Archive for Bars

When Life Gives You Lemons….

Whenever I mention lemon bars, my husband tells me that he had the best lemon bar as a kid. My husband told me that before trying them, he always thought that lemon bars sounded like a weird combination of candy and pastry, and the thought of eating them sounded VERY unappealing.  That was all until he just so happened to try a really good one, that happened to be left in the fridge after a party.   He claims that no other lemon bar has ever been as good as that lemon bar.  My husband said that the bar was cold, tart and refreshing, and has not had one as good since, so I decided to try to recreate this lemon bar.

I found a great recipe in my Taste of Home magazine. It seemed simple, and I had all of the ingredients here at home (score!).  Plus, this hot Houston weather was calling for a cool, tart treat. Not only was this a super easy recipe that took no time at all to get together, but I also had the world’s cutest helper in the kitchen.  Maxwell loved helping mama pour in the flour and sugar.  It was so sweet to see him looking up over the mixer to see what was going on in that silver bowl.  Now, this would have been a beautiful picture, did Mama take one? UGH! Nope! For sure next time I WILL be taking pictures of my little man helping me bake.


After they baked and sat for a minute, we were unable to resist these cute lemon bars, we had to try them right away before they were even cold, and they were delicious.  We decided to try them cold too, and popped them into the freezer to chill.  They were amazing! The lemon layer was so refreshing and silky, and the crust was slightly sweet.  The crust made the perfect partner for the tart lemon layer. These are the perfect summer day treat!

*My husband LOVED the lemon bars.  His only request was next time to double the lemon layer, because it tasted so darn good.  :)


Bake-Sale Lemon Bars-Taste of Home (June/July2013)

¾ cup butter softened

2/3 cup confectioners; sugar

1 ½ cups plus 3 Tbps, all purpose flour-divided

3 eggs lightly beaten

1 ½ cups sugar

¼ cup lemon juice

Additional confectioners’ sugar

  • Preheat the oven 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar until blended.  Gradually beat 1 ½ cups of flour.  Press onto the bottom of a greased 13×9-in. baking pan.  Bake 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, lemon juice and remaining flour until frothy; pour over hot crust.
  • Bake 20-25 minutes longer or until topping is set and lightly browned.  Cool completely on a wire rack.  Dust with additional confectioners’ sugar.  Cut into bars.  Refrigerate leftovers.  (If you have any left!)

Quest for the Perfect Brownie

I am on a mission to find the perfect brownie recipe. My husband is a brownie fanatic. He loves fudgy, extra chewy brownies,cocoa brownies and his favorite ones come from a local bakery. Here’s the thing, I want to make him the perfect homemade brownie. So at midnight last night, I started my quest. Before I start, I must admit my sad secret……I have never in my life made brownies from scratch. Crazy, I know, coming from a girl who loves to bake.

Having recently discovered Rose Levy Beranbaum, I decided to try out her Cocoa Brownie recipe. (I am an avid visitor of her blog and website.) I followed her recipe to the T, even whisking the batter by hand and not using my trusty KitchenAid mixer. The only thing omitted was the pecans, because I did not have any in the house and I was not about to head out and get some at midnight. cocoa brownies with carmelTo add my own little flare, I added some Carmel Bits to half of the pan of brownies.

These brownies turned out wonderfully. They were very fudgy, cakey and moist. The brownies were not overly sweet or rich. Were they the exact match to my husband’s perfect brownie? No, but he still ate his fair share. These Cocoa Brownies are wonderful and will definitely fill your chocolate craving. However, I am still on the mission in finding the perfect chewy brownie.

Cocoa Brownies

(Rose Levy Beranbaum, Rose’s Christmas Cookies)

1 ½ cups-coarsely chopped pecans

14 tablespoons-unsalted butter

½ cup + 2 teaspoons –unsweetened cocoa (preferably Dutch-processed)

1 cup + 3 tablespoons-sugar

3-large eggs

2 teaspoons- pure vanilla extract

½ cup- bleached all-purpose flour

Pinch of saltCocoa brownies with c bits

Equipment: 8 x 8 x2 inch baking pan, preferably metal (if using a glass pan, lower the oven temperature by 25 degrees F.), bottom lined with parchment or wax paper, sprayed with nonstick vegetable spray or butter.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

-Place pecans on a cookie sheet and toast them, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely.

-In a medium saucepan or in a microwave-proof bowl, melt the butter. Remove from the heat source and whisk in the cocoa. Whisk in the sugar, then the eggs and vanilla extract. Add the flour, salt, and nuts and stir into the mixture using a large rubber spatula or wooden spoon.

-Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.

-Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. A wooden pick inserted in the center should come out with moist crumbs still clinging to it. Do not over bake.

-Place the pan on a wire rack and cool completely. Use a small metal spatula to loosen the brownie from the sides of the pan and invert onto the back of a cookie sheet. Peel off the liner and reinvert the brownie onto a cutting surface. Use a serrated knife to cut 2 inch squares.

3 cocoa brownines

God Bless You Mrs. Garten

While enjoying our first week of summer vacation, we decided to venture out to the good ol’ public library. Of course I managed to make my way to the cooking section. Completely surrounded by cooking books, I could barely contain myself! :) Immediately I started looking for my favorite food goddess: Ina Garten. Her recipes are to die for! I would give my right arm to be invited to her house in the Hamptons for any meal! (Ok, maybe giving up my arm is a little much, but seriously have you seen her show?!?) I nestled myself in a comfy chair, and was completely hypnotized by her amazing food ideas and pictures. So many recipes to choose from…

Having made homemade strawberry jam with my Mama over spring break, I have been trying to find a unique way to bake with it. I still had a couple jars of it taking up space on the kitchen counter. homemade strawberry jamWhile flipping through the pages of Ina’s cookbook, and trying not to drool, one stood out….Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars. This is a very simple and delicious recipe. They turned out much better than I thought they would. Imagine a ribbon of sweet jam sandwiched between moist peanut butter cookies, topped off with crunchy chopped peanuts. If you love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, you will ADORE these bars! The only thing I will change for next time is to add a little more jam, as per my husband’s request.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

(Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa at Home)pbjbars

Makes 24 bars

½ pound –unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan

1 ½ cups –sugar

1 teaspoon- pure vanilla extract

2-extra large eggs

2 cups- creamy peanut butter

3 cups- all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan

1 teaspoon-baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons –kosher saltpbjbars2

1 ½ cups jam

2/3 salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 X 13 X 2 inch baking pan.

-In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light yellow, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, eggs, and peanut butter and mix until well combined.

-In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture. Mix just until combined.

-Spread two thirds of the dough in the prepared pan, using a knife topbjbar4 spread it evenly. Spread the jam evenly over the dough. Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over the jam. Don’t worry if all the jam isn’t covered; the dough will spread when it bakes. Sprinkle with the chopped peanuts and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and cut into small squares.