Super Easy Key Lime Pie

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I looooove key lime pie, and now that summer is fast approaching, it’s an excellent warm weather dessert. It requires minimal cooking, is refreshingly tart and creamy, and is served nice and chilly. Plus, there’s a super easy recipe for it just below this paragraph. Don’t believe me? TAKE A LOOK!

Key Lime Pie

For the crust:
7 oz graham crackers or ginger snaps, pulverized into crumbs
1 pinch salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
1 can sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup fresh key lime or lime juice
2 teaspoons freshly grated zest
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream (optional)
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine the cookie crumbs, salt, and butter. Press into the pie pan in an even layer and up the sides.
  3. Bake for 8 minutes. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees.
  4. Combine the sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, lime juice, and zest. Whisk until well combined and pour into the pie crust.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes until set and just a little jiggly. Let cool completely.
  6. If using the whipped cream: whip the cold cream and sugar in a chilled bowl until stiff peaks form. Spread or pipe on top.
  7. Chill pie for 2-3 hours before eating. Store covered in the fridge for up to 3 days.
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Super Easy Key Lime Pie

Confetti Cookies

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I made Smitten Kitchen’s Confetti Cookies for a friend’s birthday and they were adorable and totally delicious.

I honestly didn’t change a thing other than I was a bit stingy with the sprinkles. A couple of tips, though: include the almond extract and don’t over-bake them. They’re pretty amazing when they’re soft. Also, the dough freezes great.

Make some!

Confetti Cookies

Lemon Berry Cake

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I was tasked with making a dessert for roughly 25-30 people attending a baby shower last weekend. The mom-to-be and I decided on a lemony berry-y concoction, and this is what I came up with. It was a bit precarious to transport, but it looked nice, tasted good, and fed the right amount of people. Success!

The cake is a basic 1-2-3-4 cake with a dose of vanilla and lemon zest added. I baked mine in the three-tiered wedding-style configuration—if you do that, just keep an eye on the layers since they’ll bake at different rates. Start checking them at 20 minutes. The easier way is to cook them in three 9-inch pans like the recipe calls for, but I didn’t have three. You work with what you got. Note that you can make the lemon curd beforehand (it’ll keep in the fridge for 1 week).

The combo of the sweet cake, tart lemon curd, fresh berries, and fluffy whipped cream is just so good. Technically you could leave out the berries or you could leave out the curd. It’d still be good, just not quite as good. But I get it if you don’t want to prep four things.

 

1-2-3-4 Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 lemons, zested
3 cups sifted self-rising flour*
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare your three 9″ pans by greasing and flouring well.

Using an electric mixer, cream butter until fluffy. Add sugar and continue to mix well for 6 to 8 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and zest and mix well.

Add flour and milk alternately to mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Level batter in each pan.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on wire racks for 5-10 minutes before turning the cakes out of their pans and cooling completely.

* Make your own self-rising flour if you don’t have any. 1 cup self-rising flour = 1 cup all-purpose flour, minus 2 teaspoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon salt.


Lemon Curd
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen/The Joy of Cooking

4 egg yolks
3/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 small lemons, zested and juiced

Put all ingredients in a double boiler over boiling water. Don’t let top pan touch the water. Cook and stir until mixture begins to gel or thicken ever-so-slightly. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Cover and refrigerate it to thicken.


Berries

1 package fresh strawberries, washed and dried
1 small package raspberries, washed and drained
1 small package blueberries, washed and drained

Hull the strawberries and slice into 2-4 slices lengthwise, depending on their size. If your strawberries are not very sweet, you can toss them in a bowl with a tablespoon or two of sugar.


Whipped Cream

1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Chill a large, clean mixing bowl in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. Add the cream and vanilla and whip using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment or a hand-held mixer. Add the sugar gradually, a tablespoon at a time. Whip until stiff peaks form.


How to Assemble:

Place one cooled cake layer on a cake stand or serving plate. Top with 1/3 of the lemon curd in a thin layer, followed by 1/3 of the whipped cream and a single layer of berries. If you soaked your strawberries in sugar, be sure to drain them before using. Top with another cake layer and repeat twice. For the final layer, arrange the fruit in a pretty design. Or don’t! Whatever you want. Store in the refrigerator until serving.

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Lemon Berry Cake

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

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When cooking at home, I dabble with vegan baking in an effort to make things a bit healthier/I’m too lazy to run to the market for eggs. One vegan recipe that never fails me is chocolate cake. It’s super easy to make, doesn’t take any weird ingredients, and turns out moist and delicious. If I’m making chocolate cake at home, 95% of the time I’m making a recipe like the one below. Even if you’re not vegan (I’m not) try it out! So good.

