The world is currently on lock-down thanks to Covid-19, leaving most of us with a lot of extra time on our hands. One of the ways I have found to pass the time is by cooking. I don’t usually cook a lot each day, just heat and eat sort of thing. I’m used to doing a once-a-week meal prep to save time and that routine has not changed despite our newfound stay at home lifestyle. But with not much to cook and nowhere to go, what is there to do with all the extra time??? One word. CLEAN.
We all hate it. Most of us find a way to procrastinate doing it. So to get myself motivated enough to start, I began with my favorite area of the house, the kitchen. By starting in an area I enjoy, it makes the cleaning process a bit more bearable. During my kitchen cleanse, I found several items I bought but I never ended up using, one of them being a can of coconut milk.
Since I’ve struggled lately to get food items I used to find so easily in the stores, I learned very quickly to have a greater appreciation for food. In an attempt to prevent waste, I needed to come up with a way to use my coconut milk, which brings us to this delicious mousse.
There are several different ways to utilize coconut milk, from savory to sweet, however I opted for a sweet application, for that is what my body currently craves. Although I live a fit lifestyle, I do still give in to my cravings. The only exception is that I do so in a healthier way. This metabolism-boosting mousse is just one of many great examples of a healthy approach to sweets. As a wonderful alternative to heavy, sugar-laden treats, this mousse is light and free of refined sugar. Sweetness is lended naturally from pure maple syrup and a metabolism-boosting kick is provided through a combination of cayenne and coconut. To finish off the dish, I top it with a few toasted coconut chips, however this is totally optional.
With most of us being stuck indoors 24/7, any help we can get to stay on track with our goals is welcomed. So the next time you’re in need of something to pass the time, head into the kitchen and whip up this sweet treat that will also rev up your metabolism!
In a medium saucepan, whisk eggs. Add lemon zest and maple syrup. Heat over medium and whisk constantly, until the mixture is creamer and paler in color, about 5 minutes. To saucepan, slowly alternate adding coconut oil and lemon juice (it should take about 3 additions for each). Continue to whisk constantly until the mixture is creamy, color is even, and bubbles just begin to form.
Remove from heat and pour through a fine mesh sieve placed over a jar or bowl. Press the mixture into the sieve to ensure as much of the mixture goes through as possible. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Just prior to serving, chill a metal bowl in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Remove cans of coconut milk from the refrigerator and open from them from the bottom. Pour out the water and reserve for another use or dispose. Scoop out the solidified white cream and place into the chilled metal bowl. Add the cayenne and beat with an electric mixer on medium-high until creamy, about 30 seconds. Gently fold in the chilled lemon mixture and serve.
Per Serving (¼ cup): 287 Calories; 4 g Protein; 24 g Total Fat; 20 g Sat. Fat; 0 g Fiber; 42 mg Sodium; 13 g Sugar; 15 g Carbs; 70 mg Cholesterol.
RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: L. MOODY PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS
Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a very enjoyable holiday season full of good food and quality time spent with family and friends. As we welcome 2018 we all have likely set goals or resolutions for the new year. For me it is to continue the resolution I set last year, which is to always keep progressing by trying new things out of my comfort zone. As simple as these cookies may seem, they certainly fit the mantra of pushing myself.
You see, I am a drop cookie person. I hate waiting for cookie dough to chill in the refrigerator because I love raw cookie dough. Therefore, the longer it hangs out in the fridge the more of it disappears before it ever has a chance to hit a baking sheet. Once the dough is adequately chilled then you have to flour counters and rolling pins and despite your efforts you still end up with a mess of dough stuck everywhere. Although I tend to avoid the rolled out cookie dough types, I decided these pinwheels would be the newest addition to the holiday table along with the regular offerings. I used sheets of plastic wrap to roll out both batters to reduce mess and clean up. Although these cookies do require a patient baker, they are not as challenging as they appear. Things went a lot smoother than envisioned (even with a 4-year-old kitchen helper) and I was really impressed with the results. These cookies are a great combination of flavors and make for a beautiful cookie!
