Lemony Quinoa and Avocado Salad

My belly aches. With yesterday’s and today’s candy consumption my body is beginning to think Reese’s peanut butter cups are a food group. So, with my rumbling belly telling me to cut the sugar I decided to make a quick and healthy Moroccan dish with whole wheat couscous, toasted almonds and pistachios and citrus flavour. Not the salad I’m posting here, but close in terms of the nutritional benefits.

This salad is chalk full of good stuff. It has protein from the quinoa, healthy fat from the avocado, olive oil and tahini, and vitamins A, C, and K from the fresh, crunchy, red peppers. I made this salad in September when I was home alone for a month and needed something healthy to make in a big batch. Do you ever do that? Make a dish that lasts you 5 days? The first day is AWESOME and then by day 5 you never want to see that particular meal again. ’tis life. To begin, cook up your quinoa.

Chop your red pepper and onion.

Add chopped avocado.

Mix up your dressing ingredients – tahini, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, water and salt. Oh, and make sure to take a really blurry, bad photo of it!…haha.

Mix your quinoa, dressing, and chopped red pepper, avocado and red onion together. If you like cilantro you would add it in here. I don’t like it so I left it out. Enjoy! And, Happy November!

Lemony Quinoa and Avocado Salad
Recipe adapted from Fat Girl Trapped in a Skinny Body
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 red pepper, diced
2 avocados, diced
1/2 large red onion, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped (optional)

Tahini Dressing:
1/4 cup tahini
2 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (juice from two big lemons)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons hot water
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

Directions:
Rinse the quinoa in a fine-meshed strainer. In a medium saucepan heat the quinoa and water until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer until water is absorbed and quinoa fluffs up, about 15 minutes. Quinoa is done when you can see the curlique in each grain, and it is tender with a bit of pop to each bite. Drain any extra water and set aside.

While the quinoa is cooking make the dressing. Whisk together the garlic, tahini, lemon juice, and olive oil. Add the hot water to thin a bit and then the salt.

Toss the cooked quinoa, pepper, avocado, red onion, cilantro and half of the dressing. Add more dressing if you like and season with more salt to taste. Serve garnished with a bit of cilantro.

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Lemony Raspberry and Rhubarb Muffins

With all this sunshine, I’m really feeling the need to eat something fresh.

Sure, it’s hot outside, and my oven makes me a sweaty mess, but if I want something fresh in baked good form I need to bake! So, I chopped up some rhubarb.

Then I grabbed a bunch of lemons.

And then I made these:

Yummy, fresh lemons tossed with raspberries and rhubarb in muffin form. I like these because they are light in your mouth and have a burst of tartness with the raspberries. They are sweet and low calorie too! My kind of muffin.

Now I have muffins for the week! Thank goodness.

To begin, place the flour, 2/3 cup of the sugar, the baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and stir thoroughly.

In a medium fry-pan, melt the butter with the lemon zest.

Turn off the heat. Add the milk and yoghurt and let the mixture stand for a minute or two. Pour the milk into a medium bowl, add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until well blended.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Pour the milk mixture into the well and stir well with a spatula. Mix only until there are no streaks and the batter looks fairly smooth. A few lumps scattered throughout are fine.

Gently fold through the raspberries and the rhubarb.

Divide the batter between the muffin cups. Stir together the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar, cinnamon, and ground nutmeg and sprinkle over the tops of the muffins.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops feel firm and a skewer inserted into the centres comes out clean.

Transfer the muffin tin to a rack a let cool for 5 minutes. Then, remove the muffins from the tin and cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Lemony Raspberry and Rhubarb Muffins
Recipe adapted from Kitsch in the Kitchen
makes 9-12 standard muffins
181 calories for one muffin of 12

Ingredients:
285g (2 cups) unbleached plain flour
135g (2/3 cup) sugar, plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
85g (3 ounces) butter
Finely grated lemon zest
125ml (1/2 cup) milk
65ml (1/4 cup) yoghurt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup frozen raspberries
1/2 cup finely chopped rhubarb

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400°F and position an oven rack in the centre. Place 12 muffin papers in a muffin tin, or 9 self-standing papers on a baking tray.

Place the flour, 2/3 cup of the sugar, the baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and stir thoroughly.

In a medium fry-pan, melt the butter with the lemon zest. Turn off the heat. Add the milk and yoghurt and let the mixture stand for a minute or two. Pour the milk into a medium bowl, add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until well blended.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Pour the milk mixture into the well and stir well with a spatula. Mix only until there are no streaks and the batter looks fairly smooth. A few lumps scattered throughout are fine. Gently fold through the raspberries and the rhubarb.

Divide the batter between the muffin cups. Stir together the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar, cinnamon, and ground nutmeg and sprinkle over the tops of the muffins.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops feel firm and a skewer inserted into the centres comes out clean. Transfer the muffin tin to a rack a let cool for 5 minutes. Then, remove the muffins from the tin and cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Easy Lemon Crumb Bars

This morning has been awesome. I woke up early, opened my cupboards and went through all of my “to bake” lists from 2010. There were so many recipes, I hardly knew where to start. Since it’s still January and I’m trying not eat too many double chocolate cheesecake pieces, I decided to go with an old favorite of mine.

Lemon Crumb bars are easy, and can be cut nicely into bite sized pieces. Plus, the light lemon taste makes this bar feel like a light snack.

To begin, chop up your butter stick into little pieces.

In a large bowl, place the cake mix, butter, and egg.

Beat the cake mix, butter, and egg until crumbly.

