Sugar Free Lemon Sorbet

Last week, I made Lemon Sorbet.  When I told my mom what I was making she wanted to have some of it, but she can’t eat much sugar.  She asked me to make her a sugar free version of the sorbet.  I made it on the same day as the regular sorbet, but just took a while to post about it.

I haven’t used sugar substitutes very often so I was curious how it would turn out.  We have both Stevia and Splenda at the house that I could have used.  My mom prefers Stevia so I used that to make the sorbet.

stevia

The Stevia is supposed to be able to be used exactly like sugar, so I decided to use the same recipe.

I was worried when I first took the Stevia out of the bag.  It is much lighter and fluffier then sugar.  When I put the sugar in the pot of water, it sunk to the bottom of the water.  When I put the Stevia in the pot, it floated on top of the water.  I was concerned that it wouldn’t stir into the water correctly when I started to make the simple syrup.  However, as the water started to heat up the Stevia quickly dissolved into the water.  I stirred the water until all of the Stevia had dissolved into the water, making a simple syrup.

stevia in watersimple syrup

I juiced enough lemons to get 3/4ths of a cup of lemon juice.

juicing lemons

Then I mixed the lemon juice into the simple syrup, and put the lemon mixture into the refrigerator to cool.

After it had cooled for a couple of hours, I put the lemon mixture into my ice cream maker.  I made a smaller batch of this one then the regular sorbet, so it froze much faster.  I walked away from it for a little to long, and it froze more then I wanted.  However, that didn’t seem to affect the final product.

Because I overdid the sorbet in the ice cream maker, it didn’t have the same smooth appearance as the other one I made.  I am not happy with the way it looks in this picture.  I don’t have any pictures of how it looks scooped since I gave it to my mom and dad, and they took it home to eat it.  Both my mom and dad said it tasted good, and I just have to hope they are telling me the truth and not being nice parents.

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Sugar Free Lemon Sorbet

1 cups water
1 cups sugar substitute (I used Stevia)
3/4ths cup lemon juice

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the water and sugar substitute, and boil until the sugar substitute dissolves, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Stir in the lemon juice. Transfer to ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer instructions. When the sorbet has frozen (it will still seem quite soft), transfer to a storage container, cover tightly and freeze until ready to serve. The sorbet will solidify in the freezer.

-Joshua

 

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Lemon Sorbet

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Our lemon tree is going crazy right now.  The only problem with lemons is most people don’t want to eat them as is, they need to be made into something.  With a large pile of lemons in the house, and many more to come soon we had to come up with things to make out of lemon.  Lemonade is always a good option, but I wanted to do something different, something I have never tried before.

Since summer is fast approaching and the weather is warming up, I knew I wanted to do something cold.  I was thinking ice cream, but that can be heavy and filling.  I wanted to do a nice light summery recipe.  Finally, I landed on the idea of lemon sorbet.

I had never made sorbet before, but it was incredibly easy.  In fact, it is vastly easier then ice cream, and something I want to make again later in different flavors.

There are many lemon sorbet recipes on the internet.  I saw many that use lemon zest or peal.  I chose to omit that because I didn’t want bits in the sorbet.  I wanted it to be nice and smooth. My sorbet ended up being only three ingredients: water, sugar, and lemon juice.

The longest part of this recipe was juicing the lemons.  I doubled the recipe to have enough for all the family and needed to get 1.5 cups of lemon juice.

juicing lemonslemon juice

After I juiced the lemons, I made a simple syrup by dissolving the sugar into water.

simple syrup

Then I let the simple syrup cool to room temperature before adding my lemon juice.

unfrozen lemon sorbet

I put the lemon mixture in the refrigerator for a few hours to allow it to get cold and make the freezing process faster.  At this point you freeze the sorbet according to your ice cream makers instructions.

I did find that the sorbet didn’t freeze as quickly as ice cream.  I think I had it churning in the maker for 40 minutes, the ice cream is usually done in 25-30 minutes.  I think it might be because the ice cream I make is custard, and is rather dense.  That allows it to conduct the cold much faster.  The sorbet wasn’t much thicker then water when I put it in the ice cream maker.  The sorbet came out of the maker about the texture of a slushy.  I put it into a container and then into the freezer.

lemon sorbetscooped sorbet

I was afraid the sorbet would be hard like a chunk of ice.  Thankfully, it scooped very easily.

sorbet in bowlsorbet with mint

This lemon sorbet is quite tart.  It made my mouth pucker up a little bit, but it is so good.  It is the perfect mix of sweet and tangy.

The recipe will still work well halved.  I made a sugar free that was half sized.  I will be posting about that one later.

