The Tomato Head’s Lemon Bars

Mahasti presented the recipe for The Tomato Head’s Lemon Bars on WBIR this morning, including a tip that the restaurants are using today–you can make these Lemon Bars in cupcake form. Simply build them as the recipe describes but use individual cupcake forms for each one. However you choose to form them or cut the Lemon Bars, you’ll have a sweet spring treat that pleases.

No time to bake today? Both restaurants will be serving these Lemon Bars, so come on by for brunch, lunch or dinner.

Tomato Head’s Lemon Bars

For crust:
1 ¾ cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup powdered sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
¾ tsp salt
1 ½ sticks butter – cut into small pieces
Zest from one lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a 9 X 13 baking pan with parchment paper, making sure the paper comes up all the sides. If your paper is not wide enough place one sheet going lengthwise the cover that sheet with another sheet going crosswise – making a plus sign (+) with the paper.

Place flour, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on low speed. Add lemon zest and butter. Mix until the mixture starts to resemble sand. Pour entire mixture into your prepared pan. Press the mixture down with your hands until the crust is compact and fairly smooth.

Bake the crust in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.

For the filling:

4 eggs
1 ¼ cup sugar
3 Tbsp all purpose flour
Zest from 2 lemons
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup whole milk
1/8 tsp salt

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar and flour. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until well blended. Pour the filling over the cooked crust. Place the lemon bars in the oven for an additional 20 – 25 minutes or until the lemon mixture is set and starting to brown on the edges. Cool in pan for 30 – 45 minutes, then refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until cold. Gently pull on the corners of the parchment paper and remove the lemon bars from the pan. Cut the lemon bars into 1X1 or 2X2 squares, sprinkle generously with confectioners’ sugar and serve.

The Tomato Head’s Baked Beans

Along with Dogwood Arts Festival, the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon, and East Tennessee pollen, nothing tells you springtime is really here like eating outside. And with those picnics, spontaneous backyard gatherings, and the like, comes some traditional favorite, fun foods. By now, you’ve probably heard about Hot Dog Mondays at The Tomato Head, and our recipe for Baked Beans is a perfect complement for serving hot dogs at home.

Mahasti presented this recipe on WBIR this morning, and also shared a great dog assembly–chopped lettuce, baked beans, cheddar and daikon slaw. We’re not offering it in the restaurants today, but we will be featuring it on Monday, for Hot Dog Mondays. Even better, when you order up your dog on Monday, know that you’re not only eating well, but doing good at the same time. For the remainder of April, and potentially longer, we’ll be donating 10% of our Monday sales to Japan Relief efforts (Doctors Without Borders and UNICEF).

So, give these Baked Beans a try in your own kitchen, and come Monday, swing by and try ’em on our Hot Dog special. We promise they’ll make your Monday much, much better. Woof!

Tomato Head’s Baked Beans

3 cups navy beans, looked and soaked overnight
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup ketchup
1 Tbsp light brown sugar
½ cup molasses
2 cups tomato sauce
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp Chipotle Tabasco sauce, optional

Drain and rinse the beans. Place the beans in a large pot with 2 inches of water to cover and cook over medium heat for 30 – 40 minutes, or until soft.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Once again drain the beans. Place the beans in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and stir together until well mixed. Pour the beans into a 3 quart casserole dish. Bake for 1 hour.

The Tomato Head’s Tennessee Mud Pie

This week Mahasti was really wanting to do something in the fun spirit of Tennessee. Inspired by the spring rains and the swollen, silt-churned Tennessee river, she presented another original, The Tomato Head’s Tennessee Mud Pie, on WBIR this morning. While the kids muck it up in the yard with their down and dirty mud pies, sneak inside and give this version a try. Come snack time, we guarantee this one will win the day with plenty to spare for dinner dessert.

Of course, if you’d rather, we’ll be serving our Tennessee Mud Pie in both restaurants today. Order up a slice of pure and sweet Tennessee.

The Tomato Head’s Tennessee Mud Pie

For the Crust:

20 Oreo cookies
1 Tbsp melted butter
(or 1 prepared chocolate crust)

Place the Oreos in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the cookies until fine. Add the melted butter and process until the cookie crumbs are evenly coated.

Press the cookie crumbs evenly into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Refrigerate the crust while making the filling.

For the Filling:

1 stick unsalted butter
6 oz bittersweet chocolate
2 tsp instant coffee
3 Tbsp sour cream
½ cup sugar
3 eggs
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 Moon Pies

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl, set over a pot of barely simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate. When the chocolate has melted completely remove the bowl from the heat. Allow chocolate to cool for 10 – 15 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until all the ingredients are incorporated.

Cut each of the Moon Pies into 6 equal triangles. Place the cut Moon Pies in the bottom of the chocolate crust and cover with the chocolate filling.

