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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Chew on This | Meyer Lemon Cream Puff Pastries

It's April 15th today. And it's snowing here in my little corner of the world. Blah. And it's tax day. Blah, blah. And, I found out this morning that I need to spend many, many dollars in repairs on my vehicle. Blah, blah, blah.

What ever should I do?

I shall make dessert. 

Meyer Lemon* Cream Puff Pastries. They are the perfect taste of Spring that I desire. Fresh, light, tart, and delicious. They're bright and chipper - and perfect for Easter brunch. 

And they're perfect for today, April 15th, in all it's glory.


Here's our recipe:

Meyer Lemon* Cream Puff Pastries
(makes 18)
1/2 C granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1-2 T Meyer lemon* zest
Juice of one Meyer lemon* (about 2 heaping tablespoons)
1 1/4 C heavy whipping cream

1 package puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 T granulated sugar
2 pints raspberries

Preheat oven to 400℉. Remove puff pastry from the freezer and allow to thaw at room temperature for 40 minutes. Line two cookie sheets with foil and set aside until ready to use.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the sugar and egg yolks. Beat until the mixture is a lovely light yellow color. Add your softened cream cheese, Meyer lemon zest, and fresh Meyer lemon juice. Mix thoroughly. Set aside.
In another bowl, pour in your cream and beat until soft peaks form. Now, gently fold the whipped cream into the Meyer lemon mixture. When finished, set Meyer lemon cream into the refrigerator until puff pastry is ready.

Remove your puff pastry sheets from the packaging. Lay the sheets flat and cut each sheet into 9 square pieces. Place the puff pastry squares on to the cookie sheets and, using a pastry brush, brush each square with the egg. Lightly sprinkle each square with sugar and place into the oven for 12-15 minutes, or until puffed and a rich golden brown on top.

Remove puffs from the oven and allow to cool completely. With a spoon, press a hole into the middle of each square. Fill each square with a few raspberries. Top with a huge dollop of your chilled Meyer Lemon cream and another raspberry. Plate and enjoy!

*If you can't find Meyer Lemons, no worries. You can use regular lemons in this recipe for a perfectly tart and sweet dessert.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Chew on This | Roasted Broccoli with Lemon Pepper Parmesan Sauce

Have you ever had a day that continually layered on the goodness? Moment after moment getting better and better. Ahhh, so stinkin' wonderful those days are. 

What about a day that piles on the crud? Moment after moment getting crappier and crappier. Man, those days bite.

Well, one day, some years ago, I had one of those memorable crappy days. I was walk-jogging into a hospital where I was to have a work appointment with a Pharmacy Director. The elusive PharmD was known to skip out on appointments, so I wanted to get there early to catch him if he tried to sneak out. It had begun to rain and I didn't have an umbrella with me, thus the walk-jogging. Once inside the hospital vestibule I tried, without much success, to compose myself. Smoothing out my hair, straightening my suit, trying to look professional and presentable.

Fluffed and ready, I started down the long corridor that would take me to the elevators. There were very few people in this part of the hospital, which you will shortly learn was a blessing from above, and I was doing my best to speed walk to get to the PharmD's office. I was a few long strides away from the elevators when I began to lose my balance. My wet heels and the ugly, glassy smooth hospital linoleum decided it would be a hoot to see my arms desperately flailing, my legs wildly dancing an uncoordinated jig, and finally, my entire body flat out on the ground. 

I was kind of stunned that I actually ended up on the floor, so I stayed there for a minute before trying to get up. And let me tell you, there was no graceful way of getting my suited self off the ground. On my hands and knees, pushing myself off the floor I heard material ripping. Yep, the slit at the back of my skirt had just become dangerously provocative and at that point the burning embarrassment of the situation began to rapidly creep up my back to my face. Mortified, I stole a quick glance around and saw that there was just one other person in the immediate area that had witnessed my very awkward situation. And that sweetheart just stood there staring at me. 

Seriously. The guy didn't speak, he didn't laugh, thankfully, and he made no movement to be chivalrous and help me up. I quickly brushed myself off and carefully walked to the stairwell. There was no way I was going to stand around waiting for the elevator with that statue-of-a-man continually staring at me. So, up the stairs I went and made it to my appointment with time to spare. And there I sat. For a very long time. The PharmD never showed for the appointment, no surprise there. And so I walked out of the hospital, into the rain, feeling embittered, wearing a tattered suit, and looking like a fox (not). 

Not my best day. But hey, cruddy days happen. This one wasn't my first and it surely won't be my last. At least now I can giggle about it (maybe you can too). And we can all wish I had some video footage of that spectacular fall.


Here's our recipe:

Need a spring-y side dish? This easy roasted broccoli gets a tangy partner with the Lemon Pepper Sauce. A perfect pairing.

Roasted Broccoli with Lemon Pepper Parmesan Sauce

1 1/2 T butter
1 1/2 T flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1/4 C fresh lemon juice
3/4 C milk
zest of one lemon, divided into two equal shares
1/2 C finely grated Parmesan cheese

8 C fresh broccoli florets
1/4 C olive oil

Preheat oven to 400℉. Line a cookie sheet with foil.

