Rebekah Lyn's Kitchen

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A Cheesy Celebration February 9, 2015

Filed under: Baking,Books,Recipes — itsrebekahlyn @ 7:20 AM
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I love cheese. I’m fascinated with how many different types of cheese there are and want to try them all. A couple of years ago, when it was just me and my parents for Christmas, we started a new Christmas Eve tradition. We went to Candlelight Service, came home to a spread of hors d’oeuvres-chocolate caramel popcorn, spinach dip, cheese, crackers, and glog- then watched a movie. It’s a nice quiet evening to reflect on what Christmas is really about.

 

The first Christmas spread

The first Christmas spread

Cheese galore

Cheese galore

This year, I noticed that the Aldi I shop at started having specialty cheeses a few weeks before Christmas. I bought up every one of them for our Christmas Eve nosh. We had Jarlsberg, Parmesan Regiano, Prima Donna, Tomato Basil, Jalapeño Jack, Fontina, and Cranberry White Cheddar. I’ve been wanting to try the Parmesan Regiano since I read about it in one of Frances Mayes’ books. It wasn’t my favorite as a stand-alone cheese, but it is great in cooking.

 

As you might imagine, with all of this cheese we couldn’t possibly eat it all in one night. Mom found a recipe that used the Fontina along with a Marscapone cheese, to make what is basically a fancy mac & cheese. The recipe sounded so good, I used it in the book I was working on, Spring Dawn, and when I finished the first draft we made a batch to celebrate. Shredding all of the Fontina seemed to take forever, but it was worth it. Next time I think I would add some bacon bits though, to give it a little more kick.

The left over Jarlsberg has made a wonderful evening snack and now I have three more varieties to snack on from Ireland, Wales, and Britain. I better have a few slices then get back to work.

Fontina & Mascarpone Baked Pasta

Fontina & Mascarpone Baked Pasta

Grating the Fontina

Grating the Fontina

 

Bakingpalooza December 20, 2014

Filed under: Baking,Family — itsrebekahlyn @ 9:31 AM
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We’ve had almost two glorious weeks of cool weather here in Florida. I’ve enjoyed having the windows open and a fresh breeze drifting through the house. It was on one these lovely days last week that I decided to crank up the oven and do my Christmas baking. I had several recipes I wanted to get through so I started as soon as I finished my coffee and bagel.

 

My parents have been staying with me since Thanksgiving, so mom offered to run out to the store to pick up a couple of items I didn’t have on hand. While she was out, I made the easy cookies, the ones from a mix that didn’t require anything extra. I found a pumpkin spice cookie mix that I have fallen in love with and I decided to add some chocolate chips. They were the perfect addition and I tucked some of the cookies into a tin for my parents’ drive back to North Carolina.

 

The house quickly filled with the smells of fresh baked treats. By the time I turned off the oven I had five types of cookies, gingerbread cupcakes, and vanilla-sour cream tea loaves. My kitchen is tiny, so having more than one person working at a time can be tight, but toward the end of the day, mom, dad and I were all working together to clean up the dishes and put everything away.

 

I hope you have a wonderful Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year with those you love.

The first round of cookies

The first round of cookies

 

Lemons for Christmas December 29, 2013

I hope you all had a nice Christmas. Growing up we always had a big Christmas breakfast after opening gifts and then my mom would have to go to work from 3:00-11:00 so we never really developed the tradition of a big dinner of Christmas Day. Even after she moved from the hospital to the doctor’s office with the holiday off, we didn’t really develop a specific meal for the day, and I’m happy about that, because it gives a chance to try new things.

I had no idea all the goodness I was missing by not reading Southern Living until this first edition came and I found a recipe for Lemon-Rosemary-Garlic Chicken and Potatoes. My lemons are FINALLY ripe so there was no question this would be our Christmas dinner. I made sure we had everything we would need and went to sleep Christmas Eve with lemons, rather the sugar plums, dancing in my head. (What is a sugar plum anyway?)

The big day came, we opened our gifts, ate our breakfast, then went for a drive. I’ve been wanting to tour the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge for months now to shoot some photos and video for my new book trailer. Who knew we’d spend most of the day exploring, visiting places my dad hadn’t seen in twenty years or more? By the time we came home, we were too tired to cook so we nibbled on cake and pie, cheese and popcorn.

