I hope that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and were able to spend quality time with family and friends.  This Thanksgiving I thought about how blessed I am in so many ways.  I also thought about how there are so many people who struggle to put a meal on the table every night and I spend hours going through cookbooks and food magazines trying to find new inspiration and ideas to make because I am bored with the same meals every week.  Let us all remember how fortunate we are that we can be creative with food and be passionate about this hobby that is food blogging.

After so many heavy carbs and overstuffed meals, I was craving something a bit lighter and more refreshing.  This Lemon Tart is really just a glorified version lemon bars, but the best lemon bars you have ever tasted.  In my mind, nothing bad can come from something that starts with a simple, buttery shortbread crust like this tart does.  Topped with light refreshing lemon custard and berries, this tart is just so fresh tasting and beautiful to look at with the bright berries contrasting the pale yellow lemon custard.

The combinations and variations you could do with this tart are really limitless.  If you would prefer, you could use oranges or limes instead of the lemons to make the custard filling.  You could top your tart with a strawberry syrup or simply with whipped cream.  Or you could really emulate the traditional lemon bars by simply dusting some powdered sugar over the top once the tart has cooled.  Any way you choose to modify it, this Lemon Tart is a truly satisfying crowd pleaser.

The Perfect Lemon Tart

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: one 11-inch tart

8-10

A perfectly buttery shortbread crust topped with light lemony custard

Ingredients

    For the crust:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup (16 Tbsp) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • For the custard:
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (juice of 2-3 lemons)
  • To garnish:
  • 1-2 cups fresh berries

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Liberally grease a 11-inch tart pan.
  3. In a food processor, combine all ingredients for crust and pulse until the dough comes together and forms a ball. If necessary, add 1 tsp of water at a time to bring the dough together.
  4. Press dough evenly into tart pan and up sides of pan.
  5. Poke all over with a fork so that steam can be released and bubbles do not form as the crust bakes.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes.
  7. While the crust is baking, in a medium bowl, whisk the eggs together. Continue whisking while adding the sugar. Add the flour and lemon juice.
  8. When crust has finished baking, pour lemon custard mixture into the crust and return it to the oven for about 10-14 minutes or until the custard has set and is just slightly jiggly in the center. (I like to check it every couple of minutes after about 8 minutes of baking so that the custard does not get over-baked.)
  9. Cool completely and garnish with berries.
  10. Recipe adapted from Heather Christo Cooks

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Just because your mind is swirling with all things turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie doesn’t mean there is not room for a little Fluffer Nutter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread in your life.  After all, you need something to eat for breakfast the morning after the big feast.  I must admit, I have never actually had a fluffer nutter sandwich (translation:  marshmallow and peanut butter sandwich) before.  Even though I have never tasted this sandwich that has a cult-like following,  I can imagine how delectable this combination would be.  Which is why when I came across a recipe for Fluffer Nutter Banana Bread, I knew I needed to try it with my own twist.

Imagine puffs of marshmallow fluff oozing out of the banana bread as it bakes so that when it emerges from the oven, the lightly browned bread is topped with perfeclty toasted marshmallow fluff.  And if that isn’t enough to make you swoon, what about the fact that when you cut into this bread, molten chocolate chips melt all over your knife?  And these features are really just added bonuses considering that the banana bread itself is super moist and laced with peanut butter.

So, as you are stuffing your face with sweet potatoes and green bean casserole (and I will be right there with you :)), maybe you will only request half of a piece of pie at the end of the big meal so that you can save room for a slice of this Fluffer Nutter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread on Friday morning.

Fluffer Nutter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 1 9X5\" loaf

8

Moist banana bread laced with peanut butter and oozing with marshmallow fluff and melty chocolate

Ingredients

  • 1 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 overripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup, plus 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup marshmallow fluff, divided
  • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9X5" loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray,
  2. Place milk and vinegar into a small bowl to make "sour milk". Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, with a mixer, combine sugar, oil and peanut butter until smooth.
  4. Add bananas, eggs and milk mixture and mix well to combine.
  5. Add in baking soda and flour and mix to combine.
  6. Pour half of batter into prepared pan.
  7. Heat the marshmallow fluff in a small bowl for about 10 seconds or until slightly runny, then pour in the middle of the batter in the pan.
  8. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the batter and fluff. Top with remaining batter.
  9. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of bread comes out clean.
  10. Remove from oven and place onto a cooling rack to cool completely before removing from pan and serving.
  11. Recipe adapted from Crazy for Crust

combine oil, peanut butter and sugar

add bananas, eggs and milk and mix well

add flour and baking soda and mix

pour half of batter into prepared pan

top with softened marshmallow fluff

sprinkle with chocolate chips

top with remaining batter and bake

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Does anybody else remember Fanny Farmer?  Is this a total midwestern thing?  Fanny Farmer was a candy store that I remember going to with my grandma at the mall.  They had these crispy coconut clusters that were such a special treat.  I have always loved the combination of chocolate and coconut.  I find that most people either love or strongly dislike coconut.  I will admit that artificial coconut tastes a bit like Hawaiian Tropic suntan lotion, but good old flaked coconut is so subtly sweet and provides such perfect chewy texture to baked goods.

I have been wanting to make this recipe for Coconut Wafers ever since I tore the recipe out of a Rachel Ray magazine over a year ago.  Rachel served hers with a coconut granita which I am sure would be a lovely combination, but I wanted to smear mine with chocolate.

