Monday, June 10, 2019

Luscious Lemon Bars



Luscious Lemon Bars

adapted from Once Upon a Chef

The Crust

94 g. unbleached flour (3/4 c.)
31 g. arrowroot starch (or cornstarch) (1/4 c.)
1/2 t. salt
58 g. powdered sugar (1/2 c.)
1 stick unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2" pieces

Line a 9 inch square baking pan with aluminum foil.  Push the foil into all of the corners and up the sides of the pan, using two pieces if necessary to ensure that the foil overlaps all of the edges. (the overhang will make removing the cooked bars from the pan so easy).   Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray,  or grease it with butter.

Put the flour, arrowroot starch or cornstarch, powdered sugar and salt into the bowl of a food processor.  Add the steel blade attachment and pulse for a few seconds.. Add the chilled butter cubes and pulse to blend until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds.  Sprinkle the mixture into the prepared pan and press firmly with your fingers into an even layer, building up a thin edge around the sides to keep the filling from oozing under the crust.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Be sure the oven rack is in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350.  Bake the crust until light golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.

Lemon Topping

3 large eggs
300 g. raw cane sugar (1 1/2 c.)
2 T. lemon zest
5 T. fresh squeezed lemon juice (from 2-3 lemons)
 25 g. unbleached flour (3 T.)

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, lemon juice zest and flour together.  When the crust is baked, give the lemon mixture a final whisk and gently pour over the top of the crust.  Return the pan to the oven immediately and bake another 20-25 minutes or until the topping is set and firm.  Let cool on a rack to room temperature, about 45-60 minutes, and then cover and chill in the refrigerator until cold.  The bars will cut more easily when cold.

To serve, using the foil overhang, lift the baked lemon bard out of the pan and onto a cutting board.  Loosen the foil from the edges of the crust and remove.  Using a sharp knife (or a pizza cutter), trim the edges off (if desired), then cut into 2" squares.  Use a fine sieve to dust the squares with powdered sugar.  Store in the refrigerator and serve chilled.

These are not super sweet - they have a nice tartness to them.  I prefer a slighly tart lemon bar - SO GOOD!!









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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Chocolate Tahini Banana Bread

Once I started making hummus (oops - I still need to post that recipe!) I have become slightly obsessed with finding new ways to use tahini.  It has the most delicious taste.  But I always thought of tahini as something you would use in a savory dish, until I made this bread.  OMG!  This is another MUST bake recipe,  The bread is so moist and the chocolate tahini adds a delicate cocoa flavor without the overwhelming sweetness normally associated with a chocolate spread.  It's perfection - really.

And it is super easy to make so there really is nothing from stopping you from trying this delicious breakfast, mid afternoon, any time of day treat!!!  (try warming a slice in the microwave for 20 seconds with a little butter on top... I am getting hungry again!

Chocolate Tahini Banana Bread

from the Soom website with minor changes

3 very ripe bananas
1/4 c. applesauce
1/4 c. good quality tahini (I use Soom)
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 t. vanilla bean paste
2 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. chocolate tahini

Preheat the oven to 350. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper

In a large bowl, mash the ripe bananas  with the applesauce..  Add the tahini, eggs and vanilla and stir well to combine..  Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar.  Fold these ingredients into the banana mixture.

Pour half the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
Melt the chocolate tahini in the microwave for 20-30 seconds.  Drizzle half of the chocolate tahini over the batter, swirling the batter with a knife to form ribbons.
Pour the remaining batter on top and repeat with the chocolate tahini.


Bake for 60 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes clean.



Allow to cool for 15 minutes before removing from the pan.  Finish cooling on a wire rack.



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Friday, May 17, 2019

Baby Rhino Shower Card

I cannot believe I overlooked posting this whimsical card.  It was definitely a challenge to come up with a baby shower card that highlighted a "rhino" theme.  I literally found one image that looked "cute" and inspired me to create this card which was surprisingly fun to make.  I never thought the words "cute" and "rhino" would go together, but this project changed my mind.

