When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemon Surprise Pudding

After making the Lemony Asparagus, Orzo and Ham salad a few nights ago for the Hubs to take to his card game, he came home with a huge bag of lemons from one of the guy’s orchard.

Looks how beautiful these lemons are!

Today I got on my trusty MacBook Air and searched for something to make with them. The criteria was that I had to have all of the ingredients on hand. I found lots of recipes for Lemon Surprise Pudding. I had never heard of it before but it was all over the place.

This is all I needed to make this recipe.

I don’t even know who to credit with this recipe because there were so many posts with the same recipe. Well, whoever came up with it, THANK YOU! This pudding is so easy and so good. It is light and reminiscent of lemon meringue pie.

The recipe that I used called for caster sugar. What? Never heard of it. I looked it up and it is just superfine sugar. I just happened to have some in the back of my pantry that I had bought for when I made 40 cremé brûlées for my DIL’s birthday party. Score!

Caster sugar. Who knew?

This recipe is a keeper for sure! Have you every made Lemon Surprise Pudding or do you have any variations on it that you love? Let me know!

Lemon Surprise Pudding

Serves 8-10

7 T butter, softened

2/3 cup superfine sugar

Zest of 2 lemons

1/2 cup lemon juice, about 3 large lemons juiced

4 large eggs, separated

1/2 cup all purpose flour

2 cups whole milk

Whipped cream for topping

Place oven rack on the second to the bottom rung in the oven. Preheat oven to 350º.

Cream butter and sugar using stand mixer (or hand mixer) until creamy, white and fluffy. Add lemon zest and juice. Mix well. (The mixture will curdle at this point. Not to worry)

Beat in egg yolks one at a time.

Gently beat in flour and milk until combined. The mixture will be thin.

In a clean bowl beat egg whites till they stand in snowy peaks. (Picturing “Frozen” in my head right now! Let It Go!) Fold egg whites into the lemon mixture.

Pour mixture into well buttered 8×8 baking dish.

Put the baking dish in a larger dish and fill larger dish with cold water, make sure the water comes halfway up the sides of the 8×8 dish. (I placed the 8×8 dish into the larger one and then put in oven and filled the water up while dish was in the oven.)

Bake for 50-60 minutes. If the top is getting too brown cover with foil for the last 10 minutes.

Serve topped with whipped cream right when it comes out of the oven. Yum yum!


Lemony Asparagus, Orzo and Ham Salad

Still have leftover ham from Easter! And leftover uncooked asparagus as well. Fridge is bulging.

Good thing the Hubs has his weekly card game tonight because it is time to use this stuff up. This salad is what I came up with.

This salad looks super fresh and pretty. Beautiful colors in it. Look at those lovely little bits of red pepper peeking out! The lemon vinaigrette that I found online gives it a nice zingy taste.

You really could add anything you like to this salad, making it the perfect “clean out the fridge” salad. I’m thinking broccoli and chicken, asparagus and salmon, make it vegetarian by leaving out the meat. Whatever your little heart desires!

I like to use DeLallo whole wheat pasta in cold salads because it has a little nutty flavor and it stands up to sitting in the dressing. It keeps that nice little bite. But, you could use any pasta you choose.

The toasted pine nuts add a nice little crunch and the avocado finishes it off perfectly. Yum yum!

Hope you enjoy this salad. It really is a “no-brainer!”

Lemony Asparagus, Orzo and Ham Salad

1 1/2 c  DeLallo whole wheat orzo

1/4 c finely chopped red onion

1/2 c medium chopped red pepper

1 rib celery finely chopped

1 lb asparagus, woody part removed, chopped into 1 in. pieces

1 c chopped ham

This dressing. Use the entire amount made. (The only thing that I changed on the dressing recipe is that I just dumped all of the ingredients in a mason jar and gave it a good shaking. So easy!)

One avocado cubed

1/3 c toasted pine nuts

Lemon zest for garnish if desired.


Bring 3 quarts lightly salted water to a boil. Add orzo and bring back to a boil. Cook orzo for 8 min then add chopped asparagus and cook two more minutes.

Remove from heat and drain.

Mix orzo and asparagus mixture in large bowl with all other ingredients except for the avocado. Let chill in fridge for at least 4 hours. Gently stir in avocado  and pine nuts just before serving. Garnish with lemon zest.

We Play Games

We are game players. All of our kids are game players. We are teaching our grandkids to be game players.

There are two types of families. Avid game players and not-so-much game players. Our family is definitely in the former category. Give us a table and we will play a game.

