Lemon Bars

I have been overwhelmingly on the sweets train lately.  It’s probably time to cut the sugar habit, but in the meantime, I have been looking for things that are a little more refreshing and less over-the-top sweet.  These lemon bars, from the Strawberry Point Community Cookbook, fit the bill.  I was going to try and update these a little bit more, but I ran out of the surprise ingredient I was going to add.  So, plan lemon bars are what ended up being made.

Every time I make lemon bars, I leave myself wishing I had buttered the pan a little bit more or put down parchment paper on the bottom.  So, that would be my tip to anyone who decides to make this recipe.

Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars

Crust:
2 c flour
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 c margarine

Topping:
4 eggs
2 c sugar
1/3 c lemon juice
1/4 c flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Sifted powdered sugar

Sift together the 2 c flour and 1/2 c powdered sugar, cut in the margarine, and press into a 9×13 pan.  Bake at 350 degrees until light brown, 20 to 25 minutes.  Remove from oven. Put eggs, 2 c sugar, and lemon juice in a blender and blend until thick and smooth.  Add 1/4 c flour and baking powder and blend until mixed.  Pour over baked crust and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Cut in bars when cool.

Raspberry Lemon Muffins

I’m continuing to cook through some recipes I’ve written down from my mom and this light and spring-like recipe was calling my name as raspberries are in season.  I’m guessing this was a low-fat muffin recipe, with the addition of yogurt and oil.  The muffins stick to the paper liner a little bit, but the flavor of them was great.  I love a little lemon and raspberry combination.

Raspberry Lemon Muffins

Raspberry Lemon Muffins

1/2 c yogurt
3 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 eggs
1/2 tsp lemon extract
1 1/2 c flour
3/4 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon zest
1 c frozen raspberries (blueberries, peaches, strawberries)

Mix together yogurt, oil, lemon juice, eggs, lemon extract.  In a separate bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest.  Mix these two bowls together until blended.  Add the berries.  Spoon into 12 muffin cups and sprinkle with 1 Tbsp sugar.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15-17 minutes.  Cool on rack and drizzle with icing, if desired.

Asparagus, Cashews, and Mint with Quinoa and Lemon Vinaigrette

There’s something about the springtime and asparagus starting to grow that brings a smile to my face.  So, as I was reading through the Vegetable Butcher cookbook and came across this recipe for Asparagus, Hazelnuts, and Mint with Quinoa and Lemon Vinaigrette, I knew I wanted to put it together.  Even better: the recipe suggested I could substitute cashews for hazelnuts, which I had found an abundance of while cleaning out the pantry.  It was time to put this dish together.  When I brought leftovers for lunch, people commented how healthy the recipe looked, and it really was a full meal in one dish, but would also be a nice side dish.

Asparagus, Cashews, and Mint.jpg

Asparagus, Cashews, and Mint with Quinoa and Lemon Vinaigrette

zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 c olive oil
1 lb asparagus
3 c cooked quinoa
1/3 c toasted cashews or hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
1/3 c thinly sliced scallions
1/4 c packed fresh mint leaves, finely sliced

For vinaigrette, whisk together zest and juice of 1 lemon, 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, 1 tsp maple syrup, ¼ tsp fine sea salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Slowly add ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, whisking constantly.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil; place a large bowl of ice water next to stovetop. Cook 1 lb asparagus, ends trimmed, tips intact and spears cut into 1-inch pieces, 2–4 minutes or just until crisp-tender. With a slotted spoon, transfer to the ice water. When cool to the touch, drain well and spread on a towel to absorb any remaining water.

Combine asparagus and 3 cups cooked white quinoa in a large bowl. Toss with enough vinaigrette to coat all of the ingredients, about ¼ cup. Add ⅓ cup toasted cashews or hazelnuts, coarsely chopped, ⅓ cup thinly sliced scallions, ¼ cup packed fresh mint leaves, finely sliced, and ¼ tsp each salt and freshly ground pepper; toss again. Add more salt, pepper and/or vinaigrette to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Crisp, Lemony Baby Yukons

I was ready to eat a summery meal last week and was came across the recipe for Crisp, Lemony Baby Yukons in the Ruth Reichl my kitchen year cookbook.  This is the first recipe I’ve made out of her cookbook, but as the academic year came to a close, I’m making a commitment to cooking at home with more real food.  I was about to make some sausages to eat and potatoes sounded really good.  I’m not always a potato fan, but the idea of putting some together seemed incredibly appealing on this night.  I had seen this recipe the day before in the cookbook and the idea of lemon with potatoes in a crisp form was exactly what I wanted.

Crisp, Lemony Baby Yukons

Crisp, Lemony Baby Yukon

3 lb baby Yukon gold potatoes
3 c chicken stock
1-2 lemons
2 cloves garlic, smashed
olive oil
sea salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Put the chicken stock into a medium-sized pan and stir in the zest of a lemon or two and the smashed garlic.  Add the potatoes, bring to a boil, cover, and cook for about 12 minutes.

