LIME BARS – Bursting With Flavor!

lime bars textEvery now and then, even a die-hard chocoholic such as myself craves a little tang.

These Limes Bars are bursting with delectable lime flavor, which is nicely offset by the graham cracker crust. I prefer the original Nabisco graham crackers to the Nabisco Honey Maid grahams – they have a richer graham flavor which pairs well with the lime.

Keep in mind that while this is a very easy, quick to prepare recipe, it needs to be made several hours before serving so it sets and chills properly.

NOTE:  As self-proclaimed Queen of Freeze, I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t suggest freezing the unused egg white for future use.

LIME BARS – makes about 9-12, depending on how big they’re sliced

  • 5 oz (1¼ cups) original Nabisco graham crackers (or Honey Maid, if you prefer)
  • 3 T dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt, divided
  • 4 T butter
  • 1/2 cup lime juice (about 3 limes)
  • 1 T lime zest, packed
  • 2 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1  14-oz can sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk!)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • optional raspberry drizzle (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 325º Fahrenheit.

Finely crush graham crackers either in a food processor or with a rolling pin. Pour into a bowl. Mix in sugar and 1/8 tsp salt. Melt butter and, using a fork, stir into crumbs.lime bars8 Grease an 8″ x 8″ pan (I use Pyrex) and pour in the crumbs. Pat firmly down on pan bottom only, as evenly as possible. To make the edges nice and compact, use a spoon to press down along sides. lime bars9Bake in 325º F oven until lightly browned – 18-20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow crust to cool about 15 minutes.

Keep oven on at 325º F.

In a bowl, mix the lime juice, zest, remaining 1/8 tsp salt, and cream cheese by hand. lime bars10Whisk in the condensed milk and yolk. lime bars4Pour mixture into cooled crust and bake in 325º oven for 15 minutes. lime bars5Remove from oven and let cool on stovetop at least an hour. Then place in refrigerator a minimum of 2 hours before serving.

Pour on Raspberry Drizzle, if desired.


  • 10 oz raspberries (frozen or fresh)
  • 3 T granulated sugar
  • 2¼ tsp cornstarch

Combine raspberries, sugar, and cornstarch in a small saucepan. lime bars6Over medium heat, bring to simmer. Cook until raspberries break down – about 10-15 minutes, stirring often. lime bars7Strain out the solids by placing a sieve over a bowl and pouring in the raspberry mixture. Use a spoon to press out all of the juice. lime bars11Chill the juice in the refrigerator to thicken. (You can use the remaining solids in yogurt or cereal.) Place the thickened sauce in a piping bag and drizzle onto the chilled Lime Bars.




irish brown soda bread text2Saints be praised, St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner, sure.

Of course, traditional corned beef and cabbage is off the table for vegetarians – although, I do have an imitation version of a Reuben Sandwich. Not to worry, there are still plenty of good eats to be enjoyed!

Irish Brown Soda Bread is one of them. We generally see recipes for white Irish Soda Bread, but I find the brown soda bread is a more hearty, flavorful choice. Out of necessity at the time of the Irish famine, soda bread was widely made since it was cheap, filling, and easy.

My Irish mammy always made sure we wore green for St. Patrick’s Day. So, of course, that’s what I’ll be wearing when I bake my next loaf of IRISH BROWN SODA BREAD.

Note:  I’ve given the amounts for the flours in both ounces and cups. Weighing flour is much more accurate, but if you don’t have a scale, use measuring cups.

Additional Note:  The wheat bran and wheat germ in this recipe are making up for the lack of them in American (and perhaps other countries, as well) whole wheat flour. The Irish wheatmeal flour has more bits in it, making for a more flavorful loaf. If you have access to the Irish wheatmeal flour, then use 14-1/2 oz (3-1/4 cups) wheatmeal and skip the wheat bran and germ. The other ingredients should stay the same.


  • 9 oz (2 cups) whole wheat flour
  • 4½ oz (1 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 1¾ 1 oz (1 cup) wheat bran
  • 3/4 oz (1/4 cup) wheat germ
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1½ tsp baking soda
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375º Fahrenheit.

You can use an 8″ cast iron skillet (which I use) or 8″ cake pan. If you’re using a cast iron skillet, place it in the preheating oven to get it really hot. (Don’t do this with the cake pan.)

