Monday, December 28, 2015

Go Texan Beverage Recipe: Rio Star Grapefruit Margarita

Feast on Beverage recipes from Top Texas Chefs who are part of the GO TEXAN program that represents Texas agri-business on a state, national and international level.

The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) is proud to play a role in the continuing success of Texas growers, merchants and restauranteurs.

Whether it's grown, sewn or served up on a plate, more than 26 million Texans shop, travel and dine out in support of Texas agriculture.

Support Texas. Show your Texas pride. Look for the GO TEXAN icon at your local merchant shops.

Make this Texas Chef's Rio Star Grapefruit Margarita beverage recipe today.

Rio Star Grapefruit Margarita
Serves 4

4 cups Rio Star Grapefruit Juice (about 6 grapefruit)
2 shots orange liqueur or triple sec
8 shots tequila

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a pitcher and stir to combine. Rim glass with lime wedge and dip in mixture of ½ sugar and ½ coarse salt. Pour over ice and serve. Garnish with fresh grapefruit wedge and mint.

GO TEXAN celebrates, promotes and supports the dedication and plainspoken grit of Texas agriculture, known for excellence throughout the world.

More about grapefruit.

You want to save this Texas recipe.

Alexandria Marx, wife, mother, homemaker, home kitchen cook, diabetic, Super Food Critic and Yum Expert on recipes from top chefs around the web world.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas Greetings: Dark Chocolate Pecan Pie

Christmas (meaning "Christ's Mass") is an annual festival observed on December 25 and commemorates the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, a spiritual leader whose teachings form the basis of Christian religion.

Christmas Day evolved over two millennia. Christmas is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon. People around the world have been observing it with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature.

Today, billions of people around the world celebrate Christmas with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature. It's a time for family and friends to get together and exchange gifts.

Popular customs include gift giving, completing an Advent calendar or Advent wreath, Christmas music and caroling, an exchange of Christmas cards, church services, a special meal with family, the display of various Christmas decorations including Christmas trees, Christmas lights, nativity scenes, garlands, wreaths, mistletoe, holly, and waiting for Santa Claus to arrive. Source

December 25, Christmas Day, has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1870. Source

Pecan pie is Christmas tradition. It's a sweet custard pie made primarily of corn syrup and pecan nuts. It is popularly served at holiday meals and is also considered a specialty of Southern U.S. cuisine. Most pecan pie recipes include salt and vanilla as flavorings. Other ingredients such as chocolate and bourbon whiskey are popular additions to the recipe. A new favorite way to cook it is with a layer of cheesecake. Pecan pie is often served with whipped cream. Source

This holiday is for enjoying a delicious sweet and nutty slice of "pecan Pie." It doesn't matter if you like to bake it with dark corn syrup or light, just know that today is the day to remember that traditional taste of the holidays and eat that pecan pie. Source

Here's a sophisticated twist on traditional pecan pie. It has dark chocolate chips i the filling. Yummy.

Dark Chocolate Pecan Pie
Serves 6

Pie Crust
1 cup Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cold Crisco shortening or butter
2 to 4 tablespoons ice cold water

2/3cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 cup pecan halves (coarsely chop 1/2 cup of the pecans)
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

In medium bowl, mix flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cut in shortening, using pastry blender, until particles are size of small peas. Sprinkle flour mixture with 2 tablespoons cold water, tossing gently with pastry blender to moisten flour mixture. Add additional water 1 teaspoon at a time, until flour mixture forms moist clumps.

Gather flour mixture into a ball (some flour will be left in bowl). Gently shape into a flatten round. On surface sprinkled lightly with flour, use floured rolling pin to roll pastry into circle 1 inch larger than upside-down 9-inch pie plate. Fold pastry into fourths; place in pie plate. Unfold and ease into plate. Trim overhanging edge of pastry 1 inch from rim of pie plate. Fold pastry under even with plate edges; flute as desired.

In large bowl, mix brown sugar, melted butter, corn syrup, vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the eggs using whisk.

Gently stir in pecans and chocolate chips with a wooden spoon, do not use a whisk, whip with mixer, or beat with fork. You don't want to incorporate foam or air bubbles into the filling; you just want it to create a velvety-like custard to contrast the crunchy pecans.

