Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Meyer Lemonade Cookies

My kids and I had fun making these today.  They are light, slightly crispy, soft and cakey, super flavorful and really lemony!  They taste just like Summer:)  If you don't have Meyer lemons, regular lemons will work just fine.  Also, if you don't have sparkling sugar to sprinkle on them, regular granulated sugar will work.  However, you want to let the cookies cool before sprinkling.  Hope you enjoy these as much as we did!

Meyer Lemonade Cookies
Makes about 70 small cookies

Lemon Syrup:
3/4 cup strained lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest

Cookie Batter:
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs

1/3 cup of reserved lemon syrup
Sparkling sugar for sprinkling

For the syrup:

Combine juice, sugar and corn syrup in a non reactive saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently.  When all the sugar is dissolved, remove the pan from the heat and cool to room temperature.
When it is cool, stir in the lemon zest and set 1/3 cup of this syrup aside to use after the cookies are baked.

When the syrup has cooled and been divided, start making the cookies:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt.  Stir well and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar until combined and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating smooth after each addition.  Lower the speed and beat in half the flour mixture, then the lemon syrup (don't add reserved 1/3 cup,) and the remaining flour mixture.

Remove bowl from the mixer and give the batter one final mix with a rubber spatula.

Drop teaspoonfuls of batter 3 or 4 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the tops are slightly light golden.

While they are still hot, brush cookies with the reserved lemon syrup and sprinkle with sparkling sugar.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Quinoa and Corn Salad with Toasted Pepitas

Although I have made no formal resolutions this year, I am trying to not only eat healthier, but also to feed my family healthier.  This recipe is inspired by a lovely corn salad I had at a friend's house, but I incorporated quinoa (keen-wa) because it is so good for you, and gave it a somewhat Southwest flavor. Quinoa is considered a "complete protein" as it has all 9 amino acids. And it is packed with magnesium, B2, B6, E, iron and zinc.  It's also gluten-free. All of that and it's also delicious:)

Quinoa and Corn Salad with Toasted Pepitas

1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (from about 3 limes)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt to taste
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

2 2/3 cup water
1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 cups  frozen cut white corn kernels (or  2 ears of fresh corn, cut from the cob)
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half or quartered depending on size
3 scallions, sliced
1 large jalapeno, diced (ribs and seeds removed)
1 ripe avocado
1/4 cup raw, hulled pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted

Whisk together lime juice, cumin, chili powder, garlic, oil and salt and vinegar
Bring water to boil.  Add quinoa, stir once, bring back to a boil, lower heat to simmer and cover.  Cook until quinoa is tender but still chewy and has absorbed all liquid (about 15 min).  Turn off heat, fluff with a fork, and put the corn on top of quinoa.  Cover and let sit 5 min.  Transfer to a bowl and let cool.

Add tomatoes, scallions, jalapeno to quinooa along with 1/2 cup of dressing, toss and season with salt.
Slice avocados and serve on the side or you can incorporate into salad if you wish.  Sprinkle pumpkin seeds on top.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Julie's Amazing Tosca Bars (Toscabitar)

My good friend, Julie gave me this recipe over a year ago, but procrastinator-me waited this long to actually try it.  Oh what a mistake!  I saw the recipe and thought this was going to be a granola-type bar, but it is anything but granola.  It has a super light pastry crust, an amaretto scented cake center (although there's no Amaretto in the's the almond paste), and an almond toffee topping!  Amazingly good a definite must try, and a new regular on my dessert roster.  Thanks, Julie!

Speaking of amazing, Julie is also a talented designer of handbags, totes, and baby items.  Check out her etsy store =)

Julie's Tosca Bars (Toscabitar)

Crust: (Basic Pastry Dough)
1 stick butter
1/3 c. sugar
1 egg yolk
1 1/3 c. sifted all-purpose flour

1 stick butter
1/4 c. sugar
1 can (8 oz) almond paste
3 eggs
1/3 c. sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder

1 stick butter
1/2 c. sugar
1 c. sliced almonds
2 Tbs. flour
2 Tbs. milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Prepare the pastry dough.
Pastry Dough: Cream the butter and sugar. Stir in the egg yolk. Add the flour and work the dough with your hands until well blended and smooth. Press it out on the bottom of a buttered cake pan, 9 x 13 inches.

