The Sweetness of Summer + Lemon Bar Recipe


With a long weekend ahead of me, I’m ready to soak up every ounce of cool river breezes and dancing firefly nights.

I’ll be dipping my toes in the water as I drift away from the river bank and into the sun.

With family coming in for the long weekend, we’ll be BBQ-ing and fish frying to our hearts content. And the desserts become the main event– see lemon bar recipe below.

I’m also excited to devote some of my free time to plan the renovations for our new little tin can– it helps that it happily sits just a short walk away from the river.

The AC is almost ready to be put in, we’ve started to seal her up (this has turned slightly nightmarish, but window stripping is apparently every Airstream owner’s induction ceremony), and after we check the wiring and gas pipes, it will be time to tackle the interior– which I’m super excited about.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

I’m ready to slow down too though– maybe its the searing heat that makes us languid, but my heart is happy during this sweetly simple few drops of summer I’ve been allotted.

As for the lemon bars… well I couldn’t not mention them. I’ve baked these for my family on multiple occasions. And every time they were gone before I could even snap a picture. I’ve already had requests for repeats, so I can say your pretty safe giving these a whirl for the Fourth of July Weekend, or any lazy summer day (they’re simple to make, too). I’m debating between making these and Fried Oreos which has also been requested this weekend. While the oreos are always a hit too, there’s just something about cool, zesty-sweet bars that make them a summer home run in my book.

Adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery Lemon Bar Recipe

What You’ll Need:

13 by 9-inch baking pan lined with parchment paper

Filling/Sticky goodness:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 teaspoons grated lemon zest

Crust:

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 2/3 powdered sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

**This recipe will add up to needing at least 3 large, whole lemons (depends on their size, I’ve used up to 6 small ones before)**

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

For the crust (first step): Mix flour, sugar, salt, butter and lemon zest together with an electric mixer until it resembles bread crumbs (works best if you work your way up to a high speed for the right consistency). Then, press the dough together with your hands, then pressing it evenly into the base of a 13 by 9-inch baking pan (lined with parchment paper). It can be sandy in consistency. The key is flattening the mixture to line the bottom of the baking pan.

Bake in oven for 20 minutes or lightly golden. Let it cool while leaving the oven on for the next step.

Second Step: Put the sugar, eggs, and lemon juice and zest in a bowl and whisk until well mixed. Pour over baked crust (once it has cooled slightly). Bake for 20 minutes or until the top has set and edges are golden. Let cool, cover, and refrigerate over night or as long as possible.


Enjoy their zesty, sweet, here-comes-the-sun taste!


Though they aren’t a glamorous patriotic choice for the Fourth, they embody summer- and disappear just as quickly!

**I am in no ways a professional baker, just a by-the-book, line-by-line observer of recipe instructions. I only tweak where helpful or necessary– I can’t guarantee satisfaction, other than my own experience!**

Photos Β©livesimplykmm.wordpress.com

Tea, Cake, and a Good Book


Recently, I read “The Thirteenth Tale” by Diane Setterfield. The best description I can give is that it is a book for book lovers. Perhaps not the most descriptive, but the simplest surmise possible. There is no doubt Setterfield is a book lover, and her main character is a reclusive reader who lives and works in an antique book shop. While coveting the main character’s life, the book created a deep desire for tea and cake. Random? Undoubtably. Yet, if you end up reading the book; you might understand. The overall quality of the book I’ll leave to other opinions (the reviews are all over the place on Goodreads), because I personally enjoyed the break from reading Slaughterhouse Five by Vonnegut and For Whom the Bell Tolls by Hemingway. These very existentialist reads required a much lighter one to break them up.

Therefore, I scoped Pinterest and found this little gem hidden away on my “YUM” board (I’m creative, right?). I thought I would share this recipe with you and a picture of my finished product for your enjoyment. Both the book and baking this cake (as well as devouring it!) was a much needed escape for me, and I thought it could be some inspiration to other book/tea and cake lovers out there. Enjoy!