Ginger Lemon Pinwheel Cookies
Ginger Dough Ingredients:
¼ cup Unsalted Butter; softened
1/3 cup packed Brown Sugar
¼ cup Molasses
1 Large Egg Yolk
6 oz. (1 1/3 cups) All-Purpose Flour
¾ tsp. Ground Ginger
¾ tsp. Ground Cinnamon
¼ tsp. Salt
1/8 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
Dash of Allspice
Lemon Dough Ingredients:
5 tbsp. Unsalted Butter; softened
2/3 cup Granulated Sugar
1 Large Egg White
1 tsp. Lemon Extract
¾ tsp. Vanilla Extract
6 oz. (1 1/3 cups) All-Purpose Flour
¼ tsp. Salt
To prepare ginger dough: Place the butter and brown sugar in a medium bowl and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well combined. Add the molasses and egg yolk and beat until well blended. Combine flour, ginger, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and allspice and stir with a whisk. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat at low-speed just until combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill at least 30 minutes or overnight.
To prepare the lemon dough: Place the butter and granulated sugar in a medium bowl and beat with a mixer at medium speed until blended. Add the egg white and beat until blended. Beat in the lemon extract and vanilla. Combine the flour and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat at low-speed just until combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill at least 30 minutes or overnight.
Unwrap chilled ginger dough and roll between sheets of plastic wrap into a 13 x 8 1/2 inch rectangle. Chill dough for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, unwrap the lemon dough and roll between sheets of plastic wrap into a 13 x 9 inch rectangle. Chill dough for 10 minutes. Carefully stack ginger dough on top of lemon dough, leaving a 1/2 inch border along one long edge. Starting with the long side without a border, roll up dough, jelly roll style. Seal the edges but do not seal the ends of roll. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°. Unwrap dough. Cut with a sharp knife into 40 slices that are about ¼ inch thick. Reshape the rounds, if necessary, or return dough to chill in the freezer. Arrange slices 1 inch apart on baking sheets. Bake, 1 batch at a time, for 8 to 9 minutes or until set and lightly browned. Cool on wire racks.
Summer is just around the corner and that means longer, hotter days and kids running around the house 24/7 (if you are a parent). Although summer is supposed to be a more relaxed time of year it can actually be more hectic, especially if you are an adult with school age children. With the summer schedule already (or about to be) in full gear, it is good to have versatile recipes that are quick and easy to prepare and light on the palate.
Muffins are my preferred versatile recipe item, mainly because they were the first thing I learned to bake on my own as a kid. They are quick and easy to prepare, leave minimal clean-up, and have a seemingly infinite amount of flavor combinations so you never get bored. Today, I elected to work with the flavors of Italy, hence the name Skinny Tuscan Lemon Muffins. A combination of classic Italian ingredients (lemon, ricotta, and olive oil) creates a tart and satisfying muffin. The combination of ricotta cheese and olive oil make this muffin insanely moist, like a mini lemon pound cake. For striking lemon flavor, lemon zest and juice was not enough. To get lemon flavor that shines through everything else, I added lemon extract with the zest and juice. If you don’t like a heavy lemon flavor you can always omit the extract. Lastly, each muffin is finished with a heavy sprinkle of turbinado sugar to lend a crunchy textural contrast.
I highly recommend giving these muffins a try, especially this summer. They are great fresh out of the oven, at room temperature, or reheated. If you want to keep some on hand for quick snacks they can be frozen for longer storage and reheated in the microwave or simply left out to thaw on the counter to room temperature. If you elect to keep them at room temperature right after baking, make sure you store them in an airtight container and do not hold for more than 3 days (although they will likely never last that long). Enjoy these muffins at breakfast with coffee, grab one out the door before work/school, enjoy one as a sweet afternoon snack with tea, or fulfill a late night sweet craving. The possibilities are seemingly endless!
Skinny Tuscan Lemon Muffins
7.9 ounces All-Purpose Flour (about 1 ¾ cups)
¾ cup Granulated Sugar
2 ½ tsp. Baking Powder
¼ tsp. Salt
¾ cup part-skim Ricotta Cheese
½ cup Water
¼ cup Olive Oil
1 tbsp. Grated Lemon Zest
2 tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
½ tsp. Pure Lemon Extract
1 large Egg; lightly beaten
Turbinado Sugar (Sugar in the Raw); for topping
Preheat oven to 375°. Coat a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray or fill tray with muffin-cup liners and coat liners with cooking spray. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine ricotta, water, oil, zest, juice, lemon extract, and egg. Add ricotta mixture to the flour mixture, stirring just until moist.
Divide batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle turbinado sugar over batter in each muffin cup. Bake 15-16 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the muffin tin then transfer muffins to a wire rack to cool completely or serve warm.
