Archive for April, 2012

We recently celebrated Sensei Phil’s birthday at Karate Club. You’d think with all the celebrating we do, we’d each weigh 800 pounds. But Renshi’s workouts burn 600-1000 calories in the 60-90 minutes we’re on the mat, so we don’t worry about it too much.

Phil asked for “Something fruity…but not fruitcake.”  Well, lucky me – that meant I got to choose something! I love it when that happens! Maple Apple Strudel Bars

I started digging through my recipes and various blogs and found several fruit-based recipes that I’d like to try. But I only needed one, and this is what I settled on.

Taking new recipes for celebrations sometimes makes me nervous. Not only do I not know if the recipe even turned out properly, but I also don’t know if the dessert is going to be any good! And if it isn’t, I’m afraid the celebration will be ruined. Luckily, that hasn’t been a problem so far, knock on wood.

These bars have a somewhat delicate crust that is more like a pie/short pastry crust instead of a cake. You can use any type of apple you like, mix up a variety, and even use pears if you like them. As with most fruit desserts, you can add nuts or leave them out. Click for recipe.

When it came time for the glaze, the recipe called for a basic powdered sugar glaze made with vanilla and milk. When I went to get vanilla from the pantry I noticed my  maple flavoring and thought that would be a good touch for the topping. I was right – the maple glaze was the right touch for the apples.

Colahan Martial Arts Choir Serenading Sensei PhilThe dessert was a hit! I loved it because it reminded me of the pastries we used to get in Chicago when I was growing up. It’s sweet enough without being overly sweet. I’m sure I’ll make this again, and I’m sure – as always – I’ll tweak the recipe. In fact, I wish I had some apples here now, so I could make another pan of those delicious treats!

Lemon Brownies

Lemon BrowniesMore citrus, please! Apparently I like citrus lately. I recently posted the Key Lime Cream Cake I made. Tonight I made Lemon Brownies. Ever heard of those? I hadn’t either, until I found this recipe! I wondered if the texture would be like a brownie or a cake. Recently I made an Apple Brownie recipe, but that had the texture of a cake. It was very good, but it was a cake, not a brownie, so I was a bit disappointed.  I like the dense texture of brownies — not the really gooey ones, but the heavier, drier type.

Well, I “needed” to know the texture of these! I had all the ingredients in-house for this and it’s very simple, so I gave it a try. I made a double batch to fill a 9 x 13 pan because I think making anything in an 8 x 8 pan is a waste of time. By the time I have enough “samples” to determine if I like something or not, there isn’t enough left for anyone else! So 9 x 13 it was. Click for recipe.

While the recipe called for zest and juice from a fresh lemon, I used dried zest from a jar and juice from a bottle. I suspect the lemon flavor may be a bit more pronounced with fresh zest, but I was not disappointed in the flavor of mine. Lemon Brownie Glaze

I wonder about making these with other citrus flavors such as key lime or tangerine, and think I’ll have to give those other flavors a try. But for now, I’m quite satisfied with my lemon brownies!

The only problem I might have is making them last until Monday so I can share them at work. I certainly don’t need to eat a whole pan of them myself, but I’m sure I could!

Lemon Brownies

Adapted from Rita’s Recipes
Stuff you need:

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
4 eggs
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest

Now what?
Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
Mix in the softened butter.
In another bowl, whisk the eggs with the lemon juice and zest.
Add to the larger bowl and mix well.

Pour into lightly greased 9 x 13″ pan.
Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

Remove and let cool completely before adding glaze.

1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
additional lemon zest
Stir together and spread over cooled brownies.

Susana said I could make whatever I wanted for her Banzai Birthday treats. The desserts chosen most frequently for Karate Club contain chocolate and peanut butter. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE chocolate and peanut butter! But not everyone loves chocolate, and I was in the mood for something different. And since it was spring, something lighter sounded good.

Key Lime Cake

Banzai Birthday Treats for Susana

I looked through several recipes before settling on this one. The tartness, the creaminess, the general deliciousness appealed to me. It would be a refreshing dessert after a tough workout. And key lime is sassy, just like Susana — in a good way, of course!  😉

This is a key lime cake topped with a silky key lime cream. Click for recipe. In my opinion, the topping is definitely the best part! I could have skipped the cake and eaten just that!! In fact, one of these days I might.

The original recipe makes a 4-layer torte, but I knew that would be a travel disaster. Ditto for cupcakes, so I made it in a 9 x 13 pan. I mixed up the topping at home, but waited until I got to work to put it on the cake. Whipped cream would be tasty on this and would closely mirror authentic key lime pie, but it’s not necessary. This needs to be refrigerated, so keep that in mind when you make it.

Key Lime Cake - Banzai!

Happy Birthday, Susana!

I was really excited when Susana walked into class and I noticed what she was wearing. She was color-coordinated with her cake! White gi, green belt. White cake, green lime zest. Leave it to Susana to match her dessert, even without knowing what it was!  🙂

This is an easy, refreshing and very delicious cake that’s perfect for spring and summer! I also think the ingredients would make a delish trifle – layers of key lime cake, key lime cream, fresh strawberries and whipped cream. Yep, might have to give that one a try. Not only would it taste good, but the presentation would be spectacular and worthy of a celebration!

Banzai to Susana – and thanks for letting me choose your birthday treats!


Key Lime Cream CakeKey Lime Cream Cake

Adapted from Pillsbury Best of the Bake-Off Cookbook, 1996

Stuff you need:


1 (1 lb. 2.25 oz.) box pudding-included butter recipe cake mix

3 Tablespoons key lime juice plus water to equal 1 cup [Buy key lime juice in the juice section or squeeze fresh key limes.]

1 Tablespoon lime zest [You can use dried lemon zest, but rub between hands when adding to mixture to release oils.]

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

3 eggs


1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk)

1/2 cup key lime juice

1 1/2 cups whipping cream


Additional whipped cream if desired

Lime slices or Key Lime Zest

Now what?

Heat oven to 350F. Grease and flour 9×13 pan.

In large bowl, combine all cake ingredients at low speed until moistened; scrape down bowl and beat 2 minutes at high speed.

Pour batter in greased and floured pan.

Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool completely.

For topping, in small bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk and 1/2 cup key lime juice; mix well and set aside while whipping cream.

In large bowl, beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form.

Fold condensed milk mixture into remaining whipped cream just until blended.

Spread key lime cream over cooled cake. Sprinkle lime zest over top, if using.

Refrigerate 2-3 hours before serving. Store in refrigerator.