, until juices are bubbling, 15-20 minutes. Let cool.
  2. Discard pod. Purée berries, buttermilk, sour cream, and salt in a blender until smooth. Process mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Transfer sherbet to an airtight container and freeze until ready to serve.
DO AHEAD: Sherbet can be made 1 week ahead. Keep frozen. Let soften at room temperature 15 minutes before serving.

Honey Peanut Butter Salt Ice Cream with Caramel Sauce
The Kitchy Kitchen

  • 2-3 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup honey roasted peanut butter (if you only have regular, add 2 tablespoons of honey)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Pinch of sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
For the Caramel Sauce:
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 4 oz unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Heat one cup of the heavy cream in a sauce pan until simmering.  Add the sugar to melt.  In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks.  Add a little of the hot cream and whisk to combine.  Add a little more, then pour the contents of the bowl into the pan and stir until thickened (or 165 F). Off the heat, add the peanut butter, sea salt, honey, and vanilla, stirring to combine.  Taste and add more sea salt or honey to taste.  Chill in your fridge, whisk in the additional cream and milk (tasting to adjust the salt and honey), then stir in your ice cream machine as recommended. 
  2. For the caramel sauce, Heat the sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, until the sugar turns golden.  Stir until all of the sugar is dissolved and just starting to turn a lovely amber color.  Remove from heat and add the butter, and stir to combine.  Careful, it'll foam up. Then add the heavy cream and vanilla extract, stirring to combine.  Pour the caramel into a glass jar and store in the fridge for up to two weeks.  Pour over everything and anything!

Beet Ice Cream with Mascarpone, Orange Zest, and Poppy Seeds
Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream

  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • Peel of 1 orange
  • 3 tbsp. mascarpone cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup puréed roasted beets
  • 2 tbsp. poppy seeds
  1.  In a bowl, stir together 1/4 cup milk and the cornstarch; set slurry aside. In a 4-qt. saucepan, whisk together remaining milk and the cream, sugar, syrup, and salt; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add orange peel. Cook for 4 minutes; stir in slurry. Return to a boil and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 2 minutes. 
  2. Place mascarpone cheese in a bowl and pour in 1/4 cup hot milk mixture; whisk until smooth. Then whisk in remaining milk mixture; stir in beets. Pour mixture into a plastic bag; seal, and submerge in a bowl of ice water until chilled.
  3. Remove orange peel. Pour mixture into an ice cream maker; process according to manufacturer's instructions, adding poppy seeds during the last minute of churning. Transfer ice cream to a storage container and freeze until set.

Happy baking!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

More Than a Burnt Marshmallow!

It's Wednesday and time for the latest edition of, what shall I bake this weekend? So today I present you with many options for what to do to elevate that childhood favorite, the s'more!

S'more Cookie Bars
Baked Perfection


  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (approximately 7 full graham crackers)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 super-sized (5 oz.) dark chocolate bars (e.g. Hershey’s)
  • 1 1/2 cups marshmallow creme/fluff (not melted marshmallows)

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg and vanilla.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix at a low speed until combined. Divide dough in half and press half of dough into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan. Place chocolate bars over dough. Two 5 oz. Hershey’s bars should fit perfectly side by side, but break the chocolate (if necessary) to get it to fit in a single layer no more than 1/4 inch thick. Spread marshmallow fluff evenly over the chocolate layer.
  4. Place remaining dough in a single layer on top of the fluff. This is most easily done by putting the second half of the dough in a gallon size freezer bag. Use your palms to flatten it out, and then use scissors to cut down both long sides of the bag, so it will open up book-style. Open it up carefully, and the dough will stick on one side of the bag. Then place the bag, dough side down, on the other three layers. From there peel the bag up ad spread the dough where it is uneven.
  5. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting into bars
Makes 16 cookie bars.

S'mores Pops
Joanne and Adam Gallagher

  • 1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 20 marshmallows
  • 6 graham crakers, crushed
  • 20 lollipop sticks or skewers
  • 5 to 6 plastic cups (helps when drying)
  1. Punch small holes, just large enough for the lollipop ticks to slide through, into the bottom of the plastic cups. Turn upside down.
  2. Push 1 marshmallow onto each lollipop stick.
  3. Add chocolate chips to a microwave-safe bowl and heat in the microwave for 20 seconds. After 20 seconds, remove the bowl and stir the chocolate chips. Place the bowl back into the microwave for another 20 seconds and stir again. Repeat process until melted.
  4. Working quickly, dip each marshmallow into the chocolate and sprinkle with crushed graham crackers. Slide the smores pops into the upside down plastic cups prepared earlier to allow the chocolate to harden, about 10 minutes.