Into a large mixing bowl combine all of the dry ingredients. irish brown soda bread4When the oven is preheated, remove skillet from oven and oil it. (Oil the cake pan, if you’re using that.)

Working quickly, stir  the buttermilk into the dry ingredients, mixing until flour is incorporated. irish brown soda bread5Pile the batter into the hot skillet, pushing it all the way into the corners but mounding the batter into a dome. (Only the bottom portion of the batter should touch the sides of the pan – this will create a higher loaf.)irish brown soda bread1 Slash top to make an ‘X’, 1/2″ deep and 5″ brown soda bread3 Bake in the preheated 375º F oven until interior temperature of the bread is 185º F – about 35-45 minutes. If you don’t have a thermometer, look for a golden brown top after 35 brown soda bread2 Remove hot loaf from skillet and cool at least an hour on a wire rack. Delicious with butter or jam.


CALDO VERDE: A Filling Soup To Warm You Up!

caldo verde textCaldo Verde is a hearty Portuguese soup that is very quick to prepare.  It can be made with or without sausage. (There are fabulous fake sausages available everywhere!)

Normally, when I use fake sausage, I prefer Morningstar’s Sausage Patties. But since chorizo is the sausage of choice in Caldo Verde, I used Morningstar’s Sausage Links.  Next time, I will try using the spiced patties.

CALDO VERDE – makes about 6 cups

  • optional:  6 oz imitation sausage (I used Morningstar)caldo verde8
  • 1/2 T + 1½ T extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3/4 cup onions, chopped
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled & cut into 3/4″ cubes
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 lb collard greens
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp vegetarian Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

If using fake sausage, slice into 1/2″ pieces. Set aside.caldo verde11 In a large saucepot heat 1/2 T olive oil over medium/high heat.  Add in the onions, salt, garlic, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Sauté 3-4 minutes, until onions are translucent. caldo verde9Add in the potatoes and water. Increase heat to bring to a boil, then decrease heat to maintain a simmer. Cook, uncovered, until potatoes are tender when pierced – about 8-10 minutes. caldo verde10While soup is cooking, cut up the collards. First, remove and discard the center stem. caldo verde4Then cut the greens into 1″ pieces. caldo verde5When potatoes are cooked, remove 1/2 cup of the solids and 1/2 cup of the liquid to a blender. Don’t blend yet.

Add the collard greens to the soup in the pot and cook another 8-10 minutes, until green are tender. caldo verde7Start the blender and slowly drizzle in the remaining 1½ T olive oil. When it’s all added, continue to blend for 1 minute. caldo verde2Pour into soup. Add in the sausage (if using), vinegar, Worcestershire Sauce, and lemon juice. Adjust seasoning, as needed. (I add another 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper.)caldo verde3


moo shu textLet me say right off the bat, this is an EXTREMELY easy recipe. Honestly! Yes, it involves making those ultra thin pancakes that wrap the stir-fry, but I promise, you can do it!!!

As a devoted from-scratch cook, I’m always up for a new challenge. While I’ve been making flour tortillas for years, I was a little nervous about these thin moo shu pancakes. How can I roll them so thin and still be able to handle them with tearing? America’s Test Kitchen to the rescue! They came up with an ingenious method that truly works.

The filling can be altered to suit your taste – I used shiitake mushrooms, scrambled eggs, asparagus, and cabbage.



  • 7½ oz (or 1+2/3 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 1½ T sesame oil
  • 1 T vegetable oil

Mix flour and boiling water together in the food processor (or, by hand if you don’t own one) until smooth – about 30 seconds. Let dough rest, covered, for 30 minutes.moo shu10 On a well-floured board, roll dough into a 12″ log. moo shu11Slice into 12 pieces. moo shu12Using floured fingers, pat each piece into a 3″ disc. moo shu13Generously brush 6 of the discs with the sesame oil (you may have some left over).moo shu14 Place each dry disc on top of an oiled one, creating a kind of sandwich. moo shu15Roll each of these into a 6″-ish circle. (To save time and counter space, while one pancake sandwich is cooking, I’m rolling out the next – but this is pretty hectic.)moo shu16 Heat 1/2 tsp vegetable oil in a nonstick skillet over medium/low. Place one dough circle in skillet and cook on medium/low for 1 minute. Flip and cook other side for 1 minute. moo shu17Remove to a tea towel to let cool a few seconds. Then, carefully split apart the pancakes. moo shu18Stack them, oiled side up. Carry on with the remaining circles. (You may not need to oil the pan with each new pancake, depending on the non-stick ability of your skillet – I put in a little vegetable oil every other one.) Keep warm in the wrapped tea towel until ready to use.moo shu19


