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Gluten Free Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes

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Easy to make, health-ified, gluten free pancake recipe with a hint of lemon and poppy seed flavor.

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I’ve never been the kind of person to top my pancakes with anything. As a kid I only knew of plain, Bisquick pancakes. My grandparents would serve them with Aunt Jemima Maple Syrup, but I was content to eat my pancakes plain. Occasionally I’d put a little pool of syrup on my plate and dunk the edge of a pancake in.

Sometime in my teens my sister started making orange juice pancakes (the result of what happens when you want to make pancakes but have no milk in the house). These pancakes were tastier than the plain Bisquick version and had a slightly sweet taste.

And then I moved to the south, where there’s a Waffle House (not a Starbuck’s, like in the northeast) on every corner. I’ve never eaten a Waffle House pancake and probably never will, but my husband really loves getting a stack of pancakes and waffles covered in various sugary toppings and sauces. I’ve been on a quest to make healthy (or at least not horribly unhealthy), gluten free pancakes that can fill in for any regular pancake.

So, what does my life history of pancakes have to do with Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes? Well, I’ve been trying out lots of pancake recipes lately, in search of an actual real pancake my husband will enjoy and I can eat without getting sick. One of the recipes we’ve enjoyed are these Sweet Zucchini Pancakes from Pinch of Yum. They tasted like a real pancake (so I was told), and fit my requirements for being gluten free and not totally unhealthy. I even made a few healthier substitutions and the pancakes were still good!

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When I had a major craving for lemon poppy seed something I¬† knew this pancake recipe could help me out! It’s light and sweet – a perfect fit for lemon & poppy seed. Again, I made a few modifications, and ended up with this recipe. A mostly healthy, gluten free, lemon poppy seed pancake recipe. It sounds too good to be true!

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But it isn’t. With just half a cup of gluten free flour, these pancakes get their bulk from shredded zucchini. But don’t worry, you can’t taste it. Some lemon juice plus a few tablespoons of sugar makes every bite taste sweet and lemony. The “bad” ingredients end with the sugar (I tried Stevia, but didn’t like it). No butter, no cream, no whatever other junk would be in pancakes – just real, gluten free ingredients. With the lemon juice and poppy seeds being mixed right into the pancake, these plain looking pancakes taste anything but plain!

Enjoy ūüôā

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Gluten Free Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes

Ingredients (makes 14 – 16 3-4″ pancakes)
  • 1/2 c all purpose Gluten Free Flour ( I use Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 3 T sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg (a flax egg will also work)
  • 1/2 c plain, nonfat greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbs unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 zucchini (I’ve used vastly different sized zucchinis in this recipe with good results, so any will do!)
  • 2 1/2 T lemon juice
  • 2 Tsp poppy seeds (plus extra for garnish)
Directions
  1. Grate the zucchini (I use the “fine” side on my box grater). When the zucchini is completely grated use a cheesecloth, thin towel, or even just your hands to squeeze out the liquid. It’s easiest to squeeze out the liquid in small increments, so just repeat with a few smaller batches of zucchini. The zucchini should end up noticeably drier, be clumped together, and have lost a significant amount of size. Set the zucchini aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine the first seven ingredients (GF flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, egg, yogurt, and applesauce). Stir until a smooth batter forms.
  3. Next, stir in the lemon juice. Finally, add the prepared zucchini and the poppy seeds.
  4. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat.
  5. When the skillet is warm, pour in about 2 tablespoons of batter for each pancake, fitting in as many in the skillet as you can, still leaving room to maneuver a spatula.
  6. When most of the bubbles on the top of the pancakes have popped and the batter is looking opaque, flip the pancakes.
  7. Cook for an additional minute or two on the second side. Remove when the bottom is golden brown (easy to check by lifting up gently with a spatula.
  8. Repeat until all of the batter has been used. Serve warm!

 

Lemon Lentil Soup

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Best soup ever.

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If you’re looking for a bland, mushy lentil soup recipe then you have come to the WRONG place. This lentil soup is different from so many others. First off, the texture. Unlike so many other lentil based soups, it’s not mushy. It’s not quite creamy or chunky either. It’s just the best of all worlds. Even the texture of the lentils themselves is easy to customize to your own preferences. Cook for less time if you like lentils a bit al dente, or more time if you prefer softer lentils.

