Food, NYC, recipe, Sweets

Lavender Lemon Bars

I love lemon bars, but they are anything but healthy.  I decided to make a lightened up version based off Gina’s Honey Lemon Bar recipe from her Skinnytaste blog.  I wanted to incorporate my culinary lavender as I knew it would pair well with the lemon and shine through this simple dessert without messing up the consistency or bake.  The only downside was the use of so many lemons!

Honey Lemon Bars *adapted from Skinnytaste

For the crust:

  • 6 tbsp white whole wheat flour (I used whole wheat)
  • 6 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar (not packed)
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into bits and chilled
  • 1 tbsp fat free Greek yogurt

For the filling:

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp white whole wheat flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 5 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar, for dusting on top


Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Prepare an 8-inch square pan by lightly spraying the inside of the pan with baking spray before lining it with 2 long sheets of aluminum foil folded to fit inside and placed perpendicular to each other in the pan.  This is so you can get the bars out after they are cooked, so don’t skip this step.

Simmer honey with 1T of culinary lavender for 30 minutes before straining solids.

Cut the sheets long enough to hang over the sides to use as handles to lift out the baked lemon bars before cutting into squares.  Spray the inside of the foil lined pan with baking spray.

For the crust: In a food processor combine the flours, brown sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, baking powder and salt and process until well combined.  Add the butter and yogurt to the flour mixture at once and pulse at least a dozen times before turning out into the prepared pan and pressing into an even layer.

Bake until evenly browned about 20-22 minutes.  Cool the crust on a metal rack for at least 15 – 20 minutes.  Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

Prepare the filling by whisking together the eggs, honey, lemon zest, flour and the salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the lemon juice and pour over the cooled crust.  Bake until filling is set, about 22 minutes.  Cool completely before lifting the bars out of the pan with the foil.  Cut into 9 squares and dust with confectioners sugar. *Note be prepared for the sugar to “disappear” if refrigerated overnight.  Do not dust until bars are cooled and are ready to be served.

Food, Fun, recipe, Sweets

Skinny Pumpkin Bars

This is a simple recipe that can be used without needing too many kitchen appliances and is actually pretty light with the addition of unsweetened almond milk, pumpkin, and coconut oil.  Sweet and simple with the addition of cinnamon sugar to the top makes this a great bar cake for a crowd.  Nutritionally about 140calories per 1X1 in slice


•2 cups flour

•1/2 – 3/4 cup sugar

•2 teaspoons baking powder

•1/2 teaspoon baking soda

•2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice mix or 1 tsp each cinnamon & ginger and 1/2 tsp each nutmeg & allspice and a pinch of clove

•pinch of mineral salt

•1- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

•1/3 cup water or unsweetened almond milk (at room temp)

•1/3 cup coconut oil (melted), or vegetable oil of choice 

•1 can (15oz) 100% pumpkin puree


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium size bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. In a small bowl, combine oil, sugar, water/milk and vanilla. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture along with the pumpkin puree and mix well. Don’t over mix but be sure there is no flour clumps. Mine was very thick.  Taste batter adjusting flavor or sweetness to your liking. Pour batter into a lightly greased loaf pan. Bake for 55 – 60 minutes. I used an 8X8 pan and cooked about 30 minutes.  IMG_1540 IMG_1539

Once done, remove from oven, let cool slightly before serving. Let cool completely before storing.

Food, Fun, recipe, Sweets

UN-healthy Heath recipes

More baking ensued to end my time in Florida.  I divided a bag of heath between two recipes.

First, I made a chocolate Heath Bit and Reese’s Pieces blondie which was tasty, but can be improved as the toffee hardens even the most underbaked blondie.  Then came the toffee brown sugar cookies.  Although I did not have a mixer to properly cream the butter and sugar together, they turned out great.   I started with the traditional chocolate chip cookie recipe then made a few revisions.  First, I subbed 1/4C brown sugar for white sugar.  I also added a tsp of cinnamon and an extra egg yolk, and used half butter and half crisco. I also only had baking powder so I omitted baking soda and used more baking powder.  Oh yeah I also added some oats in place of 1/2C flour.  I scooped them out by the tablespoon and undercooked them to only 9 minutes.  One thing to remember when baking with toffee is that it hardens as it rests so be sure to undercook!  Okay so I made a lot of revisions but they were still great.

