Tag Archives: Lemon

Spaghetti Squash with Asparagus and Ricotta

Spaghetti Squash with Asparagus and Ricotta
This past weekend I had my girlfriends over for dinner, which is always a welcome treat. Way too much wine is had, embarrassing stories are told, and if we’re lucky, by the next day some truly incriminating pictures are posted to Facebook. All the markings of a successful evening, right?

When it comes to making a meal for a group of people I occasionally feel really lost on the menu. I try to take into account the evening’s plan (I knew we’d be having a few cocktails so I wanted something substantial, but we also wanted to try the late night menu at Pachanga Patterson so I didn’t want something so filling that we wouldn’t be hungry by 11PM), but sometimes all I can come up with is pasta. Lucky for me I have really outspoken friends. “Can you somehow incorporate spaghetti squash into the meal?” one of the girls asked.

Bingo.

Now I had the staple around which I could build the meal. I’d never actually cooked with spaghetti squash but it seems to be the low-carb-friendly food of the moment, right? You can use it pretty much any way you’d use real spaghetti. It was a BREEZE to make, it was delicious, and I’ve become a total convert. So thanks for the suggestion, Jenna! Not only did you make cooking dinner easier, but you introduced a new delicious and healthy food into my life. You are truly a keeper.

On the menu:
Spaghetti squash with asparagus and ricotta
Adapted from TheKitchn.com
Serves 3

1 medium sized spaghetti squash
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 pound asparagus
Zest from one small lemon
3/4 cup ricotta
1 large clove garlic, unpeeled
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves (or 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves)
Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp slivered almonds, toasted

Preheat oven to 375.

Slice your spaghetti squash in half from stem to root. Scoop out seeds. Brush both sides with olive oil and place cut-side-down onto the baking sheet. Roast in oven for 35 – 40 minutes.

Trim rough ends from asparagus and cut stalks into 2-inch pieces. After squash has roasted for 35 – 40 minutes, add asparagus pieces to the baking sheet (scatter around the squash). Place garlic clove underneath one squash half. Place the whole baking sheet back in the oven and roast for another 10 minutes, or until the asparagus is easily pierced with a fork.

While the roasting is happening, in a small bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, lemon zest, parmesan, and thyme. Season liberally with salt and pepper.

Once the asparagus and squash are done roasting, remove the baking sheet from the oven. Add the asparagus and the softened garlic clove to the ricotta mixture and stir to combine. Once the squash has cooled for 5 minutes, scrape the flesh out and add it to the ricotta. Place in a serving bowl, top with toasted almond slivers*, and serve immediately.

*To toast almond slivers: place almonds in a small skillet and cook over low heat until the almonds become fragrant. Do not overcook.

PS – thanks to Meagan at Trippin': A Travelogue for taking the photo!

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Citrus Cream Cheese Pound Cake

One problem with being home all the time now is that I want to bake all. the. time. On my kitchen counter right now I have M&M cookies, unfrosted cupcakes in anticipation of a ladies’ lunch tomorrow, and a citrus cream cheese loaf that The BF asked me to make last week. I should invest in some sort of healthy eating cookbook or something.

In any case, this cake is not healthy by any means but for some reason it screams “brunch!” to me. How much less healthy could it be than cinnamon French toast or something? That’s my rationale and I’m sticking to it.

Note: this makes an awkward amount of batter, and you’ll have enough batter for one loaf cake and 8 cupcakes. Just go with it.

On the menu:
Citrus Cream Cheese Pound Cake
Makes 1 9x3x4 sized loaf

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 3/4 sugar
5 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1 Tbsp lime zest

Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 lime, juiced
1/2 lemon juiced
2 Tbsp orange juice

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 3 x 4 pan. Put 8 cupcake liners in a cupcake tin.

Cream together cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer. Add sugar and blend to combine. Add eggs one at a time, blending after each egg is added. Blend in vanilla until combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder and salt. Add zest and whisk in. Slowly add dry mixture to wet mixture and stir by hand just until combined. Do NOT overmix.

Pour 2/3 of the batter into the loaf pan. Divide rest among the cupcake cups. Bake cupcakes for 25 minutes; bake loaf cake for 60 minutes. Tip: set the timer for 25 minutes and put cupcakes and loaf in together. Once the timer goes off, take out the cupcakes and set the timer for 35 minutes to finish off the loaf.

Let the cakes cool and then make the glaze. Stir together the powdered sugar and the citrus juices. Remove the cakes from their respective pans and put the loaf on a plate, the cupcakes on parchment paper to catch the drips. Pour 3/4 over the cake and dip the cupcakes in the remaining glaze. Let the glaze harden and enjoy.

