Rebekah Lyn's Kitchen

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Saturday Tea March 11, 2013

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Over the weekend I had the immense pleasure of appearing at another Afternoon Tea with the Author event. This time I was delighted to have my friend and fellow author, DiVoran Lites join me. We had a great time of fellowship with a group of Christian women and then shared about our adventures in writing and publishing.

Even though I was one of the guests of honor, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to do some baking. I saw a recipe in my Tea Time magazine last year for mini Boston Cream, Key Lime, or Strawberry trifles, but haven’t had an opportunity to make them. With spring right around the corner, well, technically already here in Florida, I thought the Key Lime trifles would be a good fit. I pulled out the various serving glasses I have collected and got down to business. It was a joy to make the custard and whipped cream from scratch. I used to think cooking from scratch was a lot of work, but I’ve come to appreciate it. I feel a real connection with the foods I’ve made from the ground up, quite literally when using produce from my garden.

It was tricky getting the custard and whipped cream into the miniature glasses, so I thought I would try using a pastry bag. This was only my second attempt at using a pastry bag but it definitely got easier as I went along. By the time I completed 8 of the 16 servings I was feeling pretty confident and was able to pick up the speed. I think they turned out nicely and enjoyed the ohhs and ahhs when they were served to our guests.

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Mini trifles weren’t enough for me though. I wanted something crisp as well and turned to a Lemon-Lavender Shortbread recipe I found on one of my favorite food blogs, Chelsea Bakes. You can find that recipe here.

I loved getting to meet some new friends and reconnecting with others I haven’t seen in years. I have to extend my sincere thanks to our hostess, Pam. She provided a beautiful and warm setting for us to share our experiences and may have even convinced one of the guests to host her own tea. I also have to thank the talented Ginger Morrison for the amazing cake she made.

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Gifts from the Heart January 23, 2013

Filed under: Baking,Cooking,Family,Recipes,Tea — itsrebekahlyn @ 12:00 PM
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The first month of a new year will soon be in our rearview mirror and I haven’t posted a blog. Forgive me for getting caught up in Table of Cookiesthe crush of Christmas activities and succumbing to the flu.

As you may recall, I was in a baking frenzy the first couple weeks of December. I had toffee and five different types of cookies piling up in my kitchen, but there was one more recipe I couldn’t wait to try; Vanilla-Sour Cream Tea Bread. This recipe came to me in the November/December issue of Tea Time magazine.

On my weekly stroll through Target I had stumbled upon a package of  disposable loaf pans. I dropped them in my cart certain the perfect recipe Tea Bread Loaveswould come along to fill the pans.  My loaf pans were larger than therecipe called for so I doubled the measurements and was able to make 6 loaves (7.5×3.25×2-inch).

When the tea bread was baked and cooler I packaged it up along with my cookies and toffee to give to coworkers, my hairdresser, and my masseuse. I loaded my treats into the car and delivered them around town and the office. Over the next several days my coworkers came to me and thanked me, telling me what their favorite treat had been. When I saw my hair dresser and masseuse this month, they both had stories of how they had shared the tea bread with their families on Christmas and received rave reviews, asking for the recipe. Talking with my masseuse last week about how much her guests had enjoyed the tea bread , I realized that I experienced as much pride in these compliments as I do when I receive compliments on my writing, and I felt the same jolt of happiness that I get when I’m in the kitchen mixing up a new treat.

Why did we get away from homemade gifts? Sure it can be time consuming, but in the long run it shows how much we care about those we are giving the gift to.  Next time you are struggling to find the perfect gift, consider  opening your pantry or flip through a cookbook. There are bountiful ideas out there for gifts from the heart.

Vanilla-Sour Cream Tea Bread

as seen in Tea Time Magazine

makes 4 mini-loaves

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

¾ cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup sour cream

¼ cup melted butter

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla, butter, and nut flavoring

I had trouble finding this flavoring so wanted you to see what it looks like

I had trouble finding this flavoring so wanted you to see what it looks like

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Spray 4 mini (3×5-inch) loaf pans with nonstick spray with flour. Set aside
  • In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, whisking well. Set aside
  • In a small bowl, combine sour cream, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla, butter, and nut flavoring, stirring well. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until wet ingredients are incorporated. (Batter will be stiff.)
  • Divide batter evenly among prepared pans, patting level using a spatula.
  • Bake until light golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean, 20-30 minutes.
  • Remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire racks.
  • Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

* I doubled the recipe and made 6 loaves (7.5×3.25×2-inch).

