Lemon Bars

Whenever I think of the best summer desserts, lemon bars are right up there at the top of the contenders.

From the ingredients, to the method to the flavors, they’re so simple, clean and fresh. I’m kinda disappointed in myself that I haven’t gotten around to including them on the blog yet. But, better late than never.

I’ve seen lemon bar mixes in the store, but honestly you guys, making it from scratch isn’t that much more work. It really isn’t. In fact, I’m so confident that everyone can pull this off that I’m putting today’s recipe in the “You Can’t Mess this Up, No Seriously” Category.

There’s very little fuss to them at all. The crust is a basic shortbread that gets pre-baked for about half an hour until golden brown. I added the zest of a lemon to the dough just to give it extra lemon flavor.

Lemon curd is typically made over the stove and requires a little bit of extra TLC to ensure that it comes out perfectly smooth and set. I think what I love the most about this recipe is that you don’t have to give the curd that extra TLC. The oven does all the work for you on the second bake.

The shortbread crust of these bars makes for a delicious, lemon scented cookie all on its own. The crisp texture and golden brown flavor pairs great with the smooth, sharp flavor of the lemon curd on top. I didn’t see the need to add the traditional powdered sugar you often see on top of lemon bars. Trust me: these babies don’t need it.

So do me a solid, and don’t bother buying a lemon bars mix with preservatives in it that you can’t even pronounce. Make them yourself, from scratch. I repeat: these are simple. You can’t mess them up. Try them and see.

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Lemon Bars

Recipe Adapted from Food Network Magazine

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup powdered/confectioner’s sugar, plus more if desired
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • the zest of 2 lemons, divided
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup flour

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.. Line a 13 x 9 baking dish with aluminum foil and spray it with cooking spray.

In a medium size bowl, combine the 2 cups of flour with the 3/4 cup of powdered sugar, pinch of salt and the zest of 1 lemon. Stir together with a fork.

Use your fingers (or even better, a box grater) to cut the butter into the dry ingredients. Stir together with a fork or your hands until it begins to form large and slightly sticky clumps. If it’s still too dry to hold together, you can add some water or milk (only 1 tablespoon at a time) just until it does.

Spread your fingers or a spatula with cooking spray and press these clumps into the bottom of the pan, forming as level a layer of the dough as you can.. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the eggs with the 1 1/2 cups of white sugar, the zest of the second lemon, and the lemon juice. Whisk thoroughly until the egg yolks have broken up. Add in the flour, whisking again until all of the clumps are smoothed out.

Pour on top of the cookie crust. Place back in the oven and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes, until the lemon curd is set.

Allow to cool completely, then sprinkle the top with powdered sugar if desired before cutting into bars.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #283, co-hosted this week by Antonia @ Zoale.com and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Lemon Cakes

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Game of Thrones Series Week #5

Before I give my recap/thoughts of last week’s episode, let me just say for the record that I am thoroughly ticked off that there is not going to be a new episode of GoT tonight.

Ticked.Off.

It’s really not cool, and I can’t imagine why the Powers That Be at HBO would do that to us. What else could they possibly be showing? Explain it to me, I don’t get it. Actually never mind, I don’t care about the explanation. I just want there to be a new episode tonight, especially after last week’s episode. Grrrr. Moving along to the recap:

  • Daenerys and Daario Naharis FINALLY stopped with the flirting and banter and just did what we’ve known they were going to do since they first met each other. It was very true to Daenerys’ character to make sure that she was in control of the situation though, and I can appreciate that. I did feel a little bad for Ser Jorah- we all know he’s wanted to be in Daario’s position since Daenerys was still married to Khal Drogo. But it was definitely strategic on her part to change her mind about her original plan to execute the slave masters in Yunkai and go with Jorah’s suggestion instead. She’s obviously trying to keep Jorah from becoming embittered against her because of her new relations with Daario by making it clear to him that he still has influence over her decisions, while also letting Daario know that just because he’s slept with her doesn’t mean that she’s going to be biased or partial to his influence. She’s a smart girl, as that was a very tricky situation to navigate.