Prepare Filling. Beat together the butter, sugar and almond paste. When smooth and creamy, beat in the eggs, one at a time. Blend in the flour mixed w/ baking powder. Spread the filling on top of the pastry. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

Prepare Topping
To make the topping, melt the butter in small saucepan. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer constantly stirring. DO NOT BOIL. Remove from heat.

When the cake is done, spread it with the warm topping. Switch from "bake" to "broil" and return the cake to the oven. Broil until golden brown. Let the cake cool in the pan. Cut in bars 1 1/2" x 2 1/2".

If you like, paint the bottom and the sides of each bar with melted chocolate.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pan Grilled Chicken Breast with Spicy Soffrito

I am forever trying to find new ways to serve chicken breast cutlets.  They can be so boring, yet they are a healthy and convenient meal.  This time I made a soffrito to go with it and it turned out delicious.  Soffrito is kind of like a relish, sweet and sour.  This one has some heat because of the added jalapeno and crushed red chili flakes.  I prefer thin-cut breasts because they grill up so quickly, but you can use regular breasts if you prefer.  This soffrito is equally delicious with fish and pork.


1 cup finely chopped white onion
1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 stalk of celery, peeled and finely diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, seeds removed, finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, ""
1/2 green bell pepper, ""
1/2 jalapeno, ""
1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar (or more to taste)
1 1/2 teaspoons honey (or honey powder)
2 pinches crushed red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, combine olive oil, all the chopped veggies and peppers, vinegar, honey, and red pepper flakes.  Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper.
Cook over medium heat until the liquid in the pan has reduced and the veggies are tender (about 45 min to 1 hr)
Adjust seasoning to taste using vinegar, crushed pepper flakes, salt and pepper.

Pan Grilled Chicken Breast:

8 thin sliced chicken breast cutlets (or 4 regular cutlets)
Salt & Pepper

Lightly oil a grill pan and grill chicken until done

Friday, November 5, 2010

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple-Cream Cheese Frosting

It's that time of year again; when the flavors of pumpkin, ginger, and cinnamon reign.  I LOVE it and as soon as I see the jumbo pumpkin puree packs at Costco, I load up:)

I made pumpkin cupcakes with two kinds of frosting: a maple-mascarpone frosting and a maple-cream cheese frosting.  I'll write out the recipe for both. The cream cheese frosting is tangier and a bit sweeter; the mascarpone, more delicate.  If you are going to make the mascarpone frosting, make sure you whip all of the ingredients except the mascarpone really well first. And then beat in the room-temperature mascarpone at the very end and only until it in incorporated.  Otherwise, you may have a grainy, separation issue. Also in the cupcake recipe, "scant" 29 ounce can means that you should probably leave just a little bit at the bottom of the can because it's a lot of puree.

Pumpkin Cupcakes

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teasponn baking powder
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon Vietnamese cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Scant 29 ounce can of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 cup unsalted butter, melted, and cooled
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
4 large eggs lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350.  Line two standard cupcake tins with liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices.
In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, melted butter, sugars, and eggs.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and slowly whisk in the pumkin mixture.  Whisk until smooth.
Divide evenly into the cupcake liners (I use an ice cream scoop.)
Bake between 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted it the center comes out clean.

Maple-Cream Cheese Frosting 

1 cup butter (2 sticks), room temperature
1/2 cup of Superfine sugar
16 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Maple-Mascarpone Frosting:

2 cups butter (4 sticks), room temperature
1/2 cup Superfine sugar
16 ounces cream cheese, room temp
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
16 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temp

Blend butter and sugar until smooth in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Add cream cheese and maple syrup, blend until smooth and creamy.

*Add mascarpone at this point.
dry ingredients
all mixed together

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