Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Recipes: Lemons

I just made a lemon tart the other day. I've recently seen several different blogs featuring lemon bars, lemon cookies and other lemony recipes. 

Must be some sort of sign, so I figured I would listen and follow that lead and share with you some tasty lemon recipes that we have on Old Fashioned Living. 

Hope you enjoy them, pucker up! :) 

Lemon Cheesecake Pie

12 ounce can evaporated milk, undiluted
1 (3 1/2 ounce) package instant lemon pudding mix
2 (8 ounce) packages of cream cheese
1 (6 ounce can) frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
1 premade graham cracker crust
1 cup whipped topping

In a small mixing bowl, combine evaporated milk and pudding mix, beat 2 minutes. Set aside. In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, until light. Gradually add lemonade concentrate; continue beating until smooth, light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Fold pudding mixture into cream cheese, blending. Pour filling into crust. Chill 3-4 hours or overnight. Top with whipped cream. NOTE: This may also be placed in pretty glasses, without a crust, alternating with the whipped topping. Top with a thin lemon slice, cut into the middle and placed on the edge of the glass, when serving.

Lemon Crisps

1 stick butter or margarine (not spread) softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon peel
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Garnish: 1/2 cup crushed or sliced almonds

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in remaining ingredients except flour until well blended. On low speed, beat in flour just until blended. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 1 1/2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Sprinkle with almonds. Bake 10-12 minutes until edges are lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheet 1 minute before removing to wire rack to cool completely. Store airtight at room temperature up to one week. Makes about 44 cookies.

Zesty Lemon Spread

3 eggs, beaten
2 cups sugar
1/2 pound butter, cut into tablespoon size pieces
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Grated peel of one lemon

In the top of a double boiler, combine all ingredients. Cook and stir over boiling water until thickened like pudding. Remove from heat and cool. Chill until ready to serve. Spread on muffins (almond poppy seed mini muffins are wonderful), rolls, or serve over ice cream. Keeps in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

Sparkling Lemonade

1 cup sugar
1 cup lemon juice from concentrate
6 1/2 cups club soda
Fresh lemons

In a large pitcher, dissolve sugar in concentrate. add club soda. Mix well, and serve over ice with a fresh lemon wedge.

Lemon Balm Cookies

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, beaten
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup finely chopped lemon balm

Cream butter and sugar together. Add egg, flour and lemon balm. Mix until the dough is firm. Wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for 1 hour. Heat oven to 350 F. Have greased cookie sheet ready. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface. Cut cookies with cookies a pastry cutter. Place on cookie sheet.
Bake for 10-12 minutes.

They are done when they are just turning brown at the edges. Cool on a rack. Makes about 16 small cookies

Basic Lemon Vinaigrette

I love this vinaigrette for a change from the usual, and I especially like to make it in the summertime. The lemon makes the salad greens taste so fresh! Guests enjoy it, too, because it tastes lighter and a little more refreshing than when using vinegar. 

Makes about 3/4 cup

1 small shallot, minced
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

1. Whisk together the shallot, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl. 

2. Whisking constantly, slowly add the olive oil in a thin stream, and continue to whisk until the vinaigrette is smooth and emulsified. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, and shake or whisk well before using.

Lavender and Lemon Sugar Cookies

1/4 tsp. dried lavender buds
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup soft butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg
2 1/8 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp.lemon extract

In a food processor or blender, grind lavender with sugar. Cream sugar with butter and powdered sugar, and add egg. Stir in lemon extract, then flour, soda, tartar and salt; blending well. Place a tablespoon of dough on a greased cookie sheet. Flatten dough with the bottom of a glass that has been dipped in sugar, and sprinkle with additional sugar. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden.

Lemon Basil Cookies

1/4 cup butter
3 ounces cream cheese
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons dried basil, crushed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon peel
1 package lemon cake mix
1/2 cup crushed walnuts or pecans

Mix together the butter, cheese, yolk and juice. Add the cake mix, and blend well. Stir in the nuts, peel and basil. Chill for 1/2 hour or more. Roll into small 1/2 inch balls and place on greased cookie sheet. Parchment paper works well. Flatten with a fork dipped in sugar. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes.

