Fresh Lemon Bars

It’s been gray skies for a couple weeks, but my lemons are ripe.  They are little yellow reminders of warm sunshine in the midst of winter.   I made these fab bars this week, and will re-post this recipe for your pleasure.

lemon bar

It’s citrus season, and my lemon trees are loaded with beautiful, yellow gems.  Here’s a recipe for luscious, tangy-sweet lemon bars with a buttery crust.  Enjoy!

Fresh Lemon Bars
Makes 24 bars**

For the crust:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups (10 oz) flour
2 TB cornstarch
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. salt

For the filling:
3 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup (1 1/4 oz) flour
5 large eggs
2 TB fine grated lemon zest
1 cup freshly squeezed, strained lemon juice*

Preheat oven to 350.  Line 9 X 13 baking dish with parchment.  Blend together the ingredients listed for the crust until a crumby mixture forms.  Pat into the parchment lined pan and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.

While the crust is baking, mix the filling ingredients.  Begin by blending the sugar with the flour in a medium mixing bowl.  To this mixture add the eggs and stir until combined.  Add the lemon juice and zest, stirring until combined.

When the crust is lightly golden brown, pour the filling mixture onto the hot crust and put it right back into the oven.  Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until the filling is no longer liquid in the middle.  Remove from oven and cool until room temperature.  Dust cooled bars with a powdered sugar for a beautiful snowy top.  Cut into bars and serve at room temp or cold.  Store any uneaten bars airtight in the refrigerator.

* These bars may be made with any type of lemon, as long as they are good, fresh lemons.  I especially like to use ripe Meyer lemons in this recipe.  Fresh limes may be substituted, but decrease the zest by 1 TB and the replace 1/4 cup of the juice with water.  You may very gently tint the filling green if making lime bars. Just use a couple drops green food coloring if desired.

** for a 1/2 batch, use a 8 X 8 inch square baking pan, and halve all ingredients.

Spiced Walnut Cookies

Deeply scented cookies have a crispy/chewy texture and the rich crunch of walnuts.

(I’ve been on a spice tear after reading DUNE).  They are fast and easy to make and your kitchen will smell wonderful as they bake.  The key is the spice mixture:  heavy on cinnamon with three others to lend intrigue:  cayenne, allspice, and nutmeg.

A hint for best flavor is to make sure your spices are fresh. I use whole nutmeg and grind just before using with a nutmeg grinder.  Enjoy!

Spiced Walnut Cookies

1 1/2 cups (11 oz) light brown sugar
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) white sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
2 large eggs, room temp
2 1/3 cups (12 oz) all purpose flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 TB ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayennne pepper
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups walnuts, coarse chop

Preheat oven to 375.  Cream butter and sugars until combined. Add eggs and beat until fluffy. Combine dry ingredients, then add to butter mixture. Mix on low until just combined. Fold in walnuts. Place balls of dough (2 – 3 TB per scoop) at least 2 inches apart on your baking sheet. If desired, top each ball of dough with additional walnuts before baking.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, until the outer edges are lightly browned but the center is still a little soft. Transfer to cooling rack to cool.

Giant Cheesy Goldfish Crackers

These are the Goldfish of your dreams.

Giant Goldfish Crackers

Giant Cheesy Goldfish Crackers

Cheesy, buttery, smiling giant goldfish crackers.  Perfect for a special snack, as they are rich and addictively delicious for the cheese lover.

cookie cutter and straw

cookie cutter and straw

The key to getting the goldfish shape is to augment a diamond ring cookie cutter by elongating the round portion, and adding a dent in the jewel part.  To make the eye of the goldfish, just use a drinking straw.  And for the Gluten Free folks out there, this recipe works well with GF flour.   Enjoy!

Giant Cheesy Goldfish Crackers
(makes about 24 crackers)

8 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated and warmed to warm room temp.
8 oz unsalted butter, room temp
12 oz (2 1/3 cups) unbleached white flour or GF flour
1 1/2 tsp sea salt, fine
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper


butter and cheese before blending in food processor

In a food processor, blend cheddar cheese with butter until creamy and uniform.  You will likely have to scrape down the bowl a couple times to achieve the right consistency.

Add the dry ingredients, and combine in food processor using low power pulses until a dough forms.  Turn out the dough onto plastic wrap, flatten into a disc, then wrap and cool in fridge for about an hour.

Roll out chilled dough onto parchment paper, dusting with a little flour if necessary to prevent sticking.

Cut the fish shaped crackers and then place on cookie sheet.  Use a drinking straw to create an eye, and a sharp knife to cut a little smile in the dough

Goldfish, just before going into the oven

Goldfish, just before going into the oven

Bake for 18 – 20 minutes at 375, or until they are beginning to brown on the edges.  Cool just until room temp and enjoy.  Store airtight for best texture.

Cocoa Granola

True confession:  this recipe came about because I ran out of cinnamon.  This culinary constraint propelled me to create a new granola flavor — and it worked beautifully.

Cocoa Granola

Cocoa Granola

When you let this granola sit with milk for a minute or two in your bowl, the chocolate milk result is delightful — just like back in the day with Coco Puffs.  But this one is gonna be good for you with sustained, balanced energy, awesome fiber, serious crunch, AND chocolatey flavor.  Enjoy!

