Meyer Lemon Curd

Meyer Lemon Curd

For some reason I am finding it particularly hard to write this post. Perhaps because I feel a disconnect with this recipe since I made it almost two months ago. That’s right – I made this delicious lemon curd for a bridal shower that I attended one day before I went into labor.

Meyer Lemons

Ah yes. Now I remember how delicious it was spread on fresh scones; how surprisingly easy it was to prepare; and how pretty it looked in a Weck jelly jar.

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If you have never made lemon curd before, let me urge you to give it a try. It’s hardly more bother than making a pudding. And it’s amazingly fresh and rich at the same time. If you’re a lemon fan, this is definitely something not to be missed.

Meyer Lemon Curd | from Williams-Sanoma | makes 2 cups | PRINTABLE PAGE

Ingredients:

  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar (natural sugar can be used, but the curd won’t be as pretty)
  • 1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice
  • grated zest of 2 Meyer lemons
  • 12 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

Directions:

1) Have ready a heat proof bowl and a fine-mesh sieve. In another heat-proof bowl (or the top of a double boiler) combine the egg yolks and sugar and whisk vigorously for 1 minute. Add the lemon juice and zest and whisk for another minute.

2) Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 10-15 minutes. Add the butter one piece at a time, whisking until completely melted before adding another.

3) Remove from heat and strain the curd through the sieve into the heat-proof bowl, pressing the curd through the sieve. Place plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the curd and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days. Now you’re ready to serve your lemon curd on fresh scones (with butter and Devonshire cream), or however you wish!
Meyer Lemon Curd

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Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Peppermint Hot Chocolate

For some reason, I have been averse to pairing mint with chocolate my whole life. Whenever someone would order a mint mocha or mint chocolate chip ice cream I would inwardly shake my head in wonderment. Why ruin perfectly good chocolate with mint?

Peppermint Hot Chocolate

But I heard people raving about the peppermint hot chocolate at Starbucks. Could I be wrong in my presumption? I decided to give this mint-and-chocolate thing a try.

Am I ever glad I did. The fresh, strong flavor of peppermint lightens the rich, heavy hot chocolate perfectly. Which means you can drink more of this scrumptious beverage without feeling overwhelmed by the creaminess.

Recipe Notes

  • The original recipe suggests chopping your chocolate, but I just used chocolate chips and they melted perfectly.
  • The OR also directs you to bring the milk/cream to a boil and add it to the chocolate. I just put it all in a pot and let it melt together. Worked wonderfully!
  • The peppermint flavor that I used left little grease puddles at the top of my hot chocolate. If you’re a purist, go for a non oil-based flavoring.
  • I added a few drops of the peppermint flavoring to the whipped cream just for kicks. I highly recommend it.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate | adapted from Bon Appetit | makes 4 servings | PRINTABLE PAGE

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream, divided
  • 1 teaspoon + 2 tablespoons sugar or sweetener of choice
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips or chocolate bar, chopped
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon peppermint flavor
  • candy canes, for garnish

Directions:

1) Place 1/2 cup cream, 2 tablespoons sugar, the milk and chocolate in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the chocolate has completely melted and is smooth. Remove from heat and stir in the peppermint flavor.

2) In a small bowl, beat the remaining 1/2 cup chilled cream with a few drops of peppermint flavor (optional) until soft peaks form.

3) Serve the hot chocolate with whipped cream and a sprinkling of crushed candy canes. Enjoy!

Honey Roasted Pears

Honey Roasted Pears

I must admit that November is not my favorite month. In Norther Minnesota, most of the colorful leaves are long gone and everything seems brown, grey and cold. I long for the lakes to freeze over so we can go skating and for snow so we can ski.

Honey Roasted Pears

But this is the month to catch your breath before winter settles in. A time to dig out your extra warm coats, boots and sweaters in preparation for the freezing-cold days ahead.

It’s also a time to enjoy warm tea on grey days and hot, filling desserts on chilly evenings.

