Lemon cream pie or squares

Fresh lemon sweets make me think of spring…. so I thought I would share this ridiculously easy but very impressive (REVI) recipe with you today. I’ve noticed that the more exotic Meyer lemons are available in grocery stores here in Ottawa lately, and this recipe would be an excellent way to try them. Meyer lemons are a bit less sour than regular lemons, and the skins have a deeper yellow colour.

Lemon Cream Pie

One small graham cracker or other crumb crust – make your own (a recipe is usually on the side of the graham crumb box, or use the one below) or buy one already made.

One can of sweetened condensed milk

½ cup lemon juice

1 tbsp. grated lemon zest (optional, but adds immensely to the “impressive” part)

Prepare crust if necessary.

Preheat oven to 350°F

Whisk together milk, juice and zest – it will thicken as you mix it.

Scrape mixture into crust with a rubber spatula and smooth it flat.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until firm.

Cool completely before cutting.

Crumb crust – use for cheesecakes or any other kind of goodie that needs a crumb base.  I like chocolate wafer, vanilla wafer or bran cookie crumbs… just whiz up the cookies in a food processor or place them in a big Ziploc and crush with a rolling pin.

1 ¼ cups crumbs

¼ cup sugar (white or brown)

1/3 cup melted butter or margarine

Mix crumbs and sugar.  Stir in butter, then mix by hand to combine well.  Press into pan.

Ridiculously easy Christmas pudding

Three years ago I went to my parents’ place for Christmas, and immediately posted this recipe on FB with comments below…. it’s a great recipe!

“My mom made this for Christmas this year, and I’ve been eating it incessantly since I got here 24 hours ago. The recipe came from Bonnie Quick, my mother’s friend Holly’s mother.

A nice simple steamed pudding, delicious and Christmassy, and best of all, allergen free for me! Served with a sauce that can be festively “hardened” with a splash of rum… ”

Pudding/cake:

1/2 cup molasses
1/3 cup water
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups cranberries, cut in quarters

Combine all ingredients, folding in the cranberries last.
Pour into a 2 quart greased tube pan, and set the cake pan in a roasting pan.
Add water to the roaster to come at least halfway up the side of the pan, and cover, either with the roaster lid, or tightly wrapped with foil.

Bake 45 minutes at 350°F.

Sauce:

1/4 cup margarine or butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup cream

Mix butter, sugar and vanilla well, then add cream. Bring to a boil.

Serve wedges of cake with sauce poured over.

Cherry Blossom Fudge

After baking some shortbread cookies last week, I ended up with waaayy more chopped cherries than I needed to decorate them – my son got carried away with the knife and cutting board – so I decided to come up with a new recipe. I remembered Cherry Blossom chocolates from when I was a kid, and came up with this easy fudge recipe to recreate that flavour.

This really is an easy recipe – no candy thermometers, and I did everything in the microwave. It does take some time from start to finish, though, because three different layers have to chill separately. I’ve posted step-by-step photos on our Magic Fridge Facebook page!

Ingredients:

1 and 1/3 cans of condensed milk

2 cups chocolate chips – semisweet or dark, depending on your taste

1 cup white chocolate chips

1 cup unsweetened coconut

1 cup chopped maraschino cherries, drained, or glace cherries

1 cup chopped nuts (I used salted cashews)

Directions:

Place chocolate and white chocolate in separate glass microwave safe bowls. Open one can of condensed milk and scoop 2/3 of it into the chocolate bowl and 1/3 of it into the white chocolate bowl.

Microwave the chocolate bowl for 30 seconds on high, then remove and stir with a microwave-safe utensil (I use a rubber scraper/spatula). If chocolate is not fully melted, microwave for another 10 seconds and repeat. Scrape *two-thirds* of this mixture into a well-greased 8×8 pan and cover with a piece of cling film. Press the chocolate into the pan with your hands, using the cling film as a barrier. Leave the film on and chill for an hour in the fridge. Save the remaining third of the chocolate mixture for the topping later.

Once the base is chilled, microwave the white chocolate bowl for 20-30 seconds and stir until melted, then add the coconut. Sprinkle cherries over the base, and pour the white chocolate-coconut mixture over top. Use the cling film trick again to flatten the white chocolate mixture and make sure it is well adhered to the base. Chill, with cling film on top, for at least 2 hours – this layer is softer, so it will take longer to set up.

To make the third layer, add 1/3 of a can of condensed milk to the reserved chocolate mixture and microwave 20-30 seconds; stir until melted. This layer will have a thinner consistency than the base layer. Take out your chilled fudge and evenly sprinkle the nuts over the white chocolate mixture. Pour the thin chocolate mixture over the top, and once again use some cling film to press the last layer evenly over the top of the nuts. Chill for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight, since this last layer is even softer than the other two.

When it is thoroughly chilled, remove the fudge from the pan and cut it into pieces, making sure the nut layer is on top for easier cutting. It will keep well in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker

I’ve raved about Beth Hensperger’s crockpot cookbook series “Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker” – and she also writes about bread machines and rice cookers!  Apparently she’s a gadget girl…

Her 2007 book, about using the crockpot for entertaining, really intrigued me, so I got it out of the library.  There are some very fancy-looking recipes in there, for when you want to impress the boss or a date with a lovely dinner party. But there are also lots of tips for using the slow cooker to help with a traditional Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, freeing up stove elements and oven space that are at a premium when you’re making a large meal.

Sometimes you need a nice dinner on a busy day – an old friend just passing through town, on a Tuesday night or something.  This is the perfect time to use the crockpot.

The book also shows us how to think “outside the crock” – to use the crockpot as a punchbowl, a fondue pot, a gravy boat, a bread oven, plus many other innovative functions.

Here’s a recipe with two inventive techniques for the slow cooker…

New-Orleans Style Vanilla Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce

6-7 cups crumbled stale bread

¾ cup dark raisins

¾ cup shredded coconut

¾ cup chopped pecans

4 cups (1L) whole milk

1 ¾ cups sugar

3 large eggs

½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled

1 tsp. each cinnamon and nutmeg (or use Epicure’s Apple Pie spice blend)

2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract (Epicure’s, if you have it)

Coat the inside of the crock with butter-flavoured non-stick spray

Place the bread, raisins, coconut and pecans in the crock.

In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, sugar, eggs, melted butter, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla extract until smooth.

Pour over the bread mixture in the crock and push the bread down to moisten evenly.

Cover and cook on HIGH until puffed, and a knife comes out clean, about 2 ½ hours.

Remove lid and cook on HIGH for another 15 minutes.

Pudding should cool a bit before serving, and can be served at room temperature.

Whisky sauce

½ cup (1 stick) butter

1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar (icing sugar)

2 large egg yolks

¼ to 1/3 cup of bourbon or scotch

Place the butter and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

Let the butter melt, then whisk until smooth.  Beat in the egg yolks.

Remove from heat, and slowly beat in the bourbon.  The sauce will thicken as it cools.

You can keep it warm in a small slow cooker, on LOW, until you are ready to serve.