Yes, he loved these.
I learned the recipe from my former mother-in-law. She didn’t want to give it to me at first. But her son, my former husband, begged a little so I would make them for him.
When I discovered how delicious these Lemon Bars are and how easy it is to make up a batch I started making them for events with my family. My Dad tried one and was hooked. It made sense. Dad always enjoyed citrus-y and tutti-fruity flavors.
So Dad was always grateful when I’d show up with Lemon Bars for Fourth of July, Father’s Day or another family get-together. The rest of our family leaned toward chocolate desserts.
Over the years I’ve tried different variations. A crust with graham cracker crumbs. A lime juice filling rather than lemon juice. You can try variations if you like, however, I always end up returning to the original. I even made a tray of Lemon Bars along with other cookies for my wedding reception in June of 2006.
Even though tender, lemon-y, custard-y, bar cookies like this don’t seem like a holiday or winter dessert, Lemon Bars are perfect in winter or the holidays with all the heavier, heartier, savory foods we enjoy.
Over the last year, Adam Goodman on the Travel Channel, has gained a degree of notoriety and fame with his television show, “Man vs. Food.” He also appears to have gained weight.
Goodman takes “eating for sport,” as my kid brother used to call it, and elevates it to a whole new level.
It’s not about adventurous eating. It’s not creative new spins on familiar flavors. Usually he chows down burgers that are a tower of stacked beef, cheese and bacon as tall as a Venti Frappucino. It’s burritos the size of a full-term infant, pancakes the size of manhole covers and ice cream sundaes the size of a two-gallon bucket of paint.
It’s gluttonous eating. “Consume mass quantities” as the Coneheads in the classic, ol’ Saturday Night Live sketches with Dan Ackroyd said years ago before downing an entire six-pack of beer and wolfing down a whole bag of potato chips in one minute flat.
My husband Ernie asks me, “Why are you watching that? Doesn’t it make you want to eat more when your goal is to lose weight?”
I reply, “Actually, it’s so appalling – it makes me want to eat less. It almost makes me want to hurl. Almost.”
- 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
- 1 cup finely chopped pecans
- 1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
For the filling
- 1 1/2 cups solid pack pumpkin
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- three 8-ounce packages low-fat cream cheese at room temperature. Sometimes labelled as Neufachtel
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon bourbon liqueur or bourbon if desired
For the topping
- 2 cups Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon bourbon liqueur or bourbon, or to taste
- pecan halves or pieces to garnish
Make the crust: In a bowl combine the cracker crumbs, the finely ground nuts, and the sugars, stir in the butter, and press the mixture into the bottom and 1/2 inch up the side of a buttered 9-inch springform pan. Chill the crust for 1 hour.
Make the filling: In a bowl whisk together the pumpkin, the egg, the cinnamon, the nutmeg, the ginger, the cloves, the salt, and the brown sugar. In a large bowl with an electric mixer cream together the low-fat cream cheese and the granulated sugar, beat in the cream, the cornstarch, the flour, the vanilla, the bourbon liqueur, and the pumpkin mixture, and beat the filling until it is smooth.
Pour the filling into the crust, bake the cheesecake in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 60 minutes, or until the center is just set, and let it cool in .
Make the topping: In a bowl whisk together the sour cream, the sugar, and the bourbon liqueur.
Spread the sour cream mixture over the top of the cheesecake and bake the cheesecake for 5 minutes more. Let the cheesecake cool in the pan on a rack and chill it, covered, overnight. Remove the side of the pan and garnish the top of the cheesecake with the pecans.
I love the fact that its colder outside and the Christmas tree is up and sparkling. Even if I AM recovering from a cold. I have presents to wrap under the tree. And, I don’t know why but I haven’t been able to find the porcelain figurines to go in my Nativity set. Right now I just have an empty manger waiting for baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the three Wise Men. I know I’ll find ‘em.
After all, the Christmas tree is beautiful and I love my little Santa doll I got in Paris a few years ago that sings “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby. (I am NOT making this up.) But the nativity set and the story of Jesus being born in the manger in Bethlehem is really what the season is about, right?
In the midst of all the holiday events and the craziness, we eat a lot of regular meals, too. It makes sense to make them reasonably healthy because we’re eating so much rich, decadent foods. At the same time we want something hearty and stick-to-your ribs because baby it’s cold outside.
Actually, I’ve been thinking about how we perceive the foodie phenomenon. If you read the recent Newsweek article about the foodie thang you would get the impression a person who considers themselves a “foodie” spends a ton of money on hand-nurtured, organic produce that’s been massaged and cooed over from the day it sprouted out of the ground until the day it was picked and delivered to a farmer’s market.