Honey Roasted Pears

These roasted pears are the perfect little treat for an otherwise gloomy evening. They cook up without fuss and are fantastic with a scoop of good-quality vanilla ice cream. You really must serve them with ice cream.

HONEY ROASTED PEARS | adapted from Sprouted Kitchen | Printable Page | makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe pears
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • good quality vanilla ice cream, for serving

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 450° F (230° C). Slice the pears in half lengthwise and cut out the centers.

2. In a small cast iron skilled place the butter, honey, vanilla and salt. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

3. Add the pears to the pan, cut side down. Continue to simmer for 2 more minutes. Turn the peaches over and transfer to the oven. Bake for 12 minutes or until the pears are nice and soft and the sauce has caramelized.

4. Serve hot or warm with vanilla ice cream and the caramel sauce. Enjoy!

Honey Roasted Pears

Rhubarb Crunch + Being an Aunt

Rhubarb Crunch

The other day, my sister called me up and asked if I’d be willing to stay with the kids while she made a trip into town. Of course I said yes – being home alone is kinda lonely sometimes, and I love my little niece and nephew to death.

Rhubarb Crunch

While she was in town and the kids were napping, I decided to harvest some of her beautiful rhubarb and make a dessert.

Rhubarb Crunch

Everything went together easily and it baked up as described by the recipe. When the kiddos woke up from their nap, they were very interested in my creation and desperate to give it a try.

Rhubarb Crunch
Rhubarb Crunch

The guys got home from work and Reuben spied the rhubarb crisp. He, too was eager to try some – perhaps before supper?

Rhubarb Crunch

Just as we were getting ready to eat, my sister announced that she was going into labor. We quickly finished the meal and cleared away the dishes – but she need us to leave: NOW. We scooped up the kids (and the dessert) and headed home.

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Judah and Ellie finally got to eat their dessert (with whipped cream, of course). We waited (somewhat) patiently for news of the arrival of the baby. Ten o-clock rolled around and no phone call. We put the kids to bed and settled down at the computer to relax a bit after a very busy day.

Susan

Just as Reuben and I were drifting off to sleep, we got the call. It’s a girl!

The next morning we packed up the kids and headed out to see the newest member of the family: Susan.

And what a doll she is.

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I’ve gotta tell you, these kids are aDORable. But, like all little kids, they’re also a handful. They need help doing almost everything, from wiping their faces, to washing their hands, to getting dressed. They seem to have two modes: super energetic or sleepy. After two days of taking care of them I was exhausted.

All of this to say, I have a new appreciation for the unsung heroes of the world: mothers.

The only time you have to yourself is the few short hours when the kids are taking a nap. All other hours are spent keeping the kids fed, happy and safe. Just living becomes a chore.

But their happy faces and excited voices make it all worth while.

So to all mothers: my hat is off.

Rhubarb Crunch

But about this rhubarb crunch.

It’s a bit different than most crisp recipes I’ve made – you press half of the topping into the pan before adding the rhubarb. Also, you boil together sugar and water and pour over the rhubarb in the pan for sweetener.

I used whole wheat flour and a natural sweetener, partly because that was all that I could find in Audra’s pantry (go sis!). Also, she didn’t have any regular rolled oats on hand, so I used quick instead. Feeling a bit lazy, I decided to melt the butter and mix into the topping ingredients instead of cutting it in. A trick my mum taught me.

Reuben thought it was a tad too sweet, even though I cut out some of the sugar. Of course, rhubarb recipes usually call for a ton of sugar to combat the sourness of the fruit (is rhubarb a fruit or a vegetable?). And we’re not very tolerant of overly sweet desserts.

Would I make this again? Definitely. It was very easy, and I think it would easily convert to other fruits, such as raspberries.

Rhubarb Crunch | adapted from Taste of Home | printable page | make 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned or quick oats
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar (I used about 3/4 cup sucanat)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cubed (or melted)
  • 4 cups diced fresh rhubarb or frozen rhubarb
  • 1-1/3 cups sugar (I used 1 cup of sucanat)
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • whipped cream or ice cream, for serving

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a square baking dish (I used a pie pan because that’s all I could find).

