26 May 2010

Food Network Lemon Squares

Sometimes, even though it is 90 degrees outside and 80 inside, a girl has to turn on her oven. When I saw the recipe for Lemon Squares (they call them Lemon Bars) in Food Network's March issue I knew I was going to have to make them.

I've been making the same lemon squares recipe for years and years, but I'm always up for trying something new! Ultimately, my old recipe is still my favorite. These squares came out with more of a custardy texture and I like my lemon squares a bit lighter. But, if you were to walk into a bakery and buy a lemon square you would get something more like this new recipe. These are definitely more gourmet and less bake sale. :)

You will need:

For the crust:
1 1/2 sticks cold, diced butter (Smart Balance)
2 cups flour (calls for all-purpose, but I used white whole wheat)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar (you'll need more for dusting later)
1/4 tsp salt
For the filling:
4 large eggs
2 egg yolks
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp lemon zest
1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 8 lemons)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 9x13 pan with foil. Grease with vegetable oil, butter, or cooking spray. Food Network suggests veg oil, but I used cooking spray.

Pulse the butter, flour, sugars, and salt in a food processor or use to knives to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until mixture comes together.

Press mixture into the bottom of your greased, foil-lined pan.

Bake for 25 minutes or until the crust is golden.

Meanwhile, the filling! Whisk together the whole eggs and yolks, sugar, and flour in a large bowl.

Then add the lemon juice and zest and whisk until frothy, about one minute.

When the crust is done, remove from oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees. Pour the filling onto the hot crust and return to oven.

Bake for 30-35 minutes and the filling is set.

Let the bars cool in the pan on a wire rack and then refrigerate them until they are firm. When they are firm, lift them out of the pan using the foil. Dust with powdered sugar.

Then cut into squares.

Now feast!!

You are going to want at least two more. :) These won't last long!! Thick, rich, with an amazing blend of sweet and lemon. YUM!


Food Network Lemon Squares

See Food Network Lemon Squares on Key Ingredient.

21 May 2010

Our Garden

It's been one of those weeks. We had guests over the weekend, two birthdays, and then Tink was sick Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Now the Goose is sick. I haven't gotten anything done and am seriously happy that today is Friday! This week I made my slow cooker chocolate cake and then gave in and turned on the oven to make my chocolate chip cookies because some weeks call for heavy consumption of chocolate. So, because I didn't make anything new this week and basically just subsisted on cake and cookies, I thought I would share some pictures of our organic garden.

We have a raised bed garden and we planted yellow onions, strawberries, and sweet corn. Only one of 8 strawberry plants is growing (sad), but the onions and corn are growing like gangbusters!

Look at that silk!!

I just love how fast corn grows.

We also have tomatoes. Once they reach full-size some of them will be sacrificed before they are ripe because a Southern girl has got to have her fried green tomatoes!

And a black raspberry bush. Very excited about that!!

We have a blueberry bush with one remaining blueberry. Just one...

the rest were eaten by this beast.

And this one, too!

But not this one. He is a walking heart. Sweetest baby in the world!!

Our orange tree is heavy with baby oranges. They won't ripen until January or February. This year we had soooo many oranges we didn't know what to do with them all. We decided we would prune the tree so we would have less oranges next year.

But how to you choose which pretty baby orange to kill? I can't do it. We'll be swimming in oranges again come January. :)

We have a tiny lemon tree. It was my Valentine's Day present from Bubba!

Here's another picture of our small dinosaur who thinks she is a chicken. Originally she was named Eragon, which then became Eragonsian, then Gonsie, then Donsie, and now she's just Don.

She can pretend she is a chicken if she wants...as long as she keeps leaving us a present every day.

The other one has embraced her dinosaur side and has stopped laying eggs. Maybe she's just lazy. When you look into her eyes you can see there are no lights on in there. :) :)

And last, but not least, our banana tree. We've had it for three years now and are hoping this is our year for bananas.

So that's it! Our garden. I dream about making lemon meringue pies, blueberry pie, black raspberry jam, banana pudding, orange juice, and strawberry shortcake. And then I ask Bubba, for the fifteenth time, to put some chicken wire around the blueberry bush. Dang dinosaurs!

11 May 2010

Slow Cooker Chocolate Cake

I have to apologize right off the bat for this recipe. You definitely should not make it...because it will ruin chocolate cake for you forever! IT'S THAT GOOD. Beyond good, insanely awesome, ridiculously delicious. Chocolate cake made any other way will seem plain, unexciting, tasteless, and cold. This recipe is very easy to make and the result is out of this world. You don't even have to turn on your oven--a big bonus for those of us who have had to turn on our air conditioning already this year. And you eat it while it's still hot so it's also perfect for people, like my Montana family, who need something to warm them up since their Spring weather has not started yet.

