I currently live in Charlotte, NC and after spending 7 years as a personal chef and caterer, I am now happy to share my love of cooking with friends and family. My heart is in the kitchen, but my soul is in the stars!

When Life Gives You Lemons....

We all know the old adage about when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade, right? I suppose it's great that we have these motivational thoughts that inspire us to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and make the most out of a bad or unjust situation. But am I the only person willing to admit that sometimes, as hard as we might try to make lemonade, there always seems to be someone or something that wants to cut those lemons in half and rub them in our eyes? Having the sneeringly cynical attitude that I do, sometimes I doubt that it can be as simple as adding sugar to make the world right again. And while I may be a die hard cynic on the inside, I also know when it's appropriate to subscribe to the theory of group think and go with the flow...

So when I saw that life my refrigerator was on the verge of giving me lemons-gone-bad, I realized that I wasn't in the mood for a refreshing glass of lemonade but instead a nice slice of lemon tart. I found a recipe called Down Under Lemon Tart on and decided it didn't seem too daunting to try on this "life gave me lemons today" day. I made only one minor change to the recipe - it called for lemon zest to be mixed in with the other filling ingredients and then strained. I hated the thought of just tossing the zest, so I mixed it in with the crust ingredients. I decided to dig into the tart a nanosecond after it had finished cooling and honestly thought I was going to suffer the fate of having lock jaw for the rest of eternity because it was so, so, so sour! However, the flavors seemed to meld the second day and the tart had the right balance of sweet and sour. I had a jar of raspberry dessert sauce in the refrigerator and added a drizzle just before serving.

So when life gives you lemons and you aren't the least bit thirsty, make the world right again by making a tart instead!

* Exported from MasterCook *

When Life Gives You Lemons Tart

Serving Size : 8

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
7/8 cup butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon cold water
4 eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons minced lemon zest
3/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup cream

1. Place flour, butter, lemon zest and confectioners' sugar in food processor; process until mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add egg yolk and 1 to 2 tablespoons cold water, and process until mixture forms a dough. Mold dough into 2 flat shapes, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for 20 minutes. Store the other crust in your freezer to make a second pie later!
2. Roll out pastry to 1/8 inch thick and line a 9 inch pie plate, and freeze for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
3. Line pastry with foil, fill the foil with a little raw rice, and bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove foil and rice, and continue baking until pastry is a light golden color.
4. In a mixing bowl, mix together eggs, granulated sugar, lemon juice, and cream. Do not over beat. Place pie plate on a baking tray, and carefully pour lemon mixture into baked pastry crust.
5. Bake for 20 minutes. The filling will be runny in the center, and will set when cool; don't over cook, or cracks will appear. Cool. Drizzle with raspberry coulis if desired before serving.

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Get over it and move on why don't ya?!

There comes a time when you have to let go of things....the ratty old sweatshirt that you pull out of the closet every time you need "comfort clothes", the love letters from a long lost sweetheart that take up space in your underwear drawer, the warm, balmy weather of summer.....

Being an overly sentimental person, it's hard for me to let go of things that have meant so much to me in the past. As I fold my favorite sweatshirt and lovingly place it in the charity bag, I remember all the chilly evenings that it kept me warm. As I read for the last time and toss the tattered love letters into the garbage, I remember how seeing my high school sweetheart in the hallway before class would make my heart skip a beat. And as the first frost of the season lays on the ground, I long for the garden fresh produce and simple meals of summer days gone by....

But wait.....frost? winter? what? where? Are we stuck in a global warming time warp? It's freaking November for heaven sakes and temperatures are still hovering in the low 70s. Being a cold weather wimp, I'm not really looking forward to the the Artic blast, however I'm trying to keep a positive attitude and assimilate myself to the climate change. I've tried rotating hearty soups and stews into my menus. I've pulled out the sweaters, coats, and flannel jammies... I'm trying to get over summer days gone by and move on! But nooooo......

So finally, I just gave up the ghost. It's no longer a fashion disaster to wear white after Labor Day, so who says we can't throw together a quick and easy summer inspired meal in mid-November?? You just go right ahead and report me to the FoodNetwork police.....

Couscous. It's an odd little thing, isn't it? Say that out loud to someone who isn't familiar with it and the next thing you know, they're saying, "bless you!" because they think you just sneezed or something. Prepare it straight out of the box and it's bland and unexciting. But throw in nearly any fruit, vegetable, meat, seafood, herb or spice you can imagine and you have a versatile quick and easy meal. So, here on the brink of bygone summer days, I'm sharing my favorite way to prepare couscous as well as telling you about a great product that I stumbled across over a year ago but am just now getting around to trying....

I was given a sample of Seasoned Skewers at the 2006 Fancy Food Show. They've been in my kitchen drawer all this time and I figured since I was already pressing my luck with the out-of-season-food-preparation, I'd go ahead and break them out for a trial run. They're wooden skewers that are seasoned with various flavors - mine were Coconut Curry with Lime - and they infuse the flavors into whatever you skewer and cook without any additional seasonings. Whoever heard of such a thing? Probably the same person who's never heard of couscous or wearing a tank top and shorts in November! I used 16-20 count peeled shrimp with no additional seasonings, let them sit for about 10 minutes to absorb the flavors and cooked them on a grill pan. By golly it worked! A lovely mild coconut curry flavor resonated throughout my shrimp and paired with my vegetable couscous it was quick...easy....perfect. Just like these warm November days....

Vegetable Couscous

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
2 each carrot -- diced
1/2 cup celery -- diced
1 each onion -- diced
1/4 cup sweet yellow pepper -- diced
1/4 cup sweet red pepper -- diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 each zucchini -- diced
1/4 cup fresh basil -- minced or 4 tsp dried
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 dash hot pepper sauce
1 cup couscous
1 1/2 cups chicken broth

In a large skillet, saute the carrots, celery, onion, and peppers in oil for 5-6 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add the next five ingredients; mix well. Stir in the couscous. Add broth, bring to a boil. Cover and remove from the heat; let stand for 5-8 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve immediately.

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