Thursday, May 23, 2013

In a lemon mood

Good morning Crushers!

If you knew me in real life, as opposed to blog life, you would know that I really like the color yellow. I wear it a lot. Yes, I realized that I wore it at the race and it made me look like a highlighter. Anyway, most yellow things make me happy: Post-it(R) notes, lemonade, sunshine, Julia Child roses, my first pair of running shoes, highlighters, my horseshoes, sunfish, and the sweater I'm wearing right now. One of my most favorite scents in the world is lemons.

We had a potluck lunch yesterday, and I must not be the only one who loves lemons. For the dessert section, there were lemonade brownies (need that recipe!), lemon cake slices, lemonade dip with graham cookies and I made lemon bars. Geesh! That's a lot of lemon! And it was soooooooo good...

Ever since we started having nice weather (which is GONE today - rain, rain and more rain), I have been hungry for lemon bars. They are the perfect blend of sweet and tart. They're a great addition to any cookout, too.

I have recently become a huge fan of Thistlewood Farms blog by KariAnne. I dream of a house like her gorgeous farm house. I'm also really excited to see what they do with the gate house. Have no idea what I'm talking about? Go read. I'll wait.

Back? Great! You love her mantle-scapes too?! I knew we were friends.

Anyway, just a little while ago, KariAnne posted about making Lemon Lime Bars. They looked so good that I knew this was what I needed to make for the potluck. There was only one problem. I failed to shop ahead and forgot to buy limes. It was also about 9:15 at night when I started making them and I just couldn't make myself run out to the store. Ugh!

Instead I just made lemon bars, and you know what? I left work yesterday with an empty pan! They were loved by all! No one knew they were supposed to be lemon and lime, so it was a hit just as lemon bars. Phew!

You can follow the link to KariAnne's Lemon Lime Bars (originally from if you want the full recipe. Or you can see below for how I made them.

Lemon Bars

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup butter, softened and cut up (that's a stick and a half)
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup milk (don't use skim unless that's all you've got handy)
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. finely shredded lemon peel
2/3 cup lemon juice
Gear you'll need: 13 x 9 inch pan, cooking spray (or use the butter wrappers), measuring spoons and cups, a big bowl, a whisk, and a hand grater or lemon zester.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat the pan with cooking spray or use the butter wrappers to grease the pan. In a big bowl, combine the flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch, salt and butter for the crust. Make sure you cut the butter in chunks for easier mixing. KariAnne used a pastry cutter to mix all of those ingredients. You could also use a butter knife to repeatedly "cut" through the batter until it resembles large crumbles. Or, if you're like me and don't have a pastry cutter or the patience to use a butter knife, make sure your hands are very clean and just dig in by taking large handfuls of the mix and squeezing it. Squeeze, and let go. Squeeze, and let go. Repeat that until you have the large crumbles.

Press the crust into the greased pan by hand until it is firmly pressed down. Pop that in the oven for about 15 minutes. It won't look browned when you take it out. Don't let that fool you, it'll be hot!

It's OK if it's a little lumpy looking. You'll pour lemon mix over it and it'll be smooth.
While the crust is in the oven, rinse out the bowl that you just used and dry it. Seriously? Why make one more dish dirty? Anyway, combine the lemon topping ingredients in the bowl in order. Eggs (whisk them), granulated sugar, milk, flour, lemon peel and lemon juice. Here is a tip about the lemon peel or zest: be sure that you are only getting the yellow part and not too much of the white of the peel. In order to do this, only make 2-3 passes with the lemon against the peeler in any spot. One, two, three and rotate the lemon. Repeat until you have enough zest and an albino-looking lemon. 
Another tip: be sure to keep your finger tips away from the grater or you'll need a bandage.
Normally, I'm all, "As long as it makes it in the bowl, who cares what order they go in?" But this time, I suggest that you really do put them in order because it makes stirring each thing easier. Otherwise, the lemon peel gets clumpy with the sugar or the flour gets lumpy. Ugh. Just do me a favor, and save yourself the aggravation! Whisk them all together and enjoy how your kitchen smells while you wait for the crust.
Once you pull the crust from the oven, pour the lemon mix over the hot crust. Don't let the crust cool! Bake for 20-22 minutes or until the lemon mix has set. If you take the pan out of the oven and the lemon jiggles when you shake it, put it back in for a few minutes and check again. The lemon should have an even creamy yellow color. If the edges are a little brown, that's fine! 
Fresh from the oven!
For easiest serving, let the whole pan cool overnight or for a few hours in the fridge. It will slice up a lot easier that way! Sprinkle the top with some more powdered sugar because it tastes good and looks pretty, or keep it more tart and omit the powdered sugar topping. Slice up, serve, and prepare to make more because these won't last long!

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