Pour slow and easy into pastry-lined pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 55 minutes or until top is golden brown and center of pie jiggles slightly when pie is gently moved back and forth. Cool 30 minutes. Refrigerate about 2 hours until chilled.

Nutritional Information (amount per serving)
Calories 456; Carbohydrates 65g; Cholesterol 36mg; Sodium: 4830mg; Fat 21g; Protein 4.5g; Sodium 300mg; Potassium 84mg

Some people serve pecan pie with scoop of vanilla or chocolate ice cream. Others prefer a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream. Pecan pie is an American classic.

* Source: Gold Medal Flour, Pecan Pie Nutrients

Gold Medal for over a hundred years, has has milled premium quality flour that people have relied on to make everything from family favorites to new and inspired creations.

Merry Christmas to my family and all my friends and followers.

Posted by Alexandria Marx, the Yum Expert. Anyone can cook up a great meal that gets oohs and aahs from family and friends. Make noise about food. Contact me. Follow me. Share with me. Click here to get the next menu, meal plan and useful kitchen tips in your inbox. Forward to a friend.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Winter Produce: How to Freeze Fruits and Vegetables

Winter Solstice, December 22, 2015, is shortest and darkest day of the year and the first day of the winter season. It's the time when fresh winter fruits and vegetables are available at the supermarket.

Seasonal foods refer to the times of year when certain foods are at peak, either in terms of harvest or its flavor. This is usually the time when the item is the least costly at your local market. The food's peak time at harvest usually means that the flavor is at its best.

Other than year-round foods, imported and shipped-in foods, fresh produce you should find available are: cabbages (kale, leeks, radicchio, and Brussels sprout). Also seasonal in winter are some root vegetables (rutabaga, turnips, and radishes) as well as winter squash.

Winter fruits include citrus (clementines, grapefruit, oranges, and lemons) and pomegranates.

Stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables, and freeze to preserve when they are at their nutritional peak, so you can use them throughout the year.

What happens to frozen fruits and vegetables?

When frozen, the water in fruits and veggies expands, causing ice crystals to puncture and break cell walls. As a result, some fruits and veggies tend to get mushy when thawed.

To reduce the amount of cellular damage, freeze fruits and veggies as quickly as possible: colder temperatures produce smaller ice crystals, which do less damage to cell walls. The "mushy factor" is also why it's best to eat frozen fruits before they have completely thawed -- or use them in smoothies, soups or stews.

How to Prepare Fruits to Freeze

Here’s a trick for freezing delicate berries like strawberries or raspberries: Arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Once frozen, transfer to a plastic freezer bag or container. You can also prepare delicate berries with sugar or sugar syrup, if desired.

For fruits that tend to brown, like apples, peaches, nectarines and apricots, treat with ascorbic acid (Vitamin C).

Look for the powdered form in health food stores, drugstores and some grocery stores in the vitamin aisle.

To make an ascorbic acid wash: Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of ascorbic acid powder (or finely crushed vitamin C tablets) in 3 tablespoons water. Sprinkle this mixture over the cut fruit.

An acceptable substitute: Slice the fruit and dip the slices in an acidulated water bath -- about one quart water plus a tablespoon of lemon juice -- before drying and freezing.

How to Prepare Vegetables to Freeze

Most vegetables should be blanched (briefly cooked in boiling water) before freezing. Fruit does not need to be blanched. (Suggested blanching time for 16 fruits and vegetables to follow.)

To blanch: Bring 1 gallon of water per pound of prepped vegetables (about 2 cups) to a boil in a large pot. Add the vegetables, cover, return to a boil and cook. (Suggested blanching time for 16 fruits and vegetables to follow.)

Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl of ice water. Drain well; pat dry.

Vacuum Sealer

Use a vacuum sealer and seal them airtight before storing in the freezer.

When frozen foods come in contact with air, off-flavors can develop. Vacuum sealers, which remove all the air from a package, help keep flavors fresh.

Hand-held models, such as the FoodSaver FSFRSH0051 FreshSaver Handheld Vacuum Sealing System, White and the Reynolds 00590 Handi-Vac Vacuum-Sealing Starter Kit may fit the budget.