Earl Grey Cake Recipe
CAUTION- The icing is amazing!! (even my 9-year-old nephew became a rhubarb lover!)

IMG_1087.JPG
**Quick side note, I did not use self-rising flour in my cake (because I did not realize there actually was some in the pantry). The recipe calls for it, which explains why mine is half the size of the original. Yet, it was still delicious.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

IMG_1091.JPG

A Very Lazy Productive Day


Today is one of those days that I got to sleep in thanks to poor weather. Apparently, Texans are horrible at handling slippery streets, but I am not complaining since my classes were cancelled and I could cuddle up all morning. I even tried making M a happy face in his latte today… it turned out to be more of a good morning smirk, but I am getting there!

Image

Someday!
Source: theendearingdesigner.com

Anywho, I found myself being lazy productive. Yes, that is a thing. Essentially, it consists of me contemplating future goals and plans while in bed. Pinterest may have squeezed in there throughout this process (but of course!). My lazy productive contemplations of the day are as follows:

-Looking for a baking recipe sans eggs. We ran out of eggs at breakfast, but I have to bake on iced-in days; therefore, I found a way around it and made these decadent snowy day treats….

 

I also probably pinned 10 other recipes whilst in the process of looking for something eggless. And, yes, they were pretty much all scone-related. I have been deprived without my Lemon Poppy Seed scones from Whole Foods.

Image

Here’s a yummy looking recipe for them at http://www.onceuponacuttingboard.com

–Next, I went perusing on what I want to do with the rest of my life. To be honest, I do not take this too seriously anymore. And ironically enough, life has become a lot simpler and enjoyable. Now that I’m not worried about being a successful 20-something-year-old, I’m actually finding things I enjoy, well…. enjoyable. I am also considering making pretty drastic changes to my degree plan, and while that would have terrified me in the past (more time in college, oh my!), I am getting genuinely excited. These days, I figure I need to get a degree in something I love. While I love English like nobody’s business, I have become enamoured with communication design and it has a lot to do with my blogging escapades over the last few years. Not to mention Megan and Mike are incredibly inspiring to me over at their website thefreshexchangeblog.com .

Image

I really want this phone case from her online shop at http://society6.com/Hitchdesign/Live-In-The-Sun_iPhone-Case

I seriously think Megan is incredible and her design creations inspire me to continue on with where my heart has been leading me lately, which is design and words– add those things together and I get sappy. I am slowly becoming a font hoarder as well. Her designs are beautifully simple.

–The next thing I did on my lazy productive day was read for class. I’m an English major taking 17 hours. Enough said. But, the weird part is I’m loving it. It is crazy what great professors can do to your motivation. All those gnawing fears that I made the wrong decision transferring, completely gone out the window. It is a lovely feeling. I feel as though I have finally found bibliophile nerds after my own heart. As of this moment, we are reading:

Tartuffle by Moliere

Image

Source: en.wikipedia.org

Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde by Stevenson

Image

Source: lovelaughterinsanity.com

Lysistrata by Aristophanes

Image

Source: okhanorhan.deviantart.com

Lysistrata has been interesting. Who knew the Greeks were so bawdy? I didn’t, ’til now. Writing papers on all of these may kill the fun a little, but I’ll endure!

–I also got to sport my comfy get-up all day. I do not even care if M makes fun of my “Eskimo boots”. He is secretly just jealous.20140124-163552.jpg

–Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I snuggled with my Zen kitties. It is crazy to think there was a time when I was solely a dog person. Leave it to a cat to curl into your heart.20140124-163705.jpg

I have lived with several Zen masters– all of them cats.

~Eckhart Tolle

The moral of the story is, it is possible to have lazy productive days. In fact, I try to have one every day. Living in the moment is becoming a lot easier these days. Things do get better if you just let things go and simply live. πŸ™‚

Best Wishes,

Kassie

Raw Vegan Pecan Pie for Everyone


More and more people are going down different paths of healthy living these days, and even people like me (who can’t seem to give up cheese) are finding themselves eating healthier. Well, I’m making strides. I’ve eaten a few vegan/vegetarian recipes that furthered my concept of boring health food. Essentially I’ve had a lot of salad and faux meat dishes that were pretty sub-par. But, over the holidays I incorporated vegan options for some of my more health conscious family, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with the results.