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  • The scene between Tyrion and Bronn was very well done. Their ‘friendship’ has always been based upon the mutual interests that they share with each other, and although I was slightly disappointed that Bronn chose not to be Tyrion’s champion and accept Cersei’s bride, my disappointment was tempered with his question to Tyrion of “When have you ever risked your life for me?” That shed light on the power dynamic that has always existed between them; they may be friends, but ultimately, Tyrion has always operated in that friendship in the area of privilege and power with Bronn as his hired muscle that gets things done for him for the right price. Tyrion may not have realized this, but this scene showed that Bronn has never forgotten it. He may feel bad for the situation that Tyrion’s in, but ultimately he’s not the ‘servant’ anymore, and he doesn’t feel the need to act like one out of pure sentiment for their past history.
  • And the eternal sufferings and trials of our favorite Damsel in Distress Sansa Stark continue in the Vale. I’ve been hearing a theory that Littlefinger’s come on (and thoroughly disgusting kiss)  was a calculated move on his part that he meant for Lysa to see so that he could ultimately dispose of her. I can buy this for sure: we’ve seen how intelligent and calculated Littlefinger is, and I can’t see him letting his obsession with Catelyn Stark and everything associated with her let him get sloppy and careless enough to make a move on her daughter when Lysa  is such an unstable, high risk liability. He’s too careful for that. He’s probably been waiting for the day that he could shove her through the Moon Door from the day that he told her to poison her husband. Such an evil jerk.

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  • Whoa, I did NOT see that scene between Oberyn and Tyrion coming! I can definitely understand his reasoning for wanting to take on the Mountain, but I’m curious to see how this battle goes down. That dude’s enormous. Bronn was an excellent swordsman, but even he was afraid to take the Mountain on himself. Oberyn is of course, driven by a lust for revenge, so he may be entering in the fight with more focus and determination. Was anyone else heartbroken at the look on Tyrion’s face when Oberyn told him about when he, Cersei and Jamie surrounded his crib and Cersei assaulted him? That was awful. It further goes to show that Tyrion has never known what it was for his family to show him any kind of love or affection. He was born being hated and rejected. That’s rough.
  • John Snow’s still being hazed by Ser Alliser Thorne, aka ‘Big Brother Almighty’ back at the Wall. What else is new?
  • I know Brienne didn’t care, but the food blogger in me was totally into the speech about getting a meat pie right. I’ll admit it.

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This recipe is another one that I knew I wanted to do for the GoT series its very beginning. I think just about every GoT fan knows about Sansa Stark and her love for lemon cakes. I wanted to do a rendition of them, I just didn’t know the approach I would take to them. Then I bought The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook, where (of course) there was a recipe for lemon cakes. I’ll be honest with you guys, I was skeptical of it. For one, the ‘cakes’ are actually yeast based. Then, rather than being baked like typical cake, they’re made on a griddle-top like pancakes.

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However, despite my misgivings, I decided to give the recipe a shot. I used round, metal biscuit cutters on my flat top griddle. I also decided to make them in different sizes, both for aesthetics and because it was more practical for expediency purposes. The yeast in the batter makes them puff up nice and fluffy while cooking on each side. I would describe the texture as a cross between a dinner roll and a flaky biscuit. These do not fit into the conventional mold/idea of ‘cake’, however I still like them very much. In all honesty, they’re probably closer to the authentic, medieval style of cake, anyway. These would be a great addition to a GoT themed party, or even for a regular tea party.

As usual, I’ll post the GoT series links below for all those who still need to catch up. See ya next week, guys!