Australian Pines along Haulover Canal

Australian Pines along Haulover Canal

Rainbow in the Ocean

A Rainbow dipped into the ocean just before sunset.

Never fear, though. I wasn’t going to let my lemons go to waste. We made our new dish the following day and enjoyed it all the more for the extended anticipation.

Lemon-Rosemary-Garlic Chicken

The lemon tree still bears plenty of fruit and I have a hankering for some fresh lemon tarts as soon as all of the other treats are gobbled up.

 

Christmas Traditions December 24, 2013

Filed under: Family — itsrebekahlyn @ 10:42 AM
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Growing up preparing for Christmas started on Thanksgiving day. My aunts, uncles, and cousins all gathered at my grandparents’ house for a day of eating, football, napping, and sharing our Christmas lists. I was the only girl of the five grandkids and probably got spoiled a bit because of that.

Grandma & Papa's garden

Grandma & Papa’s garden

The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas were filled with baking cookies to share with the neighbors, visiting Disney Village for the living nativity, decorating the Christmas tree, and driving around to look at houses decked out in twinkling Christmas lights.

On Christmas Eve, we all gathered together again, usually at my grandparents’ house, but occassionally at one of my uncles’ homes in Orlando. The ladies would congregate in the kitchen preparing the meal, the men would gather in the living room to talk, and us kids would play tag or hide-and-go-seek until dinner.

I have such fond memories of gathering in the living room after dinner, stacks of gifts in front of each family member, the anticipation growing with each minute. The gifts were opened with smiles glowing, filling the room with warmth and love. Thinking about it now I can still feel that warmth and security.

Childhood Christmas

Childhood Christmas

Since my grandmother died, traditions have changed. The grandkids have married and have families of their own and we don’t all get together anymore. I have been left feeling untethered during this time of year, with the need to create new traditions. This year I celebrated Thanksgiving with my brother’s family in North Carolina and gave them their Christmas gifts, the excitement of my niece and nephew an echo of the excitement my cousins and I had exhibited so many years ago.

When I returned home I decided to bake cookies to share with coworkers and dear friends. I felt closer to those old holiday memories while I mixed the dough and packaged up the cookies. Delivering the cookies and seeing the smiles they brought reminded me of the simple joys Christmas brings.

Christmas Cookies

My parents are in Florida with me for Christmas this year. I’m looking forward to taking them to the Candelight Service at my church this evening then driving around to look at Christmas lights. Most importantly I will go to sleep knowing this is a celebration of my Savior’s birth. The traditions and gatherings are wonderful and the memories will always be treasured, but I know that one day I will have the chance to celebrate with all of my loved ones again and for all eternity.

I pray that you have a blessed Christmas with your family and friends.

Merry Christmas from Rebekah Lyn

Merry Christmas from Rebekah Lyn

 

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

 

HELP THE ELF: I Found Santa’s Missing Nice List! December 19, 2012

Filed under: Books — itsrebekahlyn @ 11:55 AM
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Hi everyone! As you may remember, a few weeks ago PETE the Elf had a touch too much Eggnog at the Holiday Christmas Party and as he stumbled home, he lost Santa’s NICE LIST.

The North Wind scattered the papers to all four corners of the world, and The Bookshelf Muse put out a call to help find them in order to SAVE CHRISTMAS.

Ever since I read about it, I’ve been on the lookout. And then today, EUREKA!

Yes that’s right…I found part of Santa’s missing NICE LIST. There it was, fluttering in the wind, half caught under the corner of my welcome mat. And shock of all shocks, I recognized the name, and I bet you will too.

Here it is below:

ImageChef.com

NAME: Teodor Flonta

LOCATION: https://www.facebook.com/teodor.flonta?fref=tse

NICE LEVEL: 98%

NAUGHTY LEVEL: 2%

OBSERVATIONS: Teodor is a wonderful supporter and writer. He shares great recipes and amazing insights.

RECOMMENDATION: ; ; ; ; a) Coal ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; b) Gift

~ ~ * ~ ~

Because poor Pete is dashing all over the place trying to hunt down the rest of Santa’s missing Nice List, I decided to take care of this one myself. Teodor, I feel so blessed to know you! Enjoy the card I sent your way and have a wonderful Christmas!
Photo credit:

assorted gold baubles (christmasstockimages.com) / CC BY 3.0
 

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.

 

 
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