Saturday, November 6, 2010

Perfect Lemon Bars (If I Do Say So Myself).

Since I've graduated and am working about fifteen hours a week with my part-time job, I have had a ton of time on my hands.

When I was first unemployed in the beginning of September, I kind of took it easy - I watched (too much) TV, and lazed around doing almost nothing - until that got really, really boring. I gained a little bit of weight from not really getting out like I should, and I just wasn't feeling good about myself, because I'm not a couch potato - I like getting out, going outside, doing something. I had sunk into a depression and was feeling bad about myself for not having a job, and for seriously spending every second of the day doing nothing productive.

I decided that job or no job, I was going to try to do something every single day, whether it was going for a long run, running errands for my mom, getting chores done, organizing my closet and donating things, job hunting (not via the computer), going out with friends, or cooking - I was going to have an activity to make me feel useful.

I really threw myself into cooking - I would tilt our TV so I could easily view it from my kitchen, put on a movie (like a cheesy Lifetime movie), and just start cooking (of course, as we began construction on our kitchen, I was forced into the second kitchen in my house, which is nowhere near as nice, so I had to rely on my laptop).

I have a bookmark on my computer called "Cooking," and I decided I was going to do my best to try to get through the folder before the new year. One thing in my folder was from Bakerella's website, with a recipe for lemon bars.

I LOVE lemon anything, so I was super excited to try these out. The idea to make them was actually super spontaneous, but it turned out great, because all the ingredients were things that we had on-hand (it's always so nice not to have to run to the store for a specialty ingredient!).

These lemon bars were seriously a-mazing. J and my dad both do NOT like lemon-flavored anything, but after I asked them to try "just a little" as my guinea pigs, half the pan was gone in an instant (seriously). My mother (who loves lemon bars) kept cutting off little pieces - seriously minuscule lines off the edge, and then would feel compelled to "even out the rows," by cutting off more. These things were gone within two days.

Amazing Lemon Bars
Serving size depends on the size you cut the bars!

Ingredients:
For the crust:
-1 cup butter
-1 3/4 cup flour
-2/3 cup confectioners sugar (you'll also need more for when they're finished so you can dust the top!)

Lemon topping:
- 1 1/2 cups plain sugar (I mixed 1/2 cup of white sugar with 1 cup of organic agave to make it slightly healthier)
-1/4 cup flour
-1 tsp. baking powder
-4 eggs, slightly beaten
-1/2 cup lemon juice (we only had one lemon in the drawer, so I used artificial lemon juice, which I didn't think would turn out too well, but it actually didn't make a difference!).

Directions:

1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F, and grease a 9x13 pan.

2. To make the crust, mix the flour and confectioners sugar together in a medium sized bowl.

3. Cut the butter into the flour and confectioners sugar mixture (you need a special tool called a pastry blender to "cut in" the butter, which I photographed below. Ours is from Pampered Chef, but I'm pretty sure you can pick them up anywhere!).

It looks like a ton of butter, because it was! This is definitely not a healthy dessert :)

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After "cutting in" the butter, it should be crumb-like in consistency.
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Perfect, crumbly crust.
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3. Press the dough mixture into the bottom of a pan, and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown (at 350 degrees F).

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4. While the crust is baking, start to prepare the topping in large-sized bowl.

5. Mix together flour, sugar, and baking powder.
This is totally not a paid endorsement or anything, but seriously - agave can be as little as $3 for a bottle, and is so worth it. You can use it in anything - in tea, when you bake, etc. and it is ridiculously healthy. It's definitely sold in Trader Joe's and Costco! (Our local farm sells it, but it's $10.50 there!).
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6. After you've mixed the flour, sugar and baking powder, add the slightly beaten eggs and the lemon juice to the mixture and mix well.

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7. Pour this mixture on top of the warm baked crust, and then bake for 20-25 minutes.

8. After cooling, dust the bars with confectioners sugar, and then refrigerate. (I personally do not love confectioners sugar, so I didn't coat the bars with it like Bakerella did - hers were 100% coated with it!).

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9. Cut into bars, and enjoy them cold!
Mine fell apart a little, but I could care less - they were sooo good!
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What online websites do you use for cooking?

You MUST try these - they are seriously easy peasy to make, and they will be gone in no time at all!

Currently: Being tres lazy and just laying on the couch catching up on Gossip Girl! Is anyone else SO confused by some of the plot lines this season? (But it's soooo good).

13 comments:

Sarah said...