One of the best memories that I have of my childhood was playing canasta on summer evenings on my next door neighbor’s screened-in patio. She was a little Italian gramma who we loved just like our own gramma. I loved playing games with my own children as they were growing up. We spent many a summer afternoon playing cards. Often we would have tournaments that would last all summer long.

Now that most of my grandkids are old enough to play games we spend frequent Sunday afternoons playing. I play Farkle two mornings a week with my nine year old grandson who stops by for breakfast on those days. We have lots of fun and we are both pretty competitive. The Hubs and I play Hand and Foot sometimes almost every night after dinner. Games, games, games!

Right now there are so many new games that the kids are into. I love to learn a new game that they enjoy. Quite a few of them are games that all the players are playing as one team to beat the game. Those are my favorite.

I bought the Harry Potter Hogwart’s Battle game for two of my grandsons for Christmas and we are having so much fun playing it. It is a cooperative deck building game. Aren’t you proud of me that I know what that even is?! We really enjoy it because those two grandsons and I are are fans of the Harry Potter book series.

I encourage you to get involved in some of the newer games that are out. I find that it gives me common ground with the grandkids (and even my sons who like these games). Even if I don’t totally “get” all the games I still enjoy the time spent together. And that’s what its all about for me!

Another favorite game we recently bought and enjoy playing is Codenames. This is a very fun, quick playing game that sparks lively discussions.

For a lot of laughs we play Blurble. Oh my gosh! This one is super lively and super funny. It is a fast game that can be played by all of my grandkids. We just change the rules a bit for the younger ones who don’t read yet.

Our tried and true games are Mexican Train Dominoes, Gin Rummy, Hand and Foot, Hearts, Spades, Phase 10, and 5 Crowns.

Play games! Make some memories! You will be glad you did.



Drunken Split Pea Soup in the Bella® Electric Pressure Cooker

It’s the day after Easter and in our house that means just one thing: split pea soup! The Hubs and I love it but I only make it twice a year. I make it after our annual Christmas open house and after Easter. Those are the two times a year that I buy the fabulous spiral sliced ham at Costco.

I got a Bella® Electric Pressure Cooker earlier this year and I am just discovering the wonderful things it can do. Steel cut oats cook perfectly. Pinto beans are a snap. Beef stew? Ah-maz-ing. And soup….. 20 minutes!

I found this recipe online and adapted it a bit to suit my tastes. I substituted organic chicken broth for the water and sautéd the veggies before adding the other ingredients. I think it added a nice depth to it.

I read different recipes online and got conflicting instruction regarding quick release vs natural release. I choose to use the quick release because one site said that the quick release results in a creamier soup. I was not dissappointed.

I also switched the sherry to Marsala wine because that is what I had and that is how I roll! Trust me. You will want to add the splash of Marsala. It takes split pea soup to a whole other level. From everyday to “could be in a restaurant” good.

Ready to cook!

Be sure to clean your pressure valve as soon as it is cool enough as split peas can dry hard quickly, impacting your pressure next time you cook.

Hope you enjoy this soup as much as the Hubs and I did. Let me know in the comment section.

So creamy and delicious.

Drunken Split Pea With Ham Bone Soup in the Pressure Cooker

Serves: 4 meal size bowls or 8 cup size servings

1 lb split peas, rinsed and sorted

1 Tbsp avocado oil (or olive oil if desired)

2 carrots, chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

1 1/2 tsp dried thyme

4 cups chicken broth

1 ham bone with some ham still attached

Splash of Marsala wine

Sour Cream or plain Greek yogurt to garnish

Turn pressure cooker to sauté function and let heat up a few minutes.

Add carrots, celery, and onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes until onions are translucent. Turn off pressure cooker.

Add split peas, dried thyme, broth, and ham bone.

Press the “Pressure Cook” button and set timer for 20 minutes.

Once pressure cooker beeps do and instant release. I always put a dish towel over the release valve so as not to have the steam spray all over.

Remove ham bone to cutting board and cut off meat. Chop meat and return to soup.

Ladle into cup or bowl, add a splash of Marsala wine and garnish with sour cream or plain Greek yogurt.







Grilled Turkey, Swiss and Balsamic Onion Sandwich


Balsamic Onion Relish. What?!? I bought this. I needed it for a recipe and after scouring Amazon I found it. I only needed a little bit so I stuck the jar back in the fridge and forgot about it. Didn’t really know what to use the rest of it for.

Today I was making lunch for the Hubs. My plans were for a plain old turkey and cheese sandwich. Then I got the idea to grill it. He loves any kind of grilled sandwich. Who doesn’t? Bread, butter, crispy grilled goodness. Oh yeah!

