Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Grand Canyon, Route 66 & Gold King Mine.

I'm sitting here licking my wounds with a bowl of ice cream and apple dumplings.  Thank you Pioneer Woman for the most killer recipe.
Did you know lemon trees have thorns?  I've been picking and packing away today and you'd think after my thirteen year relationship with that tree, I'd learn to wear gloves!  But no.  Instead my determined head-strong Irish brain thinks I'm infallible this time and plows ahead at my task at hand.  Let me just state publicly that next time I will wear gloves....really....that is of course if I can still remember where I stashed them.  Hmmmmm. 

So I thought I'd post a special treat for y'all this evening.  My sweet husband travels the state of Arizona for his job, and recently he's been taking along our camera.  (Just FYI--the man needs to step-off and get his own equipment) Ha-ha.  Anywho, Mike came up with the fabulous idea to start a website and blog (hmmmm) to feature his photography hobby.  I've always joked with Mike that he is Mr. Arizona history, but he really does see our beautiful state in an appreciative, respectful and unique way.  I really enjoyed his first couple posts and I thought I'd share.  Hope you enjoy as well!

The Grand Canyon

Route 66

Gold King Mine

Hope everyone enjoyed a wonderful weekend.

~The Lemonista

Friday, January 28, 2011

Lemons! Lemons! Lemons! & Down right PRETTY pasta at Costco!

Being the technically savvy wizard that I am, only the most sophisticated methods were used in the selection of today's winning number! (This coming from the woman who can scarcely text!) Ha-ha.
So without further ado, there were 42 entries and the winner of today's lemon drawing using is..

Timestamp: 2011-01-28 16:31:33 UTC

Kristin, Please email me your address and these will ship out to you first thing Monday.

And since I'm feeling ambitious about picking and packing this weekend, I've decided to give a box of lemons to my most frequent commenter and the 40th Birthday girl.  So Ms. "Call Me Q" and Ms. "Maggie Dodson" please email me your home address and I will ship each of you a box of lemons as well. Wink.

If you didn't win this round--no worries!  The lemons are fresh on my tree into April and I've got more lemon giveaways planned!  So stay tuned.

Okay, now for my easy meal find of the day. Look at this red and white striped Lobster Ravioli I found at Costco!

If you like seafood, this ravioli is very good.  I followed the instructions for the Chardonnay Lemon Sauce on the package and it was tasty but honestly more labor intensive than I was looking for with a pre-packaged Costco meal.

So, next time I'll make it even simpler by taking the other suggestion on the package and use a jar of vodka pasta sauce, such as this Bertolli Vodka Sauce.

Thank you so much to everyone for following my blog. It is such a delight for me. Happy Friday!

The Lemonista

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Simple Bento & Old Fashioned Lemon Meringue Pie

I'll do the drawing for the Lemons tomorrow morning after I drop my son off at preschool, so probably around 10am MST. Wink.  There is still time to enter, so please throw your hat in the ring if you haven't already done so.  As a follower of my blog just leave a comment on this thread:

This morning I have some simple Bento for you. 
The sandwich is just a peanut butter and jelly sandwich cut with a SweetBytes sandwich cutter that I got on the bread isle at the grocery store.

Evriholder Crust Cutter - Sweetbyte Heart Shaped Cutting Tool

This cutter would make a really cute sandwich for Valentine's Day.  Grin.

For Elyse's fruit and Veggie, I did red grapes (the fave at our house) and these new organic yellow carrots I found at Fry's (Kroger).  If you see these carrots--buy them.  They are really tasty and an instant hit with my kids!

I made the faces on the carrots with a nori punch and then added my new favorite Bento hat food picks.  I picked these up on ebay.  Just search "Bento food pick hats."
 Bento food pick hats

I don't do Bento every day, probably more like one or two days a week, and sometimes I only add a food pick or cut a sandwich in a cute shape--Really any little detail to give my kids lunch a little something special is enough.   So have fun with it.  It doesn't have to be anything more than a post-it note with a cute face drawn on it to make your kids smile. 