2) In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, sugar, and cinnamon. Cut in the cold butter or mix in the melted butter. Press half of the topping into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the rhubarb on top.

3) In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and cornstarch. Slowly mix in the cold water and heat over medium until the mixture boils; boil for 2 minutes or until thickened a bit. Pour over the rhubarb in the pan.

4) Sprinkle with remaining crumb topping. Bake in the preheated oven for about an hour (start checking at 40 minutes) or until bubbly and beginning to brown.

5) Serve warm with ice cream, lightly sweetened whipped cream or plain cream.


Homemade Pistachio Pudding

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When I was a little girl, I always requested my favorite dessert for my birthday, or any other special occasion: Striped Delight (shortbread crust, a cream cheese + whipped cream layer and pistachio pudding on top). I still remember being horrified when, for my birthday (probably my fifth or sixth), there was no pistachio pudding in the house so lemon pudding was substituted. I was crushed.

Homemade Pistachio Pudding

A while back, I spied a recipe for homemade pistachio pudding on Joy the Baker’s blog. I knew it needed to happen in my kitchen someday, but I only worked up the gumption to make it a few days ago.

The results? A creamy pudding with wonderful depth of flavor. Does it replace the fakey instant pudding I grew up with? No, it tastes nothing like that. Is that a bad thing? No. I’ll probably eat more instant pistachio pudding before I die, but this recipe is a lovely, more natural alternative.

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Recipe Notes:

  • Reuben and I agreed that, while very tasty, this pudding was a bit too sweet. Next time I’ll be cutting out a bit of the sugar.
  • You can definitely use a natural sweetener (which is probably what I’ll do next time) if you wish. I used granulated because I wanted the pudding to be a pretty color for photos.

Homemade Pistachio Pudding | from Joy the Baker | printable page | makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

For the pistachio paste:

  • 1/2 cup salted pistachio nuts
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar (or a natural sweetener)
  • 2 tablespoons water

For the pudding:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar (or a natural sweetener)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup pistachio nuts, chopped
  • whipped cream, for serving

Directions:

To make the Pistachio Paste:

Place pistachios in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until the nuts are in small bits.  Add the sugar and water, and blend until relatively smooth.

To make the Pudding:

1) Spoon Pistachio Paste into a medium saucepan.  Add the milk and whisk over medium heat.  Heat milk and pistachio until steamy and hot.

2) While milk is heating, whisk together granulated sugar, egg yolks, cornstarch and pinch of salt.  Mixture will be thick.  Keep whisking until it’s smooth.  Pour about 1/2 cup of the steaming pistachio milk into the sugar and egg mixture.  Whisk together.  Add another half cup of hot milk and whisk to incorporate.  Return the milky egg mixture into the saucepan over medium heat.

3) Heat pudding mixture over medium heat until thick and bubbly.  Whisk almost constantly.  You might also want to use a heat-proof spatula to stir the mixture, ensuring that the sides and corners of the pan aren’t burning. Boil for about 1 minute, or until thickened.  Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla extract, until butter is melted.  Pass cooked pudding through a fine mesh strainer set over a medium bowl.  This will ensure that any cooked egg bits don’t make it into the finished pudding.  Press the pudding through the strainer.  Add a few of the pistachio nut bits that the strainer catches back to the pudding if you’d like.

4) Spoon into small ramekins, place plastic wrap over the individual puddings (so the plastic touches the top of the pudding), and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

5) Top with lightly sweetened whipped cream and chipped pistachios. Pudding will last, covered in the refrigerator, for up to 4 days.


Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

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Super-sweet cakes are definitely not my cup of tea. Ever since I was a little girl I have disliked overly sugary desserts. Often times I would refuse birthday cake and opt for plain ice cream. Of course these days I’m a little more polite. I’ll eat my share of sickly-sweet treats; but give me a perfectly sweetened dessert and I’m much happier.

