Lemon Bars in the Spring and Cranberry Lemon Bars for the holidays! With a bag of lemons and a large bag of cranberries on hand, I decided to make these delicious bars. I forgot to sprinkle with powdered sugar, but I was too anxious to taste them. They are tart with a burst of flavor from the cranberries. The bars were a real hit!
Cranberry Lemon Bars
FOR THE CRANBERRY LAYER:
1 (12-ounce/340-gram) bag fresh or frozen cranberries
Start preparing the cranberry layer: Combine the cranberries, sugar and 3 tablespoons water in a medium saucepan. Zest 2 of the lemons directly into the saucepan; reserve the lemons. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Continue boiling, stirring occasionally, until the berries burst and the mixture is jammy, 7 to 9 minutes. Remove from the heat and reserve.
Make the crust: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with one large sheet of heavy aluminum foil, making sure there are no gaps or holes, then generously coat with cooking spray.
Whisk the flour, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk the vanilla into the butter, then pour over the flour mixture. Stir until the dough comes together in a mass. Press into an even layer in the prepared pan. Bake until golden brown around the edges and dry and golden on top, 17 to 20 minutes.
While the crust bakes, begin preparing the lemon layer: Squeeze the juice from the 2 reserved zested lemons. You should have 1/2 cup. Squeeze the juice from another lemon, if needed.
Whisk the sugar, flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add the eggs and whisk gently just until incorporated. Add the lemon juice and stir gently with the whisk just until smooth.
Let the crust cool for 5 minutes, then spread the cranberry mixture evenly over the crust. Carefully and slowly pour the lemon mixture on top to create two distinct layers.
Return the pan to the oven and bake until the filling is set, 18 to 22 minutes. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack, then refrigerate until cold and firm, at least 2 hours. Using the foil, slide the bars out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Cut into 24 squares, wiping your knife between cuts for clean slices. If desired, sift confectioners’ sugar over the tops just before serving.
Harvest Bowl is one of my favorite recipes of all times. There are a multiple of flavors and textures to enjoy. I added bits cooked pork roast, a delicious addition. However, the bowl with a meat addition is equally delicious. The best temperature for serving is slightly warm. Leftovers are great for 3-4 days, slightly warmed in the microwave. This the first time I’ve cooked with fig jam and I loved it. For a different twist, it could be interesting to try apple butter. Anyway you make it, you’ll love it!
Wild Rice Harvest Bowls with Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette
1 cup wild-brown rice blend (I recommend Lundberg)
1-3/4 cup gluten-free chicken broth
3 cups 1” butternut squash cubes (about 1 small squash)
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/8 teaspoon each garlic powder, chili powder, cinnamon
salt and pepper
9 oz thinly shredded brussels sprouts
1 large or 2 small apples, chopped
3 oz white cheddar cheese, cut into cubes
1/3 cup sliced almonds or pepitas
1/3 cup dried cranberries
For the Fig Dressing:
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, microplaned or minced
2 Tablespoons fig jam
salt and pepper
Add rice and chicken broth to a small saucepan then bring to a boil, place a lid on top, then turn heat down to a simmer and cook for 40-50 minutes or until rice is al dente (verify liquid amount and cooking method with rice package directions.) Set aside to cool slightly – can be done a day ahead of time.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a half sheet pan with a silpat or foil then spray with nonstick spray if using foil. Add butternut squash cubes, 1-1/2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, garlic powder, chili powder, cinnamon, salt, and pepper then toss with your fingers to evenly coat. Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until squash is tender, stirring halfway through. Set aside to cool slightly – can be done a day ahead of time.
Meanwhile, line another half sheet pan with a silpat or foil then spray with nonstick spray if using foil. Add shredded brussels sprouts, remaining 1-1/2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper then toss with your fingers to evenly coat. Add to oven after stirring the squash then roast together for 8-10 minutes or until brussels sprouts are tender and golden brown.
For the Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette: Combine ingredients in a bowl or jar with a tight fitting lid then whisk or shake to combine (might need to microwave for 15-20 seconds to help melt the fig jam.) Taste then add more salt, pepper, and/or fig jam if desired.
In a large bowl combine cooked rice, butternut squash, brussels sprouts, apples, cheese, almonds, and dried cranberries. Drizzle Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette on top then toss to coat and serve. Leftovers are good for 3-4 days.