Bake the pie for 30 – 35 minutes or until the filling is puffed up and cracked. Allow the mud pie to cool completely on a rack. Serve the pie warm or at room temperature with some whipped cream or ice cream.

A Soup to Celebrate Spring

You can’t deny the crocus, daffodils, Bradford pears, rain and robins. Spring is here. And with spring comes a new season in the kitchen. As your cravings begin to seek out new seasonal flavors, this soup, Carrot Orange topped with cranberry mint crema, may be just the thing to celebrate these early days of spring.

Mahasti presented the recipe on WBIR this morning, but if you missed the show, now worries. We’ll be serving it at both restaurants today. Enjoy!

Tomato Head’s Carrot Orange Soup topped with Cranberry Mint Crema

For the Soup:
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
½ cup onion, diced
4 cups carrots, peeled and sliced
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 -3 inch strip of orange zest
3.25 cups water
½ cup orange juice
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground coriander
1 Tbsp light brown sugar
½ cup sour cream
½ cup heavy cream

Heat the oil in a medium sauce over medium heat. Add ginger, carrots, orange zest, water and orange juice to pan. Bring the mixture to boil, then reduce heat, and simmer 15 – 20 minutes or until carrots are soft. Remove from heat. Add remaining ingredients.

If using an immersion blender – blend soup till smooth. Serve immediately topped with cranberry mint crema. If using an upright blender – allow soup to cool (see note). Blend soup in 2 batches – heat before serving.

Note: blending hot ingredients in a traditional upright blender can cause severe burns. Make sure your soup is at room temperature before blending.

For the Cranberry Mint Crema:
½ cup sour cream
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
3 Tbsp heavy cream
1/8 tsp salt

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Tomato Head’s Chocolate Pudding

Mahasti will be on WBIR this morning, around 8:15ish, showing how she makes (and how you can make) Tomato Head’s chocolate pudding. It’s another one of those comfort food sweets that made with the right ingredients and love can become a decadent little treat.

Both restaurants will be serving this special dessert today, atop a heated chocolate chip cookie and topped with a dollop of fresh whipped cream – topped with chocolate pudding and whipped cream.

Get your spoons ready!

Tomato Head’s Chocolate Pudding
1 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
2 Tbsp Cornstarch
2/3 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
3 egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 tsp vanilla extract

Place milk and ½ cup heavy cream in a medium stainless steel sauce pan, over low heat. Melt chocolate by placing it in a small bowl over a pot of boiling water. When chocolate has melted completely, remove from heat and add it to the milk and heavy cream mixture.

Sift cocoa powder and mix with cornstarch, sugar and salt. Add ½ cup heavy cream and eggs yolks – whisk well. Temper the eggs by adding a little of the chocolate milk to the egg mixture and whisking constantly. Gradually add the egg mixture into the milk on the stove, whisking constantly. Keep the heat on low and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture gets thick and coats the back of the spoon.

Remove the pudding from the heat and pass through a sieve into a medium metal or glass bowl. Serve warm or cover the surface of the pudding directly with saran wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Serve with chocolate chip cookies and whipping cream.

The Tomato Head’s Super Bowl Chicken Taquitos

In preparation for the big game tomorrow, Mahasti presented the recipe and method for making The Tomato Head’s Chicken Taquitos on WBIR this morning. What is a taquito? It’s basically a fried burrito, and they are basically delicious.

If you know you’re going to be in a rush you can shave some time by purchasing a rotisserie chicken instead of cooking the chicken yourself. Mahasti also discovered that Frontera brand  enchilada sauce was a good match for this recipe, which can be another time saver. For salsa, buy your store favorite, make your favorite from scratch or purchase some of Tomato Head’s salsa to go.

Both restaurants will be serving these special taquitos today and a vegetarian version will also be available.

Remember last year’s recipe for Super Bowl Sunday 7-Layer Dip? It’s another classic addition to any super-snacking event. No time to cook and want something really special to serve? Check out the Tomato Head’s Super Bowl Snacks to-go.

The Tomato Head’s Chicken Taquitos

4 cups of cooked chicken, diced or shredded
3/4 cup Frontera brand enchilada sauce, or enchilada sauce of your choice
1/2 cup sour cream
Shredded Monterey jack cheese
10 – 12 (8 inch) flour tortillas
Vegetable oil for frying

Mix cooked chicken, enchilada sauce and sour cream together well. Place one flour tortilla on your
work surface – fill with 1/3 cup of chicken mixture and ¼ cup of shredded cheese. Roll tortilla up while
tucking in the ends and secure the tortilla with toothpicks. Repeat this process until all tortillas are

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

In a large skillet, over medium high heat, heat ¼ inch of oil. Dip one tortilla into the oil, if it sizzles you are ready to fry. Using tongs, place the taquitos seam side down in the oil and fry, turning them
periodically, until they are golden brown, about 4 minutes. Drain cooked taquitos on paper towel and
place in oven while you continue frying the rest of the tquitos.

