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Thursday, April 30, 2009


cookie carnival :: toasted almond lemon bars!

well, it's time for the april round-up. but you won't find it here! holly at phemomenon will be putting that together this month. she's our guest host and a fabulous baker.

for this month's cookie, she chose a Toasted Almond Lemon Bar. from the The Sweet Melissa Baking Book by Melissa Murphy.

for some reason i kept putting off making these. i'm not sure why. maybe it's because i knew they would not go over well with the boys in the house and then i'd end up eating more of them. or maybe because i kept forgetting to buy almonds! in any case, i did make them and they are DELICIOUS. super lemony. but sweet enough. and the crust is really yummy. i baked off the bit of extra that i had into a cookie for the munchkins to share and they were begging for "just ONE more piece?" so, that's a good sign! i think it was my favorite aspect of the cookie as well. i'm not a huge fan of the lemon bar in general, but if i were to make them again, i'd certainly go back to this recipe. . . maybe next time try lime or orange! mmmm!

here is the recipe if you are interested in trying it out:

Toasted Almond Lemon Bars

Makes 1 dozen bars

For the Crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup sliced blanched almonds, lightly toasted
1/2 teaspoon salt
20 Tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

For the Lemon Filling:
4 large eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 7 lemons)
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar for sprinkling

To Toast the Almonds:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the almonds in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly golden and you can smell them. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Before You Start:
Position a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13 - inch pan with nonstick vegetable cooking spray. Make a parchment "sling" by cutting two pieces of parchment paper, measuring 16 1/2 inches long by 12 inches wide (you can also use aluminum foil). Place one piece across the length, and the other across the width of the pan, with the excess hanging over the edges. You will use this sling later to lift the finished bar from the pan. Spray the sling with the cooking spray.

To Make the Crust:
1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse the flour, sugar, almonds, and salt to combine. Add the cold butter in pieces and pulse until the dough comes together in a ball.

2. Turn the dough out into the prepared pan and press evenly into the bottom and 1 1/4 inches up the sides. (This crust, once it is baked, needs to act as a liner in which to pour the liquidy lemon filling. So be sure to do a good job of pressing the dough up the sides - no cracks!). Cover the dough with a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil, and fill with pie weights ( you can use dried beans or uncooked rice as pie weights as well). Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly golden. Carefully remove the pie weights and the liner and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until the whole crust is golden. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

To Make the Filling:
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until smooth. Add the almond extract and flour, and whisk until smooth. Add the lemon juice, and whisk to combine.

To Complete the Bars:
1. Pour the lemon filling into the prepared crust. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the filling is firm and lightly golden. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

2. When cool use the parchment sling to lift the entire bar from the pan and onto a cutting board. Slice into twelve 3 x 3 1/2 - inch bars. Remove from the pan and, using a small sifter, dust with the confectioners' sugar.

The bars keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. For longer storage, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 5 days, or freeze well wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil for up to 3 weeks. Do not unwrap before defrosting. Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009


wordless wednesday :: sandboxes and pansies, hello SPRING!

Thursday, April 23, 2009


cinnamon raisin bread

i'm so pleased with how this bread came out. i've been using The Bread Bible for my bread recipes so far and i have to's a lot of steps and a lot of prep, but it's SO worth it. the bread is light and airy, but still moist. truly delicious.

i cut the sugar in the filling by more than half as i tend to do. i just don't think it needs it. i also chopped my raisins, so that the toddler in the house could eat the bread more easily. which she does. devours is more like it. so far the prefered way is with a little peanut butter on it. YUM.

we also decided to make our own butter. that was not a huge success, but i'm going to try again.

and the bread bags! i've got 2 underway. hopefully they will be done in time for next week's loaves.

if you haven't made homemade bread in a while, i say give it a try. i promise you won't be sorry you did. there's just nothin' like it!