Weight Watchers: 7 Smart Points, 4 Points Plus, or 4 Traditional Points
RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: MAUREEN CALLAHAN
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS
We still have a few more weeks of winter before we officially hit spring despite many places across the country experiencing milder temperatures than usual. For many across the nation, winter is a time when it is harder to find fresh, in season produce to utilize. Citrus is currently one of the select finds currently in season across the nation and in abundance this time of year. If you find yourself with a lot of citrus and want to experiment with something new than this recipe is just for you.
Some of you may look at this and be confused thinking it is more like a citrus curd and not a pudding, but I assure you it is indeed a pudding. This pudding uses cornstarch as a thickener and a curd does not use cornstarch. If you begin eating this with the mindset of a traditional pudding you will probably be a little shocked. It is tart so be warned. Don’t be tempted to add more sugar. If you want it to be a little tamer than I suggest cutting back on the orange zest by ¼ tsp. If you are looking for a different type of light dessert that is inexpensive and easy to prepare than give this recipe a go. It surely will not disappoint!
Skinny Citrus Pudding
3 tbsp. Sugar
1 tsp. Grated Orange Zest
1 cup Fresh Orange Juice
1 cup Tangerine Juice
3 tbsp. Cornstarch
¼ tsp. Salt
1 tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
1 tsp. Unsalted Butter
¼ cup Heavy Whipping Cream; divided
Combine the sugar and orange zest in a small saucepan; crush with spatula or a wooden spoon to excrete oils of zest into sugar (sugar will turn yellowish-orange in color).
Stir in the tangerine juice, orange juice, cornstarch, and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil 2 minutes or until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in lemon juice and butter. Pour the pudding into a bowl; cover surface of pudding with plastic wrap and chill.
Place cream in bowl and beat with a mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold half of the cream into the pudding.
To serve: Spoon ½ cup pudding into dessert bowls or glasses. Top each serving with 1 tbsp. of whipped cream and a sprig of mint (if desired).
(½ cup pudding & 1 tbsp. cream)
Weight Watchers: 9 Smart Points, 5 Points Plus, or 4 Traditional Points
RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: DEBORAH MADISON
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS
Bright, citrusy desserts are the perfect way to end a summer meal. Since there is always one of the many varieties of lemon in season year round, a dessert focused on lemons is a great way to indulge in a summer citrus craving while keeping with seasonal produce. The lemon meringue tart is one of my favorites, as it offers a quick and relatively simple way to feature lemons in a show-stopping summer dessert.
For those of you familiar with the popular lemon meringue pie, you may be wondering how a tart is any different other than the pan it is baked in. Truth is they are very similar in appearance but the difference lies heavily in the crust and filling. A pie uses a lemon custard for the filling, which contains flour or cornstarch to thicken and little to no butter for flavor. On the other hand, a tart uses lemon curd for the filling, which contains no flour/cornstarch and has butter added for a creamy, smooth texture. Lemon curds also tends to have more lemon juice or zest added, creating a more intense lemon flavor. There is also a noticeable difference in the crusts. A pie uses the traditional flaky pie crust as a base while the tart will use a ground almond/cookie crumb crust.
Both the crust and filling of this tart are very easy to prepare. The only part that may trip up beginner bakers is the meringue. That is why I chose to use a swiss meringue as it is more stable and doesn’t need to be baked like other meringues. I also chose to use store-bought lemon curd for convenience but you could easily prepare your own. This tart is baked in a 9 inch tart pan and will make approximately 8 servings.
Lemon Meringue Tart
½ cup Blanched Almonds
3 tbsp. Light Brown Sugar
36 Vanilla Wafers
¼ cup Unsalted Butter; melted
1 (10 oz.) Jar Lemon Curd
3 Large Egg Whites
1/8 tsp. Salt
¼ cup Granulated Sugar
¼ cup Water
½ tsp. Vanilla Extract
Preheat oven to 400°. Lightly coat the bottom and sides of a 9-inch tart pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
In a food processor, combine the almonds, brown sugar, and wafers. Process mixture until finely ground. With the motor running, drizzle the butter through the food chute and process until blended. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan. Bake crust for 10 minutes or until well toasted. Set aside to cool.
Once crust has cooled, spoon lemon curd evenly into crust. Place egg whites and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl. Beat with a stand or hand mixer on high-speed until soft peaks form.
