Saturday, March 24, 2018

Pinterest Try-It - Lemon Brownies

Here's a great recipe from "Gonna Want Seconds" that I found on Pinterest.  (If you are the one person left that is NOT on Pinterest, run, don't walk and get an account.  It's a life changer.)

It's that time of year when I'm trying to get rid of the last lemons on my tree and this recipe is SOO easy and yummy, you have no excuse not to try it.  These are not the same as Lemon Squares, which have a more gooey consistency. The consistency of these is really more like soft chewy brownies. In fact, if you prefer your brownies slightly more cake-like, add a 1/4 tsp of baking powder to this recipe.  I like mine chewy!

3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick (1/2 c.) butter, softened
2 eggs
2 Tbl. lemon zest
2 Tbl. lemon juice

1 c. powdered sugar
3 Tbl. lemon juice
2-3 Tbl. lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line an 8x8" baking dish with aluminum foil.  Use 2 pieces, so there is overlap on all sides.  Spray a non-stick spray on the aluminum foil.  This is an important step that I was so thankful for when I read the original recipe.

Combine flour, sugar, salt and butter and beat until combined.  I softened my butter in the microwave first so the combination would be smooth.

In a separate bowl, combine eggs, lemon juice and lemon zest.  Use a fine grater for the zest and don't grate beyond the white rind on the lemons.  That way your zest is just yellow and not bitter.

Pour the egg mixture into the flour/sugar mixture and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Pour the mixture into the lined pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.  (You can do a toothpick test to check if they are done.)  Cool the brownies COMPLETELY before you glaze them.

Once the brownies are cool, combine the powdered sugar with half of the lemon juice (1.5 Tbl), stirring as you do.  Add the remaining lemon juice.  You want a thick, but pourable consistency with the glaze.  Apply the glaze to the brownies.  Sprinkle the remaining lemon zest over the top. 

I agree with the original recipe that your best bet is to refrigerate the glazed brownies overnight BEFORE cutting them or even removing them from the pan.  These are awesome cold.

That's it!  Super yummy, but be prepared to make several batches of these because they will go fast!


Sunday, March 4, 2018

Being the Perfect Air B&B Guest

When my family travels, we like to stay in houses instead of hotels, especially when we are going to be in a location for more than a day or two.  We've had great experiences with Air B&B and VRBO in locations from Hollywood, California to Bismarck, North Dakota. Some places are better than others, but I always try to keep in mind that this is someone's home, whether they are currently living in it or not. I also keep in mind that I am being rated as a guest and those ratings will be seen by property owners considering my request to rent their property.

So how can you be the perfect Air B&B guest? I have two basic principles - leave no trace, or if you do leave a trace, leave a good feeling. Think like a teenager after an illicit house party - make it look like you were never there. And, if you're so inclined, leave a little something behind to thank the owner. Here's how:

1. Take pictures of every room as soon as you get there.  We always check out the entire place when we get there.  It's easy enough to snap pictures while you take that initial tour. It will be a lot easier to get those little things like pillows, throw blankets and dishes in the right cabinets if you have pictures of the way you found it.

2. Carefully read and follow the owner's instructions about what to do before you leave. Each owner is different, but everyone likes to know you can follow directions. If you are staying for more than 24 hours, be sure to call the owner if you find any problems or have any questions.  Owners hate to hear complaints after you've gone, especially if they could have fixed them.

3. If you use up a supply of something, replace it. Most properties have some food staples, toilet paper, paper towels or cleaning supplies. You don't have to replace everything you use, but it's just a nice thing to do if you replenish one or more of the staples. Pay it forward for the owner and the next guest.

4. Don't leave stains or smells.  If you stain something and it is washable, take care of it. Likewise, if you stain something that can't be washed, don't try to hide it. If it's something small like a pillow, leave a little money or if it's big, like furniture or carpet, call the owner BEFORE you leave. Smells are tough too. I bring Scentsy with me when I can, but I can't carry multiple warmers in luggage. Airing out the house and some aerosol sprays can help, but be careful not to leave too much scent either.

5. Clean up. Some might disagree with me, but a home is not a hotel. You don't have to thoroughly clean the house, but at least gather up all the garbage. Clean the dishes and put them away. Make sure everything gets back where it was when you arrived. Strip the beds that were used and include the used towels. Wipe out the sinks and showers so you aren't leaving hair. Turn everything off and adjust the heat/cool settings where they were when you arrived. Again, be sure to follow the owner's directions.

6. Leave something behind. This can be as simple as a thank you note, a little candy, or a gift. Something for the house like dishtowels or cooking implements is a nice touch. If the owner has a guestbook, be sure to leave a nice note with some hints for the next guests about things to do.

I'm happy to have the option to stay in someone's house when I travel, so for me doing these little things is my way of expressing my appreciation and renewing confidence in good manners and kindness.