Restaurant Style New York Cheesecake

Gone are the days when I used to make cheesecake with unflavored gelatin. I got ahold of a proper cheesecake cookbook and learned how to make ちゃんと chanto (Japanese for "doing things properly") cheesecake. This is the classic cheesecake made even more tempting with tart raspberry sauce. It can be made in advance and frozen. A timeless treat sure to impress.  
1 cup flour
¼ cup quick oats or rolled oats processed in a food processor
4 T sugar
2 T butter 

450g cream cheese
1¼ cup sugar
4 eggs
2 T all-purpose flour
2 t grated lemon zest
 cup heavy cream

Raspberry sauce
1 cup frozen raspberries
sugar to taste

Mix together all the ingredients for the crust and press into the bottom of a lined springform pan. Bake in preheated 325°F oven for 8 minutes or until lightly brown. Cool.

Mix softened cream cheese with sugar. Blend in eggs. Add flour, zest and heavy cream. Mix until smooth. Pour over the crust. Bake in preheated 400°F oven for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 250°F  and continue baking for 35-40 minutes or longer until just barely set. Turn of the oven, leave the door ajar and let cool in the oven for 1 hour or longer. Chill. 

For the sauce, put frozen raspberries in a food processor. Add sugar to taste. I like it on the tart side so just a little sugar works for us. 

Not Quite Apple Pie

Also known as apple crumble or apple crisps. If you're craving the homemade goodness of an apple pie but do not quite feel like rolling pastry, this might just be what you need. I love the sweet crunchy granola-like topping which contrasts with the tartness of the lemon and apples. Celebrate autumn with this dessert. This recipe serves 2-4.

1-2 apples, peeled, cored, sliced/diced
1 t ground cinnamon
1 T lemon juice
¼ cup sugar or taste
2½ T cold butter
¼ cup oats
¼ cup flour
¼ cup chopped pecan nuts

Toss apple in lemon juice, half the cinnamon and half a tablespoon of sugar. Spread in a baking dish. Combine butter, sugar, cinnamon and flour in a bowl until well incorporated. I use a fork and then work it further with my hands. Add the oats and the chopped pecans. Spread this topping over the apples. Bake in 400°F for 15-20 minutes until topping is browned and apples are tender. 

Pecan Addiction

Considered a nut in the culinary sense, pecans are actually a drupe or fruit with a single pit surrounded by a tough outer husk.  Before European settlement, pecans were widely consumed and traded by Native Americans. They were a natural choice of food source as they can provide two to five times more energy per unit weight than wild game and require no preparation. A rich nut with a buttery taste and texture, pecans are considered a super food high in protein and low in carbohydrates, and an excellent source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. A favorite in pies (pecan pies are traditional to southern US), pecans are also the main ingredient in pralines (candy). I have posted a recipe for glazed almonds, but our family prefers the "softness" of pecans. In this stovetop recipe, I toss pecans in butter in a wok and this results in a moister nut than the baked and no butter version.

1 cup pecans
1 T butter
1 T maple syrup
1 t cinnamon powder

Heat pan or wok. Melt butter. Toss pecans and coat. Add maple syrup and cinnamon and mix until well incorporated. Be careful not to burn. Entire process takes less than 5 minutes. Eat as is or top on your favorite breads and pastries.

If Popeye were Japanese

My kids are not particularly excited about spinach, except when I make this dish. Then, there's never enough and they fight for the last bits. So easy to prepare -- it is my go-to dish when I want to add some green to our meals.

1 bunch of spinach
1 T soy sauce
1 T sesame oil
1 T sugar (or less)
1 T ground white sesame seeds

Mix all the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl and set aside. Blanch spinach in boiling water for 20-30 seconds until just wilted. Drain. Rinse in cold water until cool. Slice into 1-2 inch long strips. Squeeze out excess water. Mix with the sauce. Serve. Good even when cold.  

Ironmom Bar

I love fruit and nut bars like Raw Bite and Nakd but only get them when they're half-priced. Then I learned how ridiculously easy they are to make. These three-ingredient bars are chewier and more pliable than the commercial bars and I found that I actually like them better that way. You can make your own variations by adding coconut chips, or cocoa, or adding different dried fruits and nuts. We take these on road trips as they keep well. I'll be seeing a lot of these in the next two years as I train for the Ironmom.  