Preheat broiler. In a small saucepan, combine granulated sugar and water. Bring mixture to a boil. Cook mixture, without stirring, until a candy thermometer registers 250°. With mixer running, slowly pour the hot syrup over the egg whites and beat until stiff peaks form. Spread the egg white mixture over the tart. Broil for 30 seconds or until lightly browned. Serve
With winter officially over and the onset of Spring, everyone naturally turns to fresh, light, and airy trends. Clothing takes on hues of light pastels and airy designs, homes become lighter following dreaded bouts of extensive cleaning, and food menus turn to the flavors of seasonal fresh fruits like the recently harvested lemon. With spring also comes the rush to reach goal weights set back around new years before summer bikini season starts. What dessert could possibly fit the requirements of all these springtime cliches??? Enter now the Lemon-Poppy Seed Angel Food Cake.
Unlike other cakes, angel food cake uses absolutely no butter or oil, not even to grease the pan. It is very light and airy with a bit of sponge at first bite. Perhaps the best cake to eat on a diet. This cake also does not use baking soda or baking powder…. but how does it get its statuesque height??? EGG WHITES… and a whole lot of them I must add. In fact this cake has a very short ingredient list. But do not be deceived by the apparent simplicity. With simplicity comes more stress to the smallest of details. That flour you didn’t think you needed to sift will lend you a dense, squat cake. Or that little microscopic speck of egg yolk that slipped into the whites while you were separating them will forever prevent you from reaching proper peaks. Without gentle care this majestically tall, snowy-white cake can turn dense, wet, and depressing. You don’t want to serve a depressing cake reminescent to the blah winter blues to a crowd of cheery guests at an Easter party.
If you are careful to follow this recipe with care you are sure to produce consistent sky-high beauties flecked with bits of poppy seeds and bursts of lemon in each bite… absolutely perfect to serve for any springtime celebration. The key you must always remember while preparing this is the volume of the egg whites you whip up so be sure to watch for any hint of yolk when separating the eggs initially. You can use cold or room temperature eggs since both will ultimately whip up to the same volume, however cold eggs will take a little bit longer and are more likely to make you start questioning if you messed something up along the way when you really haven’t. To add some reassurance that you won’t end up with deflated whites I always use cream of tartar because the acidity it offers helps to stabilize the whipped whites.
I know it may be tempting but do not use all-purpose flour in this recipe. You will end up with a cake more like overly soft bread that plasters to the roof of your mouth when you eat it. Not flattering. If your tube pan does not have a removable bottom, I recommend lining it with parchment paper. Just make sure you never grease any part of the pan or parchment. The eggs need to cling to the pans surface in order to rise high and if you grease the pan the eggs can not grip the pan and you will end up with a short stubby brick of a cake. Not cool. After being separated from Angel Food Cake since my grandmother last made it during the holidays, I can confidently say this cake is a keeper for generations to come.
Serves: 10 generous portions or 12 smaller portions
Lemon-Poppy Seed Angel Food Cake
4½ oz. Cake Flour (approximately 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. if you do not have a scale)
¼ tsp. Salt
1¾ cups Granulated Sugar
12 Egg Whites
1½ tsp. Cream of Tartar
1 tsp. Lemon Extract
1 tbsp. Lemon Zest; grated
2 tbsp. Lemon Juice; (approximately 2-3 lemons)
1 tbsp. Poppy Seeds
Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat the oven to 325°. Whisk the flour and salt together in a bowl. Set aside. Process the sugar in a food processor until fine and powdery, approximately 1 minute. Set aside about half of the processed sugar in a small bowl. Add the flour mixture to the remaining sugar left in the food processor and process until well aerated as if sifted, about another minute.
With a stand mixer set to medium-low speed, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until frothy. Increase the speed to medium-high and with the motor running, slowly add the sugar set aside earlier. Make sure to evenly distribute the sugar around the bowl and do not add it all in one spot or you run the risk of deflating the egg whites. Continue to beat until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Add the lemon extract, zest, and juice. Mix until just incorporated.
Sift the flour mixture over the whipped egg whites in 3 separate additions. Fold the mixture gently with a rubber spatula after each addition until incorporated. Gently stir in the poppy seeds until evenly distributed. Scrape cake batter into a 12-cup UNGREASED tube pan.
Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean and the cracks in the top of the cake appear dry not wet, about 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and invert the cake on a bottle if your tube pan does not have a stand and allow to cool to room temperature upside down, about 3 hours. This keeps the cake from deflating. Once cool, turn the cake right side up and run a knife around the edges of the pan. Invert the pan on a platter & serve.