Lemon Sorbet

2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1.5 cups lemon juice

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the water and sugar, and boil until the sugar dissolves, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Stir in the lemon juice. Transfer to ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer instructions. When the sorbet has frozen (it will still seem quite soft), transfer to a storage container, cover tightly and freeze until ready to serve. The sorbet will solidify in the freezer.

-Joshua

The Mystery Dessert: Pavlova

The mystery dessert I was attempting to make was a tiered pavlova!  Unfortunately, as you can probably tell by my word “attempting,” I failed to make it.

Pavlova is a meringue cake with a crisp outer crust and a chewy interior. I have never had pavlova, but it sounded a lot like a macaron in texture. What I made was nothing like that!  Josh and I have been watching the Great Australian Bakeoff and pavlova showed up as one of the technical challenges. Josh wanted us to try making it.

Maybe I should have stayed with making tiramisu instead!

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I have had this compass forever. I used it to make  circles on parchment paper as a pattern for the meringue cakes.

I used a recipe from the BBC website. That might have been my first issue. I should have done more research first before picking a recipe. Finding a site that had pictures of what each step should look like would have been a big help to me. Pictures truly are worth a thousand words.

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Second issue: Hand whipping the egg whites. I should have used my KitchenAid mixer. I don’t know why I didn’t. Maybe I just wanted to try it the old-fashioned way.

I was doing fine until right after the second picture – soft peak stage.

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Then came my third issue:  Putting the sugar in. At this point was probably where I ruined the meringue. The recipe said to slowly add the sugar. It didn’t specify how slowly. I didn’t realize that it was supposed to be 1 teaspoon of sugar at a time! So of course, after pouring in about 1/4 cup of sugar at a time, I kept whipping and whipping the meringue and it wasn’t stiffening like it was supposed to.

I was afraid the meringue would “break” if I kept whipping it, so I just went with it as it was.

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As you can see, the texture of the meringue is definitely not smooth and stiff in this picture. It was very pudding-like and didn’t hold its shape very well.

So we ended up with 3 very large crispy meringue cookies. Fortunately, all was not lost and the meringue “cake” was still edible. We ate it for dessert, just not in the extravagant way I wanted!

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We smeared lemon cream on slices of the meringue cake for dessert. All of my kids except one loved them. In fact, I had to shoo them all away from the meringue crumbs on the baking sheet in the kitchen! The one who didn’t like them is not a fan of marshmallows, which is what these tasted like, so I wasn’t too surprised.

I do plan on trying pavlova again, but I won’t have time tomorrow. Perhaps on Friday!

The recipe that inspired us to try pavlova is here. I was going to have three tiers of pavlova, with the first tier having lemon curd, the second tier lemon cream, and then top off the third tier with mascarpone whipped cream and candied lemon peel.

There is also a recipe for a passion fruit tart on this page that I want to try once we have 20 or 30 passion fruit on hand. 🙂

To finish off the post, I wanted to write about how my lemon curd and candied lemon peel set.

The candied lemon peel is amazing, as Josh put it. I can’t wait to use it in desserts. My lemon curd did set, though it is probably not as thick as it should be. It will still be good for using on muffins, bread, etc.

lemonpeeljar

I think this jar will go quickly. And the syrup the lemon peel is in is a great addition to lemonade.

-Lynn

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Weekend In Review: Raised Garden Bed and Lemon Cream

This long weekend we were able to get a number of things done around the house.  I was able to concentrate on cleaning up a section of our yard that was looking pretty bad.  We have Yucca growing in our yard that is very large, some of the plants are above 30 feet tall.  Some of it had been growing over our the fence into our neighbor’s yard.  A couple of weeks ago they built a 12ft tall retaining wall with a 6ft fence on top of it.  To do this they had to clear the yucca which they threw into our yard.  That added to the plant waste already there and some construction debris from their wall made that part look horrible.

I was also able to finish building my 3rd raised garden bed.  I sort of eyeballed the first two and they didn’t end up straight.  Since they are concrete block and are glued together I am stuck with them.  I had already started the third bed, but wanted to make it straighter to my back fence.  I measured the corner of my original bed, and it was about 15 feet from the fence.  I measured 15 feet from the fence where I thought the far corner of the new bed would end up.  As you can see in the following pictures I was way off on the first bed.

I had to dig much more then I had anticipated because I was so far off.  Even thought it was only about a foot deep the clay in my yard is hard and takes time to dig.

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I made one big change with this bed.  I decided to use mortar to hold the bricks together rather then the construction adhesive.  The clay makes it hard to dig out a perfectly level area so I always get gaps. Using mortar I figured I would be able to fill the gaps behind the bricks to hold water and dirt in better.

