My Foray Into Food Storage

A regular gal learning about Food Storage, Home Cooking, Canning, Gardening, and more!


5 Comments

8 Tips To Make a Good Lemon Bar GREAT!!

I cannot tell you how many times someone has asked me what makes some things I bake taste better than theirs when we used the same recipe. Over the years, I’ve learned a few very small things which a very big difference in improving the overall taste. 

Today, I’m going to share how to take a basic lemon bar recipe and make some of the best lemon bars you’ve ever tasted.  I made lime bars, because that’s what I had in my kitchen, but the same principles apply to any citrus bars.  You can use the recipe below for any citrus bar (lime, orange, grapefruit).  

  

First, start with a good recipe. I really like this one. It makes a very yummy lemon bar, and it contains very simple ingredients. My only complaint is that it is not lemony enough for me. I want my lemon bars to scream “LEMON” when I take a bite. 

Second, use high quality, fresh ingredients. If the recipe calls for real butter, use real butter.  If it calls for lemon juice, use freshly squeezed lemon juice rather than bottled.  This is particularly important in recipes with just a few ingredients. 

Third, zest your lemons and add it to your lemon juice. The zest adds that super lemony tartness lemon bars need to make them great. Wash your citrus fruit in your favorite fruit/vegetable wash, or soak it in some water with white vinegar before you zest it. Then rinse and dry it. Next, use a micro plane grater like this one for easy zesting. You can use a zester, but I really like my micro plane grater. I use it for many things in my kitchen (grating Parmesan, grating ginger, etc.), so it’s not a single use tool.  You can find these at many retailers. Amazon sells one here
  

Fourth, since you’re using freshly squeezed lemon, lime, or other citrus juices, make sure that you have enough juice. Some lemons have more juice, and some have less. The average lemon has about 3 Tablespoons of juice. Measure your juice after you squeeze it. If you don’t have enough juice, squeeze another lemon or supplement with bottled juice to ensure you have at least 6 tablespoons of juice (for this recipe). I know I said freshly squeezed juice is betterm and it is, but it is better to use some bottled juice and have enough than to have too little juice from fresh lemons. 

I use my favorite pampered check lemon juicer, but you can find these at Walmart, Target, and many other retailers. Even Amazon has one you can view here.  
   
   

Fifth, make sure that you pre-bake your crust long enough. It should be getting brown on the edges. This will give a nice flavor to your crust. 
  

Sixth, do not use a hand mixer to mix the custard for your lemon bars.   Using a hand mixer will make your custard a bit frothy which changes the texture into something a little less decadent. Use a whisk to combine the juice, eggs, sugar, and flour. 
  

Seventh, let your lemon bars sit for at least 12 hours before you cut and serve them. Sure, it’s difficult to wait, because your lemon bars will smell so delicious, but, if you let them sit, the flavors of the crust and custard will combine so nicely.  Of course, in my house, we don’t wait. We always eat some as soon as they’re cool enough for us to eat them without burning ourselves. However, when I eat one the following day, I wish I’d waited, because they’re so much better. 
Finally, dust them lightly with powdered sugar, but do not go overboard!  The sweetness of the powdered sugar is a nice counterpoint to the tartness of the citrus, and too much sugar will mask too much of the lemony goodness of the bars. 
  

(You may notice that my lime bars are really green. My son wanted me to add a little food coloring so that no one would mistake them for lemon bars, so I added with three drops of green food coloring and one drop of blue.  Be careful with your food coloring or you may end up with this on your skin.)
  

And there you have it!  My tips for the most delicious lemon (lime, orange, or grapefruit) bars you’ll ever eat. 
Do you have any baking or cooking tips which take a good recipe and make it great?  I’d love for you to share!

*** Please note that there are affiliate links in this post. ***

Advertisements


9 Comments

Oreo Truffles: They’re Probably Going To Kill You, But, Hey, It Might Be Worth It. They Taste SOOO Good! Or You’ll Die Happy…

Some time ago, my sister, Tammy, and I were talking about cake balls, which are a perfect circle of sweet goodness, and she said she makes “Oreo Truffles” instead of cake balls.  I am not too keen on using super processed, store bought cookies any more than I have to (and I rarely “have” to), so I filed that info away for later.