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What’s really out of this world about this soup though is the flavor. The lentils simmer with onion and garlic, then cook in chicken stock to make a delicious broth. A splash of lemon juice and a sprinkling of cilantro take the flavor of the broth up to a whole other level. The flavor combination is perfect – nothing is too strong or too weak.

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And have I mentioned how easy this soup is to prepare? Similar to my simple Avgolemono Soup, you dump some ingredients in a pot and let it simmer away for a while. Come back in about half an hour and you have soup. And not just any soup, but a seriously delicious and healthy soup!

P.S. Here’s the original recipe source. My version has extra lemon flavor and added cilantro!

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Lemon Lentil Soup

Ingredients
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes ( or more/less depending on tastes)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 cups brown lentils
  • 6 c chicken stock (may use vegetable broth for a vegetarian option. I’ve tried both and prefer chicken stock.)
  • 1/4 c lemon juice
  • 1/4 c chopped cilantro
Directions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. When the oil is warm add the onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes to the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft.
  2. Stir in the cumin and lentils, followed by the chicken stock. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and let simmer for about 30 minutes. Reduce the cook time for firmer lentils, or lengthen cooking time for softer lentils.
  3. Stir in the lemon juice and cilantro.
  4. Serve hot (or let cool if you prefer)!

PGF: Pesto Chicken & Lemon Kale Sandwiches

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Pesto Chicken & Lemon Kale sandwiches make a quick and healthy meal. These warm, toasted sandwiches can be made with GF or wheat bread. Perfect for a group of people who have differing dietary needs. The lemon and pesto combination is irresistable. Whether you are eating GF or not you will love this sandwich!

I really enjoy eating soup. There’s nothing else like a tomato soup and grilled cheese, and any time I feel sick with anything I make Avgolemono Soup. I have a whole pinterest board just for soups I want to try!

Soup is a cold weather food. The last thing you want to do on a hot day is eat a big bowl of steaming soup. Hot days are the majority here, so as summer approaches I’ve been trying to get my fill of soups.

A few weeks ago, when the temperature starting getting into the 70s, I kind of freaked out about all the soup recipes I wanted to try and hadn’t had the chance yet! There was one soup in particular that I was anxious to try so I planned to make it that very night. I needed something a little more substantial to go with the soup so I invented these sandwiches out of ingredients from my refrigerator.

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The soup, sadly, wasn’t that great but the sandwiches were awesome! The lemon flavored kale and pesto go together strikingly well. As someone who usually eats all of my foods separated I was honestly a little worried, but the sandwich was 100% enjoyable. The tastes and textures all blended together perfectly. Even the GF bread was perfect. It browned and crisped up so much better than the sandwiches I made on wheat bread for Steve.

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Before actually putting together these sandwiches you’ll need to cook some chicken and saute some kale. It sounds like a lot of work for a sandwich, I know. First, I will tell you that it’s worth it! I’ll do a little extra work for a healthy, delicious meal that everyone in the family likes! Second, these two steps take about 20 minutes total and can be done ahead of time. These sandwiches are a great use of leftovers if you happen to have some extra cooked chicken laying around!

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Pesto Chicken & Lemon Kale Sandwiches

Steps 1 – 3 can be done ahead of time. Store the cooked chicken and kale in the refrigerator until ready to use.
 
Ingredients
  • 8 slices of bread (GF, wheat, or combination of both)
  • 8 tsp pesto
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 bunch kale, roughly chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
Directions
  1. Fill a saucepan with water. Bring to a boil and add the chicken breast. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 12-15 minutes.
  2. While the chicken in cooking, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large frying pan. Add the kale and saute for about 5 minutes. The kale will turn to a brighter green color and then soften and wilt. Add the lemon juice to the pan and cook, continuing to stir, until there is no more liquid remaining on the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat.
  3. When the chicken has finished cooking shred it using two fork (or cut into bite sized pieces).
  4. Heat a skillet (the same one you cooked the kale in is fine) over medium heat. Prepare the GF bread by spreading a tsp of pesto sauce on one side of each piece of bread. Spray the other side of the bread with cooking spray, and place that side of the bread down on the baking pan. Put about 1/4 of the chicken on one slice of bread, topped with 1 tbs of cheese. On the other slice, spread out some of the lemon kale and top with another tbs of mozzarella.
  5. Cover the skillet with a lid and let cook until the cheese is mostly melted. Remove the two bread slices from the skillet and carefully put them together. Press down on the top of the sandwiches with a spatula to help keep the sandwich together.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 with the reaming bread. Be sure to cook all of the GF sandwiches before cooking any sandwiches using wheat bread.

