lemon bars

A Meyer lemon is a wonderful thing.  As a kid growing up I used to eat them off of my parent’s tree in the backyard.  I’ve always had an affinity for anything sour, and thus my love of lemon bars seems like it would be a given.  Yet, most of the lemon bars I’ve come across are dry, crumbly, and taste very little like lemons.  This recipe is gooey, tangy, and most of all caries all the best qualities of lemony flavor.  I’ve even used this lemon filling for meringue pies and tarts because it requires no stove-top time.  If you can find meyer lemons, they’re even better.  Enjoy!

(From the Barefoot Contessa’s Parties)

1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
nocoupons6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup flour
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill.

Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.

Cut into triangles and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

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baileyscheesecake3

baileys-cheesecake1

One of my favorite things in Chicago was this little Irish Pub that made the best Bailey’s Cheesecake you’ve ever had.  Now that we’re back in Cali, we’re loving the sun, but missing ourselves some Bailey’s love.  For Saint Patrick’s Day this year I thought I would try to find a recipe to contend with my long lost treat.  From Leslie on Recipezaar, this cheesecake is pretty amazing:

Crust

1/2 cup toasted pecans, cooled and crushed
2 cups chocolate Oreo cookie crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons melted butter

Filling

2 1/4 lbs cream cheese, at room temp
1 2/3 cups sugar
5 eggs, at room temp
1 cup baileys original irish cream
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Coffee Cream Topping

1 cup chilled whipping cream
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon instant coffee powder
chocolate curls or Skor English toffee bit, for decoration on top

Crust:.
Mix all ingredients.
Press into a 10″ spring form pan and up the sides one inch.
Bake at 325 for 7-10 minute.
Filling:.
Beat cream cheese with electric mixer until smooth.
Beat sugar in gradually, and then add eggs one at a time.
Blend in Bailey’s and vanilla.
Sprinkle half of chocolate chips over crust.
Spoon in filling.
Sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips.
Bake at 325 degrees approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes or until puffed, springy in center and golden brown. Place a pan of water on bottom rack of oven while baking to keep it moist.
Cool cake completely.
Coffee Cream Topping:.
Beat all ingredients and spread over cooled cake.
Top with chocolate curls or Skor bits.
*NOTE: Be sure to make and refrigerate at least one day before serving.
If you have any leftover, little ramekins are a great way to have an individual treat.  Just stick a whole Oreo down in the bottom before you pour the cream cheese mixture over.
baileys-cheesecake2

biscuits

I think I made these once a month during a semester in college.  There’s just nothing like a good biscuit.  Enough said.

1/2 C.  Cold Butter
2 C. Flour
1 T. Baking Powder
1/2 t. salt
3/4 C. Milk

Pre-heat oven to 425F.  Mix flour, salt, and baking powder.  Cut butter with a fork or pastry cutter into the flour mixture until it resembles course meal.  Mix in Milk with a wooden spoon and then drop by the spoonful onto a greased cookie sheet fairly close together (so that they touch when they rise).  Bake for 20-25 min. or until golden brown.  (Courtesy of Williams Sonoma Baking)

By not rolling out the dough the biscuits stay tender and moist.

As many of you might have already read, part of my New Year’s Resolve was to tackle some of the simple things in life that have always been a bit daunting to me.  One of those things was homemade yeast bread.  Here’s a picture of a loaf I made last night of Pain de Campagne–just trying to stay honest.  Yeah, yeah, and the elliptical machine is calling my name too.

bread-champaign

As part of my New Year’s Resolution, I committed to master a few simple things that have always been a bit daunting to me.  Among those was yeast bread.  So, a few nights ago, I took a whole of 5 min. aside and made this bread starter.  It sits in the fridge overnight (or for up to 3 days) and is supposed to greatly improve the taste and texture of your final product.  Here’s what mine looked like.

Beginning:poolish11

Final:poolish22 1/2 C. (11.25 oz) bread flour

1 1/2 C. (12 oz) water

1/4 tsp. instant yeast

This recipe is taken from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.  Tomorrow I’ll post the Ciabatta bread that it went to on to make.

Coats, gloves, and the like are being pulled out of storage across the country, but not here in Sunny California. With weather still in the 80s, October has been beautiful. Yet, I find myself missing the more stark seasonal changes of the mid-west. Don’t get me wrong—Chicago I still far too cold (at least to not have more snow…the only thing that makes cold worthwhile in my mind), but I truly started to love watching the colors change and the crispness in the air. All that said—I’m ready for the fall…whatever that looks like here. So, as I say goodbye to what will probably be the last “warm” week of weather, here is a wonderful light cake from the Barefoot Contessa as my final tribute to the fleeting beauty of the sun.



  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the glaze:

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 (8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch) loaf pans. You may also line the bottom with parchment paper, if desired.

Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, and the lemon zest.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. When the cakes are done, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and set them on a rack set over a tray or sheet pan; spoon the lemon syrup over them. Allow the cakes to cool completely.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and the lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the tops of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.

We can never seem to finish a bunch of bananas in our house before they spoil. So the solution? Buy less bananas? No! Why waste a good excuse to make something fun (and tasty)?

This has hands-down been my favorite variation of the banana cake/bread/muffin since childhood. One of my favorite things to do is to make a bunt cake out of 1.5 recipes.

1/2C. oil
1 egg
1 C. Sugar
1 t. vanilla
2 smashed over-ripe bananas

1 1/2C. Flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/2C. brown sugar
Cinnamon to taste

Mix together first set of wet ingredients, then slowly add the second set of dry. Place in a buttered/floured cake pan (or muffin cups) and sprinkle the cinnamon-brown sugar on top. Swirl in with a knife. Bake at 350F for about 40 min (20 if you’re making muffins).