One of the scary things to me about going vegan is that I have a sweet tooth that is fueled by my baking love affair. It wasn’t until recently that I learned vegan recipes are just as awesome (and guilt-free). Yes, everyone, I made my first foray into vegan baking which I’ll be honest, doesn’t really feel like baking (this recipe, for example, doesn’t use an oven). But, the results were most definitely worth it.

Let me give you a scenario. I have two members of my family who are vegan, one who is allergic to dairy and gluten, a few of us who are health conscious, and then the remainder who haven’t had much experience with vegan friendly meals. I was pretty concerned about everyone being satisfied, so I made one traditional pecan pie and one raw vegan pecan pie.
20131215-101559.jpg

The crust (w/o a food processor) I didn’t get a chance to take an after shot because it got devoured!
The raw vegan pecan pie won the battle. All sides came together and devoured that pie after hesitantly taking that first bite. I myself, who is a staunch traditional pie lover, found myself head over heels for this little pie. Perhaps there is a future for me in the vegan world after all.

I thought I would share this recipe with you because I was so blown away by the results. I mean, a raw pie doesn’t sound good to me, but it was whole-heartedly welcomed by my stomach. Just click the blue link above the picture and enjoy! Thank you to Food52 for sharing this incredible recipe that brought all different eaters together at the holiday table! As a quick side note, you will need a good blender, and better yet, a food processor. I did not have the food processor so it is doable if you don’t, but I imagine it will make the recipe look more like the pictures. This was my first adventure into this type of food preparation and it is pretty forgiving to newcomers.

Raw Vegan Pecan Pie that everyone will love!

20131215-100922.jpg

It’s that time…. Pumpkin is here


I have to be honest– I’ve never really liked pumpkin… or pumpkin spice anything. I love carving pumpkins and the smell of pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin pies, but the taste has never been all that appealing to me. So, when I found out M’s favorite pie was pumpkin pie, I knew I would have to learn to at least enjoy baking it, if not eating it.

The year that I started blogging, I found the cookbook by The Hummingbird Bakery in London at an Anthropologie store. I have no idea why I wanted the book so badly, I had hardly done any baking before going to London myself. And yet I came back with this weird need to bake and ended up finding a cookbook from a London bakery (fated, perhaps?). In fact, my first ever blog post was about this!

Today I decided I would share this recipe with you, because I only felt it was right with Thanksgiving around the corner. I have actually become pretty popular because of this recipe. People who never really liked Pumpkin Pie were suddenly stealing slices under M’s nose! I’ve heard it is slightly nontraditional (it ex-nays the nutmeg), so perhaps that is where the popularity comes in. Not to mention, the crust is made from scratch (which is my personal favorite of the whole pie and I use the same crust for all of my other pies as well- it’s that easy and goooood). And even I myself enjoyed a little nibble even though it’s still not my favorite dessert ever. But, I’ll stop rambling and jump right in!

Pumpkin Pie recipe adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook.

What You’ll Need:

Crust:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • water
  • 9″ pie dish

Filling:

  • 1 egg
  • 14 oz pumpkin puree
  • 8 oz evaporated milk
  • 1 cup & 1 TBSP sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1 TBLS flour

You’ll want to make the dough an hour before you want to start making the filling—- the dough must sit in the fridge for an hour.

For the dough:

I like to use a KitchenAid standing electric mixer. They are incredibly handy. However, I have made this crust with just a hand-held mixer, so that is fine too!

First, I put the flour, salt and butter (in cubes for easier mixing).

