Tag Archives: fresh lemon juice

Sharpe Family Caesar Salad

Though a Caesar salad is a great choice any time, I enjoy making it as a one-dish winter meal. There is something so satisfying in the texture of the fresh romaine lettuce, the crunch of croutons, and the thick flavorful dressing; it just seems that this salad is the perfect pop of flavor for taste buds grown tired of heavy bland offerings.

The recipe, from good friends, Susan and Larry Sharpe, appears in my “Missouri to Maui” cookbook and it is simple to prepare with just six ingredients. I do have a few tips for preparing this salad: prep your lettuce early on so there is time to rinse and dry it thoroughly. If you don’t dry the lettuce sufficiently you will find that the dressing breaks down, diluted by any moisture still on the lettuce so don’t skip or rush the lettuce prep. I find it helpful to rinse the lettuce then layer it between large towels to dry. Once dry, I use my kitchen shears to chop it into coarse pieces. Another tip: mince the garlic early and use your fingers or a wooden spoon to smash the garlic around the sides of a wooden salad bowl before making the remainder of the dressing. Using a wooden bowl is a must here as the texture of the wood allows the smashed garlic to permeate the salad when tossed.

The dressing will be thick; if you have smashed the garlic in the serving bowl first, it consists of just of the parmesan (grated by hand from a large block, no substituting!), the freshly squeezed lemon juice, and the olive oil. It is the thickness of the dressing, well mixed into every bit and morsel of the salad that provides the distinctive flavor of a Caesar salad.

One note on croutons. You certainly can buy them packaged if you have a favorite brand, but nothing is as simple as preparing your own. I sometimes make them on the stove, in a skillet, using butter and seasonings, or, as i did last night, preparing them in the oven on a baking sheet after tossing them in olive oil and seasonings. The cooking blog, The Pioneer Woman, has quick recipes for each method. It’s always a good idea to freeze any left over partial loaves of French bread for making your own croutons because they can be used in so many ways. Last night all I found in the freezer was a package of sliced wheat bread squares so that is what I used and they were delicious though too flat for my liking. Croutons are easy to make, remember that!

So, just six ingredients and a little foresight about prepping, and you will soon enough have a salad to satisfy your every taste bud. Why not prepare it on the next cold night and jazz up your table? This dish is  great with a bowl of soup or a meat dish  such as a steak or venison, or, as it was very much enjoyed last night, just on its own, unaccompanied. After all, the bowl is chock full of salad AND bread AND cheese, PLUS extra flavor. You really don’t need anything more. Enjoy mightily!

Sharpe Family Caesar Salad


1 large package Romaine lettuce, coarsely chopped (at least 4 stalks)
Prepared plain croutons or homemade croutons


2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Directions Coarsely chop romaine lettuce and place in serving bowl; add crotons. Prepare the dressing, in deep mixing bowl, by using the back of a wooden spoon to smash garlic cloves against the sides of the bowl. Add oil and lemon juice, whisk briefly. Add Parmesan and whisk well; mixture will be thick. Do not make the dressing too early, just before serving is best. Add dressing to lettuce and croutons, folding thoroughly, coating well. Serve immediately.

Mango Nectar Pound Cake

The original recipe is found in a great collection called “Mealtimes and Memories” by Thelma L. Carlile.  This cake is  also so similar in taste to the Apricot Nectar Cake recipe found in my “Missouri to Maui” cookbook; actually you can use any of these three recipes and have the same results. The canned nectar, made from fruit concentrate, is available in apricot, mango and guava that I find locally.  The nectar doesn’t flavor the cake powerfully, but each flavor does add its own subtle change.