Game of Thrones Series

Week 1: Pigeon {Chicken} Pies

Week 2: Winterfell Brown Bread

Week 3: Southron Spinach & Plum Salad

Week 4: Baratheon Smothered Pork Chops & Apple Gravy

Week 5: Lemon Cakes

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Lemon Cakes

Recipe Courtesy of The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook by Alan Kistler & Americanfood.about.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups warm milk
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 pkg)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp lemon verbena extract or lemon oil
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp dried lemon verbena, crushed (or 1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest)

Lemon Icing:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1 small drop yellow food coloring

Directions

1. In a large bowl, mix milk, sugar and yeast. Set aside for about 10 minutes until foamy.

2. Mix in egg, lemon verbena (or lemon oil), 1 tablespoon of the butter, salt, flour and dried lemon verbena. Beat together 5 minutes until a smooth dough is formed.

3. Cover with plastic wrap and rise in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours (until doubled in volume).

4. Heat griddle over high heat. Test by sprinkling on a little water. If griddle sizzles and water evaporates, it’s ready.

5. Lower heat to medium-low. Melt remaining tablespoon of butter on the griddle. Place muffin rings on griddle and fill halfway with batter. Cover loosely with foil and cook until cakes are browned on the bottom, about 5 minutes.

6. Using spatula or tongs, flip over each small cake and ring. Cover and cook another 5 minutes. Remove to wire racks and allow to cool.

7. Mix together all remaining ingredients and spread on top of cakes. Allow to sit until icing is hardened, about thirty minutes.

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Blueberry Crumble Muffins

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It’s the first day of May, and for me that’s really good news. Why? Well, besides the fact that Mother’s Day, Memorial Day and Cinco De Mayo is coming up pretty soon ,  I’ve always just really, really liked the month of May a lot. My birthday is in September but if I had a choice of when I was born, it would be in the month of May. If I was engaged to be married (which I’m not, nor am I evenly remotely close to being), I would want my anniversary to be in the month of May. If I had any children (I definitely don’t, my 1 year old niece is plenty, k thanks), I would want at least one of them to be born in May. It may be random, but I’m just really fond of May.

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So, because May feels like a holiday to me, I decided to put up some random facts and trivia about it:

  • May was once considered a bad luck month to get married. There is a poem that says “Marry in May and you’ll rue the day.” (Ummm, okay. Never mind about the wedding part I said earlier. Eh, Just kidding, I don’t care about superstitious nursery rhymes.)
  • May 11th- Eat What You Want Day (Great ‘holiday’. I personally think that it should ‘celebrated’ every day, but that’s just me.)
  • The United Kingdom celebrates May as the National Smile Month. (Awww, that’s schweet).
  • Celebrities I love that were born in the month of May: George Clooney, Emilia Clarke, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Henry Cavill, Bono, Stevie Wonder, Ian McKellen, Jamie Oliver, John C. Reilly, Kim Fields, Dule Hill

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See, all that proves that May is just full of all kinds of goodness. What about you guys? Anyone have a birthday in May? How about a wedding anniversary? Any great May stories to share? I’m all ears.

Okay, now onto the food.

True story: I actually didn’t use to like blueberries. I know, right?  The heck was the matter with me? I can’t really explain it, but the taste of them just wasn’t my cup of tea, whether it was raw blueberries or the flavor of blueberry baked goods.

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Luckily, I got over all that foolishness and found out that blueberries were friggin delicious. They’re even better when made into baked goodies. Those, I just can’t get enough of. Like blueberry muffins; pretty much one of the best snacks, breakfasts and sweets ever, right?

This recipe is another one of the ones that I tried out when I first began cooking for myself. It was huge hit, and I’ve made them several times over the past few years with great results every time. These blueberry muffins aren’t your typical ones either; for one, they’re flavored with lemon zest, which is such a great flavor contrast to the sweetness of blueberries. the best part though, is the crumble streusel topping that’s baked on top. I could eat that stuff all on it’s own. I could also see these muffins made with other types of berries too- raspberry or blackberry would probably be just as good.

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Blueberry Crumble Muffins

Recipe Courtesy of Great American Baking

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup low fat sour cream
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

    Streusel

  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, softened

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Lightly spray a 12 cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. For the muffins, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.

3. Place the blueberries in another medium bowl. Sprinkle the blueberries with 1 tablespoon of the flour mixture. Toss to coat the blueberries.