Zucchini abound this time of year as do my Sungold cherry tomatoes. Combine these two ingredients with basil, garlic, shrimp…WOW! You could easily adapt this to regular pasta, but why? I topped my meal with a sprinkle of Parmesan as well. Deliciouso!
Garlicky Tomato-Basil Shrimp with Zoodles
4 small, straight zucchini, ends trimmed
salt, garlic salt, pepper
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
5 large fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/4 cup + 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
1lb jumbo shrimp (16/20 count,) peeled and deveined
1 large clove garlic, minced
Spiralize zucchini using the fattest noodle blade then add to a colander set atop a bowl. Lightly salt then toss with your fingers to coat. Cover then place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour to drain excess liquid.
Add tomatoes and basil to a large bowl with 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil then season with salt and pepper, stir to combine, and set aside.
Heat 1-1/2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Pat shrimp very dry between paper towels then season tops with garlic salt and pepper. Add half the shrimp to the skillet seasoning-side down then sauté for 2 minutes per side, or until cooked through, then transfer to bowl with tomatoes and basil. Heat another 1-1/2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in the skillet then sauté remaining shrimp. When shrimp have 30 seconds left add garlic then sauté until fragrant, and then add to the bowl and stir everything to combine.
Meanwhile, remove zoodles from refrigerator then pat dry with paper towels. Heat remaining Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil in the skillet then add zoodles. Season with salt and pepper then sauté until crisp-tender, 2-3 minutes. Plate zoodles then top with garlicky tomato-basil shrimp and serve.
Peaches are one of my favorite summer treats. Living in Colorado, we are lucky to get juicy Palisade peaches in August, assuming there isn’t a hard spring freeze on the western slope. My daughters and I order a box of peaches from a local high school each year and they are always amazing. While I made my favorite peach recipes of peach salsa, peach raspberry cobbler, Dutch Baby Pancake with Peaches and raspberries, and others, I love trying new recipes. This recipe was delicious and I enjoyed it for breakfast/brunch and for an every dessert. You could top it with whipped cream or ice cream or even a dollop of Greek Yogurt.
Next time, I will substitute fresh raspberries for the blueberries, a fruit marriage blessed by the Gods! Perhaps I’ll also substitute almond extract for the vanilla. Now that’s living on the edge.
Peach and Blueberry Greek Yogurt Cake
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 oz butter softened
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla (or almond extract)
½ cup Greek yogurt
2 peaches sliced into wedges
6 oz blueberries (or raspberries)
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
Use 9×3-inch springform pan.
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Grease the side and the bottom of the pan with butter or cooking spray. Line the bottom of a 9×3-inch springform pan (or 9 inch round cake pan) with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper too.
Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, together into a medium bowl.
In a separate bowl, beat butter, sugar, and 2 eggs until very light in color and fluffy, 2-3 minutes on high speed. Add vanilla and Greek yogurt and continue beating until very creamy and light in color, for about 1 more minute.
Keeping the mixer speed low, mix in the flour mix until combined. Do not overmix.
Transfer the cake batter to the springform pan. Top with sliced peaches, and scatter blueberries evenly on top in the spaces between the peach slices. Sprinkle the fruit with 1 teaspoon granulated sugar.
Bake until cake turns golden, and the tester comes out clean in the center, about 1 hour, depending on your oven. Midway through baking, I like to put some extra peach slices and extra blueberries on top of the cake for prettiness, and return cake to baking.
When the cake is done baking, let it cool (still in the baking pan) on a wire rack. After cake has cooled for about 40 minutes, release the cake from the springform pan. At this point, if the cake is cool enough, you can slide your hand under the cake, between the parchment paper and the bottom portion of the springform pan and move the cake with the parchment paper attached to its bottom onto a cake plate easily.
If using a 9 inch round cake pan, cook in pan for about 40 minutes or more (up to 1 hour, depending on your oven), then invert onto a plate.
Grilled Steak with fresh peaches, gorgonzola and caramelized onions…oh my gosh. Every bite is a flavor explosion. For those that don’t like Gorgonzola, Goat Cheese would probably be equally as good (maybe with a few chopped pecans?) or just skip the cheese. You’ll love it, too!