IMG_1587 IMG_1586

The blondie recipe was a little more exact with the substitution of butter flavored crisco and a little underbaked, I was a happy camper.  I believe I referenced this Hershey’s recipe and subbed the chocolate chips with Reese’s Pieces and toffee bits


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk (I used almond)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) HERSHEY’S Mini Chips Semi-Sweet Chocolate


    1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line a 8X8 in pan with parchment paper

    2. Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat butter and brown sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, milk and vanilla; beat well. Gradually add flour mixture, beating well. Stir in small chocolate chips. Spread in prepared pan.

    3. Bake 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool in pan on wire rack. It may seem underbaked but do not panic!

    IMG_1548 IMG_1547

    Food, Fun, recipe, Sweets

    Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

    I had all the ingredients needed to make cinnamon rolls on a day off.  I turned to Allrecipes 90 minute cinnamon rolls (although they take longer than that).  I spent a lot of time studying up on a perfect yeast roll and read through many of the 1666 reviews on the site.  Some of the tips I got were to watch the oozing filling, add extra cinnamon, bake longer if choosing to bake in a tray as opposed to a muffin tin, and let them rise an hour (not the recommended 30 minutes).  I was not interested in cream cheese frosting so the powdered sugar, vanilla, whole milk, and butter method made the cut. Although the recipe calls to use a muffin tin, I opted for the baking pan for all the rolls to remain gooey.  The filling oozed out of the pan, but it was worth any of the cleanup trouble. The only other alteration I made was to use butter flavored crisco in the dough.  I made sure to use butter in the filling for the flavor, but the crisco makes for the best dough in my opinion.


    • 3/4 cup milk
    • 1/4 cup butter flavored crisco, softened
    • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 (.25 ounce) package instant yeast
    • 1/4 cup white sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 1 egg
    • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
    • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon (I used nearly 2)
    • 1/2 cup butter, softened


    1. Heat the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Mix in crisco; stir until melted. Let cool until lukewarm.
    2. In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 1/4 cup flour, yeast, sugar and salt; mix well. Add water, egg and the milk mixture; beat well. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When the dough has just pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes.
    3. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, cinnamon, softened margarine.
    4. Roll out dough into a 12×9 inch rectangle. Spread dough with margarine/sugar mixture. Sprinkle with raisins if desired. Roll up dough and pinch seam to seal. Cut into 12 equal size rolls and place cut side up in 12 lightly greased muffin cups. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
    5. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until browned. Remove from muffin cups to cool. Serve warm

    These were so good I made sure to take a lot of pictures

    wet dough

    wet dough

    ready for rising

    ready for rising

    cinnamon sugar filling

    cinnamon sugar filling

    ready for rest

    ready for rest

    pre baked

    pre baked

    post baked

    post baked

    frosted goodies

    frosted goodies

    devouring the tray

    devouring the tray

    the money shot

    the money shot

    Dining, Food, Fun, NYC

    Keep Your Eye Upon The Donut

    As mom arrives in town I had a nice egg bake to kickstart the NYC weekend.  Simple chest eggs atop a layer of hash browns baked 15 minutes before adding the eggs, caramelized onions, and cheese.  IMG_3124 IMG_3125   Then we were off running in the Jingle Bell Run where we met Santa and received lots of tasty goodies including my favorite tortilla chips.  They also gave us Lara bars which I did not enjoy at all.


    After the chilly run, we thought it would only be appropriate to treat ourselves to fresh donuts.  It was opening night of the exhibit “Keep Your Eye Upon the Donut” exhibit at the City Reliquary in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  It was a very small (and stereotypical hipster) exhibit, but worth the trek for the free donuts and a delicious dinner at the nearby restaurant Rye after (where we enjoyed more donuts as part of our meal).

