Thursday, September 29, 2011

Paradise Bakery's Oatmeal Raisin Cookies ~ My Copycat Recipe

I've been a long time fan of Paradise Bakery's Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.  At least once a year, I get a wild hair to try and make cookies that taste like the ones at Paradise Bakery, and at least once a year I make a decent oatmeal cookie that doesn't quite meet the bar.  After bringing the famous oatmeal cookies to a neighborhood get together, I decided to get serious about trying to duplicate the recipe once and for all.  It took rolling up my sleeves to suffer through several taste tests and literally dissecting one of the original cookies (yes, this is how I discovered the cereal and coconut) to finally come up with a recipe I'm proud to call, "my copycat."

Crispy around the edges, soft & chewy in the middle, these oatmeal cookies have a brown-sugar-buttery-goodness that could very well be the ultimate comfort food.
Trust me, you can't eat just one. 

Now wouldn't you just love a tall glass of cold milk to go with this plate?

The Lemonista's Copycat Recipe for
Paradise Bakery's Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup corn flakes
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 1/2 cup raisins

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars. Add egg and vanilla; mix well.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture and mix well.

Stir in oats, then add corn flakes, coconut, and raisins. Shape into 1.5 inch balls and place 2 inches apart on parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Flatten each cookie dough ball with the bottom of a glass dipped lightly in flour.

Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on the cookie sheet.

~The Lemonista

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Tangled Birthday Party Cake ~ The Lantern Scene

I'm always surprised to see which of my blog posts get the most views.  I thought my Tangled themed Pascal Cake Pops turned out pretty cute, but not super fabulous being my first attempt and all.

But wouldn't you know, several months later, that blog post is still getting the highest number of hits every day. I never did get around to posting the cake I made for my daughters Tangled Birthday party, so given the continued interest in this theme, I thought it only fitting to make that today's post.

I started by picking my favorite scene and my daughter's favorite song from the movie Tangled and then created my design around that.

I found a pretty purple paper umbrella and some darling little paper lanterns at Cost Plus and that really got my wheels spinning.  I attached the little lanterns to the underside of the umbrella at different lengths using masking tape, hot glue and fishing twine. Once that was completed, I attached the pole of the umbrella to a square piece of wood I found in the garage with a long screw.  I used a large washer on either side of the board to help support the the screw.  (BTW, I brought my umbrella and board to Ace Hardware and the guys were VERY helpful picking out the right hardware needed to complete my project).  This is what my platform looked like when completed. I have a 12" cake round sitting on my platform for scale.


I found the Tangled boat with Rapunzel and Flynn Rider at Target for around $15 and decided it would be the perfect cake topper for my idea.  You can find this same toy on Amazon here.

I baked two 11" round cakes, one yellow and one chocolate. Then I layered them with custard in between.

I frosted the whole cake with Tangled purple icing.

Then I piped a decorative trim around the top and bottom of the cake.

Next, I proceed to cut my right hand (of course I'm right handed) so badly that I wasn't sure I'd be able to continue.  After I got the bleeding stopped.  I bandaged my hand and put on a rubber glove to finish the cake.  Suffice it to say, I had to scale back my design plans considerably but as they say...The show must go on.
I decorated the top and sides of the cake with royal icing flowers purchased from Fancy Flours.

And then sprinkled the top with some of Wilton's edible glitter.
I marked a circle on four sides of the cake to make my royal suns, then did the best I could with my gimpy hand to pipe the suns with icing.

At this point my hand was no longer playing nice and I was contemplating a trip to the ER for stitches, so I had to throw in the towel. 

I placed the Tangled boat on top of the cake for the finishing touch. 

I boxed up the cake and put it in the frig.  
Here's the cake the next day after I reassembled it at a water park.

The kids were all so excited!

For party favors, I used Supermom's idea for the Rapunzel paints.

Here's my big 7 year old Birthday girl! 

But to me she'll always be...

My baby.

~The Lemonista

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fun, Simple Bento Lunches

I doesn't take much to add a little Bento spin on someone's lunch to brighten their day.  I'm often asked what Bento supplies I would consider must haves. You can really go crazy with Bento supplies (I'm sure I tow that line) but honestly, if you have a couple interesting containers, a few fun sandwich cutters and some cute food picks, that's more than enough to create a smile.
For example, here's a container of Bing cherries. I've pitted them with my favorite cherry pitter from William Sonoma, placed them in a cute square container and stuck one simple green leave food pick in them. 
VoilĂ  --Bento.

My little boy actually loves the leaf food picks.  Here's his lunch the first day of preschool.

The Mickey Mouse Bento sauce container holds ranch dressing for the carrots and the crackers are in a silicon baking cup/cupcake liner to keep them crisp.

How about these ripe Plouts (A plum and apricot hybrid sometimes called dinosaur eggs. These are super yummy by the way, so if you see them at the grocery store, pick some up.)

I've sliced these, lined them up in a rectangular container and then added sweet little critter food picks.

Or take this dill pickle. 

All I did was stick a little girl food pick into the end and now it's bursting with cuteness.

Here's a simple sandwich for you. This reminds me of a music box I had as a little girl.