Lemon Risotto

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Risotto has the reputation of being difficult to make. All that stirring.

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My introduction to risotto was through my first boyfriend’s mother.

Oh, high school relationships.

I was a senior in high school at the time and had done some cooking before, but this woman made things far more fancy and complicated than I was used to at home. My parents weren’t bad cooks or anything like that, but they didn’t enjoy cooking the same way she did. Naturally, people who enjoy cooking tend to spend more time in the kitchen creating intricate dishes than just your normal weeknight dinner.

Anyway, risotto. This boyfriend’s mom had told me how complicated risotto was. That it took so long to make. And the stirring, so much stirring. Me, being competitive, thought “psh, I can do that”. I went online to the Food Network, printed off a risotto recipe and tried my hand at it.

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That first risotto was a success, and it quickly became one of my favorite foods! It’s a comfort food for me, really. Risotto is so smooth and creamy, yet it fits my qualifications of not having any of the fatty, overly processed type ingredients (I don’t even add any cheese to my risotto anymore. It creamy enough as it is, and you really won’t notice the cheese is gone)! Sure, risotto is essentially a fancy white rice – not the healthiest, but definitely not the worst. I just eat it in moderation. The evening I made and photographed this particular risotto I also had some oven baked tilapia and some vegetable (asparagus, I think).

I topped my risotto with a bit of extra spinach. Other garnishes could be freshly grated parmesan or mozzarella, or parsley, oregano, or basil.

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Lemon Risotto

Ingredients
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2/3 c arborio rice
  • 1/4 c lemon juice
  • 3 c chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 c chopped spinach
Directions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is warm add the garlic and shallot and cook about 3-4 minutes, until soft.
  2. Add the arborio rice. Let this mixture cook for another 5 minutes or so, stirring frequently, until the ends of the grains of rice are translucent.
  3. Pour in the lemon juice and let it absorb, stirring frequently.
  4. When the lemon juice has absorbed add about 1/2 c of the chicken or vegetable stock. Again, stir this frequently. When the liquid is mostly absorbed, add another half cup of broth and repeat until all of the broth has been added and absorbed. This will take some time and lots of stirring.
  5. Finally, stir in the chopped spinach and let the risotto cook for just a minute or two more while the spinach wilts.
  6. Optional: garnish risotto with extra spinach, freshly grated cheese, or herbs before serving.

 

Hummus with a Hint of Lemon & Garlic (Plus: How to Make Smooth, Homemade Hummus)

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I love hummus! Do you love hummus? I think everyone loves hummus!

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I actually ignore the hummus display at the grocery store because it is sooooo tempting. All of the flavors are mouth watering, but they come at a hefty price tag! My favorite variety, the Tribe Forty Spice, I can’t even find locally! A runner up, Sabra Supremely Spicy, is $4.99 for a 10 oz (I think) container. I can make double that amount for about $1!

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Making hummus at home is simple, and there’s no limit to the flavors you can create.

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To make hummus, you’ll need a blender or a food processor. The main ingredient is a can or chick peas/garbanzo beans. Sure, you can just dump the in the blender, but the key to making super smooth hummus is peeling the skins off of the garbanzo beans. It takes a bit more time to peel off all of those skins but it makes a world of difference in texture. To peel off the skins, just squeeze towards one end of the chickpea between two fingers. The skin should pop right off.

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Another key ingredent in hummus is tahini (aka sesame paste). You can buy this is most mainstream grocery stores. Its usually $7 or $8 for a jar, but you will only use a tablespoon or two in each hummus batch. A great way to get tahini for a bit cheaper is to buy it at a mediteranean food store. The same goes for spices!

As for the process of actually making the hummus, like I said, it is very simple. First, I blend the chick peas and some of the liquid. Next, I add the spices. Finally, I slowly add liquid until the hummus reaches the perfect consistency.

