RECIPE: Cool Cucumber Salad

My friend Connie is a wonderful cook. She is also generous with sharing her secrets. I like that. As part of my wedding gift almost 15 years ago, she hand wrote an entire box of her favorite recipes for me; the gift that keeps on going. She recently shared with me this fantastic cucumber salad. I hope you will enjoy it too.

Cucumber Salad

Cucumber Salad
1 large English cucumber, or several smaller ones (shown above are the small, sweet and crunchy, Persian cucumbers), chopped 
Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt
Let stand 30 minutes. Drain.
1/2 cup sour cream
4 tsp vinegar
2 TBS snipped chives
1-2 drops of hot pepper sauce
1/2 tsp dried dill
dash of pepper
Pour over cucumbers. Chill 30 minutes.

RECIPE: Tabbouleh

Tabbouleh, Mid-Eastern Salad

This wonderful salad originates in Syria. Fresh, healthy, and full of flavor! I think my Syrian Great-Grandmother Jalayla would approve :)

1 cup bulgar (or use quinoa for a gluten-free version)
1 c chopped flat leaf parsley
1 c finely chopped green onion
1/2 c finely chopped fresh mint
2 med tomatoes chopped
1/3 c lemon juice
1/3 c olive oil
2 cucumbers cubed

Soak bulgar in hot water for 10 minutes to plump grains. Drain well and add parsley, onions, mint , tomatoes, lemon juice, and oil. Toss well. Season and decorate with cucumber.

RECIPE: Valentine's Pizza
Valentine Pizza with goat cheese, spinach, and sun dried tomatoes

Pizza tips:

I haven't found the directions on the back of raw pizza dough (trader joe's) to work very well, so here is how I have made it and had it turn out well (thanks to some guidance from my friend Laurel).

Preheat oven to 450. Roll out the dough with a little flour. Stretch and shape the dough into a heart shape (or just round). Place on a greased cookie sheet. Poke multiple times with a fork (like pie crust). Bake 8-12 minutes, depending on thickness. Remove from oven and brush with olive oil; add sauce, cheese, and toppings. Bake 5 more minutes. ENJOY!

Having fun with pizza dough!

RECIPE: Buttermilk Waffles with Heart Strawberries

Homemade Waffles topped with Heart-shaped Strawberries
These delicious homemade waffles were a Saturday morning favorite growing enjoyed by my kiddos (I freeze whatever is left and heat up in the toaster). Strawberries are easily cut into hearts...great for a sweet Valentine breakfast, or top with ice cream for dessert instead.

cut a V shape out of the top, and then slice in half
Buttermilk Waffles

4 Eggs
2 cups Buttermilk* 
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 TBS sugar
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter melted
*Don't have buttermilk on hand? Who does? easy substitute: in a liquid measuring cup, add 2 TBS cider vinegar, fill to 2 cup mark with milk, stir

In a mixer, blend ingredients together on medium speed, in above order. Bake in waffle iron. 


There was going to be a party at school, and I was asked to bring cupcakes. “Of course!” I said. Always a good opportunity to try something fun with cupcakes, right? So, I took out the “Hello Cupcake” cookbook (by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson), full of adorable ideas for kids cupcakes. I read through the directions for the penguins and decided it looked easy enough to try. It was easy...BUT time consuming, especially when making 24 of them! Then, the issue of transportation...let’s just say that my 9 year old, who is clearly smarter than me, said “next time, maybe you should make these for a party at home, so we won’t have to take them in the car.” Good advice. I survived, and so did most the penguins; the delight on the kiddos faces was worth all the effort. I will close saying this: this is a fun, easy, slightly time consuming project; if you make about 8 of them for a party at your house, you’ll be glad you did. Perfect for January!

For 8 penguins:
8 white cake cupcakes in white liners 
4 plain or chocolate mini donuts, sliced in half like a bagel
8 glazed or plain donut holes
16 oz vanilla frosting
16 oz dark chocolate frosting
black food coloring (Michael’s has it)
4 marshmallows
8 thin chocolate cookies (I used Oreos pulled apart, but Famous Chocolate Wafers are better)
4 yellow Starburst candy squares
16 mini chocolate chips
gummy fish or small colored fish candies

Use vanilla frosting as GLUE to hold this together: 

Place in freezer for 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, tint the chocolate frosting black, microwave approximately 30 seconds, stir frequently.