Prepare fresh, bite-sized, broccoli florets by placing them into a large bowl. Coat broccoli with olive oil, salt, and pepper (to your taste). Toss to ensure all the florets have been coated. Place broccoli onto your cookie sheet covered in foil. Place broccoli into the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until broccoli is bright green, with a few bits that are golden, and slightly softened.

In a small sauce pan, on medium heat, melt your butter. Once melted, add in your flour, salt, and pepper and whisk to combine. Allow mixture to cook for 1-2 minutes to ensure the  raw flour taste has been cooked out. Next, while whisking vigorously, slowly add in your lemon juice. The mixture will quickly pull away from the sides of the pan, thicken, and form a paste. While still whisking, add in your milk. The mixture will loosen up considerably and you'll need to continue whisking to break up any lumps. Now add in half of your lemon zest. Continue to whisk. The sauce will slowly start to thicken up. Take the pan off the heat once your sauce reaches a pourable pudding consistency. Add in your Parmesan cheese and whisk until it has melted completely. 

Pour warm sauce over your roasted broccoli, sprinkle with remaining lemon zest, and enjoy immediately!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Chew on This | Cheesy Artichoke Appetizer

My family did a lot of traveling throughout my childhood, and beyond. I was very fortunate. I had the opportunity to see and experience so many things. Long trips, short trips - we did them all and we were never disappointed with the time spent exploring and seeing the world outside of our community.

I've never lost the travel bug, the Wanderlust. In fact, I've done nothing but fan the flames of my desire to traverse the Earth. I think that my wanderlust could possibly be genetic, or maybe just securely implanted. Either way, I have been indoctrinated with the need to travel. I've married someone that is bent the same way. And, I am programming two little souls to hunger for exploration, as well.

We've just recently traveled to our special place in the south. It was warm, relaxing, and presently quenched our sightseeing urge. While we traveled, I remembered a vacationing moment from my childhood when my parents stopped at a roadside fruit stand for some perfect Georgia peaches. A young girl was at the stand, dirty, barefoot, and immensely interested in our family. She spoke in her sweet, thick southern accent and charmed my Mom and Grandma. She actually climbed into the backseat of our woody station wagon and   asked to travel back north with us. My Mom declared that the darling southern belle would come home with us. And I had a fit.

I was appalled. Who did this kid think she was? All cute and dirty and mesmerising my family with her southern ways. She already had a family selling delicious peaches at the fruit stand. What more did she want? I wasn't having it, so I growled some sort of objection and pouted with a majorly protruding lower lip. And I'm sure, for just a moment, my Mom thought that swapping out a snotty daughter for a southern belle might have been a good idea. But it didn't happen and we drove away from that fruit stand with only perfect peaches. 

I wonder about that child, now an adult, and hope she is still as happy and sweet as she was back then. I hope she has forgiven my childhood self for my bratty ways. And, I hope she has had the chance to travel and see the world. Because she had it - The Wanderlust.


Here's our recipe:

A recipe from Mimi to die for! Artichokes and cheese…need I say more? Give it a try, ou'll love it!

Cheesy Artichoke Appetizer

2 (6 ounces) jars marinated artichoke hearts
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 medium onion, small dice (about a half cup)
1 T butter
1/2 t salt
2 C sharp cheddar, grated
2 t hot sauce
1 C bread crumbs, divided
1/2 t Italian seasoning
1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350℉. Generously butter a 8x8" pan.

Drain artichokes and reserve 2T of the marinade. In a small sauce pan, sauté onions, garlic, salt, butter, and reserved marinade, until tender. Pour in artichokes and break up with a fork. Sauté artichokes, and pan ingredients, an additional three minutes and then pour into a medium bowl. Add in cheddar cheese, hot sauce, 1/2 of the bread crumbs, and Italian seasoning. Stir to blend and pour ingredients into the buttered, 8x8" pan.

Bake artichoke mixture for 30 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and top appetizer with the remaining bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Return the pan to the oven and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and cut into squares. Allow the appetizer to cool for 10 minutes and serve. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Chew on This | Chocolate Mint Truffles

The air was incredibly crisp as I walked the kids down the driveway to catch the bus this morning. Yet, the sun was shining and one sweet little bird chirped merrily in a tree. Even though it's only supposed to reach into the mid 30s, temperature wise, the day still conjures a Spring-like impression. And Nature must not give a fuss about the cold temperatures (or the fact that we are expecting more snow today - blah) because buds are forming on the trees and my tulips have pushed up two inches out of the ground.

So joyful, I am, that Spring is here - I think we must welcome her with chocolate. Chocolate Mint Truffles. Cool and fresh. Chocolate-y and delicious. All the things Spring should be.


Here's our recipe:

Chocolate Mint Truffles

12 ounces chocolate mint cookies, crushed (like Thin Mints, Keebler Grasshopper Cookies)
8 ounces cream cheese, softened

8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped in small pieces
1/2 C heavy cream
3 T Creme de Menthe

In a large bowl, thoroughly combine your crushed chocolate mint cookies and cream cheese. Wet your hands and use them to thoroughly mix your ingredients. Next, using a small melon baller or a spoon, scoop up some batter and roll the batter in your hands to create a small, round truffle. Place truffle onto a cookie sheet and continue making truffles until all of your batter is used. Place cookie sheet into the refrigerator or freezer to set truffles while you make the chocolate mint ganache to cover the truffles.

