For a dose of sunshine, eat some lemon pie.

Since the beginning of December, our landscape has pretty much looked constantly like this:

Winter in KY 2010-2011

Not that I’m complaining much – I like the snow. Georgia didn’t really have snow to speak of, only the ice that appears around January and hangs around until March. Kentucky doesn’t usually have too much snow on average, but every so often we get really big winters. This year was the year – we even got a White Christmas for the first time. Cullen has also gotten plenty of practice shoveling snow from various surfaces. :)

Even as much as I love seeing all the pretty, pristine white, sometimes it’s a little too much. I get snow-blindness, and then I get depressed. (Okay, so that’s not the exact order of things, but they do happen.) Stuck inside all the time, too cold to go out, too wet to go play? Bleh. On top of that, the dogs are going stir-crazy – we can’t allow them to romp and play inside as much as they’d like, and playing outside in the snow is fun until ice balls form between their footpads. This all makes for sad puppies. Owners, too.

Lemon pie - Whipped Cream Beaters

While I can’t cheer up the dogs with dessert or citrus, I can do a little something edible for myself that brings the sunshine of summertime inside for a little while. Citrus seems to be everyone’s go-to for a wintertime pick-me-up, and I’m no different. I started making this earlier this winter as something to bring for dessert to a weekly supper at my aunt’s, and I’ve made it several times since. I adapted the lemon tart provided by the gracious Mrs. Humble – I don’t have an 11″ tart pan, so I used a pre-made 9″ pie crust. The recipes makes more than double a standard pie; I bet you could probably get at least two small tarts out of this in addition to the two standard pies. I have also made it in a deep dish, and it fills almost too full. The baking time is also different because of the depth of filling, but it still works out well. Just add 20-30 minutes to the baking time below, until the center is set but still a bit wiggly. Mrs. Humble dusts hers with confectioner’s sugar. I’m sure that’s plenty tasty, but I top mine with sweetened whipped cream. (I’m sure you could also use meringue, but since I don’t eat it, I don’t make it without sincere persuasion.)

Lemon pie filling in progress

Thankfully, the sun seems to be coming out more often now, and the snow seems to be leaving us alone for a while. Granted, we still have March to deal with, and after the winter we’ve had, it will be a formidable one. Thankfully, with lemon pie on my plate, I think we can deal with it a bit longer.

Lemon Custard Pie
(adapted from Not So Humble Pie)

serves 8-10

ingredients:

1 frozen unbaked pie crust
2 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1 c granulated sugar
2 pinches of salt
6 large eggs
1 c fresh lemon juice
1/2 c heavy cream

1-1 1/2 c heavy cream
1/2 c confectioner’s sugar

directions:

Preheat your oven to 350°F and position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Press 1-1/2 tablespoons of lemon zest into the unbaked crust before baking according to package directions. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
Process the one cup of sugar with the remaining lemon zest in your food processor or with a hand blender for about 2-3 minutes, until the zest is finely ground. Pour the sugar into a bowl and add the eggs, lemon juice and a pinch of salt; whisk until smooth.
In a separate bowl, beat the 1/2 cup of heavy cream to soft peaks and then whisk the cream into the sugar/egg mixture until just blended. Pour this mixture into your still warm crust and bake for 20-30 minutes, until the filling is just set in the center.

Allow the tart to cool completely. Refrigerate if desired. When ready to serve, beat the 1-1 1/2 cups of heavy cream with the 1/2 cup of confectioner’s sugar until a desirable consistency is reached. Serve delicate, rich slices topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream.

Lemon sugar and farm eggs

Popsicles for breakfast? Berry smoothie protein pops.

I have a problem with breakfast. Not eating it, but fixing it. See, I’m trying to be better about breakfast, because it’s the most important meal of the day. And I’m trying to lose a little weight, too. Unfortunately, it’s hard for me to fix breakfast before I’ve had appropriate amounts of coffee, and by then two hours have gone by and I’m not hungry. Until lunchtime, when I could eat everything in the kitchen, all because I didn’t eat breakfast. So I’m trying to be better about it, but it’s hard because of the aforementioned autopilot/zombie state I’m in when I get out of bed. I want something I can grab, heat up, and eat. Nothing complicated. I don’t even like to have to put anything together, like yogurt and granola and fruit and nuts. Too much time taken with getting stuff out, eyeballing it in the cup, yadda ya. And yeah, sometimes I like doing that, but most mornings, not so much. Even worse, now that summer is upon us, I damn sure don’t want to eat anything that requires a hot stove or range. Microwave if necessary, but preferably just serve and eat.

