Lemon Thyme Bars

Lemon Thyme Bars were requested by my daughter for her first care package and I was happy to oblige. It is also the start of settling all of us into the next chapter with her off to college. What an adjustment it has turned out to be. I knew it would be hard, we’re not heartless and we like having her around but we’re not helicopter parents either. Turns out, that doesn’t make any difference whatsoever!

Move in day was quite the event with the heat index at 107F/42C but I was impressed with how the college handled everything with volunteers and plenty of water stations. They even had in the schedule the time parents should say goodbye. During that time they did tell us tales of velcro parents not wanting to leave on the first day. Can you imagine? So of course we teased our daughter asking her to text every five minutes, text after she falls asleep, before she wakes, etc. She was ready for us to leave after that. LOL.

Thankfully, she has settled in and she is doing very well. That doesn’t mean she isn’t happy to receive care packages and home baked goods. When she requested these Lemon Thyme Bars I was surprised to realise I hadn’t made these before. Which is silly as they are very easy to make and a lovely treat.

Technique for Lemon Thyme Bars

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.

Using your fingers or a pastry fork, blend the butter, flour, sugar and thyme to make a crumbly mix that will stick together when gently pressed.

Press into a baking pan 9″ x 13″. Make sure there aren’t any holes.

Bake 15-20 minutes until golden. It won’t be overly firm while really hot. I wanted the shortbread on the softer side so I only baked it for 15 minutes. The longer you bake at this stage the crispier it will be in the final result.

Whisk the lemon juice and eggs together. In another bowl, mix the sugar and flour together.

Pour the lemon egg mixture into the flour and sugar. Whisk well to remove any lumps. Pour over the shortbread. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. The lemon will set as it cools.

Dust with powdered/confectioner’s sugar to serve.

Of course, I had made these on a Thursday without thinking about the travel time for shipping as it was coming up on a holiday weekend. Turns out, our daughter is considered in the middle of nowhere according to the Post Office. Fortunately, they arrived several days later in good condition. I’ll have to do my baking at the beginning of the week from now on.

Lemon Thyme Bars

The flavours of summer in a delicous baked treat

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword Lemon Thyme Bars
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

Shortbread

  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2-4 tsp fresh, chopped thyme

Lemon Mixture

  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour

Finishing

  • powdered sugar to dust over bars

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F/175C

Shortbread

  1. Using your fingers or a pastry fork, blend the shortbread ingredients together until it becomes crumbly but will stick together when gently pressed.

  2. Press into the baking pan (9" x 13") making sure there aren't any holes. Bake 15-20 minutes until golden. The less you bake, the softer the shortbread will be when the bars are cooled.

Lemon Mixture

  1. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk the wet ingredients. Pour the lemon mixture into the dry ingredients. Whisk until there are no more lumps.

  2. Pour the mixture over the shortbread and bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely before removing from baking pan. Dust with the powdered sugar to serve.

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Lemon Rosemary Grilled Pork

While I don’t like the heat and humidity we get this time of year, I do love that we are starting to be able to benefit from our veg garden. Miraculously, thanks to my lovely husband, we still have a rosemary plant going strong. It’s an annual where we live and he’s managed to get it to grow to a decent size. I would have killed it by now.

To keep it a manageable size, I’ve been using it a lot in various dishes, including my Lemon Rosemary Pork. For a side dish I sautéed some swiss chard we’re growing. The swiss chard is going gang busters this year, it’s rivaling the rhubarb!

Technique for Lemon Rosemary Pork

I love the pink of the Himalayan salt

Get the dry ingredients of the marinade together before adding the olive oil and lemon juice.

Add the pork and marinate for at least a couple of hours in the fridge. When it’s time, start prepping the sauce ingredients while the grill warms up. Heat up the butter in a skillet and add the mushrooms.

Cook for a couple of minutes before adding more garlic and rosemary. Once you add the pork to the grill, add the remaining marinade to the skillet. Bring up to a simmer.

Add the chicken stock and lemon juice. Simmer for a few minutes. Remove about a 1/4 cup of the sauce and set aside.

Once the pork is cooked and resting, sautè the swiss chard in the remaining sauce. Cook the stalk pieces first then add the leafy bits. I like them slightly wilted but not mushy.

Spoon the chard onto the plate, top with the pork and drizzle the reserve sauce over the dish.

I need to come up with more swiss chard dishes as well because they aren’t showing any sign of letting up.

