Melt in Your Mouth Lemon Bars

My daughter Mary Ashley loves to cook with me, but she prefers baking sweets over dinner every night.  So, because I am a wonderful parent, I bribe her to help me make dinner by agreeing to bake a dessert at the same time.  One night we pulled up this recipe as we were making dinner and I tried to shoot it down because it had 3 separate steps.  She insisted, and lo and behold,  was she ever right.  These bars are worth every tiny bit of extra effort.

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Melt in Your Mouth Lemon Bars

Ingredients

  • CRUST
  • 2 c all purpose flour
  • 1 c butter softened (no substituting)
  • 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • FILLING
  • 4 eggs (slightly beaten)
  • 2 c sugar
  • 4 Tbsp flour
  • 6 Tbsp lemon juice
  • FROSTING
  • 1/2 c butter (softened)
  • 1 c powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp milk
  • 2 Tbsp cold water

directions

  1. MIX CRUST INGRED. WITH FORK AS YOU WOULD FOR A PIE CRUST. PAT INTO A 9X13 PAN WHICH HAS BEEN GREASED AND FLOURED. BAKE AT 350 DEGREES FOR 15 MINUTES.

  2. AS CRUST IS BAKING. MIX FILLING. AFTER CRUST HAS BAKED 15 MINUTES, POUR FILLING OVER CRUST AND CONTINUE BAKING FOR 25 MINUTES. COOL BARS COMPLETELY

  3. MAKE FROSTING BY BEATING BUTTER,POWDERED SUGAR AND MILK FOR 6 TO 8 MINUTES ON HIGH SPEED. THEN ADD 2 TBLSP. COLD WATER ONE AT A TIME. BEAT UNTIL SMOOTH. SPREAD OVER COOLED BARS.

 

Restaurant Review: Pomodoro’s in Mooresville

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Pomodoro’s is an Italian restaurant tucked into a shopping center in Mooresville.  From the outside, the restaurant looks unassuming, but go on inside.  It is actually larger than you would think.  We arrived at 5:30 pm on a Saturday evening and were seated right away.  As we were leaving an hour or so later, there was a line.  Come early!

This restaurant has a ton of booths.  They are straight backed, and looked to be kind of tight.  I requested a table since my fused ankles don’t do well trying to get up from the booth.  There were only a few in the back, which won’t be a big deal to everyone, but it was to me, so I mention it.  The hostess graciously made the change for us with little fanfare.

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We got a couple of appetizers for the table and both were done very well.  The first was the Salt and Pepper Fried Calamari.  These are served with marinara sauce for dipping.  They were seasoned perfectly, breaded lightly and fried quickly until just done.  There was not a tough ring on the plate.  If you like Calamari, these are done well.

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We also got the Bruschetta which was different than I’d had before but so delicious.  The bread slices were toasted with olive oil and encircled the pile of sweet tomatoes dotted with basil, parmesan cheese and kalamata olives.  All of this was drizzled with balsamic vinegar.  I was expecting the bites to be tangy, as I’ve had before, but they were actually very sweet.  I loved it.  It was easily my favorite appetizer.  Also pleasing was how crispy the bread was.  The olives provided just enough salty bite to make it all work.

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All of our meals came with a Garden Salad.  This salad was huge!  It came with a mixture of lettuces, tomatoes, black olives and shredded mozzarella cheese.  All of their dressings are homemade (yes!) and I had the Ranch.  It was delicious!  The salad was maybe even my favorite part of the whole meal, so fresh and delicious!  And I normally don’t like tomatoes, but the one on our salad was canned, and tasted perfect.  I’m not sure if they were out of fresh tomatoes or if that is just the way they plate the salads, but it was wonderful!

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My entrée was the Veal Marsala.  I hate to report that it was terrible.  The marsala sauce was very sweet and the veal was chewy and inedible.  I asked for a serving of marinara sauce for my spaghetti noodles just to be able to finish the pasta.  I would not recommend this dish to anyone.   However, everyone else had dishes that they loved, so I am still going to recommend this restaurant.  Just skip this dish.

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My friend got the Sirloin Steak con Gorgonzola and said it was amazing.  It was grilled to a perfect medium and served atop a creamy Gorgonzola sauce with steamed broccoli and pasta on the side.  It looked wonderful!

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My other friend had Zuppa di Pesce which was a soupy tomato broth filled with sautéed shrimp, clams, mussels, scallops and calamari over fettuccini noodles in a soup bowl.  Though the broth was a bit watery on top, the seafood was cooked perfectly.  Also, my friend discovered that when she dug from the bottom is was much more flavorful as the garlic bits and spices seemed to gather at the bottom.  So, if you get this, and you should, make sure you scoop from the bottom to the top every now and again to distribute all of the goodies.

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Lastly, my husband got a simple pasta dish of penne pasta with meatballs and marinara sauce.  He raved about this dish.  The marinara was so flavorful and well spiced, it needed nothing.  The meatballs were tender and huge!

We will definitely be back to Pomodoro’s for another visit very soon.  The prices were very reasonable and you get a lot of food for your money.  This is truly a hidden gem.

