Archive for February, 2011

Key Lime Bars

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Oh, citrus, how I love thee… The season can’t be long enough for me, but I do appreciate the rhythm of nature in saving the best for last! Key limes are a blast of citrus nirvana that is enough (almost) to carry me until next winter!

Of course I made a pie… You know, the one with sweetened condensed milk and eggs and graham crackers and yes, it was creamy dreamy good… But with the rest of my limes I was craving something a little different…something a little more tart…something a little more decadent…

So I started searching… Leave it to a Southern girl to take a buttery shortbread-like cookie crust, cover it with a concentrated punch of sticky lime goodness, douse it all in powdered sugar and bake it up in a LARGE pan so there is plenty to go around! That is the genius that is Gina Neely.

I made this immediately! I hovered over it waiting for it to cool so I could sift it with powdered sugar… I devoured the raggedy edges for tasting inspiration before I took pictures… I coaxed the last rays of winter light over the plate because I wanted you to SEE and KNOW how fantastically puckery and wonderful these bars are!!! (And I ate all the bars in the photo because they were taunting me…true story… I implore you to make these now!)

Gather Up:
Cookie Crust
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 /2 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 cups flour
Pinch kosher salt

Lime Topping
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups sugar
6 tablespoons flour
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons lime zest
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 9 x 13 inch cake pan.

To make the crust, combine the butter and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium high speed for 2 to 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the flour and the salt, and mix another minute until well combined.

Pat the dough out to an even thickness over the bottom of the pan, and then gently push up and build an edge all around. (This will prevent the filling from seeping down underneath the crust when it is added later.)

Bake the crust for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden. Remove and let cool completely on a rack.

To make the topping, whisk together the eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the flour and whisk until just combined. Whisk in the lime juice and the zest.

Pour the lime topping over the cooled crust and return to the 350 degree oven. Bake for an additional 25 minutes until the filling is set.

Remove to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. Generously dust with confectioners’ sugar and cut into squares. Bars will keep 2-3 days at room temperature.

Recipe from “Down Home with the Neelys: A Southern Family Cookbook”

Cheddar Garlic Bread

Monday, February 14th, 2011

During the summer between my sophomore and junior year of high school, I worked at the Great Harvest Bread Company by my house. For the first couple of weeks it was really fun.

Unfortunately for me, sales in the northwest Houston area were a little slow that summer. Even more unfortunately, a brand new Costco had just opened, and my boss decided he was going to try to boost sales by sampling and selling bread at Costco. But who would hand out the samples? Yes, that’s right. Me.

Imagine the most humiliated you’ve ever been in your life. Then add a hair net. (Because if you’re going to hand out samples at Costo, it’s required. If you ever see someone without one, find a supervisor. They will be in BIG trouble. Not that I ever tried to sidestep the system…)

Needless to say, it didn’t take me long to figure something out: the sooner the sample loaves were gone, the sooner I could go home. On particularly slow days, I liked to help my odds. Especially when we were sampling the Cheddar Garlic Bread – that bread was a glimmer of light in my day. (Sidenote: it was also the 10 pounds I had to work off during drill team camp at the end of the summer.)

Soft white bread full of a cheddar cheese swirl and flavored with subtle hints of garlic…heaven. I’ve never had bread that quite lived up to it…until now. The flavors are a match made in heaven and it’s the perfect savory complement to any main dish begging for bread.

My mom served it with meatloaf the first time we had it, and as the base for some rather unsophisticated meatloaf sandwiches the second time around. Like us, I predict you will have no trouble devouring every last crumb!

Gather Up:
3 cups bread flour
1 packet instant yeast
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon organic garlic salt
1 ½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

In an electric mixing bowl combine 2 cups flour and the yeast.

In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the milk, butter, sugar and garlic salt. Heat until the butter is melted and the temperature of the mixture is between 120 – 130 degrees.

Add the milk mixture to the mixing bowl and beat until combined. Slowly add as much of the remaining 1 cup of flour as is needed to form a dough that comes together and isn’t sticky.

Add 1 ¼ cup of cheddar cheese and combine.

