Goddess Bowls

This was my first time cooking and eating quinoa and I loved it.

It was kind of a laborious meal to prepare but I made it for lunch on a day off, so I had plenty of time.  I’m just not used to using 2 pots, one saute pan, my food processor, and various other things to prepare lunch!  Worth it though!  I had just worked out and was in the mood for something healthy.  It was so tasty!

Oh! Next time I’ll probably cut the recipe in half.  It makes a ton and I’m pretty sure Tim won’t eat something like this.  Looks like I’ll be taking this in my lunch for a few days. Hopefully leftovers are just as good!

Lightened Protein Power Goddess Bowls

Source:  Apple A Day

Ingredients:
For the bowl:
1 c. uncooked green lentils
1 c. uncooked quinoa
2 tsp. olive oil, for sautéing
1/2 red onion, chopped – I used a white onion
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped – I used a green bell pepper
1 large tomato, chopped – I omitted
3 c. spinach or kale, roughly chopped – I used 6 cups of kale
1/2 c. fresh parsley, minced – I omitted
salt & black pepper, to taste
lemon zest and wedges, to garnish
For the dressing:
1/4 c. tahini
3 garlic cloves
1/2 c. lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1/4 c. nutritional yeast – I omitted due to not knowing what the hell it is??
2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. salt & freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
3 TBSP water, or as needed
Directions:
1. Cook lentils and grain of choice according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.  (This can be done the night before.  Just keep in the refrigerator and bring to room temp before continuing the recipe.)
2. While the lentils and grain are cooking, prepare the dressing by combining all ingredients in a food processor.
3. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, add the olive oil.  Sauté the chopped onion and minced garlic for approximately three minutes. Add the red pepper and tomato and sauté for another 7-8 minutes.
4. Stir in kale and sauté for another few minutes, just until tender.  Add the dressing, lentils, and quinoa, and simmer on low three minutes more.
5.  Remove salad from the heat and stir in parsley.  Garnish with lemon wedges and zest.
Serves six.
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Strawberry Lemon Cupcakes

Wow!  I now know why there has been so much hype over Swiss meringue buttercream.  It is dreamy and smooth and so, so good!  I really don’t know how I’ll be able to go back to my old buttercream!

I have to give myself a pat on the back for making this recipe.  It was a lot more labor than I’m used to putting into cupcakes, especially on one of the hottest days of the year, but it was so worth it.  So worth it!

Due to a work function at the hellhole, I had to make all 3 parts of this recipe about 48+ hours before assembling the final product.  I left the lemon curd and buttercream in the fridge and left the cupcakes in an airtight container at room temp until I could put it all together.

As my luck goes, of course there was a casualty.  Well as instructed, I brought the buttercream to room temperature {or so I thought?} and then mixed it using my stand mixer to fluff it up again.  And it totally curdled and separated into a runny mess.  I ended up starting over with a new batch which was not really how I wanted to spend my Friday night, but that’s okay.

So, I would recommend making it and using it immediately.  Also, I used unsalted butter in the first batch and salted in the second and I could definitely tell a difference.  I thought the batch using unsalted butter was much better.  I didn’t have as many strawberries as were called for to make my second batch, so that was disappointing too.

Now, even though this was a time consuming project, no step was difficult.  At times I questioned the vagueness of certain directions, but I went with my gut and everything turned out great.  Erin also made some great suggestions, so I’ve included some combined tips throughout the instructions below that may make things more clear or clear as mud…

Strawberry Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes

Source:  Milk and Honey and Martha Stewart

Makes 24 cupcakes {I got 27 cupcakes}

First, make the filling:

LEMON CURD

  • 8 large egg yolks
  • Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
  1. Combine yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar in a heavy-bottom saucepan; whisk to combine. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon (be sure to scrape the sides of the pan), until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, 8 to 10 minutes, and registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
  2. Remove saucepan from heat. Add salt and butter, one piece at a time, stirring until smooth. {I had to move the saucepan back to very low heat to finish adding the butter, it just wasn’t melting for me off the heat.} Strain through a fine sieve into a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled and set, at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.

Next, make the cake:

LEMON BUTTERMILK CUPCAKES

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • Finely grated zest of 3 lemons (about 3 tablespoons), plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in zest and vanilla. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk and lemon juice, and beating until just combined after each.
  4. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full (or less, I had issues with 2 or 3 being too full and running over while baking}. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. {My were still pretty light colored, but center was done so don’t just go by color.} Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

Make the frosting and assemble:

STRAWBERRY SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries (8 ounces), rinsed, hulled, and coarsely chopped
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, cut into tablespoons, at room temperature {I recommend unsalted butter}
  1. Puree strawberries in a food processor. Combine egg whites and sugar in the heatproof bowl of a standing electric mixer set over a pan of simmering water.  {I may have messed up here, I just used a large shallow stainless steel frying pan, but realized later that it was supposed to be more of a double boiler set up.  So I guess I should have used a deeper pan for the simmering water?  My way seemed to work out though.} Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved.  The mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips.
  2. Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, mix until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. {I don’t think I truly got to stiff peaks, but went ahead anyway because it was glossy and fluffy.} Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.
  3. With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all butter has been added, scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula and switch to the paddle attachment; continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Add strawberries and beat until combined. Stir with a flexible spatula until the frosting is smooth.*  {Taste the frosting at this point and you will think you went to heaven!!!}
  4. Using a small paring knife, cut a small cone shaped portion out of the middle of each cupcake. Reserve the cones. Spoon about a 1/2 teaspoon of the lemon filling into each cake. Top with reserved cone and press it down slightly into place.
  5. Pipe or spread the frosting on top of each filled cupcake. Garnish with a strawberry and a lemon wedge. Serve immediately. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator but bring to room temp before serving again.

*The frosting can be made ahead of time. Just transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes. {I don’t recommend this, but left in for anyone who wants to take the chance.}

Summer Pasta with Shrimp

hmmm, I couldn’t think of a very good title for this recipe.  But it was a terrific meal!  It is definitely more of a  “chick-food” type of dish according to Tim, but that’s why I loved it!  It is pasta with shrimp, garlic, grape tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and olives.  Yum!  I could have eaten it without the shrimp even,  I just added them for Tim since he’s not a fan of vegetarian meals.  Anyway, it cooks really fast too, which is why I added the ‘summer’ part in the title.  Its ready in about 15 minutes which is ideal for a summer-time meal when you don’t want to stand over a hot stove for very long.

I was really winging it as I went along, so measurements aren’t exact.

Summer Pasta with Shrimp

Makes 4 servings

Inspired from a Cuisine at Home magazine, Issue 82 for August 2010

Ingredients:

8 oz. dry spaghetti

1/2 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 tablespoon butter

crushed red pepper flake, to taste

salt, to taste

1 small carton of grape tomatoes, sliced in half {about 2 cups?}

about 1 cup olives, sliced in half

1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic {about 3 cloves}

1 tablespoon butter or olive oil

juice of 1/2 a large lemon or more to taste

about 8 oz. of fresh mozzarella “pearls” or diced fresh mozzarella

Directions:

Boil water and cook spaghetti.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over med-high heat with about 1 tablespoon of butter.  Add shrimp and crushed red pepper and cook until shrimp are done.  Remove the shrimp to a plate and set aside.

Add more butter or olive oil to the skillet if needed and add the garlic to the skillet, cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the halved tomatoes and salt, and cook for a few minutes until the tomato halves just slightly wrinkle and sort of burst.  Then add the halved olives.  Cook another minute, then add the lemon juice and cooked shrimp.

Turn off heat, add the cooked and drained spaghetti and toss.   Stir in the mozzarella pearls and serve.

Tim added Parmesan to the top of his, but I didn’t think it was necessary.

We served it with garlic bread.

Enjoy!

Chicken Piccata, Take 2

I wasn’t really looking for a new chicken piccata recipe as I already have a terrific one in my repertoire.  I was just in the mood for a new lemony type of chicken dish.  Something perfect for summer and quick.  As I was searching, I stumbled upon this piccata recipe by Ina Garten.  She has never let me down, so I went ahead with it and am glad I did!  It was actually even easier than my other recipe and Tim liked this one better.  I thought they were a tie, but I’m going to make this recipe again next week just to be sure. 😉

I served the chicken over pasta with a side of broccoli.  Next time I’ll reduce the amount of salt and add a few tablespoons of capers to the sauce.

Sorry, the pictures were taken before I added the sauce.  And I skipped the sliced lemon and parsley garnish.

Chicken Piccata

Source:  Ina Garten

Ingredients

  • 2 split (1 whole) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 1/2 tablespoon water
  • 3/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • Good olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons), lemon halves reserved
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • Sliced lemon, for serving
  • Chopped fresh parsley leaves, for serving

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place each chicken breast between 2 sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap and pound out to 1/4-inch thick. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

Mix the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper in a shallow plate. In a second plate, beat the egg and 1/2 tablespoon of water together. Place the bread crumbs on a third plate. Dip each chicken breast first in the flour, shake off the excess, and then dip in the egg and bread crumb mixtures.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium to medium-low heat. Add the chicken breasts and cook for 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Place them on the sheet pan and allow them to bake for 5 to 10 minutes while you make the sauce.

For the sauce, wipe out the saute pan with a dry paper towel. Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and then add the lemon juice, wine, the reserved lemon halves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Boil over high heat until reduced in half, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and swirl to combine. Discard the lemon halves and serve 1 chicken breast on each plate.  Spoon on the sauce and serve with a slice of lemon and a sprinkling of fresh parsley.