Balsamic Steak and Peach Salad
1-1/4lbs tri-tip or flank steak, cut into easily grillable pieces (could use any cut of steak, really!)
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, divided
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 cloves crushed garlic
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 jumbo or 2 smaller sweet onions, sliced thin
2 large ripe peaches, chopped
4 oz. gorgonzola cheese crumbles
9 oz. mixed greens
For the Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1-1/2 tablespoons honey
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
salt and pepper
Combine 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, and lots of salt and pepper into a large Ziplock bag then squish to mix. Add steak then marinate for 30 minutes or up to 8 hours.
Heat extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, season lightly with salt, then saute until caramelized and soft, 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and turning heat down slightly if onions begin to color too quickly. Stir in remaining 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar then set onions aside to cool – can be done up to a couple days ahead of time.
Preheat a well-oiled grill over high heat for at least 10 minutes then turn heat down to medium-high. Add steak then grill for 3-4 minutes per side, depending on how thick your steak is, then let rest for 10 minutes before thinly slicing against the grain – can be done 1 day ahead of time.
For the Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette: Add ingredients into a blender then blend until smooth.
Divide lettuce, steak, caramelized onions, peaches, and cheese between bowls then top with vinaigrette and serve.
Simple combination with an explosion of flavors! I first experienced this appetizer (or salad) at a restaurant with my friend, Jan. It was amazing and, yet, so simple. It was easy to replicate at home with four ingredients: watermelon, goat cheese, pecans and balsamic reduction. Done!
Watermelon Goat Cheese Appetizer
Cubed Seedless Watermelon
Crumbled Goat Cheese
Balsamic Reduction (I used purchased balsamic reduction but you can make your own)
Thai food is a favorite, especially if it includes a peanut dressing. I love the IowaGirlEats.com blog and, again, this one did not disappoint. It would be a great side salad, sans the chicken, as well. It’s so yummy! You can make the salad, adding dressing only to the portion you are currently eating. This is a new favorite for my menu planning!
Thai Crunch Salad with Peanut Dressing
3 cups coleslaw mix (green cabbage, red cabbage, carrot mix)
1/2 red pepper, sliced into thin matchsticks
1 chicken breast, cooked then shredded
2 green onions, chopped
3 Tablespoons peanuts, finely chopped
3 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
For the Thai Peanut Dressing:
4 Tablespoons smooth peanut butter (I used Smucker’s Natural)
2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons warm water
1-1/2 Tablespoons gluten-free Tamari or soy sauce (dish will not be GF if using traditional soy sauce)
1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
juice of 1/2 large lime (slice remaining 1/2 lime into wedges)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
heaping 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, pressed or minced
salt and pepper
Add ingredients for Thai Peanut Dressing into a mason jar or bowl then shake or whisk to combine. Taste then adjust lime juice and/or add water to thin if necessary.
Add remaining ingredients into a large bowl. Drizzle desired amount of dressing on top then toss well to combine. Scoop into bowls then serve with lime wedges.
Lemon Yogurt Cake is a moist, delicious cake that can be served on its own or served with fresh berries. I must admit I messed up the recipe and it still turned out great. The recipe read in such a way that I thought the 1/3 cup lemon juice was added to the cake batter. Yikes! I quickly added another 2/3 cup flour to the batter and crossed my fingers. It turned out just fine and added more intense lemon flavor to the cake. I poked holes in the lemon cake (much like my Rum Cake) to assure that the lemon juice/sugar mixture penetrated the cake. I liked the result but that’s the reason for the holes in the cake. I added the glaze and had to take a taste! So, so good. I froze half of the bread and it was good as fresh when I pulled it out of the freezer.
Lemon Yogurt Cake
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided (reserve 1/3 cup for step 3)
3 extra-large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (reserve for step 3)
For the glaze:
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/4 x 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into one bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.
When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.
For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cake.
Vietnamese and Thai food are a favorite of mine and I was delighted to find this recipe. The caramelized ground pork is out-of-this-world and makes the dish. I also thought the caramelized pork would be great in street tacos (ok, so now I’m on to Mexican food). The leftovers were equally as good, warmed in the microwave. For those that do not like spicy hot, I was relieved that the green curry paste from the grocery store was not at all spicy hot, it just added the right about flavor to the dish.