NOTE: This recipe originated here and here and the first one calls it a Philly Fluff. Does that name tug at your heart strings? Tell me why! I’m from upstate New York and have no idea.

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Consolation Cake


When bad things happen in life, everyone has their own coping mechanism. I don’t think it’s any huge surprise that my feel-better activity is baking. I got laid off from my job yesterday and needless to say, it feels pretty awful. If I was leaving my job because Food + Wine called up and said, “We need a new cake tester who can also write a column about it in a snarky way” then I would be over the moon*! Alas, no one but the unemployment office was calling me up. So I brushed up my resume and then I whisked up this cake.

On the menu:
Lemon olive oil cake
Serves 12
Adapted from Epicurious.com

NOTE: You’ll need a 9 inch spring form pan for this cake.

3/4 cup olive oil plus 2 Tbsp for greasing the pan
1 1/2 tsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 cup flour
5 large eggs, separated
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Grease spring form pan with 1 1/2 Tbsp of olive oil. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper with 1/2 Tbsp olive oil.

In a small bowl: whisk together flour and lemon zest.

In a large bowl: beat together egg yolks with half cup of sugar until thick and pale, around 3 minutes. While mixer is still beating, slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream. Beat in lemon juice until incorporated. Using a wooden spoon, fold in the flour/zest mixture until incorporated.

In a medium bowl: with clean beaters, beat together egg whites with salt until the mixture is foamy. A little at a time, add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and beat until soft peaks form.

Fold the egg whites into the large bowl egg yolk mixture until completely incorporated. Pour the batter into a greased spring form pan. Tap the pan on the counter a couple times to get rid of the bubbles within the batter. Sprinkle the cake with remaining 2 Tbsp sugar (this will form a nice crunchy crust on top).

Bake for 45 minutes or until a sharp knife comes out clean. Once baked completely, remove the spring form outer ring and let the cake cool for at least an hour before removing from the base of the pan and the parchment. Serve in wedges plain, or with a fruit compote.

NOTE: this cake is ALMOST eggy, but dense and tangy and absolutely delicious. As I’m never quite sure what’s dessert and what’s breakfast, I could see this being served at brunch with fresh fruit or freshly whipped cream alongside a bacon potato skillet dish. Are you drooling yet?

*Are you Food + Wine? Do you want to hire me? Then do it already! I’m totally free this month.

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Lemony Goodness


One time I had a friend over for dinner and she offered to bring dessert. “What’s your favorite?” she asked. “Cake,” I answered. “In all its forms.”

To me, and George Costanza*, a muffin is just a piece of cake that’s acceptable to eat for breakfast. So I bake a lot of muffins. A. Lot. These are moist, delicious, and they have so much lemon in them that they’re actually a bit tart. Sunday was so sunny and spring-like that lemon muffins seemed like a no brainer.

On the menu:
Lemon Yogurt Muffins
Makes 12 muffins 

1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup plain yogurt
6 Tbsp butter, melted
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Glaze:
1/3 cup lemon juice (the juice from 2 lemons)
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp lemon zest

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium sized bowl, combine first 6 ingredients. In a separate bowl, blend egg, yogurt, melted butter, and lemon juice together with an electric mixer. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients, just until moistened. Fill lined or greased baking cups 2/3 full. Bake for 20 – 22 minutes, or until tops of muffins are lightly browned.

Let muffins cool for 5 minutes. In the meantime, in a small saucepan over low heat, combine lemon juice, sugar, and lemon zest until combined. Poke 6 – 8 holes into each muffin (still in the pan) and spoon 1/2 Tbsp of glaze over each muffin. Let cool for 30 minutes and then remove from the pan.

*”Anyway, so I was coming along here, and I felt like a piece of cake, you know? But then I thought, it’s morning, I should really have a muffin. I like those chocolate chip ones. Then I figured, well, they’re really both cake. So I, uh, I sat on that bench for a little while, twenty minutes or an hour, and then I figured, check and see what you were up to.” – Seinfeld

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Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Muffins: A Love Story


If I could, I would make everything into a pancake. The lemon/blueberry combo idea has been on my mind for weeks and weeks, so naturally I decided I would make them into pancakes along with the tub of ricotta I had in the fridge. But The BF not-so-subtly reminded me that I had made pancakes every weekend for 2 weeks and maybe not everyone is cool with a steady diet of pancakes… I don’t claim to understand those types of people, and maybe I never will.

In any case, I gave in and made the next best thing: muffins. And let me tell you kiddies… these are good. Really, really good. If you’ve never baked with ricotta before, or have been skeptical, these will have you singin’ a different tune.

On the menu:
Blueberry lemon ricotta muffins
Makes 12 muffins

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup milk
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
Zest of 2 lemons
1 cup blueberries (I used frozen but if you have sweet, fresh blueberries, use ‘em!)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to blend together the ricotta, milk, and butter until completely blended. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add the lemon zest and mix well.

Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix together just until incorporated. Add the blueberries and stir together with a rubber spatula*. Your batter should be relatively firm, but if it’s on the dry side you can add just a splash of milk.

Divide batter evenly into 12 pre-greased or lined baking cups. Bake for 26 – 30 minutes, or until the tops are a light golden brown color. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for around 15 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool completely.

*Note: fresh blueberries are very delicate and you’ll want to be careful mixing them into the batter so they don’t get squashed. And yes… squashed is a technical term.

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Spring Risotto


It’s no secret to those devoted Food E. readers that I love risotto. It’s easy to prepare for company, it’s impressive to present, and it’s one single dish to make sure is ready by meal time instead of two or three separate dishes that you have to coordinate. Also, most people love it. This past weekend The BF and I had some friends over for dinner and I prepared this risotto with a small arugula salad with cucumbers to start. The original recipe calls for calamari and if you have a grill or a grill pan, I’d definitely suggest trying it. I went with calamari’s good friend, shrimp.

On the menu:
Spring pea and lemon risotto with shrimp
Serves 4 

6 cups chicken stock
5 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium leek, white and light green parts only, sliced thin
1 tsp of fresh lemon juice, plus zest of one lemon
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 pound fresh shrimp, de-veined and tails removed, patted dry and lightly sprinkled with garlic salt and flour

Heat chicken stock over medium-high heat until it simmers, lower heat and leave the stock on a low simmer.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and sautee leeks until softened but not brown, about 7-8 minutes.  Remove leeks from the pot and set aside on a plate. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and add rice. Stir rice for one minute until fully coated with oil.

Add white wine to the rice and stir until liquid is almost completely absorbed, around 3 minutes. Add one cup of stock and occasionally stir. Keep adding stock cup by cup until one cup remains, around 20 minutes*. Add lemon juice, zest, leeks, peas, and last cup of stock to the rice and stir until incorporated.

When you add the last cup of stock, heat remaining two tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and place shrimp in the pan. While the shrimp are cooking: add cheese and butter to the risotto and stir. Turn the heat off of the risotto. Flip the shrimp in the skillet after 3 minutes, cook for another 3 minutes on the other side.

Plate the risotto and place shrimp on top. Garnish with extra grated parmesan cheese if desired.

*Note: the best way to test your risotto for doneness is to taste it. Grains should be just barely hard in the center when you turn off the heat to complete the cooking process.

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Pucker Up


I have a confession to make: every once in awhile, I totally flub a recipe. I muck it up. Ruined from start to finish. Saturday night as I was tending to The (sickly) BF, I got the urge to bake cookies. “Chocolate chip?!” he asked eagerly. “No chocolate chips,” I told him. “That’s okay, I like the batter even without the chips! The vanilla, the brown sugar…” And that gave me an idea. Brown sugar cookies. I searched for a recipe, found an easy one, and went to work. The problem? Frozen butter. ‘No matter!’ thought I. ‘I will nuke it!’ Wrong. Oh, so wrong. What I got was a melty bowl of the most delicious smelling batter you’ve ever smelt. Yes. Smelt. But when I went to bake them, what did I get? Crispy, crunchy, flat, greasy disks that had the consistency of peanut brittle with burnt edges. Do you have any idea how disappointing it is to have your whole apartment smelling of delicious buttery brown sugar and nothing to show for it? Nothing in your belly to satisfy that tantalizing scent? Okay, so we ate some of those greasy, sugary disks anyway. WE PRACTICALLY HAD TO.

Which brings me to the next piece of the story. Lemon cookies. I’ve had this recipe chilling in my “recipes” folder in Gmail for some time, and figured I would follow the recipe to the T, let the butter soften, measure each ingredient accurately, and give the recipe the respect it deserved. And what happened? Imagine that. Incredible cookies.

On the menu:
Lemon Crinkle Cookies
Makes around 3 dozen cookies
Adapted from WhipperBerry.com

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp fresh lemon zest
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream butter and granulated sugar together until blended. Add egg, vanilla, lemon juice, and zest and blend until totally combined. Add salt, baking soda, and flour and mix with a spoon until combined.

Put powdered sugar in a shallow bowl. Scoop up batter by heaping teaspoons, roll into a ball, and roll in powdered sugar until lightly coated. Place on baking sheet 1 1/2 inches apart and bake for 12 – 14 minutes, or until the bottom edges are brown and the tops look matte (not shiny). Let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a wire rake to cool completely.

Note: Because I am always interested in whether or not a cookie comes out chewy or crispy, these are the chewiest of the chewy! Soft in the center, crisp at the edges. In other words, perfection.

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