Enjoy!

Creamy Lemon Crumb Squares

Well, here’s another terrific recipe from the Pioneer Woman! The lemon filling is fabulous!

Creamy Lemon Crumb Squares
Ingredients
  • 1-⅓ cup All-purpose Flour
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 stick (1/2 Cup) Butter, Slightly Softened
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar (lightly Packed)
  • 1 cup Oats
  • 1 can (14 Ounce) Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • ½ cups Lemon Juice (2 or 3 lemons)
  • Zest Of 1 Lemon – I upped it to 2 lemons
Preparation Instructions

PREHEAT OVEN TO 350 DEGREES.

Mix butter and brown sugar until well combined.

Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder.

Add oats and flour to butter/sugar mixture and mix to combine.

Press half of crumb mixture into the bottom of an 8 x 11 inch pan.

Mix together condensed milk, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Spread onto the bottom layer of the crumb mixture. Top with the other half of the crumb mixture, but don’t press.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Allow pan to sit on counter for 30 minutes after baking. Cut into squares and refrigerate for a couple of hours or until cool.

Serve cool.

Citrus Pound Cake

This sweet cake is a delicious treat for any time of day!  For breakfast, an afternoon snack, or dessert – a small slice is perfect! If you like pound cake you will love this recipe.  It is super moist and buttery.

The glaze is optional but does make it extra special.  I mainly used it because the cake stuck to the pan a little and I wanted to hide the spots. 😉  So whatever you do, grease that pan like you mean business!

As an alternative to the glaze, a raspberry or strawberry syrup or sliced fresh fruit would also be great.

Citrus Pound Cake

{Source: adapted from The Pioneer Woman}

Ingredients
  • 3 sticks butter at room temperature
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 5 whole eggs at room temp.
  • zest from 1 or 2 lemons
  • 1 teaspoon butter flavoring
  • 1 teaspoons lemon flavoring
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup Sprite, 7-UP, Or Sierra Mist
Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cream butter with electric mixer.

Add sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing after each addition.

Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing after each addition.

Add the zest, vanilla, butter, and lemon extracts and mix well.

Add flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Add soft drink, then mix together until combined.  Scrape sides of bowl, then mix briefly.

Pour into a well greased Bundt pan and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until the cake is golden brown and no longer jiggly.

Remove cake from oven, allow to cool in pan briefly and then invert pan on a plate until cake drops out.  Slice and chow down!

Glaze

1/2 to 1 cup of powdered sugar

juice of 1/2 a lemon {about 3 tablespoons}

Stir together until you achieve the right consistency.  Drizzle over the cooled cake.  You can substitute water or milk in place of lemon juice.

Enjoy!

Chicken Piccata

I LOVE it when a meal prepared at home turns out as good, if not better than one from a restaurant!  This was one of those meals.  It was absolutely out of this world!  I can’t believe I have never made this dish at home before.  I’ll be sure to add it to our regular rotation.

Also, the stunning presentation would make a great impression on dinner guests.  It is ready in about 30 minutes, so it is also perfect for weeknights!  My changes are in italics.

Chicken Piccata

{source:  adapted from Giada De Laurentiis}

serves 4-5

Ingredients

2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and then cut in half {I used 3 chicken breasts}

salt and pepper

all-purpose flour for dredging {about 1/2 cup}

6 tablespoons butter {I think I only used 4 tablespoons}

5 tablespoons olive oil {I only used 3 tablespoons}

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup chicken stock {I used 1/3 cup}

1/4 cup capers, rinsed {I used 2 tablespoons}

fresh parsley for garnish

lemon zest from 1 or 2 whole lemons for garnish

cooked pasta – I used thin spaghetti


Directions:

Boil water and cook pasta as directed.

Meanwhile, place flour in shallow dish {pie plate}.  Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.  Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.

In a large skillet {cast iron} over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons olive oil.  When butter and oil start to sizzle, add 3 pieces of chicken and cook for about 4 minutes.  When the first side is brown, flip and cook for about 4 more minutes or until done.  Remove chicken to a plate and cover with foil.   If necessary, melt 2 more tablespoons of butter and add another 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the frying pan {I just added 1 tablespoon butter at this point}.  Cook the other pieces of chicken in the same manner as before.

Remove the pan from heat and place the just cooked chicken on the plate with others, recover with foil.  {Do not remove fat from pan.}  Into the pan, add lemon juice, stock and capers.  Return the pan to the stove and bring to a boil, scraping up brown bits from pan.  Check for seasoning.

Continue to simmer for 5 minutes to thicken.  Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of butter to sauce and whisk vigorously.  Add the chicken back to the pan to coat with sauce.

Have the cooked and drained pasta on a large serving platter or in a large bowl.  Immediately pour the sauce and chicken over the pasta.  Garnish with parsley and lemon zest.

Enjoy!

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