My neighbor's daughter is expecting her first child any day now and there was a shower for her last month.  They know they are having a boy and the nursery is being decorated in a rhino theme so that was my challenge.  Certainly there are a gazillion files for baby designs out there, but I wanted the card to fit into the theme, so after much searching, Miss Kate's Cuttables had the absolutely cutest baby rhino on the internet!!

Since I decided to have this little rhino peeking in the window, I had to make him a lot smaller and had no issues getting the tiniest detail with the Silver Bullet Platinum.


Look at those itty bitty toenails!!


And here it is assembled.

The window was cut from some my patterned paper stash and lined with acetate on the inside so
it looked like there was glass.  The writing was done with the pen tool in the Silver Bullet.  She sent me a picture showing it proudly sitting on top of the baby's dresser - just waiting for his arrival!





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Saturday, May 11, 2019

Happy Mother's Day

It wasn't until I became a mother that I fully realized what an incredibly taxing and rewarding job it was - and that every day should really be Mother's Day - right?!?  There is no job that requires you to be on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week ... no breaks!!!  Crazy!  But..... the pay is not measured in dollars and cents but in  the countless rewards of enjoying each milestone in your child's life and feeling your heart swell when they look at you with love and delight.  The only thing better than being a Mom, is being a Grandma! :)

But today, the focus is on my Daughter in Love who is expecting their second child in about 6 more weeks..... that is coming up so fast!  I had so much fun making this card for her and was my first time doing anything like this.  My fingers may have been glued together when all was done, but the end result was worth it.

I normally do not make 3D paper creations.  I am in awe of the multi-dimensional structures that so many create and love the results.  I was just never sure I had the patience for it.  But this project seemed like a good place to start to get over my reluctance to try something new - and I am so glad I did!

I learned a lot with this first project, but we all have to start somewhere and I am eager to try another project like this soon.


This daisy zig zag card is from 3D Cuts. The centers of the daisies are cut out of a paper velvet to add some interesting texture.  All of the card stock is from Paper Temptress.
It would be fun to use this basic file and create some other flower "tops."
I will undoubtedly leave that to those who have the talent to design
and I will happily benefit from their talents and make more cards!



This is how the card looks folded and ready to be inserted
into an envelope.  It folds pretty flat and is so neat.


I enlarged the card tag that was part of the file so I had room
for a larger greeting.  I flipped up some of the petals to give the daisy a more
dimensional look.  And the white background paper is covered in
translucent yellow Nuvo Drops. They look really shiny in person.




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Thursday, May 9, 2019

Egg Roll in a Bowl


The concept initially threw me, but this was actually delicious and very Keto friendly.  I used varying ingredients from three different recipes, substituting and adding according to what I had on hand.  Sometimes you just do NOT want to make one.more.trip. to the store!  Such was the case with this dinner, and since I didn't know how it would have tasted if I had used just one recipe in total, I can say wholeheartedly that this morphed creation was actually really good!

EGG ROLL IN A BOWL

adapted from Pinch of Yum, The Girl Who Ate Everything, and Simply Scratch

1 T. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 t. fresh grated ginger
1 t. Chinese five spice
1 lb. ground pork
1 pkg. coleslaw mix
2 carrots, shredded
1/4 c. liquid aminos or soy sauce
1 T. toasted sesame oil
1 T. Shaoxing rice wine
2 t. toasted sesame seeds
3 green onions, sliced
Cauliflower rice or jas,ome rice

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the ginger and garlic and saute for 1-2  minutes.  Add the ground pork, five spice and soy sauce or liquid aminos.  Break apart until the meat is browned and cooked through.

Add the coleslaw mix and carrots.  Then add the rice wine, toasted sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds.  Toss frequently until the cole slaw starts to wilt.

Serve over cauliflower rice* or jasmine rice and garnish with the green onions and additional sesame seeds.