4 . Place eggs in a medium bowl and beat lightly. Add the sour cream, oil, lemon zest and vanilla. Mix well.

5. Pour the sour cream mixture over the flour mixture and stir just until moistened. Gently fold in the coated blueberries. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each about half full.

6. For the streusel, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, lemon zest and butter in a small bowl. Mix well. Sprinkle the streusel over the batter in the muffin cups.

7. Bake until lightly golden brown, 15-18 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Girl Scout Cookie Lemon Tart

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Well, it’s about that time of year again…

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have a uncontrollable, somewhat dangerous obsession with Girl Scout cookies. Somehow or other, whether it be through family, friends, work, or even in the parking lots of grocery stores, everyone is going to have the chance to get some and most of us would be hard pressed to pass them up.  I remember when my younger cousins were Girl Scouts and we ordered boxes and boxes of cookies- I don’t quite know how it works specifically, but I think the gist of it is that the more cookies that a Girl Scout sells, the more badges she gets. I think we ended up giving away Girl Scout cookies to anyone who would take them that year- just so we wouldn’t have too many in the house. Anything for the cause, right?

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I hate wasting food. Hate, hate, hate it. I’m the person in my house that will continue to eat the leftovers after the third, fourth or even fifth day. And maybe longer than that. Don’t judge me. I’ve never gotten food poisoning before and until I do, I will likely continue this habit. Throwing perfectly good food away seriously gets on my nerves – especially if it’s something that I cooked, or something I know I can cook into something great. That little pet peeve was where my inspiration for this recipe basically came from. We ended up with an excess amount of Girl Scout cookies in my house- like we do every year- and rather than toss them, I wanted to find something to do with them. This is what I came up with.

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I’ve made no bake tart crusts before with vanilla wafers, so I saw no reason why I couldn’t do the same with Girl Scout cookies. One thing I hadn’t made before was lemon curd. I’d seen the Barefoot Contessa do it, so I decided to take pointers from her recipe. I did find however, that I needed to chill my curd rather than just let it set at room temperature. The taste is AWESOME, but the curd didn’t set up as firm as I would have preferred it to be. That’s on me though: the daylight was fading fast and I needed to hurry and do the photo  shoot before I lost the invaluable tool of photography that’s called natural light, so I took it out of the fridge early. Ideally I probably would’ve left it there for another hour, but I don’t think it looks all that bad… Right?

I’m really proud of how this turned out. I don’t even like lemon desserts all that much and this still sold me enough to want it again. I’m also already brainstorming other Girl Scout cookie combinations I could use for this concept. We’ll just leave that on a ‘To Be Continued” note, shall we?

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Girl Scout Cookie Lemon Tart

Recipe Adapted from Ina Garten and Allrecipes.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

Cookie Crust

  • 3 packages of Lemon Girl Scout Cookies, or any other Lemon Sandwich cookies (about 30)
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted

Lemon Curd Filling

  • 4 Lemons at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions

1. For the cookie crust: place lemon cookies into a food processor and pulse until very finely crushed. You can also place cookies in a sealed plastic bag and use a rolling pin to finely crush.

2. Mix melted butter with cookie crumbs. Press mixture onto bottom and side up of a greased 9-inch tart pan, or deep pie plate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

3. For lemon curd filling: Remove the zest of the lemons with a vegetable peeler or zester, being careful to avoid the white pith. Squeeze the lemons to make 1/2 cup of juice and set the juice aside.

4. Put the zest in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the sugar and process for 2 to 3 minutes, until the zest is very finely minced.

5.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugar and lemon zest. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined.

6. Pour the mixture into a 2-quart saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 10 minutes. The lemon curd will thicken at about 175 degrees F, or just below a simmer. If need be, GRADUALLY increase the heat until curd reaches appropriate temp. Remove from the heat.

