Saturday, October 26, 2013

Lemon Bars

I am lucky enough to work for an extraordinary boss and company, so with Bosses Day hitting last week I wanted to make sure I acknowledged by boss with a treat that I know she likes. I had never made lemon bars before, but after looking around for some tips and recipe reviews, I tailored this to be what I think is the perfect ratio of sweetness, tart lemon flavor and buttery crust.

As a note, I only used a small amount of powdered sugar on the top. While I love the touch of powdered sugar, when eating treats topped with the stuff I somehow always manage to inhale or exhale at exactly the wrong moment and end up covering myself with sugar or choking on it. So, for the sake of keeping these low maintenance to eat I kept the sugar minimal. You could obviously adjust this to match your personal taste.

Lemon Bars

1 c butter, softened
2 c flour
1/2 c sugar
pinch of salt

3 c sugar
1/2 c + 2 T flour
1 1/4 c fresh lemon juice (approx 5-6 large lemons or 7-8 small lemons)
zest from 2 lemons
8 eggs

powdered sugar to top (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use pastry cutter or just your hands to blend together all crust ingredients in medium bowl. Press into greased 9x13 pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly while preparing the filling.

Whisk filling ingredients together in medium bowl until well combined. Pour over crust. Bake for an additional 30 minutes. Allow to cool in pan.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar to taste while still slightly warm. Once cool, cut into squares and serve.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Zombie Brain Popcorn Balls

We are somewhat infatuated with zombies at our house. So with the recent season of The Walking Dead starting, some friends invited us over to watch the premier. It only felt right to bring a zombie-related treat. These popcorn brains were fairly easy to make (just a little messy) and they turned out pretty fun. This would be a great option to take to any Halloween party or potluck with relatively low cost and low time commitment.

Popcorn Brains
6 cups popcorn, popped and lightly salted
1 bag (10 oz) mini-marshmallows
3 T butter
1/4 t vanilla
red food coloring
small paintbrush

In large saucepan, melt the butter and marshmallows over med-low heat, stirring regularly. This process may take 5-10 minutes, but if you rush the marshmallow melting, your popcorn balls will turn out hard. Once melted, add vanilla and 2 drops of food coloring and stir until color is distributed. Stir in popcorn until evenly coated.

Form popcorn into tennis ball sized balls. This is the part that can be kind of messy. I attempted to do this with my hands using some butter to grease my fingers, but the mixture was way too sticky and would not bind together but rather just stuck to my fingers. My solution was to take a square of wax paper, spray it with non-stick spray, spoon the popcorn into the center and use the wax paper to form around the popcorn ball. Then I carefully peeled back the wax paper to release the popcorn ball.

You will want to form these into a somewhat flattened ball so they more resemble a brain shape. After forming a ball in the wax paper, I squished the ball slightly and pressed down along the center to create a minor valley between the brain hemispheres. This is the line where you will later paint your major dividing vein. Set the finished brains aside on another clean piece of wax paper to cool.

After forming all the brains, use a paint brush and food coloring to paint the major vein down the middle of the brain and then as many side veins as you want for effect. Mmmmm....BRAINNNZZZZ!