fbpx

Month: May 2019

CREAMY BROCCOLI SALAD

CREAMY BROCCOLI SALAD

This is an easy, make-ahead salad that always gets rave reviews from everyone who tastes it.  Made with fresh, raw broccoli, scallions, raisins, and a homemade slaw dressing that is just amazing. I love this salad.  It has all the yummy elements.  It’s fresh, crisp,…

CLASSIC SAUSAGE GRAVY

CLASSIC SAUSAGE GRAVY

This is an easy recipe for an old Southern classic.  The ultimate comfort food, this creamy, hearty, sausage gravy is a perfect start to any day. Creamy white, sausage gravy was a delicacy that I did not discover until I moved South.  I have to…

MILLIE’S OLD FASHIONED LEMON BARS

MILLIE’S OLD FASHIONED LEMON BARS

These lemon bars, with the buttery crust, the tangy lemon curd, and the kiss of powdered sugar, are an old classic that is always sure to please. This is a quick and easy recipe that epitomizes the taste of summer.
Glass pan of lemon bars with a shortbread crust and dusted with powdered sugar
I am very particular about lemon bars. I like just about any brownie, cookie, or pie, but a lemon bar has to be a delicious symphony of textures and flavor.

In other words, a great lemon bar has to have a crumbly, slightly salty, buttery shortbread crust. It has to have a thick layer of lemon curd that is a perfect balance of sweet and tangy. Oh, and the curd should be custardy, not gelatinous, like jello. Finally, it should have a sweet dusting of powdered sugar to bring it all together.

I have made many variations of a lemon bar and they were good. However, some were overly sweet, others way too tart. A few didn’t have enough of the lemon flavor that I adore.thus, I became intrigued with how I could add depth of flavor without compromising the delicious lemony flavor.

Old fashioned lemon bars dusted with powdered sugar

What I discovered is that a hint of vanilla mellows the acidity of the lemon and a few tablespoons of heavy cream adds that luscious mouthfeel that I was looking for.

The shortbread crust, which is a bit sweet and a bit salty, provides a wonderful textural contrast to the creamy lemon curd. All in all, a perfect lemon bar.

QUICK TIPS TO MAKE THESE OLD FASHIONED LEMON BARS EVEN EASIER:

  • Use only fresh lemons in this recipe.  Bottled lemon juice is way too acidic and has an odd aftertaste to it.
  • Roll the fresh lemons on the countertop before zesting and slicing in half. This will help you to get all of the juice out of them.
  • I prefer using a glass baking pan for these lemon bars.  A glass pan will not react to the acid in the lemon juice.  I have detected a very mild metallic taste when baking the bars in a metal pan.
  • Using a bench scraper helps to get perfectly clean square cuts.
Print
Glass pan of lemon bars with a shortbread crust and dusted with powdered sugar

MILLIE”S OLD FASHIONED LEMON BARS


Description

An easy recipe for old fashioned lemon bars.


Scale

Ingredients

For Crust

  • 1 cup salted butter, room temperature
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour

For Filling

  • 2 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup flour
  • 6 extra large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Line the bottom of a 9×13-inch glass baking pan with parchment paper. Leave a bit hanging on each side to make removing the bars from the pan easier. Set aside.
  3. For the crust: in the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and powdered sugar. Add in the vanilla and mix. Slowly add in the flour. Mix until the flour is fully combined into the butter and sugar. The mixture will be crumbly.
  4. Using your hands, press the crust mixture into the parchment lined baking pan. Be sure to evenly press the crust down into the pan – especially the corners.
  5. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until very lightly browned around the edges. Remove from oven and set aside.
  6. For the filling: In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and flour.
  7. In a separate medium bowl, beat the eggs, vanilla, and heavy cream together. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and whisk together until fully combined.
  8. Stir in the lemon juice and lemon zest. Whisk the mixture until smooth and creamy.
  9. Pour the lemon mixture over the warm shortbread crust.
  10. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the center is set and it doesn’t jiggle in the center. Don’t over bake.
  11. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
  12. When ready to serve, use the paper overhang to lift the bars from the baking pan.
  13. Dust with powdered sugar.
  14. Using a bench scraper or a large knife, cut into 24 squares.
  15. Serve chilled.
  16. Enjoy.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1

NEED MORE SWEET RECIPES?  GIVE THESE A TRY:

LEARN HOW TO FULLY JUICE A LEMON:

Please follow and like us:
CLASSIC CADILLAC MARGARITA

CLASSIC CADILLAC MARGARITA

Ditch the mix!  Enjoy this easy and delicious recipe for a classic Cadillac margarita using a few simple ingredients and the best alcohol that you can afford. A Cadillac margarita is considered a ‘top shelf’ cocktail using an aged reposado tequila and Grand Marnier liqueur. …

PERFECT OVEN ROASTED BEEF BRISKET

PERFECT OVEN ROASTED BEEF BRISKET

A juicy, flavorful, perfectly spiced beef brisket that is made in the oven.  A dry rub creates a nice bark and keeps the brisket moist and roasting low and slow ensures a tender moist slice every time.  This recipe is as close as you can…

CLASSIC CAPRESE SALAD

CLASSIC CAPRESE SALAD

This is a quick and easy recipe that is both impressive and delicious.  As visually beautiful as it is tasty, this classic Caprese salad is elegant in its simplicity.

