Super Lemon Bars


These easy-to-make lemon bars are extra lemony with a cup of fresh lemon juice in the filling!


A batch of lemon bars. This special occasion treat might be easier to make at holiday time in Southern California, where your neighbor just might have a lemon tree whose branches grow over the brick wall between your houses and into your yard, so that you are free to harvest as many ripe or almost-ripe lemons on your side of the wall as you want.


IMG_2640That is a 5-gallon bucket of ripening lemons right there.

Let’s just say we’ve made a lot of fresh lemonade this November. My boys demanded a lemon meringue pie, but never having made one before I decided to start with a simpler confection. So I tested a few lemon bar recipes and settled on something I can turn to again and again, and I can whip up fairly easily as long as I have enough eggs in the house.

So, with props to The Pioneer Woman, The Joy of Cooking, and the Food Network test kitchen, here’s my hacked-up recipe for lemon bars that are super lemony!

Super Lemon Bars

super lemon barsIt’s a bird. It’s a plane. Nope, it’s a delicious lemon bar!


2 cups flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into little cubes

4 large eggs + 2 egg yolks
2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup fresh lemon juice


Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease a glass 9 x 13 baking dish
Mix flour, sugar, and salt
Add diced butter pieces and work them into the flour mixture with your fingers until the mix is pebbly and sandy
Press mixture evenly into the bottom of the baking dish
Bake for 20 minutes

Beat eggs and egg yolks in a large bowl
Add flour and sugar
Add lemon juice and lemon zest; mix well
Pour filling over the baked crust
Return dish to oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until filling is solid
Let cool on stovetop or rack for 20 minutes. Chill in refrigerator for 2 hours.
Sift confectioner’s sugar over the top (I just use a fine strainer). Cut into bars and enjoy!

Makes 24 bars – they are very rich, so a little goes a long way!

If you’re surfing for recipes for sweet treats to serve at your holiday party or to give as gifts, this week Savvy Sassy Moms is doing a blog hop featuring sweet treats! Check out this recipe for egg nog cookies – these I’ve gotta try -and the links at the bottom with more great ideas!

Best Boozy Cranberry Sauce

When I was growing up, cranberry sauce was always an afterthought at holiday dinners. In fact, I’m pretty sure I was only exposed to the canned, gelatinous mass of cranberry sauce “jelly” that came out with a plop. But over my years of serving Thanksgiving dinner to my own family and various invited guests, I have experimented with fresh cranberries as the main ingredient of that side dish.

I came upon this simple recipe on Eat, Love, Run and it was an instant hit. It has just a few ingredients, and for me, it is blessedly free of weird flavors. Just cranberry and sugar and something to give it a little kick!

Of course by the time I go to make the cranberry sauce I’m out of bourbon, so I usually just use whatever I have on hand. Here’s my lazy version of this unsung Thanksgiving dinner hero.

Boozy Cranberry Sauce


12 oz fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 tbsp whiskey, brandy, or bourbon (I used Seagram’s 7 this time!)
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until cranberries burst and begin to break down, about 10-15 minutes. Stir well and remove from heat. I like to mash the rest of the un-split cranberries with a potato masher to release more jelly. Let cool for 20 minutes before storing in refrigerator for dinner the next day.


This dish was my quick and easy contribution to a “Friendsgiving” brunch that my friend Jennifer hosted. She set the bar very high with her beautifully set table. But my boozy cranberry sauce was a hit and one friend said that it was the best she’d ever had, so I had to share it with you!

If you’re surfing for Thanksgiving dinner side dish recipes, this week Savvy Sassy Moms is doing a blog hop featuring holiday dinner sides. Check out this great looking recipe for perfect herbed mashed potatoes, and the links at the bottom with more great ideas!

Irish Stew Even Kids Will Eat

bowl-of-irish-stew-2This photo is from Kelley Chisholm’s Irish Stew recipe here, with permission. Check out her other great recipes!

Last semester my 2nd grader had to do a presentation about his ancestry, for which he interviewed my father about his Irish heritage and the first relative who came to America from Ireland in the early 1900’s. There was much conjecture, since we are descended from poor Irish working folk, who didn’t exactly leave detailed registries of our lineage. Still, my son was able to cobble together a sense of what life was like for a young boy in Ireland who came to America during that time, and his presentation was precious.

Another part of the assignment had to do with food. This project has become something of a rite of passage at my children’s school: parents are asked to bring a dish to this presentation that is indicative of the cuisine from their ancestor’s culture. Since the Irish aren’t exactly known for their culinary delights, and I am short on time, I chose a simple Irish Stew. It is easy to throw everything into a crockpot, turn it on, and walk away. My favorite.

Actually, what is really my favorite thing about this stew is that the children loved it. Imagine a roomful of 2nd-graders and one or both of their parents eating something you made, spooning it out of little cups, and going back for more. One little girl flitted past me, eagerly downing her stew, exclaiming “This is AMAZING!” It was like I spiked the pot with pixie dust or something.

But I think it was just the thyme.

Here is the recipe I adapted from Taste of Home:

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
1-1/2 pounds stew beef
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 medium onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
8 new potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup frozen peas
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons water

1. Place 1/3 cup flour in a large resealable plastic bag. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, and shake to coat.
2. In a saute pan, brown beef in batches in 2 tablespoons oil. Remove and set aside. In the same pan, saute onions in remaining oil until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer.
3. Add broth, stirring to loosen browned bits from pan.
4. Pour broth into crockpot. Add beef, potatoes, and carrots. Cook for 4 hours on low or until meat and vegetables are cooked through.
5. Add frozen peas, seasonings, and Worchestershire sauce.
6. Combine remaining flour with water until smooth; stir into stew. Cook for 30 minutes until peas are tender and stew is thickened.

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irish stew