1.Flour, Salt, and Unsalted Butter cubes in the mixer

1.Flour, Salt, and Unsalted Butter cubes in the mixer

Beat until it’s combined and it has a sandy consistency. Sometimes I’ll cut the butter up more as I see bigger chunks that aren’t mixing as fast.

photo 3

Then, I fill a small bowl of water and grab a tablespoon. Add one tablespoon to the mixture. At this time, I increase the speed of the mixer (to a 4 on the KitchenAid freestanding mixer). Add another tablespoon once the first is mixed in, and continue to add a tablespoon of water at a time until you have a ball of dough forming. It is best to add as little tablespoons of water as possible. Normally, it takes me 6-8 tablespoons of water.

photo 4photo 1photo 2(1)

At this point you, you can probably just increase speed and stop adding water.

At this point you, you can probably just increase speed and stop adding water.

photo 5

I form a ball of dough and wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for at least an hour (I would warn not to leave in your fridge overnight, either my fridge is too cold or the dough will just turn into a rock-just my personal experience, although you can microwave it for a few seconds to make it more workable).

Balleddough

This is when I take a little breather until the dough is almost ready to be used. A personal favorite at the moment is making myself some apple cider, it’s only seasonally appropriate!

cider

For the filling (Preheat oven to 325):

All you have to do is put all of the listed ingredients above into a large bowl and mix with a wooden spoon. Once it is well mixed/combined the filling is done!

ingrediantsmixfilling

Putting it all together:

Pretty straightforward- roll out your dough to cover your 9″ pie dish and line the dough into your dish. After that you just add your filling and put it in the preheated oven.

rolldoughdoughpie

Ignore the lighting glare...whoops!

Ignore the lighting glare…whoops!

I put it in for 35 minutes, or until the filling is firm and not wobbly.

You can sprinkle with cinnamon and serve with whipped cream if you wish, and viola, a fall-worthy pumpkin pie is now sitting in your kitchen and smelling ahhh-mazing.

wholepiepieslice

Let me know if you give it a go or if you have any other versions, or other fall recipes in general, that you make every year. This is certainly a staple in my house! Also, I’m curious on how to make a pumpkin filling straight from a fresh pumpkin, so if you know of anything of that sort, I am definitely interested πŸ™‚

**Disclaimer- I am not a professional baker, nor do I pretend to be. As you can see by the finished product, but I swear it tastes incredible, and at my skill level– that’s all that matters at the moment! Also, you’re supposed to use a paddle attachment for the dough, but I do not currently have one so I just make do and it works all the same! Best Wishes!

Tried and True Pinterest Cooking/Baking Gems


I remember last year, sitting on the couch with M while trying to rack our brains about what we were going to eat for dinner. Such a mountainous question. One that has puzzled many a hungry person for ages. Or, perhaps, it is just a family thing. We NEVER can decide on where to eat and or what to eat. This is probably what some would call first world problems. Nonetheless, it has posed as almost an object of anxiety for me. Do not ask me that dreaded question, and if you have the gall to ask do not disagree with my choice! It’s a vicious cycle. And it only leaves everyone getting hangrier by the second.

20130729-171826.jpg

It got so bad that M even went through the trouble of writing down all the possible options on a piece of paper and putting them in a small origami take-out box to draw from when a decision inevitably could not be made. But, instead of making the box the supreme decider- we just kept drawing until we could both agree on something. This also seems to happen when we flip a coin. Hmmm….

20130729-172022.jpg

Therefore, I have found a few ways of avoiding this dilemma whenever M and I are on our own. One way is that we both have a favorite restaurant in town that we hardly ever disagree on, so that has simplified things slightly. But, I finally had the bright idea of getting organized. Every Sunday, I would try planning out our meals at least for the next four days. Finally, we entered into a normal household routine. The final dilemma for my twenty-year-old self was figuring out what to make, because we obviously weren’t going to eat out every day and I have a finicky appetite for frozen meals (living in a college dorm room for two years broke my soul, no more Ramen for me man!). Luckily, Pinterest came to my rescue! It is like a free, unlimited cookbook. It became my all things cooking and baking advisor.