When you think of 7UP, cake probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Although if this were the 1950’s, it would have been the first among a slew of other 7UP concoctions like 7UP Salad or 7UP Parfait Pie. This is a result of soda companies in the 50’s marketing their products to be a baking staple rather than a mere thirst quencher. 7UP went so far with their advertising campaigns that the company gave away free recipe booklets in tandem with an ad for shoppers suggesting they “get some extra 7UP for cooking.” Many of these recipes have been lost over the years and for good reason. One that deserves to have a modern refresher is 7UP Pound Cake.
In order to create a modern take to a classic, I had to dig a little bit into the history of why this recipe was one of the few successes. It turns out we may never have been graced with the fizzy lemon-lime drink if its creator would have had his initial way. 7UP was created by St. Louis native Charles Grigg. For years, Grigg tried to market an orange soda, but Orange Crush had the market and squashed his efforts every time. Grigg decided to switch gears and market a lemon-lime soda under the label Bib. Just weeks before the big stock market crash and onset of the Great Depression, Grigg got his big break and adults loved the uplifting qualities the new soda gave them. Years later, following the end of Prohibition, the company would create an entire new marketing strategy for 7UP revolving around all things alcohol. Ads like “7UP is more than just a mixer…It blends out the harsh features. Dispels hangovers. Takes the ouch out of grouch.” made adults love the drink for it’s medicinal cures of hangovers and endless possibilities as a cocktail mixer.
Push ahead into the 50’s and we again reach the ad campaign targeting cooks to use their products in the kitchen. So why does 7UP seem to work so well in certain recipes like the Pound Cake. Turns out, the slightly acidic soda gives the cake flavor, lift, and a tender texture that is unique to the soda infused batter. With my history down I turned to modernizing the recipe. We live in an era where everyone enjoys a mini version of a larger original. Reasons for this are quite diverse. Some are health conscious and wish to indulge in old favorites without the guilt while others enjoy entertaining and offering a wide selection of petit four style desserts so guests can try a wide array without getting full too fast. With this in mind, I altered the traditional recipe that bakes the cake in a tube or bundt pan and instead baked the batter in a greased muffin tin. Once the cakes were removed from the oven I quickly cored them with an apple corer and filled the centers with lemon curd for more lemon flavor. To cover the filling, I swirled a lemon-lime tinged frosting flavored with a few drops of Lemon extract into the yellow frosting and a few drops of lime juice in the green frosting to give the final citrus punch. If these little cakes aren’t good enough to make 7UP’s next marketing campaign, I don’t know what will!!!
Note: Be sure to use fresh 7UP. If flat, the cake’s texture and rise will suffer greatly. If you want you may bake this in a traditional tube pan or Bundt pan, altering the baking time to 75 minutes and omitting the Lemon Curd filling. The formula yields 24 cupcakes or 1 cake that serves 12.
Mini7UP Pound Cakes
2½ cups Granulated Sugar
5 Eggs; room temperature
½ cup 7UP; room temperature
2 tsp. Lemon Extract
2 tbsp. Lime Juice
½ tsp. Salt
20 tbsp. (2½ sticks) Unsalted Butter; melted and slightly cooled
3¼ cups Cake Flour
Lemon Curd; for filling
2 tubs White Frosting
Yellow Food Color
Green Food Color
1 tsp. Lemon Extract; for frosting
1 tsp. Lime Juice; for frosting
Heat oven to 300° and grease a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Mix sugar, eggs, 7UP, lemon juice, lime juice, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer until smooth. With machine running, slowly pour in the butter and mix until incorporated. Add the flour in three additions, mixing between each addition, until combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling each cup ¾ full. Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out with a few crumbs, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in pan 5 minutes. Remove cakes from pan and repeat with the remaining batter.
While the second batch bakes, use an apple corer to remove a section in the middle of the each cake. Using a small spoon, fill the hole with a generous amount of lemon curd and smooth out the top. Allow cakes to cool completely.
Once the cakes are cooled, add a few drops of yellow food color to one tub of frosting and a few drops of green food color to the other tub of frosting. Add the lemon extract to the yellow tub of frosting and the lime juice to the green tub of frosting. Mix until both tubs of frosting are well combined. In a large piping bag fitted with a large star tip, fill one side of the bag with the green frosting and one side with the yellow frosting. Pipe a small rosette on the top of each cake, making sure to cover the area of exposed lemon curd filling. To complete the look, cut straws into small pieces and place into the frosting of each cake at an angle to give a soda pop theme.