More you might like:

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thrifty Thursday: Frugal Headboard Ideas

There are a lot of different and creative ways to create a unique headboard for your room. Honestly, I had never thought of some of these ideas but was so intrigued I felt the need to share them. A great way to save money and redecorate at the same time!

An Old Door
If you want a classic wood look, sand and stain the door to match existing furniture. Or paint the door and distress for a vintage look. If the door is paneled, the inserts can be painted a contrasting color, stenciled with elegant designs, or decoupaged with fabric or handmade papers.

Use a section of wooden picket or wrought iron fencing. The sections can be painted and fastened with bolts or hooks.

Decorate with ivy, silk flowers and ribbons for a Country French look or simply paint.

Old Window Frames
Leave painted window frames as is for a distressed look. Or paint a garden scene (or use a wallpaper mural) behind the frames to give the illusion of looking outdoors.

Folding Screens
An elegant folding screen with fabric or painted panels can be easily attached to the wall or left standing for a simple headboard solution.

Vintage Napkins or Placemats
The linen can be hung on curtain rod which is attached decorative rod holders just above the bed.

Plywood, Siding or Paneling
Use scrap plywood or MDF covered by cedar siding or paneling. The headboard can have a rustic, lodge look if covered by cedar shakes or a more traditional look if covered by tongue-in-groove paneling.

Stain or paint the shutters to create a country or cottage look in your romantic bedroom.

Framed Photos
Create an arrangement of photos grouped by size, frame color or theme to give the illusion of a headboard.

Quilt or Tapestry
Mount the fabric over a shower curtain or cafe curtain rod using curtain hooks with a clip bottom. This looks great in a country or European-style bedroom.

If you use your imagination, tiles, strips of fabric, bookcases, the back of an old sofa, a large poster or wooden shelves can all be used to fashion a headboard.

See other great ideas for your home in our Home & Heart section.

This post is part of Thrifty Thursday. Visit Thrifty Thursday for other frugal ideas!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Reader's Questions: In the Garden

You fight dandelions all weekend, and late Monday afternoon there they are, pert as all get out, in full and gorgeous bloom, pretty as can be, thriving as only dandelions can in the face of adversity. ~Hal Borland

Today I have two garden questions from readers.

My house is shaped like an L in the back, and gets a lot of sun. The house is made of brick, and when ever I try to grow anything in the borders against the house, they do fine in the spring. BUT THEN our scorching summers begin and fry everything anywhere near that hot brick. It doesn't matter if I water every day...I've even watered the brick hoping it would cool things a little. No dice. ~Liz

The first plant that come to mind is a lavender plant. They love it hot and dry! I did think of something that might help in addition too. Could you put up a thicker wood trellis on the brick or right in front of it? It would be pretty and it might provide a little bit of a barrier between the brick and the plants...

Also, have you tried yuccas? They are stiff, but not prickly like cactus, so they should be fine for the kids to be around. Try looking for plants that are native to Mexico, where it's that hot. Cosmos are annuals, and they can tolerate it hot and dry. Potentilla is a shrub that you'll see a lot in front of restaurants where it's next to hot pavement. It has pretty blooms and would make a nice plant next to a brick wall.

I have a Crassula argentea and I live in Florida in the forest and I was wondering if I could plant my Jade in the ground and where should I plant it? In the sun or the shade? ~Vickie

The jade plant needs a warm climate in winter, and it also needs some protection from very hot direct sun. The leaves can scorch and then it needs to be moved to a cooler place. It can only survive outside in temperatures above 20 degrees or so. This would usually include Zones 9, 10, 11 and 12. Also avoid a wet soil or the roots could rot. A partial shade in a dryer soil should be good for it. If your forest location isn't soggy and has some sun it should work fine for the jade.

Make your own self-fertilizing vegetable tubs this year:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cleaning and Storing Your Dutch Oven

I just recently bought my first Dutch oven. For a long time I thought A Dutch oven was just a big soup pot with a lid, I had no idea they were cast iron. 