You will need:

slow cooker
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
6T butter
2 oz (1/4c) semi-sweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup white sugar
3T Dutch-processed cocoa
1T vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup milk
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
1 1/2 cups hot water
2 paper towels

A word on the cocoa--in this recipe you really need to use the Dutch-processed. In my grocery store it's sold right alongside the unsweetened cocoa. Hershey's Special Dark is what I use and it's perfect. Dutch-processed cocoa has been treated to neutralize the acids in cocoa and is used in baked goods that call for baking powder, like this one. If you use regular unsweetened cocoa you will end up with a slightly bitter tasting cake. It's the same price as regular cocoa.

Mix together the flour and baking powder and set aside. In a medium-sized pot melt the butter and then add the chocolate chips. Stir until melted and combined and then remove from heat. (I melt the butter first because adding cold butter to chocolate can cause it to seize. That's happened to me many, many times.)

Whisk in the 2/3 cup sugar and 3T Dutch cocoa.

Now whisk in the vanilla, salt, milk, and egg yolk. Combine thoroughly.

Whisk in the flour/baking powder mix.

Pour the batter into a greased slow cooker. I used 2T of butter and rubbed it on the bottom and halfway up the sides of my Crock Pot. You can use pan spray if you like--just make sure it is greased well.

In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the brown sugar, sugar, and cocoa.

Slowly pour in the hot water (I nuked the water in the microwave for one minute) and whisk until smooth.

Pour into the slow cooker on top of the cake batter. DO NOT STIR.

Place two paper towels (do not rip apart) across the top of the slow cooker and put on the top. The towels will keep the condensation from dripping onto your cake.

Turn the slow cooker on HIGH and leave it alone for 1 hour and 15 minutes. The cake is done when it is set and pulls away slightly from the sides of the slow cooker. Turn off the cooker, take off the top, and lift out the removable bowl. Set it aside on a hot pad and leave the cake alone for 25 minutes. It will hard not to sample, but resist!

Heaven. On. Earth. You'll never see chocolate cake the same way again. The top of the cake is moist, chocolaty, and amazing, but the bottom is fudge sauce. Fudge sauce! (My pictures came out a bit unfocused. Maybe my hands were shaking in anticipation!)

There really aren't adequate words to describe how divine this cake tastes. There were no leftovers. I asked Bubba and the girls how it tasted and I got a bunch of grunts and "mmmmmmmm's." :) No need for ice cream with this cake!!

After she finished eating Goose said, "Wow. That's the most awesome cake ever."


Slow Cooker Chocolate Cake

See Slow Cooker Chocolate Cake on Key Ingredient.

05 May 2010

Slow Cooker Pork Loin

Still hot here in Florida. Surprised? :) I love making pork tenderloins because they are cheap, easy, and flavorful, but I don't love turning on the oven for an hour when it's 89 outside and 100% humidity. So that got me thinking...pork loin in the Crock Pot! This recipe is super simple to make and cooks a lot faster than you would think. In fact, I overcooked my pork and it was still fabulous. Outstanding! Amazing! Sooo dang good!! I'll tell you how long to cook it properly, but you really can't hurt the pork in this recipe.

You will need:

pork tenderloin without seasoning
1/4 cup grape juice
1/4 cup sugar
1T garlic salt
1T Montreal steak seasoning
2 large or 4 small pears

If you are not a fan of grape juice you can use cranberry instead. Or fancy it up and use pomegranate juice!

Rinse the tenderloin and cover it with the garlic salt and steak seasoning. Place it in the slow cooker.

Add the juice and sugar to a small saucepan and heat on low until the sugar dissolves. Don't let it get hot, though! Pour the juice over the pork loin and put on the slow cooker top.

Turn the slow cooker on high for one hour and then turn down to low for 3 hours. OR Just cook on low for 5 hours. Add the peeled and chopped pears when you turn it to low.

I thought it would take much longer and my pork was ready three hours before dinner. Yikes! I turned the slow cooker to warm and just left it alone. It was perfect! It cooked down almost like pulled pork. It was out of this world! So, don't panic if it cooks longer than you want. Pork is supposed to be done at 145 degrees, but I usually cook mine until 160 and it's still juicy with no trace of pink. Sometimes at 145 it still looks a bit pink to me.

Drizzle the syrup over the pork and pears. Full of flavor and absolutely delicious! I don't think I'll go back to cooking it in the oven even when it isn't hot as blazes. You could add any flavoring or just cook it with the steak seasoning. So versatile! My Blackberry Pork or Honey Mustard Pork would also be awesome.

Seriously delicious! I just can't say it enough!!


Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin

See Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin on Key Ingredient.