Monthly Archives: July 2014

Lemon Bars with Thyme Crust

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I have been apprenticing at Just Simply Cuisine since January, and it has really been such an impactful experience. Chris Coppola is one of the best home cooks and I’ve learned endless tips and tricks from her. One of her best tricks is to store your fresh herbs in jars of water in your fridge. Honestly my herbs have outlasted everything from pad thai left overs, to horse radish hummus- really the works. My fridge looks like an overgrown garden and at the request of my roommates to tame the beast, I decided to put the herbs to good use in a dessert.

This Saturday I will be teaching her cooking class how to make Lemon Bars with Thyme Crust, and although I’ve been practicing, I have to admit I’m pretty nervous. I’ve made about a hundred squares  to prefect the recipe, so please stop by my apartment any time  and take them off my hands! My roommates are lemon squared out, so to the lobby  they go.

Lemon bars are obviously delicious on their own, but the thyme crust is a simple step that adds so much elegance. I don’t think any of my Oreo stuffed creations can be described as elegant, so I’m feeling semi sophisticated. Send good thoughts my way Saturday morning- screwing up in front of a big group of strangers does not sound ideal, so cross your fingers for me.

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Crust:
1 cup salted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar 
2 cups flour
1 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt

Lemon Layer:
7 large eggs
2 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons lemon zest
1 cup lemon juice
1 cup flour
Fresh thyme sprigs, for garnish

Lemon Glaze:
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice

 

Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9 by 13 baking pan.

For the crust, cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until light. Combine the flour, thyme and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Pour the dough into the greased pan and press it into an even layer. Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned.

For the lemon layer, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the filling is set. Cool to room temperature.

For the lemon glaze, whisk together the confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice.  Add more or less sugar and/or juice for desired consistency.  Pour glaze over lemon bars and spread with a spatula to cover evenly. Cut into squares and garnish with fresh thyme. Enjoy!

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Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins

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When your only grocery store options are the wildly overpriced Whole Foods and your corner Walgreens, a love affair with Trader Joe’s comes pretty naturally. The cashiers are usually all dime pieces, and they give out the most delicious samples. Just today I did a meatball tasting competition, and if you even had to ask if it they were delicious, you’ve clearly never been to TJ’s.

Whenever I want to bake but am feeling too lazy (let’s be honest, hungover) to do any grunt work, I rely on a TJ’s baking mix. This past weekend, after a particularly rough night singing karaoke, I picked up the coffeecake mix and a pint of blueberries. Can’t get much easier than that, and it’s about a quarter as much money as a reparative breakfast out.

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Rice Krispies Treats

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I often experiment with recipes, which can either end deliciously or with inedible crap and wasted time/ materials. I used to be bitter about failed experiments but after endless batches of failed bread puddings and cheesecakes you tend to get used to it. In fact, I just pulled a treat out of the oven that started off as chocolate chip cookies and ended in a dark chocolate, date fruit cake, so we’ll see how that turns out tomorrow. I ran out of butter, milk, and white sugar during the composition process so cross your fingers for me.

Rice Krispies Treats happen to be one of the sweets that are fool proof. You can’t go wrong melting butter and marshmallows and then adding cereal. And the beauty of Rice Krispies is that it allows some room for creativity. You can sub in Raisin Bran (although please don’t) and other cereals; or mix in sprinkles, chocolate chips or other candy. For this batch I stuck with two classics, Fruity Pebbles and peanut butter chip. Find the recipe here and feel free to express yourself through cereal.

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Espresso Brownies with Hot Chocolate Frosting

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For as long as I can remember I’ve always been obsessed with soda. It all started with the the invention of Pepsi Blue. I had never really been allowed soda before Pepsi Blue but for some reason was allowed to purchase this at any connivence store stop. Maybe my parents thought it was so disgusting and toxic looking, that we would be turned of soda forever. Or because it was limited edition, my brother and I would not be able to get addicted. How wrong they were. Nothing is more satisfying then drinking a liquid that closely resembles toilet cleaner in color, and battery acid in taste. Through my childhood this developed into a sickly obsession with overly sugary sodas. It took reaching the point that I couldn’t get out of bed without a Mountain Dew, to realize I needed to change.

Although it was hard to quit cold turkey, I switched my caffeine dependency to a healthier vice, coffee. I may over load my coffee with creamer and Stevia, but hey it’s better than Dr. Pepper right. I still have not mastered how to brew the desired amount of coffee, and decided to put the extra to good use in some brownies. As for the frosting, there are complimentary packets of hot chocolate in my apartment lobby. Best explanation I could come up with, but trust me it’s delicious…

Brownie recipe: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/deep-dark-fudgy-brownies-recipe

Frosting recipe: http://cookiesandcups.com/hot-chocolate-frosting/

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Peach and Asian Pear Upside Down Cake

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I always hate, in school or at a new job, when you have to play those ice breaker games and give a ‘fun fact’. In the moment I can usually think of NOTHING interesting about myself. While other people rattle off interesting facts about having three nipples or  meeting Kathy Griffin, I sit there trying to figure out the best way to escape through the window or will myself out of the room. And when my turn comes I usually say something along the lines of “I like dogs” and wonder if it’s too late to transfer schools/ changes jobs.

Before starting my new job I decided I needed to develop at least one unique quality. Instead of trying to pick up a skill or lie about being double jointed, I settled on this ‘fun fact’: my birthday is on national pineapple upside cake day. To you this might not sound like a ‘fun fact’ but you know what, neither is half the crap people say. And at least I didn’t have to develop a skill set or lie- that is the truth, straight up, no chaser.

This national holiday not only falls on my birthday but also happens celebrate my favorite dessert of all time. Pineapple upside down cake has been my birthday cake of choice since as long as I can remember…. chalk it up to fate.

This dessert is a season twist on the original, using peaches and asian pears, both of which caramelize with the brown sugar glaze so beautiful. You can find the recipe here: http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/upside-down-peach-cake

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Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

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Since I bake so often, and shamelessly self promote this fact, people have come to expect me to have baked goods in the house. But as I have a full time job, and a few roommates who drunk eat anything left on the counter, it’s hard to make time to bake extravagant creations and keep up with the demand.

That’s why I so often simply stick to my favorite brownie recipe and throw in some add ons- from fruit, to candy, to caramel swirls, to all of the above. In this version I stuffed king sized Reese’s Cups between two layers of brownie batter. The final project is irresistible and looks much more complicated than it actually is.

Favorite brownie recipe: http://www.amateurgourmet.com/2013/03/the-best-brownies-of-your-life.html

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Raspberry Lemonade Blondies

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When reflecting on my childhood, I always had fun summertime memories of driving to Sonic and getting their lemon berry crushes brought out to our car. Sonic is easily one of the most unrated chains in America. It perfectly captures our extreme laziness, even more overtly than the drive- thru. And who doesn’t like someone delivering Texas Toast via roller skates to your car.. Every true American likes that.

These raspberry lemonade blondies are in tribute to my favorite summer snack-  lemon berry crushes. Maybe not the recipe explanation you expected, but you can’t help where you get your inspiration…

Recipe for lemon bars here: http://www.the-baker-chick.com/2014/01/gooey-lemon-blondies/

Plus one cup of frozen raspberries.

 

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