Quick Tips

1. Freeze fruits and veggies when they’re at their peak of freshness.
2. Blanch vegetables first, then submerge in ice water. Dry thoroughly.
3. Freeze fruits and vegetables quickly.
4. Store in heavy-weight, air-tight containers or freezer bags.
5. Fill containers to the top and remove as much air as possible from freezer bags.

Vegetables that hold up well to cooking (corn, peas) generally freeze well, too. For better texture, try eating previously frozen fruit before it’s completely thawed.

You can store frozen fruits up to about a year; vegetables, about 18 months. (Storing longer is fine, but the quality may decline.)

* Source: Wikipedia, Eating Well, All Recipes

Choosing the cuisine and recipes for the meal -- especially buying the ingredients from your local grocery store -- has a lot to do with what food is available. Over the year, through the growing seasons, what foods can you expect to find to help you plan your next meal or week of meals.

For example, some foods that are ripe in March are not there for the pickin' in August. Some food are more readily available in one part of the world. Foods, typically available, might have been affected by unexpected weather conditions or infestation.

Posted by Alexandria Marx, the Yum Expert. I welcome comments and questions, requests. Make noise about food. Contact me. Follow me. Share with me. Click here to get the next menu, meal plan and useful kitchen tips in your inbox. Forward to a friend.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Recipe with Vitamin B12: Cocoa and Spice Slow-Roasted Pork

This "chocolate onion" smothered white meat needs a long leisurely roasting time to be ultra tender and mouthwatering delicious. The aroma wafts around the kitchen and makes every mouth drool with anticipation. It's a surprising meal for the holidays or any day. Makes awesome leftovers, too.

Good Source of Vitamin B12
One of the 13 essential vitamins needed for the body to function. You can find Vitamin B12 Meat, Eggs, Fortified foods such as soy milk, Milk and milk products, Organ meats (liver and kidney), Poultry and Shellfish. (Animal sources of vitamin B12 are absorbed much better by the body than plant sources).

Cocoa and Spice Slow-Roasted Pork with Onions
Serves 4

Spice Rub:
1/2 tablespoon whole white peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
2 tablespoons plus 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons coarse sea salt (preferably gray crystals)
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon plus 2 1/4 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Pork and Onions:
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 3/4 to 4 pounds onions, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1 1/2 cups water
1 5-pound pork shoulder butt with bone

For spice rub:
Stir peppercorns and coriander in small skillet over medium heat until spices are darker in color,about 5 minutes. Transfer toasted spices to spice grinder; grind finely. Place in small bowl; mix in remaining ingredients. This can be made a week ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.

For pork and onions:
Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onions and sage; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté 10 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups water; cover and cook until onions are soft, about 15 minutes. Uncover; continue to cook until onions are beginning to brown and water has evaporated, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 300°F. Sprinkle spice rub on large sheet of foil. Roll pork in rub, pressing to coat (some of rub will be leftover). Set pork on rack in large roasting pan. Top pork with 1/3 of onions; scatter remaining onions around pork in pan.

Roast pork and onions until onions are deep brown, stirring occasionally, about 3 hours. Transfer onions from pan to medium bowl. Continue to roast pork until very tender and thermometer inserted into center registers 165°F, about 2 1/2 hours longer. Transfer pork to platter. Rewarm onions in microwave at 10 second intervals and season with salt and pepper; spoon around pork.

Nutritional Information
Calories 538; Carbohydrates 152g; Cholesterol 86mg; Fiber 6g; Sodium: 7652mg; Fat 27g; Protein 48g

* Source: Medicine Plus, Epicurious, Health Diaries, Hershey Company, Cocoa Drug

The Hershey Company is all about bringing goodness to the world. The Hershey Company (originally Hershey Chocolate Corporation) was organized under the laws of the State of Delaware on October 24, 1927, as a successor to a business founded in 1894 by Milton S. Hershey. Hershey's principal product groups include: confectionery products sold in the form of bar goods, bagged items and boxed items; grocery products in the form of baking ingredients, chocolate drink mixes, peanut butter, dessert toppings and beverages.

Hershey's classic unsweetened, natural, non-alkalized cocoa powder is ideal for hot cocoa, frosting, cakes, brownies and other rich chocolate desserts.

Cocoa, derived from the cacao seeds (beans) include cocoa solid (the nonfat component of cocoa beans that is finely ground into a powder), cocoa butter (the fat component extracted by grinding and pressing the beans) and chocolate (a combination of cocoa solids, cocoa butter, and sugar).

