Posts Tagged 'lemon'

Lemon Bars

I did my first triathlon when I was 14.  It was a very short race – .25 mile swim, 12 mile bike, and 2.5 mile run – and I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  I did the swim in a swimsuit and then threw on soccer shorts for the bike and run (which I ended up walking).  I didn’t feel any desire to do another one for quite a few years.

Then in college, I joined the triathlon club because I was rapidly packing on the pounds and getting really out of shape.  I fell in love with the sport and raced a bunch of tris between 2004 and 2008, including a 70.3 (Half Vineman).

I was ecstatic to finish (but my sister was not enthused about my sweaty arm around her).  It took me about 6.5 hours and it was incredibly hard (admittedly I was a little under-trained).

After we went to Asia, I pretty much abandoned triathlon.  Then the other day, I decided (kind of out of the blue) that it was time to register for this…

…my second half Ironman!  I haven’t been on my bike or in a pool since I was pregnant (I just rode on my trainer, and did a couple easy swims), and since Ellie is now almost one, I’m completely out of swimming and biking shape.  But I have 270 days to get ready, and I am STOKED.

My goal for the fall is to swim and bike at least once per week while training for CIM, and then in December I’ll ramp up my swim and bike training so I don’t die.  JUST LOOK at this bike course. Ouch.

– – – – – – – – – –

There were a couple things that were pretty new and exciting when I moved to California ten (seriously?!) years ago.
1. Hard alcohol in the grocery stores. Oregon has state-run liquor stores so it was really weird at first to just be able to roll into Albertson’s for vodka.
2. PALM TREES. They’ll never replace my beloved Douglas Fir, but I absolutely loved (and still do) seeing palm trees everywhere.
3. Fruit trees. People have avocado trees, lemon trees, and orange trees in their yards. Awesome.

We have a lemon tree in our front yard now, and I LOVE it.  I get a couple fresh lemons off the tree almost every day, which means I have all sorts of ideas for things to do with them.  Lemon bars are pretty basic, but they are so good.  I combined elements of Ina Garten’s and the Gourmet Cookbook’s recipes, but scaled them down because a 13 x 9 pan is a LOT of lemon.

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Lemon and Roasted Asparagus Risotto-Style Orzo

Even though I started Saturday morning with a four hour math test, I grade this weekend A+++.  Perfect weather, good coffee, lots of time with Mike and Ellie, a run and brunch with good friends, and a lot of time in the kitchen; that’s pretty tough to beat.

We went to Hayes Valley on Saturday afternoon and got lattes at Ritual 

The people watching (and the DOG watching!) was fantastic and as always, the lattes were divine.  I’m not sure what Ellie was so focused on, but there was definitely a lot to look at.

Sunday morning started with a trip to the East Bay to meet up with a bunch of my favorite people for a run followed by brunch.

6 leisurely miles with Courtney felt a lot harder than it should have (and my right knee/hip were a little cranky) but it was soooo nice to run in the warm sun for a change.  I’m going to spend a lot of quality time with my foam roller this week, and within the next few weeks, I need to start a training plan for the San Francisco Marathon 2nd Half.  I’m hoping to smash my PR (1:39ish right now), but I haven’t picked a plan yet.  Anyone have suggestions?

I’m making the most of asparagus season, buying a bunch of it every week and roasting it to either eat plain or incorporate into our dinner.  I made this dish with whole-wheat orzo cooked like risotto (by adding a ladle of broth and stirring until it was absorbed), which is a little time-consuming but totally worth it.  A little lemon juice and zest, and a bunch of roasted asparagus make it perfect for Spring.

It’s great alongside my new favorite salad: lettuce, toasted almonds, red bell pepper, and goat cheese with a simple vinaigrette.

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(adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian)

Warm Potato-Celery Root Salad


The other day I bought a celery root at the farmer’s market (thanks to That Girl for the inspiration). I spent about 10 days trying to decide what to do with it, but none of the recipes in my cookbook collection really appealed to me. So, I turned to The Flavor Biblefor some ideas.

The book listed capers, mustard, and lemon as going well with celery root, so I used all three. Roasting is my favorite way to cook most vegetables, and it definitely worked out well here. Mike said he wished the potatoes were a little crisper, so a little extra time in the oven might be helpful.

I’m thinking the next new-to-me vegetable I’m going to try is kohlrabi. Any recipe suggestions?

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Crispy/Chewy Lemon Cookies


There are 14 days of school until summer break. 3 of those are half days. And although it feels like it was just yesterday I was accepting the offer for this job, these last few weeks are draaaaaaggging.

I have really mixed emotions about summer (which for me is actually about 6 months long because aside from a few days of meeting with my sub and getting my room ready, I’m not working again until December; maternity leave, you are a beautiful thing!). I never realized how much I would come to love these kids, and I can’t believe they are going to HIGH SCHOOL in just a few months! Most of them, I’ll miss like crazy. Some of them… well I wish them the best!

Now that I’m about to wrap up my first year teaching, I’m even more in love with my job than I have been all year. I always felt like I was in the right place and doing the right thing, but seeing how far my students have come and how well I’ve gotten to know them has given me this crazy proud, emotional mix of feelings that I’m sure is affecting me much more because of these stupid pregnancy hormones than it otherwise would be. Still, I can’t say that I’m not pretty excited to have a few months (pre-baby) to sleep a lot, knit a lot, hopefully work out a lot, and enjoy the end of child-free life!

I’ve been trying to bake more for the staff because they’ve made my first year of teaching absolutely incredible, and also because I really feel like baking but definitely do not need to be eating everything I make. For some reason, I’ve been craving lemony things lately, and these cookies jumped out at me from the pages of my Gourmet cookbook. I normally cringe at the idea of shortening, but it does give cookies an amazing chewiness that butter alone simply doesn’t. These are crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, and have just the right amount of lemon flavor. Like pretty much all cookies, they’re highly addictive!