Hold cupcake liner and dip frozen cupcake in black, warm frosting, coated to the edge of the liner. Set back upright. This gives the penguin the black shiny glaze.

To decorate the penguin, see diagram. It is easiest to do this in an assembly line.

For remaining 4 cupcakes, white frosting with coconut has a snow-like effect; add chunks of blue rock candy for “iceberg” cupcakes.

Enjoy the happy faces of the kiddos when they see these perky penguins!

RECIPE: Grand Marnier Oranges

Grand Marnier Oranges- Light and Delicous- Perfect for January!

While this recipe is still dessert, it fits in better with my New Years resolutions than some kind of decadent pastry. It is a perfect sweet, light ending to a special dinner, or a great addition to a brunch. Because my parents have always had orange trees, my mother has been making this as long as I can remember. It is delightful! 

6 medium size oranges, peeled and sliced horizontally into circular slices
1/4 cup + 1 TBS Grand Marnier liqueur (orange liqueur)
1/4 cup orange marmalade (a more bitter marmalade, vs. sweet, is preferable)
1 TBS orange juice (collected from the oranges as you slice)
Optional: small topping of sour cream and mint sprig (I looked questioningly at my mom when she said she serves it this way, but then I tried it- Oh Yes!)

Grand Marnier Oranges
Slice oranges and place in a shallow dish, such as a pie pan. Separately mix marmalade, liqueur, and orange juice; then spoon over the oranges. Marinade at least 30 minutes, but you can marinade overnight as well. Enjoy!

Mediterranean Layer Dip
(adapted from Midwest Living)

Mediterranean Layer Dip

I am addicted to this appetizer that my sister frequently makes. It is fresh, and healthy, and full of flavor...winning combination!

16 oz Hummus (I like Mediterranean Hummus from Trader Joe’s)
8 oz Tapenade (Trader Joe’s again, refrigerated section)
2 cups shredded fresh spinach 
4 oz crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup chopped green onion

Combine together and set aside:
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 cup chopped cucumber (I like persian cucumbers)
3 TBS snipped flat leaf parsley
4 tsp snipped fresh mint leaves
2+ tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper

Assemble just before serving:
Spread hummus on a 12 inch serving platter; arrange spinach over hummus, leaving a 1 inch border of hummus. Spread tapenade over spinach, leaving a 1 inch border of spinach. Drain excess liquid from tomato mixture (discard liquid) and spoon mix over tapenade, leaving a 1 inch border of tapenade. Sprinkle feta and green onions over top. Serve with pita chips. 

RECIPES: Chipotle Goat Cheese Appetizer

Are you bringing an appetizer to the Christmas party you were invited to this Saturday? Want to try something new? I saw this on a menu at Sol in Newport Beach, and had to try to replicate. It is creamy-salty-spicy-sweet! I brought it to a party last weekend and it was a hit. The best part...EASY!


Goat Cheese
Salted peanuts
Chipotle sauce (I used Fresh and Easy brand)
Tortilla chips (I used sweet potato chips, also good)

Roll the goat cheese in the peanuts, pressing them into the cheese. Douse with chipotle sauce just before serving, and top with chopped, fresh cilantro. Serve with chips. Great with Margaritas!
Feliz Navidad!

RECIPE: Coffee Bread (Vetebrod)
Cardamon flavored bread, enjoyed with coffee

Tradition comes in many forms, especially where holidays are concerned. One of our favorite traditions is baking together with my mom, sister, cousins and great aunt. Every year we gather together in early December to make our Scandinavian Coffee Bread . Without getting into the whole family tree, let’s suffice it to say that there is a strong Scandinavian heritage. My Norwegian grandmother (my Dad’s mom), who passed away 14 years ago, was the recipe source. Her version of a recipe was “a spoonful of this, and a sprinkle of that...”  My Swedish grandmother on my mom’s side, carefully watched her, and wrote out a true recipe with standardized measurements. We are all grateful for this, because I am sure we’d never be able to make our beloved bread otherwise. 

The Swedish bread bakers in our aprons

The bread is called “Coffee Bread” not because it is coffee flavored, but because of how lovely it is with coffee (a Swedish staple; “the best earthly drink” as my grandmother would say). The Swedish name for the bread is “Vetebrod”; it is a braided loaf of cardamon flavored bread...lovely indeed. 