Remove the toothpicks and serve hot with your favorite salsa.

Yields 10 – 12 taquitos

Banana Pudding…need we say more?

Every time we make up a batch of banana pudding it’s like everyone’s inner kid comes out to play. Some folks love the vanilla wafers, others seek out the chunks of banana, and still others crave the creamy custard. No matter what ingredient is a person’s favorite, banana pudding is just one of those desserts that people love, in a step-aside-I-need-a-spoon-now kind of way. Below, Mahasti shares The Tomato Head’s recipe for this beloved treat. Enjoy!

Tomato Head’s Banana Pudding

For the Custard:

5 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ tsp salt
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp butter

Place milk and heavy cream in a medium stainless saucepan over medium low heat. While the milk is heating in a small mixing bowl, mix together the yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Whisking constantly, gradually add 1 cup of the warm milk to the egg mixture. Now pour the egg mixture into the remaining milk on the stove. Whisk constantly until mixture thickens and gets glossy. Remove the custard from the heat, add the vanilla and butter and whisk until the butter has melted completely. Pass the custard through a sieve into a medium bowl. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly on top of the custard and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

For Whipped Cream :

1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp confectioners’ sugar

Beat the heavy cream and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer until soft peaks form.

To assemble the Banana Pudding:

Vanilla wafers
3-4 medium bananas
½ tsp fresh lemon juice

Peel and slice the bananas into a small bowl. Toss the bananas with the lemon juice and toss them (this will keep the bananas from turning brown). Arrange up to eight 6 or 8 oz cups on your work surface. Place 2-3 vanilla wafers in each cup. Top the vanilla wafers with ¼ cup of sliced bananas followed by 1 or 2 more wafers then ¼ cup of cooled custard. Top with 1 Tbsp of whipped cream. Decorate the top of each pudding with a perfectly round vanilla wafer.

This recipe makes 6-8 individual puddings.

Tomato Head’s White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

Perfect for the winter holidays in both color (deep, red cranberries & bright, white chocolate) and in taste, White Chocolate Cranberry cookies are easy to make. The cookie dough also freezes well, so you can make more than enough and have extra on hand to bake for drop-by visitors and friends. They’re a proven favorite at The Tomato Head.


2.25 sticks butter, room temperature

¾ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup light brown sugar, packed

1 egg, room temperature

1 tsp vanilla

2.5 cups flour

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp baking powder

2 cups dried cranberries

1 cup white chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift flour, baking soda and baking powder and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer, on medium speed, beat the butter till creamy. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy (2 – 3 minutes). Add the egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add ½ of the flour mixture and beat on low speed until incorporated. Add remaining flour and beat until incorporated. Add the cranberries and white chocolate chips and beat until evenly distributed. If using a hand mixer fold the cranberries and chocolate chips in with a wooden spoon until evenly distributed.

Using an ice cream scoop, scoop the cookie dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet leaving 2 inches between each cookie. Lightly flatten each cookie with the palm of your hand. Bake on the middle rack of your oven for 12 – 15 minutes depending on the size of your cookies. For a softer cookie bake less and for a crunchier cookie bake a little longer.

Makes 24 cookies or more depending on size.

Note: You can scoop the cookie dough onto a plate, and freeze. After the cookie balls are frozen transfer to a freezer bag. You can store frozen cookie dough for up to one month.

To bake frozen cookie dough balls simply remove them from the freezer and place on a lined cookie sheet. When the cookies have thawed, gently press them down and bake according to above directions.

Tomato Head’s Curried Lentil Soup

Whenever the restaurant makes its Curried Lentil Soup, a customer will come asking, “can I have the recipe?” It’s an ideal soup for this season and Mahasti is excited about sharing the recipe. She’ll be presenting it this morning, Saturday, November 6th, on WBIR around 8:15-ish.

Also, both Knoxville and Maryville restaurants will be featuring the soup today. So…tune in and taste up!

Tomato Head’s Curried Lentil Soup

½ cup onion, finely diced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 lb dried lentils, looked over for rocks
1.5 cups carrot, peeled and sliced
1.5 cup fresh spinach, chopped
8 cups water
1.5 tbsp curry powder
2 tsp. salt
¼ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

Heat the oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until translucent. Add garlic and sauté one minute longer. Add carrots, lentils, spinach, and water. Bring mixture to boil, then reduce heat and allow soup to simmer for 35 – 40 minutes or until lentils are soft. Add curry powder, salt, and cayenne pepper.

Serve hot with fresh bread.

Yields 8 cups of soup.
Serves 6 – 8

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