Thursday, December 22, 2011

a time to be thankful

as this holiday season winds down, i wanted to take a moment to talk about how thankful i am for all of the wonderful parts of my life that help me to wake up with a smile in the morning.  i am writing to remind everyone that while there are undoubtedly frustrating parts of the holidays, whether it be the family member you have to see that you don't get along with, or maybe it's the gift you wanted but didn't receive, or perhaps it's the 2011 new years resolution that was never accomplished, whatever it may be, this is not the time to focus on what we have lost, but instead a time to focus on all the things that enrich our lives.  the next time you are faced with a challenge this holiday season, i invite you to think of just one thing or one person you feel fortunate for in your life.  then i want you to think about someone out there that has gone through a recent loss and will have a void in their holidays this season.  be thankful for what you have and try to make the best of every situation. 

perhaps instead of going out to eat one night, you can help out a recent widow who is struggling to pay their bills and donate to the Liz Logelin Foundation.  or maybe you are an animal lover like me, and then i advise you to donate to your local animal shelter.  even if you buy a bag of dog food to donate, it's the small steps that make the big difference.  almost all animal shelters have a list of items they need year round.  there are many families that cannot afford dinner and will have empty plates this holiday season, so please think of places like the Los Angeles Mission, where just $38.57 can help to feed 19 people.

if you don't have money to donate this year, then volunteer your time if you can.  i have had many rewarding experiences through volunteer work.  i also want to mention that i received a gift last year that a donation had been made in my name to an animal shelter, which truly touched me, and for all of you last minute shoppers out there, this is a wonderful gift idea.

happy holidays everyone :)

Monday, December 12, 2011

the great food blogger cookie swap !

so i decided to participate in the great food blogger cookie swap this year, which i found out about through the lovely blog love and olive oil.  i've been following this blog for quite some time now and when lindsay posted about a cookie swap, i had some hesitations because i know how busy december can be, but after talking with my friend jessi, i decided to participate with her help.  we both love baking so it seemed like a natural fit to do this together.  after looking around for cookie inspiration, we ultimately decided to stick with what we know, or rather what jessi knows, and made her grandmother's buttermilk lady locks.  jessi just learned how to make these not too long ago and she said they were a lot of work, but i figured she was exaggerating and we would be finished in a couple hours.  this is not true, these cookies are A LOT of work and we spent the bulk of our friday making them, but it's work well worth it for the final product.  i should also note we took a two hour break that friday to eat indian for lunch & decorate our shipping boxes.  so here is the recipe:


2 cups flour + more for rolling out dough
1/2 lb soft margarine
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream

-In medium bowl cut margarine into flour and salt mixture.  In large bowl mix buttermilk and sour cream together.  add flour mixture to buttermilk mixture.  refrigerate overnight or for at least three hours.  divide dough into 3 parts.  roll 1 part at a time into a rectangle and cut down the middle horizontally, lengthwise, across rectangle.  cut strips 1 inch wide.  wrap strips around foil covered clothespins, overlapping slightly

-bake at 350 degrees for 20 mins or until light brown.  remove pins right way and cool before filling.  dust with powdered sugar.  

Icing Filling:
1 cup milk
2 tbs corn starch
-mix in pot and cook until thick.  remove from heat and allow to cool

1/2 cup margarine
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup crisco
-cream together with beater

pour cold paste into creamed mixture and beat together for a long time.

*this recipe is exactly as grandma told jessi via the phone, so yes it is a bit short and lacking the modern detail of other recipes, but that's what makes it great.  as we were making the cookies, jessi actually said she wasn't sure she was doing any of the steps right, she was just doing what she thought was right, as her grandma did not actually show her how to make them
so here are some things we noted to try for next time or to keep in mind for next time:
-we think we would use butter instead of margarine next time.  my aunt makes a delicious frosting very similar to the filling for the lady locks and she uses butter, not margarine, so we thought it would be worth trying out.
-investing in proper lady lock rolling devices.  we used clothing pins like these covered in foil, which worked okay but we found that after a few uses the clothing pin foil started to come off.  i googled what other people used and i found the ones below.  i think it would be worth the investment.  jessi said it was a real pain in the butt to make the foil clothes pins as well.
-the other thing we did not do was dust them with powered sugar at the end.  i thought they were plenty sweet as is without the dusting, but i tend to like a bit of salt with my sweet, so keep that in mind.

for the cookies i received i shared with jessi of course, and we got an adapted thomas keller cookies (chocolate chip, almond & marshmallow), peanut butter chocolate cookies & white chocolate macadamia nut cookies.  they were all really great :) i would definitely participate again next year!

