Tag Archives: sugar

Paula Deen’s Buttery Lemon Bars

Gotta love those Paula Deen goodies. This one only requires two sticks of butter and a little extra to grease the pan.  I made these once before for Rosette’s family and they have been dying for us to make them again. So, we had a cooking and crafting Sunday night with the Bears on in the background (yes, they lost).

To make the crust:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 sticks of butter, and more for greasing

For the lemony center:

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. flour
  • 6 Tbsp. lemon juice (fresh lemons are best)
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit and greasing a 13″ x 9″ baking dish (preferably glass, the dark metal pan overcooked the crust the first time). 

Next whip together the crust flour and sugar ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  With a fork, take the room temperature butter and mash it into the flour/sugar combo until it becomes light and crumbly. 

Press the crust compound into the pre-greased baking pan, pressing up the sides about an inch or so.  Bake for 15-20 minutes (but watch it. It tends to overcook).

In another bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, flour and lemon juice. 

Pull the pan out of the oven and pour in the yellow hodgepodge of ingredients.

 Place back into the oven for a remaining 25 minutes. (I took  mine out early, so check it at 15 min. and again at 20 min.). 

Let cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into squares.


These gel-like lemon bars have a few textures. Initially, you sink your teeth into a soft, sticky gelatin that brings a rush of sweet tang .  Next your bottom pearly whites help the top ones to crunch into a semi-soft crust cradling the citrus insides in a sweet, flaky melt-in-your-mouth carbohydrate.

Rosette’s mom bugged us until we finally went upstairs to cook she was so excited to have these. They are that heavenly. Bring them to your holiday gatherings this year for dessert.

Leave a comment

Filed under Dessert, Food

The Moistest Banana Bars Ever

Wondering what to do with those brown bananas that are starting to attract fruit flies?  Well one concept is to peel them and freeze them for smoothies, but an even better idea is to make these breakfast bars from Gooseberry Patch.image

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar

Mix your dry ingredients in one bowl: flour, sugar, baking soda, salt.  In another bowl mash together the wet ingredients: bananas, shortening, eggs, vanilla.

Next, combine the wet ingredients with the dry until the flour mixture is just moistened.

Grease a 13″ x 9″ pan and pour the batter in, spreading out evenly.  Bake in the oven at 350 degrees Farenheit for approximately 20 minutes.

When cool, cut into squares and serve using a sifter to sprinkle fresh powdered sugar on top.image

Another topping option I didn’t make because I was out of cream cheese, and not feeling like a 20 minute drive to the store, is cream cheese frosting. All you need to do is cream together one package of cream cheese, a stick of butter, 2 cups of confectioners’ sugar and 1 tsp. of vanilla extract.  Then top the frosting with chopped walnuts for an extra nutty crunch.image

I’ve never had banana bread this moist, fluffy or tasty before. The top stays sticky where the sugar seems to rise and sit.  The inside is extremely light and fluffy, unlike most banana breads, which are a little dense.  It’s not over-filling and makes a larger quantity than a small bread pan would.  My mom suggested it needed walnuts, which, if you make it with the cream cheese frosting, would be the cherry topping of the sundae.  It’s an easy, grab-and-go breakfast for the week.





Leave a comment

Filed under Breakfast, Food

Soft Pretzels

If you have a bread maker, this is an easy recipe to snack on for the next week.

In your bread maker, toss together:

1 1/4 cup water 80 degrees Farenheit
1 egg yolk, room temp *save egg white for glaze
1 Tbsp. oil
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. white pepper (or black pepper)
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 Tbsp. active dry yeast

My instructions suggest program 6 which runs for about an hour and a half, allowing ideal rising time.  If you will be away before you are able to finish the recipe I suggest covering the dough in your largest mixing bowl with plastic wrap and placing it in the fridge. This stuff grows!  I wasn’t thinking the first time I made it and brought the dough with me in my overnight bag on the train to my destination several hours away. The pretzel dough grew and popped open my Tupperware leaving a sticky mess all over the bag and my clothes.  Hilarious disaster.  For alternative recipes you can also mix in pepperoni and parmesan cheese.image

Pull out your risen dough and place on a floured work surface.  In pieces (typically makes 12-16 pretzels), roll the dough out into 16-inch ropes.  I couldn’t get the dough to roll out quite that long without breaking or fusing back to a smaller size.  I did find that if I held both ends of a starter rope and twirled it around like a jump rope in the air it became a desirable size.  Place your rope on a greased baking sheet and form into a pretzel by creating an oval and before you close the top bring both ends across each other and over the bottom. Repeat till the dough is all gone.

imageMix together glaze:

1 egg white
1 Tbsp. water

Take your glaze and brush each pretzel top.  Optional toppings include kosher salt and sesame seeds.  It will also give the pretzel a nice shine.  Bake at 375 degrees Farenheit for 15-20 minutes or until the top becomes golden-yellow in color. image

These taste best warm, fresh out of the oven.  I like to dip mine in parmesan.  Another mistake I made the first time was adding to much sugar.  By doing so and later topping with cinnamon sugar, you could create a breakfast pretzel. 


1 Comment

Filed under Appetizers, Food, Snacks


Much like a california roll, these are a starter sushi for newbies unsure they will like the bite-sized fish.  It made for a great bridal shower, bite-sized, finger-food for Eileen.