Lemon Rosemary Pork

A flavourful dish for grilling season

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Lemon Rosemary Pork
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 2

Ingredients

Marinade

  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 pork chops

Sauce

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • remaining marinade
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 2 cups swiss chard

Instructions

Marinade

  1. Mix all the ingredients for the marinade. Add the pork and chill for at least a couple of hours.

Grilling the Pork

  1. Heat the grill to medium high. Grill the pork until the internal temperature is 145F/63C. Allow to rest about 10 minutes.

Sauce

  1. Heat up the butter in a skillet. Sautè the mushrooms for a few minutes. Add the rosemary and garlic. After cooking for a few minutes, add the chicken stock and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer.

  2. Reserve a 1/4 cup of the sauce for the pork.

  3. In the remaining sauce, cook the swiss chard stalk pieces for a minute or two, then add the leafy part of the chard to slightly wilt.

Assembling the Dish

  1. Spoon the swiss chard onto the centre of the dish. Place the pork onto the swiss chard and spoon the reserve sauce over the pork.

Creamy Lemon Bacon Chicken Pasta

It was a rite of passage this past weekend for our daughter with the high school prom.  She’s been to friends proms in the past but this was the first for her high school.  I have to say, proms have come a long way since I last had to worry about prom.  It’s much more inclusive and more often than not, groups of students go as friends rather than missing out because a date couldn’t be found.  Way better!

My daughter had a few friends over to get ready before her date showed up.  I did my first ever updo.  It came out ok, phew!  It was lovely to see that all the girls dressed in elegant dresses, no hoochie mamas.  Some of the dresses I’ve seen in the past few years leave little to the imagination.  Thankfully that trend wasn’t to prevalent this time round.

Unfortunately the weather was very rainy so we just did photos round the house.  The weather did bring in some cooler weather which called for comfort food!  I saw a recipe calling for bacon and mushroom in a cream sauce.  That sparked an idea.  Lemon and grilled chicken would be a great addition.

I kept the marinade for the chicken very simple.  With a ratio of about 2:1 olive oil to lemon juice, whisk those together with sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.  Add the chicken and marinate for a couple of hours.

Lemon Cream Chicken Pasta 1 2018

When it’s time to cook up the dinner, grill the chicken and cook up the pasta.  Cut into small squares, 3-4 rashers of streaky bacon.  Start cooking the bacon in a large skillet.  Slice a few mushrooms and finely chop 3-5 cloves of garlic.  Sauté the ingredients with the bacon.  Add a handful of fresh thyme.

Lemon Cream Chicken Pasta 2 2018

When the bacon is nearly cooked add 1/2 cup/4oz of chicken stock and a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice.  You want this to be really lemony at this point so the brightness isn’t lost in the cream and pasta.  Bring this to a simmer then add a 1/3 cup/3oz of heavy cream.  Cook on low until the chicken and pasta are done cooking.

Lemon Cream Chicken Pasta 3 2018

Slice the chicken and add that and the pasta to the skillet and stir well.  Right before serving add a bunch of arugula or spinach and let wilt.

Lemon Cream Chicken Pasta 4 2018

Serve and grate fresh parmesan cheese over the dish.

Lemon Cream Chicken Pasta 5 2018

Comfort food with the lightness of lemon, great for a cool spring night.

Lemon and Garlic Chicken and the Importance of Having a Great Team

If you have the bad luck of falling and injuring yourself over the years more than once it is very important you don’t wait years to fix yourself.  If I could go back in time I would do so many things differently.  Aside from trying to avoid falling in the first place I would get help.

Which means finding a great team and I have been very lucky in that respect.  I have Pam, my exercise guru, who is very knowledgeable with body mechanics and takes the time to make sure those of us in her pilates and TRX aren’t doing nutty things with our alignment.   I have Christine, who is an amazing massage therapist that battles my knots and tension.  And Maria, my physical therapist, spent nearly two years helping me get strong and healed.  I just finished my last appointment with her and fingers crossed I don’t do anything stupid and lands me back in PT!

Of course I’m seriously grateful that my husband supported me through all this.  I really couldn’t have done it without him.  There have been some painful and tough times and he never wavered.  He’s my rock.

lemon-and-garlic-chicken-1-2017

For Christmas my dad found some really cool cookery books for us.  The one for my daughter is called “150 Mediterranean Recipes” by Jacqueline Clark & Joanna Farrow.  Loads of delicious recipes in the book and I chose to make the Chicken Thighs with Lemon and Garlic.   I mostly followed it so here is my version.