White plate with sliced tomato, mozzarella cheese with a drizzle of balsamic glaze and a garnish of fresh basil leaves.

I adore this salad and order it whenever I see it on a menu.  I love the freshness of the tomato, the creaminess, and saltiness of the mozzarella, the sweet, tanginess of the balsamic drizzle.  I can’t think of anything easier or more delicious.  It is the epitome of great Italian cuisine:  a couple of fresh ingredients, a perfect marriage of flavors and texture, colorful and delicious.

Yet, why is it on so many menus and rare to get a truly amazing Caprese salad?  I am always disappointed when I cut into a watery, flavorless tomato or rubbery mozzarella.  A great classic Caprese salad is dependent on the best and the freshest of ingredients.

The Caprese salad originated in the early 1920s in post-WWI Italy.  National pride took over the country and this salad incorporated local flavors and the colors of the Italian flag.  By the 1950s, the salad appeared, for the first time, on a menu in the Isle of Capri at the Trattoria da Vincenzo.

White plate with slices of fresh tomato, mozzarella cheese, balsamic drizzle and fresh basil.

Tips for making the best Classic Caprese Salad

  • Purchase the best ingredients that you can afford.  Because the dish has so few ingredients, quality matters.
  • Use a good, fresh mozzarella cheese.  Buffalo mozzarella is creamier and more flavorful than cow’s milk mozzarella.  But if you can’t find buffalo mozzarella, find a fresh cow’s milk cheese.  Don’t use the stringy, pizza cheese.
  • Choose tomatoes that are not mushy, but not so firm that they are hard to slice.  They should be a bright orange/red color.  Summer produces the most flavorful tomatoes.  Try buying them from your local farmer’s market for the best-tasting tomatoes.
  • Choose basil leaves that are bright green and smaller in size.  The smaller leaves are more fragrant, with a sweeter taste.  Use the larger leaves to make pesto.
  • Pick a balsamic that is made in Modena or Reggio Emilia for the best flavor and dark, rich consistency.  It should be thicker than regular vinegar, fruity and sweet, but still very tart.
  • Liberally salt the tomatoes before assembling the salad and place on a paper towel lined plate to release some of their moisture.  This will help intensify the tomato’s flavor.
Print
White plate with sliced tomato, mozzarella cheese with a drizzle of balsamic glaze and a garnish of fresh basil leaves.

CLASSIC CAPRESE SALAD


Description

A quick and easy recipe that is both delicious and impressive. Fresh tomatoes, creamy mozzarella, and sweet, tart balsamic drizzle make for a simple, easy and elegant salad.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 cups good quality Modena balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 ripe tomatoes
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound ball of fresh mozzarella cheese, thickly sliced
  • Large bunch of fresh basil
  • Good quality olive oil for drizzling

Instructions

  1. In a saucepan, combine the balsamic vinegar and honey. Stir to combine and bring to a gentle boil over low heat. Cook, stirring, until the vinegar has reduced to a thick syrup, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.
  2. Lay several layers of paper towel on a large plate. Set aside.
  3. Slice the tomatoes into thick slices and liberally salt both sides with Kosher salt. Lay the slices on the plate and allow the salt to pull juice from the tomatoes. Allow them to sit for at least 30 minutes.
  4. To assemble the salad, lay a tomato slice, then a slice of mozzarella cheese half on top of the tomato, followed by another slice of tomato and cheese. Tuck a basil leave in between the slices of tomato and cheese.
  5. Drizzle the salad with the balsamic reduction. Then drizzle a bit of the olive oil, then a light sprinkle of salt and pepper.
  6. Garnish the plate with a few sprigs of basil.

Notes

To save time, you can buy a balsamic vinegar syrup instead of reducing your own.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1

Do you need a few more recipes for great salads?  Give these quick and easy recipes a try:

Please follow and like us:
STICKY AND SPICY SRIRACHA CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS

STICKY AND SPICY SRIRACHA CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS

Are you always on the lookout for yet another recipe for chicken drumsticks?  I am.  I make drumsticks at least once a week.  They are cheap, easy, and great to keep in the fridge to grab for lunch.  This Asian inspired recipe is flavorful and…

TEX-MEX BEEF FAJITAS

TEX-MEX BEEF FAJITAS

Juicy steak fajitas are always a crowd pleaser.  They are incredibly easy to throw together for a quick weeknight dinner. They are equally great to serve at a party.  What a show stopper to bring a sizzling skillet of fajita meat and vegetables to a…

ASPARAGUS GOAT CHEESE TART

ASPARAGUS GOAT CHEESE TART

This easy recipe for elegant goat cheese and asparagus tart is perfect as an appetizer, for brunch, or as a light lunch.

The tangy goat cheese, enriched with eggs and flavored with shallots, thyme, and garlic, makes for a creamy, luscious bed for the fresh asparagus.  A bit of lemon rind adds brightness and balances out all of the flavors.