These wafer cookies are paper thin and get crunchier with age.  You could use your favorite milk or dark chocolate to coat them and even sprinkle some toasted coconut over the melted chocolate if you were so inclined.

Chocolate-Smeared Coconut Wafers

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: ~20 cookies

Light and crispy coconut cookies smeared with rich chocolate

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 egg whites
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
  • 1/4 tsp canola oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and grease paper lightly.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together sugar, coconut, flour and salt.
  4. Add egg whites and melted butter and mix well. Mixture will be runny.
  5. Spoon mixture onto prepared sheets in round or oval shapes (they will spread in oven, so leave at least 2 inches in between wafers).
  6. Bake about 10 minutes or until edges are golden brown.
  7. Slide parchment paper onto wire rack to cool.
  8. Once wafers are cooled, melt chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between until smooth. Add oil and stir.
  9. Dip or spread chocolate onto wafers and place back onto baking sheet.
  10. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set chocolate.
  11. Recipe adapted from Everyday with Rachel Ray Magazine

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I went to a football game on Sunday.  It always amazes me how little I actually have my eyes on the players watching the game.  I watch the cheerleaders and the mascot.  I survey other patron’s concessions purchases.  I listen to the foul language of the “true sports fans”.  i think about which confections I have waiting for me at home to be photographed and consumed.  On Sunday, this idea was particularly distracting from the football game because I had these babies waiting for me to capture their close-up and devour them.

I have had this idea for homemade Kit Kat bars swirling around in my head for quite awhile now.  Especially after practically eating my weight in candy bars during Halloween time, I knew I had to finally try executing this homemade version.  I opted for a peanut butter version because I remember when you could buy Peanut Butter Kit Kats (can you still??) and how truly amazing they were.

For the iconic wafer-y crunch of a Kit Kat, I used Wasa Crisp n’ Light 7 Grain crackers which are so light and airy that they replicate the crispiness of a Kit Kat perfectly.  The bars are filled with a smooth and sweet peanut butter mixture and to coat the bars in chocolate, I melted a bag of milk chocolate Hershey Kisses.  I found that the Kisses with about 1/2 tsp of oil added to them made for easy dipping and the smoothest chocolate coating.

Homemade Peanut Butter Kit Kat Bars

Prep Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

A bar that tastes just like the original Peanut Butter Kit Kat Candy Bar

Ingredients

  • 10 Wasa Crisp n' Light 7 Grain Crackers
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 Tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 bag milk chocolate Hershey Kisses
  • 1/2 tsp canola oil

Instructions

  1. Make peanut butter mixture by combining peanut butter, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla in a small bowl.
  2. Spread a thin layer of the peanut butter filling onto one cracker and top with another cracker. Repeat with remaining crackers.
  3. Lay sandwiched crackers on a cookie sheet and place into the freezer for 30 minutes.
  4. While the bars are setting, unwrap Hershey Kisses and place into a medium-sized microwavable bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between until chocolate is melted.
  5. Remove crackers from freezer and cut into desired sized pieces or bars.
  6. Cover another cookie sheet with wax paper.
  7. Dip bars into melted chocolate and place onto wax paper-lined cookie sheet. Return to the freezer to set for about 30 minutes.

 

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I mentioned earlier this week how I tried out some new dinner recipes and they have been so scrumptious that I couldn’t wait to share them with you.  I have never been a huge baked potato fan.  When I used to think of russet potatoes, which are the most traditional baking potatoes, I thought of them being dry and blah and needing a lot of butter, sour cream and other toppings to make them worth eating.  However, I have to start singing a different tune, because I used russets for this recipe, and found the potato to be more flavorful and have better texture than I remember.

I suppose it helps too that the innards of the potatoes are scooped out and  mixed with flavorful mixture of mashed steamed cauliflower, garlic, buttermilk and a bit of cheese. I love these potatoes in particular because they give you the benefit of squeezing in some extra veggies where there might not otherwise be any.

I topped my potato with a little extra cheese, prosciutto, hot sauce and a small dollop of light sour cream.  I will be welcoming variations of this Twice-Baked Potato into my dinner repertoire in the future.

Lightened Up Twice-Baked Potatoes (with a secret ingredient!)

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 4 potatoes

4

Loaded baked potatoes with cauliflower for extra nutrition

Ingredients

  • 6-8 thin slices of prosciutto
  • 4 large russet potatoes
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese, plus more for topping
  • sour cream, scallions, any other toppings you would like

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place prosciutto onto a baking sheet and bake about 5 minutes until crispy. Remove from oven and set aside.
  3. Poke potatoes all over with a fork.
  4. Place potatoes on a plate and microwave for 4 minutes to give them a head start on cooking.
  5. Remove from microwave and place potatoes on a baking sheet and rub with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  6. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until tender.
  7. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and place steamer basket over the pot of water. Place cauliflower into steamer basket, cover with lid and steam about 10 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork.
  8. Remove cauliflower and place into a food processor. Add buttermilk, garlic, vinegar, salt, pepper and cheese and process until smooth.
  9. Use a small paring knife to cut a large oval in the top of each cooked potato. Scoop out the flesh of the potato leaving about 1/4 inch-thick wall.
  10. Combine scooped out potato with cauliflower mixture and pulse in food processor to combine.
  11. Fill cavities in potatoes with the cauliflower mixture. Sprinkle with cheese and return to the oven to melt the cheese.
  12. Top with crisped prosciutto and any other desired toppings.
  13. Recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine

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