13-15 pieces medjool dates, pitted (deglet dates work fine but I find medjool more moist)

1 cup dried fruit (I love the tartness of dried cherries and cranberries)
1 cup nuts (my go-to nuts are pecans)

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until everything is broken down fairly well and the ingredients form a ball, pulling off from the sides of the container. Transfer it to an 8x8" pan or glass dish lined with baking paper and press it flat with a spoon. It helps to use a small piece of baking paper to press the bar flat as it can be really sticky. Refrigerate. Slice into bars. 

Chicken Salpicao

Chicken breast is the cheapest cut of meat in Japan so I do collect recipes that manage to bring out the best in chicken breasts (i.e. keep them juicy). I grew up associating salpicao with cubes of beef and it is usually an appetizer or pica-pica (finger food to go with beer). For us, this is a main dish that goes with plain rice. 

500 grams chicken breast cut into bite-size pieces

3 cloves garlic for marinating + 3 more for sauteeing
3 T worcestershire sauce
3 T Bragg's Liquid Aminos 
1 T ground black pepper
2 T butter
Button mushrooms sliced (dish is still great without mushrooms)

Marinate chicken in garlic, pepper, worcestershire sauce and Bragg's Liquid Aminos for at least an hour. Heat butter in pan. Saute garlic and mushrooms. Toss in chicken but do not put in all the sauce. The dish might end up too salty. Cook until chicken is done and serve hot. 

Punjab Eggplant

Summer's here and a neighbor gives me a HUGE bag of organic eggplant she proudly harvested from her garden. I do not like eggplant. In fact when I was younger, it's the one vegetable I avoided in Pinakbet (a popular Filipino mixed vegetable dish my Dad loved). I was determined though to make good use of vegetables given to me. At the organic center where I work, we sell Tasty Bite's Punjab Eggplant. I looked at the ingredients and kind of worked out how it was made and added my own twists. Now, I find myself buying eggplant just to make this dish. It's that good!

 2 eggplants
oil for brushing on the eggplants
butter for sauteing
1 t grated ginger
1 small onion chopped
1-2 cloves garlic crushed
½ t turmeric
1 t cumin
½ t coriander
½ cup crushed tomatoes (I use half a box of Italian tomatoes)
salt and pepper to taste
chili or cayenne pepper (optional)
chopped fresh cilantro for topping (cilantro is not usually available in Japan so I usually make this dish without but it's wonderful if you have access to cilantro!)

Brush eggplants with oil. Roast for 30 minutes in the oven (roast or broil setting). Cool and peel off skin and discard. Chop up eggplants. Heat pan/pot, melt butter. Fry up onions, garlic and ginger in butter. Add the spices. Add the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer. If you have a Thermos Shuttle Chef, leave the pot inside until ready to serve. 

Goodbye Nantucket Cookies (Pecan Chocolate)

Every time I pass Costco's snack aisles (a dangerous place!), I feel Pepperidge Farm's Nantucket Cookies call my name. They look so scrumptious. I love Pepperidge Farm's Milanos so I know these would be just as addicting. But I refuse to spend ¥1,500++ on cookies. Fortunately, I can make cookies so good I don't feel Nantucket beckon me anymore. I know a lot of cookie recipes say the nuts are optional but in this recipe, they are absolutely essential.

½ cup butter
¾ cup sugar
1 egg
½ T vanilla
1 cup flour
½ t baking soda
½ t baking powder
½ cup oats
¾ cup chopped pecan nuts
¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda and baking powder. Fold in oats, pecan nuts and chocolate chips. Put balls of dough on a pan and freeze (After they have frozen, you can put the dough balls into a freezer bag for later use). To bake, put dough balls in a cookie tray spacing them properly. Bake in 350°F for about 12 minutes or until done. 

Vietnamese Wrap and Roll

I recently visited Ho Chi Minh with my colleagues at the organic center that I work at. Vietnam is home to these wonderful pork and shrimp salad rolls. I can eat these everyday. They are healthy and do not leave you feeling heavy.  Since I couldn't bring my family to Vietnam, I brought Vietnam to our dinner table for my family. Put some lemongrass oil in a diffuser and enjoy a gastronomic trip with these rolls.