I used a large glass to cut this sandwich into a circle.  I cut a doily in half (found on the cake decorating isle at the arts and craft store) to line the back side of a round container.  Sprinkled the sandwich with Wilton's edible star glitter and stuck a ballerina food pick in the sandwich.

This snack box is filled with healthy edamame, blueberries and Colby cheese. I've used silicon food dividers to keep everybody in their own spot. See how the animal Bento forks just beg little fingers to dig in? 

The easy lunch is a cheese sandwich with some fresh grapes.  Adorned with a hamster food divider and squirrel & acorn food picks, it becomes Bento.
I find most of my Bento supplies on ebay these days.  I try to buy multiple items from the same seller when possible to combine shipping. There are many online Bento suppliers though, so pick up a few Bento goodies, use your creativity and watch those little faces grin.
 butterfly divider
Here is a list of some of the Ebay Bento suppliers I've order from and had a good transaction.  Please understand that I do not know these sellers personally and I can only speak from my experience.

I've ordered a bunch from this shop, including the Mickey Mouse sauce containers:

Here are a few others I've ordered from more than once:
~The Lemonista

Monday, September 5, 2011

California Reuben Sandwich

Continuing on my sandwich kick, I have another family favorite for you today.

Back in 1968, my mom and her post-college roommate decided to take a girls trip from chilly Pennsylvania to sunny Southern California. They rented a cute Volkswagen Beetle and cruised the beautiful beaches of the West coast.
 bikini beach
Along the way, my mom fell in love with a special California Reuben Sandwich that was unlike anything she'd eaten growing up in PA.  She ordered this every place it was on the menu and when she returned from her trip, she duplicated the sandwich to make at home.  Forty-three years later my mom still makes this sandwich and so do I. 

Making this cold sandwich is simple, with fresh ingredients and good ranch dressing being the key.

California Reuben Sandwich
Thinly sliced ham from the deli counter (I like honey or brown sugar ham)
Sliced Swiss cheese
Fresh alfalfa sprouts
Sliced avocado
Rye bread
Ranch dressing

*My FAVORITE ranch dressing is made from the Hidden Valley Buttermilk Recipe Ranch Dressing packet.  I always use buttermilk and Best Foods Mayo when making my ranch.

Just looking at these photos is making my mouth water. Of course what's not to love about a sandwich slathered in cool creamy ranch. YUM!


~The Lemonista

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Southwestern Monte Cristo Sandwiches

I'm probably dating myself here, but do you remember the show FRIENDS?  I so miss that Thursday night escape. *sighs*  My favorite FRIENDS character was Joey.  His loyalty, his oblivious reactions, and his hysterical antics never failed to entertain, but if I had to pick one thing about Joey that really hooked me...It was his love of sandwiches.

Check out this classic episode clip of Joey & his sandwich:

I love sandwiches.  They're easy to make and always seem to hit the spot. You can eat them hot or cold and the flavor combinations are almost endless.  Overall, I'm a pretty reserved person. Truly, it takes a lot to ruffle my feathers.  But if you want to see the claws come out...go after my sandwich. Heck, just reaching you hand across my plate would place your fingers in peril. LOL.  Seriously though, I am territorial about my food. Respect that, and we'll get along just fine. *grin*

Moving right along, I'd like to introduce to you a super tasty sandwich! Everyone, this is Southwestern Monte Cristo Sandwich.  Southwestern Monte Cristo Sandwich, this is everyone.

To make this sandwich you will need the following ingredients:

In a mixing bowl beat two eggs, add 1 tablespoon of milk and two dashes of Tabasco sauce. Set aside.

Grab two slices of sandwich bread.

Spread one side with a thin coat of good Mayo.

Spread the other with red jalepeno jelly.

Now add thinly sliced mesquite flavor turkey breast from the deli to one side and a slice of pepper jack cheese to the other.

Put your sandwich together.

Quickly roll sandwich in egg mixture (do not let it sit and soak).

Place egg coated sandwich in a skillet with melted butter over medium heat.

Cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side to melt cheese and warm the meat through.

Flip once side has browned and cook the other side.

Cut in half and serve.

I love the spicy sweet bite of this sandwich.  It's wonderful served with your favorite black bean soup or side dish, or just serve it up with some yummy chips.

Southwestern Monte Cristo Sandwich
Yields 4 sandwiches.

8 slices sandwich bread
Good Mayo
Red Jalapeno Jelly
8oz Thinly sliced mesquite turkey breast from deli counter
4 Slices pepper jack cheese (you can double this if you want)
2 Eggs, beaten
1 Tablespoon milk
2 Dashes Tabasco
Butter for skillet.

In a mixing bowl beat two eggs, add 1 tablespoon of milk and two dashes of Tabasco sauce. Set aside. Grab two slices of sandwich bread. Spread one slice with a thin coat of good Mayo and the other with red jalapeno jelly. Add desired amount of turkey lunch meat to one side and a slice of pepper jack cheese to the other. Put sandwich together and quickly roll in egg mixture (do not let sandwich soak). Melt butter in a skillet and fry sandwich over medium heat until both sides have browned.  Cut in half and serve.

Hope you enjoy!

~The Lemonista