  • 8 oz fresh shiitake mushrooms, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 T Mirin sweet rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger or 1 tsp fresh, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 T + 1 tsp vegetable oil, divided
  • 2/3 cup scallions (about 6 scallions), sliced
  • 7 asparagus stalks, sliced into 1/2″ pieces
  • 8 oz can bamboo shoots, cut into matchsticks – see photo:hot & sour9
  • 3 cups Napa cabbage or bok choy, sliced thin
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce (recipe below, or purchased)

In a bowl, combine the shiitakes and 1/2 cup water. Let soak while you prepare the rest. (You’ll be using some this flavored water in the moo shu.)moo shu2In a small saucepan, combine the Mirin and cornstarch, smooshing out any lumps. Add in the soy sauce, sugar, ginger, garlic, and sesame oil. Cook over medium heat until thickened. Set aside.

In a nonstick 12″ skillet, heat 1 T vegetable oil over high heat. Add in the scallions, asparagus, and bamboo shoots. Sauté on high for 2 minutes.moo shu7 Drain the mushrooms over a container.moo shu3 Add 1/3 cup of this mushroom water to the skillet, along with the cabbage and drained mushrooms. Cook on high for another 2 minutes.moo shu9 Pour all of the stir-fry mixture into a colander or sieve, discarding the drained liquid.

Put 1 tsp vegetable oil in the now-empty skillet and heat over medium/high. Lightly beat eggs, and cook them in skillet for about 20 seconds, until they’re cooked, but soft. (They’ll continue to cook when the hot vegetables are added.)moo shu5Add in the drained veggies and the teriyaki sauce. Blend together and heat through.

Place a spoonful of filling on a each pancake. Fold up pancake in half (like a taco), moo shu20 then fold in sides.moo shu21If you like, dip in plum or hoisin sauce as you eat.

Teriyaki Sauce – makes about 3/4 cup

  • 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 T Mirin sweet wine vinegar (often in the Asian section of the market)
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated (or 1/8 tsp dried, but fresh is best)
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

Note:  You only need 1/4 cup of this recipe for the Moo Shu. Store remainder in refrigerator.

In a small saucepan with burner off, put cornstarch and sugar. Stir to blend. Add in Mirin and mix well, smashing any lumps. teriyake sauce1

Add in soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and sesame oil. Turn on burner to medium and stir while bringing to a boil. Turn down heat to keep a simmer. Continue cooking until thickened – about 4-5 minutes.teriyake sauce2

Roasted Butternut Squash With Hazelnuts – So Easy, So Yummy!

roasted butternut textI love roasted vegetables! Their flavor comes to life, enhanced by the sweet caramelization process. Add to that the slight crispiness. Yum!!!

This ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH recipe is very easy to prepare…but does take about an hour in the oven. So plan ahead. That time is hands off, so you can use it to prepare the rest of your meal…or, decompress from the day with a glass of wine.

Note: If you don’t like hazelnuts, try another nut such as almonds or pecans.


  • 2½ – 3 lbs butternut squash
  • 4 T butter, divided
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/3 cup hazelnuts, skinned
  • 1 T water
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 T chives, chopped

Preheat oven to 425º Fahrenheit.

