Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Perfect Lemon Bars 5/5 Spoons

They really are perfect.

Perfect enough for me to be the only one eating this entire pan of lemon bars all by myself over the course of 4 days. I don't even care if no one else likes them, I LOVE THEM. I wanted something much more tart than the Buttermilk Lemon Bars I made previously (which are amazing in their own way). Baking Bites never fails to offer me a slew of lemon desserts. As I was eating these I kept imagining making them with oranges and limes and just salivating at the mere thought.

(Photos courtesy of Baking Bites, and they look way prettier than mine turned out!)

Although there aren't many, here are my notes:

-- I used 1/2 t. kosher salt instead of 1/4 t. table salt.
-- Once again, I didn't measure the zest, I just completely zested one whole lemon and added it in.
-- I used about 4 lemons and almost got a cup of juice. To supplement the little bit I was missing, I just added water. I wouldn't advise doing that if you have 1/4 c. or more missing. You can substitute orange juice if you have it, that would work awesomely.

My lemon bars weren't exactly "pretty" but whatever, they tasted amazing. I didn't bother putting confectioner's sugar on top because I wasn't serving them to anyone and I didn't want the added sugar. Speaking of sugar, I'm sure we all know by now that I'm notorious for downplaying sugar in desserts when I feel like it is just too much. Not this time. I am glad I put the whole 1 1/3 cups in because there is so much lemon juice to counterbalance it all. The nice thing about these bars is that you can have a small one (or three or four, not like I would do that) and be totally satisfied. So if you are a normal person who eats normal portions of desserts (nope, not me) then this will take you a long way. It was super easy to make and just tastes so phenomenal. The tartness of the lemons really plays nicely with the buttery shortbread crust underneath. They are a match made in heaven.

Up next, not sure! I haven't been cooking much since we have an out of town guest staying here but I will be back and ready to rock next week with all new recipes. Take care!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Tuscan Lemon Muffins 5/5 Spoons

.... and I come back with an awesome dessert. Whew! Scared? So was I.

My roommate told me the other night when I was making the totally average vegan brownies that I rarely ever make the same dessert twice. And he was right. I like to think it is because I want to try new recipes and techniques. The thing is, there are a few desserts I do make often enough to say they are in my repertoire. Vegan Pumpkin Pie, Lemon Poppyseed Loaf and Vegan Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls come to mind. So really, I have a theme here. I love pumpkin and lemon desserts enough to make them more than once. And this new dessert, Tuscan Lemon Muffins*, is no different. I've made these twice in the last week and they just go so fast. They are tender without falling apart. They have a nice lemon-y kick without being overpowering. The only fat added in is 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil. Wow! Here are my notes:

-- I cut the sugar down to 1/2 c. to make it more muffin and less cupcake like.
-- I would say I use about 1/2 t. kosher salt instead of 1/4 t.
-- When I zest the lemon, I just use as much as I can get off. I don't measure it. Since the zest has the most flavor, I use as much as I can get. And I don't measure the juice, I just use a whole medium size lemon.

(Photo courtesy of MyRecipes)

Really, I barely deviated from this recipe. IT IS THAT GOOD. It has a nice lemon flavor but with a hint of creaminess from the ricotta. They are so insanely tender that I can't even really believe it. I would love to make this into a tiered cake sometime and see if it works out. So if anyone wants a fancy Tuscan Lemon cake with Lemon Buttercream frosting for their birthday/wedding/bar mitzvah/everyday "I need cake" use, I can do that for a price. ; )

* Thanks to my lovely friend Megan for showing me this recipe. I now owe you one. ; )

Monday, June 6, 2011

Vegan Chocolate Chip Brownies 3/5 Spoons

Look above everyone! A dessert that I didn't absolutely love! Okay, well it was still good enough for me to be eating it for the last 3 days that's for sure. I honestly don't think I hate desserts unless they involve raisins, rhubarb or gelatin in some way.

(Photos courtesy of Go Vegan Meow!)

I just can never find a vegan brownie recipe that is to my liking. I want it to be fudge-like but not too sweet with intense chocolate flavor. I don't want it dry, crumbly or to be like cake. If I want cake, I'll make a cake. Really, that's all I ask. I will say that this recipe does make a great deep chocolate punch but I think that's mostly due to the fact that I used Ghiradelli chips (which are in my opinion, THE BEST that you can find at least in the grocery store). These were far too flat and crumbly without the oomph that you typically get with even a boxed brownie. (PS - I love boxed brownies. Don't hate. They give you consistent results every time and are a fudge-y brownie lovers dream.) So here are my notes:

-- The recipe is kind of confusing. She tells you to use 1 c. of chips (2/3 c. melted, and 1/2 c. chips added in). Certainly doesn't add up to 1 cup. I used those amounts anyhow.
-- I've been using almond milk now instead of soy and love it. I am a milk alternative convert!
-- I bumped the sugar down to 1/2 cup.
-- Instead of 1/4 t. salt, I used 1/2 t. kosher salt. I like the saltiness with the chocolate flavor.
-- And this was hilarious but I totally forgot to put the chips in at the end and I had already panned them, so I just sprinkled them on top. They looked really nice.

I have no idea how she fit this into a 9x13 pan. I used a 8x11 (I think) pan and still had to spread it out with a firm hand. This batter was not moist and wet like most brownie batters, this was firm like a cookie dough. It was weird but I went with it. These are okay. They have a nice chocolate flavor like I said before but they are not hand held brownies. You have to eat them on a plate or napkin because they crumble far too much. And for some reason, I find that annoying.

So if anyone can suggest to me a wonderful vegan brownie recipe, I would be way more than happy to try it out and review it here. Up next, another sweet, Tuscan Lemon Muffins!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Tera Needs Your Help!

"I've created this page because I am trying to raise money to cover Tera's vet bills.

Last week we learned that Tera has a mass in her abdomen. Today we determined that it is a tumor attached to her spleen, which could be benign or malignant. Either way, Tera needs surgery to remove the tumor. Otherwise, it will eventually rupture and she will bleed to death.

So far I have paid $400 to the vet for blood testing, xrays, and so on, and another $400 for an ultrasound. The surgery itself will cost $1800-$2200.

I am planning a fundraiser party, but if you are unable to come, you can still contribute to her vet fees through this page. I will also try to post updates on this page. Thank you!"

(I don't want to make a habit of these things because there are millions of animals in need out there but this a friend of a friend and I can't say no to that face. I spared you the photo of this precious pup, but you can see for yourself at the link here. You can safely donate money for Tera's cause and hopefully everything will work out okay! Thanks! And every penny helps!)