Thursday, August 20, 2009

When Life Gives You Lemons

Dear Mom,
My summer has not turned out in any way like I thought it would. It was a summer of changes and growth. A summer of lemons . . . . I chose to spend my morning baking LEMON BREAD!!!
Do you remember this recipe? It's from little Carresa Rogers, who is not so little anymore. She is probably married and may have children of her own!! The recipe is incredibly, laughably easy and yields the most delicious loaf of bread. The kitchen was abuzz with activity as the Diva gathered ingredients, Pipsqueak stirred, and the Teenager hung around with several friends, pretending not to be interested in the wonderful smells coming from the kitchen . . . .

Lemon Bread

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
grated rind of 1 lemon
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

After baking:
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup sugar

Mix all ingredients together. Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. The top will crack. Remove from pan. Blend together the 1/4 cup of sugar and lemon juice. Brush top and sides of loaf with it while bread is still warm. Enjoy!

Seriously?! If you bake this bread for friends, family and/or neighbors, make sure you do not let them know how easy this bread is to bake!! Trade this bread for a homemade cheesecake or a souffle. Maybe go for an entire homemade dinner!

And when your summer gives you nothin' but lemons, please pass me more lemon bread!



Tomato Basil Cheese Pie

Dear Mom,
Right about now, some of us are wondering why we planted so many tomato plants last spring. We are swallowing Prilosec OTC in an effort to manage the heartburn produced by eating 38 grape tomatoes every day.
There is no better tomato than the one eaten fresh off the vine, hot and dusty, right there in the garden with the juice dripping off your chin. Unfortunately, tomato plants won't thoughtfully produce just one or two ripe tomatoes per day. The tomatoes ripen in caboodles over here, and I can't stand out there all afternoon, eating hot dusty fresh tomatoes. I've got knitting to do.
Last summer I found this delicious recipe for Tomato Basil Cheese Pie, that uses 4!!! tomatoes. It also mixes in mayo with cheese before baking which sounds gross if you think about it, so don't think about it. It could be a side dish, but My Hero and I make it our meal and since they won't eat it, I fix something like Bagel Bites for the kids.

Tomato Basil Cheese Pie
makes 1 pie - serves 6-8, unless it is a main dish and then it maybe serves 4

8-oz shredded mozzarella, divided- take time and shred it yourself, it is worth it.
4 tomatoes, sliced
1 cup fresh basil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese, again shred it yourself! Don't you dare use the stuff in the green can!!!
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
Garnish: fresh basil ( I never take time to do this part, but it would be a nice touch)

Pastry for pie crust:
Yes, you could buy a 9-inch pie crust at the store and save yourself some time, but this is what I do and it is easy...
Soften 6 T butter. Add a dash of salt and whisk together it together with 1/4 cup BOILING water. Add 1 cup flour and mix together until the flour is all mixed in. I do all of this in my Kitchenaid mixer with the whisk attachment. Take the lump of dough and roll it out into a big circle, or if you are in a real hurry, plop the dough right into the pie pan and moosh it around with your fingers until the dough is evenly covering the bottom and sides.

Sprinkle half of the mozzarella cheese into the pie crust. Top with tomato slices.
Sprinkle with minced garlic and basil leaves. Mix remaining mozzarella, mayo, Parmesan cheese and pepper together and spread over tomato-basil mixture. Bake at 375 for 35- 40 minutes, or until golden.