*A bit of lemon curd spread on a piece of bread is delicious

Bread & Lemon Curd

 

Cooking up Memories December 10, 2012

Filed under: Baking,Family,Tea — itsrebekahlyn @ 11:55 AM
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What is it about fall and winter that make us want to bake? Why do Thanksgiving and Christmas seem to revolve around sweet treats? Maybe its because the weather is turning cooler and it isn’t so dreadful to have the oven running for hours on end. Of course, in Florida, it is still in the 80s and we have to run the air to battle the heat of the kitchen, but it is worth it for the joy of holiday baking.

Image from Amazon.com

Image from Amazon.com

I have many fond memories of Christmas baking with my mom. We would spend an entire day making M&M cookies, Peanut Butter Blossoms, Chocolate Chip, and Lemon cookies. I loved mixing them up, rolling them in colored sugar, licking the bowl clean, but I also loved packaging them up to give to friends and family. These days, between work, writing, and marketing I don’t have much free time, but I decided to make time over the weekend to do Christmas baking.

I subscribe to Tea Time Magazine and the November/December issue is full of wonderful new recipes. I started with the Double Chocolate-Cranberry cookies and Dark Chocolate-Pistachio Toffee. Both of these were incredibly simple and made me nostalgic for those childhood recipes. I found one for M&M cookies, and used mint M&Ms for a more contemporary flair.

Double Chocolate-Cranberry Cookies

On Wednesday, I am going to tackle Vanilla-Sour Cream Tea Bread and Cherry-Hazelnut Scones (if I can find hazelnuts). If these turn out well, I can see them turning up in a future book. If I can find the lemon cookie recipe, I think I will make some of those as well. All of these treats will make a nice gift bag for my friends and coworkers. What are your favorite Christmas treats?

Double Chocolate-Cranberry Cookies

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup salted butter, softened

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup dark chocolate morsels

1/3 cup white chocolate morsels

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup chopped, toasted pecans (I used pistachios)

Preheat oven to 375

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt, whisking well. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine butter and sugars. Beat at high speed with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla extract, beating at low speed until combined. Add flour mixture at low speed until incorporated. Add both dark and white chocolate morsels, cranberries, and pecans, stirring to combine.

Using a levered 1-teaspoon scoop, drop batter 2 inches apart onto prepared baking sheets.

Bake until golden brown, approximately 7 minutes.

Dark Chocolate-Pistachio Toffee

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons salted butter, divided

3/4 cup finely chopped, roasted and salted pistachios, divided

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate morsels

Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat. Spread 1 tablespoon butter in a 9-inch diameter circle on baking mat. Sprinkle 1/2 cup pistachios over butter circle in an even layer.

Coat the inner top 2 inches of a large microwave-safe bowl with 1 tablespoon butter. Place remaining 1/2 cup butter in bowl. Add sugar and water. Do not stir.

Microwave on high until mixture turns very light brown, 6 to 8 minutes.

Immediately pour hot mixture over pistachios, covering nuts in an even layer. (Spread quickly as sugar mixture sets quickly.)

Immediately sprinkle chocolate morsels over sugar mixture in an even layer. Let sit for 1 minute to melt, then spread evenly, using an offset spatula.

Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup pistachios over melted chocolate.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until candy is firm.

When firm, cut into pieces, using a long sharp knife and pressing down.

 

My Love for Barnes & Noble August 3, 2012

Filed under: Books,Recipes,Tea — itsrebekahlyn @ 12:04 PM
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Rebekah Lyn's bookcaseI’m a Barnes & Noble girl.  From the first time I pulled open those colonial green doors, breathed in the welcoming aroma of fresh brewed coffee, and my gaze fell upon the evenly spaced rows of dark stained bookcases filled with new adventures waiting to be opened, I was in love.   Gathering a pile of books and collapsing into a comfy chair to decide which treasures would go home with me, was the highlight of many a college weekend.