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Hummus with a Hint of Lemon & Garlic

Ingredients
  • 1 can, 15.5 oz, garbanzo beans/chick peas
  • 3 Tbs lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs tahini
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
Directions
  1. Drain the garbanzo beans, saving the liquid from the can. Remove and discard the clear skins from the garbanzo beans.
  2. Add the garbanzo beans and lemon juice to the bowl of a food processor or blender and mix until smooth. If the mixture is dry, add some of the reserved liquid from the can of garbanzo beans.
  3. When the garbanzo beans are completely mashed, add the tahini, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and olive oil. Mix again until completely combined.
  4. Check the consistency of the hummus. If you’d like it to be smooth or more liquid slowly add more of the reserved liquid until the hummus reaches the desired consistency.

Lemon Bars with Almond Shortbread Crust (GF)

I first saw this recipe on The Kitchn a few months ago and I had a lot of fun creating a gluten free variation. I figured lemon bars would be the perfect dessert to have around on hot, summer days. Oh, and these were! Even as the weather has cooled down a bit these chilled bars are just as appetizing. It’s difficult to eat just one! The lemon curd is tangy, but sweet, and the almond shortbread is just out of this world. In fact, I love the almond shortbread so much that I increased the crust to lemon ratio.

ImageAlthough these bars are so delicious, they do require some time, effort, and patience to prepare. There’s juicing and zesting the lemons, making the shortbread crust, baking the shortbread crust, making the lemon mixture, baking it all again, and finally the bars cool and sit in the refrigerator for a few hours. Phew – it’s even a lot to type out!

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I had planned to make these bars yesterday, knowing I wanted to post about them today. I had nothing scheduled until the evening so I figured I could take my time and enjoy the baking process. My plan was foiled when I found out that the Apple Keynote was yesterday. Now, I am a huge Apple fanatic. I came from a family of Mac users, my husband is a Mac user. I think we have enough iDevices around to have one for each room of the house. The Apple Keynote is like Christmas for all of us. Except, instead of unwrapping a present we’re excitedly waiting to find out what new, cool electronics Apple has created for us now. We all gather around our respective computers, watch the live blogging of the event, texting back and fourth the entire time. So, at 12:03pm I set out to make these lemon bars, knowing that I needed to be at the computer for the Apple Keynote at 1:00pm. Could I actually complete all that baking in under an hour?

The answer was, almost, yes. By 12:30 the crust was mixed and baking and I was mixing up the ingredients for the lemon curd. The lemon curd finished cooking, the crust came out of the oven, I poured the lemon curd over the crust and popped it back in the oven for the final baking. It was exactly 1:00pm! I asked Siri to “set my timer for 10 minutes” and watched the Keynote until the timer went off. Then it was just a matter of sneaking to the kitchen for a second to pull the pan out of the oven. The rest of the process is just letting the lemon bars set and cool, which is all inactive.

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So, yes, this is a somewhat complicated recipe and it might look daunting (if you are anything like me, that probably excites you). If you choose to invest the hour of your time and a spot in your refrigerator to these lemon bars you will not be disappointed. Its a little more work than whipping up a quick batch of chocolate chip cookies, but the result is truly decadent.

ImageLemon Bars with Almond Shortbread Crust

(makes about 18 small bars)

Recipe adapted from: The Kitchn

Ingredients:

Crust
  • 3/4c butter (1 and 1/2 sticks)
  • 3/4c powered sugar
  • 1 3/4c almond meal
  • 1c GF all purpose flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Lemon Curd
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1c granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 5 lemons

Baking Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350¬į F.
  2. Zest and juice the lemons, saving both the zest and the juice.
  3. Mix the powdered sugar and the 3/4c butter listed in the crust ingredients together in a stand mixer. I used the paddle attachment on medium speed.
  4. When the butter and sugar are creamed together (looks like frosting) scrape down the bowl and add in the remaining crust ingredients and mix until combined.
  5. Line a 7 x 11 inch glass baking dish with either parchment paper or silpat. The edges might hang over, but that is fine. Press the crust firmly into the pan, spreading it evenly with your hands.
  6. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until the edges just start to brown.
  7. While the crust is in the oven, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar in a medium sized saucepan.
  8. Stir in the reserved lemon juice and lemon zest (from step 2), and the salt.
  9. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly. Watch for the mixture to thicken, it will take under 10 minutes.
  10. Immediately, when the mixture thickens, remove the saucepan from the heat. Strain the mixture to remove any clumps. This takes me a few minutes, and some stirring to get the liquid to keep moving through the strainer.
  11. Return the strained lemon mixture to the burner (which will still be warm, but off at this point) and add in the butter, stirring until it melts.
  12. Pour the lemon curd over the finished crust, spreading it out if needed.
  13. Place the baking dish back in the oven for another 10 – 15 minutes; however long it takes for the edges of the lemon curd to set.
  14. Let the lemon bars cool, and then place them in the refrigerator for a few hours before cutting and serving.

