Ree Drummond, the redheaded Pioneer Woman smiles at me from the cover of People magazine. Like many Americans, I’m enchanted with the Manhattan marketing maven who traded her high heels in for cowboy boots. Skyscrapers disappeared and so did her strict vegan diet. A dashing Ladd Drummond swept Ree off her feet and onto his ranch.
The Food Network star rejected her Pawhuska, Oklahoma small town roots in her youth. Fame as a globetrotting prima ballerina was young Ree’s goals. Yet a chance encounter in a smoky bar changed her mind. Ironically love brought her the notoriety she craved in her youth.
The Pioneer Woman blog started as recipes and photography of her new life on the ranch. Love for her cowboy, children and good food has led Ree Drummond to 15 TV seasons, 4 cookbooks, and 1 profitable Pioneer Woman product line.
Pioneer Woman recipes burgeoned from Ree’s care for family. They are practical, do-able and delicious! Her apricot bars are divine. Baking butter, brown sugar, oats, and apricot jam sends heavenly wafts into the home. (Raspberry jam is quite delectable, too!) The taste is sublime. Thanks to the oats and fresh fruit jam, the dessert tastes like a farm-fresh healthy dessert.
Ree Drummond’s recipes have little to no room for improvement. But, a friend gave me a Japanese yuzu plucked from his tree. Yuzu is the Japanese cousin of lemons and limes. In the US, only yuzu is available in juice form in Japanese markets. Unless you cultivate the precious yuzu tree in our own backyard.
The citrus is a constant in Japanese cuisine. Yuzu zest and juice perks up even the most already delicious of desserts. Including the Pioneer Woman’s apricot bars. I made 2 batches: 1 with apricot jam, the other with raspberry jam. The yuzu brought to life the tart of the apricot and sweetened the raspberry. In consideration of those at work who are gluten sensitive, I substituted Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-Free Baking Flour.
Ninja Note: The exquisite fruit dessert may need a stint in the freezer before cutting into clean squares...I notice a Pyrex pan on the Pioneer Woman's site. Perhaps the Pyrex makes for a smoother slide out of the pan.