S'more Brownie Bites
Giada De Laurentiis

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour
  • 3/4 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs or 4 large graham crackers, finely crushed
  • Special equipment: a 24-count mini-muffin pan, 24 mini-muffin cup liners, such as Betty Crocker mini-size baking cups

  1. Cook's Note: Quinoa flour is available at health food stores.
  2. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 24-count mini-muffin pan with paper liners.
  3. Heat the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove the pan from the heat and add 3/4 cup of the mini chocolate chips. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Stir in the sugar, eggs and vanilla. Gradually beat in the flour until the mixture is thick and smooth. Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips.
  4. Using a small cookie scoop, fill each paper liner with about 2 heaping tablespoons of batter. Push 3 mini marshmallows halfway down into the center of the batter. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of the graham cracker crumbs over the marshmallows. Bake until the marshmallows are puffed and light golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes and serve.

Peanut Butter Pound Cake S'mores
Grace Parisi, Food & Wine, December 2008


  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • One 1-pound frozen pound cake, preferably Sara Lee, thawed
  • 1/4 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter (not natural)
  • 1/3 cup marshmallow fluff
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

  1. Put the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the cream until hot to the touch. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let stand until melted. Whisk until smooth.
  2. Preheat a griddle or large skillet. Using a serrated knife, trim off the top and bottom of the pound cake so that the cake is about 1 1/4 inches thick. Carefully split the pound cake in half horizontally. Spread the peanut butter on one half and the marshmallow on the other, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around. Sandwich the two halves together and spread the top and bottom with the butter. Place on the griddle and cook over high heat, turning once, until golden and nearly warmed through, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a work surface and cut the cake into twelve 3/4-inch-wide strips. Serve at once with the chocolate sauce.

Happy baking!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Accessible Quinoa - Don't Forget the Spinach!

It's Tuesday and another sunny one here in the NYC-area. Yesterday I made one of my favorite recipes: quinoa cakes! They're quick (once you've done the easy prep; let refrigerate 4 hours), easy, and everyone loves them. Bonus: they pack a big protein and green veggie punch! I like to make mine with a spinach salad and some kind of added meat protein for my husband, but I eat them with just a salad for a delicious, balanced meal.

Golden Semolina Quinoa Spinach Cakes
Maria Helm Sinskey, Food & Wine

  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 10 ounces baby spinach
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 3/4 cup finely ground semolina
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 3 large egg whites
  1. In a small saucepan, combine the quinoa with 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat until the water has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Lightly fluff the quinoa with a fork and cover it again.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the shallot and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 1 minute. Add the spinach and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the spinach to a strainer and let cool slightly; press out any remaining liquid and finely chop the spinach.
  3. In a large saucepan, combine the milk, 1 1/2 cups of water, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 2 teaspoons of salt and bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually whisk in the semolina until very smooth. Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the semolina is thick enough to hold soft peaks when the spoon is lifted, about 7 minutes. Remove the semolina from the heat and stir in the quinoa and Parmigiano. Season with salt and pepper and let cool for 15 minutes.
  4. Stir the beaten whole egg and spinach into the quinoa mixture and spread in an ungreased 7-by-11-inch pan; it will be about 2 inches thick. Let cool at room temperature, then cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  5. Preheat the oven to 250°. Cut the chilled semolina mixture into 12 squares. Put the panko in a shallow dish and season with 1 teaspoon of salt. In another shallow dish, whisk the egg whites with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of water. Dip the cakes into the whites and turn to coat, letting the excess drip off. Coat the cakes in the panko and shake off excess crumbs. Transfer to a clean baking sheet.
  6. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add half of the cakes and cook over moderately high heat until golden on both sides and on the edges, about 6 minutes; adjust the heat as necessary to prevent the cakes from burning. Drain the cakes on a paper towel–lined plate, then transfer to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Wipe out the skillet and cook the remaining cakes in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Serve hot.
One cake: 167 cal, 9 gm fat, 1.6 gm sat fat, 18 gm carb, 2 gm fiber, 5 gm protein.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Ice Cream Smiles

Happy Monday! During my holiday weekend, I made delicious low fat ice cream. Though it can never replace the taste of mouth-wateringly amazing full fat ice cream, this was close enough! I know I've given some recipes for ice cream before, but here's one for a quick and easy vanilla.

