lemon bars.

January 23, 2014 § 4 Comments

Say hello to one of my favorite sweet treats…

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…lemon bars!

These are deceptively easy to make, even for a novice baker who is still slightly terrified of her mixer.  Ahem.

I am the kind of girl that reaches for the bag of chocolate when I crave sugar, not a doughnut or a cookie.  But when I do crave a baked treat, these lemon bars are it–I love the tartness of the lemon combined with all the sweet sugar.

I keep these lemon bars in the fridge and eat them super cold with a spoon.  To each their own!

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Lemon Bars

(I followed this recipe from Foodie Crush, except with regular lemons.)

What you need:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar (plus a bit extra for sprinkling)
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 2 cups plus 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups white  sugar
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

What to do:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a 9 by 3 baking dish with PAM or another nonstick spray.  Set aside.

In a stand mixer, cream the powdered sugar and softened butter until light and fluffy.

Add 2 cups flour and continue to beat until mixed.

Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and press it evenly into the bottom of your baking dish.

Pop the dough into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until it begins to turn golden.

While the dough is baking, beat the eggs, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest by hand or with your mixer, until blended.  Sift in the additional 1/2 cup of flour and the baking powder, and continue to mix on a low speed.  Once the filling is completely mixed, pour the mixture over the hot crust.  Put the pan back in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and allow the bars to set and cool completely before dusting the top with powdered sugar.

Cut into small squares–I was able to get nearly 25 bars from one pan.

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Yum, yum, yum….yum.

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m&m cookies.

December 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

I give you… a homemade cookie.

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Simple, right?  Umm…not for me.

My mom gave me her old Kitchen Aid mixer a few years ago and for the longest time, I was too intimidated to use it.  Just as I consider myself directionally challenged (very much so, eek) I think I also might be baking challenged.  Even if I follow a recipe exactly, I always feel like something doesn’t look right, the color is off, maybe they didn’t bake as long as they needed to, perhaps I used too much salt or accidentally added too much flour?  And so on and so on.  But I’ve finally realized that the only way to become less baking challenged is to…bake more often.

This past Saturday, I spent several hours in the kitchen with my mixer.  Flour was all over the place, and I’d used just about every utensil and baking sheet I own.  But the kitchen smelled wonderful, and the things coming out of the oven actually looked and tasted pretty good.  Maybe they weren’t perfect, but I was pretty happy.

These M&M cookies were the first treat I attempted.  I think this is a good “beginner” cookie.  Simple but yummy—and festive!

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M&M Cookies (recipe from Rachel Cooks)

What you need:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • one bag M&Ms

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What to do:

Measure out your ingredients before you begin.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt.  Mix well, then set aside.

Use a mixer on medium speed to blend the softened butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar, until it is creamed and light.  This will take several minutes.  Turn the mixer to a low speed and add the egg and the vanilla extract.  Continue mixing until all ingredients are well blended.

While the mixer continues on low, add your dry ingredients.  I added one cup at a time.  A dough will gradually form.  Turn off the mixer, and stir in the M&Ms with your hands or a spatula.  Put the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, minimum.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees!  Line 1 large or 2 small baking sheets with parchment paper!  Here we go!

Using your hands or a spoon, roll dough into small balls—each ball should be approximately one tablespoon of dough.  Line balls on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 12 minutes, or until edges have just begun to turn golden.  Remove from the oven.  Let cookies cool on the baking sheet or on a wire rack.

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Merry Christmas, everyone!

nutella-stuffed rice krispie treats.

December 11, 2013 § 3 Comments

People, people, people.  Do I have a treat for you.

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NUTELLA STUFFED RICE KRISPIE TREATS!

Yes, I said it.  Yes, I love Nutella.  Yes, Rice Krispie treats stuffed with Nutella are as awesome as they sound.

These treats are relatively easy to make, requiring just a few ingredients.  I whipped a test batch up on Thanksgiving morning and they were a hit!  Will definitely be making these again (and again) this holiday season.

Adapted from Half Baked Harvest

What you need:

  • 1 C (2 sticks) butter
  • 2 (10 ounce) bags mini-marshmallows
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 ½ cups Rice Krispies
  • 1 and ½ cups Nutella

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What to do:

Set out two 9 by 13 inch baking dishes.  Lightly grease with PAM or non-stick spray.

In a large, non-stick pot, melt butter over medium heat, until just browned.  You will see the butter melt and foam first, then it will start to brown on the bottom. As you see the butter start to brown, turn off the heat and add your marshmallows.  Give the mixture a thorough stir to coat the marshmallows, then return the pot to low heat.  Continue to stir the marshmallows for 5 minutes, until they are completely melted and smooth.  At this point, add your vanilla extract and stir.

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Once marshmallows are melted, it’s time to add the Rice Krispies!  Make sure the Krispies are completely coated in marshmallows.

Now the fun/messy part.

You will essentially divide the Rice Krispies mixture into 2 parts – 2/3 will go into one 9 by 13 inch pan, and 1/3 will go in another.

Press 2/3 of the mixture into the first pan, gently pushing it down to completely fill the bottom of the pan.  Press the other 1/3 into the second pan—it will not fully cover the bottom of the pan.  That’s OK!

Now, spread the 1 and ½ cups of Nutella on top of the Rice Krispies in the first pan (which contains 2/3 of the mixture).   I used a small spatula to spread the Nutella.

Let both pans sit for 2-3 minutes, just enough time for the smaller amount of Krispies in the second pan to firm.  Using your hands, carefully pull the Krispie mixture out of the pan, and lay it over the layer of Nutella in the first pan.  Press down!

Let the treats sit for an hour at room temperature before serving.  Tip:  I used a pizza roller to cut the treats into small squares.

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I also advise making these to share – otherwise the temptation to eat them all will overwhelm you.

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One last look… I can’t help myself.

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