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Thursday, April 16, 2009


back to basics

i love it when worlds collide and separate things i have been thinking about/working on come together.

lately on my mind a lot is how we eat around here. specifically, the processed foods. don't get me wrong. we don't eat a lot them, but the granola bars, breakfast bars, plastic-bagged bread and cereal are plentiful around here. even though they are organic, it still....bothers me. we eat them for convenience. but, what is IN the things we unwrap and eat? even the natural ones have a long list of ingredients and some i don't recognize. so, how can i get back to eating in a way where i really know what is going in my kid's mouths? how can i be more in touch with my food?

so, this week (despite my horrid head cold --i cannot believe the *stuff* that is coming forth from my nose) i have managed to make 2 loaves of delicious light-wheat bread, whole wheat oat-sesame crackers

...and in the world of crafing/sewing, i had recently finished 30 placemats and napkins for bb's school and i was looking to do something more....3 dimensional, so i decided to do up some fun draw-string bags.

the idea for the bags struck when i began to think about re purposing a few items around here. (repurpose is my new favorite word. both for it's meaning and how it sounds. it's fun to say! repurpose!) i had this old polka-dot changing table cover just sitting around. no use for it anymore. hmmm...what to sew!? then, the bag idea. a quick Google session and i had some tutorials to work from.

and here it is. it now holds all of my daughter's little felted gnomes and other handmade critters.

how do these seemingly separate things come together?

i was looking online at how best to store the bread when i remembered a recent post on the Soulemama blog. turns out her research into how bread was stored in the old days yielded simply this, "fabric." so, amanda (Soulemama) made "breathable, but tight" linen drawstring bags for her bread out of vintage tea towels. great! turns out that these 2 creations of mine can help each other. bread, meet bag. . . i do believe i have some linen fabric in the cabinet....

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Friday, April 10, 2009


the chicken and the egg :: springtime is here! (pt.4)

well, it worked! we made some lovely little springtime grass in the beautiful egg shells. i was worried when we started this little project that i had blown it and over watered them, but i just added a few more seeds on top and viola! grass! fast! it's such a fun way to welcome spring. it's been rainy a lot here. as per usual this time of year. and we decided that when we feel complainy about it, instead, we say, "thank you rain! for making everything GREEN again!" it's a good exercise in "glass half full."

i also finally whipped up a little felted chick to go along with the mama hen. both are imperfect, but lucky for me, you can't tell how from these photos. it's good, though. i'm learning. i may try to make a few more babies and see if i can improve. til then, these 2 good birds hold our mealtime blessing and help us celebrate the season every day.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009


easter leftovers :: wait, wha?

i'm still getting Gourmet magazine delivered to my door despite their many renewal notices that i have ignored. not that i don't want to renew. i just haven't yet. and i like to see how good the offer will get the more i let them hang.

anyway, in the most recent issue they had a recipe for Ham and Rice Croquettes. this answered the call i had been issuing out to the food universe, "how can i get my 4.5 year old to eat more?" i've been on a quest lately to branch out and find new things for him to eat. there have been some hits and some misses, but it feels good to be trying.

these little buggers didn't go over really big, but they did okay. the apple salad accompaniment was a much bigger hit. it has maple syrup and raisins in it so, what did i expect?

Gourmet tucks this recipe under the category: what do with Easter leftovers. so, there you go, you can try them out on monday night. we couldn't wait that long.

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Friday, April 3, 2009


the chicken and the egg :: springtime is here! (pt.3)

here's the latest in felted creations around here. my sweet little blessing-holding-sitting-in-her-nest chicken. one day, i hope she will have some chicks. . .

in the meantime she sits on our dining room table reminding us our mealtime blessing. as well as the blessing of springtime.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009


the chicken and the egg :: springtime is here! (pt.2)

each spring at bb's school the kids do these little baskets of cat grass before easter break and some kind of little easter craft to go along with it. last year they made hollowed out eggs covered in fabric and a little bunny finger puppet. so sweet. he was so proud when he came home!

so, this year, we decided to take a few of those wonderful, bluish eggshells from the chickens at this school and make little cat grass egg cups. here's hoping it works out and we see some green grass a'growing in there soon! it's such a wonderful way to celebrate spring and the way the world turns green this time of year.

what are your easter/springtime projects? anyone have any to pass along?

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