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Posts published in “Desserts”

The quest for a less-sweet lemon bar: The classic

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Every time I make one of my all-time favorite desserts, lemon bars, I'm always reminded of the insane amount of refined sugar that most recipes require. I tell myself the next time I'll find a better recipe that uses less sugar. But when that next time comes, the same thing happens.

I mean, 3 cups of sugar for a filling? Lemon bars are supposed to be sweet, but... yuck...

For that reason, I adapted Ina Garten's recipe to create a less-sweet version that cuts out half of the sugar in the filling and half in the crust.

A “new normal” farmer’s market visit & Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

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Farmers markets are a sign of springtime, one of my favorite things about the weather getting warmer and not to mention also a wonderful alternative to making a trip the grocery store—especially right now.

As I'm sure you've also experienced, grocery stores and super markets have been extra chaotic. Limited choices are available of produce, meats, dairy and other essentials unless you go to the store at specific times or on specific days. Masks, bandannas or some other kind of facial covering are required to enter the store—speaking for New Jersey, which mandated this at least three weeks ago, but now also Pennsylvania within the last week or two. And sometimes you need to wait your turn to enter the store because of restrictions put in place on the number of people allowed in at once, otherwise choose to come back at another time.

Visiting a farmers market, by contrast, is a nice break from making a now-normal grocery store visit, so this weekend Dave and I stopped at a farmers market we saw in a local strip mall parking lot. It was a very different experience when compared to visiting open air markets in seasons past .

Quick Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

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Have you ever had a craving for baked goods in the middle of the summer? Me too. The struggle is real, isn't it? And it always opens up this debate in my mind:

Option A. Give in and turn on the oven, making the whole house hot and uncomfortable in the process, even worse for Dave and I since we don't have central air.

Option B. Forget about it, and save the calories... or...

Option C. Forget the calories, and go get ice cream.

Recently, the idea came to my mind to use the toaster oven to make a quick batch of cookies. I wouldn't call it a brilliant idea since I should've thought of it much sooner.

Then again, I suppose my girlish figure is glad that I didn't. A successful batch of chocolate peanut butter cookies later, and I have now opened up a proverbial Pandora's box of small-batch cooking making that I probably should've left alone.

Since this was a small batch and I left the butter out overnight before cooking, I didn't bother with the mixer. I was super easy to make these cookies by hand in about 10 minutes or less. At the end of it, I had a plate of warm, fresh cookies, and only a few tools to clean up. Super win.

Menu Inspiration: Summer cocktail party

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Believe it or not, it's August. If you're gearing up for the long Labor Day weekend already or planning a casual end-of-summer party, here are some quick and easy entertaining ideas that will help you send the summer season off right.

Fresh, Mediterranean-inspired flavors highlight this menu, and for something sweet at the end that's still light: easy to make grilled peaches with honey-sweetened whipped cream. As a bonus, there's something for everyone: several recipes are vegetarian-friendly and could be made vegan with a few omissions or easy swaps.

“Almost Vegan” Citrus Bars

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A few months back, Dave and I took a trip to our local Asian supermarket to get some ingredients for dinner. We ended up picking up delicious pre-made frozen scallion pancakes (one of my favorites) as an appetizer and veggies for what Dave would probably consider to be his signature Thai red curry. It's delicious every time he makes it, without fail.

While shopping for produce, I spotted something curious: soon tofu. Labeled as "extra silken" or "extra soft" tofu and packaged in a tube-shaped plastic sheath, neither of us had ever seen it before in conventional or other Asian supermarkets. The tofu's custard-like consistency and general lack of flavor (aside from a faint nuttiness) inspired me to try my hand, once again, at making a vegan dessert that didn't suck—lest anyone forget the chia pudding and avocado chocolate pudding fails that I've mentioned before and still haunt me to this day. (Fail and yuck.)

At that point, lemon bars had been on my mind for a while, so I made vegan lemon bars using soon tofu my challenge. I processed the tofu with cane sugar, coconut cream, citrus zests and juices, cornstarch, and a few other ingredients to form a very smooth filling. The mixture as it cooked resembled a thick, lemon curd-type filling. Success! It needed more sugar than I would have liked to include, though, in order to mask the nuttiness of the tofu and make it taste like a dessert. Otherwise, so far, so good.

When I started to make the crust as the filling cooked, I found that the only cookies I had on-hand were Simply Made Keebler Butter Cookies. As the name implied, they were made with butter and, therefore, not vegan.

Well, damn.

Not wanting to go back to the grocery store that day, I pressed on with making and chilling the crust. Once cooled, I added the filling and put it back in the fridge to chill several hours until well-set. Dave and I ate the bars for dessert that night and they still tasted great!

There's good news for anyone hoping to recreate these as a totally vegan, dairy-free dessert: Unlike traditional lemon bars, the filling isn't loaded with eggs and butter. It would be easy to substitute a vegan cookie in the crust and get similar results.