Sunday, February 19, 2017

Take Two - Lemon Squares

I originally posted this recipe in 2012, but as I'm about to make it again, I thought it was time for an update on it.

2 1/4 c. sifted all purpose flour
1 c. powdered (confectioners) sugar
1 c. melted butter
4 eggs
2 c. white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
5/8 c. lemon juice
(Really?  Why can't it say just a little over 3/4 c.?)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  9 x13 pan, greased.  I use parchment paper for best results and no sticking.  Melt the butter.  Combine flour and powdered sugar.  Sifting is pretty important - I actually sifted all my dry ingredients so there are no clumps.  Blend the melted butter into the dry ingredients and press the resulting dough into the bottom of your pan.  Bake 15 minutes.
While the crust is baking, squeeze 5/8 cup of lemon juice from fresh lemons (or you can use store-bought lemon juice).

In a large bowl, beat four eggs until light.  Combine the granulated sugar, baking powder and 1/4 c. of flour in a separate bowl.  (This is an extra 1/4 c. flour different from that used in the crust.)  Slowly blend the sugar mixture into the beaten eggs and then add the lemon juice. 

Pour into the prepared crust while it is still hot and return to the oven for 30 minutes.

The squares should be golden brown when they come out of the oven.  Sprinkle some powdered sugar on the top, allow to cool completely, and enjoy!


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Fake News & Alternative Facts

First, let me start by saying this is NOT a political post.  Having said that, a year ago who ever heard the term "fake news" or "alternative facts"? Today, we know these terms all too well.  Just in case you've been on the moon for the past 6 months, "fake news" is an article that grossly exaggerates, and in some cases, presents false information.  "Alternative facts" are actually defined by a particular event (look it up on Wikipedia), but generally are statements presented as facts, without evidence (and maybe evidence to the contrary) to support them.

I am soooo over fake news and alternative facts. So what do you do to avoid this stuff?  Facebook is working on a filter which is good because most of this stuff is on social media. If you need relief before that, here are my rules:

1.  If the title leaves you hanging ("...and You Won't Believe What Happened Next!"), it's probably a ploy to get you to click a link to a story that has very little or no content.
2.  If there is a sensational photo attached to the title, especially if the title suggests something that seems implausible, it's fake news.  You may end up looking at stock photos with lots of ads.
3.  Look at the name of the website associated with the link.  If you've never heard of it before, it's probably not a reliable source of news.
4.  Finally, if no mainstream news sources are reporting a fact, it's probably "alternative."  You can also use Google and confirm that if you don't see similar information from reliable sources.

We are living in some strange times, and there is enough craziness out there without dealing with fake news and alternative facts.  Just say no to the clicks and keep your blood pressure down!


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Recipe: Chili Verde

While the Super Bowl is over, I have to share a great recipe we love, especially in winter.  This recipe is also very low-carb, which is a bonus for me.  It was a big hit for our guests, and even if we didn't appreciate the result of the big game, we enjoyed the chili. 

The trick to this recipe is the use of pork instead of chicken.  Pork stays tender.  Also, note that depending on the brand of green chile you use, your chili may be more or less spicy.  That's why at the end of the instructions it describes the use of the jalapenos or hot sauce as optional.
Chili Verde
2 lbs pork, cubed
1 cup onion, chopped
14 oz chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp. granulated garlic
2 1/2 Tbl. chicken base
1 tsp celery salt
1 Tbl. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 Tbl. cumin
1/2 Tbl jalapeno
1 Tbl. Dried cilantro
1/2 Tbl. red chili powder
10 oz green enchilada sauce
27 oz green chile, chopped
8 oz green chile, pureed
1 tsp salt

Brown pork and drain.  Add onion and chicken broth.  Simmer 1 hour, stirring often.  Add spices and a little water.  Simmer another hour, stirring often to avoid sticking.  Add green enchilada sauce, simmer 1/2 hour.  Add chopped green chiles.  Cook for 15 minutes.  Add 8 oz pureed green chile.  Use jalapeno, salt or hot sauce to taste.

This stuff is so good!