Wash and dry whole squash. Place in microwave for 3 minutes. (Don’t worry, it won’t explode – this is just to soften it enough to make peeling easier and safer.) Flip and zap it for 30 more seconds. Place squash on a cutting board, taking care not to burn yourself. Cut off both ends and discard. Dissect the neck from the body (I know, this sounds ghoulish!) Standing these halves on end, remove the peel down to the deep orange color with a sharp knife. butternut risotto3Slice the body and neck in half lengthwise (yikes!) and remove seeds and fibres. Cut the four halves into 1/2″ pieces.roasted butternut2 Place pieces in a mixing bowl. Melt 2 T butter and pour over squash. Stir in the salt and pepper.roasted butternut3 Lay butternut squash pieces in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, until bottoms are browned. Flip pieces and bake another 10-15 minutes, until well browned on both sides. roasted butternut6While squash is baking, coarsely chop hazelnuts. In a small skillet or saucepan, melt remaining 2 T butter. Add in chopped nuts and sauté over medium/high heat. Stirring constantly, cook until nuts are browned – about 2 minutes. (The butter will be bubbly at first.)roasted butternut4Remove from heat and stir in the 1 T water. Let cool a little, then add in the lemon juice and a pinch of salt. roasted butternut5When squash is cooked, place slices into a mixing bowl (I use the same one from before). Gently stir in the hazelnuts and butter. Sprinkle on chives. Serve while hot.



CRANBERRY TART: A Tasty Way To Say “I Love You!”

cranberry tart text2Cranberry Tart is a beautiful dessert that can be served year-round. But I thought it particularly appropriate for Valentine’s Day…even though the only chocolate in it is the white chocolate I sprinkled on top (which doesn’t really count).

Making this tart was my excuse to finally purchase a tart pan. It’s not absolutely necessary, but it does make a pretty presentation with the fluted edges. However, a 9″ regular pie dish (like Pyrex) will work fine. By the way, I didn’t grease the pan and the tart still released perfectly.



  • 2/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 3 T granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1¼ cup all-purpose flour (1¼ oz – it’s always better to weigh, if you can)
  • 10 T butter, soft
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 375º Fahrenheit.

Toast almonds either in the oven or a dry skillet until lightly browned. Let cool.

Place almonds, sugar, flour, and salt in the food processor with the steel blade. (You can use the blender, but you’ll have to mix the rest by hand or with an electric mixer.) Pulse until the almonds are a fine crumb – about 8 pulses. cranberry tart12Add in softened butter and almond extract. Pulse until mixture clumps together. cranberry tart11Place a 9″ tart pan on a cookie sheet – this is important since tart pans have a removable bottom and you don’t want to accidentally push it up when you lift the filled tart. (You don’t need the cookie sheet if you’re using a regular pie plate.) Scatter pieces of the dough around the tart pan (or regular 9″ pie pan), putting more near the edges. cranberry tart10With fingers, press down the dough starting with the sides so it evenly covers the sides all the way up the top, and the bottom of the pan. Pay special attention to the corners – push them in so you have a nice sharp inside edge with more room for the filling.cranberry tart5 Place a piece of waxed paper over crust and fill with pie weights, uncooked beans, or rice. Bake in preheated 375º F for 12 minutes. Remove waxed paper and weights by bringing corners together and carefully rocking it out – you don’t want the crust to stick to the paper. (If some of it does stick to the waxed paper, scrape it off and replace it in crust.)

Continue to bake the now-uncovered crust for another 5 minutes or so until lightly browned. Carry the cookie sheet with the tart pan on top to a rack and completely cool.


NOTE: As Queen of Freeze, I encourage you to freeze the unused egg whites from the required egg yolks in the filling for future use. Waste not, want not!!!

SECOND NOTE: I wanted a deeper red color but don’t like to use commercial food colorings. So I made my own red coloring using a red beet. It’s quick to do and doesn’t affect the flavor of the curd. But, you don’t need to color the filling – it’s a pretty pink on its own – or you can use purchased coloring, if you want.

  • optional for deeper red color: 1 red beet
  • 12 oz cranberries (either fresh or frozen), rinsed
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate juice (I use Pom)
  • 2 T lemon zest
  • optional: 2 tsp beet juice extracted from the beet
  • 8 T butter, cold and cut into pieces
  • 2 eggs, whole
  • 2 yolks

Preheat oven to 350º Fahrenheit.