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The frosting is another hang-up. Gobs of powdered sugar + only a tiny bit of butter = disgusting, in my book. To balance out the sweetness, frosting needs a good measure of fat, whether it be in the form of butter, cream cheese, cream or peanut butter.

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Here I give you (what I consider to be) one of the best types of cakes: Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting. The actual cake doesn’t taste like sugar fluff; it has flavor and a bit of spice and it’s nice and moist. The cream cheese in the frosting makes it pleasantly tangy and the maple syrup and vanilla give it a lovely flavor.

What do you think? Do you prefer your desserts with less sugar, or do you have a major sweet tooth?

Notes:

In keeping with my lower sugar preference, I cut out some of the sugar both in the cake and the frosting. If you have more of a sweet tooth than I do, you can go ahead and put in the full amount of sugar.

Of course I had to use half whole-wheat flour.

The original recipe called for nuts, but since Reuben prefers his desserts without them, I only put them on top.

Because I have always wanted to try it, I halved the recipe and baked the cakes in two 6-inch pans. I have provided the full-sized recipe below, but if you want to make a cute cake, just cut everything in half and bake in smaller pans.

Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting | Printable Page | Makes 10-12 servings

Adapted from The Joy of Baking and Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

  • 3/4 pound raw carrots (preferably organic), peeled and finely grated (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (preferably ww pastry flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled, or any other flavorless oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the Maple Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup organic confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

For the Cake:

1) Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter two 9-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with circles of parchment paper.

2) In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.

3) Using a stand mixer or a hand mixer, beat the eggs until frothy, about a minute. Slowly add the sugar & beat until thick and light colored, about 3-4 minutes. Add the oil in a slow steady stream. Beat in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture and mix just until incorporated. Fold in the grated carrots.

4) Equally divide the batter between the two prepared pans (I weighed the batter for precise measurement). Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

5) Remove from oven and allow the cake to cool, in the pan on a wire rack, for about 5-10 minutes. Turn the cakes out of the pans onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.

For the Maple Cream Cheese Frosting:

1) Beat the cream cheese and butter together until fluffy.

2) Sift the powdered sugar over the cream cheese/butter mixture and mix until well combined. Add the maple syrup and vanilla extract and beat until combined.




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Creamy Lemon Pudding + A Farewell To Winter

Lemon Pudding

There’s something clear and fresh about lemons that whispers “Spring” to me. The bright tartness reminds me of one of those nippy spring days that seem to hold onto winter. The clean, fresh tastes speaks of new beginnings. The cheerful, warm color says sunny days.

Thus, as these Minnesota days are finally warming up, the birds are beginning to sing and the snow is almost gone, I bid farewell to winter. I love winter for its nostalgia and (most of all) for the skiing, but I am quite ready to say hello to jackets and flats and good-bye to heavy coats and snow boots.

Lemon Pudding

Lemon Pudding

Lemon Pudding

But on to the pudding!

I was very much surprised by the creamy smoothness of this pudding – I was half expecting it to curdle horribly. However, the only lemon that hits the pudding while it cooks is the zest. Only after the pudding has completely cooled do you gently whisk in the lemon juice, ensuring that the pudding stays velvety.

The lemon flavor isn’t loud and sharp; it’s soft and slowly curls out as you savor each bite. Little bits of zest find their way into the finished pudding, even after straining, and give you a pleasant surprise. It’s marvelous.

Lemon Pudding

Notes:

  • I used white sugar because I didn’t want to compromise the delicate color, but you could easily substitute a more natural sweetener for a healthier treat.
  • I highly recommend serving with a dollop of whipped cream. It elevates a delicious treat to a decadent dessert.

Creamy Lemon Pudding | Printable Page | Makes 4 servings

From Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (make sure you lemon is organic!)
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions:

1) Begin by putting a fine-mesh strainer over a heat-proof bowl set on top of a hot pad. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, cream and egg yolks. Slowly whisk into the cornstarch mixture.

2) Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and begins to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat and strain into the prepared bowl. Whisk in the butter and vanilla.

3) Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Gently whisk the lemon juice into the chilled pudding until smooth. Spoon into small bowls and serve.

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