Vietnamese-Style Caramelized Ground Pork Bowls
For the Quick-Pickled Carrots:
4oz grated carrots
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the Caramelized Ground Pork:
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1lb ground pork
1 shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
salt and pepper
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons fish sauce
For the Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice:
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
12oz fresh or frozen cauliflower rice
salt and pepper
squeeze fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
For the Green Curry Drizzle:
2 Tablespoons green curry paste (I like Thai Kitchen)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup coconut milk (I like full fat)
2 Tablespoons chicken broth
squeeze fresh lime juice
For the toppings:
8oz broccoli florets, steamed
chopped green onion
For the Quick-Pickled Carrots: Add vinegar, water, sugar, and salt into a microwave safe dish then microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved then pour over carrots, stir to combine, and refrigerate. Can be done several days ahead of time.
For the Caramelized Ground Pork: Place 2 layers of paper towel on a large plate then set aside. Heat oil in a large wok or skillet over high heat. Add ground pork, shallot, garlic, ginger, salt, and pepper (to taste) then saute until pork is just barely cooked through, breaking it up as it cooks. Add brown sugar and fish sauce to the skillet then stir to combine. Spread pork into an even layer in the bottom of the wok or skillet then saute for 2 minutes – DO NOT DISTURB OR STIR THE PORK as it caramelizes. Stir then spread the pork into an even layer again and cook for 2 more minutes, undisturbed. Continue cooking then stirring in two minute increments – leaving the pork alone as it cooks and caramelizes – until the pork is brown and caramelized. You may need to cook in 1 minute increments near the end to prevent the sugar from burning. Scrape the caramelized pork onto prepared paper towel lined plate to drain then set aside.
For the Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice: Get out a serving bowl then set aside. Place wok or skillet back over high heat then add oil. Once oil is hot, add cauliflower rice, season with salt and pepper, then stir fry until cauliflower is crisp tender, 3-4 minutes. Add lime juice and chopped cilantro then stir to combine. Scrape cauliflower rice into serving bowl then set aside.
For the Green Curry Drizzle: Place wok or skillet back over medium high heat. Add curry paste then saute for 30 seconds, scraping/flattening/stirring it with a spatula. Add coconut milk, chicken broth, and sugar then stir until smooth and bring sauce to a simmer. Turn heat down to medium then simmer until sauce is slightly thickened and reduced, 3-4 minutes. Squeeze in a little lime juice to taste.
To assemble: Scoop the Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice into bowls then top with the Caramelized Ground Pork, Quick Pickled Carrots, toppings, and Green Curry Drizzling Sauce.
Whoever heard of Sweet Potato Toasts? They are delicious! Making them in the toaster…brilliant! I love recipes from IowaGirlEats and this one did not disappoint. The only change I made was using Everything But the Bagel seasoning on the Sunny Side Up eggs and that was a game changer. I mentioned this recipe to a friend who suggested replacing the sautéed spinach with mushrooms…that is next on the list!
IowaGirlEats also suggests eating the sweet potato toasts with other toppings. I tried it with peanut butter and it was so good. I toasted several slices of sweet potato to use another day, storing them in the refrigerator. Heated up in the microwave, they were equally as good.
Sweet Potato Toasts with Eggs, Avocado & Spinach
1 small sweet potato, cut lengthwise into 1/4″ slices
1 giant handful baby spinach
evoo, garlic salt, seasonings (I used Everything But the Bagel Seasoning)
Add a sweet potato slice to each toaster slot then toast on high for the longest duration offered by your toaster. Flip and rotate the sweet potato slices then toast again on high and for the longest duration. If the sweet potato slices aren’t tender by this point, flip and rotate once more then toast a third time (might only need half the duration as previous rounds.) Top toasted sweet potato slices with avocado mashed with a little garlic salt then set aside.
Meanwhile, place a small skillet over medium-high heat then add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Add baby spinach then season with garlic salt and saute until tender. Place on top of mashed avocado.
Turn heat down to medium then cook eggs to your liking – sunny side up, fried, scrambled, etc. – seasoning with the seasoning of your choice (I used steak seasoning but garlic salt and pepper is just fine!) Place eggs on top of spinach then serve.