Sunday, November 20, 2011


so i've been a lazy blogger, but i've had so much exciting stuff going on!  besides having two new babies come into my life (mary ryzner & avi gennert) i finally made it to the proper west coast :) i've been to arizona before but now i can add seattle and vancouver to my list.  michael and i traveled first to seattle for a wedding and then spent the following week in vancouver.  it was a much needed vacation and a really special time with michael :) i hope to make it back again one day!  so for my lack of blogging, please enjoy some of my vancouver food related pictures...

 the wedding cake!

other dessert goodies

this is the only food picture i managed to take at the wedding, but i wish i had more.  honestly, the BEST wedding food i have ever eaten.  i would happily order my entree at any restaurant.

awww, aren't we cute?  my dress matched the flowers almost too well...

breakfast at local 360 in seattle..... this was really good!

beautiful vancouver :)

i forgot to take a picture of the sushi before we started eating.  it was a long day and i was STARVING.  needless to say, this plate was cleared.

i ate a japadog !!!!  i hate hot dogs, but i felt like i needed to try a japadog.  if anthony bourdain says it's good, i'm in.

so begins my favorite meal in vancouver at chez meme.  obviously a good start to any meal is hot chocolate. i wish i could eat like this everyday!  just a really happy moment in time.

this was michael's meal.  i made him order the salad for his side because he was already getting a full portion of french onion soup as an app so i wanted some salad :)

the french onion soup !

this was my meal!!  the soup was tomato yam & cilantro, and it was AMAZING.  then i had a ham & brie sandwich.  i don't normally like ham but when i researched this place online everyone said this was the sandwich to get, and it was really tasty.

so we went to this cute little diner called templeton that served all organic food, but kept it real with the diner theme.  we were actually there for our last meal in vancouver and it just so happened to be the saturday before halloween, so we had some good people watching while we ate.

and michael would insist i include this picture in the list because he is still talking about these little guys... not my cup of tea, but maybe it's yours?

so i could have done a better job of taking pictures of more of our delicious food, but usually i was too busy enjoying the moment to get out my camera and i'm okay with that.  looking forward to my next adventure with michael :)  next summer we already have a trip to nyc & a trip to south carolina planned but who knows.  i'd love to go to spain !!

Friday, October 7, 2011

birthday !

so it's michael's birthday again!  well, it was michael's birthday as the day has passed now.  but we had quite the celebration, a clam bake feast with his family.  michael's grandma and i took on the dessert for the meal and she made a lovely coconut cake, complete with 7 minute frosting!  michael had requested a cake with raspberries, nuts & chocolate.  this was kind of an odd request, but i had remembered seeing a cake on smitten kitchen that covered all of the based. so the  almond raspberry layer cake came alive!  i have made cupcakes in the past using almond paste as an ingredient and michael went crazy for them so i knew this would be the perfect cake.  as far as filling i actually added in a vanilla bean buttercream and then topped that with raspberry jam for one layer, and then did the same vanilla buttercream for the next layer but this time i topped that with strawberry jam.  i have to admit, there were two open jars of each kind of jam in the fridge and it was just easier to finish them both up rather than opening new jars!  michael strongly dislikes wasting food, so i thought he would appreciate that little gesture.  also, we made both jams together so that added a bit of love into the cake :)


voila!  the finished product.  i actually took this picture in the car on the way over.  i tend to forget to take finished product pictures and i figured i better do it while it was on my mind.  

we had dinner at michael's sister sarah's house and she had this lovely little fall table set up.  