I'm quoting from an article on Old Fashioned Living called Cleaning and Storing Your Dutch Oven:

Dutch Oven care begins with seasoning, but it's important to clean them properly after each use. Cleaning cast iron is easier than scrubbing pots and pans. As soon as possible after using your Dutch Oven, scrape out as much food as possible with a plastic scraper. Put 1-2 quarts of hot water in your oven and scrub with a plastic scrubbing pad or a vegetable brush. DO NOT USE SOAP of any kind or you will wash off the seasoning and have to start all over again. (See comment below from a reader)

Immediately after washing, dry the oven thoroughly by putting it in your kitchen oven at 150 to 200 degrees for about 10 minutes.

Cast Iron can only be dried by heating. Heat dries out the moisture in the pores. If a pot is not completely dried after it is used, it will rust. The pores must be opened by heating up, and the moisture dried out of it. Don't let the oven set around after washing, go straight from draining the rinse water into the kitchen oven if possible. If you are camping and don't have a kitchen oven to dry a Dutch Oven, dry it the best you can and try and store it away from moisture.

Dutch Ovens, when cared for, will last for generations. Be sure your oven has been cleaned and lightly oiled before putting it away. Try to keep your ovens in a dry, warm place. Remember, moisture with cause cast iron to rust. Leave your lids slightly ajar, allowing the air to circulate. I like to store with a paper towel rolled up and sticking out from under the lid. The towel inside the oven acts as a wick and will help absorb moisture.

From one of our readers, Max:
One should NEVER use any kind of Soap to clean or wash cast iron. Hot water only, steel wool if you must, but never any kind of Soap or astringent. Hot water and heating in the oven will kill whatever Bacteria may exist in Cast Iron. Over sixty years I have been handling Cast Iron in just this way, and have never been sick a day in my life. Soap and other astringents will destroy the seasoning of the Iron, and cause it to cook unevenly, and eventually to rust, even if it is properly dried.

~ Max Davis, Chef, Eatwell Cafe

Right you are Max! For more tips on caring for cast iron and some great recipes, go to Cast Iron Cookware.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Garden Tips: Lavender and Caladiums

Once we become interested in the progress of the plants in our care, their development becomes a part of the rhythm of our own lives and we are refreshed by it. ~Thalassa Cruso

It's 9:00 A.M. here and I've already been out weeding after my daughter's school bus picked her up. It's always stress relieving to yank those weeds out! Today I have tips on two popular garden plants: lavender and caladiums. Both are easy to grow IF you plant them in the right location and give them the care they need.

Lavender benefits from some lime mixed in to the soil, but it really doesn't need fertilizer. If your soil is extremely poor try adding a little compost and lime, but most of the time you won't need any additions. If you notice older plants looking a bit poor, that would be a good time to add some nitrogen- you could use blood meal or bone meal in the spring--but again, not too much. One other method is to finely crush eggshells and work them into the soil around the plant.

Young lavender plants need more water than established plants. Never soak them completely, or keep them moist, but water during dry periods. Once they are about a year old they shouldn't need extra water. Don't fertilize the young plants though-- just be patient and leave them alone to get settled. You can mulch with pea sized gravel--not with a standard mulch that may mildew or keep moisture against the plant. Lavender needs hot, full sun. Anything less and it will not do as well.

Another important aspect to growing lavender is finding the variety that is right for your area. If you are in Zone 6 and lower you should go for the angustifolia and x-intermedia lavenders, which are hardy. If you are in a warmer climate try the multifida and stoechas which are tender and will do better in humid climates. Clay soil is a bad thing for lavender. If you have clay you really need to create a special raised bed for lavender with a well drained topsoil and sand mixed in or grow it in large pots. It also cannot tolerate wet feet at any time.

Caladiums are a nice shade plant with interesting colors and texture. They don't do as well in full shade, and need protection from full sun if you opt for that. A light to medium shaded location works well. The plants also need a warm, moist soil. I've planted them in porch boxes, but really had to watch so they didn't dry out. I water on a regular basis. Caladiums also need a fairly loose soil to grow properly. If you are starting with a tuber instead of a plant it should be
placed about 2 inches deep. They do well with a 2 inch or thicker layer of mulch. When preparing the soil for planting make sure it's worked up well, add some potash if you have it, and water well. One other key to growing caladiums is NOT allowing them to bloom! Check frequently and snip off any flowers that begin to form. They aren't attractive, and it's important to remove them so the plant will direct it's energy to the foliage and the tuber.

Dogs and cats bothering your garden? Check out these tips: