Lemon Brownies

Is there anything more stressful than getting a family picture taken?  It is impossible to get all 8 of us smiling, at the camera, at the same time.  I came to terms with that even before we left the house.

We had 145 pictures taken and I still had to try to pick the best one because absolutely none of them had us all smiling, looking at the camera together.
Some of my favorites were the goofy ones and those taken when we weren't paying attention.  They definitely show our family's true personality :)

I guess these really can't be called brownies, but it is the best way to describe them so you can understand their texture.  Moist and dense = perfection.

All of my kids loved them, but a couple thought the glaze was too intense using both the lemon zest and the juice.  To me, it was perfect but you could certainly substitute some milk for the lemon juice.

Lemon Brownies
makes 9x13 pan
(recipe adapted from Bakergirl)
2 sticks butter, room temperature
1 1/2 C sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
2 Tb freshly grated lemon zest (about 2 medium lemons)
1/4 C fresh lemon juice (about 2 medium lemons)
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 C flour

1 C powdered sugar
2 Tb fresh lemon juice
1 Tb freshly grated lemon zest

1.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly spray the inside of a 9x13 glass pan with non-stick spray.
2.  Beat together with an electric mixer, the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, and scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Add the lemon juice, zest and salt.  Beat until combined.  Add the flour and mix just until combined.
3.  Spread the batter evenly in your pan and bake for 25 minutes until the edges are beginning to brown.  Cool completely before mixing together the glaze ingredients and spreading over the brownies.

Feta & Parmesan Zucchini Bake

Life changes too quickly.  This little cutie pictured below is my baby girl.  My Goose.  She is about to begin her Senior year in high school.  

Unfortunately, this also means she will be 1300 miles away from her home.  She decided to spend her senior year in Washington DC.  

It took me a couple weeks before I could talk about it without breaking down into tears.  Don't get me wrong.  I am completely thrilled for her, but I also feel completely ripped off!  I still had one more year before our family would change forever.  Now I just have a few days.
Then again, I can also think of a few items to add to my "Pros" side of this chart:
  1. My amount of laundry will be reduced by 1/3.  You would think it would only be 1/8, but anyone with a teenage daughter understands completely.
  2. When I go to grab my favorite shirt or necklace or pair of shoes, they will be there.  What a concept.
  3. A certain bedroom door in my home will no longer be closed and locked when we are entertaining.  Due to the completely embarrassing/devastating nature of it's contents, it would scar our friends forever if they were to witness what was behind that door.
All things considered Goose, it has been an amazing 17 years and 8 months.  You make me proud.
Can you tell I have a lot of zucchini and squash in my garden this year?  This latest version had a split reaction with my family.  Those who tried it, adored it.  Those who were too chicken to even taste it kept telling me how gross it was.  Nice.

I loved it.  Packed with yummy cheese and lots of garlic.  I served it as a main dish, but it would also make a great side with some grilled protein and hot bread.  I will be making this one again soon while I still have a lot of fresh squash.

Feta & Parmesan Zucchini Bake
(recipe adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen)
6-7 medium zucchini or yellow summer squash
2 Tb canola oil
2 Tb minced garlic
2 tsp dried thyme
4 eggs
2/3 C light sour cream
1 C crumbled feta cheese
1/2 C fresh parmesan cheese
2 Tb lemon juice
salt and pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray a large casserole dish with nonstick spray.
2.  Slice the squash into 1/4" slices.  If they are larger squash, cut them down the middle before slicing. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan.  Add the squash, garlic and thyme.  Saute and stir just until the squash is starting to soften slightly.  Don't cook too long or it will be mushy after it bakes in the oven. Remove from the heat.
3.  Beat together the eggs, sour cream, cheeses and lemon juice in a medium sized bowl.  Place half of the squash into the bottom of the casserole.  Sprinkle on some salt and pepper (remember the cheeses are salty!) then spread 1/2 of the egg mixture over the top.  Repeat with remaining squash and egg mixture.
4.  Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the mixture is bubbling and slightly set.  Serve hot.

Looking for more outstanding side dishes?  Don't miss our favorites!

Carrot & Zucchini Bars with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

I've been blogging for over 4 years now and the whole experience never fails to surprise me.  

In less than 5 days, my post last week, Parmesan Chicken Bake became the most viewed recipe of all my 240 posts spanning 51 months.  I completely have Pinterest to thank, but it is still so mind-boggling to me how one simple post can take my blog to where I never thought possible.  

I guess I should work on more chicken recipes :)
With my garden beginning it's annual boom of goodies, I couldn't wait to try these bars.  I am in love with all baked goods with carrots or zucchini.  They are always so moist which makes it hard to step away from them.  The lemon cream cheese frosting just puts these over the top!

These gems whipped together extremely quickly, and I didn't even use a single appliance to make them.  A quick grate on the box grater instead of the KitchenAid and I mixed everything together in a bowl, even the frosting.

Carrot and Zucchini Bars with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
makes 16 bars - 20 bars 
(recipe adapted from realmomkitchen.com)
2 eggs
3/4 C brown sugar
1/2 C canola oil
1/4 C honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 C shredded carrot (about 2 large carrots)
1 C shredded zucchini (about 2 small zucchinis)
1/2 C chopped pecans (optional) **I sprinkled them on top of the frosting instead of adding them to the bars
1 1/2 C flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

8 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature
1 C powdered sugar
zest of one lemon
pinch of salt

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly spray a 9x13 pan with nonstick spray.
2.  In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, oil, honey and vanilla until smooth.  Switch to a rubber spatula and mix in the carrot, zucchini and pecans.  Add all the dry ingredients and mix together just until they are incorporated.  Pour into your greased pan and bake for 22-25 minutes, until the top springs back when lightly touched.  Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
3.  Prepare the frosting by beating together all the ingredients until well blended.  You can frost the whole pan before cutting to make it easy, but I really like cutting the bars first and individually frosting each bar.

Looking for more great zucchini recipes?  Here are a few more of our favorites!

Parmesan Chicken Bake

Visiting family is such a bitter sweet experience for me.  It is so amazing to spend time with those I love most, but I suffer from such depression after it is over.

After two weeks visiting my parents in Ohio, we are headed back home to Minnesota.  It will be tough on me, but it is so heartbreaking to see how tough it is on my kids.  They have had two weeks packed with wonderful memories that I hope will get them through until next summer.

If you are blessed to have family close by (and by that I mean under a 2 hour drive), be grateful and spend more time with them.  Those of us who only get to see family a couple times a year are very jealous!!!
I am always on the hunt for a great chicken dinner and this is one!  The only problem with this recipe is that it requires you to turn on the oven.  So wait for a cooler day (like under 90) and give it a go.  You won't be disappointed!  It is delicious and even better the next day as leftovers.  I make two pans at a time :)

Parmesan Chicken Bake
(adapted from Food.com)
6 chicken breasts
1 C light mayonaise or greek yogurt (I have done 1/2 of each as well)
1/2 c fresh parmesan cheese, plus more for the top
1 1/2 tsp seasoning salt (This is NOT regular table salt.  It is a mixture of seasonings)
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray the inside of a 9x13 glass pan.  Lay the chicken inside the pan.
2.  Mix together the remaining ingredients and spread evenly over each piece of chicken, being sure to cover all the exposed raw meat (so it doesn't dry out.)  Sprinkle on a bit more fresh parmesan over all the chicken.
3.  Bake uncovered for 45 minutes.  This dish is even better the next day, so just reheat in the microwave!
**Some have commented that this dish was way too salty.  Please be sure you are using fresh parmesan cheese, not the stuff from a can.  Also, use seasoning salt, NOT table salt.  I have made this multiple times and have never had trouble with the salt level.  If you are worried, use less.

Want another amazing Chicken Bake?  Try these ones!!!