 

Now, I’ve noticed most of the stores have removed those wonderful chairs, leaving only the hard, straight-backed seats in the café for respite from scouring the aisles.  I guess that is the corporate office’s attempt to discourage loitering and reading without purchasing.  In a way I can understand the change, but at the same time I miss the leisurely feel they added, like I was visiting a friend’s home library and being invited to take all the time I needed to choose the books I was interested in.

 

One of the stores near me is two stories with several large tables on the second level overlooking the main floor.  I don’t get to this location as often as I would like, but some summer afternoons, I am content to purchase a trenta Passion Tea Lemonade from the Starbucks café, ride the escalator to the second floor, and sit at one of these tables, watching the people below weave through the aisles.  Some move with purpose directly to their intended section, but most wander aimlessly, pulling a book out to scan its cover or simply touching a beautiful cover.  Maybe one day I will meet my future husband on one of these lazy afternoons and we will talk of all the good books still waiting to be discovered.  Until then, I think I will mix up my own Passion Tea Lemonade and take a break in the backyard to soak up a few rays.  If you want to make your own drink and join me in the sun here’s the recipe I used.

 

Tea, Biscotti, and Me August 1, 2012

Filed under: Baking,Books,Cooking,Recipes,Tea — itsrebekahlyn @ 6:16 PM
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This weekend I had the privilege of appearing at another Afternoon Tea with the Author, this time in Anderson, SC.  The women I met were warm and welcoming.  When we offered gifts to those who asked questions, Lois was quick to jump in, asking when I gave my life to God.  Since I write Christian fiction, I was actually a bit surprised this question hadn’t come up in my previous Tea events.  I was nine when I first prayed for God to come into my heart, and I remember actually thinking a little person was going to come live inside my heart.  I enjoyed talking with these gracious Southern women, sharing about my writing process, and where I get my ideas.

The food was wonderful too.  I love biscotti and was thrilled to see a plate of homemade biscotti sandwiched between fresh scones and a cranberry-coconut bar that was to die for.  Of course I couldn’t leave with out getting the biscotti recipe.  If you give it a try let me know what you think.

Pistachio- Craisin Biscotti

Line a heavy, large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk 2 cups flour with 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder.  Set aside.

Beat 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup unsalted butter, 1 tsp. grated lemon zest & 1/4 tsp. salt.

Beat in 2 large eggs – one at a time.  Add the flour mixture just ’til blended.

Stir in 3/4 cup chopped pistachios & 2/3 cup craisins.

Form the dough into a 13″ long, 3″ wide log on the parchment sheet.  Bake until lightly golden, (about 40 min.)  Cool 30 min.

Place log on a cutting board.  Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the log on a diagonal into 1/2 to 3/4″ thick slices.

Arrange the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet.  Bake again ’til pale golden. (about 15 min.)

Transfer biscotti to a rack & cool completely.

These may be served plain or dipped in dark or white chocolate & set on rack to set.

 

Happy Birthday Pam July 20, 2012

Filed under: Baking,Cooking,Family,Recipes,Tea — itsrebekahlyn @ 11:50 AM
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Wednesday was my dear friend Pam’s birthday.  Since I was a kid she has been like a second mother to me, but especially more so this past year as my parents have taken to traveling in their retirement years.  Pam has taken me in on those holidays my parents were away so I wanted to do something nice in honor of her birthday. After considering several ideas, I decided to invite Pam and her daughter Jennifer over for dinner.  I know Pam enjoys grilled chicken, but I’m not confident enough in my grilling skills yet so I decided to make the Garlic Roasted Chicken Breast recipe I recently found.  I tested this a couple weeks ago in the toaster oven and was amazed at how juicy it came out in only 15 minutes.   This is definitely one of my new favorite chicken dishes.