1-2 small packs glass noodles or harusame or vermicelli noodles
200 g thinly sliced pork
5-6 T The Best Grilled Meat Marinade (for cooking the pork)
1 carrot, sliced into long thin strips
200 g shrimp
a couple slices of ginger (for cooking the shrimp)
lettuce leaves (1 leaf per roll needed)
Vietnamese roll rice paper sheets
fresh cilantro (I didn't have these and they're usually quite expensive in the supermarket so I substituted with nira or garlic chives and it worked wonderfully -- but if you have access to cilantro, these are the cat's meow!)
cucumber, sliced into long thin strips (optional)

Pan fry pork in The Best Grilled Meat Marinade until done. Set aside.

Boil ginger slices in salted water. Toss in peeled and deveined shrimps. Cook until done. Slice in half lengthwise. Set aside.

Soak glass noodles in water for at least 20 minutes. Blanch in boiling water. Cool in running cold water. Drain. Set aside.

Dip two sheets of rice paper in water until completely damp on both sides and they have become soft and pliable. Lay on a plate one on top of the other. Put a piece of lettuce on the bottom half of the paper. Layer with carrots, coriander or garlic chives, cucumber (if using), pork pieces, and a clump of noodles. Fold bottom portion of the paper over the filling and fold in the left and the right sides. Place 2 shrimp halves over the top of the roll. Roll wrapper tightly until the edges seal shut. Serve with the dipping sauces below. 

Nut based dipping sauce

2 T soy sauce
1 T nut butter (I've successfully used peanut butter and almond butter, smooth and crunchy both okay)
1 T honey
1 T lemon or lime
1 T vinegar
1 T sesame oil
dash of pepper
1 clove garlic minced
chili powder (I eliminated this to make it kid-friendly)

Combine all ingredients and blend well. 

Fish sauce based dipping sauce
You may not be a fan of fish sauce but do give this sauce a try. The final sauce does not taste too strong or too fishy and is in fact a really delightful blend of sweet, salty and sour. 

2 cloves garlic peeled and finely chopped
1½ T sugar or honey
2 T lemon or lime
1 t vinegar
2 T fish sauce
¼ cup water
chili paste or sliced fresh chili (I eliminated this to make it kid-friendly)

Combine all ingredients and mix well. 

The Best Grilled Meat Marinade

Every Saturday between 11 a.m. to 12 noon, the supermarket we go to sets up several tasting stations. There would usually be a station near the meats featuring a yakiniku (grilled meat) sauce. The ingredient list does not match the price (Really? This much for mostly soy sauce?) and often includes MSG. Then I chanced upon a priceless recipe on Cookpad which yields a really lovely sauce. That recipe included MSG. I don't know why the author felt the need for it -- the sauce was perfect without it. I keep a bottle of this in the fridge and just add a new batch with the strained old sauce.

300 ml soy sauce

100 ml sake
100 ml mirin
5 T sugar
2 T honey
¼ apple or pear, sliced in half lengthwise
8 cloves of garlic, crushed
4 knobs of ginger, sliced

Put everything in a clean jar and mix well. Screw the lid on loosely. Leave in room temperature for about 10 days to age. Mix with a spoon from time to time. After 10 days, refrigerate. The sauce tastes better with time. You can mix a new batch of sauce with strained old sauce. 

Cheapo Aussie Bites

Costco sells bite sized snacks called Aussie Bites. They're absolutely delicious but also very expensive. A simple Google search yielded a copycat recipe, but I encountered a number of problems with it: I didn't have all the ingredients. I didn't have muffin tins. I was not too excited about the extra step of cooking quinoa. And it was a tad too sweet. The fruits were already naturally sweet and honey is needed to bind the ingredients so the sugar in the copycat recipe was superfluous. I also eliminated oil as there was already butter in it. So here is my cheapo take on a nutrition packed pick-me-up snack. Making them into bars worked fine. My kids absolutely love this and kept asking for more. 