20130729-172149.jpg

I am definitely one of those women addicted to Pinterest ( I know there are some men out there!). However, I feel like this is excusable because even though I have probably wasted many an hour perusing through the limitless options of the site, it feels like a productive procrastination. Impossible? Nay. I have found many recipes and ideas that I would never have even thought of it weren’t for the website. A part of me wonders if it is possible I am letting others be creative for me, but then again, would I have ever really had the ingenious idea to use a recycled ketchup bottle to create the perfect pancakes while camping? I think not. (Seriously, if you have ever tried making pancakes while on a camping trip- this is genius!)

20130729-173525.jpg

And that is just scratching the surface! So, in planning meals for the week, all I had to do was skim through the endless possibilites given to me by Pinterest’s tasty pictures.

But I digress, today I am going to be sharing some recipes with you that I have tested myself (with approval from family and friends, as well) and found to be incredible! If you have spent any time trying out the website for yourself, you may have heard of the Epic Pinterest Fails. Alas, pictures can be deceiving. Or, perhaps, some of us pinners just don’t have the knack for some things. I think it is probably a combination of both.

20130729-172314.jpg

One of my own Pinterest fails was a recipe that had me blend all the sauce ingredients for a pasta sauce (tomatoes, garlic, basil, etc), and then throw it on top of the pasta- without cooking the blended ingredients, which I thought might be refreshing. Oh, heavens no. It looked like barf and tasted like it too (I looked and looked and the recipe said nothing about cooking it, I was so confused! Perhaps I should have anyways.) M was such a trooper in the taste test. But, we are glad to have that behind us now. I would like to think I am a savvy pinner of recipes now, and I certainly delete the duds from my boards. No misleading here!

So, I wanted to share some recipes with you that have been instant favorites (and pretty simple too). I’m just going to provide links to the recipes since they are not mine and belong mostly to other bloggers- so thank you to those others who have gone before us in the kitchen!

Also, I found that many of these bloggers are worthy of bookmarking to go back and see what other good recipes they have.

Zebra Bundt Cake

20130729-172406.jpg

Photo from original recipe author
I cannot even explain how incredibly amazing this bundt cake is. While the cake consists of chocolate and vanilla cake, it is not a truly overwhelming sweetness. Honestly, it’s the perfect morning snack to go with a hot cup of coffee. Okay, I may have to go make some now….

Blueberry Lemon Scones

20130729-172520.jpg

Photo from original recipe author

The pin description for this said the “Best Blueberry Lemon Scones you have ever tasted!”. While weary of these, this one was entirely true. These scones are delectable. This has been the best recipe, hands down, I have found on Pinterest. If you like scones, or even if you just like Blueberries or Lemon, you will love this. If you don’t you need your tastebuds checked.

Snickerdoodle Bread

20130729-172638.jpg

Photo from original recipe author

This is perhaps the perfect Cinnamonn bread on the planet. I’m usually not huge on breads- like banana bread and what not- but this blew me away. If you like Snickerdoodle cookies, this recipe is a perfect new medium to try out an old favorite! In fact, I made this just two days ago, and it turns out exactly like the picture. I would have taken my own picture, but one loaf is already gone and the other one is half gone. Whoops.

Easy Baked Salmon

20130729-172846.jpg

Photo by original recipe author

This has been the easiest way I have found to make salmon. Literally, it is too easy. It definitely isn’t fancy or the best salmon I have ever had, but if you are lazy like me sometimes I just want to throw something together quickly and painlessly (that is relatively healthy), then this is a go to dish. That is, if you like salmon.

Vodka Pasta

20130729-172959.jpg

Photo by original recipe author

This dish is absolutely incredible if you are a pasta junkie. It does take a bit of prepping compared to other pasta dishes I am used to, but it makes all the difference! It was an immediate favorite.

*Side note- I’m always looking for new recipes. I’m a foodie, so if you have some recipes of your own- let me know!

Anyone else Pinterest addicts? And, hopefully, I am not the only one with a few Pinterest fails. But then again, I’m pretty good at knowing what is in my skill range and what isn’t. Now, I must get back to all those DIY projects and baking…. oh my! πŸ˜‰

20130729-174111.jpg