DAY 2: Lemon Bars
There are some classic desserts that completely live up to their reputation. Lemon bars definitely fall into that category. They are a sweet, tart confection that will make you think fondly of trips to grandma’s house.
This simple chicken stir-fry is perfect for a last minute meal. You can easily have it on the table in less than 30 minutes. Flavored with fresh lemon slices and tarragon this is a wonderfully light meal that can be served over rice or a bed of steamed vegetables.
A traditional lemon chicken piccata is made with a similar sauce, but the chicken is kept whole, usually pounded thin. This recipe preserves those flavors, but with quick-cooking thin sliced chicken.
In full disclosure, this meal is not enjoyed by everyone in our family. Five of us absolutely love it, but two don’t really like it (and one of those is my husband). They are not fans of “fruity” main dishes, even lemon, which I don’t understand because the lemon adds no sweetness. Since my husband isn’t a big fan, I usually wait until he is out of town or has another dinner commitment to make it. The other kids love it so much, though, that they will start asking when Dad is going out of town again so that we can eat Chicken Piccata.
4 chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
¼ cup butter
2 Tbs flour
2 tsp tarragon
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 lemon, sliced (remove seeds)
2 cups chicken broth
1 Tbs chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tsp dried)
Hot cooked rice or steamed vegetables, for serving
Melt butter in a hot skillet. Add chicken slices. Sprinkle with flour, tarragon, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes. Add sliced lemon. Cook until lemon starts to slightly wilt and chicken is cooked through. Stir in chicken broth, stirring to loosen browned bits. Cook for 2-3 minutes until thickened and lemons have leeched most of their juice. Stir in parsley.
Remove lemon slices and serve chicken piccata over hot steamed rice or steamed vegetables.
Desserts in our house usually have to come in both a chocolate and non-chocolate variety. So, alongside our Double Chocolate Waffles, we had these Lemon Yogurt Waffles.
These waffles are a little sweeter than regular waffles (even after I cut the sugar in half from the original recipe), so I don’t think I would want them for breakfast. Little A had no problem eating them anytime of the day, however.
The waffles are made with plain yogurt and flavored with fresh lemon zest. They have more of a light cake consistency than regular waffles.
The berry sauce was a perfect accompaniment for the sweet lemon taste of the waffles.
For Waffle Tips & Suggestions, click HERE.
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 ¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
Grated zest of 2 lemons
½ tsp vanilla extract
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sugar, oil, eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
Use a ladle or measuring cup to pour batter evenly into hot waffle maker (about 2 scant cups for the 4 small Belgian waffles in my waffle maker). Cook for about 3-5 minutes, or according to directions on your waffle maker. Remove waffles from waffle maker and place on a wire rack (not a plate). Serve immediately or keep warm in a warm oven (very low heat).
Makes 2-3 large Belgian waffles (8-12 small squares)
To freeze: Cool waffles on a wire rack. Place in Ziploc bags and freeze. Reheat individual frozen waffles in a toaster (for crispier edges) or microwave (for a soft waffle).
Recipe adapted from The Perfect Pantry
For Brian’s birthday a couple of weeks ago we had this wonderful cheesecake. It is a very creamy cheesecake flavored with lemon and orange zest and juice. You can use blood oranges or regular naval oranges. Lime would also be a great flavor, instead of the lemon. The recipe comes from Aimée Bourque, who is the editor of Simple Bites and author of the blog Under the High Chair.
The original recipe did not have you bake the cheesecake in a water bath, but I did because I think it helps the cheesecake cook more uniformly, and reduces cracks on the top of the cheesecake. To prepare your pan for a waterbath, wrap the springform pan in a double layer of foil. Or: this time I did one layer of foil and then put the pan in an oven-safe bag (the kind used for roasting turkeys). Place wrapped pan in a larger roasting pan and add hot, almost boiling, water to the roasting pan to a level about halfway up the outside of the springform pan.
If you are nervous about moving a pan full of boiling water: pull the oven rack out slightly from the hot oven. Place roasting pan on the oven rack, place springform pan in the roasting pan, and then add boiling water to the roasting pan. Carefully push oven rack back into the oven.
Just out of the oven-No Cracks!
A citrus zest-spiked sour cream makes a perfect topping and hides any imperfections that develop in the top of the cheesecake as the cheesecake cools.
I served this cheesecake with fresh blueberries and this fabulous homemade Blueberry Syrup.
It is flavorful enough that it could also be served on its own without any topping.
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 ½ Tbs granulated sugar
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
3 pkg (24 oz) cream cheese
¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup sour cream
Zest and juice of one lime or small lemon (wash before zesting)
Zest and juice of half an orange (wash before zesting; remaining half will be used in topping)
5 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup sour cream
Zest and juice of half an orange
6 Tbs granulated sugar
Place oven rack on the lowest level of the oven. Preheat oven to 350°F.
For the crust:
In a small bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Add melted butter and mix. Press onto the bottom of a nine-inch springform pan. Bake crust for 8-10 minutes until slightly golden. Cool. Wrap springform pan in a double layer of foil, or one layer of foil and then place in an oven bag (like the kind used for turkeys). Place springform pan in a larger roasting pan.
For the filling:
With a mixer, beat together cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add sour cream, citrus zest and juice. Mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until just incorporated.
Pour filling over crumb crust. Fill roasting pan (not springform pan!) with very hot (almost boiling) water to about 2-inches deep.
Bake cheesecake in the water bath for about 60 minutes. The cheesecake will have puffed significantly, and the middle will still be slightly jiggly. Remove pan from water bath and run a sharp knife around the sides, but do not remove ring. Cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack on the counter.
For the topping:
Combine sour cream, orange zest and juice, and sugar together in a small bowl. Pour over slightly cooled cheesecake and let stand for half an hour at room temperature.
Cover cheesecake pan tightly with plastic wrap, taking care not to disturb the surface of the cheesecake. Chill for at least four hours or overnight.
Remove plastic wrap and lift off the outer edge of the spring form pan. If desired, slide a sharp knife under the crust and slide the cheesecake off the spring form base and onto a cake stand or serving platter.
Serve cheesecake alone, or topped with fresh berries or homemade blueberry syrup.