Barbie Butz is an independent columnist for The Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press; you can email her at barbiewb@hotmail.com.

The lights and outdoor decorations around town are spreading joy in a special way. The “kid in me” loves the lights on ranch fences, Santa on a rooftop, reindeer gathered in a front yard, and Christmas carols played near a nativity scene. 

We took our usual cruise down Vine Street in Paso Robles the other night just to look at the lights. It was beautiful. Be sure to treat yourself to that excursion.

Here in Atascadero you can check out all the holiday decorations around the area by securing a Holiday Lighting Tour map.

Go to VisitAtascadero.com/Trailoflights for location information. Hours for the tour are 5-8 p.m. and will run through Dec. 25th.

Getting through this together, Paso Robles

Don’t miss Holiday Magic at the Charles Paddock Zoo this Saturday, Dec. 18, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The animals will be receiving holiday gifts that have been crafted with care by the zookeepers and some very special elves. For more information, go to VisitAtascadero.com/events.

Mark your new 2022 calendar for the 6th Annual Atascadero Tamale Festival on Jan. 15, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. in downtown Atascadero. There will be over 20 tamale vendors, the famous Dancing Horses, and the Folkloric Dancers, along with the tamale contest and eating contest. Live music will include Mariachi Voces Tapatias, Los Gatos Locos Band, Steppin’ Out Band, Outlaw Mariachi, and Brass Mash. It will be a day of fun for all ages and is free to attend.

The recipe for this week is for a lemon tart, perfect for the holidays. You will need two 6-inch round fluted tart pans with removable bottoms.

Ricotta Lemon Tart

Ingredients:

2 (10-inch) store-bought pie crusts (I like Trader Joe’s or Pillsbury)

2 cups (1 pound) whole milk ricotta, drained of excess liquid

½ cup heavy whipping dream

2 large egg yolks

1/3 cup sugar

Grated zest of 1 lemon (about 1 tablespoon)

Grated zest of 1 orange (about 1 tablespoon)

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ cup toasted pine nuts

Powdered sugar

Directions:

Press the pie crusts into the two tart pans and set aside. In a bowl, whisk the ricotta, cream, egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest, orange zest, and salt until smooth. Pour the filling into prepared crusts. Sprinkle pine nuts on top. Place the pans on a baking sheet to prevent spills and for ease in removing from oven. Bake on the middle rack of a preheated 375-degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes until golden and filling is set. Cool completely before taking tarts out of the pans. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving. Makes 8 servings.

Note: Tart servings can be garnished with a few pieces of frosted fruit such as blueberries or grapes. 

Don’t forget to have a cookie party with your little people, but plan ahead. If you are too busy to make the sugar cookies, there are plenty of bakery cookies on the market. Holiday shapes such as stars, bells, and wreaths are available. Cover their workspace with a simple plastic tablecloth you can throw away after they cover it with icing and sprinkles! Line up some cheese spreaders they can easily use to spread the icing. Small dessert or salad-size plastic plates are great for containing the icing at each child’s station. Food coloring is a must. And, don’t forget to wear your apron!

Have fun and enjoy the rain when it comes, 

Cheers!