Using a tried-and-try recipe in an old Betty Crocker Pie cookbook, I made my first lemon meringue pie this season.

I promise a pie crust tutorial in a future post, but for now if you have a favorite recipe, then use that. If not, them I think the best store bought pie crust is the Marie Callender's brand in the frozen food section.

Betty Crocker Lemon Meringue Pie

9-inch pie shell, Baked
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons butter
2 tsp. grated lemon peel
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

Pie Meringue

3 egg whites
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
6 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until frothy.  Beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time; continue beating until stiff and glossy.  Do not under beat.  Beat in vanilla.

Bake pie shell.  heat oven to 400 degrees.  In saucepan blend sugar and cornstarch.  Combine egg yolks and water; stir gradually into sugar mixture.  Cook, stirring constantly over medium heat until mixture thickens and boils.  Boil and stir 1 minute.  Remove from heat; stir in butter, lemon peel and juice.  Immediately pour into baked pie shell.  Heap meringue on hot pie filling; spread over filling, carefully sealing the meringue onto edge of crust to prevent shrinking or weeping.  Bake about 10 minutes or until delicately browned.  Cool Pie away from draft.

*important tip*  Separate eggs carefully; even the smallest amount of egg yolk can prevent the whites from whipping.  
*To get the cute peeks on my meringue, I gently slapped the top with a spatula once I was done spreading the meringue.

The Lemonista

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Who's Up For Another Lemon Giveaway???

If you'd like a box of my homegrown lemons delivered to your front door, just become a follower of my blog and leave a comment on this post!  I'll draw a winner this Friday 1/28/2011.    The winner will get a bakers dozen of my fresh lemons and a copy of our family heirloom lemon bar recipe. 


Good Luck!

~The Lemonista ;-)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Grand Prize Winning BBQ Ribs in the Slow Cooker & A Fun Fashionista Find!

I'm always on the look out for a great new recipe.  My Mother-in-law got me a subscription to Taste of Home magazine for Christmas last year and I knew I had to give these these ribs a try the moment I saw them.  You will not believe how melt-in-your-mouth, sweet, tangy, tender, fall-off-the-bone fantastic these ribs are.  This is the best rib recipe I've ever tasted.  And best of all--they are simple to make!

You will need:

Taste of Home Magazine's Grand Prize Winner BBQ Ribs
2 racks pork baby back ribs (about 4.5lbs)
1 1/2 tsp pepper
2 1/2 cups barbecue sauce
3/4 cups cherry preserves
1 T. Dijon Mustard
1 garlic clove, minced

Cut ribs into serving size pieces; sprinkle with pepper. Place in a 5 or 6 qt slow cooker. Combine the remaining ingredients; pour over ribs.
Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until meat is tender. Serve with the sauce.

Okay, to serve up these delectable ribs, I decided to try out my new Mackenzie-Childs plate.

Ain't she a beaut!  I think, by now, the cat is out of the bag that I have a romance with my dishes.  Grin. 
Now wait 'till you see what I'm gonna do to her...

I made corn on the cob, added fresh watermelon and served hot rolls smothered in honey butter to dip in the sauce. 
Of course, no BBQ would be complete without a little Cole slaw.

Now just look at this happy man eating his dinner.  (Makes the bill for that pretty plate oh so much more palatable.  Don't ya think.) Wink.

I am so excited to share this fashion find with you all!  My dear friend, Laurel, has ventured her own business with the creation of these adorable fabric flowers. 

Petal Pusher Accessories

There is so much cuteness at Petal Pushers, that I can hardly stand it!  I'll definitely be adding these beauties to Elyse and my spring jackets!  Yes, that's right...she makes Mommy & Me flower sets!

She also does custom orders and any of these flowers can be made into a headband!

Stop by her blog to see how you can add a little punch of color to your (or your daughter's) spring wardrobe.

I thought I'd leave you today with some funny pictures of our crazy neighborhood birds. 

