Sunday, July 31, 2011

Lemon Creme Bars

Lemon. Again. Shocker!

I'll keep it short and sweet. I love to bake from scratch, to combine each and every ingredient, building on each layer, creating something delicious with a little science, and let's face it, a little luck. But who am I to turn my nose up to Betty Crocker? I'll be the first to admit, I am not opposed to an occasional shortcut, especially when the end result tastes this good.

Betty Crocker's Lemon Creme Bars 
1/2 cup cold butter
1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® oatmeal cookie mix
1 egg
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
2 tsp grated lemon peel
1/4 cup lemon juice

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom of 8-inch square pan with cooking spray.

In large bowl, cut butter into cookie mix, using fork or pastry blender. Stir in egg until mixture is crumbly. Press half of cookie mixture into bottom of pan; bake 15 minutes.

In small bowl, stir condensed milk, lemon peel and lemon juice until thick. Spread over baked crust. Crumble remaining cookie mixture over top. 

Bake about 25 minutes longer or until light golden brown. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until set. For bars, cut into 5 rows by 5 rows. Store covered in refrigerator.


Monday, July 18, 2011

The Lemon-Raspberry Muffin Project

And the lemon obsession continues...with a raspberry twist this time. 

In a recent issue of Cooking Light Magazine, I stumbled upon a Tuscan Lemon Muffin recipe using ricotta cheese and olive oil, yum! Without hesitation, I dog eared the page and put it on the must try list. What's better than a fresh lemon muffin? A fresh lemon muffin with raspberries, of course! 

Add raspberries to the Tuscan Lemon recipe, or adapt the recipe to a basic sour cream variation? Which would be a better pairing? Will it even matter? What do I know? Try both with different ingredient combinations. (Real story here is, with no ricotta on hand, the sour cream variation would be an immediate cure to the craving)

And so the Muffin Project begins... 

Day 1: Sour Cream Adaptation

Consensus...very good! My husband loved them, but I wasn't sold. However, being that he is a muffin man and I'm more of a cupcake gal, he may be the better judge.

Day 2: Tuscan Lemon Recipe

Consensus...great! I was sold! (and so was the muffin man)

Two batches may not quite constitute a "project", but there was no need to go any further. 

Day 3 & 4: Continue Eating All of Those Muffins

Cooking Light's Tuscan Lemon Muffins with some fresh raspberries thrown in to the mix (literally) were exactly what I hoped they would be, delicious! (Guess that's why they publish a cooking magazine and I don't)

Cooking Light's Tuscan Lemon Muffins
*my sour cream adaptation in red
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder 
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup part-skim ricotta  OR  3/4 sour cream 
1/2 cup water OR 1/2 milk
1/4 olive oil OR 1/4 vegetable oil
1 tbsp grated lemon rind
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
2 tbsp turbinado sugar
fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine flour and next 3 ingredients (through salt): make well in center.

In separate bowl, combine ricotta and next 5 ingredients (through egg). Add ricotta mixture to flour mixture. Stir just until moist.

Place 12 liners in a muffin tin; coat with cooking spray. Divide batter among muffin cups. (batch in above picture came out on the skimpy side, 2nd batch I filled each cup nearly full and they came out perfect) 

Dust raspberries with a bit of sugar and either gently mix them into batter or place a few into each batter filled cup. Sprinkle turbinado sugar over batter. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 16 minutes, or until pick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Kailey, her Dream Cake, and an Icing Smile

Kailey and Me
Meet Kailey. In 2007, she was diagnosed with Aplastic Anemia. After 2 unsuccessful treatments, Kailey received a cord blood transplant, and just this past weekend she reached a huge milestone. Kailey celebrated her one year anniversary of the transplant, and has had all restrictions lifted. (Except, according to Kailey's mom, for tattoos. She'll need a few vaccines first.) Yay Kailey, life is good!

It was a call to action by Icing Smiles, a non-profit organization that provides custom celebration cakes to  families impacted by critical illness of a child, which allowed me the opportunity to meet Kailey and her family while providing a dream cake for her anniversary celebration.

"After every storm comes a rainbow." Literally!

Just as I was preparing for the cake delivery, a storm passed through, bringing thunder and heavy downpours. The worst part was that the party was being held outdoors. Kailey had requested flowers, butterflies, peace signs and a rainbow for her dream cake. And thanks to my dad (and a giant golf umbrella), that's exactly what she got. Cake arrived safe and sound, skies cleared, and they partied well in to the night. Thank you Icing Smiles! Together, we provided yet another icing smile.

The making of Kailey's dream cake...


Icing Smiles on Facebook

Icing Smiles - Call to Action

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Bake A Difference!

The time has come..."dream" cake in progress!

Read about my Call To Action and learn more about Icing Smiles Inc, a non profit organization that provides custom celebration cakes and other treats to families impacted by critical illness of a child. Or, check out how you can help.

Check back later this week for the "dream" cake post, and share in the opportunity of providing an icing smile.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Our FAVORITE Blueberry Pie

Before pie, I'd like to sing the praises of all the working mothers/fathers out there. As well as the praises of all the working bloggers! Or how about the working bloggers with kids?! Whew! Seriously, how do you get it all done? How many hours are in your day? It's gotta be more than 24, 'cause if not, that just time management skills suck! 

I'd love to find time to bake more, experiment more, post more, and explore more. The blogging world has so much to offer, I've already connected with so many talented and creative people. A special thanks to each and every one of you for your individual inspiration.

As for those time management skills...I'm working on it!

Now, lets talk pie!

My five year old was responsible for the planning of our Father's Day agenda...make breakfast, a visit to the fish hatchery, a trip to Maggie Moo's for ice cream, finishing up with a run through the fountains. Sounded good to me! They'd all be tired, and we could just pick up a little something for dinner on the way home.

Not quite!

While rattling off the agenda to daddy over breakfast, she (unbeknownst to me) added steaks on the grill and his favorite blueberry pie for dinner. Whoa!! My day just got busier! 

Another "kitchen drawer" recipe that I've used for years!

Blueberry Crumb Pie
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust
3/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice
5 cups fresh blueberries
Crumb topping:
2/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
6 tbsp butter (cubed)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.Line 9 inch pie plate with pie crust, press into bottom and sides.
In large bowl, mix white sugar, flour, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Gently stir in blueberries to coat. Pour blueberry mixture into pie crust.

In medium bowl, stir together brown sugar, oats, flour, and cinnamon. Mix in butter using a fork (or your hands) until crumbly. Spread crumb topping over blueberry mixture.
Bake for approximately 40 minutes, or until deep golden brown on top. (I sometimes tent the pie with tin foil for the last few minutes of baking to avoid over-browning) Cool on wire rack.

*Recipe originally found on