Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Day Deliciousness! Lemon Bars and Spinach/Onion Dip

I love Memorial Day. I love the cookouts. I love the excuse to drink beer at 2pm. I love an excuse for hot dogs and brats and cheeseburgers.

I also love the excuse to try a few new appetizer and dessert recipes for a cookout.

A friend of mine hosted. She provided the meat and drinks, and everybody brought a little something. I'm going to admit, I take a little pride and hit another notch in the bedpost knowing I bring some pretty good food to potlucks. I'm turning into my mother.

Yesterday, I made lemon squares from Cooking Light and a caramelized onion and spinach dip from Real Simple.  Let's start with these lemon squares...

It's hard to go wrong with something that's 100% lemon. But these weren't the BEST lemon squares I've made. HOWEVER, they do have less sugar and are a healthier version of the lemon square. So if you're watching your weight or your sugar intake, these are a great alternative to the full-sugar version. Instead of using an entire cup of butter, this recipe calls for canola oil and, surprisingly, pine nuts! I actually really liked addition of pine nuts, and think I would put them in the full-fat, full-sugar lemon squares in the future. The added crunch and nutty flavor in the crust was a big plus.


  • 3/4 c. flour
  • 1/4 c. powdered sugar
  • 3 T. pine nuts, TOASTED and coarsely chopped
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 2 T chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 T canola oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 T. flour
  • 1 t. grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg white
  • 2 T. powdered sugar

Preheat the over to 350 degrees. Toast the pine nuts until slightly browned. In a food processor, pulse flour, 1/4 c. powdered sugar, pine nuts, and salt a few times. Add butter and canola oil and pulse until mixture combines, but it should be a bit grainy still. Place mixture into bottom of an 8-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray, and press firmly into pan. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Reduce heat to 325 degrees. 

Combine granulated sugar and next 5 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Pour mixture over crust. Bake at 325 for 20  minutes or until set. Let cool completely in pan, then cover and chill for a few hours. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. 

The taste was pretty standard, but my complaint is in how the lemon curd set oddly...not bad...just different. Not as pretty as you'd want. But it was easy to make...

...And this spinach and caramelized onion dip was even easier to pull together quickly.  Note: This recipe made A LOT of dip. A lot. If you're having a smaller party, cut this recipe in half.


  • 3 T olive oil
  • 2 med. onions, chopped - I used one large onion and had enough!
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 16-oz container sour cream
  • 1 10-oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess liquid - THIS IS IMPORTANT! Or you will end up with watery dip. 
  • 1 T white wine vinegar
  • Veggies or crackers for serving

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 t. pepper and cook, stirring often, until golden brown. You do need to pay good attention to these onions. If you leave them alone for too long, they can quickly burn, and your caramelization process will be a big bust. But don't obsess over them either, or they'll NEVER cook! They'll need about 15 minutes to cook. Transfer to a medium bowl to cool. 

Add the sour cream, spinach, vinegar, 3/4 t. salt, and 1/4 t. pepper to the onions and mix to combine. Serve with veggies. 

So what did you do with your extra day off? Did you make anything fun/exciting/crazy? Or do you have a staple that you stick to?? I hope you had some time to relax as well!

I wasn't the only one excited about some lemon bars!!

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