Prep the lemon by peeling it and then thinly slicing it.  Set aside.

lemon-and-garlic-chicken-2-2017

In a small saucepan bring to a simmer about 14oz of chicken stock.  Add 8-10 garlic cloves cut in half.  Simmer while you cook the chicken thighs.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet.

lemon-and-garlic-chicken-3-2017

Season 4 chicken thighs with sea salt and pepper and begin to brown the chicken.  While the chicken is cooking, preheat the oven to 375F/190C.

lemon-and-garlic-chicken-4-2017

Once browned, transfer to a baking dish.  Spoon out the garlic from the stock and add it to the baking dish along with the lemon slices.  Set aside.  Add 2 tablespoons of flour or corn flour to the skillet, use a whisk to scrape up the browned bits of the chicken.  Cook for a minute or so to cook the flour.  Then add 6oz of dry white wine.  Keep stirring constantly.  Pour in the stock.

lemon-and-garlic-chicken-5-2017

Stir until the sauce thickens.

lemon-and-garlic-chicken-6-2017

Add the sauce to the baking dish and bake until the chicken is cooked through.  Meanwhile cook up some rice pilaf.

lemon-and-garlic-chicken-7-2017

Once the chicken is cooked, top the rice with a chicken thigh and pour sauce over the dish. Add some fresh chopped parsley and voila!  Dinner is served.

I look forward to trying more recipes from the books we were given. 🙂

Lemon Leek Pork and Not So Sweet 16

Milestones are supposed to be fun and celebrated.  Our daughter turned 16 this past weekend and there were a few fun things planned.  Unfortunately the plague is still upon this household!  Poor thing woke up on her birthday with the stomach bug.  Day canceled!  Of all days.  We’ll have to do a proper celebration when we have them back again.

That is if it doesn’t keep going round this house.  I had it last week and now my poor husband is knocked down with it.  The puppies are keeping him company, too bad their licking isn’t the cure!

With all the germs, not a lot of cooking is going on so creating new dishes has been put on the back burner.

I did make this dish a few weeks ago on one of my few days off when I had some boneless pork ribs and leeks on hand.

lemon-leek-pork-1-2017

For this dish, I sliced the pork ribs lengthwise and browned them in butter in a large skillet.

lemon-leek-pork-2-2017

Once both sides have been browned remove the pork and cook off in the oven at 350F/175C to cook off.  Just make sure you don’t overcook the pork.  Chop about a cup and a half of oyster mushrooms (12oz) and saute them in the butter.  Cook until they start to brown.  As they brown add a few cloves of garlic that are finely chopped.

lemon-leek-pork-3-2017

Slice about half a cup/4oz of leeks and add to the skillet.  As that cooks add about two tablespoons of lemon juice.

lemon-leek-pork-4-2017

Next add 8-12 oz of cream and about 1/2 a cup/4oz of freshly grated parmesan cheese.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Toss in cooked spaghetti and serve with the pork.

lemon-leek-pork-5-2017

It goes without saying this would be great with a nice white wine and some garlic bread.

Fingers crossed we can all get germ free and take our daughter out to celebrate.  🙂

Orzo with Lemon Chicken and New Tools

Some learning curves can be exciting.  Some not so much, like my learning curve with statistics in college.  Loved the subject but come test time it was always like I’d never been to class.  Never got far on that curve, bell or no bell.  But now I’m liking my learning curve.  Because there are a few projects I want to do, such as start a YouTube channel, and I was in the weeds with Unix, much to my chagrin, I needed tools that I could make headway on my own.  I.e not bugging my husband/IT guy all the time.  He has always been good about helping me but I hate not knowing how to do something!

So I am now a proud new owner of an iMac.  And I’m loving my new setup.  One, I can find and set up software I need, that is a big step in getting things done.  Though if it heads into Unix territory like GIMP then I have to ask for help there but for the most part it’s been good.  And it’s pretty easy to get an apple person on the phone if need be.  I’m quickly collecting senior tech phone numbers.

I do like the iMovie on the desktop, much easier than the iPad.  So watch this space as they say, I hope to have something soon.  The big thing I need to figure out is the uncopyrighted music so I don’t get slapped by YouTube.

Going through our cupboards I realised we had orzo still so I thought it would be nice with lemon, yoghurt, and oregano. Orzo lemon chicken 1 2016

I also wanted to grill up some chicken thighs.  Prep these ahead of time with a marinade.  With a ratio of 2:1 mix olive oil and lemon juice together.  Season with sea salt and pepper. Finely chop a couple of garlic cloves and a small handful of fresh oregano.  Mix well and coat two chicken thighs.

Orzo lemon chicken 2 2016

Set aside for about an hour.  In a skillet heat up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and start softening about half a cup of chopped red onion.  Once the onion starts to become translucent add 3-5 cloves (depending on size) of garlic, chopped.