If you want to make a deeper red colored tart:  wash, peel, and roughly chop beet. Place in a small saucepan with about 1/2 cup of water. Bring to boil and cook, uncovered, until water (which is now red) boils down to about 2 teaspoons. Let cool.cranberry tart9 In another saucepan, combine the cranberries, sugar, salt, pomegranate juice, and lemon zest. Bring to a boil and cook until the cranberries start to pop – about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. cranberry tart3Note: Possible suggestion (although I haven’t tried this): To eliminate the above step of separately boiling the beet, try quartering the peeled beet (so you can find them easier), and add them to the cranberries before boiling. Then remove the 4 beet pieces before running the cranberries through the food mill.

Place butter in a medium sized bowl. Set food mill or strainer on top of bowl and pour cranberry mixture through the food mill or strainer. Extract as much liquid as you can. The hot liquid will melt the butter and cool down the liquid. cranberry tart4Beat the whole eggs and yolks together in a small bowl, then slowly whisk into the cranberry mixture. Add beet juice (if using).cranberry tart8 Clean out the saucepan you used for cooking the cranberries. Pour the filling through a strainer (to remove any bits from the egg and/or cranberries) into the empty saucepan. This takes some time since it’s thick! You don’t HAVE to do this step, but the curd is silkier if you remove the bits. You can see what would have been left in the curd if I hadn’t strained.cranberry tart7Over medium heat, cook until thickened, stirring often – about 5 minutes.cranberry tart6 When oven is preheated, pour filling into cooled crust. (Make sure tart pan is still sitting on a cookie sheet – you really don’t want to chance pushing up on the bottom!)

Bake at 350º F about 8 minutes, until center 3″ is still jiggly but sides are firm. Don’t wait until center is firm or it’ll be overcooked. Remove from oven. cranberry tart1While tart is still hot, remove tart pan side by very carefully scooting the tart pan from the cookie sheet onto a wide can or bowl. (Make sure the diameter of the bowl is smaller than the tart pan opening.) Gently press down on tart pan edge and it should fall right down. Don’t move the tart yet – let it completely cool before moving it. cranberry tart2Once tart is completely cooled, remove tart pan base – it may crack if it’s still warm. To remove base, run a thin, long implement (or maybe unflavored dental floss – I haven’t tried that, though) between crust and tart pan bottom. Carefully, nudge tart onto a serving plate.

Chill at least 6 hours. Making it the day ahead is best.

ROMAN GNOCCHI: A Semolina Sensation!

roman gnocchi textWe’re all familiar with the POTATO GNOCCHI – awhile back I even posted a recipe for POTATO GNOCCHI WITH SAGE BUTTER:gnocchi 2But gnocchi are merely dumplings that are made from various things besides potatoes, such as wheat flour, cheese, breadcrumbs, cornmeal, and semolina flour – the basis for this Roman Gnocchi recipe.

Roman Gnocchi are fast and easy to make and can be formed ahead of time – I love make-ahead recipes! They can be served as a first, side, or main course, depending on how many one eats.

Note:  I store my semolina flour in the freezer since I don’t use it that often.

ROMAN GNOCCHI – makes 12

  • 2½ cups milk (use whatever you have)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1 cup semolina flour
  • 4 T butter, divided
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup Gruyère cheese, shredded
  • 1/3 tsp dried crushed rosemary (or 1 tsp fresh chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 T Parmesan cheese, grated
  • topping sauce of your choice (marinara, cheese sauce, butter sauce)

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring milk up to simmer. Add in salt and nutmeg. roman gnocchi7Very slowly pour in semolina, stirring constantly to prevent lumps (a whisk is best for this). Once all the semolina in mixed in, decrease heat to low and cook 3-5 minutes, until it becomes very thick and pulls away from the sides of pan. (Don’t undercook or the gnocchi will taste floury.) Let cool 4 minutes. roman gnocchi11Cut 3 T of the butter into pieces and stir them into the dough until all butter is melted and incorporated. roman gnocchi10Mix in the beaten egg, Gruyère, rosemary, and baking powder. roman gnocchi8With the remaining 1 T butter grease an 8″ x 8″ baking pan (or one of equivalent size). Dip a 1/4 cup measuring cup into water to wet it, then fill it with dough. Empty onto the pan, using your fingers to fix the shape, if needed. Dip measuring cup into water each time – this helps release the dough. You should get around 12 gnocchi. roman gnocchi1Chill at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400º Fahrenheit. roman gnocchi3Sprinkle Parmesan on top of gnocchi and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.