One day while chatting with one of my best gal pals, I went MIA (no, not like the middle finger wielding MIA). I had to apologize and tell her that I had gone ahead and whipped up some lemon bars on a whim. She laughed and asked when the mini van was coming. I assured her NEVER and explained that it all started with this tree. That, my fine friends, is a Meyer’s lemon tree and it’s happily growing in our back yard. Not only does it look pretty, but it yields a very deliciously sweet version of a lemon. Lately, it’s been yielding a lot of lemons and rather than just let them drop to the ground and rot, I figured I need to put these lovely lemons to work.
My mom mentioned that her best gal pal had a really delightful recipe from Barefoot Contessa and so I decided to give it a go. Now, I must warn you… this recipe is a labor of love. It is well worth all of the effort though.
- 1/2 lb unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups all purpose flower
- 1/8 tbs kosher salt
- 6 extra large eggs (room temperature)
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 2 tbs lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)
- 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- confectioner’s sugar for dusting
- Preheat oven to 350
- For crust: cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Combine flour and salt and add to the butter until just mixed.
- Dump dough onto well floured board and gather into a ball, flatten the dough w/ floured hands and press into a 9x13x2 inch baking sheet, building up a ½ inch edge on all sides.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned.
- Let cool on wire rack.
- Leave oven on.
- For the Filling: Whisk together eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour.
- Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the filling is set.
- Let cool to room temp.
- Cut into triangles and dust with confectioner’s sugar.
- Store in the fridge.
Make lemon bars.
Okay, so I’m no Martha Stewart, but I do know how to keep a happy and functional home. I also do enjoy baking and cooking (baking more than cooking). There is also something to be said about a woman who can cook and look good while she does so. I know we think it’s hilarious that Carrie Bradshaw used her oven to store sweaters, but today’s “modern girl” can do it all… and that includes whipping up a gourmet meal.
You don’t need every fancy appliance under the sun to make your kitchen run more smoothly, but there are a few gadgets that may very well change your life (or at least make you more efficient when it comes to the kitchen).
- Crock Pot 5 Quart Stainless Steel Slow Cooker, $41 – A crock pot is the lazy girl’s dream appliance. Basically you could throw just about anything in in the morning and come home to a delicious meal. It does the work for you and do you know how many amazing recipes there are?
- As Seen On TV, Eggies, $9.99 – Okay, I must admit I fell for something I saw on TV. Hey, at least it’s not Pajama Jeans. These will blow your mind if you enjoy hard boiled eggs, deviled eggs, or egg salad.
- KitchenAid Apple Wedger, $10.29 – I love apples, but I hate biting into them (creeps me out) and I find cutting them can be cumbersome (Okay, fine. I can’t be trusted with sharp objects). This little guy slices and apple right up in one swift move. No more excuses when it comes to making yourself a healthy snack.
- Wusthof Kitchen Shears, $19.99 – My mom scolded me for years for not having a “proper” pair of kitchen shears. Theses babies can do everything from cut meat to trim flower stems.
- Rabbit by Metrokane Zippity Rabbit Wine Opener, $79.99 – Alright, alright… the kitchen doesn’t have to be all business. This wine opener is the best thing going. When you have company, there’s nothing worse than fighting with a rogue cork. The rabbit (not that rabbit) will have you in and out in no time. [insert dirty joke here].
A functional kitchen is a happy kitchen.
Now that we are through cheersing all the celebs, it’s time to celebrate someone else. Someone you might know. Someone like… ME! It is officially my “birthday week” and I’m ready to put on my party shoes only to kick them right back off. Other than a killer outfit and some fun friends to celebrate with, a girl has got to have a signature cocktail. Luckily for me, I have one made… just for me.
Alright, alright… so maybe this cocktail wasn’t made “especially” for me, but I like to pretend that it was. This pretty pink drink has several variations- each one delicious, bubbly, and sweet (like me). Below are the recipes for a classic kir, kir royale, and kir imperial. Enjoy and celebrate with me!
Cheers (to me).