    I have officially concluded that I enjoy Donut Plant’s unique square donuts and Peter Pan’s strawberry iced and sprinkled yeast donuts, but after all they are just fried dough.  I am partial to a fresh hot off the press donut and something more interesting than a vanilla, chocolate or maple glazed donut. This was only achieved by the masters behind the  Doughnuttery.  They make all donuts fresh to order and cover with the glaze or sugar combo of your choice(the options are very interesting and tasty).  They come in orders of 6 clocking in at nearly $1 a pop, but they are much better than their bite size cupcake equivalent Baked By Melissa.IMG_3147

    Cheers to the donut! Here we are testing the Peter Pan donuts and above I was literally keeping my eye upon the donut.

    So ready to have the whole Klinger clan return to the big city for the holidays!


    Food, Fun, NYC, Sweets

    Friendsgiving 3- Crunchy Speculoos Blondies

    I had to finish the day off with something sweet so Mary and I also made speculoos blondies.  Now we should all know by now that I love a blondie for their dense under baked quality, and I also love cookie butter.  I needed to introduce my favorite guilty pleasure to Mary who had never tried cookie butter.  Once again I was glad to have some on hand as it was out of stock at TJ’s.  I took the basic recipe from the blog Tasty Retreat which was adapted from traditional peanut butter blondies.

    IMG_3070I need to find a new way to cream my butter and sugar mixture as my little hand mixture seems to spray batter everywhere, so I combined all my ingredients by hand and it turned out great.  These are the ingredients I used.

    • 1/2 cup speculoos (I used a little more)
    • ⅓ cup butter, room temperature
    • ⅔ cup white sugar
    • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
    • 2 eggs
    • ½ teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 cup whole wheat flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips


    Like any other baked good I creamed the butter, sugars, and crunchy speculoos to add air to the batter. Then I whisked in the eggs and vanilla.  And folded the dry ingredients to a thick batter.  I  pressed the batter into a parchment lined 8X8 pan to ensure easy cleanup and baked at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. I sprinkled the chocolate chips over the blondie and placed back in the oven turned off for a minute to melt the chips.  Then I spread out the melted chips for a chocolate layer to top off the treats.  The hardest part was waiting for the chocolate to set.  So we ate them warm with a cup of fresh apple cider from the farmers market down the street.  I like to cut them into little bite size pieces because they are so dense and rich.

    Tips for next time:

    I would add a little cinnamon and nutmeg to my batter as well as a little more speculoos because I love the flavor so much.  I might also try it using milk chocolate chips or speed with more speculoos as Tasty Retreat suggests!IMG_3072

    Food, Fun, NYC, recipe, Sweets

    Pumpkin Post 1- Pumpkin Cake Roll unrolled

    I need to dedicate just a bit more attention to pumpkin season before it slips away.  One of my favorite blogs skinnytaste recently posted 50 different pumpkin treats.  Gina adapted this roll from the Joy of Baking and I adapted the icing a bit from both based on the ingredients I had on hand.  Although I have not posted 50 pumpkin recipes, I picked one that I thought was fun and different.  This pumpkin roll is super decadent and still uses butter, fat, and sugar, just not as much as the traditional recipe.  I thought this would be the perfect treat to bring over to a friend and fellow blogger’s apartment as it looks more impressive than it is.

    I followed the recipe pretty close to what is suggested as I needed to ensure the ratios were correct in the cake to ensure a roll without cracking.  As mentioned above I did change the icing and added pumpkin to that because there was still some leftover from the cake so why not amp up the flavor.  As per usual I doubled the cinnamon and vanilla in the cake to ensure the extra punch of flavor and I did not have any allspice!

    The roll unrolled before and after baking.  Te cake was easily removed thanks to the help of parchment paper.IMG_2861 IMG_2862


    In this recipe patience is key.  You must cool the cake completely before adding the frosting.  It should be rolled then chilled then filled and rerolled.

    okay so one end of mine cracked but no big deal.  The bigger problem is you must cool or freeze the cake before slicing to let the filling set.IMG_2864 IMG_2865



    This recipe is a great one to have over the holidays as it can and should be prepared well in advance.IMG_2880 IMG_2881

    I sprinkled it in cinnamon sugar and served it up!  Here it is in action. * Note: I used a smaller jelly roll pan and loved my results.



    • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 3 large eggs
    • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 2/3 cup canned pumpkin
    • non-stick spray
    • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (to sprinkle on towel)