First up, the cheese straws. Now, when I was in my teens, I went to every wedding I could get an invitation to, NOT because of the actual wedding, but because inevitably there would be cheese straws on the reception food table! I love these things, that's why I rarely make them without a really good excuse!
- One pound sharp cheddar cheese. (I used 1/2 lb. sharp and 1/2 lb. extra sharp)
- Two sticks (1 cup) margarine, softened (see below for my trick to soften margarine quicker)
- Three cups all purpose flour
- Several dashes cayenne (red) pepper (I used about 1/8 teaspoon)
Cream together cheese and margarine. Add flour and pepper. Mix thoroughly. Force through cookie press, using the star design, onto greased cookie sheet. Make into long strips and break into shorter ones later. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 - 15 minutes until lightly browned. Do not overcook.
* My tips for this recipe: 1) Don't use pre-shredded cheese, shred your own cheese! It only takes a couple of minutes, and really does make a difference in the flavor and texture of the cheese straws. 2) If you don't want to bake all the recipe at once, the dough freezes well for up to two months. Allow to thaw fully before pressing.
Simply place the cold butter, etc. on a metal cake pan, turned upside down on the counter. Every 5 to 10 minutes, turn the package 1/4 turn. The cold ingredients should be soft enough to use in 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the room temperature. What actually happens, is the metal pulls the cold away from the food, and helps it to soften faster. This is also great for thawing frozen meats like ground beef, chicken breasts or pork chops.
And on to the lemon bars!
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
Cream 1 cup flour, butte and confectioners sugar. Press mixture into a greased 8 or 9 inch square pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, allow to cool while you make the filling.
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice (I also added zest of one lemon for extra lemony goodness!)
- 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Mix eggs, sugar, salt and lemon juice. Add 2 tablespoons flour and baking powder. Mix well. Pour over cool crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with additional confectioners sugar while hot. Cool, then place in refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Cut into bars. Makes 1 dozen.
If you've never had lemon bars, and love lemon, you really should try these - they are so delicious!!!