So, I recently made my very first batch of lemon bars.
I'm just one of those people who doesn't particularly favor lemon desserts. I love adding lemon as an accent to a savory dish. Nothing beats a fresh pop of lemon juice in sauces and marinades. I also add lemon to my water and tea when I'm feeling congested. It does wonders!
I guess my main issue with lemon desserts was always that they tasted too extreme for me. I never cared for the intense taste of sour and sweet together. This combination always made me think of Sour Patch Kids or Warheads. My teeth hurt just thinking about it!
However, this past mother's day I decided to put my differences with lemon aside for my grandma. She loves lemon desserts. One of her favorite things is lemon meringue pie, which is definitely not something I care for. I wanted to try to make her something that I could enjoy too. What a challenge!
Luckily, I found a simple and seemingly delicious recipe from the one and only Minimalist Baker blog. I use Dana's recipes all the time if I need to make a quick batch of something for an impromptu meal (biscuits, pancakes, cupcakes, you name it). I love her recipes for their simplicity, short lists of ingredients, and quick prep times. I figured that she would have a trustworthy lemon bar recipe in her archives.
I was definitely right in choosing this one (link below). The texture of these bars is similar to cheesecake, amazingly creamy and refreshing. I used a shortbread recipe for the crust, but I followed the filling recipe as it was. The result was incredible. The lemon flavor wasn't overpowering at all. I also love how the maple syrup provides a mellow and rich sweetness that does not shock your taste buds. Needless to say, the bars were a hit!
And now, for the twist.
When I looked in the pantry the other day, I noticed I had a box of Choice Batter muffin mix. I brought this mix home with the thought of, "Well, I'll keep this on hand in case of emergency." In my mind, muffin crisis is always just around the corner. You need to be prepared.
I also wanted to give Choice Batter a try since I've seen their products many times. Their bake mixes are allergen-free, which means gluten-free, egg-free, and dairy-free! The recipe on the box also calls for just oil and water, which keeps the muffins vegan.
Then I got to thinking, "What if these muffins had cheesecake on top of them?" Well, that was when I channeled my inner Sandra Lee and whipped up a "semi-homemade" lemon bar concoction. I changed the ratio of liquids in the boxed muffin recipe to make them more dense and I added some more lemony essence with the help of freshly squeezed and zested organic lemons.
Then, I made some of Dana's lemon bar filling and poured it right over the muffin batter in a brownie pan. The rest is self explanatory. The finished product is a delicious square of lemon poppy seed and cheesecake goodness. The cheesecake layer is thin so it does not provide a gunky mouth feel, which cheesecake sometimes can in large amounts. The bars are satisfying, bright, slightly sweet, and creamy.
These little squares are great for baking ahead and bringing to your weekend get together or BBQ (hint hint, Memorial Day)! They are also free of many allergens (except cashews!) so they will be a safe treat for almost everyone to enjoy. Also, you technically made these at home, so you can have bragging rights. No one needs to know that Choice Batter gave you a head start. ;) Or, maybe they do! Thank you, Choice Batter! ^_^
Have a great weekend, everyone! Enjoy the sun and the lemons!
Lemon Poppy Seed Cheesecake Bars
Free from: Gluten, Soy*
Yield: about 9 servings
Cheesecake topping recipe adapted from Minimalist Baker Lemon Bars
I'm. Finally. Back!
I apologize for my absence these past few months, but I've been very preoccupied with moving! The process was not as extensive as I expected, although it still took me over a month to finally get everything from point A to point B. Luckily, I'm just about settled.
Not being able to cook in my own kitchen has been tough, but I am slowly adapting to my new one. I definitely like the layout (plus it has an island!). I do miss having a gas range, but I actually don't mind my new stove. The change in temp is pretty immediate, which is all I ever need!
Since tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo, I'm going to make my come back with a fusion taco recipe. I was going to feature another dessert, but I'm not really sure I can top last year's Tres Leches Cake! No, I wanted to go savory and simple this year. Tacos are indeed a Cinco de Mayo staple, but they rarely ever look like these.
I filled organic taco shells (which you can always use soft, if you prefer) with a curried tempeh filling. The tempeh is crumbled into a stew of veggies and spices and resembles "beef" when it is fully cooked. The vegetables are those that you may find in a basic curry, such as potatoes, carrots, peas...I added some corn in for sweetness as well.
Japanese curry, in my experience, has always been slightly sweeter and more earthy than Indian or Thai curry. I gave the filling this flavor by adding in a bit of cinnamon and mirin to offset the savory garlic and cumin-based curry spice. The resulting flavor is rich, but not hot. Feel free to add chilies or red pepper flakes to increase the hotness. I left this batch mild to accompany the slightly sweet and acidic cabbage slaw I made as a topping!
Enjoy these with any and all taco fixings, a festive drink, and maybe some guac and chips if you're extra hungry. ;)
It's good to be back! <3
Japanese Curry Tempeh Tacos
Free of: Gluten, Oil (dressing only)
Yield: about 6 servings
Curried Tempeh Filling
Apple Slaw Ingredients
This is my very first food blog! I post revised conventional recipes of foods that I hold near and dear to my heart. My cooking here is all gluten-free and cruelty-free, but full of flavor and comfort.