My shoulder has been bothering me so I admit I made instant mashed potatoes, but I added about a tablespoon of sour cream to the Garlic & Herb mix and they were so creamy and yummy.  I could have eaten the whole pot of those.  Of course there had to some colorful veggies as well so I sautéed squash, zucchini, and onion in olive oil.  This is such an easy, tasty way to add veggies to any meal.

Instead of doing a traditional birthday cake with too many leftovers for our girlish figures, I opted to make lemon soufflés.  I discovered this recipe a couple years ago and it is definitely one of my absolute favorite desserts, especially in the summer.  It is light and refreshing after a long hot day.  I had forgotten the base of the soufflé is actually lemon curd, and aside from the zesting of an entire lemon it is incredibly simple to make.  Next time I need lemon curd to go with my scones I will be sure to pull this recipe out.

With my new Afternoon in Tuscany cd playing softly in the background, the house freshly cleaned, and a few candles scattered around, we enjoyed a lovely evening of food and fellowship.

 

Afternoon Tea May 10, 2012

Filed under: Books,Tea,Uncategorized — itsrebekahlyn @ 11:53 AM
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Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking at my second Afternoon Tea with the Author to promote my books.  Wanda, my hostess, is an amazing woman of God and inspires me to be a better person each time we meet.  I think she may have been more excited about this tea than I was.  She was praying about the tea and one night in a dream she found her inspiration. She used pink ribbons to hang decorative teacups from the formal dining room chandelier and I hear she had the table all decorated a week before the tea.

In addition to the normal sweets of afternoon tea, Wanda served an interesting savory, Boars Head honey turkey wrapped around marinated asparagus with a toothpick speared through an olive and cheese cube.

 

After tea was enjoyed we moved into the living room for some book talk and I had the chance to share the trailer for Summer Storms and debut the trailer for my upcoming novel, Julianne.  Getting these videos on the screen was quite the comedy of errors and I honestly wasn’t sure if things were going to work out or not.

It all started when I didn’t have Mike, my producer, put the videos on DVDs at the time we finalized them and ended with me forgetting to bring the remote for my DVD player to the tea.  The final challenge was a series of short power outages that we turned into a chance to chat.  Turns out three of the guests were from North Carolina, which generated more conversation about Julianne, set on the coast of North Carolina.  When we were finally able to watch the videos it was worth all the frustrations to experience to first hand the reaction of an audience.

I am so thankful for the Tea and the opportunity to talk with these women about my writing process, inspirations, and plans for my upcoming novels.  This experience made my new-found status as an author real.  Looking forward to my next tea later this month in South Carolina.

 

Afternoon Tea with Author Party March 11, 2012

Filed under: Baking,Tea — itsrebekahlyn @ 11:36 AM
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Tea with Author

 

Wednesday I had the privilege of participating in an Afternoon Tea with the Author, a series of events for fans to get to know more about my writing and me.  Pam, the hostess is a dear friend, and I am so thankful for her hospitality.  This was Pam’s first tea party so I offered to help with the food, which of course gave me an excuse to bake.   I was so intently focused on the party to come that the I didn’t realize I had forgotten the cranberries in the first batch of cranberry-orange scones until the batter was already mixed, rolled out, cut, and placed on the baking sheet.  I’ve always had trouble following a recipe, my brain seems to skip ahead two or three steps.   Not to worry, a new batch was easily whipped up.

I also decided to try out a couple of new recipes for chocolate cookie dough truffles and quiche.  Both turned out well and I was very happy with how easy there were to make.  The quiche were crustless and cooked nicely in my new silicone baking molds.  By the time our guests arrived the table was laid with a variety of delicious treats and eight different teas.  I have to thank Hans at Our Home Tea for the wonderful selection of tea and the adorable little tea pot with infuser for the loose leaf teas.

 

We had fun tasting four different teas – China Breakfast, Tropical Crimson, Jasmine, and 1,000 Cranes.  I enjoyed them all, but I think my favorite is the Jasmine.  I have always loved the smell of Jasmine and there is something very calming about the tea.  I enjoyed have the chance to talk about how I started writing and giving a teaser for the books slated for publication later this year.  I look forward to many more of these tea parties in the coming months.

 

 

 
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