 

Fast forward to a week or so ago when I attempted and failed to make a chocolate ganache (see post here).  I signed up to help with dessert for a church women’s swim party, and I thought that chocolate truffles filled with ganache would be perfect.  And they probably would be…  If I could make ganache, which obviously I can’t!

 

Normally, this would not be a big deal.  I try something, I fail, no biggie.  This time, I committed to bring something delicious before I’d even tried it!  Oops.  BIG OOPS!

 

Thankfully, I remembered my sister’s “Oreo Truffles.”  I made them this weekend, and I was pleasantly surprised.  They were quite delicious!  And they were so easy!  Want to know how you can pollute your body with super processed Oreo truffle goodness?  Here’s the recipe.

 

Oreo Truffles

Oreo Truffles

 

Oreo Truffles

 

1 package of Oreos (about 30 oreos, any flavor)

1 package of cream cheese (8 oz)

dipping chocolate (or 1 c chocolate chips + 1 T shortening)

 

Crush Oreo cookies.  (A food processor makes this fast and easy!)  Stir in cream cheese (or add to the food processor and pulse until combined).  Roll into balls and put in freezer until hard.  Dip in melted chocolate and return to freezer.  For best taste, let flavors combine for 12 hours before serving.

 

Here’s my photo step-by-step.

 

I put Oreos in my food processor.

I put Oreos in my food processor.

 

Using the pulse button, I let the food processor "crush" the Oreos.

Using the pulse button, I let the food processor “crush” the Oreos.

 

I poured the cookies into a bowl with the cream cheese (softened).  Next time, I'll skip softening the cream cheese and put it in the food processor.

I poured the cookies into a bowl with the cream cheese (softened). Next time, I’ll skip softening the cream cheese and put it in the food processor.

 

Using a wooden spoon, I stirred the cookie crumbs into the cream cheese.

Using a wooden spoon, I stirred the cookie crumbs into the cream cheese.

 

Using a small scoop, I portioned the truffle mixture, then my kids rolled them into balls.  I added toothpicks for easy dipping.

Using a small scoop, I portioned the truffle mixture, then my kids rolled them into balls. I added toothpicks for easy dipping.  Next, I put the “truffles” in the freezer for about 3 hours.

 

To make dipping chocolate out of chocolate chips, I added 1 tablespoon of shortening for each cup of chips.  I melted them in the microwave in 30 second increments (stirring between increments).

To make dipping chocolate out of chocolate chips, I added 1 tablespoon of shortening for each cup of chips. I melted them in the microwave in 30 second increments (stirring between increments).

 

It took about a minute for the white chocolate chips.  The dark chocolate chips took longer.

It took about a minute for the white chocolate chips. The dark chocolate chips took longer.

 

Holding the toothpick, I dipped the "truffle" in the white chocolate.

Holding the toothpick, I dipped the frozen “truffle” in the white chocolate.

 

I let the excess chocolate drip off before placing the truffle on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

I let the excess chocolate drip off before placing the truffle on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

 

I drizzled the excess dark chocolate over the white chocolate truffles.

I drizzled the excess dark chocolate over the white chocolate truffles.  Then I put all the truffles back into the freezer.

 

The lovely truffles required only 15 minutes of prep time.  The only difficult part was waiting to eat them!

The lovely truffles required only 15 minutes of prep time. The only difficult part was waiting to eat them!

 

I made some of the truffles out of golden Oreos and the rest out of regular double stuff Oreos.  My favorite was the chocolate Oreos with the white chocolate coating.

I made some of the truffles out of golden Oreos and the rest out of regular double stuff Oreos. My favorite was the chocolate Oreos with the white chocolate coating.  Disregard the toothpicks I cut in half.  I removed them before eating.  🙂

This is not healthy, but it sure is yummy!