Enter berry smoothie protein pops.

Everybody loves smoothies – maybe not like everyone loves parfaits, but close enough. Green smoothies, strawberry smoothies, blueberry-banana-chocolate smoothies. Good for you, quick and on the go. The ultimate breakfast. This is better: smoothie in popsicle form. Now you can eat your breakfast, get all your start-up nutrition and feel like you’re eating dessert for breakfast! I can’t think of a better idea. All you need are your ingredients, a blender of some kind and preferably an ice cream maker. That last isn’t vital, but it makes your popsicles creamy as opposed to icy when you bite into your frozen breakfast treat. I prefer creamy, and I have two ice cream makers, so there you go.

Berry Smoothie Protein Pops
serves: 4-8, depending on the size of your molds

ingredients:

2 pints strawberries, or berries of choice
1 cup Greek yogurt
2-3 scoops vanilla protein powder
splash of milk or water (optional)

directions:

Hull strawberries; blend and strain into bowl to remove seeds (if desired). Whisk together strawberry puree, yogurt and protein powder and/or blend to thoroughly combine. Add water/milk to reach desired consistency if necessary. If using an ice cream maker, freeze according to manufacturer’s directions. Spoon into popsicle molds and freeze 3-5 hours.

If you have any leftover smoothie fro-yo, you can always make it into scoopable fro-yo and have that for breakfast too. I did, and it was awesome. Especially because I made the bars in the morning, so all the scrapings of ‘hard’ fro-yo from the sides of the freezer bowl were mine for the taking. Am I the only one who enjoys that bit of making my own frozen treats? I hope not. It looks a mess, but it’s definitely my favorite part.

These also make great afternoon snacks in the heat that you don’t have to feel too guilty about eating. Again, healthy dessert! How much better can it get?

Simple strawberry ice cream.

Strawberry Ice Cream

It seems like strawberry ice cream is a summer staple. Every time warm weather rolls around, the photos overtake Tastespotting and Food Gawker. Strawberry sorbet, strawberry ice cream, strawberry gelato – strawberry, strawberry, strawberry. Forgive me, but strawberry isn’t necessarily one of my favorites. I like other berries, if any at all. The Husband, though, really like fruit ice creams, and strawberry is a flavor right up there with the rest.

We went to one of the local farm stands and picked up some fresh strawberries. Other than strawberry shortcakes, we didn’t have any idea what to do with them – then I got the “wild idea” to make ice cream with them before they wasted away. Again, too lazy to deal with separating eggs and wasting whites, or to cook up a custard (although the recipe across the page from the one I used looked pretty damn tasty). I found the recipe for Vanilla Ice Cream and thought “what the hell, let’s go.” I halved the recipe since my ice cream maker only makes a quart at a time, and still got just shy of two.

Strawberry Ice Cream, Decorated

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Quite a way to start the day: kiwi and mango ice creams.

I went to Sam’s a week or two ago with my mother-in-law and Cullen, so we could check out various things (food, storage buildings and the compost bin we brought home, but anyway). She and I got in a conversation over food in the produce section (Cullen was elsewhere at the time), specifically how she’s trying to introduce herself to more produce. She really likes fruits and veggies; she just doesn’t have a habit of eating a whole lot of them at any given time, and they have a tendency to go bad before she gets around to a craving again. We picked up a yellow honeydew out of curiosity and a 3-pound unit of ripening kiwis to split. She even showed me how to peel a kiwi, which was not at all like I have done before (and of course, much easier).

absolutwade_melbourne_australia_15760_l

Photo courtesy of Beau Wade on everystockphoto | link

Now, to be honest, I like kiwis, but they’re not high on my list of fruits that I can’t stand to live without. Apples, white grapes, melons, mandarin slices, mostly any berry (especially blackberries) are about the extent of my list. Oranges never held much appeal for me (too much work), and I don’t eat lemons or limes for their own qualities. Mangoes are good, but expensive; never tried a papaya; bananas are an if-I-have-to fruit; pineapples are okay; melons are extremely seasonal (though I love them); scuppernongs and muscadines are something I think you just have to have a taste for; and I absolutely hate grapefruit. Maybe I’m more sheltered in the world of fruit than I thought.

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