THE CLAMS!!!  i don't like clams at all, but i pretended that i was just like everyone else and made my little table setting with them.  michael happily ate my leftovers.

and one more shot of the happy birthday boy with his cake !! 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

the garlic bake off !

i was asked by north union farmer's market to participate in a garlic bake off at this year's garlic festival.  while i am happy to say i took home second place, i don't think this is something i would do again in the future.  i don't feel the need to go into too much detail, but i walked away from the experience a little confused about some things and without much confidence in the event. regardles, let's get back to the cupcake!  i decided to make a rosemary roasted garlic cupcake with a bittersweet ganache frosting.  i am just thrilled to death about these little guys!  they were so tasty.  i went through quite a few trial runs on these and i never received any negative feedback.  people seemed shocked that they could love garlic in a dessert so much.  it just goes to show the endless possibilities in baking with savory ingredients.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


so i recently went blueberry picking at black river organics!  i had never been before and i can't wait to go again next year.  michael and i woke up bright and early to beat the crowds as it's nearing the end of the season and it was just us and old couple for the first hour.  once it got to be around 1030 though, the place was filled!   we walked away with a little over 10lbs and then scooted off to the lakewood art's festival where we were sharing a booth.  get your cupcakes & messenger bags!  hey, it works.

after the long day finished we sorted our blueberries & made some jam!  admittedly neither of us really like blueberry jam, but we made some nonetheless.  we kept the majority of the berries frozen for later snacking.  for our jam recipe, we really try not to use any sort of thickening agents and just cooked it for a long time with a little bit of sugar.  the jam ended up being a bit thicker than we wanted, we were hoping for more of a syrup for pancakes, but i'm happy with the result.  i ended up using the jam as a garnish on these lovely blueberry cupcakes i sent off to the sweet spot the following friday :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

rhubarb muffins

these muffins are awesome! i made these for the lovely people at anthropologie opening day.  they were a hit and needless to say i went home without any leftovers.  i really shouldn't eat rhubarb because of my kidney stones but i will make an exception for delicious muffins like these.  i also love a good strawberry rhubarb pie!  last month i went on vacation in maine and i saw lots of strawberry rhubarb jam.  this will have to be a project for next spring.  i did manage to go strawberry picking the last week of the season and make around 20 cans of jam and freeze a quart of strawberries.  so i feel pretty good about that.  i really need to go blueberry picking though.  i got lazy when i got back from vacation and kept putting it off and last week when i tried to go the farm ended up switching the day of the week they are usually open and michael couldn't get off work.  blueberry picking, or any fruit picking is not something you can do solo.  well i guess you could, but it would take a long time.  so this week we tried to go again but of course, the farm decided to close for the week.  i guess that's how it works.  so no matter what, i will be going next week even if it means i have to visit a different farm than i want to.  i also haven't gone peach picking but honestly i still have peaches leftover from last year.  i just don't use them that often.  i'm hoping to just buy a bunch from woolf farm and take the easy route on that one.

but back to the muffins.. i found this recipe from surprise!  smitten kitchen.  you can find the link to the recipe here.  i made mini muffins so they would go further at the store, but i think a giant muffin would be nice too.  i also left the topping off of half the muffins and they were just as good without the streusel.  so if you're trying to make them a bit lighter, just skip the streusel and maybe put some strawberry jam on them right out of the oven.  that sounds delicious.

as a last note, if you haven't checked out my website yet you should.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

cinnamon rolls

i can't believe how long it's been since i have updated this.  sorry!  things got really busy after my last entry and i just sort of forgot about this blog.  i have a rosygirl website operating now, and with everything else i had to do this just didn't make the cut.  that doesn't mean i haven't been baking my little heart out though.  i'll start regularly updating this again i hope.  today i have some cinnamon rolls i made for easter.  well, actually i made them because i had a craving for cinnamon rolls and easter just happened to be the next day so it worked out.  these cinnamon rolls are the best i have ever made, and i am very picky about my cinnamon rolls.  one of my friends even commented that these were better than the ones they carry at her fancy coffee shop she works at.  of course, it's a recipe from tartelette, where else?  everything this woman makes is delicious (and gluten free!).  she just actually published her first book, plate to pixel, and i highly recommend checking it out.  you can find the recipe for these cinnamon rolls here.  my pictures were taken before i put the frosting on.  once i put on the frosting, i was unable to resist their warm melty goodness and ate two of them in the next twenty minutes.  you won't be disappointed by these.

Monday, February 7, 2011

lemon layer cake

i had a request for lemon or chocolate by a very special client, and after much debate we ended up going with this cake.  a yellow cake with lemon curd filling frosted with a 7 minute frosting.  the cake came out perfect!  the batter tasted pretty awesome.  as for the lemon filling, well i had some issue with that.  and i've made 7 minute frosting so many times now, you really just can't go wrong there.  the recipe is actually a paula deen recipe, but i saw it on smitten kitchen.  i also tried to take some step by step pictures, but naturally i forgot half way through.  you do get to enjoy the first few steps though !!

so here is the recipe as follows on smitten kitchen, i will tell you what i changed and add a different lemon curd recipe i find to be much easier to work with.