Low Fat Vanilla Ice Cream 

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's recipe


  • 2 cups non fat milk
  • 2 cups fat free half and half
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 T vanilla extract


  1. Fill a large bowl with ice water (i.e. make an ice water bath) and have a strainer ready.
  2. Combine milks in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl that will fit in the ice bowl, whisk the egg yolks with sugar.
  4. Pour about 1/3 of boiling milk mixture into egg mixture, whisking constantly.
  5. Once mixed well, pour mixture back into pot with the rest of the boiling milk. Stir with a wooden spoon until the liquid coats the back of the spoon.
  6. Pour mixture through strainer into clean egg bowl (make sure you get all of the raw yolk out of your bowl if you're reusing it!) sitting in ice bath. Stir in vanilla.
  7. Let cool and put in refrigerator to cool completely. 
  8. Follow your ice cream maker's instructions to turn your base into a delicious delight! When it's about 2/3 finished, sprinkle in chocolate chips. I like to mix milk and dark; chips and chunks.

Friday, July 5, 2013

A Pie in the Hand is Worth a Smile on the Lips

Happy Friday! Yesterday I posted an interesting New York Times article on my Facebook page about the deliciously underrated pie versus the beautifully decorated cake. It got me itching to post some pie here goes! Let's give pies some hootin' and hollerin'.

Hand Pies: Individual pies you can...well...hold in your hand...

Fried Peach Pies with Bourbon and Cinnamon
NY Times, August 1, 2007

For the crust:
  • 2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), chilled and cubed
  • 1 large egg, whisked with enough ice-cold water to make 1/2 cup
For the filling:
  • 1 1/4 pounds ripe peaches
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon instant tapioca
  • 2 teaspoons bourbon (or substitute orange juice)
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • Cinnamon sugar (see note), for sprinkling.

  1. In a food processor, pulse together flour, sugar and salt. Add butter and pulse until mixture forms pea-size crumbs. Pulse in egg mixture a tablespoon at a time, until dough just comes together (you may not need all the egg mixture). Divide dough into 10 equal pieces. Flatten into disks with your palm, wrap in plastic and chill for at least 45 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, make filling: Using a paring knife, peel peaches if desired (if they are ripe, peels slip right off) and pit them; slice 1/4-inch thick. Transfer peaches to a large skillet. Stir in sugar, tapioca, bourbon, lemon juice and cinnamon. Let sit for 10 minutes, then bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook until sugar dissolves, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer mixture to a bowl, preferably metal, and freeze for at least 20 minutes to cool, stirring once or twice.
  3. Fill a medium pot with 4 inches of oil and heat to 375 degrees. On a floured surface, roll out dough into 6-inch rounds. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling in center of each round. Using a pastry brush, lightly moisten edges of each circle with water. Fold dough over filling, making a semicircle, and pinch edges to seal.
  4. Fry pies in batches until dark golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate. Sprinkle immediately with cinnamon sugar.
Yield: 10 individual pies.
Variation: For baked peach turnovers, prepare dough without egg, using all water instead. Shape and fill pies as instructed. Arrange on two greased baking sheets. Prick each pie with a fork; brush tops lightly with milk or cream and dust with cinnamon sugar. Bake in a 375-degree oven until dark golden and bubbling, 30 to 40 minutes.
Note: To make cinnamon sugar, combine 1/4 cup granulated sugar with 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon.

Slump: Biscuity dough dropped onto the berry bottom. Sometimes called a grunt or a cobbler...

Bluberry Slump
Nick Malgieri for Saveur, June/July 2012

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 4 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
  • 1 ¼ cups milk
  • 1 ½ lb. blueberries
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving
  1. Whisk together flour, ¼ cup sugar, baking powder, and ½ tsp. salt in a large bowl; add butter, and using your fingers, rub butter into flour until pea-size crumbles form. Add milk, and stir just until a moist dough forms; cover and refrigerate dough until ready to use.
  2. Heat oven to 400°. Bring remaining sugar and salt along with blueberries and citrus juices to a boil in a 12″ cast-iron or enamelware skillet over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove pan from heat, and using two tablespoons, portion and form chilled dough into 2–3″ oval dumplings, and drop them evenly on top of the blueberry mixture. Sprinkle dough dumplings with sugar, and transfer skillet to oven; bake until biscuits are cooked through and blueberry mixture is reduced, about 25 minutes. Serve hot with vanilla ice cream, if you like.

Crumble: A pastry-like crumb atop a fruit mixture...

