Since moving to Pensacola, FL, we’ve finally begun to settle into our new home. We’ve put brick edging around the front gardens, planted a few tropical plants and palms, learned that to hang curtains in a home that is up to hurricane code you must drill through metal, and even hung a few pictures (because homes that are built with hurricane codes also have a lot of studs). Chris has been getting to know his new squadron and is beginning to work with the students. I have been adjusting to my new “haute mama” figure since I am 27 weeks pregnant! Our soon to be baby girl will be called “Baby Hylander” for the sake of this blog, but we are pleased to share this good news with you! She gives us so much happiness and joy! With every kick, wave, and dance, we are reassured she is a healthy and happy baby. We are so blessed! Despite all the “goings ons,” we’ve also made time to meet new people, visit with old friends, enjoy some sun and surf on the beach, and eat some of the best seafood in town.
This past Saturday, we decided to invite a few of our friends over for what I call an “Impromptu BBQ,” a barbecue or cookout with little to no planning. We originally planned to hold the event outdoors, but due to the rain from “possible Tropical Storm Ferdinand,” we held it indoors. The usual suspects were on the menu: Chips and Dip, Hamburgers and Hot Dogs, Baked Beans, Coleslaw and Sweet Tea! I made a special dessert and drink for the occasion simply because I like the last thing my guests taste to be the most memorable. For the “Impromptu BBQ,” I made Lemon ‘n’ Lime Bars and Lemon Drop Punch.
Both recipes require a lot of lemon and lime juice. I think my husband, Chris, and I squeezed over a dozen lemons. He said, “This is a lot of work for bar cookies and punch!” I replied, “Yes but it’s worth it! What do you think we do in the (commercial) kitchen?” He retorted, “Well, now I know why Chefs get burned out!” Even though there is some truth to this, I fell out laughing. “Perhaps this is why most people don’t make things from scratch anymore,” I replied. If you are short on time and are in need of a cheat, just remember each lemon contains about 3 Tablespoons of juice and each lime contains about 2 Tablespoons of juice. (according to http://www.thekitchn.com) Feel free to use pre-squeezed, store bought lemon and lime juice!
Lemon ‘n’ Lime bars don’t require as much juice as the punch does, but they are just as flavorful! With a shortbread crust, the tangy flavors of lemon and lime truly steal the show without being too powerful. Limes are often recognized for their sweet flavor in Key Lime Pie, a Florida staple. So, in a way, this is a small tribute to my new hometown. In this combination, the sweetness of the lime juice cuts the sourness of lemon juice, leaving your guests with a smoother, less stringent aftertaste.
Lemon Drop Punch is mostly made up of a Lemon Simple Syrup, Ginger Ale and Water. So, it is also more sweet than sour. This libation was inspired by one of my favorite Pistol Annies songs, “Lemon Drop.” Like the lyrics, “My life is like a lemon drop, I’m sucking on the bitter to get to the sweet part, I know there are better days ahead,” this punch is cheerful and refreshing! The Lemon Simple Syrup, used to make this punch, is very versatile. So, if your “sucking on the bitter,” feel free to add it to unsweetened tea or vodka for a little lemon sweetness. Enjoy!
Lemon ‘n’ Lime Bars
Complete with a shortbread crust, the sweetness of the lime juice cuts the sourness of lemon juice, leaving your guests with a smoother, less stringent aftertaste. Makes 16 individual bars.
- 2 cups AP flour
- 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 Tbsp lemon zest (JR Watkins makes pre made lemon peel/zest that can be found in the spice section of your local grocery store, if you are looking to save time.)
- 1/2 Tbsp lime zest
- 1/6 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed or store bought
- 1/6 cup lime juice, freshly squeezed or store bought
- 1/4 cup AP flour
- TT green food coloring** (optional)
- TT confectioner’s sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Add butter to mixing bowl. Using a mixer, mix butter until it becomes a creamy, more pliable texture. Add flour and confectioner’s sugar. Mix until ingredients are thoroughly combined and begin to cling together. It should look like a crumbly cookie dough. Press dough into the bottom of a 9×13 pan (I like to use a glass pan so my guests can see all the yummy layers.) and bake for 20-25 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
Add lemon and lime zest, lemon and lime juice, green food coloring (optional), eggs, sugar, and flour to a medium sized mixing bowl and stir until evenly combined. Once crust is done, pour citrus mixture over crust evenly. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until center is set and does not jiggle. Once bars are done, allow them to cool on a cooling rack until room temperature. Cover and store in refrigerator overnight and cut bars when ready to serve. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and serve immediately. Cover and store any remaining lemon bars in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Enjoy!
- 5 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 cups water– 2 cups lemon juice
- 3 Tbsp lemon peel or zest, fresh or store bought
To Make Punch:
- 2 qts water
- 3 cups ginger ale
In a saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil. Stir consistently until mixture becomes a syrup. In an airtight, heat-resistant container, combine syrup with lemon juice and lemon peel. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature and store in the refrigerator. Let it “season up” overnight, strain and serve the following day. Add remaining water and ginger ale to mixture before service. Serve punch over ice and enjoy!
For More Lemon Libations, use Lemon Simple Syrup to make these delicious drinks…
In a shaker, combine Lemon Simple Syrup, vodka and ice. Shake until mixed well, strain and serve in a martini glass. For a bit of elegance, rim glasses with lemon juice and sugar or crushed lemon drops. Add a lemon twist and enjoy!
Sweet Southern Iced Tea
- 3 qts Luzianne Tea (premade)
- 1 qt Lemon Simple Syrup
In a saucepan, brew tea according to manufacturer’s instructions. Allow tea to cool. In a 1 gallon pitcher or beverage dispenser, combine tea with Lemon Simple Syrup and chill until service. Pour over ice and serve. This brew is best served in a mason jar tumbler, don’t you agree?! Enjoy!