Lemon Layer Cake
from smitten kitchen
1-2-3-4 Cake
Adapted from several sources: this cake is a classic
This cake gets its name from its proportion of ingredients: 1 cup butter and milk, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups of flour and 4 eggs, and from cupcakes to layers cakes, as a basic, white cake, it does not fail.
Yield: 3 9-inch layers (for the purpose of this cake) or 24 cupcakes (good to know, eh?)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
3 cups sifted self-rising flour*
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F. Using an electric mixer, cream butter until fluffy. Add sugar and continue to cream well for 6 to 8 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Add vanilla and continue to beat until just mixed. Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Level batter in each pan by holding pan 3 or 4-inches above counter, then dropping flat onto counter. Do this several times to release air bubbles and assure you of a more level cake. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (start checking at 15 minutes if you are making cupcakes).
* Self-rising flour has both salt and baking powder in it, but you can make your own at home with the following formula: 1 cup self-rising flour = 1 cup all-purpose flour, minus 2 teaspoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Lemon Curd
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking
From the Joy of Cooking: This makes a sensation filling for sponge rolls or an Angel Food Cake. You can also marble it into a cheesecake.
8 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
3 lemons, zest grated and juiced
Place the ingredients in the double boiler over boiling water. Don’t let top pan touch the water. Cook and stir until mixture begins to gel or thicken ever-so-slightly. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Cover and refrigerate it to thicken.
This keeps, refrigerated, for about 1 week.

Seven-Minute Frosting
Adapted from Joy of Cooking
5 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs whites at room temperature
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 to 1 cup chopped nuts or shredded sweetened dried coconut (optional)
Whisk first five ingredients together in a large, stainless-steel bowl. Set the bowl in a wide, deep skillet filled with about 1 inch of simmering water. Make sure the water level is at least as high as the depth of the egg whites in the bowl. Beat the whites on low speed until the mixture reaches 140 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Do not stop beating while the bowl is in the skillet, or the egg whites will be overcooked. If you cannot hold the thermometer stem in the egg whites while continuing to beat, remove the bowl from the skillet just to read the thermometer, then return the bowl to the skillet, or yell “[Insert your husband/wife/sig-other's name here]!! Halp! Can you check the temperature of this for me!!!” It might or might not work.
Beat on high speed for exactly five minutes. Remove the bowl from the skillet and add vanilla, beating on high speed for two to three more minutes to cool. Stir in coconut or nuts, if you are using them.
Use this frosting the day it is made.

Lemon Layer Cake Assembly: Add 1 tablespoon of filling to the cake pedestal. Run hands along the side of the cake to remove excess crumbs. Place the cake layers on the pedestal, spreading filling between the layers and on top. Spread the sides and top of the cake with the remaining filling. Frost top and sides of cake with frosting.

so first problem, the lemon curd was too runny.  i ended up adding cornstarch to mine to thicken it up and that worked fine but i really think you'd be better off using another recipe.  more specifically, look to my lemon meringue pie entry and use that lemon curd.  really, it tastes AMAZING.  and while a little thick, it would still be easier to spread than the runny mess this recipe provides.  if you look at smitten kitchen's photos you can see how runny it really is.  also the curd never really thickens like it is supposed to in the recipe, you wait and whisk and whisk and wait and finally you just say enough and cool it.  i also have another awesome lemon curd recipe from a lemon blueberry tart recipe in one of michael's tart books, but i am too lazy to type that up right now.  we have plans to make this tart again in the not too distant future, so check back for it!  i also should add that i take issue with any recipe that calls for "3 lemons" or 3 of fruit/veggie for that matter.  lemons are not all created equal!  recipes should always be more specific with quantities, and it would be really great if everything just went by weight instead because everyone had their own digital scale in their kitchen.

