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.



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.


(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?


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!

(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!

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!

(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!)


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.

Lemon-Lime Bars with Gingersnap Crust

The guys who put together the awesome dessert book Baked are completely right when they say “curd is an ugly word for a delicious dessert.” Why is this magical, velvety, citrusy better-than-pudding substance called something that sounds so gross?

The guys who put together Baked are also not afraid of EXTREMELY rich desserts, and while I admire that, I also get a tiny bit panicked when I see that a recipe calls for eleven egg yolks. ELEVEN! I am not afraid of butter or sugar, and I will happily use cream, but for some reason eleven egg yolks seemed excessive, so I scaled it down a bit and I don’t think anyone missed those 5 extra yolks.

After last week’s gingerbread cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting I decided the lemon-ginger combination doesn’t occur enough in my life, so instead of the graham crackers called for in the crust, I used gingersnaps and I definitely think that was the right decision! These are incredibly rich, but sometimes life just calls for incredibly rich dessert.

(adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking)

1 cup unsweetened dried coconut
2 cups gingersnap crumbs (pulse about 20 gingersnaps in the food processor)
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted

lemon-lime curd
6 egg yolks
5 large eggs
1 3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp grated lemon zest
2 tbsp grated lime zest
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and sliced 1″ thick
1/3 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 300 F. Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and toast for about 8 minutes or until golden.

Stir together the gingersnap crumbs, coconut, sugar, and butter, and pat evenly into the bottom of a greased 13 x 9″ baking dish. Bake for about 12 minutes, then remove and let cool completely before adding filling.

To make the filling, turn the oven up to 325 F. Combine the egg yolks, eggs, sugar, lemon juice, lime juice, lemon zest, and lime zest in a large, clean saucepan. Whisk to combine, then set over medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is 180 F on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat and whisk in the softened butter and cream until smooth. Pour through a mesh sieve into the cooled crust, then gently tilt the pan so the curd covers the crust evenly. Bake for about 8 minutes, or until the filling is set.

Put the pan on a wire rack to cool to room temperature, then cover the pan with plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours before cutting into squares to serve.

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

You know those articles about people who find their dream job and get to spend every day doing what they love? I thought it was all just a bunch of crap, until I got this job. Yes, teaching middle school definitely has its moments, but I honestly feel like there is nothing in the world I would rather do. Even as much as I love baking, (and considered trying to make it a career at one point), I think being in the classroom is the perfect place for me.

But obviously I’m still going to bake (for fun), and I’m going to take a lot of what I bake to school, because my co-workers are truly amazing people who are making my first year as a teacher so much less stressful than it could be. Okay, I think that’s about enough sappiness for one blog post. Onto the cupcakes.

Gingerbread, cream cheese frosting and lemon are almost magical when combined into one cupcake. As someone who loves anything and everything ginger (and believes most things are better with cream cheese frosting), these were an ideal treat. And I know my co-workers agreed because they vanished pretty quickly!

(adapted from Epicurious)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) softened butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
1 large egg, beaten lightly
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup boiling water

6 ounce cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tbsp butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 F and line 12 cupcake tins with paper liners.
Sift the flour, salt, ginger, and cinnamon together into a medium bowl. Beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy, then add the egg and molasses and beat on medium until smooth.
Combine the boiling water and baking soda in a small bowl, mixing so the baking soda dissolves. Add to the molasses mixture, and stir well. Then add the flour, and mix on low until all traces of flour disappear.

Pour into the prepared pans and bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pans for about 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely (the tops may sink slightly).

To make the frosting, mix the butter and cream cheese until smooth, then beat in the lemon juice, zest, and powdered sugar. Add additional powdered sugar if it seems too runny, then spread onto cooled cupcakes.

Potato, Lemon, and Thyme Pizza

“This is the best pizza I’ve ever had. Literally. The lemon makes it.”

Those were Mike’s exact words on Friday night, which is almost always pizza night at our house. I can’t say for sure whether or not it was the best pizza I’ve ever tasted, but it is definitely high on the list. I’m not sure if it’s the unexpected brightness of the lemon or the texture of roasted potato in contrast with the thin, crisp crust, but this pizza is definitely something special.

I started with my favorite pizza dough of all time (the one from the Big Sur Bakery Cookbook). Only this time, because I forgot to make it the night before, I doubled the yeast (1 tsp instead of 1/2 tsp) and let it sit in the fridge all day. It was pretty much perfect, which is good to know because far too often, I forget to start the dough the night before.

Anyway, I found the recip for this beautiful pizza on In Praise of Leftovers but it was Mike’s idea to crack the egg on top, which was a brilliant addition. He also commented that for the carnivorous among us, prosciutto would be another nice touch.

(adapted from In Praise of Leftovers)

makes 2 10-inch thin crust pizzas

enough pizza dough for two 10″ pizzas
3 medium red potatoes, scrubbed and thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Toss the potato, garlic, onion, and olive oil with a few pinches of salt and pepper and spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

Turn the oven up to 500 F (use a pizza stone if you have one). Sprinkle a few tablespoons of cornmeal on a pizza peel or cookie sheet, and stretch your dough out to about a 10″ circle. Set on the cornmeal, then evenly spread some potato mixture and half the lemon slices on the dough. Sprinkle half the thyme over the top. Slide gently onto the pizza stone and bake for about 5 minutes, then quickly crack an egg in the center and sprinkle with 1/4 cup parmesan cheese. Continue baking for 5-7 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the egg is cooked. Repeat with remaining dough and ingredients.


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