Saturday, April 26, 2008

Lemon Squares

Lemon squares just scream "SPRING!" to me for some reason. Maybe because spring is when all the yellow flowers seem to bloom: forsythia, tulips, daffodils...and yellow leads me to Lemon Squares. What? You think in a straight line and don't see the connection?

For the crust:
2 cups flour
16 Tablespoons of butter, unsalted and softened
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
grated zest of one lemon
For the filling:
4 eggs
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

3-4 Tablespoons of confectioners' sugar for sifting over top after they're baked.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To make the crust, mix all ingredients in bowl or food processor until ball of dough forms. Wrap ball in plastic wrap and refridgerate until chilled to make handling dough easier. Press dough evenly onto bottom and 3/4 inch up sides of ungreased 9"x13" pan. Bake on middle rack of oven until lightly colored, about 15-20 minutes. Cool on wire rack while you make the filling. Leave oven set at 350 degrees.
To make the filling, beat eggs until light. Add the sugar gradually and continue beating on medium high speed until very light and airy, about 5 minutes. On low speed mix in lemon juice, flour, baking powder and salt just until combined.
Pour mixture over crust and bake until filling is set and light colored, about 25 minutes. Immediately sift confectioners' sugar over the top. Cool and cut into 24 squares.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Party Parfaits

So today is the bridal shower for one of my daughter's best friends. I had an idea to use the Best Chocolate Pudding Ever in a special way for parties.

'Cause instead of the traditional shower cake we are having us a little dessert buffet. Originally we had planned to have brownies for the chocolate offering but we're also having lemon bars and that just seemed too much the same.

So...came up with a little idea that I'll share now:
Bake the brownies. I added some Ghirardelli chocolate chips because I was feeling all Emeril and wanted to kick it up a notch!
Once the brownies are cool I cut out little rounds that fit perfectly into the bottom of a small clear plastic cup available at Walmart and other fine stores. Had trouble finding the right size cutting tool until while rummaging through the pantry I saw a can of tomato paste. Aha! I checked and yep, perfect match.
That was last night. This morning I commenced to making the Best Chocolate Pudding Ever and filling the cups about 2/3 full with that. It chilled while I worked on other things.
And for the final touch I whipped up some real whipping cream (heavy whipping cream and a few spoons of sugar) to top it off.
Mmmm, good! And pretty, too.

Much better than plain old brownies :-)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Creamed Chicken Over Cornbread

We arrived home around noon today. We've been on the road eleven of the last 16 days. Feeling just a wee bit tuckered. After a lot of fast food meals on the road, I'm going to share something I plan to make in the next couple of days. For a southern girl who loves cornbread and gravy with equal passion, this is the ultimate comfort food! Typically I share quick and easy recipes but today's offering will take a little more work. But let me assure you, IT WILL BE WORTH IT! And it's not hard, just a little more time consuming than the ones I've been posting.

Creamed Chicken Over Cornbread

1 chicken, whole (around 3 lb.)
6 cups watter
1 stalk celery
1-2 carrots
1/3 c. butter
1/3 cup flour
1-1/2 cups light cream or half and half
1 Tablespoon grated onion
1 10 ounce bag frozen peas, thawed
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Rinse chicken, place in large pot with 6 cups water. Add salt, celery and carrots (washed but not peeled). Cover and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour until chicken is cooked (the cooking time depends on how big the chicken is). Remove from heat, remove chicken to platter until cool enough to handle. Reserve the broth. (I often cook down the broth while letting the chicken cool, so the flavor is more intense.) Strain the broth before using later in the recipe.
When chicken is cool enough, remove the meat and dice. Discard skin and bones.
In a heavy saucepan melt the butter on low, add the flour and stir until bubbly (3-5 minutes). Add the cream and 1-1/2 cups of the reserved broth. Cook, stirring until mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Stir in chicken, onion, peas, sage, pepper and Worcestershire sauce.Salt to taste. Serve over cornbread (recipe below). IF by some bizarre chance you don't care for cornbread [what is wrong with you, anyway?!] you can serve over biscuits or other bread products.

2 Tablespoons butter
3/4 cup flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cups cornmeal
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
[NOTE: It's good to start the cornbread while chicken is cooling.]
Melt butter in cast iron skillet while mixing dry ingredients in a bowl. In a small bowl mix egg and milk, add to dry ingredients along with melted butter. Stir just until mixed, pour batter into hot skillet. Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

This is one of those recipes you can adapt to your family's personal preferences. Replace the peas with a different vegetable or leave out the vegetable entirely. Add or delete seasonings as you like. Serve it over mashed potatoes instead of bread. Or noodles. I mean, really, this is a very versatile recipe. And it's so delicious!