1¾ cups rolled oats

¼ cup dried apricots
¼ cup dried cranberries (copycat recipe used raisins but I only have dried cranberries and I find they add a nice tartness)
¼ cup + 1 T flax chia blend 
¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
(¼ cup sunflower seeds - I didn't have it for this time but if I did, I would add this in. It's still fab without)
¼ t baking soda
½ t vanilla extract
¼ cup melted butter
¼ cup honey or less (maple syrup works well too)

Pulse 1 cup oats in a food processor until pulverized. Add the rest of the oats, dried apricots, dried cranberries, flax chia blend, coconut flakes, sunflower seeds and baking soda and pulse until dried fruits are reduced to small pieces. Add in the wet ingredients and pulse till blended nicely. Press into a baking pan and make sure to pack it in tight. Bake in 350°F for 10-12 minutes until browned. Take out of the oven to cool. Midway in the cooling, slice into squares. They may feel like they're going to crumble but rest assured that when they cool completely, they will be pretty solid. 

Not Exactly Shepherd's Pie

The first time I've had "shepherd's pie" was at a children's party. Someone brought a meat-based mashed potato and cheese topped casserole and I liked it a lot. The person who made it said it was extremely easy and recited the recipe right off the bat. I made a mental note to make this dish when I have a surplus of ground meat and potatoes. What I learned as I researched more about the dish is that technically, shepherd's pie uses lamb. If beef is used, it's called cottage pie. If topped with bread crumbs, it's called Cumberland pie (see more technicalities on Jamie Oliver's 10 things you didn't know about shepherd's pie). Jamie Oliver has his own recipe with a difficulty rating of "Showing Off".  I usually like Jamie Oliver's recipes but this list of ingredients sound too alien (almost snobbish) to me. It includes shoulder of lamb, bone in (which cannot be found in any supermarket in Japan), 1 medium swede (what in the world is that?) and Maris Piper potatoes (not to be confused with Anastasia Beeverhausen potatoes). A mix of ground pork and ground beef is widely available in Japanese supermarkets so this is what I used for my Not Exactly Shepherd's Pie. A British friend remarked that traditionalists might see this strange combination of meats a violation. He might also be further horrified by the worcestershire-ketchup-soy sauce combination of many a Japanese "shepherd's pie" recipe.  But violation or not, this has become one of our comfort food. It has the difficulty rating of you-can-make-it-while-Facebooking.

5-6 medium potatoes
1-2 T butter
½ cup milk (or more)

500 g ground meat
½ -1 cup frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, corn, green peas mix)
1 onion chopped finely
4 cloves garlic crushed
3 T worcestershire sauce
1 T tomato paste
½ cup tomato chunks
1 t Better than Bouillon soup base
rosemary (not critical)
salt and pepper to taste
oil for sauteing

bread crumbs

Boil potatoes in salted water until soft enough for a fork to go through. Drain water then mash with butter. Add milk until you reach desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Sauté onion, garlic and meat in oil. Add mixed vegetables. Add worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, tomato chunks, bouillon soup base and rosemary. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.

In a casserole, layer meat, then mashed potatoes. Top with cheese and bread crumbs. Bake or use the broil function of your oven for about 10-20 minutes in 350°F or until the top is nicely browned (since most of the dish is already cooked, we're simply grilling and browning the top of the dish). Give it some 30 minutes to cool off before serving.

Everyday is Christmas Glazed Almonds

Cinnamon and maple glazed almonds spell Christmas but you need not wait for Christmas for this seriously addicting but thankfully healthy treat. So easy to make you will toss out this recipe after reading it. It's just 1-1-1 and multiply it as many times as you want. You can also use these to top a salad.

1 cup almonds
1 T maple syrup
1 t cinnamon powder

Toss almonds in maple syrup and cinnamon. Line baking pan with parchment paper. Bake for 12-15 minutes in 350°F. Cool and enjoy.

My Japanese Table's Terriyaki Chicken Balls

Not all cookbooks are created equal. Debra Samuel's My Japanese Table: A Lifetime of Cooking with Friends and Familyis one of the few cookbooks I enjoyed leafing through.  A good cookbook inspires me to get on my feet and try making new dishes. These chicken balls were quite easy to make and delicately tasty. Great for bentos too.