7. Fill the tart shell with warm lemon curd. Refrigerate overnight to allow lemon curd to set.

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Black and White Cookies

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Scandalous Day 5

Finally. FINALLY. Today is THE day, Gladiators. The wait for Scandal will officially be over at 10:00 p.m. tonight. I can hardly wait to see what Shonda’s got for us. I know it’s gonna be awesome, but I just hope my blood pressure can handle it. Scandal has a tendency to return with a real ‘bang’ that leaves me reeling.

Hopefully you’ve been following along with me in our countdown to today’s season return, but if you haven’t that’s okay. I’ll post links to all the other recipes in the Scandal series at the end of this post in case you want to check them out (which I highly recommend that you do).

I’ve wanted to make Black and White cookies for a long, LONG time. I’ve mentioned in the past that my favorite dessert is a thick, bakery-style sugar cookie. Anytime I find a recipe that’s even remotely similar to it, I’m gonna want to try it just out of curiosity to see if it will satisfy my craving and meet my ‘Sugar Cookie’ standards- that are actually pretty steep to be honest.

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Black and White Cookies are thought to have originated in New York delis. They’re much larger and thicker than the typical cookie, which the texture being a cross between a very soft, tender cookie, and a shortbread like cake. They get their name from the coating of icing that they’re decorated with; one side being white,  and the other being black or brown. When I was picking out which recipes I wanted to do for the Scandal series, these came to my mind for a few reasons, which I’ll get into in a second. First let me give you my general impression of they turned out:

I’m an absolute sucker for these kinds of treats, guys. After that first bite, literally the first thing that came out of my mouth was “Wow!” It was everything I want and love in a cookie: the dough had a pleasant lemony flavor all on it’s own, the texture wasn’t too dry and crumbly, and the icing (on both sides) provided just the right amount of extra sweetness that sent the taste of these cookies over the top with deliciousness. I didn’t expect to like them as much as I did, and I didn’t expect them to puff up so thick and lovely in the oven the way they did either. Typically I have to chill my cookie dough overnight to get these types of results, but these went straight from the mixing bowl to the sheet pan to the oven- it probably had something to do with that 1 tbsp of baking powder that’s in the recipe, huh?

Decorating tip: Use the vanilla icing FIRST, then let it fully set up before spreading on the chocolate. I also held a pastry scraper down the middle of the cookie while spreading the chocolate to make sure it didn’t smear with the white icing, but I could see the flat end of a butcher knife or something like that working in a pinch too.

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The Scandal inspiration for these cookies isn’t as obvious as you may think. Yes, obviously we have a Black-White relationship on the show, but my reasoning was a little more complicated than that. If there’s anything that 2 1/2 seasons of this show has made clear, it’s that in Shonda Rhimes’ crazy, but brilliant world, nothing- absolutely NOTHING- is ever strictly black or white. Just when you have one impression of a character or situation, the plot spins around to make you switch sides. One week, it seems like it’s Black. Another week, it seems like it’s White. Then other times, it’ll seem like it’s a little bit of both. You just never know in Shondaland. But regardless, we love it all the same..just like with a Black and White Cookie.

Well, we did it Gladiators. We made it to Scandal Day. I’ve had a blast with this series, and I hope you take the time out to try one of these ‘Scandal-ous’ Recipes below. You won’t regret that you did.

See you at 10:00!

ScandalousRecipes

Day 1: Cookies and Cream Popcorn

Day 2: S’mores Popcorn

Day 3: Texas Bowl of Red

Day 4: Blackberry Jam

Day 5: Black and White Cookies

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Black and White Cookies

Recipe Courtesy of King Arthur Flour

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

Cookies:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon lemon oil, or 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup milk (regular or low-fat; not nonfat)

Vanilla Icing:

  • 3 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons hot water
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1/4 teaspoon espresso powder, optional

Chocolate Icing:

  • 2 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1/4 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
  • 3/4 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (chips, or chunks), melted

Directions

1) Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.

2) To make the cookies: Beat together the butter, sugar, salt, baking powder, lemon, and vanilla till well combined.

3) Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

4) Stir in the flour alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour.