Cocoa solid, cocoa butter, and chocolate are all rich sources of antioxidants. Epidemiological studies cocoa to be a mechanisms for antioxidant activity; improvement in endothelial function, vascular function, and insulin sensitivity; as well as attenuation of platelet reactivity and reduction in blood pressure.

Cocoa products are extensively used in the food and pharmaceutical industries. Cocoa powder and cocoa butter are often mixed with chocolate liquor (ground cacao seeds), sugar, milk, and other flavors.

Posted by Alexandria Marx, the Yum Expert. I welcome comments and questions, requests. Make noise about food. Contact me. Follow me. Share with me. Click here to get the next menu, meal plan and useful kitchen tips in your inbox. Forward to a friend.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Sandwich Saturday: Roasted Turkey Sandwich with Cremini and Truffle

It's Sandwich Saturday. This week, from Guy Fieri, it's delicious on torpedo rolls.

Torpedo roll is similar to grinder or sub and is distinctly shaped.

Roasted Turkey Sandwich with Cremini and Truffle Sandwich
Serves 4 to 6

1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup kosher salt
2 bay leaves
Pinch red chili flakes
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh thyme
3 cups ice cubes
1 bone-in skin-on turkey breast, 2 1/2 to 3 pounds

Herb Roasted Turkey Breast:
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, needles only, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh flat leave parsley, washed, leaves only, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled, minced
2 Meyer lemons, zest only
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Grilled Cremini Mushrooms:
1 pound cremini mushrooms, cut in half
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, leaves only
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
3 to 4 turns of fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup of canola oil

For the Garlic Butter:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 cloves of garlic, peeled, minced
3 tablespoons fresh flat leave parsley, washed, de-stemmed, leaves only, chopped fine

For the Sandwiches:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 cup white wine
4 torpedo rolls, sliced lengthwise, scooped
8 ounces truffled gouda cheese, sliced
1/4 cup black truffle paste/pate or truffle oil
4 ounces baby arugula
1 cup unsalted chicken broth

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

For the brine:
Combine 1 cup water, the honey, salt, bay leaves, red chili flakes, garlic, rosemary and thyme in a large saucepot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once at a boil, turn off the heat and add the ice cubes. Place the turkey and brine into a large resealable gallon plastic bag. Refrigerate, brining the chicken, for 1 hour. Remove from the brine and pat dry with paper towels.

Prepare the turkey:
Add the thyme, rosemary, parsley, garlic, meyer lemon zest, extra virgin olive oil, salt and black pepper in a small mixing bowl. Mix well to combine, reserve to the side. Take the brined turkey and rub all over with the herb olive oil mixture until completely covered.

Place seasoned turkey in a large cast iron skillet and place into a preheated 425 degrees F oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes reduce the heat to 300 degrees and cook until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F, about one hour 15 minutes to one hour 30 minutes.

Cover with foil if the turkey starts to get too dark. Remove the turkey from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Reserve all the juices from the bottom pan. Shred the turkey when cool to the touch.

Preheat grill to high.

Prepare the creminis:
Add the creminis, extra virgin olive oil, fresh thyme leaves, salt and pepper to a medium mixing bowl and toss well to coat the creminis with the oil herbs and seasoning. Place the creminis on the grill. Char on all sides, 4 to 5 minutes, remove from the grill and reserve to the side.

Prepare the garlic butter:
In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, add 4 tablespoons butter and garlic, melt the butter and cook the garlic until it becomes fragrant, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the parsley, mix well. Reserve to the side in a small bowl.

In the same pan the turkey was roasted in, add 2 tablespoons butter and all of the flour, whisk together to make a roux and cook for 5 minutes. Add the white wine to the roux while stirring, add the cremini mushrooms and the chicken stock. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer immediately. Simmer the gravy for 12 to 15 minutes, reducing the liquid by half.

Heat 2 tablespoons butter and the shredded turkey in a large cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Let the turkey to crisp in the pan, 2 to 3 minutes.

Take the torpedo roll and lightly brush with the garlic butter, toast in the oven for 6 to 8 minutes until golden brown.