* I like to roast the cauliflower rice to give it a richer flavor. Pin It Now!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Salted Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies

I know.... I know....... tahini belongs in hummus and only in hummus - right??  Well that is what I thought up until recently.  I have been seeing recipes scattered over the internet and favorite food blogs utilizing tahini in a variety of ways and I just didn't have the courage to try any of them.  But this one just spoke out to me - I mean tahini is just sesame seed paste so  how could a slightly nutty  ingredient be bad in a chocolate chip cookie??  So I gave it a try and let me tell you - there is no turning back now!  I have 2 jars of tahini on regular delivery from Amazon to make my favorite hummus from Molly Yeh (recipe share soon) and now these cookies and anything else I can find. These are my new favorite cookie and of my neighbors who have tried them have raved about them - there has not been one naysayer in the group.  These are a MUST bake as soon as you are feeling like venturing out of your comfort zone. They are a little more work - chopping the dark chocolate and chilling the dough - but trust me.  These cookies are worth every bit of effort.

And I have every intention of trying new recipes with tahini because it is just delicious to save for only hummus and cookies - so stay tuned!!



SALTED TAHINI DARK CHOCOLATE CHIP/CHUNK COOKIES

adapted from Simply Scratch

4 c. all purpose flour, unbleached
2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 c. unsalted butter, softened
2/3 c. tahini (I like Soom Premium Tahini)
1 c. raw cane sugar
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1/2 c. dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 t. Mexican vanilla (preferred, but regular is fine)
10 oz. dark chocolate bar, cut into chunks (I used Trader Joe's 72%)
flaked sea salt (Maldon is excellent)

Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a small mixing bowl and whisk together. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the softened butter, tahini and sugars on low until well combined.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.  Add one egg at a time and beat on low just until well mixed.  The vanilla can be added in with the last egg.

Gradually add the flour mixture in and beat on low just until combined. Do a little at a time or it will fly everywhere!
Mix in the chopped dark chocolate.

Use a one tablespoon scoop and make cookie dough balls.  Place on a rimmed baking sheet (lined with parchment is optional but makes cleaning easier)  and refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375.  Prepare another baking sheet with parchment and place 12 chilled cookie dough balls on the sheet.  With the bottom of a small glass, slightly flatten the cookies.  Return the unused dough balls to the refrigerator in between batches.

Bake for 9-10 minutes.  The cookie edges should be barely browned.  Remove from the oven and lightly sprinkle with sea salt flakes and allow to cool on the baking sheet before placing on a wire rack to finish cooling.  Repeat with the remaining dough.  This makes about 5 dozen medium sized cookies.



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Friday, April 26, 2019

Buttermilk Blueberry Breakfast Cake

This breakfast cake is easy to make and a delicious treat in the morning. And it is a great way to use up a lot of blueberries at one time!  I somehow either have too many blueberries or not enough, so you may need to plan ahead and be sure you have enough for this recipe.  You could use less, but the 2 cups of blueberries ensure that you will bite into that tasty fruit with every bite.

Buttermilk Blueberry Breakfast Cake

adapted from Alexandra Cooks

1/2 c  unsalted butter (1 stick)
zest of one lemon
1 egg
1 c. sugar
2 t. vanilla
1 3/4 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1/4 c. buttermilk
2 c. blueberries
1/4 c. flour (additional)

Preheat oven to 350.  Cream the butter with the lemon zest and sugar using a mixer.  Beat until light and fluffy.

Add the egg and vanilla and mix until well combined. Toss the blueberries with the 1/4 c. flour and set aside.  Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Add half the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir with spatula or wooden spoon until incorporated.  Add the buttermilk and mix well. Add the remaining  flour mixture and stir until the flour is absorbed. batter will be thick.  Fold in the blueberries, leaving any excess flour in the bowl.

Grease an 8 inch square pan well.  Spread the batter into the pan. Sprinkle the batter with 1-2 T. coarse sparkling sugar, if desired.  Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes clean.  Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.





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Thursday, April 25, 2019

It was a FUN Easter!

I hope everyone had a happy and blessed Easter.  It was a glorious day here in southern CA.  I was lucky enough to spend the day with three important males in my life (my two sons and grandson!) and my DIL and her mother.  It was a lovely day and we all had brunch together at my grandson's home! :)  He clearly rules the roost these days as most four year olds do!

