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Strawberry Lemonade Bars

13 Aug

So one day I was looking at Pinterest, my new favorite distraction, and came across this picture with the caption “Strawberry Lemonade Bars:

It had a link to a blog with the recipe for them and they are basically lemon bars with strawberry puree added to them.  So I decided that I need to make them immediately.  And I did.  And they were awesome.  The recipe says to add powdered sugar at the end, but I didn’t because I find powdered sugar far too messy (but if I was making them for something special I probably would add it).  Make them.  You will love them.

Strawberry Lemonade Bars
(Recipe originally from Baking Bites)

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

1 cup fresh lemon juice
2-3 tsp lemon zest
1/2 cup pureed strawberries (about 3/4 cup berries)
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.

Begin by making the crust.  In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter, until smooth and fluffy. Working at a low speed, gradually beat in flour and salt until mixture is crumbly. Pour into prepared pan and press into an even layer. Bake for about 17 minutes, until set at the edges.

While the crust bakes, prepare the filling.  In the bowl of a food processor, combine lemon juice, lemon zest, strawberry puree, sugar and eggs and process until smooth. Add in flour, baking powder and salt, then pulse until smooth.

Gently pour the filling over the hot crust when it has finished baking. Return pan to oven and bake for 23-26 minutes, until the filling is set (There will be a light colored “crust” on top from the sugar in the custard – nothing to worry about).

Sprinkle the bars with some powdered sugar.  Cool completely before slicing and use a damp knife to ensure clean slices.  Store bars in the refrigerator, especially on a hot day.  Makes 24 bars.

Here’s a picture of one of mine…they don’t look nearly as pretty as the picture I found on pinterest, but I promise they were delicious.


Stuffed Mushrooms a la Giada

8 Aug


Since I was taking an evening class this summer, I’ve had very little time to cook and I’ve missed it a lot.  So I decided to go all out with dinner last night and make an appetizer and dessert with dinner.  So that gives me four new recipes to post (and if I may say so myself, they were all delicious).

So the appetizer is first.  I recently found Giada’s Everyday Italian at Half-Priced Books and I’ve been dying to make several things from it.  I love mushrooms, so these were at the top of the list.  If you like stuffed mushrooms, they are awesome.

1/2 cup Italian-style dried bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
2 garlic cloves, minced
About 3 tablespoons olive oil
28 large (2 1/2-inch-diameter) white mushrooms, stemmed

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, stir the bread crumbs, Romano cheese, parsley, mint, and garlic to blend.

Lightly coat a large, heavy baking sheet with about 2 teaspoons of the oil.  Arrange the mushroom caps on the baking sheet, cavity side up, and spoon the filling into the mushroom cavities. Drizzle 1/4 teaspoon of oil over the filling in each mushroom. Bake until the mushrooms are tender and the filling is heated through and golden on top, about 25 minutes. Arrange the stuffed mushrooms on a platter and serve.

I know you can’t eat these Weesie, but I highly recommend them to everyone else.

Giada’s Pasta Primavera

12 Oct

The first time I had this was when the lovely Weesie made it for me – it was SO good that I just had to make it myself.  I’ve made it a couple times and every time, I love it.  It’s healthy and filling and delicious – what more could you ask for.  It’s perfect when you want something with a lot of vegetables.  Here it is:

  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into thin strips
  • 2 medium zucchini or 1 large zucchini, cut into thin strips
  • 2 yellow squash, cut into thin strips
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips (I’m not a huge red bell pepper fan, so I used orange instead and it’s a great substitute)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (I used a little extra, of course)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs or herbes de Provence
  • 1 pound farfalle (bowtie pasta)
  • 15 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan (as always, a little extra cheese)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

On a large heavy baking sheet, toss all of the vegetables with the oil, salt, pepper, and dried herbs to coat. Transfer half of the vegetable mixture to another heavy large baking sheet and arrange evenly over the baking sheets.

Bake until the carrots are tender and the vegetables begin to brown, stirring after the first 10 minutes, about 20 minutes total.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes.  Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

Toss the pasta with the vegetable mixtures in a large bowl to combine. Toss with the cherry tomatoes and enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten.  Season the pasta with salt and pepper, to taste.

Sprinkle with the Parmesan and serve immediately.

Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Lemon, Basil, and Salmon

28 Sep

This post is brought to you by Giada and it is absolutely delicious.  I’ve made it twice now and absolutely love it.  Best of all, it’s not only delicious, it’s also healthy! Here it goes:

  • 1/2 pound whole-wheat spaghetti pasta
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (as usual, I used a little bit extra)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 (4-ounce) pieces salmon
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons capers
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta and transfer to a large bowl. Add the garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss to combine.

Meanwhile, warm the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Season the salmon with salt and pepper. Add the fish to the pan and cook until medium-rare, about 2 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the fish. Remove the salmon from the pan.

Add the basil, capers, lemon zest, and lemon juice to the spaghetti mixture and toss to combine.

Set out 4 serving plates or shallow bowls. Place 1/2 cup spinach in each bowl. Top with 1/4 of the pasta. Top each mound of pasta with a piece of salmon. Serve immediately.

Bon Appetit!

Grilled Okra

26 Aug

This was one of my favorite side dishes in LA when I would head over to Eric’s house for one of his delicious dinners.  Whenever he made it, he made it on the grill, but sadly, I have no grill to make it on myself.  I do however, have a George Foreman grill and I got to thinking, maybe I can make it on that.  So I did.  And it’s not quite as perfect as when it’s made on a real grill, but it’s still quite good – and very easy.

Step one – buy a bag of okra.  Pretty much just use your judgment on how much you want.

Step two – coat it with olive oil and season salt.  Again, it’s no exact science – use your judgment, but you definitely want to cover it.

Step three – now this is where it varies between a regular grill and a GF grill.  If you are using a regular grill, you want to put the okra on skewers (this is so you can easily turn them over).  You should put one through the top-ish section and one through the bottom-ish section and put ten or so on one set of skewers.

If you are using a GF, all you need to do is put them on the grill.  I put it on the highest temperature and just decide when I think they are done (you want them a little crispy).

Here they are all yummy and ready to eat.  A perfect summer side 🙂

Hazelnut Crusted Halibut with Hatch Chile Lime Sauce

26 Aug

So right now at Central Market, it’s Hatchmania.  Basically, there are these things, hatch chiles, that are grown in New Mexico that are only available for about three weeks.  And CM buys tons of them.  So if you go in the store, all of their samples have hatch chiles and they are really just everywhere.

So I went in a week or so ago and tired a delicious sample they had out: Hazelnut Crusted Halibut with Hatch Chile Lime Sauce.  Lucky for me they had a recipe to go with it so I could make it on my own (and share it with all of you here).  Hatch chiles won’t be available for much longer, but I’m pretty sure you could substitute another type of chiles and it would be just as good.  So give it a try.

Hatch Chile Lime Sauce

1 8 oz container sour cream (in an attempt to be slightly healthier I used light sour cream)

1/4 cup heavy cream

3 roasted Hatch peppers, skinned and seeded (if you go to CM they sell them roasted so you don’t have to do it yourself)

juice of 1/4 lime (I really like lime so I used 1/2 a lime)

salt to taste

Combine ingredients in a small saucepan, and heat gently over low heat.  Keep warm while preparing fish.

Hazelnut Crust

8 oz hazelnut meal (I didn’t need nearly this much)

2 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 lb halibut fillets

grape seed oil for frying (I didn’t want to spend $6 on grape seed oil to use it once so I just used olive oil instead)

Combine hazelnut meal, salt & pepper on a plate.  Dredge halibut, shaking off excess.

Heat the oil in a skilled on medium high heat; add fish and cook until firm and flakes with a fork, turning once.

Ladle sauce over halibut and serve immediately.

It was seriously delicious, give it a try.

Jacked-Up Banana Bread With Pecans

25 Jul

I froze some overripe bananas a bit ago and have been planning to make banana bread for a while ago.  Today I finally decided to do it and spent some time looking up recipes.  I finally decided to go for a recipe on one of my favorite cooking blogs, Smitten Kitchen. However, after I decided to make it, I realized that the recipe calls for bourbon and sadly, liquor stores in Texas are closed on Sunday.  I did some quick research and found that 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of vanilla can be substituted for 1 tablespoon of bourbon and went with that (though I’m sure bourbon would have been awesome in this and I can’t wait to make it again and try it the original way).  I also decided to add 1/2 cup of pecans to the original recipe as I am a firm believer that any banana bread is better with nuts (I just added them last).  Below is the original recipe…hope you enjoy!

Elise’s Friend Heidi’s Friend Mrs. Hockmeyer’s Banana Bread, As Jacked Up by Deb
Adapted from Simply Recipes

No need for a mixer for this recipe — need I say more?

3 to 4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted salted butter
3/4 to 1 cup light brown sugar (depending on the level of sweetness you prefer, I always use the smaller amount)
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
1 1/2 cup of flour

Preheat the oven to 350°F. With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, vanilla and bourbon, then the spices. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix. Pour mixture into a buttered 4×8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes to one hour, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.