Earl Grey Lemon Bars

I know I recently complained about the New Year Resolutioners that crowd my gym every January, and I’m glad to finally be able to say it’s become a little more normal.  Now that I can finally work out relatively in peace, I’ve been trying to figure out some ways to mix up my routine because it’s becoming… well… routine.  One can only do weights and cardio on a treadmill or elliptical so many times in one week.

I like to intersperse my regular workouts with group exercise classes and have tried almost every single one 24 Hour Fitness has to offer.  I’ve tried Zumba and kick-boxing, but all of the stomping around was really hard on my knees.  I am also terrible at Zumba.  I’m not a quitter when it comes to exercise, but I tried spin once with a coworker, got through 20 minutes of class, mouthed “I can’t feel my crotch!” to each other, and walked out together. Who the hell does spin class?  I mean, are your lady parts made out of leather? How do you deal with that?  Should I have lined the seat of my pants with bubble wrap?  Now I understand why men don’t do spin.

Pilates and yoga are fine, as is this Nike-sponsored “athletic training” class that my gym offers.  But still over a year later, nothing beats The Bar Method in my book despite my self-induced embarassing first experience.  It really is my favorite workout class, but I can’t justify the steep per-class pricepoint for something I’d want to do at least 4 times a week.  However, I just bought the complete set of DVDs, so we’ll see how that goes.

On the topic of breaking routines, I’ve been writing way too many updates about cookies lately, which basically means I’ve been making too many cookies.  Sadly I have a few more cookie posts backlogged on top of a couple more holiday posts!  Yikes!  So, in the spirit of mixing things up, here’s an update on an Earl Grey Lemon Bar I made last month.  I came across the recipe in the June 2012 issue of Cooking Light magazine, and have been saving it for an occasion such as… nothing.  I guess I made these just for fun.

Ingredients

Crust:

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Earl Grey tea bags, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into pieces

Filling:

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  To prepare crust, line an 8-inch square metal baking pan with foil that extends 2 inches beyond sides; coat foil with cooking spray. Weigh or lightly spoon 1 1/4 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, 1/3 cup powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon tea leaves from 1 tea bag (discard remaining tea in bag), and salt in a bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Press into bottom of prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 19 minutes or until lightly browned.

Flour, Earl Grey Tea Leaves, Powdered Sugar, Salt
Flour, Earl Grey Tea Leaves, Powdered Sugar, Salt

2.  To prepare filling, place juice in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH for 30 seconds. Add remaining 1 tea bag to juice; cover and steep 10 minutes. Squeeze juice from tea bag into bowl; discard tea bag. Combine granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, and baking powder in a bowl. Add rind and eggs to juice; stir with a whisk until combined. Add sugar mixture to juice mixture; stir with a whisk until well combined.

Earl Grey Tea Steeped in Lemon Juice
Earl Grey Tea Steeped in Lemon Juice

3.  Remove crust from oven; pour filling onto hot crust. Bake at 350° for 23 minutes or until set. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Remove from pan by lifting foil. Remove foil, and cut into 16 bars. Sprinkle bars with powdered sugar.

Earl Grey Lemon Bar
Earl Grey Lemon Bar

The Earl Grey cut some of the tartness of the lemon bar, and gave it a great scent.  I think the crust was a little softer than what I personally would prefer.  If I made these again, I would probably incorporate the Earl Grey tea leaves into a firmer lemon bar crust!

Pork Chops with Apple Chutney

In an effort to maintain what little sveltness I have during the gorge-friendly holiday season (and also because I never met a deal I didn’t like), I signed up for a month of unlimited classes at The Bar Method.  I stupidly neglected to do any research about what the exercises were like – I just heard it was a kick ass work out and that was good enough for me.  I walked into the fully-mirrored room for my first class earlier this week, sporting some loose-fitting running shorts and a t-shirt (my usual non-basketball workout attire) and quickly noticed everyone else was wearing fitted yoga pants and tanks.  I quickly dismissed this observation, attributing it to everyone being much more girly than my tomboyish self.

However, once the instructor started barking exercises, I immediately realized why fitted pants were a necessity.  One or both of my legs were either up in the air or on a ballet bar connected to a mirrored wall almost the entirety of the most embarrassing sixty minutes of my life.  I tried to hold my shorts against my leg, but the instructor kept calling me out for not having my arms in the right place or having bad posture as a result of being paranoid about the free show I was giving my Bar Method classmates.

Yes, I was THAT girl.  I did not know any better, and am forever ashamed.

As a last ditch attempt at salvaging my evening, I decided to make a nice dinner for myself.  After a quick perusal through good ol’ Martha’s  recipes, I found instructions for Pork Chops with Apple Chutney.  I used my nifty meat thermometer (that I tried to double as a candy thermometer a few months ago) to make sure I didn’t overcook the pork.

Browned Pork Chops Before the Oven

The chutney came out a bit on the acidic side due to my heavy-handedness with the apple cider vinegar, but I evened it out by adding some table sugar to it.

Pork Chops with Apple Chutney

Thanks, Martha.  You never let me down!