Those look sooo yummy! I love anything lemon, thanks for sharing! I'm always on the Pioneer Woman Cooks, she has such great recipes! I also have a section of cooking blogs that I love on my blog, check them out! : )

Jenna said...

OHMYGOSH...These look SO good. And I totally hear you with the feeling like you have to do something. I kinda have the opposite problem, though. I would do NOTHING if I could, BUT the doing nothing makes me feel BAD about myself, you know? LOL...So, basically I make sure to exercise whenever possible, write and keep up with my jobs...at least during school I don't have the problem of too much time. But don't worry!! Take in this little "break" from everything and enjoy doing the little things in life. You just graduated!! SO MUCH HARD WORK for four years. Just enjoy life :)

xo,
Jenna

P.S.
I am a full two seasons behind on Gossip Girl. I do the weirdest thing...I don't have time to catch it during the regular season, so I buy the DVD set each season on black Friday!!! My Christmas Break? Oh, about 99% of it will be watching GG! LOL...

P.P.S.
I MUST see the preview for Just Go With It! I haven't yet...thank you for alerting me!!!

P.P.P.S (is that right? LOL)
NOW THIS might be the longest comment ever!!! :) Happy weekend!

Lindsay said...

I went through the same thing! Having no job is so depressing. I loooove Bakerella! These look so yummy. My go-to website for food online is food gawker. I love Annie's Eats too.

Annie said...

i have never had lemon bars but they sure look and sound delicious!!
blogs i love are pioneer women and annie's eats, i read them both daily!!

p.s. new follower! :)

Croatian_Latina said...

I'm never had lemon bars! But I will take your word that they are good, yesterday I made apple crumble it was so easy and yummy.

and I agree with Jenna, you worked very hard when you were in school, enjoy your time,cause life will be busy when you start working.

Couture Carrie said...

Yummy, darling!
Thanks for the recipe!

xoxox,
CC

Kristin said...

I definitely need to try these out for myself! I'm a total lemon addict!

Anait said...

These look SO delicious!! I'll have to give them a go this weekend!

Jenni said...

Ok, Allison? WHY did you have to go and post this. Lemon Bars MIGHT be my favorite treat, and now I am going to have to make these, and then I will have to eat them, and then I will feel like a fatty. Gaaaaarrr!!! HA HA jk. I really enjoyed reading this!! I know how you feel about the guilt/productivity thing. I experience that just about every day. My life used to be so VERY structured; I had deadlines, I had specific times to be places, etc... and now I am my own boss, and not a very good one! I am really trying to teach myself discipline!

But in some small way, this post inspired me! So thank you for that, sweet friend! :)

la petite fashionista said...

oh my gosh, so delicious! i feel your pain a bit too; i've been working less hours the past few weeks and i'm just not used to having so much free time on my hands. i almost don't know what to do with it. i like your mission! best of luck with things! <3

J said...

i love how you put yourself into cooking with your free time! the lemon bars look ABSOLUTELY DELISH!!! I def need to try this! I usually use allrecipes.com, i like the blog Cooking Canuck, and i watch random videos on youtube b/c I like seeing it step by step :)

Nicole Linette said...

Hahahaha I love this Allison! I'm so happy to see you found a new passion and focus for your pent up energy. Bakig and cooking are so theraputic-- AND win other hearts as well! Once I'm back home I have to try these! My school has them every now and then and they are simply divine.

Cheers!
,nicole.

Olive said...

Aw:), thanks Allison! I adore you as well and I love reading what you have to say, which is precisely why I actually read it ;)! It's always so interesting to read about your going on's, and I love that you're a foodie and post delicious recipes like this one, that you explain so well that amatuers (like moi) could actually stand a chance at making them ourselves! If I wasn't stuck in a dorm, I would probably be trying my hand at most of the things you post :-). Thanks so much for your words of advice, they're particularly nice to hear coming from someone who's actually been down these roads to higher education and has made it out alive :P. You're right, I'm here now for a reason, and I'm glad that I came here. I just need to use the rest of this year to make a decision if here is right in the grand scheme of things. I'll probably continue to post my internal conflict at random throughout the year, ha ha. As you were saying, I'm just trying to figure out what it is that I'd love to do, and go from there :).

It can be sooo easy to slip into the habit of doing well, nothing. Kudos to you for realizing that wasn't for you and motivating yourself to do something productive! There are many who choose not to :P. Cooking to a cheesy Lifetime movie actually sounds phenomonal right about now. Those lemon bars look so good, and it's funny how you won over the lemon critics in your house ;), now that's saying something! Hope that you're having a good week!