And can we talk about the crust?  If you’re short on time, you could use a store-bought pie crust.  You will have to re-roll the crust for the rectangle tart pan. But why?  If you are going to roll out crust anyway, try this crust recipe and make it from scratch.  The food processor does most of the work.

A delicious tart of goat cheese, asparagus, and flaky pastry crust, served in wedges on a wooden board. Recipe by Eatsbythebeach.com

This crust is so flaky and tender from the ice-cold butter and it cuts through the tang of the goat cheese.  It’s also an interesting texture against the goat cheese and asparagus.

Be sure to add the vinegar to your dough.  Trust me, you won’t taste it, but it will help to keep the dough tender as you roll it and prevents the dough from taking on a gray hue.

A delicious tart of goat cheese, asparagus, and flaky pastry crust, served in wedges on a wooden board. Recipe by Eatsbythebeach.com

HOW TO PICK ASPARAGUS

Since the asparagus is the star of the show, how do you pick the perfect stalk?

  • Look for bright green or purple-tipped spears with firm, straight stalks that do not bend.  You don’t want limp asparagus.
  • Avoid dull and/or wrinkled stalks.  This means that the asparagus has some age and the taste will be off.
  • The tips should be tightly closed – not starting to spread.  They should not be soft or mushy.
  • Avoid stalks that appear woody.  The base should look moist. It should not look dried out or cracked.
  • Pick the size and diameter based on the flavor you want.  Thinner stems are more tender and sweet, while the thicker stems tend to be heartier and bolder in taste – ideal for roasting.

I like to use a 14-inch rectangle tart pan with a removable bottom.  I think the fluted sides make for a pretty presentation and the removable bottom removes all of the stress of getting out that first piece.  If you don’t have a tart pan with a removable bottom, any tart pan or even a pie plate will work.  Give this easy recipe a try.  I think you’ll make it again and again.

Print
A delicious tart of goat cheese, asparagus, and flaky pastry crust, served in wedges on a wooden board. Recipe by Eatsbythebeach.com

ASPARAGUS GOAT CHEESE TART


Description

This tasty, elegant, and light dish is a lovely addition to a spring brunch, a satisfying lunch, or impressive first course.


Scale

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 1 ¼ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into very small cubes – about ½-inch
  • ½ teaspoon white vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons ice water
  • Extra flour for dusting

For the filling:

  • 6 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 small shallot, very finely minced
  • 1 garlic clove, grated or finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 30 spears of fresh asparagus, ends snapped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Make the crust. In a food processor, pulse the flour, salt, and pepper to blend. Add in the cold butter cubes and pulse until the mixture resembles small peas.
  2. Drizzle in the water and vinegar. Pulse the mixture until it begins to form into large clumps.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a flour dusted surface. Work the dough into a ball, then shape into a rough rectangle.
  4. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out into a 4×6-inch rectangle. Gently lift the dough and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for one hour.
  5. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. With the floured rolling pin, roll the dough onto a 10×14-inch rectangle.
  6. Carefully lift the rectangle and slide it onto the top of the tart pan. Using your fingers, press securely into the tart pan and up the sides. Be sure to press tightly into all of the flutes and into the corners. Use a sharp knife to cut away any excess dough from the top of the tart. Place the tart pan into the refrigerator as you prepare the filling.
  7. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  8. Make the filling. In a medium bowl, combine the goat cheese, eggs, shallots, garlic, thyme, and lemon zest. Use a fork or a whisk to incorporate the ingredients until smooth.
  9. Lay the asparagus spear on a large plate. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Turn the spears with your hands to coat fully in the oil, salt and pepper.
  10. Remove the tart pan from the refrigerator. Spread the goat cheese mixture onto the bottom o the tart.
  11. Arrange the asparagus spears on top of the goat cheese in an attractive pattern. I like to lay them diagonally, trimming to fit the pan.
  12. Place the pan in the preheated oven. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn the pan and then lower the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Bake for another 10 minutes or until the edges of the crust are golden brown.
  13. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting.
  14. To unmold, hold the sides of the tart pan and gently lift up as you push the bottom.
  15. Slide the tart onto a cutting board and slice. I like to make diagonal slices.
  16. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: Serves 8 as a first course or 4 as a lunch entree

Complete your meal with a delicious Fresh Peach Bellini and a dish of Strawberries Romanoff on the side.  Your family or friends will be wowed by your elegant and fancy meal.

Please follow and like us:
FRUITY RED WINE SANGRIA

FRUITY RED WINE SANGRIA

Sangria, to me, is a party in a glass.  Fruity, sweet, and festive, this fruity red wine sangria is a refreshing cocktail on a hot summer day.  It’s great for a little day-drinking on the beach. Sangria is a Spanish wine punch resplendent with fruits,…

KICKED-UP A NOTCH TEXAS SHEET CAKE

KICKED-UP A NOTCH TEXAS SHEET CAKE

My mom, who was an incredible baker, made the most delicious, rich, moist, brownie/cake dessert that she called a Texas Sheet Cake.  I adored when she made it and watched diligently to learn the recipe and implement it in my own home. Over the years,…