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Roasted Lemon Garlic Herb Shrimp

We love shrimp.  So, here’s another shrimp recipe.  Hope you love it as much as I do.  Serves 2

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Roasted Lemon Garlic Herb Shrimp

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 lemon, zested then half cut into thin slices and other half into wedges
  • 3 -4 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves removed
  • kosher salt and fresh black pepper
  • spaghetti or pasta, couscous or rice, for serving
  • 1 lb fresh shrimp, medium-sized, deveined with tails off
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced

directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

  2. In a 9×13 baking pan combine olive oil, lemon zest and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.

  3. Bake in oven for 12 minutes. Meanwhile cook pasta, couscous or rice.

  4. Remove pan from oven, add shrimp, garlic and the thin sliced lemons (don’t squeeze them), toss to coat with oil mixture.

  5. Bake for 8-10 more minutes or until shrimp turn pink and start to curl.

  6. Serve over pasta, couscous or rice tossed with extra-virgin olive oil and fresh-squeezed lemon with additional lemon wedges for serving.

 

 

Bubblin’ Brown Artichoke Dip from Paula Deen, ya’ll

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When I was in school at the University of Alabama, my husband and I lived down the street from the Capstone Inn restaurant that we’d walk to for lunch every now and then.  They had the most amazing artichoke dip I’ve ever had in my life, and served it with fresh-from-the-oven bread.  Since then, I’ve spent many years trying to recreate that awesome dip and this one comes as close as I’ve ever gotten.  Thanks, Paula!

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Bubblin’ Brown Artichoke and Cream Cheese Dip

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 3/4 cups grated parmesan cheese (about 7 ounces)
  • 1 (14 ounce) cans artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 3 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • crackers, tortilla chips or crusty bread, for dipping

directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until it is smooth. Beat in the mayonnaise until combined. Add 1 1/2 cups of the Parmesan, the artichoke hearts, scallions, garlic, hot sauce, black pepper, and salt and mix with a spatula until combined.

3. Scrape the mixture into a wide, shallow gratin or baking dish that’s pretty enough for serving and top with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan. Bake until the dip is bubbling and the top is golden, 30 to 40 minutes. Serve hot, with crackers, tortilla chips, or crusty bread for dipping.

Snappy Strawberry Jalapeno Sauce

I have this weird obsession with collecting jars.  Like the Classico pasta jars?  They are so pretty, I hate to recycle them right away.  I also love the fancy smaller jars that olives or spreads come in…anything really, but if it has a different shape I’m in!  Unfortunately, the glass cupboard (that’s where I keep them) gets so full that I’ve had them come tumbling out.  So, when this happens, I set my mind to using a few of them up.  This snappy sauce was perfect!  Easy and when I needed a quick appetizer to take to Game Night at a friends, I grabbed my jar and headed out the door.  It was delicious!

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Snappy Strawberry Jalapeno Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 (18 ounce) jars strawberry preserves
  • 1 (12 ounce) jars pickled jalapeno peppers, drained

For Dip

  • 8 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 8 ounces finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese

directions

  1. In the food processor, pulse preserves and peppers until finely chopped. Pour into 4 half pint jars and store in fridge until ready to serve.
  2. For Dip: Combine cheeses and spread on serving plate. Top with one cup of sauce and serve with crackers. (I like garlic wheat thins).

Recipe: Buttermilk Ranch Cheese Ball

Cheese balls show up on every Christmas sideboard, don’t they?  And no wonder.  They can be made ahead, kept in the fridge and just set out with absolutely no fuss…and they are delicious.  Truly one of the world’s perfect foods.  I enjoy them as a midnight snack with a few crackers, as well.  This one is so simple it is crazy, but yummy!

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Buttermilk Ranch Cheeseball

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 1 (1 ounce) package Ranch dressing mix
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
  • 1/2 lb cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans

directions

  1. Mix the sour cream with ranch dressing mix in a bowl until smoothly combined. Add the cream cheese and Cheddar cheese to the bowl, and mix together with your hands until thoroughly blended. Chill the mixture for 5 minutes, then shape into a ball.
  2. Place the pecans into a shallow bowl, and roll all sides of the cheese ball in the pecans to coat. Serve immediately.

Restaurant Review: 131 Main in Cornelius, NC

We have been hearing forever that 131 Main was the place to go, and sure enough when we finally rolled up not long ago there were tons of people waiting to eat.  I was excited, something this busy couldn’t be bad, right?  Eh.  I was quite let down.

Once we were finally seated, it was so dark inside we could hardly read the menu.  This always vaguely annoys me.  We decided on our menu orders and placed them with our frazzled waitress.

We sampled the Deviled eggs for an appetizer.  I found them to be a touch too vinegary for my liking.  They were pretty to look at, however.

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For my entrée I had the Cajun Penne Pasta.  It came with shrimp, tomatoes, scallions and sour cream and in a spicy cream sauce.  It was pretty tasteless on the night we went.  The shrimp were nicely cooked, but the whole dish was very bland.  I was quite disappointed.

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My friend had the Slow Roasted Chicken with Smashed Reds.  I didn’t get a bite, but she did seem happy and I thought the potatoes were creamy and rich.

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My husband got the meatloaf with mashed potatoes and vegetables.  The gravy was a creamy, mushroom gravy that was delicious, and he enjoyed the meatloaf, but it tasted as if it had been grilled to me.  For his vegetable he chose a cucumber salad.  Yuck.

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Dessert was a Brownie Sundae thing.  Chocolate is great, but this brownie was a bit dry.  We were just not impressed.  At all.  I may go back at lunch to see if my experience is any better, but I’ll not brave the throngs again at dinner to eat here.

 

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