What’s your favorite “not healthy” treat?


6 Comments

5 Simple Ingredients = Super Yummy Shortbread

Don’t forget to enter my brand new June Tupperware giveaway!  Click here to visit the Rafflecopter page to enter!

 

Cookies…  While I’m not a big dessert person, I certainly enjoy a good brownie or cookie from time to time.  One of my all-time favs is a simple, butter shortbread cookie.  Yesterday, I needed to make some treats for a BBQ, so I decided to make some delicious shortbread.  What better way to have a cookie or two without being tempted to eat the entire batch over the next 24 hours!  I used Ina Garten’s recipe (found here).  I followed it pretty closely, except for shaping the cookies.   Ina suggested rolling out the dough and using a “finger shaped” cookie cutter.  I don’t have one of those, so I opted to go a simpler route. Take a look at my photo step-by-step to see it.

 

This simple recipe calls for only 5 simple ingredients: butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, and all-purpose flour.

This simple recipe calls for only 5 simple ingredients: butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, and all-purpose flour.

 

I took the butter out of the fridge about an hour before making the cookies to allow it to come to room temperature.  Then, I put the butter and sugar into my stand mixer and mixed until they were just combined.

I took the butter out of the fridge about an hour before making the cookies to allow it to come to room temperature. Then, I put the butter and sugar into my stand mixer and mixed until they were just combined.

 

Next, I added the vanilla and mixed that into the butter/sugar mixture.

Next, I added the vanilla and mixed that into the butter/sugar mixture.

 

Finally, I added the salt and flour and mixed until everything was well combined.  The mixture was a bit crumbly, but that is just fine.  It's perfect, in fact.

Finally, I added the salt and flour and mixed until everything was well combined. The mixture was a bit crumbly, but that is just fine. It’s perfect, in fact.

 

I laid out two long pieces of plastic wrap on my kitchen counter and dumped the dough on to them.  You can really see how crumbly the dough is in this picture.  But don't worry!  It really is exactly how it's supposed to be.

I laid out two long pieces of plastic wrap on my kitchen counter and dumped the dough on to them. You can really see how crumbly the dough is in this picture. But don’t worry! It really is exactly how it’s supposed to be.

 

I formed a rough "log" shape out of the dough.

I formed a rough “log” shape out of the dough.

 

Then, I wrapped the dough in the plastic wrap and smoothed the surface of the "log."  Next, I put it into the fridge for 30 minutes.

Then, I wrapped the dough in the plastic wrap and smoothed the surface of the “log.” Next, I put it into the fridge for 30 minutes.

 

After a little over 30 minutes, I removed the dough from the fridge, unwrapped it, and cut it into 1/2 cookies using a sharp knife.  You can use a butter knife, but they can flatten the dough a bit.  I find a sharp knife cuts without flattening the dough.

After a little over 30 minutes, I removed the dough from the fridge, unwrapped it, and cut it into 1/2 cookies using a sharp knife. You can use a butter knife, but they can flatten the dough a bit. I find a sharp knife cuts without flattening the dough.

 

I put the cookies on a cookie sheet and baked the cookies for about 20 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven.

I put the cookies on a cookie sheet and baked the cookies for about 20 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven.

 

When they started to turn golden brown, I removed them from the oven.

When they started to turn golden brown, I removed them from the oven.

 

I let them cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring the cookies to a cooling rack.  I put my cookies a bit too close together (because I didn't want to use a second cookie sheet), so I had to cut them before I removed them from the cookie sheet.  But it was very easy since the cookies were still warm.

I let them cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring the cookies to a cooling rack. I put my cookies a bit too close together (because I didn’t want to use a second cookie sheet), so I had to cut them before I removed them from the cookie sheet. But it was very easy since the cookies were still warm.

 

And, Voila! I had delicious shortbread cookies!

And, Voila! I had delicious shortbread cookies!

 

So yummy!  So simple!

What’s your favorite simple go-to treat?