We all brought something for brunch (muffin recipes soon) and just had a nice relaxing time being together. I love it when everyone can just enjoy being together - life is just too precious to waste a moment, right?

As Carter gets older, it is more fun each year to do things for him because he understands more and takes delight in every little thing.  I loved doing this card because it was just fun and whimsical..  When he opened it, he turned the card upside down to make the bunny right side up - I don't think he liked that the bunny wasn't upright!!  His Mom kept showing him that the bunny was peeking out to say hi, but he wasn't quite sure of it all!! 


The bunny fur is actually Cosmic Shimmer Glitter Jewels - little flakes of glitter that made
it look like sparkly fur!  The eyes and flower centers are Nuvo Drops 
and it was just a really fun card to create.


This is the inside.  I usually don't decorate the inside of the card  but it was so easy
to put together that I couldn't resist.  I added a yellow card stock circle behind the bunny so 
I could write on the inside and have it not show through.  Forgot to take a picture of that!

Carter was much more interested in pulling out the little eggs full of candy, the jelly belly bubbles, the goldfish crackers and the peanut butter bunny.  I have a feeling that his Mom and Dad may be fighting over that one! :)  And the book was the cutest - it was about an elephant who wanted to be like a bunny and deliver the Easter eggs - so funny and just plain adorable.  I heard they read it to him that night and he loved it.


That makes a Grammy very happy!


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Saturday, April 13, 2019

Sympathy Card - Graciellie Design


I wanted to make a simple and elegant sympathy card for a dear lady who recently lost her husband.  she also lost two of her grown children the end of last year and I honestly don't know how people without faith get through trying times like these.  She is an amazing woman.

I love this floral image from Graciellie Design (the You Matter collection). It is simple yet elegant and when foiled (I used DecoFoil) it just radiates beauty.  The sentiment is also from Graciellie - the Healing Prayers collection.  




It is much prettier in person. 
It is difficult to capture the shine 
    and coverage of the foil.  


I wanted to keep it uncluttered so just used Neenah Classic Crest card stock and some gold card stock from my stash of scraps!  The card is accented with sequins from 28 Lilac Lane and Nuvo Golden Ovals which are new and add a special shimmer to the card.












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Monday, April 8, 2019

Butterfly Thank You

This is a very simple card but it has a wonderful story to go with it  that will explain the theme.



I was invited to have lunch with some of my friends at our local community college. I used to serve on the Foundation Board there and we were catching up on all sorts of things. It was a lovely spring day, but was most amazing was the influx of butterflies all over the campus.  It was incredible.  When I drove into the parking lot I first saw them darting in and out of the cars - or so it seemed. They were nowhere one minute and everywhere the  next.  You may have heard about the butterfly migration that was hitting southern California, and in all my years living here, I had never ever heard of butterfly migration, let alone see it.  I was a bit of a skeptic until that day.  So I walked up to the admin doors and stopped at least a dozen times just marveling at all of the butterflies playing a sort of game of hide and seek.  I was enthralled.

So onto the lunch in an office that had windows all alone. There were four of us enjoying great company and great food but I cannot tell you how many times each of us stopped mid-sentence to watch a group of butterflies darting in and out of the bushes.  Now when I refer to a group of butterflies, I mean HUNDREDS of them at any given moment.  We were all mesmerized. I learned later that they are California Painted Lady butterflies.  They were small, but no less magnificent in their splendor and sheer numbers........  I have lived in southern California most of my life and I don't remember ever seeing anything like it.  It was just amazing.......

So to thank these lovely ladies for a wonderful lunch and great conversation, the thank you card just HAD to include butterflies -right?


 I continue to try to photography foiling with success, but I am not there yet!
The cardstock is actually silver foiled butterflies, but they are reflecting the light
and shimmering in a wide range of colors. The greeting was foiled on the 
Gemini Foil Press and the butterflies from Graciellie Design (Moments of Bliss) 
were printed, cut and foiled with DecoFoil in turquoise.  They are so much
prettier in person.

I love the simplicity of this card.  I am definitely in a foiling rut and don't plan on stopping anytime soon!





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