This is an easy cake to prepare: you can bake it in a Bundt pan or a 10″ tube pan and it is a one-mixing-bowl batter. Allow the batter to breathe after beating. You’ll want your stand mixer for this if you have one so you can put the 6 minutes beating time to better use. The batter pours easily into your prepared pan. I drizzled my frosting on too soon actually as the cake was still slightly warm but it was one of those busy afternoons and though the slight puddling of icing seen around the base of the cake here was unintentional, it was more than adequate for scooping up with a fork those last moist sweet bites of  golden brown crumbs.

Mango Pound Cake

Cake Ingredients

1-(18-1/2 oz.) Duncan Hines Supreme Yellow Cake Mix
1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup Wesson oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 can mango nectar, divided use

FROSTING ingredients:

2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Remainder of can of nectar

Directions Preheat oven to 350. Combine the cake mix and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Blend in the eggs, oil, and lemon juice then add the mango nectar; beat for 6 minutes at medium speed. Allow batter to breathe in the bowl for five minutes then pour into a greased and floured 10” tube or 12 cup Bundt pan. Bake for 50 minutes. Cool on cake rack 10 minutes then remove from pan by inverting onto your serving plate. Allow to cool completely then frost allowing the frosting to drizzle down the sides of the cake.  Beat frosting until no lumps remain and mixture is smooth.

Lemon-Lime Custard Meringue Pie

This week is the first time I baked this delectable pie; I found the recipe on a cooking blog I enjoy and made a few adjustments to the recipe.  I added the word custard to the name of the dish because this isn’t a traditional lemon meringue pie; the filling is thicker than that recipe and there is no cornstarch or flour in the filling at all.  I also made a traditional meringue for the pie today because I was running low on time and the brown sugar meringue included with the original recipe required boiling brown sugar and water for 20 minutes and I didn’t have time for that.  I will definitely try that meringue next time I bake this, however; a traditional meringue is just fine but since the filling is already different, the brown sugar meringue would be terrific!

You have 3 steps to the finish line: roll out and bake your best pastry shell then make the filling and bake it in the shell.  At this point you can refrigerate the pie overnight then before serving, make the meringue and bake the pie again just until the meringue browns. That’s it and it’s a sweet finish line indeed! The sweet custard is nothing more than eggs, a little sugar, heavy cream and the fresh citrus juices and zest, a terrific combination!

I am including the directions for the brown sugar meringue but if you find yourself in a hurry as I did today, you can also make a quick meringue using egg whites, cream of tartar, vanilla, and sugar. I apologize for not having a pic of the pie cut but things were too busy at the café today at lunch hour to stop for pics; I will do that tomorrow if the pie lasts.

Lemon-Lime Custard Meringue Pie


1-deep dish 9” pie shell, baked

For the Custard:
5 eggs
10 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cups fresh lime juice (about 4 limes)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 1/2 lemons)
3/4 cup heavy cream
Zest from two lemons

For the Meringue:
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup egg whites (about 4 eggs)

Directions Bake your pastry shell first and allow it to cool. Turn the oven to 325.

TO MAKE THE CUSTARD: In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, lime juice, lemon juice, heavy cream and zest together until well combined. Pour the mixture into the pre-baked pie shell and set the pie on a baking sheet. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. To check the custard, gently jiggle the pie. Once the custard sets, it will shake as a firm unit; if underdone, waves of custard will shiver in the center. If the custard needs more time, continue cooking, checking every 5 minutes, until done. Remove the pie from the oven.

Cool the pie for 15 to 20 minutes before refrigerating. Cover the pie with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

TO MAKE THE MERINGUE: Preheat the oven to its highest setting. In a small, heavy-bottomed pan, dissolve the brown sugar in the water. Cook the sugar over medium-high heat until it registers 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer; this will take about 20 minutes. In an electric stand mixer, beat the egg whites to soft peaks and carefully add the hot sugar to the egg whites, avoiding the rotating whisk. Continue to beat until the meringue is stiff and glossy. With a flexible spatula, pile the meringue over the pie. Bake until the meringue turns golden on top, about 3 to 5 minutes. NOTE: Use the ingredients in the text above to make a traditional meringue using white sugar.

