A Breath of Sunshine

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We are growing tired of winter winds whipping, snow piled up in hugh mountains, and very little green(ery) to be seen.  So along comes a breath of sunshine in the form of citrus fruits to remind us of warm weather and sunnier times.  The bright colors of oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits, are so cheerful, and they show up in the produce isles just when we need them most.  I don’t know about you, but I am ready for a little warm weather fling.

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Citrus fruits are an equal opportunity ingredient, happy in either savory dishes or sweet.  For example, I use orange segments in green salad to brighten it up and give the salad a little interest and of course I bake with citrus, especially lemons. This post is not going to be using words like zippy, zingy, tangy and tart to describe the flavors of citrus.   You don’t need me to tell you what a lemon tastes like, or how frequently a recipe calls for lemon juice.  In fact I don’t know of a cuisine that does not use citrus in one way or another.  It’s the citric acid that brightens food and makes it come alive.  Often its there,  you don’t know it, but it provides balance.

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One of my favorite uses for lemons is to make lemon squares.  With the abundance of  all this citrus, I decided to indulge myself and make a batch.   This recipe uses oatmeal as one of the ingredients in the cookie base and the topping, so you get a nice little crunch in every bite.  Paired with the smooth creaminess of the lemon filling, this makes a very satisfying dessert or snack.

LEMON CREME SQUARES

YIELD:   12 squaresIMG_3154

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup butter, slightly softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  •  zest of 1 lemon

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F,  and lightly grease a 9″ x 9″ pan

2.  In a large bowl cut butter into brown sugar until they are well combined.

3.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder.  Add this mixture and the oats to the butter mixture and mix to combine.  This will be quite dry and crumbly.

4.  Press half the crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan, and press down lightly.

5.   In a small bowl mix together the condensed milk, lemon juice and zest.

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Spread evenly on top of the oat mixture in the pan.  Top with the remaining oat mixture.

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6.  Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown.  Let cool and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until set.  Cut into bars and store in the refrigerator.

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SOURCE:   TASTE OF HOME BAKING

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