Recipe:
(Gourmet Cookbook)

Makes about 30 cookies

1/2 cup shortening
2 Tbsp butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon extract
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350.

Cream the butter and shortening until smooth. Beat in the sugar and mix on medium-high until light and fluffy.

Scrape down the bowl and mix in the extracts, lemon juice, and lemon zest and mix until smooth.

Stir the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together, then add to the rest of the dough. Mix on low until combined and all traces of flour disappear.

Roll a scant tablespoon of dough at a time into a ball then flatten slightly and place 2″ apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for about 8-10 minutes, or until edges are golden.

Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool, then sift powdered sugar over the top.

Lemon Blueberry Muffins


First it was cupcakes, then it was Cheesecake bars. Seeing lemon and blueberry together, and then walking into Trader Joe’s to find they finally have the big packages of blueberries again (and from the USA, not Chile!) made it impossible not to make my own lemon and blueberry recipe.

I tried to make these a little healthier than your standard muffin. Some yogurt, some applesauce, whole wheat pastry flour, and a beaten egg white to keep things light, and I was really happy with how they turned out.

These muffins completely put me in the mood for summer. I just finished the class I was taking at San Francisco State, and I have 19 more days of work until my 2-month break. I’m already dreaming about all the baking I’m going to be doing in the next couple months. Oh, and I bought a baby knitting book.

Mike sarcastically told me after I bought it “yeah Cate, you definitely need more hobbies,” so I had to remind him that I’ll be running FAR less than usual this summer. I’m not sure how much I’ll actually accomplish considering that the last time I successfully used double pointed needles was when I made a hat 10 years ago, and I currently am working on a scarf that I started before we left for Asia (almost 3 years ago). I just could not resist the cute little booties and hats!

Recipe:
zest and juice of 1 lemon (about 1 Tbsp zest and 2 Tbsp juice)
1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup milk (I used almond milk)
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup evaporated cane juice (or granulated sugar)
1 egg white
pinch cream of tartar
1 cup blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 and grease or line a 12-cup muffin pan.

Stir together the lemon juice, yogurt, oil, applesauce, vanilla, and milk.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.

Gently stir the wet ingredients into the dry.

In yet another bowl, whisk the egg white with a pinch of cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Fold into the batter, then fold in the blueberries and lemon zest.

Divide evenly into the muffin pan and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan 5 minutes then remove muffins from the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Creamy Avocado Pasta


I have no shame. It’s my birthday and I’m celebrating it to the max, telling the world that damn it, I’m 27 and HAPPY about it!

26 was an AWESOME year. I know I overuse that word, and my mother the editor will probably send me a list of more interesting adjectives as soon as she reads this. Anyway… the highlights:

– I ran a huge PR and qualified for Boston at the San Francisco marathon

– I applied for a million and a half teaching jobs and got one in Daly City. I didn’t even know where Daly City was until I looked up the HR page for the district, but I LOVE where I work and am thrilled to be there!

– I visited my 30th country (New Zealand)

– We moved to the Bay Area

– I found out I was pregnant!

– I ran the Boston marathon with my dad (and have managed to work that info into pretty much every post since then)

I think 27 will top 26 though. From what I hear, having a kid is life changing in a way nothing else can really match. Less than 4 months to go, and I can’t wait!

Anyway, there’s no real way to tie this pasta into all this nonsense, so I’m just going to tell you that both Mike and I adored it, it took maybe 20 minutes start to finish (including boiling the pasta!), and it’s incredibly delicious. I only had dried basil and I’m sure fresh would be better, but it’s like the creamiest, smoothest pesto imaginable.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a celebratory run to do and a cake to frost!

Recipe:
(adapted from Oh She Glows)

6-8 ounces brown rice or whole wheat spaghetti (or pasta of your choice)
1 large ripe avocado
juice of one lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 tbsp dried basil
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp olive oil

Put a large pot of salted water over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions.

While pasta is cooking, pulse the garlic, half the lemon juice and olive oil until smooth. Add the avocado, basil, and salt to taste, and continue to pulse until you have a creamy sauce. Add more salt, lemon juice, or basil as needed.

Drain the pasta and toss with the avocado sauce. Serve immediately with a sprinkling of black pepper.

Lemon-Tahini Pasta with Spinach

It’s a good thing this was a simple dinner because I had a really busy afternoon. I had a bunch of kids stay in my classroom working on a lab…then I had to go buy Halloween candy at Target…then I came come home and instead of going on a run like I planned, I ate a big bowl of cereal and felt sorry for myself for pretty much no reason in particular. (And I know, the run would have boosted my mood a LOT more than slumping on the couch did…) So lame, but sometimes there are days that just kind of deteriorate like that. When that happens, I’m really glad I have an aresnal of quick dinners that don’t require much effort.

This only takes slightly longer than it takes pasta to boil. I love fusili in particular because it has all those little spots to absorb sauce. And the sauce is awesome because it just takes a few pulses in a mini food processor and has the perfect combination of nutty and bright flavors. It’s a nice change from a typical cream sauce (and it’s vegan!)

Recipe:

8 ounces dried fusili pasta
4 tbsp tahini
4 tbsp lemon juice
4 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
a few pinches salt and pepper
one large bunch spinach, stems removed and roughly chopped

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.

While the pasta is boiling, pulse the tahini, lemon juice, and garlic in a mini food processor until smooth.

After the pasta has cooked, turn the heat to low and put the drained pasta back into the pan. Stir in the spinach, mixing until it wilts. Stir in the tahini sauce and a few pinches of salt and pepper and mix well.



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