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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day Dinner and Dessert

We don't celebrate Valentine's Day as set out by Hallmark or other commercial dictations. Instead we choose to celebrate our love each and every day of the year. However, with all the hype we quietly reinforce our love with a good home cooked meal usually with my husband's famous oven baked breaded pork chops. I make a desert for a special touch as desert is not the norm with our dinners so that makes it a little special. Then after dinner we spend time just enjoying being together.

Key Lime Tarts

We had such a wonder time in Key West I wanted to recapture just a bit of it. I made the filling using Key Lime juice I bought while in Key West. The tarts were a definite two thumbs up, coming back for seconds dessert. They were extremely easy to make as well, my kind of dessert!
Key Lime Tarts
You will need 12 prepared pastry tart shells. While I normally use home made pastry dough, today I used pre-made frozen tart shells because I'm supposed to stay off my feet as much as possible. Either way the results are quite good. I ended up with a little extra filling so I filled two custard cups with just the filling then topped with meringue as well. The extra meringue was formed into small nests for filling.
Key Lime Filling
4 oz Key West Key Lime juice
1 can (14 oz sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks

Blend milk and eggs then slowly add in the juice. Mix well. Pour into prepared shells. Bake at 350ºF for 8 minutes. Top with meringue while the filling is still hot.

4 egg whites
¼ tsp cream of tartar
½ cup organic sugar
¾ tsp pure clear vanilla

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. Slowly add in sugar until mixture is smooth, glossy and holds soft peaks. Beat in vanilla. Top the filling ensuring no gaps around the crust. Use the back of a spoon to form soft peaks. Bake at 400ºF until the tips of the meringue turn a golden brown.

Meringue Nests

Meringue Nests

Make meringue as per above recipe. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spoon about 2 tbsp of meringue onto the parchment paper and spread to about 2 inch diameter. Then with the back of a spoon form an indent in the centre of the meringe about 1½ inch diameter. The result should look like small clouds with an indent for filling. Continue making the nests using up the rest of the meringue. Bake at 200ºF until slightly browned and dry. Store in an air tight container until ready to fill. Fill just before serving.

These look wonderful will filled with a sparkling jelly but any filling can be used. The meringue is light with a bit of a crunch while having a melt in your mouth texture. They are a sure crowd pleaser so be sure to make a lot.

Key Lime Dessert

I used the extra filling and meringue to make two crustless desserts baked in custard dishes. This method works nicely for any meringue topped pie filling giving a sweet dessert without the fat of the crust. I often use lemon curd to make this dessert. The Key Lime pie filling worked nicely though. Aside from being low fat this dessert is low in sugar.

It makes for a lovely presentation especially when garnished which I didn't do. Garnishes are eye candy enticing your taste buds. Normally garnishes give a hint of what to expect as far as flavour. In this case a slice or two key lime and a sprig of mint would have been nice, neither of which are available here right now. However, since it was Valentine's day candied violets would have been equally special.

Pork Chop Dinner

This is not a fancy dinner but it is one of my husband's signature dishes and he does not believe in garnishes either! Despite the plain looks it is a very good meal and very filling. The pork chop requirement is at minimum of ¾ inch thick but because we buy our meat right from the farmer and have it custom cut our pork chops are 1 inch thick. His coating method is a secret. All I know is it involves bread crumbs, seasonings and eggs. He's not giving up the secrete so I will draw your attention to the lovely baked potato.

Foil Baked Potato
This method for baking potatoes came from a local restaurant we enjoy. The potatoes are nice a moist with a lightly flavoured skin. We've modified it as far as seasonings used with my husband preferring a garlic blend while I like using Montreal steak spice. The method lends itself particularly well to grilling.

Method: Wash potatoes and dry. Place each potato on a single large square of tin foil. Drizzle olive oil over the potato. Sprinkle on seasoning of choice. Carefully bring the sides up to form a seam then seal tightly. Repeat for the other seam. Bake at 350ºF for about 40 minutes or until the potato gives when pressed. Carefully remove the foil then serve.

2 food lovers commented:

Krissi Wyss said...

Yay! I found a blog that is like mine, but better! I like all of your photos, I may have to do the same. I love your ideas and the care you take in cooking for your family! I wish I had some of those key lime tarts right now! I will have to whip up a Key Lime Pie soon. One of my favorites...we always freeze ours and enjoy it very cold. Your tarts look DELICIOUS!

Ada said...

Your blog always makes me hungry (in a great way) thanks so much for sharing!