½ cup cornstarch or katakuriko
500 g ground chicken
½ t salt
1 large egg white, beaten until foamy
2 t grated ginger
¼ t pepper
2 green onions finely chopped

Mix ground chicken, salt, egg white, ginger, pepper and green onions. Scoop up a spoonful and shape into a ball. Roll in cornstarch. In a pot, boil the following:

3 cups water
2 t dashi powder (optional) or 1 sachet of natural dashi
2 slices fresh ginger

Drop the chicken balls in. Move them a bit so they don't stick to the bottom of the pot. Boil until they change color (to white) and float easily in the broth. Remove the balls. Toss them in the terriyaki sauce below. Serve them as is or skewered in a stick. 
Terriyaki sauce (I made 1/4 of this recipe for the chicken balls above)

2 cups mirin
2 cups sake
6 T brown sugar
1 cup soy sauce
6 slices ginger, smashed

In a saucepan, bring mirin and sake to a boil. Add sugar, soy sauce and ginger. Boil on medium heat for about 15 minutes or until sauce thickens. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator. It can keep for months. 

Essence of Japan Moist Matcha Pound Cake

Every now and then I get a craving for a green tea-ish dessert. The bitterness of green tea balances nicely with things sweet. This craving sometimes takes the form of a cake. Pound cakes are probably the easiest cakes to make: just mix and bake. I can make this cake in 30 minutes (including baking time!). If you hate dry crumbly cakes, you will love this recipe. It yields a wonderfully moist cake, thanks to the yoghurt. I usually make half the recipe else I get tempted to eat the whole thing. 

½ cup butter
¾ cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 T plain yoghurt
1 cup flour
1 T matcha
½ t baking powder

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and yoghurt. Add the dry ingredients. Mix well. Pour into a lined pound cake pan. Bake for 10 minutes in 350°F. Take out and use a knife to draw a vertical line on the cake's surface. Put back into the oven and bake another 10-20 minutes in 325°F (if baking just half of this recipe, 10 minutes will do. If doing the full recipe, longer time might be required. Use a toothpick to check the doneness of the middle). 

Abunai Chocolate Cookies

Abunai. A word uttered frequently by Japanese moms. It means "dangerous" or in the imperative, "Look out!"

It also describes this chocolate cookie. It is what my neighbor said when I gave her some. One has to look out lest an entire batch is consumed without thinking. It's that good.

½ cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
 cup cocoa
½ t baking soda
pinch of salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg, and vanilla extract. Mix in dry ingredients. Fold in chocolate. Bake in 350°F for 9-10 minutes. Cool and enjoy with coffee.

Effortless Paella

"Paella is not an easy dish." (quoted from actual recipes)

And I have always thought so too, until I made this up, taking the essentials from various recipes. Paella, for me, should have the following characteristics: 

1. Rice is not soggy. 
2. It has to be yellow. 
3. It's got a distinct cumin-meat-seafood flavor. 
4. There's paprika or bell peppers cooked until nicely soft. 
5. The rice is deliciously browned and caramelized at the bottom.

Thanks to the even cooking of the rice cooker, an essential in every Asian home, you get perfectly cooked rice that is browned at the bottom every single time. Is it authentic Valencian Paellla? Probably not but who cares? We love it. It's an effortless one-pot flavorful dish that I guarantee you'll make again. 

1 cup rice (I used Japanese rice)
½ onion, choped 
2-3 cloves garlic minced
1 red bell pepper/paprika diced (I have also used yellow, orange and green peppers successfully in the past but prefer bright red in my paella
50-100g shrimp and/or scallops
50-100g chicken breast diced
1 chorizo sausage or similar sliced (The closest thing I could find is beer sausage)
1 T olive oil
½ t turmeric powder
½ t cumin
1 t Better than Bouillon soup base + 1 t Bragg's Liquid Aminos (These two are staples in my kitchen and are very versatile but in the event you don't have either, go with chicken broth)
pepper to taste 

Wash the rice. Place rice in the rice cooker with the recommended amount of water or broth if doing chicken broth (follow the line indicated on the pot). Set aside. Heat olive oil in a pan. Saute onions and garlic. Add paprika, shrimp and/or scallops, sausage, and chicken. Turn off heat when chicken turns white but not fully cooked. Pour everything into the rice cooker. Add the turmeric, cumin, black pepper, the Better than Bouillon soup base and Bragg's Liquid Aminos. Stir to gently mix. Press the cook button on your rice cooker. That's it!

