I've got gadgets and gizmos aplenty!

Hmmm...starting off a post with a Little Mermaid quote?  Looks like a recipe for awesome-ness to me!

I have been wanting to make these Blueberry Crumb Bars for over a month now, and it was just time!  Why did I wait a month?  Well, first I moved.  Then it got HOT.  We're rocking the a/c window units here in the new digs, so the idea of heating up the oven (and, therefore, my kitchen) was less than appealing to say the least.  It finally cooled down this week, after many days (weeks?) of 90+ degree days, so I decided today was the day!

I haven't tried them yet, since they're cooling as I write this, but I can tell you without a doubt that my house smells heavenly!!  There's nothing like blueberry, lemon, and butter to make your house smell all sorts of good!  These bars look so delicious, and they were beyond easy to make!  I was actually thinking while making them, "Gosh, these are so easy, I'm not sure I'll really have much to write about!"  Then I looked at what was in front of me and realized, "Wow...I'm using some things here that might not really be something that could be found in everyone's kitchen," so I had the idea to show you some of my kitchen gadgets, gizmos, and essentials.  Plus, I figure, in the days of Twitter, Facebook, and People magazine, everyone likes to be nosy nowadays!  So here we go (Not interested?  Just want the goods? Recipe's at the bottom!)...

1. Pastry Cutter- This is my newest kitchen gadget from Hill's Kitchen.  This can be used to make biscuits, pie crust, shortbread, etc.  I've been wanting one for a while (I'm dying to try my hand at homemade biscuits!) because even though all recipes that call for a pastry cutter say "or use two forks or knives to cut in butter..." I have had zero luck with that method.  This, however, was easy as pie (Oooh! Yesss. Haha, I crack myself up!).


2. Microplane & Citrus Reamer- Do me a favor: GO BUY THESE.  Oh, I'm sorry?  You say you have a "juicer" that works just fine?  You lie.  That little piece of wood will get every last bit of delicious juice from a lemon, orange, whatever.  I've never seen anything that works better (except maybe those crazy juicer contraptions at Jamba Juice).  And the microplane?  It's just money.  Works great for zesting lemons, and also grates parmesan cheese faster than the huge box grater that is now collecting dust on my shelf (makes less of a mess too!).
3. Kitchen Timer- Essential!  My mother tells me she doesn't bake because she always gets distracted and burns things.  Ever heard of the phrase, "Like mother like daughter?"  Yep.  I've burnt a thing or two in my day.  So I love my kitchen timer magnet.  Why?  It's loud enough to hear in my living room at the other end of the apartment, it is extremely obnoxious (a high pitched "beep-a-da-beep!"), and won't turn off until I press the button.  This is just common sense people!
4. Ikea flour and sugar jars- Know what I hate?  I hate those big bags of flour that never seem to open right, so they inevitably tear, and your counter tops get more flour than your baked goods!  Drives me bananas!  These jars were $5 each!  It's a no brainer.  If you're going to go buy some, keep in mind that they should be wide enough at the top to accomodate your measuring cups (this is important! For some reason the cutest ones have skinny little necks at the top.  Who does that?!).  These also have a seal under the lid, which I like.

5. Jewelry Dish- Confession time: I'm a sucker for those pottery painting places in strip malls.  Yep.  The ones with the little ceramic turtles and "I love you!" picture frames.  I'm always looking for an excuse to go in!  Well if you're looking for an excuse to paint some cheap unfinished pottery, here you go!  This dish is shaped like a flower, is painted by moi, and holds my rings while I bake, cook, and do dishes.  As a side note: how cute are my garlic jar and Ohio barn?!  Gotta love a little home state pride!
Okay.  So did you come here for a recipe or something?  My bad.  Let's move on to that for you!  Today's recipe is yet another gem from Smitten Kitchen, who got it from AllRecipes.com. 
from SmittenKitchen.com, adapted from Allrecipes.com

Yield: I cut these into 36 smallish rectangles
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cold unsalted butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • 4 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 inch pan.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and lemon zest. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.

3. In another bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. (This took an extra 10 to 15 minutes in my oven.) Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Honestly?  These were too easy!  They are so delicious too (they've cooled overnight, and as I'm finishing this post my coworkers are devouring them)!  I think if I were to change anything, I might add some toasted pecans to the crumbles on top next time.  It would be the perfect addition!  Also, the lemon in this is so essential.  The blueberry flavor really pops because of it!  While I wouldn't recommend cutting it out, you could probably use a small orange if you didn't have a lemon lying around, and it would be equally delicious.  Okay, so seriously...go make these!!!


Jack said...

You are so well versed; very proud of you! I think I will make these since your dad loves anything with blueberry! BTW, nice mani ; )

Natalie said...

Thanks Mom! I think Dad will really like them! :) And I had a feeling it was you. Somehow I don't think Jack would compliment me on my manicure...

Anonymous said...

I'm a tennis friend of your mom's. I noticed not only the fine manicure, but wow what a great blog with photo's etc! I think it's all fabulous. I will have to let my 9yr old daughter look at this and make the yummie bars! Thanks, B.F.

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