Easy Greek Lemon Soup (aka Avgolemono)

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This is my sick soup.

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I eat it when I’m not sick, too, though.

I say that I love to cook. Usually the more complicated the recipe, the most I want to make it. Cooking is an adventure to me. When I’m sick I want to lay on the sofa in yoga pants all day, not have another kitchen adventure. Enter Greek Lemon Soup.

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Technically called Avgolemono, this Mediterranean soup is characterized by an egg and lemon mixture that is added to the broth. A more authentic recipe would have a few more ingredients, including chicken.

My Mom taught me how to make this soup, using a recipe from a neighbor. That was years ago though, and I haven’t actually used that recipe in so long. My version has probably morphed somewhat from the original recipe. Well, it definitely has, because I no longer measure the ingredients. I really had to fight my instincts and measure everything out to get this into an useable recipe.

So, remember this recipe the next time you have a cold or a flu. Being sick sucks. This soup doesn’t.

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Easy Greek Lemon Soup (Avgolemono)

Ingredients
  • 4c chicken stock
  • 1/3c rice
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 Tbs lemon juice
Cooking Directions
  1. Bring chicken stock and rice to boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  2. While the soup is simmering separate the eggs. Put the yolks in a bowl.
  3. Add the lemon juice to the egg yolks, and whisk with a fork.
  4. When the rice is cooked ladle a few spoonfuls of broth into the yolk/lemon mixture, whisking while you pour (photo directions of this step are below).
  5. Add this mixture back into the soup pot, again, stirring while you pour.
  6. Optional: top with pepper, oregano, or basil.

Photo Directions

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Egg yolks

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Whisk egg yolks and lemon juice

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Yolk/lemon mixture with a few ladles of broth mixed in

Lemony Quinoa & Spinach (GF)

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When I need a quick and nutritious meal this is what I make. Great things about this dish:

1. It will be done in about 15 minutes, and most of that time is just letting the quinoa simmer.

2. It only takes one pot.

3. It uses feta cheese. Personally, I love feta.

4. Quinoa and spinach are both really healthy. I eat this whole recipe for lunch often and I feel totally energized (and not at all guilty). I’m all for foods you can feel good about eating.

5. Did I mention, quinoa is really healthy?! Once you learn about it and try it you’ll be sold. Just ask my husband; he didn’t know what this stuff was before we got married and now he goes around showing people at work his leftover quinoa at lunch telling them “its one of those superfoods!” He’s correct. It contains more fiber than any other grain (good for us celiacs), tons of protein, and lots of other nutrients (iron, magnesium, and others). The price tag may be a little scary, but it’s well worth it. I’d suggest buying in bulk if possible – it cuts down on the cost, and then you have more quinoa to eat!

 

So, anyway, that was my quinoa rant. Now, onto the recipe!

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Lemony Quinoa & Spinach

Ingredients (makes 1 serving as a meal, makes 2 servings as a side dish)
  • 2/3c water
  • 1/3c quinoa
  • 1c packed spinach¬†
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • feta cheese
Cooking Directions
  1. Bring quinoa and water to boil in a small pot.
  2. Once water is boiling, reduce heat to simmer and cover the pot (it will be boiling pretty hard, so just watch and make sure nothing overflows until the boiling slows down). Let the quinoa cook for about 15 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed.
  3. When the quinoa is done add the lemon juice and stir, just a bit.
  4. Dump the spinach on top of the quinoa and cover it again. Once the spinach is wilted, stir it in.
  5. Finally, add a few crumbles of feta cheese, though this will be tasty with or without it!
 
 

 

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