Kiwi-Lime Coconut Bars with Macadamia Nut Crust

 Once upon a time, I entered a cooking contest.  The company hosting the contest chose a finalist a week, and two of my recipes were selected.  What an honor, I thought!  Maybe I’ll win, I hoped.   That is, I thought and hoped for the trophy until I saw this little recipe for Kiwi Lime Coconut Bars made by Katie Goodman of goodLife{eats}.  Gosh, that sounds good, I muttered, studying the recipe closely.  It wasn’t until I read the ingredients to the crust that I knew I’d lost.  My funky little recipes might be able to hold a candle to Kiwi-Lime Coconut Bars.  But, to Kiwi Lime Coconut Bars WITH Macadamia Nut Crust?!  No way.  I didn’t stand a chance in the world against Katie.

As it turns out, neither of our recipes recieved the highest honor in the contest, but I’ve thanked my lucky stars ever since.  Because that crazy little contest introduced me to Katie’s remarkable talent to create a recipe, and photograph it in a stunning way.   As it turns out, she’s also a tremendously organized, devoted mother and is willing to let us in on a few of her best secrets.  Including her recipe for Key Lime Coconut Bars with Macadamia Crust

How do you find time to cook from scratch and still stay on top of all your other mommyhood duties?  I have always found that if something is important enough to you, you will make time for it. Between my family, blog, and freelancing I don’t have a lot of “free time,” but I love to cook and bake so I find little pockets of time to fit it in. It’s important to me to provide delicious and (mostly) healthy foods for my family so that is added motivation. I go to bed early and get up by 6:00 most days so I can have extra time to get things done without the kids.

I recently hired a housekeeper to come twice a month – something I put off for a long time, but I finally decided that our house was suffering, I was stressed out, and I was willing to sacrifice a small sum from my freelancing jobs to do this. What it came down to was being with my family, cooking, and blogging are way more fun for me than cleaning. I didn’t want to spend my free time cleaning.

My favorite time to experiment since starting goodLife {eats} is in the afternoon. I don’t have to rush to create and photograph before dinner. During the school year, my son was in afternoon preschool and my daughter napped in the afternoon. Of course, now it’s summer so our schedule has changed a bit. The short answer: prioritize!

What advice would you give to moms that love to cook? Cooking doesn’t have to be complicated. You can still make delicious food without spending a lot of time or energy. Look for recipes with a short ingredient list. Cook when you have time (i.e. naptime) and heat it up later. Also, learning to improvise can save a lot of time and money. I created this little “formula” so I could work with what I had on hand and create a great meal. Get your kids involved. They, eventually, will learn to eat some of the things you enjoy cooking and it’s a great way to build your relationships and create fun memories.

What advice would you give to moms that don’t love to cook? That depends. Do you want to learn to love to cook or are you content to keep on not enjoying cooking? The first step is identifying why your don’t like cooking. Is it because you don’t have time? Your food isn’t good? You hate the mess? You view food more as a function than something to be enjoyed? Identify the problem and look for a way you can solve that. Also, check out the book called The Flavor Bible. It’s a great resource for someone who is comfortable in the kitchen but wants to take the next step towards creating their own recipes. It’s not a cookbook, but it will teach you all about what flavors match with others and what combinations are the best.

What if the food you cook doesn’t taste good? Try some new recipes. Use flavors you enjoy. Learn about the basics so you can follow a recipe better. Don’t have time? Find a way to make time, whethere it is once-a-month cooking, cooking in the afternoon and reheating for dinner, or using a crockpot. Hate the mess? Clean up as you go, get your family involved so everyone is pitching in, listen to music or a podcast while you clean up to help pass the time (my current favorite is the Glee soundtrack. I despise doing dishes, but this makes it more “fun.”)

If you want to learn to love cooking, I think my answer to the previous question applies to you too. Start with simple recipes and that will build your confidence as you have success. When you enjoy what you’ve created you might start enjoying the process more. Look into beginning cooking classes that you could sign up for.

If you don’t care about cooking and are happy to stay that way I don’t know what to tell you! Have a few basics that your family will eat and aren’t a lot of work for you. You’ll feel good about feeding your family homecooked food vs takeout and you won’t have to invest a lot of time. Chili, tacos, hamburgers, spaghetti, etc…those are all pretty simple and fast.

Kiwi-Lime Bars with Macadamia Nut Crust
by Katie Goodman of goodLife{eats}

CRUST
1 c macadamia nuts
1/4 c sugar
1 1/4 c all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
13 Tbs chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

FILLING
2 c plus 2 Tbs sugar
5 large eggs
1/4 c fresh lime juice
1/2 c kiwi puree (about 2 good sized kiwi)
1/3 c all purpose flour
1 Tbs lime zest
3/4 c (packed) sweetened flaked coconut (about 3 ounces)

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Blend nuts and sugar in processor until nuts are finely ground. Add flour and salt; blend 5 seconds. Add butter and process until well blended. Press dough evenly onto bottom of 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan. Bake crust until golden brown, about 28 minutes; cool completely in pan on rack. Maintain oven temperature.

Whisk sugar and eggs in large bowl until well blended, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. Whisk in lime juice, kiwi, then flour and lime peel. Pour filling over crust in pan.

Bake lime bars 25 minutes (filling will not be fully set). Sprinkle coconut evenly over. Bake until filling is completely set, about 10 minutes longer.

Cool bars in pan on rack. Chill uncovered until cold, at least 2 hours. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep chilled. Cut around pan sides to loosen bars; cut into 24 pieces. Using small spatula, transfer bars to platter; serve chilled.

Katie Goodman believes that some of the best things in life involve food and family. Katie blogs at goodLife {eats} where she shares what she finds good in the kitchen and in life. She works as a freelance food writer and photographer for Craftzine, PaulaDeen.com, and Tablespoon. Her website, goodLife {eats}, sees thousands of visitors every day, looking for simple, healthy, family style meals and great photography.

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