For assembly:
Take the toasted torpedo roll and spoon on 1 tablespoon black truffle paste. Lay 2 ounces of the sliced truffle cheese from end to end, place 1/4 of the crisped herb roasted turkey on top of the truffle cheese, arugula, spoon 2 tablespoons of the gravy over the roasted turkey. Repeat this to the remaining rolls.

Serve immediately with extra gravy on the side.

* Source: Guy Fieri

Posted by Alexandria Marx, the Yum Expert. Anyone can cook meals that get oohs and aahs from family and friends. Comment questions, requests and recipes. Share your ideas. Click here now to get the next recipe in your inbox. Forward to a friend.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Sweet and Savory Friday: Lemon Meringue Pie and Chicken Supremes

Sweet and savory food sometimes go together, sometimes they don't. This stunning dinner is a flavorful mixture of meaty pancetta, feta and ricotta cheeses, sun-dried tomatoes, herbs, and seasonings is stuffed into chicken breasts and baked until golden brown. Serve over wild rice.

According to Julia Child: "Breast of chicken when it is removed raw from one side of the bird in a skinless, boneless piece is called a supreme. Each chicken possesses two of them. If the upper part of the wing is left on, the supreme becomes a cotelette. The breast of a cooked chicken is not a supreme, but a blanc de poulet, or white meat of chicken."

Follow the recipe for "supremes" or substitute for boneless, skinless chicken breasts, if preferred.

Chicken Breast Supremes Stuffed with Feta, Pancetta and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Serves 2

8 thin slices pancetta
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 1/2 teaspoons Morton® Sea Salt, divided
1 1/2teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper, divided
2 green onions, finely chopped
8 chicken breast supremes, 8 ounces each (breast with wing attached, skin on)

Preheat oven to 350° F. Place pancetta, evenly spaced, in a single layer on a non-stick baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned and slightly crisp. Allow pancetta to cool. Coarsely chop pancetta, and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the chopped pancetta, feta cheese, ricotta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, thyme, cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon Morton® Fine Sea Salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper and green onions. Divide the stuffing into 8 equal portions. Shape each portion into an egg shaped oval, packing firmly. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375° F. Lay the chicken breast supremes skin side down. Remove the chicken tenderloins from the underside of the breast. Lightly pound the tenderloins to ¼ inch thick. Set aside.

Using a sharp knife, cut a pocket about 1 inch deep from the top of the breast to the bottom. Using your fingers, carefully push the meat aside to make a large pocket. Season the chicken inside and out with 1½ tablespoons Morton® Fine Sea Salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper.

Place one stuffing portion into each chicken cavity, pressing the stuffing firmly into place. Place a flattened tenderloin over the cavity. Tuck the tenderloin into the opening, firmly pressing the edges to make a tight seal.

Place the chicken breast, skin side up onto a non-stick cookie sheet. Roast the chicken 30 to 35 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked (170° F) and the stuffing is hot.

Nutritional Information (amount per serving)
Calories 321; Carbohydrates 4/1g; Cholesterol 105.4mg; Fiber 1.3g; Fat 11.8g; Sodium 396.4mg; Sugars 0.3g; Protein 47.4g

Difference between sweet and savory is that one reflects a sugar sensation and the other does not. A salad is savory, but it could include sweet slices of strawberries or a sweet salad dressing, which makes the salad both sweet and savory. For the home kitchen cook, you want to include a little sweet with savory flavors in the meal to satisfy the tastebud senses. That usually means dessert.

Take a bite of this home-made pie and feel how heaven feels. It's filling created by the angels -- lemony and sweet and tart at the same time. The meringue is light and tastes as fluffy as it looks. It's takes time, but your mouth will thank you.