Ice Box Pies

The current issue of Southern Living Magazine has a feature on ice box pies this month that I knew I would be giving a good whirl. I adore Ice Box Pies and can foresee making every one of these pies and so I’ve laid in the ingredients I need and in the spotlight today is the Lemon-Buttermilk Ice Box Pie I made yesterday. I felt it wasn’t quite ready for serving having set in the freezer for only four hours so I left it overnight and finished it up today by mixing together the Sweetened Whipped Cream before serving it from mama’s room at Woodland Hills. Yum-Yum GOOD!

I love these pies for their ease of preparation; if there is one thing a busy cook needs it is a good and fast basic recipe that is tweaked by changing just one or two ingredients for a new and different flavor every time. Ice box pies have been popular for years because they are simple to put together and so refreshing served up icy cold on hot summer evenings. Today I am also posting the basic crumb crust recipe (which is easily adjusted four different ways depending on what kind of crackers, wafer, or cookies you choose) and the recipe for Sweetened Whipped Cream. Not every pie needs the sweetened cream but it also wouldn’t harm a one of them on any given occasion. I will post the crumb crust and the sweetened whipped cream recipe today and you can easily refer back to it here.

This Lemon-Buttermilk Pie is creamy with the tart taste of fresh lemon juice and lemon zest with an added tart bonus of buttermilk. I would recommend using a 9″ pie plate only as you want the filling to come all the way to the top of the crust. I think the plate I used when I made this one was a 10″ plate which was one reason I wanted to top it with the sweetened cream to cover that little blooper.  Once I tasted the finished product, I was very glad I made the sweetened cream topping as the powdered sugar in that added a rich bit of texture to the pie. Once the pie bakes and cools, pop it in the freezer for 4-6 hours (or overnight as I did) then prepare the sweetened cream.  A real spot of sunshine will then be ready and waiting to grace your summer table!

Ice Box Pies
Southern Living Magazine – June 2015

Ingredients – Crumb Crust
1-1/2 cups crushed cookies or crackers such as
* vanilla wafers
* graham crackers
* gingersnaps
* saltine crackers
* buttery Ritz crackers
1/4 cup sugar
1 t. sea salt (omit when using saltines or ritz crackers)
6 T. butter, melted
Vegetable cooking spray

Process crushed cookies or crackers, sugar, and (if using) salt in a food processor until finely crushed and well combined. Add melted butter and process until thoroughly combined. Press on bottom, up the sides, and onto the lip of a lightly greased (with cooking spray) 9-inch regular pie plate or 9” deep-dish pie plate. Freeze 30 minutes to 1 hour while preparing filling unless otherwise directed.

NOTE: For baked crusts, pre-heat oven to 325. Bake crust 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Lemon-Buttermilk Ice Box Pie


1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 T. loosely packed lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (2 lemons)
3 large egg yolks (discard whites of eggs)
1/4 cup buttermilk
Graham Cracker Crust baked recipe (above)
Vegetable cooking spray

Directions Preheat oven to 325. Whisk together first three ingredients in a bowl. Beat egg yolks with a handheld mixer in a medium bowl at high-speed 4-5 minutes or until yolks become pale and ribbons form on surface of mixture when beater is lifted. Gradually whisk in the sweetened condensed milk mixture, and whisk until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the buttermilk. Pour mixture into the prepared crust. Bake at 325 for 20-25 minutes or until set around the edges (the pie will be slightly jiggly still in center). Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Cover pie with lightly greased plastic wrap (sprayed with cooked spray) and freeze for 4-6 hours. Serve with sweetened whipped cream (recipe below).

Sweetened Whipped Cream


2 cups heavy cream
1 t. vanilla extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Directions: Beat the cream and vanilla at medium-high speed with an electric mixer until foamy; gradually add the powdered sugar, beating until soft peaks form. Spread on pie just before serving.