Club Bistek

When I was a child, my family had a membership at a sports club. Almost every afternoon in the summer, my sisters and I would swim at the club's pool. The pool was near the lounge and every now and then, mouthwatering smells from the lounge's restaurant would waft to the pool area and one of their specialties is "Bistek Tagalog" (Tagalog Beef Steak). I believe our nose has its own memory because every time I smell the distinctly wonderful smell of onions and garlic in butter, I can also almost smell the chlorine of the swimming pool and I am transported back to the happy days of my childhood. This recipe is an attempt to recreate that wonderfully savoury dish, Bistek Tagalog which the club restaurant serves in a sizzling plate. For bistek, calamansi is usually used, a citrus local to the Philippines. Since it's almost impossible to find calamansi in Japan, I substituted lemon which can be found in any supermarket.  I am also partial to using the nice thin slices of pork as my kids find that easier to eat than beef or even pork chop slices. Soy sauce is crucial to this dish. It is essential for marinating the meat and it gives the meat and the onions a beautiful caramel color. 

3 cloves garlic chopped finely
ground black pepper
1-2 T fresh lemon juice
3-4 T soy sauce
300 g thinly sliced pork (or beef if preferred)
1 large onion sliced into ring
1 T butter (or olive oil if preferred)

Mix the garlic, ground black pepper, lemon juice and soy sauce in a bowl. Marinate the thinly sliced pork in this mixture for at least 30 minutes. In a frying pan, heat the butter or oil on medium high and pan fry the onions until soft. Move to the side of the pan. Pan fry the pork pieces until done but do not overcook. Serve hot with rice.

Simply Stroganoff

Growing up in Manila, I have always associated stroganoff with upscale restaurants. In my recollections, the menus featuring this dish would always be written in fancy curly fonts and served in an ambiance of fine dining. Stroganoff is a delectable fare that I equate with the luxury of eating out. When I moved to Japan about five years ago, I craved stroganoff and wished to recreate the dish I remember back home but sour cream, one of the essential ingredients is difficult to find, and if available, too expensive. I discovered that if I strained plain yoghurt (which is widely available in supermarkets and convenience stores and is relatively cheap), I end up with something that is very similar to sour cream. The resulting dish is as delicious but doesn’t leave you with a heavy feeling afterwards and so I believe this version is healthier. Most stroganoff recipes call for salt but I prefer to use soy sauce and Bragg's Liquid Aminos. They bring out the flavor of the pork and the mushrooms better than salt and it blends nicely with yoghurt creating a satisfying sauce that complements pasta wonderfully. It is so easy to recreate this five star dish and this healthier version is a great addition to our family’s weekly dinner fare, thus, Simply Stroganoff!

300 g plain yoghurt
1T butter (or olive oil if preferred)
1 large onion
150 g fresh mushrooms (or canned if fresh are unavailable)
300 g pork thinly sliced (thinly sliced beef can also be used)
2 T soy sauce
ground black pepper

Prepare the yoghurt at least 2 hours before cooking. Place the yoghurt on a cheesecloth lined strainer and drain off the excess liquid or the whey to end up with a thicker creamier consistency. Slice the onions into rings. Slice the mushrooms into small pieces. Heat 1 tbsp butter in a pan over medium high heat. Saute the onions until slightly browned and then toss in the sliced mushrooms and heat through. Add the thinly sliced pork. Season with pepper, soy sauce, and Bragg's Liquid Aminos. Heat through and make sure that the pork is done but don't overcook. Turn off the heat. Add the thickened yoghurt and mix until fully incorporated. Serve it over cooked pasta or rice and top with parsley.

Hollywood's Lemon Squares

I confess to being a Hollywood magazine junkie. There is something irresistible about the combination of beautiful people and chaotic lives I find absolutely riveting. But I also end up saying "I want my hour back" after wasting it leafing through pages of expensively dressed stars. I did get one wonderful thing out of my bad habit -- this recipe for Michael Romano's Lemon Squares came from People magazine. I halved it and adjusted the baking times to my satisfaction. It is my go-to sweet if I am craving something refreshing and citrusy.

1 cup and 2 T flour divided
1 cup sugar divided (¼ cup and ¾ cup)
½ cup butter
2 large eggs slighly beaten
Juice of 1 lemon
powdered sugar

Whisk 1 cup flour with ¼ cup sugar. Work softened butter until combined. Press onto an 8x8 inch pan or similar. Bake 20-25 minutes in 350°F until firm and golden. Combine ¾ cup sugar and 2 T flour. Whisk in eggs and lemon juice. Pour over crust. Bake 20-25 minutes in 325°F until just barely set. Cool. Dust with powdered sugar.