Me, being the kind of person who likes to use up what is on hand, searched the shelves of the fridge to see what I could add to the sandwich to make it pop. Lo and behold I found this little jar of goodness just waiting to add some of that pop to said sandwich. I spread some of it on both sides of the bread, put turkey and Swiss cheese in and then grilled it.

Oh my! Such a simple addition but such a big taste. The Hubs described it as “delectable”! Sweet and savory at the same time. And….. grilled cheese!

This Piaz Balsamic Onion Relish is is made by the Apex Food Company in Apex, NC. The company was founded by two American women of Indian origin. You can read about their story here. The Piaz Balsamic Onion Relish is low calorie, has no trans fat, no added colors, no MSG, no artificial flavors, no preservatives and no high fructose corn syrup. What is there not to love here?

This is not your mother’s relish! It is definitely going to be a staple condiment in my house from now on. I can’t wait to come up with more ways to add flavor to everyday food. I’m thinking  pizza, burgers, steaks, flatbreads. Who knows where my tastebuds will lead me!




Strawberry Mango Salsa – Sweet or A Little Bit Savory. You choose!

I made this strawberry mango salsa yesterday for my nieces’ wedding shower in the Temecula Wine country. It was so delicious and so perfect for a gorgeous spring day. 

I made the sweet version of it for the shower but I made the “little bit” savory one for Easter today.  The sweet one can even be dessert like served with cinnamon sugar tortilla chips. I think it looks so pretty and will dress up any table. 

It seems that it is the time of year for everything strawberry! We even had strawberry mango pancakes for breakfast. (Not with the salsa though!) The grandkids were here for breakfast and we always dress up the pancakes with a little bit (a lot) of whipped cream and a few (a lot) sprinkles. Maybe that is why my grandkids say I make the best pancakes!

Here is the recipe for the salsa. Enjoy!

 3/4 cup finely chopped strawberries

 3/4 cup finely chopped mango 

 2 Tbsp finely chopped red onion 

 1/2-1 finely chopped jalapeño pepper seeds and ribs removed              

Juice of one lime                

NOW, here is where you decide if you want sweet or a little savory:

Add honey to taste for sweet 


Add sea salt to taste for a little savory                       
Serve with tortilla chips or you can also serve it as a garnish for chicken, fish, or pork

Pulled Pork Anyone?

Pulled pork salad made from leftover Apple Juice Brined Pulled Pork

The stars recently aligned perfectly for the most amazing string of dinners! We recently hosted a couples bridal shower for our son and his soon to be wife. They will be married in May and will blend two families into one big “Brady Bunch”. She has four kids, he has two. “Here’s the story of a lovely lady……” Now I bet that song will be stuck in your head all day.

We did a bbq theme with pulled pork sandwiches, potato salad, cole slaw, watermelon, and a s’mores bar for dessert . It was super fun.

Getting s’more supplies ready.
I cooked the pulled pork on our Traeger Wood Fire Grill the day before the shower. This is the recipe I used. They have so many great recipes on their site and so far every one is a winner. If you do not have a Traeger, I highly recommend checking them out. The Hubs bought it at Costco because he HAD to have it. Even though we have a perfectly good gas grill and at the time we had and electric smoker as well. At first I didn’t see why we needed it so desperately.

This is the model we bought at Costco.
And then I cooked on it! Let’s just say that I LOVE IT and we DID need it! Everything, and I mean everything, that I have cooked on it has been so so good. I have made ribs, tri tip roast, pork loin roast, pork chops, steaks, salmon, prime rib, roasted whole chickens, and I even cooked our turkey this Thanksgiving on it. Actually, I cook on it WAY more than the Hubs does. We even gave our electric smoker to one of our sons because we don’t need it anymore. The Traeger can do it all.

But, I digress. Back to the pulled pork. I made way to much for the shower. I am terrible at figuring out amounts of food to have for a crowd. I always (not an exaggeration) cook too much. I bought 28 pounds of pork shoulder for 30 or so people. I could have got away with about 10 less pounds. Hence, leftover pork.

Not to worry. We made more sandwiches for dinner one night. The really pretty pulled pork salad above for another night. Pulled pork tacos last night. And last tonight we used up the remainder for pork and cabbage (my favorite).

I served the pork and cabbage over brown rice with a side of the left over watermelon and it was delish!