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes
adapted from Chowhound
makes 10-12 cupcakes

1/2 cup plain almond or soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup room temperature coffee
1/3 cup canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line one muffin pan with liners.
2. Add the milk and vinegar to a large bowl and mix. Let sit for a few minutes to curdle. Add the sugar, coffee, oil, and vanilla and whisk until well combined.
3. In a separate bowl, sift together all of the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, soda, baking powder, salt).
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in a couple of batches and whisk until no large lumps remain.
5. Fill the liners 2/3 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely before icing or eating.

I used this vegan chocolate frosting recipe. Cut the recipe by 1/3 if you’re making the recipe above as written.

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

Holiday Recipes 2016

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Happy holidays everyone! Here’s some of my favorite holiday party-worthy recipes I’ve utilized this year. I’ve been thinking about the rum punch ever since I made it this weekend. I also like trying to say rum punch like Mary Poppins does. Enjoy and be merry.

  • Rum Campari Punch — Smitten Kitchen
    • I love Campari, but even my party guests that aren’t known to drink the bright red stuff loved this boozy but easy-to-drink punch. Make it up to a day ahead of time (just add the bubbles right before serving).
  • Best Rugelach — The Kitchn
    • I use this recipe more than once a year as it simply never fails to be amazingly delicious. I’ve used all sorts of fillings and the dough freezes great. You can also make these as pinwheels (faster if you’re making lots): when separating the dough, form into a long log and chill per the instructions. Roll out into a long rectangle, add your filling, and roll up into a tight log. Slice into 1/2″ wheels.
  • Homemade Chex Mix — Betty Crocker
    • What can I say? Total nostalgia for me. You can play around with what tidbits you include (Cheerios? Nuts?) and the spices as well. I used garlic powder (you can use fresh), a Cajun spice mix, salt, and worcestershire. And I used the oven: preheat to 350. Add your butter to a large rimmed baking sheet (or two) and melt in the oven. Add the spices and mix, then add the other ingredients and mix. Bake for 10 minutes, toss, and bake for 10-15 minutes more.
  • Spicy Gingerbread Cut-outs — me! (on Serious Eats)
    • I make these tried and true every year. They have tons of flavor with or without the icing and become softer the longer you store them. Easy to bake, easy to decorate.
Holiday Recipes 2016

Blueberry-Almond Scones

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If you think of scones as dense, dry mounds of dough, then you haven’t had a good, fresh scone. The trick to making them moist, tender and flavorful is lots of butter and a healthy dosing of buttermilk. At least, that’s what this recipe uses. Also in this recipe: a mound of blueberries and almonds add welcome fruity and nutty flavor.

We could argue about what makes a scone a scone and maybe these are just weird, extra buttery muffins? But why spend our time arguing when we could be eating these scones?

The base of the recipe below comes from my mother, which comes from a tea shop in my hometown. If you’re ever in Robertson County, Tennessee (you never know), make sure you stop in at Burdett’s Tea Shop. The quiche is named after my mother and is delish.


Blueberry-Almond Scones

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Sift the above dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed

Cut the butter into the dry ingredients using knives or a pastry cutter until the butter is pea-sized.

1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup fresh blueberries (see note for frozen)

Add the buttermilk, almond extract, and blueberries and mix with a spoon until a dough forms. Dust a counter with flour and add dough. Pat or roll the dough into a 1/2″ thick disc, using more flour as needed. Cut into eight wedges and place on parchment-lined baking sheet.

1/4 cup heavy cream or buttermilk
1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup slivered almonds

Brush the tops with cream or buttermilk, sprinkle with sugar, and top with almonds, lightly pressing them in.

Bake at 425 degrees in the middle of the oven for about 15 minutes. Scones are done when they are golden brown, tall, and brown but not burnt on the bottom.

Notes:
If you use frozen blueberries, toss them with a tablespoon of flour first to keep them from bleeding too much.
Eating one later? Reheat your scones in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes.

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Blueberry-Almond Scones

Thoughts on Rhubarb

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I love rhubarb. I know not everyone feels the same way, but I crave the tart, fruity stalks all year long. The vibrant, celery-like plant can be hard to track down in SoCal, but at long last I got my hands on some at the farmers market on Sunday. It was a little green and extra tart, but beggars can’t be choosers and it still satisfied my craving.

If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on some rhubarb but aren’t sure what to do with it, here are some ideas:

I made this recipe with two cups of tart rhubarb and almost two cups of diced apple. Depending on how tart your rhubarb is, you’ll need at least 3/4 cup of sugar, maybe more.

And if you’re lucky enough to have a little green space and live in a slightly cooler climate than LA, plant rhubarb in an out-of-the-way place and let it go. The shrub takes a year or so to come into its own, but it comes back year after year, producing more and more tasty stalks. Heaven.

Thoughts on Rhubarb