other issues/suggestions:  like smitten kitchen says, no need to buy self rising flour.  i happened to have some, but you really don't need to buy it.  also her 7 minute frosting recipe comes from the joy of cooking and i've always used paula deen's recipe.  while i know i have just complained about paula deen, i also have made this frosting so many times now and have never experienced any problem whatsoever it seems silly not to include the recipe.  a lot of times SMBC and 7 minute frosting call for a candy thermometer, which i have and do use from time to time, but i find that once you make something enough you can pretty much tell when to move on from step a to b.  also when you are whisking or beating, who really has enough hands to hold the bowl, beat the meringue and test the temperature.  i sure don't.  i also don't have a digital candy thermometer which might make it easier.  for 7 minute frosting, please just try paula's recipe.  as for SMBC i find a 3 minute whisk over the double boiler, 5 minute medium high beating in the stand mixer with the whisk attachment, followed by a 8 minute medium high beating with the paddle attachment always works.  maybe you need 4 minutes with your double boiler, but usually when it starts to look like foam on a latte, you are ready to move it over to the stand mixer.  so as promised, here is the paula deen 7 minute frosting recipe off of



Place sugar, cream of tartar or corn syrup, salt, water, and egg whites in the top of a double boiler. Beat with a handheld electric mixer for 1 minute. Place pan over boiling water, being sure that boiling water does not touch the bottom of the top pan. (If this happens, it could cause your frosting to become grainy). Beat constantly on high speed with electric mixer for 7 minutes. Beat in vanilla.

now here are my step by step pictures up until i forgot :(

 these are my buttered and parchment lined cake pans.  some people say you just need to grease/butter and flour them but i prefer the parchment bottom.  it has yet to fail me, whereas just the grease and flour has gotten stuck on me multiple times.

 here is the first step in any cake process, creaming the butter.  i won't lie, sometimes i skip this step and just mix the sugar and butter immediately but you should do as i say, not as i do.  but when you are making over a hundred cupcakes in one day, sometimes this step just seems tedious.

 next you add the sugar and beat it until it becomes fluffy!  what does fluffy mean?  well it looks like a frosting.  you can tell from picture 1 to picture 2 that it has gone up the edges quite a bit, so it has expanded in fluffiness?  i can't really describe it any better than that.  if your butter wasn't properly left out to room temperature, you will be able to tell at this step.  it just won't cream together the way it's supposed to.  i know from experience.  my kitchen is very cold because it has a lot of windows and i always have trouble getting my butter to room temperature in the winter, so i have come up with a solution.  i put it in front of the heater.  it never gets warm enough to melt it, but it does a fine job of making it spreadable.

now here i have added an egg, or maybe two.  i'm not really sure to be honest.  the important thing to remember in this step is scraping down the edges!  and adding the eggs ONE AT A TIME!!  i can't stress that enough.  please, for the love of your cakes and cupcakes do not add all of the eggs at once.

now here i where i forgot to take anymore pictures.  whoops!  i will answer your questions though if you have any, and i promise to try harder to remember to take pictures of the full process.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

vegan strawberry shortcake cupcakes

so it may have been a little late, but i finally had my secret santa gift exchange with michael's ohio city friend group.  it was the chinese new year though, so it seemed appropriate.  i had michael's friend noah, who, thanks to maria's queen bee knowledge, i found out is vegan.  what a great opportunity to try out a new vegan cupcake recipe.  i actually make a lot of my cupcakes vegan (shh!) because i find i prefer the lightness that vegan cupcakes have.  there is just a heaviness that comes with eggs and milk in baking and because i don't have a sweet tooth (again shh!) i like to keep it lighter (also the reason i don't pile on the frosting).  so i just made the same vegan chocolate cupcakes i always make and then used inspiration from food network's cupcake wars.  they had a chef on a few weeks, maybe months, back that actually won the competition by making vegan cupcakes.  it was pretty awesome.  her winning cupcake was a chocolate strawberry shortcake cupcake and as soon as maria told me noah was vegan, i just knew i had to try to make these!  the vegan frosting, well ..... ehhhhhhhh.  it just tasted like generic cupcake frosting to me, but i guess that's what happens when you use vegetable shortening instead of butter.  next time i might try margarine or coconut oil to see how that tastes.  i got tons of positive feedback on the extras i gave out of this cupcake, so i know the frosting couldn't have been as bad as i think, but i just don't like sweet frostings.  i actually left one chocolate cupcake aside without any frosting just for me.  that was an excellent breakfast friday morning ;)