This week, I asked one of my oldest (not in age, but in friendship duration) and very dearest friends if he’d be willing to share one of his recipes. I know I’m partial, but I can’t believe that not only can my pal speak German fluently, recite Shakespeare, and mix up the perfect purple drank, he can cook! I mean, ladies, how is this man single? Anyway, this isn’t some froofy girly girl recipe … so if you wanna impress your main man with something delicious that he will appreciate, keep reading. (Oh… and please behold this amazing school dance photo of me my male bff. Sorry, dude, had to):
After a pilgrimage to Neely’s Interstate BBQ in Memphis and sampling their phenomenal BBQ spaghetti, I was determined to recreate it for myself. It’s not nearly as difficult as one would think, but it does take a bit of time. For the record, if my writing seems disjointed or broken, I’m watching Nigella Lawson and am enthralled by her accent and, um, other attributes.
What you need:
- 1 tablespoon good olive oil
- 1 small green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon garlic salt
- BBQ sauce (recipe follows)
- 1lb pork, beef, chicken, turkey, dog, cat – cooked and chopped to bits
- 1lb spaghetti
First things first, the BBQ sauce:
- 2 cups of ketchup (about 1 20oz bottle)
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 5 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 5 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon black pepper
- 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
- 1/2 tablespoon ground mustard (don’t skimp – get Colman’s)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
What you do:
- Combine everything in a pot, bring it to a boil and then reduce to a slow simmer for about an hour or an hour and a half. Length of time depends on how thick you want it. There’s also a lot of wiggle room in the sweetness/bite of the sauce. The recipe I listed is Neely’s original and it’s got decent balance. However, I like a little more vinegar flavor so I added a bit more and cut back on the sugar. If you want it sweeter, add more sugar/brown sugar. The sauce as is has decent tang, but if you want some heat, throw in some cayenne pepper or some hot sauce to bring the spice up a bit.
- Once you’ve got the sauce square, heat up the oil and throw in the peppers, onion and garlic salt and cook everything until it’s nice and soft. Once done, throw in the BBQ and bring to a boil. Once boiling, put in your chopped meat and reduce to a simmer. Bring your pasta water to a boil, salt it appropriately and then cook your pasta til al dente. Mix the sauce/meat and the pasta and voila, BBQ spaghetti.
- For the meat, you have a lot of options – you can buy pulled pork (sans any kind of sauce) or brisket, brown some ground beef/turkey/chicken – whatever. Just make sure you chop it up small enough so it blends well. When I made this, I bought smoked pork loin from one of the BBQ joints down here and chopped it up and it turned out really well. I doubled the recipe and it fed a dinner party of 10 perfectly, and I’ll take the lack of leftovers as a testament to how good it was.
OK – back to Nigella.
While the days of backyard barbecues and beach volleyball may be dwindling, there’s no need to fret. The world is not ending, my friend. Nothing warms the heart (or the home) like entertaining close friends in your very own cozy abode. The temperature is dropping and it seems to get dark by the time you’ve arrived home from a long day at the office, so it’s easy to become a bit of a homebody. But maybe being a homebody isn’t such a bad thing.
Gather a group of your most playful pals for a rousing and raucous game night complete with old school board games, yummy snacks, and silly prizes.
Start things off and set the tone for the evening by sending out a personalized Mad Libs invite. Be sure to include all of the relevant information (date, address, time, etc.) and leave blanks for silly adjectives and nouns. Get creative and be sure to ask guests to share their Mad Libs creations.
Game night isn’t the type of gathering that requires a fancy sit down dinner. Keep things casual by setting up a “self serve” table with bites that are easy to eat while rolling the dice with one hand. Mini quiche, delicious dip, and tiny desserts are great options for fun finger food. Arrange your no fuss fare on gameboards and embellish with gamepieces to keep the festive theme consistent.
For the rest of this post– and the party perfect recipes click here and read on. Also, please take a moment to vote for my entry in Lucky Magazine’s Lifestyle Contributor contest. It will require you to “register” but it only take a few moments and my appreciation will be exponential!