Peach and Blueberry Crumbles
Ina Garten

For the fruit:
  • 2 pounds firm, ripe peaches (6 to 8 peaches)
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries (1/2 pint)
For the crumble:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Immerse the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until their skins peel off easily. Place them immediately in cold water. Peel the peaches, slice them into thick wedges, and place them in a large bowl. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, granulated sugar, and flour. Toss well. Gently mix in the blueberries. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes. Spoon the mixture into ramekins or custard cups.
  3. For the topping, combine the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. Rub the mixture with your fingertips until it's in big crumbles, then sprinkle evenly over the fruit. Place the ramekins on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the tops are browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  4. If you want to make these early, store the unbaked crumbles in the refrigerator and bake before dinner.

Pie: The classic style...a fun version...

Key Lime Pie
Adapted by the Times from Nora Ephron's Heartburn 

  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 2 14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed or bottled Key lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest
  • One prepared 9-inch graham cracker crust, refrigerated
  • 2 to 3 cups lightly sweetened whipped cream, for topping

  1. In a mixing bowl, beat yolks until thick, about 3 minutes. Add condensed milk, lime juice and lime zest. Beat again until well blended, about 1 minute.
  2. Pour into pie shell, filling it to the brim and mounding slightly on top. Cover with plastic wrap, stretching wrap tightly across surface. Freeze until firm, at least three hours.
  3. Just before serving, remove from freezer and discard plastic wrap. Allow to rest for 5 minutes, then spread with whipped cream and serve.

Happy baking!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Fourth!

Happy Fourth of July to all of my wonderful, lovely readers! See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Refreshing Drinks for the 4th of July!

Happy Wednesday! It's almost July 4th here in the good ol' US of A, and if you're like many Americans planning to celebrate with friends, you need to plan a drink menu. I've compiled a list of both alcoholic and non alcoholic options for different kinds of crowds. Get your pen and paper we go!

Child-friendly favorite...

Berry Lemonade
Giada De Laurentiis


  • 1 (12-ounce) bag unsweetened frozen mixed berries, thawed
  • 1 (12-ounce) can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
  • 1 cup vanilla simple syrup, recipe follows
  • 3 cups water
  • Ice
Vanilla Simple Syrup:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed, pod reserved


  1. In a blender, combine the berries, lemonade concentrate and syrup. Blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into a large pitcher. Add the water and stir, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Pour the lemonade into ice-filled glasses and serve.
To make Vanilla Simple Syrup:
  1. In a small saucepan, over medium heat combine the sugar, water, vanilla bean seeds, and vanilla pod. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool, about 20 minutes. Strain before using.
Yield: 1 cup

The blended mixture can be strained through a fine mesh sieve to remove the berry seeds, if preferred.

Different from the usual watermelon bowl...

Watermelon-Ginger Aqua Fresca
Molly Stevens, Bon Appetit, August 2007

  • 10 cups 1-inch pieces peeled watermelon (from about 8-pound watermelon), seeded, divided
  • 3 cups cold water, divided
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup (or more) sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh ginger juice* (from one 3-ounce piece of ginger)
  • Ice cubes
  • Lime wedges
*To make ginger juice, peel a 3-ounce piece of ginger and grate it over a plate. Wrap in cheesecloth; twist at both ends to squeeze out the juice. Or put the grated ginger in a finemesh sieve and press to release the juices. In a pinch, bottled ginger juice is available at natural foods stores.

  1. Place 2 1/2 cups watermelon and 3/4 cup cold water in blender. Puree until smooth. Pour agua fresca into large pitcher. Repeat 3 more times with remaining watermelon and cold water. Add lime juice, 1/4 cup sugar, and ginger juice to pitcher and stir to blend. Add more sugar by tablespoonfuls, if desired. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours. DO AHEAD Can be made 8 hours ahead. Keep chilled. Stir before serving.
  2. Fill glasses with ice cubes; pour agua fresca over. Garnish each glass with lime wedge and serve.

Add a splash of rum...

Lemon Balm Honeysuckle
Cabell Tomlinson, Frankies 570 Spuntino


  • 6 tablespoons honey
  • 2 cups lemon vodka or white rum
  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup (loosely packed) fresh lemon balm leaves or mint leaves
  • 8 lemon slices

  1. Stir honey and 6 tablespoons hot water in a large pitcher until honey is dissolved. Stir in vodka and lemon juice. Add 2 cups ice cubes. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.
  2. Squeeze lemon balm several times to lightly bruise leaves; add to pitcher. Fill Old Fashioned glasses with ice cubes. Divide cocktail among glasses. Garnish with lemon slices and serve.

Happy mixing!