Oatmeal Lemon Cream Bars

This is an extremely quick, easy, cookie bar recipe. I made this around Christmas and it was a huge hit! There are two different ways to make this recipe: 1) the “short-cut”: using a package of Betty Crocker oatmeal cookie mix as the base, and 2) the “from scratch”: making your own oatmeal base from scratch. I prefer the “from scratch” method (mainly because it is cheaper and I can control the amount of sugar), but the “short-cut” is still delicious if you are pressed for time. This is an excellent recipe if you’re looking for a different variation of the classic lemon bar.

Short-Cut Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cold butter
  • 1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker oatmeal cookie mix
  • 1 egg- substitute with 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce!
  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (approx 1 lemon)

 

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease an 8X11 pan.

2) In a large bowl, cut the cold butter into the cookie mix with a fork.

3) Stir in the egg or applesauce until the mixture is crumbly.

4) Press a little over half of the oat mixture into pan.  Bake for 15 minutes.

5) In a small bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice, and lemon zest until thick and combined.

6) Spread lemon mixture evenly on top of the oat mixture in the pan. Top with the remaining oat mixture.

7) Bake another 20-25 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Let cool and refrigerate 30 minutes or until set. Cut into bars and refrigerate.

 

***From scratch Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup butter, slightly softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 egg- substitute with 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon

 

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease an 8X11 pan.

2) In a large bowl, mix the butter and brown sugar until they are well combined. Add egg/applesauce.

3) In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder.

4) Add oats and dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix to combine.

5) Press a little over half of the oat mixture into pan.

6) In a small bowl, mix together sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Spread evenly on top of the oat mixture in the pan. Top with the remaining oat mixture.

7) Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Let cool and refrigerate 30 minutes or until set. Cut into bars and refrigerate.

Lemon Pan-Fried Chicken

This is a super easy chicken recipe that tastes like it took a lot of work! Definitely a go-to recipe for a quick and delicious week night dinner!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour- 1 cup
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • McCormick “Perfect Pinch” to taste (or other salt-free seasoning combination)
  • 1 pound thin-sliced chicken breast cutlets, approximately 3 chicken breasts
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

Directions

  1. Season 2 cups flour with salt, pepper, and Perfect Pinch (or other seasonings). Coat chicken cutlets in seasoned flour, shaking off excess, then dip in beaten egg.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Pan-fry chicken until golden brown on both sides, 5 to 7 minutes; transfer to a plate.
  3. Melt butter in the same skillet; cook and stir remaining 2 tablespoons flour in butter for 5 minutes, then add chicken broth and lemon juice. Simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.
  4. Return chicken to the skillet. Continue simmering until chicken is no longer pink in the center, about 15 more minutes.
  5. Serve chicken with parsley sprigs and lemon wedges.

 

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Hello all! It has been far too long since my last post. My oven has finally been repaired and I am back in business!
For Christmas, I received a fabulous new springform pan from my brother-in-law. Somehow, in the post-Christmas lull, I managed to forget all about it. As soon as my oven was fixed, I was determined to break in the new pan. I chose a flourless chocolate cake for the first recipe. I had very little experience with spring form pans before now, and I definitely learned a few things through trial and error (major error!).
While making the batter was pretty easy, the act of actually baking the cake- specifically the part about wrapping it in foil to prevent leaking- proved to be much more difficult! This cake bakes in a water bath in order to ensure that it cooks evenly. I had read a few articles/blogs stating that no springform pan is truly water-tight, and my dad had used spring form pans before, so I knew that I couldn’t just float the pan in the water bath without some serious leaking. So, I wrapped the outside of the cake pan in heavy duty foil. Unfortunately, this was still not enough. I am not sure whether the foil was not high enough on the pan, or if I somehow tore a tiny hole in it, but I definitely ended up with a somewhat soggy cake. Major bummer! I took the issue to my dad- my kitchen guru- and he suggested overlapping two sheets of the heavy duty foil when wrapping the cake pan. In his experience, this eliminates any leaking and ensures a successful cake!

Here is the recipe and directions for this cake. I will try again soon, hopefully with more success! If you have any experience with springform pans or flourless cakes, please share!

Ingredients:

  • 8 large eggs, cold
  • 1 pound bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (using chips works, too!)
  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter (2 sticks), cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1/4 cup strong coffee or liqueur (optional)
  • confectioner’s sugar or cocoa powder for decoration

Directions:

1. Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Line bottom of 8-inch springform pan with parchment paper and grease pan sides. Cover pan underneath and along sides with two overlapping sheets of heavy-duty foil. Set the wrapped cake pan in a large roasting pan. Bring a kettle of water to boil (you might need to also boil a second pot. I would suggest doing so, just in case!)

2. Beat eggs with hand-held mixer at high speed for about 5 minutes, until the volume doubles (approximately 1 quart). If you have a stand mixer, use wire whip attachment at medium speed for about 5 minutes to achieve the same result. The egg should appear very foamy when you are finished!

3. Meanwhile, melt chocolate and butter (adding coffee or liqueur) in a large double boiler, until smooth and very warm (approximately 115 degrees on an instant-read thermometer), stirring occasionally. This should take approximately 4-6 minutes.

4. Fold 1/3 of the egg foam into the chocolate mixture, using a rubber spatula, until only a few egg streaks show. Then fold in half of the remaining foam, then the last of the foam, until no egg streaks are visible.

5. Scrape the batter into the prepared springform pan and smooth the surface using the rubber spatula. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan (around the springform pan) until water comes about halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Carefully place the entire roasting pan (full of water and cake pan) in the oven– be VERY careful not to splash the water up over the sides of the cake pan! Bake until cake has risen slightly, edfes are just beginning to set, a thin glazed crust has formed (kind of like a brownie), and an instant-read thermometer inserted halfway through the center of the cake registers 140 degrees. Approximately 22-25 minutes.

6. Remove cake pan from water bath and set on wire rack; cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate overnight to mellow (if time allows). This cake can be refrigerated for up to 4 days!

7. About 30 minutes before serving, remove the sides from the springform pan, invert the cake on a sheet of waxed paper, peel off parchment paper, and turn cake right side up on serving platter. Immediately before serving, sprinkle the cake with cocoa powder or confectioner’s sugar.

To try: Instead of simply sprinkling the top of the cake, place a lacy doily (large enough to cover the entire cake, if possible) over the cake right before serving. Sprinkle confectioner’s sugar over the doily, then remove the doily. When the doily is lifted, a lace pattern in confectioner’s sugar should be left on top of the cake! I have not yet tried this, but I will definitely attempt it when I re-try this recipe. I have heard that this works shockingly well and looks amazing!

I will try this again soon and post pictures!

Happy baking!