My neighbors have a colony of wild tropical Lovebirds that live in their palm tree.  No one really knows where they came from and they are not native to Arizona, but these zany little birds have spent years drilling elaborate tunnels and holes.  They sound like high pitched parrots and the kids find them hugely entertaining.

I'd guess over fifty of these guys live in that palm tree.  They like my lemon tree too, but thankfully don't drill holes in it!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Easy, Delicious Sweet Italian Sausage ~ In The Slow Cooker!

My slow cooker's been workin' like a pack mule this week.  I've been recreating some old favorite recipes and trying new ones.  Today, I'm kicking off my first post in a planned series of excellent crock pot meals. 
This first one is our family favorite.  It originated from a slow cooker recipe my former neighbor Kristi gave me years ago.  Over time it's evolved into my very favorite way to eat Italian sausage!  I hope you love it too!

Sweet Italian Sausage in the Slow Cooker

1 package Johnsonville Sweet Italian Sausage (see photo below)
1 T. Olive oil
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 15oz can diced tomato (do not drain)
1 can Tomato Soup
1 Knorr Chicken Bouillon extra large cube (see photo below)
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 whole onion, chopped (I like to use a sweet onion, such as vidalia)
1 whole red pepper, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
Shredded Mozzarella cheese
Box Barilla Plus Penne Pasta

Brown sausage in olive oil in a skillet.  In slow cooker combine black pepper, diced tomatoes, tomato soup, chicken bouillon cube, Italian seasoning, chopped onion, chopped red pepper and minced garlic. Place browned sausage on top and cook on low for 6 hours.  Serve over Barilla Plus Penne Pasta (cooked per the instructions on the box) that has been sprinkled with mozzarella cheese.

I use Johnsonville's Sweet Italian Sausage.

I love the taste of sweet basil in the sausage but if you can't find it, mild or hot Italian sausage will work in this dish just fine.

I use Knorr Chicken Bouillon extra large cubes, but Knorr Beef Bouillon cubes taste great in this recipe too.

Cook Barilla Plus Multi-Grain Penne pasta per the instruction on the box.
 Barilla penne

Place a scoop of pasta in a bowl or plate.

Sprinkle with shredded Mozzarella cheese.

Scoop hot sausage and sauce over noodles and cheese.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Hatching Chick Bento! Plus a Tiffany & Co. Cake!

I thought it was time for some new 2011 Bento!   I think this one turned out very sweet.
I followed the instructions on pg. 138 of Yum-Yum Bento Box to make the hatching chick.
Isn't she cute with her cute little food pick bow.

The chick sits in a pink silicon baking cup filled with shredded cheese and then trimmed with some edible green apple Eatster grass (that I found at Target last Easter).  I used a nori punch to make the eyes and a small piece of carrot cut like a diamond for the beak.

I pitted the Bing cherries with my handy dandy cherry pitter from William Sonoma.
This is a must have tool if you love fresh cherries!
OXO Olive & Cherry Pitter

Added one of my leafy stem food picks to the cherries and filled a rooster sauce container with ketchup for the egg.

Placed a silicon food divider between the cherries and yogurt covered pretzels in the back row.  A little plastic chick food divider peeks up from in between the pretzels.

Added a couple chicky food picks and two carrots.
And here's the finished lunch. Grin.

Remember the banana cake recipe I posted?

I got a wild hair after dinner the other night and whipped up this cake.

This was a 10 min. decorating job, so not my finest, but I think you can get the idea.  If I spend a little more time on this one, I think it could really be pretty!

I made the same recipe linked above, but baked the cake in a 7" X 11" cake pan for 28 min.  Cooled the cake completely.  Cut the cake in half.  Spread the filling and sliced bananas on half the cake and placed the other half on top.  Then I tinted the icing Tiffany blue. 
Frosted the whole cake.  Quickly rolled and cut some ribbon out of white fondant icing.
Finally I printed the Tiffany & Co. logo, cut it out and placed it on the cake to look like a tag.
All the while, vultures swarmed around me in the kitchen...

Two seconds after I snapped the photo, the vultures descended. Grin.