I will, of course, give you the not-so-secret family recipe, and warn you that the bread (4 large loaves) takes about 5 hours in total to make. At our celebratory baking party, the time goes by in a flash. There’s the morning coffee break while the dough “rests”, then a luncheon while the dough rises. There’s lots of chatter and laughter, party favors, champagne, and sweet treats. While both of my grandmothers are gone, I enjoy the comaraderie of my family as we carry on the tradition.

Baking our bread has a beautiful, rich history. The smell of the cardamon is the smell of Christmas for me. My children love the bread, as I do, and wait with anticipation for the first slice. And so, the tradition continues...

There was the year I tried to dress up my sister as Santa Lucia with her candle wreath crown, until my sensible cousin intervened, imagining my sister’s golden locks aflame. 
Our very own Santa Lucia- LOL!

The Christmas season is packed full, and the TO DO list is long...but, these are the days I look forward to all year. Connecting with family and friends, creating memories. 

Coffee Bread
1+ TBS freshly ground cardamon seed
1 QT whole milk
1/2 C butter
1/4 C crisco
2 tsp salt
2 C sugar
11+ cups flour (buy 5 lb.)
3 pack of active dry yeast
1/2 C very warm water
1 TBS sugar
egg white
cinnamon sugar
VERY large bowl
wooden spoon
4 standard loaf pans

Heat milk in a sauce pan until scalding, not boiling (scum will form on top).
Remove from heat and add cardamon, butter and crisco; after they melt, add 2  cups sugar. Cool.
In a bowl, mix 1/2 cup very warm water (not boiling) with yeast and 1 TBS sugar. Let this sit for 10-15 minutes (it will expand), then add to the above mixture. 
While waiting for the yeast, sift 11 cups of flour. 
Add the liquid to the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. 
Let the dough rest for 15 minutes, covered with a cloth. 
(Take a coffee break:)
On a floured pastry cloth, knead for 20 minutes, adding more sifted flour if the dough feels sticky, a little at a time.
Place dough in bowl and cover with plastic wrap and a cloth; allow to rise 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Dough should double in size. 
(Have lunch:)
Punch dough. Divide into 4 equal parts. Divide each quarter into three and braid into 4 loaves. Place in standard size loaf pans (spray with cooking spray) and allow to rise another 45 minutes.
Brush tops of loaves with egg whites and heavily sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
Bake in a preheated oven of 350 for 30-45 minutes. Bread should be well browned. 
Remove from pans and cool. DO NOT slice bread until completely cooled.
Slice and toast. Serve with butter and cinnamon sugar...and coffee, of course.

RECIPE: Sweet Potatoes Topped with Blue Cheese and Brussels Sprouts


Sweet Potatoes
Brussels Sprouts
Blue Cheese
Toasted Pecans
Dried Cranberries
Olive Oil

After reading how to prep this dish, you will have to decide how much you want of each ingredient.

Make a deep, long slit down each sweet potato. Bake sweet potatoes at 375 for an hour, or until soft (if they are large, you will need to bake them for over an hour). Steam brussels sprouts until bright green, about 5 minutes (place about 1/2 inch of water in the bottom of the pan, boil, add sprouts, cover on medium for about 5 minutes, then test for doneness). Toss warm brussels sprouts in olive oil, salt, pepper.

Open steaming sweet potato, heavily sprinkle:  good quality blue cheese (cheese will start to melt), toasted pecans, dried cranberries, and brussels sprouts. Bon Appetite.  

RECIPE: Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Carrots

I’m so excited it’s “that time of year.” There are so many wonderful traditions and dishes that we only make for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Carrots is one of those recipes. We typically spend Thanksgiving with my in-laws and I have added this tasty side dish to our feast. It has become a favorite with the Wells; maybe it will become a favorite with you and yours too.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Carrots
(adapted from Silver Palate Cookbook)
4 large sweet potatoes (2 lbs.)
1 lb baby carrots
2 1/2 cups water
1 TBS sugar
3/4 cup butter
salt/pepper to taste
1/2 c sour cream
1/2 tsp nutmeg
pinch cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 370 degrees
Clean potatoes, cut a deep, long slit in the top of each potato
Bake 1 hour until tender

Put carrots in a saucepan with the water, sugar, and 2 TBS of butter, salt/pepper, on medium heat, boil and cook uncovered until water has evaporated and carrots sizzle in butter, about 30 minutes.

Scrape out flesh of sweet potatoes into saucepan with carrots. Add remaining butter and sour cream. Mash until almost smooth.

Add nutmeg, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, to taste and blend/mash until incorporated.

May be made ahead. To heat/reheat, place in covered casserole dish in preheated 350 degree oven for 25 minutes or until steaming hot.


RECIPE: Pumpkin-a-la-King

"Pumpkin-a-la-King", Chicken-a-la-King filling in a baked sugar pumpkin

Baked, hollowed out sugar pumpkins become the edible bowl for Chicken a la King. Sugar pumpkins are readily available this time of year at most grocery stores, for about $2 each. Choose small ones as each pumpkin is for an individual serving. Because this is a bit time consuming, I recommend this for a smaller gathering of 4-6 guests.

Baked Sugar Pumpkins
Cut out the top of the pumpkin. Clean out the seeds, and scrape away the stringy insides. Rub inside with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Replace tops.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and bake pumpkins 25 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven. 
Remove tops, turn upside down, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool.

Simmer 1 hour:
Approximately 3 whole chicken breasts with skin and bones (or entire fryer chicken cut up)
1 qt water
1 TBS parsley flakes
2 carrots peeled and sliced 
1/4 cup chopped onion
salt and pepper

Remove skin and bones, discard. Set aside chicken and carrots. Reserve 2 cups broth.

1/2 cup butter
1 cup diced celery
4 oz sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup flour
2 cups broth (reserved from cooking chicken)
10 oz bag frozen peas
1 cup milk
1/3 cup sherry

Saute celery and mushrooms in butter until tender. Blend in flour; slowly add broth, then milk, stirring constantly until thickened. Add chicken, carrots, peas; heat thoroughly.

To Serve:  Spoon warm filling into room temperature, baked pumpkins. Bake in 350 preheated oven for 15 minutes. Serve hot with biscuits. 

October 17, 2012

Swedish Bruna Brod Cookies

Tea time with Swedish Bruna Brod cookies

A favorite cookie of mine with tea, is the Swedish Bruna Brod butter cookie my grandmother always made. I became very fond of tea in college when I took a month long trip to England with my grandmother. I love the pause of afternoon tea. I have wonderful memories of sitting at her kitchen table, talking, drinking tea, and eating her almond flavored, buttery Bruna Brod cookies. She seemed to always have them on hand. Warm memories.

BRUNA BROD        
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1 egg yolk
1 TBS molasses
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
2 1/2 cups flour

Beat butter and sugar; continue beating and add egg, corn syrup, almond extract and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients together and mix with other ingredients, a little at a time. Divide dough into 7 parts. Form each part into a long, log roll. Place on parchment lined cookie sheets. Leave adequate room between rolls as the dough will flatten out. Bake at 350 preheated oven, for 14-16 minutes (if you are not using parchment, start with 12 minutes and check). Cool 3 minutes, then while still warm, cut into diagonal strips and remove from pans.

My Little Kitchen Helper!

Carmel Apples

Carmel Apples with twig skewers
I include this not because it is anything new, but because it is so very easy and fun, especially with the kiddos.  

While in Michigan, my son and I made these delicious treats together. We took a little walk through the woods gathering the perfect sticks. We used the apples we had picked a few days earlier. These worked perfectly because the grocery had not added the ‘beautifying’ wax; this can cause the carmel to slip right off the apple. It is best to purchase organic apples that hopefully have no wax coating on them. 

We used approximately 14 oz of carmel cubes and 2 TBS milk in a sauce pan on medium heat. This was enough for 4 medium/large apples. To insert the twigs, I first stabbed the apples with skewers. 
Since I was at the cabin and doing this project with an 8 year old boy, we kept it simple with just carmel, but at home I like to dip some in chocolate and nuts in addition.

RECIPE: Apple Crisp
September 26, 2012

Truly, the key is good, tart apples in season. We used local Michigan McIntosh apples with excellent results. 

This recipe is from a good family friend, Kathy, who visited the cabin and made her special treat to share. My mom has been making it ever since, and yesterday showed me. 

Apple Crisp

10-12 medium apples (tart) depending on size, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1tsp (+) pumpkin pie spice (which is a combo of ginger, nutmeg, and a little allspice)
1/3 cup flour
4 TBS butter, melted

1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar 
1 stick (8 TBSP) butter melted
optional: pecans or walnuts chopped

Mix dry ingredients and toss with apples in a large bowl. Spray 9x13 dish with cooking spray and add apple mixture evenly. Drizzle melted butter over apples. Prepare topping by mixing together and then using hands to evenly distribute over top of apples.

Bake 350 preheated oven, 55-65 minutes. 

 Hot Crab Dip
September 19, 2012

Easy, crowd pleasing, hot crab dip appetizer:
8 oz crab meat, drained (fresh, frozen, or canned)
8 oz cream cheese, room temp
4 TBL chopped onion
1 tsp horseradish
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 TBS milk
Mix together and bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes
Serve with crostinis or crackers

Coconut Cream Cheese Cupcakes

My niece, Tori, just turned one! My sister had a delicious spread of hearty appetizers for the family that was gathered to celebrate the wondrous first year. She asked if I would make Coconut Cream Cheese Cupcakes for the occasion. But of course...

OK, so, I cheat...I use a box mix.  I do, however, doctor it up.  In fact, I highly recommend the cookbook called “The Cake Mix Doctor” by Anne Byrn.  She has lots of recipe twists for the average box mix.  

For the cupcakes, I used a basic white cake mix, following the package directions, except substituting milk for water.  I cooked them in pretty silver liners in a cupcake pan, but reduced the heat to 325 and cooked them a minute or two less than the given range on the box (example, the box said 18-22 minutes, but I checked them with a toothpick at 16 minutes, and ended up taking them out at 17).  This is a little trick I learned from my friend Kristen.  When the cupcakes are slightly under baked, they are moist and better. 

The frosting is what really makes these cupcakes sing! 

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
1 pkg. (8 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (8 TBS) butter, at room temperature
3 3/4 powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp coconut extract
(Sweetened Flake Coconut for the top)

Mix cream cheese and butter until combined.  Add powdered sugar a little at a time until well incorporated.  Add coconut extract and mix on medium speed 1 minute, until fluffy.  

I put the cooled cupcakes in the freezer for 1 hour and then frosted them (so much easier to frost frozen cupcakes).  After frosting each one, I dipped the top into a bowl of sweet flaked coconut. I added a small bunch of pink hydrangeas from my sister’s garden for a final touch, and then layered them on a tiered dish.  

Best enjoyed with a glass of champagne!

Spinach Quiche
September 5, 2012

A few weeks ago, we were "GLAMPING" in the Arizona mountains (read more under JOURNEY tab). Quiche was a wonderful way to start the day, especially with fresh fruit, enjoyed by a morning campfire and cup o' joe. While we had a ham and cheese quiche camping (below), I wanted to share a spinach quiche recipe with you that is a favorite of mine.

Spinach Quiche
Start with a lightly baked pie crust in a 9"pie pan (recipe below)
1 box frozen chopped spinach, pierce box and microwave for 5 minutes
Combine spinach with 2 TBS chopped green onions, 2 TBS butter, and sauté, then cool 
Beat 3 eggs, 1 1/2 cups half n half, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp pepper
Mix with cooled spinach sauté 
Place 1/2 cup shredded gruyere cheese on bottom of pie crust
Pour egg/spinach mixture over cheese in pie crust
Bake preheated 375 oven for 25-30 minutes

Pie Crust
3/4 cup Crisco
2 cups sifted flour (sift then measure)
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup ice water

Mix flour and salt, then work crisco in with dough cutter; slowly add ice cold water and gently mix with fingers. Do not over work the dough. Divide dough in half and roll out half between two sheets of 15" long wax paper (freeze other half for future use). Refrigerate dough 10 minutes before placing in 9" pie pan, pulling off one sheet wax paper and placing dough in pan, then carefully removing top wax paper from top with knife and fingers.  Crimp edges. Pierce bottom and sides multiple times with a fork to prevent shrinkage. Bake at 400 degree preheated oven for 7 minutes before making quiche recipe above.

Shrimp Boil
August 29, 2012

Summer doesn't seem complete without having a Shrimp Boil. It is a simple, fun dish that is best enjoyed outdoors with good friends. As Labor Day is approaching quickly, it was a delicious farewell-to-summer meal. I set my table with an array of sea shells, succulents, and candles to play out the theme.