Stir in cracker crumbs, set aside 2 cups for topping.

Press remaining crumb mixture into a 13-inch x 9-inch baking dish, coated with cooking spray.

Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.

In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks, condensed milk, and lemon juice.

Pour over crust, sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.

Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars. Store in the refrigerator.

Done and done! Easy Peasy.

Lemon Crumb Bars
Makes 2 dozen bars

Ingredients:
1 package (18-1/4 oz) of lemon cake mix
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter
1 egg
2 cups crushed saltines (1 whole package)
3 egg yolks
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup lemon juice

Directions:
1.In a large bowl, beat the cake mix, butter, and egg until crumbly. Stir in cracker crumbs, set aside 2 cups for topping.
2. Press remaining crumb mixture into a 13-inch x 9-inch baking dish, coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.
3. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks, condensed milk, and lemon juice. Pour over crust, sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.
4. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars. Store in the refrigerator.

Perfect Lemon Meringue Pie

I’ve been thinking about making this pie for way too long, and I’m so glad I finally had a reason to make it. In my family, pie is our number one go-to dessert. Of course we love cakes, candies, cookies, and bars, but I can say with certainty that the lot of us will choose a slice of pie with ice cream over anything else.

My Poppa’s birthday was this past weekend, and he requested a homemade lemon meringue pie. My secret to a perfect pie? Make it with love. Measure the ingredients like you are creating a masterpiece. Follow the instructions step by step, and bake slowly. Love what you bake, and love who you bake it for. It makes the eating process a sacred event.

While whipping together the filling for this pie, the smell of fresh lemons whisked through our kitchen for hours. The lemon particles lingered in the air and mixed with the cool breeze coming through the screen door. Even the light, lemony scent on my fingertips lasted until bed time.

Of course, eating the pie was the best part of the whole process. The filling was perfect, baked in a delicious homemade pie crust. I used Pioneer Woman’s recipe because it is the absolute best recipe out there! Seriously.

The filling for this recipe was taken from the Joy of Cooking Cookbook, and makes enough filling for one 9-inch pie.

Ingredients:
Perfect Pie Crust
1. Get the recipe and directions here.

Filling
Lemon filling ingredients:
1 ¼ cups sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
1 ½ cups water
½ cup strained fresh lemon juice (from 2 to 3 lemons)
2 to 3 tbsp grated lemon zest
4 large egg yolks
2 to 3 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Directions:
1. Prepare your crust in a 9-inch pie pan.
2. Get all of your ingredients ready to go – squeeze your lemons and grate the zest so that your filling can come together nicely.

3. Whisk sugar, cornstarch, and salt thoroughly in a medium saucepan. Then whisk in water, fresh lemon juice, and lemon zest until blended well.
4. Whisk in egg yolks until no yellow streaks remain. Add unsalted butter.

5. Stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, then cook for one minute. The filling should be very thick.

6. Pour the filling into the pie crust.

7. Immediately prepare meringue topping (recipe and preparation follows), and place it onto the warm filling.

Meringue:
Ingredients:
4 large egg whites (1/2 cup), at room temperature
¼ tsp cream of tartar
½ cup superfine sugar
½ tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp vinegar

Directions:
1. In a clean, grease free glass or metal bowl, beat egg whites on medium speed until foamy.
2. Add cream of tartar and beat until soft but definite peaks form.
3. Very gradually beat in sugar. Beat on high speed until the peaks are stiff and glossy, but not dry.
4. Add vanilla and vinegar.
5. Immediately spread the meringue over a hot pie filling, anchoring it to the edge of the crust at all points. Place meringue VERY close to the crust, working inward.
6. Bake for 20 minutes (or until meringue has a nice brown top). The pie can be stored for up to three days in the refridgerator.

7. Serve at room temperature or cold.

Note: when applying a meringue to a pie, it is important to spread a band of topping around the edge of the crust or dish before you fill the centre. If you cover the centre first, you are likely to displace some of the filling and cause it to spill over.

Light and Lemony Poppy Seed Bread

The sun has been shining a lot lately, and I have been craving a light snack to get me in the mood for spring. So, I thought of lemons…

…and then I thought of how good lemony bread is…and how moist it is…oh my.

Lemons are lovely. Not only do they taste great, but they are also used in household products because of their superior cleansing properties. Think these properties only relate to the home?? No way! Lemons are also known for their internal cleansing abilities. Eating lemons helps cleanse the bloodstream and the liver, and also helps in balancing your body’s pH levels and promote healing in your body! Talk about a superfood! I recommend making this yummy bread, and then sitting and enjoying it with a cold glass of ice water with sliced lemons. Rid your body of impurities, you deserve it!

Because I felt like baking something healthy, I also calculated the nutritional value for these bad-boys. This bread makes 1 loaf, and should be cut into 12 slices. Each piece is 3 weight watchers points per slice and:
161 calories, 5.3g total fat, 4g protein, 27g carbohydrates, 1.1g fiber, 30mg cholesterol, and 197 mg sodium.

Let’s start baking! This recipe comes from the Eat, Shrink, and Be Merry Cookbook.

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cups oat bran
1 tbsp poppyseeds
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup 2% milk (skim would make it even less calories!)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, oat bran, poppy seeds, baking powder, and salt.


3. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, butter, egg, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until dry ingredients are just moistened.


4. Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until loaf is light golden brown and a toothpick in the centre comes out clean. Cool loaf pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

5. Remove loaf from pan and cool completely on rack. Cover with plastic wrap and store at room temperature OR the fridge (sometimes people enjoy chilled lemon bread).