Friday, February 4, 2011

apple palmiers

so last saturday michael and i went to the shaker square farmers market.  he rarely gets a saturday off and we always try to make it out there when that happens.  i finally got the beeswax lotion that i've wanted for months!  deanna black used it at a yoga class a few months ago and i was planning to get it the last time we went to the market, but i spent too much money on food and didn't have enough left over to buy some :(  i am hoping it will help with my allergies.  while i was busy buying lotion, michael bought lots of meats and lots of apples.  by the end of the week he had dealt with all of his meat, but the majority of the apples remained.  i debated between smitten kitchen's apple cake because i love using bundt & tube pans, and apple & cinnamon palmiers but my craving for a cinnamon roll made the decision pretty easy.  these came out pretty awesome and i love how they look like little hearts.  pretty perfect for valentine's day!  more importantly, they are EASY to make and it would make a great breakfast treat for your valentine.   the recipe is after the pictures :)

yes, that is my hand in the background and yes i know, pretty much a hand model.

Apple and Cinnamon Palmiers
from chocolate shavings

2 sheets of square puff pastry
1 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon of kosher
1 apple**

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.

Mix the sugar, salt and cinnamon. Spread 1/2 cup of sugar mixture onto your working area. Place one sheet of puff pastry on top of the sugar. Add another 1/4 cup of the mixture on top and gently press down with the palm of your hand. Using a small brush, brush off excess sugar.

Peel and grate the apple. Tightly press onto a kitchen towel to remove excess moisture. Sprinkle half of the grated apple onto the puff pastry. Lightly press them down with the palm of your hand. Fold 2 sides of the square puff pastry into the middle of the puff pastry surface. Fold the sides towards the middle again to create double-layered folds. Then, fold one of the sides onto the other (as if you were closing a book). Reserve and do the same with the second puff pastry sheet.

Slice the puff pastry into 3/8 inch slices and place cut side up on a parchment-line baking sheet. Bake for 6 minutes, turn the palmiers over, and cook for another 3-6 minutes or until perfectly golden. Let cool on a cooling rack. Enjoy! 

**i used two apples per pastry sheet(4 total) because we had smaller apples & 1 apple just didn't seem like enough.  i also tried grating one batch and shredding the other.  michael & i decided we preferred the grated apple version. 

Monday, January 31, 2011

lemon meringue pie

michael and i are going on vacation in july with his family to maine and as a thank you to his parents, we made them a lemon meringue pie (his step dad's favorite).  i had been meaning to try this recipe out for a while after michael made a lemon blueberry tart one day over the summer.  i just really love lemon curd, or more specifically i love lemons.  given the opportunity i will happily eat a lemon like an orange.  nom nom nom.  anyways, the pie crust recipe i wasn't too crazy with the results compared to the normal recipe my mom taught me.  it tasted good, but i just find the way i learned to be a bit easier.  one day i will make a post about it i hope.  my favorite part of the pie was the meringue of course, because i just love seeing little vanilla bean flecks.  as i near the bottom of my first vanilla extract i made, the more vanilla bean flecks appear in my baking.  it's awesome.  the next vanilla extract jar was made with tahitian vanilla beans & bourbon so i am curious to see if it will taste any different.  i also just ordered some bourbon vanilla beans that i plan to use for the next vanilla extract round with vodka.  basically i just wait for something to go on sale at beanilla and then order 10 of them.  if you haven't checked out beanilla you should as i haven't been able to find a better deal on vanilla beans anywhere else.

i should also mention that there should be more meringue on top of the pie, but i cheated and made 3 mini tarts for michael, my mom and i.  i just couldn't resist.  i found the recipe from the daring baker's blog archive and after reading how many successful pies came out of this recipe it seemed foolproof.

Lemon Meringue Pie
(from "Wanda's Pie in the Sky" by Wanda Beaver)
Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie

For the Crust:
3/4 cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces
2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/3 cup (80 mL) ice water

For the Filling:
2 cups (475 mL) water
1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (120 mL) cornstarch
5 egg yolks, beaten
1/4 cup (60 mL) butter
3/4 cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract

For the Meringue:
5 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
3/4 cup (180 mL) granulated sugar

To Make the Crust:
Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt.Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.

Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of 1/8 inch (.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about 1/2 inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.

To Make the Filling:
Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated. Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.

To Make the Meringue:
Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.