SHRIMP BOIL   serves 4
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

2 lemons, plus wedges for serving              
3 bay leaves
1/4 cup Old Bay Seasoning
2 TBS crushed garlic
3 medium onions, peeled and quartered
1 TBS crushed red chile pepper
2 tsp salt
8 sprigs fresh thyme (or sub. dried)
1 lb. new red potatoes, halved if large
4 ears corn, husked & snapped in half
1 lb. unpeeled large shrimp (I use the extra large frozen shrimp from Costco)

Fill a very large stockpot with 4 qts. water.  Squeeze lemons into the water and add rinds.  Add all seasoning, spices, garlic and onions. Bring to a boil.  Add potatoes, cook 12 minutes.  Add corn, cook 5 minutes. Add shrimp, cook 3 minutes. Pour contents through a large colander, discarding liquid, thyme stems, bay leaves, and lemons. Serve warm with hot sauce, sea salt,  butter, and warm french bread.  Enjoy!  

Oatmeal Spice Pancakes
August 22, 2012

I first had oatmeal pancakes in my Great Aunt Margie's kitchen out on the farm in Wyoming, while there for a visit with my grandma. delicious they were! I have been making them ever since, but have altered the recipe a bit to make them a little healthier for my kiddos, since they are a highly requested breakfast at our house.  My favorite way to eat them is with fruit and nuts, but my 6 year old nephew is here visiting, so this morning we added a few chocolate chips (don't tell my sister).

Oatmeal Spice Pancakes

Dry Ingredients
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
1 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup regular oats

Liquid ingredients
2 1/3 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 c canola oil

Mix dry and liquid ingredients separately and then together.  When I am measuring out dry ingredients I often make an extra recipe to keep on hand for a busy morning.
Enjoy with real maple syrup, fruit, nuts...chocolate chips :)

Curried Fruit and Nut Salad
August 14, 2012

This is one of my favorite summer salads.  I had it for the first time at a friends' home in Santa Barbara.  It has been part of my summer cuisine ever since.  Maybe it will become one of your favorites too.  

Curried Fruit and Nut Salad

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 tsp crushed garlic
2 TBS agave syrup
1 tsp molasses
2 TBS minced green onions
1 TBS curry powder
1 tsp soy sauce 
Salad Ingredients:
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1-2 heads romaine lettuce
2 cups spinach leaves
1 11oz can mandarin oranges, drained
1 cup seedless red grapes, halved
1 avocado, sliced
grilled chicken (optional)

{Very Best}Tart Lemon Bars
August 8, 2012

Recently, our friends invited us over for an impromptu dinner gathering.  I offered to bring dessert, so I previewed the ingredients I had on hand.  I had just picked some lemons off my Mom’s tree and thought Lemon Bars would be a perfect dessert to eat out on the patio on a warm, summer evening.  Old school, I know; but sometimes there is nothing better.  I dug out my Mom’s old recipe, and I would love to share it with you.  This is obviously a favorite with our family as is evidenced by the tattered card (see below).  Look at the three different names for the dessert:  “Lemonique,” “Lemon Cookies,” and “AKA Lemon Bars.”  I’m going to add a fourth name, “{Very Best}Tart Lemon Bars.”  The latter name is because these bars are quite tart and that is what sets them apart from the typical lemon bar...and honestly, I have never tasted a lemon bar better than this recipe.  For a last minute gathering of three families with lots of kids between us, I just brought over the 9x13 with the bars and cut and served them at the party.  In fact, my curious 2 year old jumped up on a stool and made a hand print in it!  This dessert can be as easy and casual as this party, or it can be dressed up to be much more sophisticated.  For a dinner party dessert, shower, or afternoon tea party, just add blueberries and mint leaves as in the photo.  Enjoy.

Hand in the dessert!

{Very Best} Tart Lemon Bars
1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar
2 Cups Flour
1 Cup Butter, very soft or melted

In a 9x13 dish, mix and press ingredients into the bottom of the pan w/fingers.  
Bake at 350 (preheat) for 18 minutes or until barely brown.
Cool 10 minutes

Separately mix (beat):
4 Eggs
2 Cups Sugar
1/4 Cup Flour
7 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Zest of 2 Whole Lemons 

Pour over cooked cookie bottom.
Bake 350, 20-25 minutes.
It should still jiggle a little.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Wait until cooled completely before cutting.

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