Ultimate Sweet Lemon Meringue Pie
Serves 6 to 8

Graham Cracker Coated Pie Shell:
1 1⁄4 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces and frozen
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, frozen
3 to 5 tablespoons ice water, as needed
1⁄2 cup graham cracker crumbs

Lemon Pie Filling:
1 cup sugar
1⁄4 cup cornstarch
1⁄8 teaspoon salt
6 large egg yolks
1 1⁄2 cups water
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1⁄2 cup lemon juice (fresh from 2 - 3 lemons)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Meringue Topping:
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1⁄3 cup water
1⁄4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1⁄2 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make pie shell: Mix flour, sugar and salt in a food processor, by pulsing a few times. Scatter the frozen butter pieces over flour mixture. Pulse in 1-second pulses about 5 times to mix in butter. Add frozen shortening; pulsing in 1-second pulses until mixture resembles cornmeal with pieces about the size of peas. Slowly add ice water through the processor feed tube, with motor running, one tbsp at a time. When dough forms a ball, stop processing. It should take about 2 or 3 tbsp of ice water to reach this stage. Shape dough into a ball in your flour coated hands, and then flatten into a 4 inch wide disk. Flour disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Generously coat your work surface or pastry sheet with a little flour and about 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs.

Place dough on floured surface, coat with some flour and graham cracker crumbs, and roll into a 9-inch disk. Lift, coat surface with more graham and flour, turn dough, add more graham and flour on top, and roll out to a 13 inch disk. Place into a 9 inch pie pan, and finish edges. Refrigerate crust until firm, about 30 minutes. Prick dough with a fork to prevent bubbling up in the oven.

While the oven is pre-heating to 375, put pie crust in freezer. Bake at 375 for 20- 25 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure it's browning evenly and not bubbling up.

Lemon Filling: Whisk sugar, cornstarch, and salt together in a large, nonreactive saucepan. Add egg yolks, then immediately but gradually whisk in 1 1/2 cups water. Bring mixture to a simmer over medium heat, whisking regularly, 8- 10 minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat, whisk in zest, then juice, and finally butter. Keep warm until meringue is made.

Meringue topping: Mix cornstarch and 1/3 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, whisking occasionally until thickened. Remove from heat when translucent and thickened.

Preheat oven to 325. In a large mixing bowl, mix cream of tartar and sugar together. Beat egg whites with whip attachment of mixer until frothy. Add vanilla. Beat in sugar mixture, 1 tbsp at a time. Then drop in cornstarch mixture, 1 tbsp at a time until stiff peaks form. Pour warm lemon filling into pie crust.

Distribute meringue evenly over the top, starting with the edges, and then the middle. Make sure it attaches to the crust. Lifting with the back of the spoon, create peaks in the meringue. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool completely before serving.

Sources: Food Sweet, Morton Salt

When meal planning choose a portion from each food group. Typically, most adults need 6 to 11 servings of grain products per day; 3 to 5 servings of vegetables; 2 to 4 servings of fruit each day; 3 cups of dairy products every day; and 2 or 3 ounces per day of meat which equals 2 servings.

Sensible portion sizes and limited number of servings keep even the most decadent sweet and yummy desserts part of a balanced diet.

I'm Alexandria Marx, the Yum Expert and everyday home kitchen cook on family friendly food that's easy to make and tastes good. After feeding three kids for more than a couple of decades, living with diabetes and blogging over 500 posts, I evaluate everything food, and write about how to Think Thin. Forward to a friend.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Kitchen Review: Burger Press

Here's a handy little burger press that makes a terrific "small" thoughtful gift or stocking stuffer. It's the entirely handy Cuisinart Burger Press. It makes perfectly round patties for "stuffed burgers," sliders and old fashioned hamburger rounds that fit hamburger buns.

It has a non-stick coating and is a breeze to hand wash or put in dishwasher.  It's made of plastic, but it's the hard sturdy king.

I like that it's made by Cuisinart, a brand I can trust for quality.  It's non-stick, but even with the "rings" I have, I spray a little Pam on the surface just to be sure.

It's super easy to use and makes nice and round patties.  You could even use the round patties with your sandwich maker, if you have one.  Like the sandwich maker, if you stuff the middle of two patties, be sure that the "stuffing" is precooked if needed.  It won't cook to a safe degree inside the raw meat patties.

Don't put anything on top or underneath the meat inside the press.  You can add that later, after the patties are formed. Add cheese, salt, pepper, etc. before you're ready to cook the meat.

You can order online at Amazon for less than $9.00.  Here's a list of basic kitchen tools, gadgets and appliances.

Alexandria Marx, food blogger, home kitchen cook and all around food lover. Find recipes from around the web and world from simple to decadent, kitchen tips and reviews for home cooks from forks and spoons to grocers and restaurants. Click here to get Being Grand posts in your inbox.