guayaba bars

This year, Thanksgiving’s at our place. At last count, there will be about eighteen people banging around our house. In an effort to preserve my sanity and reduce my pre-hosting stress levels, I’ve delegated one hundred percent of the cleaning (plus bedding/sleeping arrangements and all mass-living organizational tasks) to my husband.

As for me, I’m doing the food. At this point, this means lists. Lots and lots of lists. There are shopping lists and will-you-please-bring-these-things lists and menu lists and what-to-do-on-which-day lists. Cooking for eighteen for three to four full days is not a big deal, really. It’s more a matter of organization … and space. (Right about now is when I start dreaming of duplicate large kitchen appliances. Anyone have an extra fridge they want to park on my porch?)

Today I took advantage of the snow-and-ice day and did the following:

*cooked three pounds of bacon (for just in case)
*made the first of two (or three) batches of granola because remember: I still have a family to feed
*mixed up a batch of Ranch dressing
*made three batches of pie pastry
*rolled out and froze four pie pastries
*baked three loaves of cinnamon raisin bread, and, from the leftovers, a pan of raisin bread sweet rolls for our immediate gratification
*I made the glaze for the rolls and icing for the bread
*made hot chocolate … twice.
*started on the cranberry sauce, but I haven’t finished it yet.

Oh, and I also made eggs and pancakes for breakfast, the pancakes with leftover ricotta because I’m trying to clean out the fridge (because I don’t think I’ll be getting a second fridge any time soon).

While I worked, I listened to Thanksgiving cooking podcasts to keep me in the groove (I’m feeling minorly inferior because I’ve never spatchcocked a turkey; have you?), and now I’m feeling just a wee bit fooded out. You know, the bleary-blah feeling one gets when the skies are grey and the entire day’s been spent inside with drifts of sugar and mountains of butter. Before I started typing, I just sat on the sofa staring at the computer, my eyes glazed over. All I really wanted to do was watch movies. (Too bad it’s Thursday.) Maybe I should just close the laptop and go read for awhile?

Perhaps, but first, a recipe.

Remember Olga from Puerto Rico, the woman who brought us yummy treats made by her daughter-in-law? The last week we were there, Olga finally slipped me the recipes, but it wasn’t until last week that I finally got around to making the Panetela, or what I uncreatively call Guayaba Bars.

My husband brought me the brick of guayaba paste when he went to Puerto Rico the first time — a last-minute grab from the airport gift shop. They eat it with cheese, he informed me.

Which is true, I’ve since learned, but the paste never really lit me up … that is, not until I had Olga’s bars, buttery and dense with a strip of tangy-sweet jelly in the middle and a dusting of sugar on top: perfection.

So, like I said, I made the bars last week. They are easy to make, and they look right sharp, too. Seems to me, they’d make an excellent addition to a Christmas cookie platter….

Guayaba Bars
Adapted from Olga’s daughter-in-law’s recipe.

The recipe calls for a whole pound of guayaba (guava) paste but I used fourteen ounces and still found the jelly to be a bit overpowering in its thicker places. Next time, I’ll use just ten to twelve ounces.

To make your own self-rising flour: mix 6 cups all-purpose flour with 2 tablespoons baking powder, 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda, and 1 ½ teaspoons salt. Toss well and store in an airtight container.

1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups self-rising flour
1 stick butter, cut in pieces and softened
10-12 ounces guayaba paste
Confectioner’s sugar, for decoration

Cream together the eggs and sugar until pale yellow. Add vanilla. Add the flour and the softened butter and mix well. The batter will be thick, like icing.

Spread half of the batter in a greased, square glass pan (lined with parchment, if you wish). Slice the guayaba paste and lay the pieces over the batter. Dollop the remaining batter over the paste and spread smooth.

Bake the bars at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool completely before cutting into pieces (you can cut the bars sooner, but the still-warm paste will be a bit runny) and then dusting heavily with powdered sugar.

This same time, years previous: Shakespeare behind bars, Thai chicken curry, the quotidian (11.16.15), I will never be good at sales, gravity, lessons from a shopping trip, the wiggles, why I’m glad we don’t have guns in our house, chicken salad.


  • Margo

    Pretty bars! I will see if our local Latino grocery has the paste.

    I can barely manage normal life with one fridge – can't imagine hosting that many people for several days with 1 fridge! Take pictures, tell us how you do it!

  • Gretchen

    You only have ONE REFRIGERATOR?!?! Holy freezin smokes, woman! How DO you manage? I saw one advertised on the EMU Yard Sale FB page. Hey, but way to go on gettin an organized jump start on the cooking frenzy. We're headed to PA and all I have to make is two pies and the dressing. Well, some snacky stuff, too. Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Joy

    I have a block of handmade quince paste from Sonora. I’ll bet that would be a wonderful substitute for the guava paste. Now I’m inspired!

  • Melodie

    I'll enter the fray on the fridge question. I resisted getting a second one–I'm a more with less kind of person, and my husband is always into the next gadget. But yes, love the extra fridge in the summer produce season, and holidays–truly a lifesaver. If you need to borrow a shelf next week, just holler, I'm nearby. But I won't bring the fridge down. 🙂 We're invited to TWO dinners on Thanksgiving and I'm not hosting either. …

  • Lana

    This will be me come Christmas time. Meanwhile I am basking in the invitation from our youngest son to come for Thanksgiving and all I need to bring is ONE pie! He loves to cook and they don't have any kids and so he has time to do it. We are empty nesters and I can not fathom only have one refrigerator anymore. When it is not holiday time it is not near full but it is nice to have a place for extra bottles of wine and hard cider and water and spare gallons of milk. You NEED a second fridge!

  • Suburban Correspondent

    We always end up rigging an extra "fridge" by using a picnic cooler on the deck (with ice, if it isn't cold); but we bungie-cord it shut to make sure none of the local wildlife makes off with our stuffing!

    I have a schedule: cut up the bread for stuffing on Monday, cook desserts and cranberry sauce on Tuesday, cook stuffing and sweet potatoes on Wednesday, and turkey and mashed potatoes the day of. It was a wonderful year when I figured out I could make the mashed potatoes in the morning and just keep them warm in a crockpot all day! It was a not-so-good year when I realized around 11 AM on Thanksgiving that I had forgotten to make the cranberry sauce. It wasn't quite jelled that year, that's for sure.

    • Melodie

      Do they really taste just as good kept warm in the crockpot? We actually had our Thanksgiving last weekend and I was a mess in my daughter's kitchen (you know, the stuff she doesn't have, and where is this or that when she's off nursing the baby)… Anyway, getting the turkey, tater's, mac & cheese, gravy, dressing all on the table warm and good takes a bit of magic. I will try the crockpot sometime.

    • Elaine

      Melody, I will jump in here and say, yes (in my opinion) they taste just as good. And what a blessing it is to have that item taken care of.

Leave a Comment