To make the ganache, combine your heavy cream and Creme de Menthe in a small sauce pan. Place pan onto stove top and warm to just under the boiling point. Do not boil! Place chocolate pieces into a large bowl and pour the cream mixture over the choclate. Let stand for a few minutes before stirring. Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. 

Next, remove truffles fromthe refrigerator (or freezer) and drop several truffles into the chocolate and turn to coat thoroughly. Remove the truffles with a fork, allowing the excess chocolate to drip off, before place truffles back onto the cookie sheet. When all of your truffles are coated, return the cookie sheet to the refrigerator (or freezer) to set the chocolate, about 15-30 minutes. Before serving, dust with sugar if desired. Enjoy!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Chew on This | Blueberry Lemon Curd Hand Pie

Today is Pi Day! Which is also Pie Day!

March 14th. Which is 3/14. Which is also 3.1415926535………………………………..

Which is pi. Which is also π.

Math nerds unite! Pie nerds unite! Everyone unite! And eat pie and discuss pi. 

That doesn't sound too irrational, does it??

I know the above hand pie looks….not so pretty. However, looks aren't everything when it comes to pie. Taste trumps looks, and this baby tastes delicious. Prepared (organic) pie crust, a large spoonful of lemon curd, and a small handful of organic blueberries - that's all I used to create a quick and easy (as pie) treat for Pi Day.

Happy Pi Day!

(And hey, stay tuned for some interesting 'Pi' news in the very near future!!)


Here's our recipe/technique:

Blueberry Lemon Curd Hand Pie
(makes four hand pies)

2 recipes prepared pie crust (homemade or store bought)
lemon curd - about 1 1/2 T per hand pie
1 pint blueberries - 1 small handful per pie

egg wash

Preheat your oven to 350℉. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray.

Roll out your pie crust on a lightly floured surface. Cut out eight 4" rounds. Spread 1 1/2 T of lemon curd into the middle of one crust round. Top with a small handful of blueberries. Top with second crust and crimp edges to seal. Gently cut a slit (or a shape) in the top crust to release the steam as the pie cooks. Repeat.

Crack an egg into a small bowl and whisk vigorously. With a pastry brush, brush the top of each hand pie before placing them into the oven.

Place pies onto the preheated oven and allow to bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow the pies to cool 10-15 minutes before serving. Enjoy! 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Chew on This | Cranberry Apricot Oatmeal Bars

Hi there! 

Just in to deliver an oatmeal-y, granola-y, nutty, fruity type bar recipe to you today. Mimi made them and they were a hit.

They're great to put in the lunch box, for an after school snack, a mid-morning snack, a midnight snack….wherever you deem fit.

I keep mine in the refrigerator but you can store them in an airtight container, unrefrigerated, for up to a week.

Snack on!


Here's our recipe:

Cranberry Apricot Oatmeal Bars

3 C oats (Mimi used old fashioned oats)
1/2 C dried cranberries
1/2 C dried apricots, diced
1/4 C sunflower seeds
1/2 C walnuts, chopped
2/3 C brown sugar
1/2 C melted butter
1 t cinnamon
1 C boiling water

Preheat oven to 400℉. generously spray a 9x13" baking dish with non-stick baking spray.

In a large bowl, combine all of your ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Press mixture into your prepared baking dish. Precut your your pressed mixture into bars or squares (makes cutting much easier after baking). Bake bars for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and draw a sharp knife through your previously cut lines. Let cool and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Chew on This | Chicken Tex-Mex Bake

Hey there! It's March and the snow hasn't melted away. Surprise, surprise. 

No matter. We're about to heat things up a bit.

Mimi whipped up this Tex-Mex delight that will spice up your dinner tonight. And she's making it so easy for you. Mix, mix, pour. Mix, mix, dollop. Bake. Done. You'll be digesting before the sun goes down.


Here's our recipe:

Chicken Tex-Mex Bake
2 C cooked chicken breast, cubed or shredded
2 C corn, fresh or canned (if using canned, drain)
1 (15 ounce) can black bean, drained
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 - 1 1/2 t chili powder
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 C chopped, sautéed onions
1/4 C diced green and red peppers
optional: 1 can green chilies, drained and a dash (or more) hot sauce

1 1/2 C white or yellow corn meal
1/2 C flour
1 T baking powder
1/4 t salt
2 eggs
1 C milk
2 T oil (Mimi used canola oil)
1 C shredded pepper jack or cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 425℉. Coat a shallow baking dish with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix together all of your filling ingredients. Stir to combine thoroughly and then pour into your baking dish. 

For the topping, stir together your corn meal, flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl. Add your eggs, milk, and oil. Fold together to combine. Finally, mix in your shredded cheese. Drop the batter by spoonfuls onto the filling and around the edges of the baking dish. Place into the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or just until lightly brown on top.

Serve you Tex-Mex bake with sour cream and salsa. Enjoy!!