Orzo lemon chicken 3 2016

At this point start grilling the chicken on medium heat.  Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 2 cups of chicken stock.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a medium simmer.  It’s important to stir frequently as orzo has a tendency to stick to the bottom of the skillet.  Add more liquid as necessary because you want to make sure there is enough for the sauce.

Orzo lemon chicken 4 2016

When the orzo is half cooked add a few sliced mushrooms and another small handful of oregano, chopped.  Stir well.  Near the end of cooking add a third of a cup of plain yoghurt and about a cup of chopped red bell pepper.  This gives the dish a nice pop of colour.

Orzo lemon chicken 5 2016

Serve once the chicken is cooked.

Orzo lemon chicken 6 2016

The flavours of this dish are very bright with the yoghurt and lemon.  It’s a great dish if you are getting tired of salads!

Rosemary Lemon Chicken Kebabs

Tomorrow is a big day with the vote in the UK.  It’s surreal because, like for a lot of people, this vote can directly effect how we transition in a few years to move back.  But I can’t vote as subjects of the crown can’t vote if they don’t live in the UK.  So I just have to wait and see.  It will be nice to see the propaganda from both sides to die down.  Talk about muddying the waters!

In the meantime I’ll just keep cooking along.

We didn’t just have a Dalek cake for the small family gathering.  To avoid a sugar high I cooked healthy food as well.  I kept it very simple with grilled veg and chicken kebabs.  I grilled up mushrooms, peppers, onions, scallions, and aubergine.

The inspiration for the chicken came from a restaurant chain, Bertucci’s, where they have a spicy chicken wing with lemon and rosemary.  No idea what the recipe is but I figured I could get close to the recipe.

Rosemary lemon chicken 1 2016

I popped into my local store (my garden) for fresh thyme and rosemary.  I do wish there was an easy way to prep thyme, so annoying, but what can you do?  Finely chop a small handful of each.  In a bowl add a ratio of 2:1 of olive oil and lemon juice, the herbs, 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped, sea salt and pepper to taste.  Then add cayenne pepper to the level of spiciness you want.  I kept it on the mild side as my aunt isn’t a huge fan of spicy food.

Rosemary lemon chicken 2 2016

Mix well and add chicken to marinate.

Rosemary lemon chicken 3 2016

When you are ready to grill add the chicken to the skewers and cook until the chicken is cooked through.  Turn a few times so the chicken is cooked evenly.

Rosemary lemon chicken 4 2016

It was a lovely relaxing lunch with family with plenty of room left over for cake!  And any left over chicken and grilled veg is perfect for a salad later on.  Which is handy after a bike ride and you aren’t up to cooking!

Greek Lemon Dill Chicken

Is it rude to want to lick the plate?  Probably, so I showed great restraint with this meal.  I got up as much as I could with the fork though.  🙂

I have a cookery book called “The Foods of the Greek Islands” by Aglaia Kremezi.  All sorts of wonderful recipes to try.

This is my version of the dish.  I didn’t vary to far from the recipe but I also wasn’t in the mood to use any blender.  And I changed the amounts of the ingredients for the balance I wanted.

Greek lemon chicken 1 2015

In a skillet, heat up about a 1/4 cup of olive oil.  Season the chicken legs with sea salt and pepper.  Brown both sides of the chicken.

Greek lemon chicken 2 2015

Remove from the heat.  In the scallions add about 1/2 cup of chopped scallions.  Cook to they are wilted.

Greek lemon chicken 3 2015

Add the chicken back to the skillet.  Add a cup of dry white wine and a cup of chicken stock.  Bring to a simmer.  Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Turn the chicken and cook for another 10 minutes.

Greek lemon chicken 4 2015

Remove the chicken again.  Add 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and about 4 tablespoons of chopped dill.  Stir well and bring it back to a simmer.  Add the chicken once more, cover, and cook until the chicken is cooked.

Greek lemon chicken 5 2015

To serve, cut up the chicken and serve with the sauce spooned over it.  We also served this with roasted potatoes and corn.

This has to be one of my favourite sauces I’ve made to date.  Very flavourful and bright.

Tarragon Steak and Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Yesterday was very frustrating.  We like to make cheese so we bought quite a bit of raw milk at a local farm.  Grand plans were made.  Grand plans failed in a spectacular fashion.  The cheddar may turn out ok but the camembert I tried didn’t get off the ground.  The pH seemed to be too low and the curd didn’t break properly.  We had issues with the cheddar as well.  Like I said very frustrating.