For some reason I always end up with a dip in the bricks on the front wall.  Since it will hold dirt and water and I am never going to fill it to the brim, I really don’t care to much.  It is supposed to be functional rather then beautiful.  Putting the bed in parallel to the fence rather then just in an eyeballed straight line should help to save some space for future use.

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-Joshua


 

I have mentioned a few times that I wanted to make lemon cream. A few days ago, I was finally able to do this thanks to Josh’s help! He is very handy to have around the kitchen!

I used a recipe from Dorie Greenspan. You can find the recipe here.

I have made this recipe once before so it was a little easier for me this time around. The one thing I did differently is that I was actually able to get my mixture up to 180 degrees F! I think the last time I made this cream I only reached around 170 degrees F.

 

lemoncreamjar

I think I might have used up about half my butter stash on this cream. Fortunately, it was well worth it! The lemon cream in the jars is wonderful on any kind of bread and I have kept one jar in the freezer to bring out once the other is gone. I will probably do that again this time.

My lemon cream pie turned out as well. It actually stayed together when sliced. I had some heavy whipping cream left over from Christmas so I whipped some of it up into whipped cream to top the pie. I had some leftover store-bought pie crust in the freezer so the crust isn’t from scratch. Next time though it will be!

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I would have taken a picture on our blue gingham picture-taking cloth but I was in too much of a hurry to eat my slice of pie!

I think the next thing I want to try making with lemons is lemon curd. But I am going to need more butter for that!

-Lynn

Arizona Thanksgiving Vacation: Part 1

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving this past week! I have not posted anything in the past week because we have been on vacation in Arizona! We got back on Wednesday.

We haven’t been on a week-long vacation like that in about 3 years, so we tried to cram as much as we could into it. My mother-in-law rented a house for all of us – all of us being Josh, our 5 kids, me, Josh’s sister, her husband, their 4 kids, my MIL, and my FIL – to stay in in the Flagstaff area until Sunday. It was a gorgeous house with enough space for everybody. When we were at the house and not out and about, we never saw the kids. They were downstairs playing in the game room.

I was not able to get any pics of the house we stayed in from the outside but here is the link to the rental listing on VRBO.

5 bedroom vacation rental in Flagstaff

Our 3 oldest boys went with my MIL and FIL and 2 of their cousins early last week to the vacation rental. Josh and I followed with our 2  youngest on Wednesday.  My sister-in-law, brother-in-law, and their twins were about 4 hours behind us on Wednesday.

Our 2 youngest were so good on the long trip – about 7 hours. We left Southern California around noon and arrived in Flagstaff around 8 PM Arizona time. I didn’t get many good pictures during the drive there. Also, I didn’t realize how dirty our windows are!

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Sunset during our drive through the Arizona desert

The first thing we noticed when we got there was how COLD it was! It was probably 20 degrees outside! Fortunately, the house had a heater that worked great. I know I am a big wimp when it comes to the cold. I’m too much of a California girl.

For Thanksgiving breakfast/brunch the next morning, we had a Star Wars breakfast. The Yoda pancakes turned out looking more like puppies! There were also Chewbacca hashbrowns but I wasn’t able to get pictures of those. There isn’t much opportunity for pictures when feeding 9 children!

I also got zero pictures of Thanksgiving dinner, but it tasted great. We had our Thanksgiving dinner around 5, which actually made for a really relaxing time for my MIL, my SIL, and me. We weren’t rushing to get the food done by noon.

I was able to make my SIL’s incredible chocolate truffle pie.  Here is a link to the recipe she uses: Rich Chocolate Truffle Pie


Our sightseeing adventures would take up too much of this post so I will write about those separately. We also visited a few restaurants so I will probably post about those as well.

The day after we got home I was planning on staying out of the kitchen and not baking. After all, we had just spent a week on vacation and most of it we had spent eating too much food. But of course, I couldn’t stay out of the kitchen. So I ended up making lemon-cardamom cream cheese muffins.

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The original recipe is from Your Homebased Mom. I changed it quite a bit though so I’m going to go ahead and rewrite it for this post.

To me, cardamom is a strong spice, so I only used 1/4 teaspoon of it in the batter.

Lemon-Cardamom Cream Cheese Muffins

  • Servings: 12 muffins
  • Print

Ingredients:

Batter:

  • 3 Cups flour
  • 1 Cup sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2/3 Cup milk
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1/2 Cup vegetable oil
  • 2 Large eggs
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 Cup sugar

Topping:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 Cup butter, softened

Method:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius). Line muffin tins with cupcake liners.

Combine 1 cup of sugar and the zest of the lemon in a large bowl. Rub the zest into the sugar with your fingers. Mix in the flour, baking powder, salt, and cardamom.

In a medium bowl, stir together the milk, oil, eggs, and the juice of half a lemon. Stir the milk and egg mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened.