To prepare, you will need:
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. Sugar
1 tsp. Soy sauce or Shoyu
Prepared sushi rice
Seaweed or nori

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs. Keep whisking while you add in the sugar and soy sauce.
Butter a frying pan with a tablespoon of butter making sure to cover the entire pan. When heated, toss your egg mixture into the pan. When the egg patty is opaque looking and easy to flip, turn over the patty to cook the other side without folding or tearing.

Place on a plate and cut into strips. Form the sticky short grain sushi rice into a rectangular shape and top with a piece of the egg. If you like seaweed, you can also cut long strips to hold the tamago together in the center.



A sweet surprise, this sushi will surprise even the hard to please, non-fishy eaters. I first tried it at Nari Sushi House on $1 sake night, and was sold. I am not a fan of seaweed, hence not liking sushi, but this shocked my taste buds into eating every last bite. The soy adds that asian integration, and the sweet egg almost reminds me of a breakfast pancake or syrupy scrambled eggs.  The egg patty itself would be a good base for an asian fusion omelet or crepe.  Fold it in half and stuff the inside with tofu, shiitake mushrooms, peas, broccoli, or ginger and garlic.


(The Tamago is the center, yellow-beige sushi. These are ones without the seaweed holding it all together.)

Leave a comment

Filed under Appetizers, Food, Gluten-Free, Lunch/Dinner

Black Pepper Tofu


This recipe caught my eye based on the chili peppers.  It is definitely something you might find in an asian restaurant with a picture of a pepper next to the name indicating spicy, but when making it at home you can fiddle around with the amount of peppers added if you are sensitive to hot n’ spicy.  This is another Epicurious recipe courtesy of Tobi, who became my cooking buddy for the night and chopped everything you see in the two bowls below.  Much easier to craft up three recipes in the night with a helper who knows a thing or two about food!

For this recipe you will want to add to your shopping cart:
1 3/4 lbs firm tofu
Vegetable oil for frying
Cornstarch to dust the tofu
11 tbsp butter
12 small shallots (12 ounces in total), thinly sliced
8 fresh red chiles (fairly mild ones), thinly sliced
12 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
3 tbsp sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)
3 tbsp light soy sauce
4 tsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp sugar
5 tbsp coarsely crushed black peppercorns (use a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder)
16 small and thin green onions, cut into 1 1/4-inch segments

Start by chopping the shallots, chiles (which I didn’t find fresh, so purchased dried and had to add a little cayenne and red pepper flakes.  It will be much better fresh), garlic (or use your handy-dandy garlic press), and ginger and throw them all together into a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, place the thinly sliced green onions and set aside for the end.  When this is finished, cut approximately two tofu blocks (1 3/4 Lbs) into 1-inch cubes or desired shape for frying.  If following the recipe to a T, you should lightly dust the tofu in cornstarch, but I would recommend flour or even bread crumbs for a better texture and sticking capacity.  image

The cubes are then thrown into a frying pan about 1/4 inch up the sides of the pan with vegetable oil.  In batches start gently placing the cubes into the preheated oil.  The cubes will stick out above the oil, and should be turned a few times so they evenly golden brown and have a slight crust removing them with a slotted spoon and placing them onto awaiting paper towels.  With the cornstarch, I found it unable to properly stick to the soy cubes leaving clumps. When I removed fried tofu, it was still squishy and white. The browned parts stuck to the bottom of the pan and the clumps of cornstarch turned into a clear gel-like consistency resembling something that would come out of a jelly fish.  Once the strange jelly was removed, the tofu tasted fine, it just wasn’t quite fried to my liking of a firm, browned, crispy, solid state.  So again, next time I will try another route like flour or bread crumbs.

While the tofu is cooking whisk together the different soy sauces and sugar in a small bowl. If you are using a mortar and pestle to crush the peppercorns, now is also the time to do that.  I used a simple black pepper grinder, but the fresh black pepper creates a much stronger spice than  the previously ground pepper shakers we all put on the table next to the salt and is an absolute must.  Set this aside for later.


When all your batches of tofu are removed, clean your pan or use another so you don’t continue to burn the residue left behind from the tofu.  Add the stick and a half of butter and melt completely.  When melted throw in the mixing bowl full of vegetables (minus the actual bowl of course).  Saute on low for about 15 minutes or until the vegetables are completely softened and on the shiny side. Dont’ forget to stir intermittently or your veggies will stick to the pan and burn.


Next, mix in the whisked together beforehand sugar and soy as well as sprinkling on the ground black pepper to your cooked shallots, garlic, ginger, and chiles.  Add the tofu back into the mix and heat until it is warm.  Finally, toss in the green onions and serve over white rice.  With the green onions thrown in just at the end and not cooking much, the dish has an extra crunch to the soft texture of the rest of the ingredients. These can also be cooked in at the end for a soft, malleable bite. 


The spice in this dish definitely sneaks up on you.  Your first bite will immediately taste the melding of garlic (as there are 12 cloves making a fire-breathing, garlic-sweating dragon out of you), ginger, and the sweetness of the shallots followed shortly by the fire-breathing part.  The chiles and cayenne have that acquired heat to them causing a slight sweat above your bro, but creating an intense flavor combo in your mouth. The tofu, even at the still squishy state, takes on the gusto of the meal balancing it with extra protein. The rice will help balance everything out with its plain, carb-ready, sticky nature.  Absolutely a do-over, delicious dish.

Leave a comment

Filed under Gluten-Free, Lunch/Dinner