Drain the potatoes, reserving the lemon zest from the stock, and allow them to cool a bit.  Put them on a sheet pan that is liberally covered with olive oil.  Gently flatten eat potato, using the back of a chef’s knife, a rolling pin, or a small skillet.  Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, and the lemon zest, and put in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are crisp.  Sprinkle with lemon juice and a bit more salt.

Lemon White Chocolate Puff Corn

Remember that student group that was meeting for 5 hours every single night for a week in order to hand out money for the student organizations?  Well, I know I mentioned the Gopher Bars I brought in one night, but another night I took in the Popcorn Granola I made and this sweet popcorn with white chocolate.  It’s a modified version of another recipe that called for cinnamon frosting, but in lieu of finding any of that, I thought I’d spread a little more springtime flavor and incorporate the lemon frosting into it.  It had just enough sweetness to the recipe to be full of flavor and sweetness without being overpowering, although I imagine had I really been not eating sugar for a while, this would taste a little over-the-top.  My mom has done a similar version during the holidays and sprinkled with crushed peppermint candies to add that in.

Lemon White Chocolate Puff Corn

Lemon White Chocolate Puff Corn

1 square white almond bark
1 Tbsp butter flavored shortening
1 bag white chocolate chips
1 package lemon frosting
1 bag puff corn

Put puff corn in a large bowl.  Melt almond bark and shortening in double-boiler.  Add white chocolate chips and melt, stirring occasionally.  Mix in frosting.  Stir until well-covered.  pour white chocolate mixture over the puff corn.  Mix until it is completely covered or put the cover on the bowl and shake it!

Put puff corn on wax paper and sprinkle with sprinkles.  Leave on the wax paper until set.  Store in airtight container.

Black Pepper Pound Cake

When looking through the Iowa State Fair cookbook a few weeks ago, I was wanting to make some desserts for a group of students coming to visit.  I knew that there was one member of the group who was allergic to chocolate, which made this the perfect opportunity to try out the black pepper pound cake recipe I’d been eyeing for some time.  I didn’t know what to expect — would the pepper seem out of place?  I’ve tasted some great pairings of lemon and black pepper with chocolate, but what would this look like without the chocolate there?  Luckily, the recipe still had lemon flavoring within it.

I have to admit, I was pretty delighted with the taste of the cake.  The black pepper added some spiciness that was unexpected.  With dessert, I do not often think I want something that is hot, but this was a subtle heat that added to the cake, but did not distract from it.

Black Pepper Pound Cake.jpg

Black Pepper Pound Cake

1 c butter, softened
3 c sugar
3 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
2 tsp lemon extract
6 eggs
3 c flour
1 c heavy cream
Powdered sugar

Cream together butter and sugar.  Beat in pepper and extract.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add flour alternately with cream; mix well.  Pour into greased and floured 10-inch tube pan.  Bake in 325 degree oven for 70 to 75 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan.  Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.

Pork Shoulder Roasted with Citrus Mojo

After making some salsas as of late, and pulling out the Twin Cities Chef’s Table cookbook to throw together the Crusher Cookies, I was flipping through it and one recipe caught my eye.  This recipe for Brasa’s Pork Shoulder Roasted with Citrus Mojo looked ideal for a week when I had evening commitments and could eat on this recipe over and over.  The cookbook is a collection of recipes from different restaurants in the Twin Cities, this one from Brasa.  Click on the website and tell me you don’t want to go there today to eat.

Pork Shoulder Roasted with Citrus Mojo

Brasa’s Pork Shoulder Roasted with Citrus Mojo

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 c minced onion
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 c fresh lemon juice
1 c fresh orange juice
2 Tbsp white vinegar
2 Tbsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp onion powder
2 Tbsp fresh ground pepper
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
salt
5 lb bone-in pork shoulder

In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Add the lemon and orange juices and simmer for 2 minutes.  Stir in the vinegar.  Transfer half of the mojo to a blender and let cool.  Refrigerate the remaining mojo.

Meanwhile, in a jar, shake together the garlic and onion powders, pepper, and cumin.  Add 2 tablespoons of this dry rub to the mojo in the blender, reserve the remaining rub.  Add Worcestershire sauce and 1 tablespoon salt to the blender and puree until smooth.

Put the pork in a sealable 1-gallon plastic bag and pour in the marinade.  Press as much air as you can from the bag and seal.  Refrigerate pork for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours, turning occasionally.  Bring the pork to room temperature before roasting.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and set a rack in a roasting pan large enough to hold the pork.  Remove the pork from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels.  Rub the meat all over with the remaining dry rub and transfer pork to the rack.  Roast pork for 3 hours, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 150 degrees.  Reduce the oven temperature to 275 degrees and roast the meat for approximately 3 hours longer, until very tender and an instant-read thermometer reads 180 degrees.  Remove the roast from the oven and cover with foil; let rest for 30 minutes.

Shred the meat, discarding the bones and excess fat.  Season pork with salt and pepper.  Serve with the remaining mojo.