So being tired and feeling grumpy I needed a good dinner that wasn’t too complicated.  And it had to be quick!  There was wine to be had at the end of a long day.

We grow tarragon in our garden, though it’s currently getting overshadowed by hops.  If you ever grow hops put them somewhere by themselves.  We grossly underestimated their takeover talents.  So I waded in to find the tarragon and took a handful for this marinade.

Tarragon steak 1 2015

Chop up a handful of tarragon and a few cloves of garlic.  In a bowl add a few tablespoons of olive oil and one or two tablespoons of white wine vinegar.  Shake it up to mix.  Season the steak with sea salt and pepper then add it to the marinade.  Let it marinate for at least an hour.

Tarragon steak 2 2015

For those that follow my blog know I’m a huge fan of roasted potatoes.  I thought rosemary and lemon would be a nice touch for this meal.  Cube the potatoes and microwave them for 8 minutes.  Do not cover them with plastic or cling film.  That just leaches chemicals into the food.  In a baking dish add a few tablespoons of olive oil and a tablespoon of lemon juice. While the potatoes are in the microwave preheat the oven or toaster oven to 375F/190C with the baking dish in it.  Add the potatoes to the hot oil, stir well and season with sea salt and pepper.  Stir occasionally as it cooks.  Once it is cooked halfway add a couple of tablespoons of rosemary, finely chopped.  Heat the grill to medium high.  I picked skirt steak which is pretty thin so it cooks quickly.

Tarragon 3 2015

Given that it’s summer a salad is called for!  Make up the salad while the steak is resting.  Then slice the steak and top the salad.  Drizzle with olive oil and white wine vinegar.  Serve with the potatoes.

Tarragon 5 2015

Tarragon 4 2015

We were lucky that there was low humidity last night so we had a lovely dinner outside on the porch.  The only interruptions we had was when we had to take turns chasing off the rabbits in our back garden.  They are showing no fear!

Lovely Farmer’s Markets and Grilling Cod

The schedule for the markets in the surrounding towns is being figured out.  We went to our first one in Noyant and what fun!  It isn’t a big one but you won’t lack for food.  Though for this one, in order to get fresh herbs I had to buy a thyme plant.  Where there’s a way!

 
It wasn’t expensive and my in-laws can keep it when they go home.  

  

With our phrase book, little French, and the vendors’ little English (or sometimes big English!) we managed to get everything we needed for the special dinner of celebrating my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary.  Quite the accomplishment these days!  

  
We also managed to find some lovely cured meats, cheeses, and the most amazing crevettes.  They are very messy to peel and eat but it’s worth it.

  
The fish monger had a very good selection of fish so I bought some cod to grill.  The stall that sold cured meats also sold spices and we got a mix that was like a citrusy dry rub that had paprika in it.  I thought it would be perfect for the cod.  We found some ready prepared kebabs made with turkey and beef for the non fish lovers to round out the meal.

I prepared the cod two ways.  First I rubbed the fish with the dry rub and added olive oil.  I wrapped it in the tin foil and put it in the fridge.

  
For the second preparation of the cod.  I seasoned it with salt and pepper, added lemon slices, thyme sprigs, olive oil, and dry white wine.

  
Wrap in tin foil and place it in the fridge until ready to grill.  I also prepped aubergine with salt and pepper and olive oil to grill.  The mushrooms I dipped into a lemon thyme dressing I made for the salad.

  
  
I’ve gotten the hang of the charcoal grill but it is very hot work in this heatwave!  Yesterday was 100F/38C.  Even in the shade, trying to be an asthmatic bellow to get the flames going nearly did me in.  But I was successful.  Given that it’s not a large grill I had to do the food in stages with the aubergine put on last.

  
Keep the lemon thyme cod in the tin foil so it poaches in the olive oil and wine.  I decided to be brave and place the other cod directly on the grill.  Conor from One Man’s Meat was kind enough to give me a tip of about five minutes.  This was quite the thick piece so after a few minutes I checked to make sure it was starting to flake before flipping it over to cook on the other side.

  
So far so good!  The kebabs were done so I added the leek to the grill.  You want the fish to be flaky but not dry.  It’s ok to have it medium well rather than well done.

 
My husband made delicious garlic bread and his aunt made a salad.  I have to say, I was really pleased with how the fish came out.  Both ways.

  

We are enjoying the countryside and I love the sunflowers.  Though if you stop on the roadside beware!  I don’t know if I stepped in stinging nettles or some stinging insect nest.  Either way it was painful getting the shot.  Taking the suffering for your art a bit too far I think.  😊