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Lemons for Cleaning

I've already said that I have a large lemon tree in my yard and there are lots of lemons for the picking.  Every January I look for ways to utilize the lemons I have.  Yesterday I rediscovered the cleaning power of lemons.  You can substitute lemon juice for white vinegar and get a better smell. Today I'll show how three lemons (and a little baking soda) will clean three areas of your kitchen for you - without scrubbing.

Start with the garbage disposal.  Sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of baking soda down the garbage disposal (without operating it) and squeeze the juice of one of your lemons (don't throw the lemon away).  Close/seal the drain.  Leave it and we'll come back to it later.

Now for the microwave.   I will admit our microwave was gross, but in my defense, my husband is charged with cleaning the kitchen.  Obviously, the inside of the microwave is not a high priority. (The lower left back corner is damaged, not dirty.)

Cut 3 lemons (including the one you just juiced) into small pieces (use all of the lemon, including the peel), and place them in a microwave-safe Pyrex dish.  Fill with water and microwave 3 to 5 minutes until boiling hot.  When it's done, don't open the door, but leave the dish in the microwave for 5 minutes.  The hot water creates a steam that breaks down the crud on the inside of the microwave.

After 5 minutes, just wipe down the microwave with a damp cloth and voila!

I wasn't done with the hot water and lemons just yet.  I filled my sink (the one that empties into the garbage disposal) with hot water, threw in a couple of tablespoons of baking soda and then dumped the hot water and lemon mix into the sink.

Let that sit for about a half hour, and you will find this disgusting mess.  Lemons do a great job breaking down grease that might still be in your sink.

Did you think I forgot about the garbage disposal?  For my last trick of cleaning three parts of the kitchen with three lemons, just open the drain with the sink full of lemon bits and turn on the garbage disposal as it empties.  The baking soda and lemon juice you previously put in it should deodorize it a bit and with running the hot water and the lemons through will clean the blades.

How about that?  Easiest cleaning I've done in a while!  You can also use a lemon cut in half and some sea salt to scrub your wood cutting board - great deodorizer! 

More lemon uses coming soon!


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Who Knew You Can Do? Lemons!

It's January in Arizona - citrus time!  I have this great lemon tree that produces far more lemons than I can use, so I've been working on maximizing my use of the lemons for the past couple of years. After all, you can only make so much lemonade regardless of how many lemons life gives you!  Even if you don't have a lemon tree, this is a good time to find inexpensive citrus at the grocery store. 

I'm going to try/demonstrate a few of these (some of these are obvious) and maybe a few new ones, so keep an eye out this week.  Here is my short list of things to do with lemons:

1.  Freeze them.  You can freeze whole or in slices or just the juice.  The only caveat is that they will be mushy when you thaw them, but the juice is just fine.

2.  Clean wood cutting boards - Use a half of a lemon as a scrub, rubbing the lemon juice on the cutting board along with some kosher or sea salt.  Cleans, kills bacteria and smells great.

3.  Clean your microwave - Cut up, put in a microwave safe dish (I use Pyrex) with water and heat in the microwave for 5 minutes.  The mess in your microwave with just wipe right off!

4.  Freshen your garbage disposal - Cut up lemons into bite size hunks (including rind) and throw in the garbage disposal. It will deodorize and smell great.  If you need to clean it a little more, include some baking soda, squeeze out the juice and let it sit in the disposal for a couple of minutes before you turn it on.

5.  Air freshener in the kitchen - Throw a few cut up lemons in a pot of boiling water with cinnamon and whole cloves and then let it simmer - smells great!

6.  Make a facial scrub - This one I am anxious to try, but while you're waiting for my blog post, here is a recipe from Hot Beauty Health.

9.  Make Limoncello - I'm intimidated by this one, so you might not see a blog post on this for about a month or so.  In the meantime, here is a quick recipe from Food Network

10.  Lemon Squares/Bars - Here is my favorite recipe so far.

Finally, I didn't leave room in my top 10 for lemonade, but I'll make sure to include my favorite recipe in another post.  Obviously, there are so many ways to use lemon in cooking so I didn't include any recipes, but remember - those frozen lemons can help you with those recipes all through the year.