You would also get the impression millions of poor people have no choice in this world except to eat fast, deep-fried, nutritionally empty foods.
Oh, I get what’s happening in the economy. The shrinking middle class. The haves and have-nots. I live in Nevada where we have the highest unemployment figures in the nation.
However foodwise, neither extreme is true for most of us. The truth is somewhere a little closer to the middle.
While there certainly are people who don’t embrace good food and who manage to subsist on a diet of energy shakes, scrambled egg whites, protein bars and tofu – most of us like food. Given a choice we like food that tastes good to us.
Okay, it’s not THIS cold here in Las Vegas. I’m bundled up in my coziest fleece robe and an afghan. I think I’ll stay indoors today. Got more Christmas decorating to do. Need to find the Nativity Set and put the baby Jesus in the manger next to Joseph, Mary and the Three Wise Men. I’ve got mistletoe to hang in a doorway so I can catch extra kisses from my husband. I’ve got Mexican chocolate rounds to make Hot Chocolate. I’ve got Christmas music to play. I can gaze at the tree and the tiny white lights while I blow my nose.
I’ll have leftover Italian Wedding Soup later for lunch. Take a nap. Maybe even wrap Christmas gifts. They’re under the tree unwrapped right now.
When I woke up earlier this morning I reached in the frig to get my low-fat milk for my tea. What caught my eye was the ruby red Cranberry Sauce leftover from Thanksgiving last week. I make homemade cranberry sauce and it’s really good – but most people take just a tablespoon or so, like a condiment. So there’s always leftovers.
Today I have a cold. I woke up at 4:35 am. There was a scratchiness in my throat and snuffles in my nose. I tried to go back to sleep. I kept reaching across my husband’s body in the inky darkness for the glass of water on his side of the bed. I already finished my own. I turned out the lights at a reasonable time last night, however my body was crying out for more sleep.
I had marketing mentoring client meetings scheduled for 9:00 am and 11:00 am and 2:45 pm. At 7:45 am I called the first client and re-scheduled that meeting for next week. I figured it gave me a little more time to relax and come around before the other two meetings.
I wanted chicken broth because that’s what’s good when you have a cold. I could’ve gone over to Sweet Tomatoes, the salad and soup buffet. They always have Chicken Soup with big noodles. But I’m not a Chicken Soup kinda gal. I’ve gone so many years without pasta, when I take a bite it literally tastes like papier mache. Like flour and water paste.
So, I’m going to do something a little different: Italian Wedding Soup.
One week ago we shared Thanksgiving Day. My husband and I usually drive to California and spend the time with his kids and our grandkids but this year they had other plans with the other side of the family. So we had to make our own holiday plans.
“How ’bout going to a nice buffet?” Ernie offered.
I replied, “Y’know hon, at the end of our lives together someday, I don’t want to think the years we didn’t make the trek from Las Vegas to California, we never enjoyed our own traditions. All we did was wait in line for two hours in a casino with the bells ding-dinging and the lights flashing, only to overeat sub-standard, factory-made food.” You consider these things when you get married later in life.
I told him I wanted to do a Thanksgiving dinner for “orphans. Not real orphans. People who don’t have family here or a place to go for turkey dinner and pumpkin pie. There are lots of them in Las Vegas. Many have a job, a warm home and a dependable car. But no one to bow their head and share grace with. No one to be with the fourth Thursday in November.
The cover story of the November 22nd, 2010 edition of Newsweek is about the foodie trend, the contrast between “haves” and “have nots” and asks if the food we eat divides us as a nation. The article laments how the poor living in cities often don’t have access to fresh produce and are subjected to tiny, cramped markets where produced is over-priced, old and sometimes even moldy. Not good at all. I have no doubt these things are true in New York City where most of the people quoted in the article were from.
I’ve visited The Big Apple and ducked into a little market just to get an apple or banana – and exited with nothing. Couldn’t find a single piece of fruit to snack on – and that’s pretty sad. So, I would never venture a comment on places or situations I don’t know a lot about.
However, I can comment on what I’ve seen. I’ve smiled at the creativity and ingenious spirit of some people. I’ve shaken my head dismayed and discouraged by the “I can’t help it” attitude of others.
The article neglected to mention in changing cities like Detroit (where I’m originally from) and Atlanta and others there’s a whole movement of people growing their own fruits and veggies in downtown areas in small and even not so small home gardens. There are resources available to help people learn how to grow produce themselves. And, more Farmer’s markets are popping up in metro areas.