Here is how I made it:

Pork and Cabbage Easy Style

Serves 4


1 onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 1/2 Tbsp grape seed or canola oil

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

2 cups leftover pulled pork

1 small head of cabbage medium shredded

Soy sauce to taste

Crushed red pepper flakes to taste

Heat grape seed oil in large sauté pan. Add onion and garlic and sauté for about 4-5 minutes until onions are soft. Add toasted sesame oil and pork and heat pork through stirring frequently. Once pork is heated through add the cabbage. It will look like a lot of cabbage but it shrinks down as it cooks. Continue cooking and stirring frequently until cabbage is cooked. Add soy sauce to taste as you are cooking the cabbage. Make sure to leave the cabbage with a little “bite” to it so it doesn’t taste soggy.

Serve over brown rice with a little sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes.

Enjoy! And check out those Traegers next time you see them at Costco!





Crispy Roasted Chickpeas from thekitchn.com

Oh my! These little nuggets. Add them to a salad, use as a topping on soup, or just snack on them. They are so tasty and pretty much guilt free. You will want to stock up on chickpeas. Trust me!

These are so simple to make and add such a nice crunch. They are also super versatile as you can add whatever spices you desire after you roast them.

I found the recipe here at The Kitchn. I just discovered this site and you MUST check it out. It has everything you could possible want or need to know on how to prepare great meals. Learn how to make baklava, how to care for your knives, five mistakes to avoid when making cupcakes, dinner for a crowd ideas, and so so much more! I’m telling you, this site has it all. I have a feeling I will be spending many, many hours over there at The Kitchn.

Here is what you need to make these Oven Roasted Chickpeas:


2 15-ounce cans chickpeas
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt
2 to 4 teaspoons spices or finely chopped fresh herbs, like chili powder, curry powder, garam masala, cumin, smoked paprika, rosemary, thyme, or other favorite spices and herbs

Get the directions here. And while you are there, get lost in all of the goodness to be had!

An Extra Tasty Cup of Joe

I get to see my grandchildren all the time. I go to their awards ceremonies at school, their sports games, and their piano recitals. Sometimes their parents drop them off for a couple of hours so they can go run errands or go out. Sometimes I pick one of them up from school and spend a few hours with them. Often I run into them around town at Costco, Target or the mall.

The other day I met my son and his kids at Target. They were getting ready to go on a little mini-vacation and the kids needed some shoes and sunscreen. I really enjoyed watching my very manly man son help his daughter try on the cute pink shoes she decided on. Reminded me of when I used to go shopping with my dad. Did you know that whatever you eat when you are out shopping with your dad has no calories? That’s what my dad always told me and who am I to question him!

After Target we decided to go get a cup of coffee at the nearby Starbucks. My grandson had been clutching a fistful of dollar bills as he was shopping. It was money he had received from the tooth fairy the past weekend for losing two teeth. I thought he was looking around Target for something to spend them on but he was still holding them as we walked into Starbucks.

We got to the counter and he said he wanted to buy my coffee. I asked him why and he said, “Because I love you.” Now, I could have told him that it was sweet of him to offer but he didn’t need to. Then he would have been able to save his money for something else. But I didn’t do that. We went right up to the counter and I ordered my coffee and he bought it for me. I could see the look of pride on his face as he paid the barista.

Let me tell you, it was the sweetest cup of coffee I have had in a long time. And I drink it black! I can’t tell you how much it touches my heart when I see my grandkids showing love to others through kind acts and giving. Of course they can get a bad case of the “will you buy this for me?” when we are out shopping with them and we sometimes  frequently give in to it. But when they show their generosity towards you? Heart melt….

How can you not enjoy a cup of coffee as sweet as that?



Mother’s Day Gift Idea. Personalized Recipe Towels by LindsayBurckDesigns on Etsy.

I love this towel! “Love a towel? you say. I say “Yes!” The reason that I love this towel so much is because the corn bread recipe that is on it is my Gramma Jessie’s actual recipe written in her actual handwriting! Every time I use this I get the warm fuzzies that remind me of being a child and being in the kitchen with my Gramma.

“Where did I get this towel?” you ask. I got it on Etsy at LindsayBurckDesigns. On her site Lindsay says “These beautiful flour sack towels are printed with a special image to honor your loved one—it could be a recipe, receipt or other memorable photo. The 100% cotton fabric towels have your image printed directly into the fabric, which means that the towels are easy to wash and iron.”

Photo from LindsayBurckDesigns

I bought ten of these from LindsayBurckDesigns and gave one each to my DILs, my sister, and my nieces and my cousin. What a beautiful way to honor my Gramma.

They wash up like a dream the image has not faded at all over the many, many wash cycles they have been through. And because they are 100% cotton they feel soooooo good!

These towels would make the perfect Mother’s Day gift for the special mom in your life who loves being connected to family.

Head on over to LindsayBurckDesigns on Etsy to check out how easy it is to order them. You will love them! I promise!