Using a mixer, beat together the cream cheese and 1/2 cup sugar until creamy. Gently mix half of the cream cheese mixture into the muffin batter.

Fill the muffin tins 1/2 to 2/3 full with the muffin batter. Spoon the remaining cream cheese mixture onto the muffins and press the mixture into each muffin with the back of a spoon.

For the streusel topping, combine the flour and sugar together. Cut the 1/4 cup butter into the flour mixture. Sprinkle the topping over each muffin.

Bake 24 to 30 minutes until golden brown.

A few notes:

Yes, it’s yet another lemon recipe!

These muffins baked up quite high for me. In fact, I ended up filling my muffin tins very close to the top, which is why they baked up so high. My kids loved the muffin tops though so this worked out well. Next time, I will use two muffin tins and see how that works with the rise.

My cream cheese filling ended up staying on top of the muffin instead of falling into the middle. I’m not sure why but I know my kids did not mind this. I think this might be part of the reason that they liked the tops of these muffins best.

 

I did reduce the sugar in the cream cheese filling and the streusel. I probably could have reduced it even more but I did want my kids to eat them. I might try to use a stevia/sugar blend in the batter next time I make these.

I added a splash of vanilla extract during the wet mixture process. Probably about a 1/2 teaspoon. Since I did not measure it, I didn’t want to add it to the recipe.

 

 

Breakfast and Tea Cakes

I took a little bit of a break from baking anything new for a week. So that is why I haven’t posted for a while! I am also without my two oldest minions (sons 🙂 this week who help me out around the house. Josh has been doing a good job though of taking over their jobs in addition to all the other things he does for me. I think I might keep him!

My kids were getting a little bored of breakfast cereal, (and I was too!  I am not a big cereal person, mostly because I can’t drink milk) so on Monday, I baked up some Lemon Crumb Muffins.

The recipe makes a large batch though, so I halved it so that it would work better for the 5 (currently) of us.

My attempt at food photography. It didn't turn out quite the way I wanted.
My attempt at food photography. It didn’t turn out quite the way I wanted. I was in a bit of a rush though so I couldn’t retake.
The best part of these muffins is the streusel!
The best part of these muffins is the streusel!

I think it has been at least a year since I’ve made these muffins. I really should make them more often since we have a lemon tree in the backyard!

I was going to try and make lemon cream on Monday too but I ran out of time. Lemon cream isn’t something that can be made quickly and does require a bit of planning. I might have to put that off until next week. Lemon cream is a lot like lemon curd but it is… creamier.

The recipe for lemon cream comes from Dorie Greenspan. Lemon cream does take a bit of work, but it is well worth it to us since Josh and I are a bit addicted to lemon curd.

Today’s bake was raspberry tea cakes. To go with our tea.

We have been drinking a lot of tea lately because of a recent electric kettle purchase. Before I go on, there IS a difference between boiling water in the microwave and boiling it in a kettle when you make tea! It is hard to explain but it seems like the water boiled in a kettle “holds” the heat longer than the water boiled in the microwave. Actually, this would be an interesting science experiment for homeschooling…

I have  a certain cookie cookbook that I pull out every year around Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s the Southern Living Christmas Cookies cookbook from 2002. Quite a few of my favorite Christmas cookies are in this book: wedding cookies, gingerbread, lemon bars. This recipe for royal raspberry tea cakes was in that book.

The dough was a little bit sticky, and the best thing about this recipe - no eggs!
The dough was a little bit sticky, and the best thing about this recipe – no eggs!
After baking. I was so so glad that the raspberry preserves didn't melt and run off the sides of the cookie. I am thinking that this is because the cookie baked up around the jam before it could melt.
After baking. I was so so glad that the raspberry preserves didn’t melt and run off the sides of the cookie. I am thinking that this is because the cake baked up around the jam before it could melt.
The preserves I used. The cocoa is subtle and not overpowering.
The preserves I used. The cocoa is subtle and not overpowering.

I thought the tea cakes were a little bit plain-looking this way so I mixed up a quick confectioner’s sugar glaze to drizzle on top. My drizzling wasn’t very good though so alas, I didn’t take pictures of it. The cookies taste good either way.

I have been having trouble staying away from these cute little cookies so I think had better stay out of the kitchen for a little while.


Josh and I are watching a new season of The Great British Bake-off and now Josh has come up with a fabulous idea for a date night at home. He was saying that we should find a recipe used on the show and try to make it together. I think we might do this with earl grey tea biscuits. It probably won’t be a recipe that was used on the show but the idea to make them is inspired by the show.

I’ve always wanted us to bake or cook something special together in the kitchen after the kids are in bed. Yes, it might make a mess and it might not turn out right, but that is part of the fun, right? 🙂