Cocoa Granola

8 cups (28 oz) rolled whole oats
3 cups (11oz) sliced raw almonds
1 cup (3 oz) unsweetened cocoa powder
3 TB vanilla extract
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) avocado oil
1 cup plus 1 TB (13 oz) honey
1 cup coconut flakes (optional)

Preheat oven to 300.  Heat honey in saucepan or in microwave until it is warmed through and is runny.

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, almonds, cocoa powder, and salt.  Add warm honey, vanilla extract, and oil, and blend until combined.

Line two large, rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.  Spread the granola mixture evenly onto the two parchment lined baking sheets.  Lightly tamp down the granola into the pans into even layers.  Bake for 17 minutes.  At the 17 minute mark, rotate the pans so that the pan that was on the top rack is now on the bottom and vice versa.

Bake for 17 more minutes.  You want the granola to be chocolate brown and lightly toasty, but not too dark.  Use your nose as a guide – if it smells toasty, then the granola is likely just right.  The granola will become crisp and clumpy after it is cooled.  Don’t worry if it’s a little soft when it’s hot out of the oven.  Allow to cool until room temperature before disturbing the granola to get some nice clumps.  Store airtight.

This granola is only very lightly sweet tasting without milk, and is best with dairy or non-dairy milk.

Sweet Potato Oven Fries

This side dish is super easy, tasty, and offers the rock solid nutrition of the sweet potato.  Toss julienned Bauregard sweet potatoes with a few key ingredients, pop in a hot oven, and voila!  Sweet potato fries.


Sweet Potato Oven Fries, fresh out of the oven


Bauregard sweet potatoes


Ready to go into the oven

The key to getting a little crispness to these fries without deep frying is to use a small quantity of corn starch in the coating of the sweet potatoes, which allows these moist, fine textured tubers to brown in the heat of the oven.  I love how the sweet, mellow flavor of sweet potato pairs so well with warm spice.  I use Berebere seasoning, which is mighty hot.  To tailor heat to your liking, you can use a bit of cayenne with cinnamon for great results.  Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Oven Fries

2 LB Bauregard sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into thick French fry shape
2 TB corn starch
1 tsp sea salt, fine
1/2 tsp Berebere seasoning or 1/4 tsp each cayenne pepper and cinnamon
3 TB oil (coconut and  olive oil both work well)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl mix together the corn starch, salt, and Berebere seasoning until combined.  Add sweet potato pieces and toss to coat.  Add oil and toss again to coat the sweet potato pieces.

Spread in a single layer on two large baking sheets, making sure pieces are not crowded.  Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until tender and browning.  Serve immediately for best texture.

Barley Apple Scones

I picked up a bag of barley flour at my produce market this week, and was curious about how this fine, whole grain flour would work in my scone recipe.  I prepared this scone with diced apple baked and cinnamon sugar.  A great combo!

Barley Apple Scones

Barley Apple Scones

I know that barley is a highly nutritious grain, with a gentle flavor — and that it is lower in gluten than wheat flour.  This has the effect on baked goods of creating a tender crumb, and less stretch in the dough — which can result in moist, but dense scones.  I think it worked nicely in this recipe – and hope you’ll give it a try.  Enjoy!

Barley Apple Scones
(makes 12 scones)

2 cups (10 oz) whole grain barley flour
1/2 cup (4 oz) unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt, fine
7 oz (a scant cup) buttermilk
1 apple, diced small

to top the scones: 2 TB sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon

Mix together the flour, salt, soda, sugar, and baking powder.  Cut the butter into the flour mixture until each butter piece is no larger than a pea.  Gently add in the diced apple and buttermilk.  Bring together the dough, forming into a circle of 3/4 to 1 inch depth.  Cut into 12 wedges.  Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.  Place the scones onto a baking sheet with space around each scone of at least 1 inch.  Bake in a 375 oven for 20 – 25 minutes.  Cool for a few minutes, then enjoy.

Pumpkin Spice Cake

Warmly spiced, moist, sweet pumpkin cake is a natural choice for a Fall treat.

Pumpkin Spice Cake

Pumpkin Spice Cake

This cake is fabulous on its own, or paired with whipped cream or buttercream.  This recipe works equally well using wheat flour or gluten free baking flour, and is dairy free, using creamy avocado oil instead of butter.  Enjoy!

Pumpkin Spice Cake
Makes a dozen cupcakes, a 9 or 10 inch round, or two 6 inch rounds.  Double it for a larger cake — it will bake up just a beautifully.

1 cup (5 oz) unbleached all purpose flour or Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves or allspice
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) white sugar
1/2 cup (4 oz) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) avocado oil
1 cup (8 oz) pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare pans by using cupcake papers, or oiling and flouring the pans.

Sift together and set aside the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat together the sugars, eggs, oil, and pumpkin.  Beat until some air is incorporated into the mixture – about 2 minutes.  Gently stir in the flour mixture, mixing only until combined.

Pour batter into prepared pans, and bake until done.  For cupcakes, check at 25 minutes.  For smaller layers, check at 30 minutes.  For a larger single layer, check at 35 minutes.  Allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and allow to cool completely on a baking rack.