With the dough hook, knead for 5 – 8 minutes until dough is smooth.

Remove from the mixer, cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Shape dough into an oval loaf and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Cover and place in a warm draft-free spot and let rise for 1 – 1 ½ hours until not quite doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup cheddar cheese.

Bake 25 – 30 minutes until golden and hollow sounding. Cool on wire rack.

Adapted from Cooking During Stolen Moments.

Peanut Butter Jam Cookies

Monday, February 7th, 2011

These cookies are for the young and the young at heart! They are perfect to make with a helper, and they are seriously addictive enough to make it hard to give them away… (I know of what I speak – I ate six while they were warm…)

But give them away you must! Because who doesn’t love to receive a homemade treat for Valentine’s Day? One crumbly jam-kissed bite and the recipient will fall hopelessly in love! (I mean with the cookie, silly goose…)

Gather Up:
1 ½ cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 egg
3/4 cup raspberry jam, stirred to loosen

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Beat the butter and the sugars with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy.

Beat in peanut butter and then egg.

On low speed, beat in flour mixture just until dough forms.

Roll dough into 1 ½ inch balls (about 2 tablespoons). Place on baking sheet and gently press into a small round, repairing any cracked dough with your fingers.

Make a gentle indentation in the cookie.

Bake for 11 minutes. Remove from oven and gently reshape the indentation.

Fill with a generous dollop of jam. Bake an additional 4 minutes until cookies are firm.

Remove to a wire rack to cool. Jam-filled cookies can be stored at room temperature for 2 days.

From: Martha Stewart Living, February 2011

Spicy Grilled Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

We hardly ever sit down to a family dinner on Friday night. People tend to come and go at different times on the weekend, and they often want to eat and run, if you know what I mean…

But that doesn’t mean they don’t want something savory and delicious to eat while they are around, so I have learned to make dishes that can sit for awhile so folks can help themselves when they are ready.

Lest you judge me to be something of an overindulgent mother, let me assure you it is quite the opposite. Cooking and eating fresh food is a commitment worth making for yourself, and one that I hope my children will make for themselves when the time comes!

And the time is coming! Working Girl gets married this November! Her fiancé’s grandma is an awesome Texas lady who happens to enjoy making homemade treats as much as I do! She gifted Ellen with some of her wonderful pepper jelly over the holidays, and lucky for me it made its way into my pantry! (And into honey mustard gravy for pork chops and the soon-to-famous BBQ meatloaf from ScrambledHenFruit…)

Truth be told, I had to make these indoors on a grill pan… It’s just too darn cold to do it any other way… Luckily tender lettuces are showing up sporadically, and frozen corn makes the delicious topping possible even during a deep freeze!

Gather Up:
1 pound boneless chicken breasts
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
½ cup pepper jelly, or other hot jelly of your choosing
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
Boston or Bibb lettuce leaves, washed and separated

For the Salsa Topping:
3 cups sweet corn, thawed
1 tablespoon canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 heirloom tomato, seeded and diced
1 small red onion, diced
¼ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Extra glaze for drizzling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Toss the sweet corn in a bowl with the canola oil and the salt and pepper. Spread evenly on the baking sheet and roast until barely browned, 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, combine the jelly, soy sauce, lime juice and ginger in a small saucepan. Slowly heat, allowing the flavors to blend.

Preheat a grill pan to medium high heat. Slice the chicken into several pieces of even size and thickness and brush generously with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Place the chicken on the grill pan and cook until golden and cooked through. Brush with the jelly glaze during the last few minutes of cooking.

Remove the chicken to a cutting board and allow to rest, brushing again with glaze.

Move the roasted corn to a bowl and add the tomatoes, red onion, cilantro and lime juice and toss well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Shred or dice the chicken, tossing with a little additional glaze if desired.

Place chicken in lettuce leaves, top with corn salsa. Drizzle glaze to taste.

Welcome to Like Mother Like gal, stay at home mom, college student. Just 3 girls who love to eat and are dedicated to doing it the old-fashioned way! Plan, shop, cook, bake, clean, sleep, repeat. Hope you enjoy - we are so glad you are here!
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