5) Using a muffin scoop or a 1/4-cup measure, drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets. Flatten/spread the dough to a 3″-diameter circle. Leave 2″ to 2 1/2″ between each cookie.

6) Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, until they’re set, a very light golden brown around the edges. Cookies baked for 10 minutes will be quite moist. Cookies baked for 12 minutes will be drier. Bake for 11 minutes for an in-between cookie.

7) Remove the cookies from the oven, and cool them right on the pan. As they cool, prepare the icing.

8) To make the vanilla icing: Whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, corn syrup, and hot water. Spread the icing over half of each cookie. Place them on a rack to set while you make the chocolate icing.

10) To make the chocolate icing: Combine the confectioners’ sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, hot water, and espresso powder. stirring till smooth. In the microwave, or in a pan set over very low heat, melt the chocolate. Add the melted chocolate into the sugar mixture, stirring till well combined. Spread the icing on the uncovered half of each cookie.

14) Set the cookies back on the rack, and allow them to rest for about 30 minutes, till the icing is set.  For best storage, wrap each cookie individually, in plastic wrap, and store at room temperature.

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Blackberry Jam

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Scandalous‘ Day 4

Gladiators! ONE.MORE.DAY.

We are one (just ONE) short day away from the long wait being over and FINALLY being able to get back to our favorite show. I don’t know about you guys, but I can hardly wait until tomorrow night. I know we all have our own ways to #CopewithoutPope, but there’s just nothing like the real thing.

The Olivia-Fitz relationship is undoubtedly one of the most popular aspects of the show, and for me, it is a sort of guilty pleasure. One one hand, I’m in love with Olivia and Fitz as a couple because #1, Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn have MAD chemistry with each other on camera. I have no idea how the two of them can manage to show so much emotion and raw passion within both their dialogue and even in their gazes. They’re both phenomenal actors in that respect. #2, I love the “I just can’t quit you” attitude that they have towards each other. I tend to be cynical about love/relationships/romance in real life, but watching the Olivia-Fitz relationship on Scandal frequently yanks at my more sappy side. The only thing more romantic about a man and woman who are crazy about each other is a man and a woman who are crazy about each other but can’t be together.

And last but certainly not least, #3…He.bought.her.a.HOUSE!

On the other hand, their relationship is something that my moral center just hates. Regardless of how Fitz and Olivia feel about each other, the facts remain: he’s the President  of the United States, and he’s married with 3 kids. Not only that, Mellie has sacrificed WAY too much for Fitz for him to continue to disrespect her in the way that he does with Olivia. Whether he knows the full extent of her sacrifice or not is irrelevant. She’s his wife, and he swore a vow to her. Until that changes, his affair with Olivia is wrong.

So in TV Land, I’m #TeamOlivia all the way. But in real life? I’ve gotta be #TeamMellie.

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The inspiration for this recipe should be obvious to us all. Who can forget the scene between Fitz and Olivia from the episode “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” where they begin to fantasize about what would happen if the stars would align and they would suddenly be able to have their Happily Ever After together:

Fitz: Somewhere, in another life, another reality, we are married and we have four kids, and we live in Vermont, and I’m the mayor–
Olivia: And I make jam.
Fitz: And you make jam. 

Sigh. I just caaaaaaan’t with them *wipes eyes with tissue*

This jam was the first recipe that I knew I wanted to make for the entire Scandal series before I even started. It’s not only ridiculously easy, it’s absolutely delicious as well. I decided to use blackberries because that’s the berry that my family likes best, but feel free to substitute strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or even a mix of all for this recipe. They all will work just fine.

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{Olivia’s Vermont} Blackberry Jam

Recipe Adapted from Ina Garten

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 large lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 1/2 pints fresh (or frozen) blackberries

Directions

1. Combine the sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over very low heat for 10 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved.

2. Add the blackberries and continue to cook over very low heat for 20 minutes, until the blackberries release some of their juices and the mixture boils slowly. Cook until a small amount of the juice gels on a very cold plate.

3. Pour carefully into 2 pint canning jars and either seal or keep refrigerated.

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