Avocado Lemon Pasta – A Quick Summertime Meal

Picture 269 copy

Meat and potatoes used to be my idea of dinner. There was a starch (usually mashed potatoes, mac and cheese or some form or rice or noodle), a veggie and always always ALWAYS a meat. Dinner wasn’t dinner without meat. Steak, chicken, meat loaf, meat balls… meat damn-near-anything.

I’m either growing up or growing sick of meat but I rarely have meat for dinner lately. I’ll have the occasional piece of chicken or steal a few pieces of Tony’s steak but other than that, I’m pretty meat free. When it comes to dinner at least.

Now, that’s not saying that I eat a sophisticated meal of eggplant lasagna or a fancy ratatouille. No way. I am no chef here, folks.

Picture 273 copy

So when I stumbled upon this recipe I pretty much freaked. Avocados. Lemon. Pasta. Easy. Fast.

Heaven.

This is a perfect summertime meal. It comes together in about 15 minutes, the flavors are bright and the sauce is creamy. There are only a few ingredients here so it is imperative to use good quality ingredients and to salt and pepper well or this dish will seem lack-luster. And if you insist on some form of meat, I think this would be lovely with a few grilled shrimp or a few sliced of grilled chicken tossed on top.

Picture 277 copy

Avocado Lemon Pasta
adapted from here

Yield: Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 medium sized ripe Avocado, pitted
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 garlic cloves, skins removed
1/2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 servings (6 oz) of your choice of pasta
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
parsley, to taste
lemon zest, to garnish

Directions:

In a medium sized pot, bring several cups of water to a boil. Add in your pasta, reduce heat to medium, and cook until al dente, about 8-10 minutes. Pay attention to your pasta, there’s nothing worse than mushy s’getti noodles.

Meanwhile, make the sauce by placing the garlic cloves, lemon juice, and olive oil into a food processor. Process until smooth. Now add in the pitted avocado and salt. Process until smooth and creamy. It will be a lovely shade of green and smell lemony.

When pasta is done cooking, drain and rinse in a strainer and place pasta into a large bowl. Pour on sauce and toss until fully combined. Garnish with lemon zest, black pepper and parsley. Serve immediately.

Note: This dish does not reheat well due to the avocado in the sauce. To experiment, I made both servings (I ate one and refrigerated the other) and left the cold serving out for half an hour and it didn’t brown and was pretty tasty slightly cool.

Picture 267 copy

Advertisements

Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream

Picture 081 copy

I was never a big fan of strawberry ice cream. I was the one who dug out all the chocolate ice cream from the neapolitan mix and left the other two flavors alone and lonely. Yep, that was me. Unrelenting. It’s not that I hated strawberry ice cream (or vanilla for that matter) but it just wasn’t my favorite by any stretch of the imagination. So there it sat with it’s partner in crime, Vanilla.

But this strawberry ice cream… I will eat by the quart, huge spoon in hand. Happily, willingly and blissfully. It is bursting with fresh berry flavor, lightly sweet, and completely enamoring.

1 3 4

I never know when certain fruits and vegetables are in or out of season. I just buy what looks good and what I like to eat but never really pay attention to WHEN I buy it. But one thing I do know is that strawberries are Summer fruit. Strawberries are fruit, right? Sheldon Cooper says they aren’t. But I digress…

When Summer ends, I mourn the loss of fresh, tasty strawberries.

Since it’s still Summer in Texas (and, unfortunately, will be for quite some time) I’m going to go ahead and post this amazing ice cream. I sincerely hope that delicious strawberries are still available where you are. If they aren’t, I’m pretty sure you can use frozen berries, thaw and drain them.

Give strawberry a chance, please make this.

Picture 086 copy

Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream
Adapted slightly from here

Ingredients:

1 pound strawberries, washed and stemmed
1 cup sugar, divided
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

In a medium bowl, lightly mash strawberries with 1/4 cup sugar and the tablespoon of lemon juice. Toss to combine and set aside. Alternatively, put this in your food processor and pulse a few times just to cut up the fruit. You do not want a smooth puree.

In a saucepan, stir together cream, remaining 3/4 cup of sugar, and salt. Bring the cream mixture to a simmer over medium heat, then take the pot off the heat. DO NOT take your eyes away from cream on the stove, ever. It can go from merrily bubbling to overflowing mass in 0.3 seconds.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Slowly add a ladleful of the hot cream mixture to the egg yolks, whisking continuously. Slowly pour the yolk mixture back into the pot of cream and whisk until incorporated. Bring the liquid back to a simmer and cook, stirring, for 5 โ€“ 6 minutes until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain the mixture through a sieve into a medium bowl.

Puree the strawberry mixture in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Stir the strawberry puree into the cream mixture until completely incorporated. Stir in the vanilla extract.

Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming while cooling. Place bowl in the refrigerator and allow the mixture to cool completely โ€“ at least two hours.

After it is well chilled, freeze mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer directions. Or make it without an ice cream maker a la David Lebovitz.

Cornmeal Shortbread Cookies

Picture 198 copy

If ever you take away anything from this blog, anything at all, take away this: NEVER BAKE WHEN YOU ARE DROP DEAD TIRED.

Just don’t do it! You’ll end up deciding to make a quarter recipe of cookies and while doing the math in your head, you carefully measure most of the ingredients and then everything is mixing merrily along until the dough doesn’t come together. And then you realize you added twice as much cornmeal as you were supposed to. Then you decide to hell with it and just make half of the recipe and decide to dump everything else in and hope for the best. All the while knowing that your tiredness just compromised the texture of these cookies. And THEN to top it off, you realize that you don’t have any lemons. Not one. And you hope that lemon extract will suffice.

Picture 203 copy

So don’t be me. Don’t bake while tired.

While I’m at it, don’t drive while drunk. This concludes my public service announcement.

These cookies are pretty good. They are a bit weirder than I am used to but I think that’s mainly my fault for using stone ground cornmeal; you can certainly sense the grittiness of them. Other than that, they are a pretty decent cookie.

For the recipe, head on over to Valerie’s beautiful blog, Une Gamine dans la Cuisine. (Click here to be taken directly to the recipe).

Picture 199 copy

Citrus Cranberry Sunshine Muffins – TWD

Picture 119 copy

One weekend away from the blogging world can put you so out of touch.

But I am happy to report that my three-day weekend was completely worth it. I’ve been in dire need of a change of scenery, just to get away from the big city and sit on a ridiculously beautiful balcony and stare out at the water and think about absolutely nothing. Just… be.

And I was.

Picture 129 copy

The hubby’s birthday fell on our weekend getaway. I usually make him a cake or something to celebrate but this year was pretty low key (and I wasn’t convinced he would eat it all anyhow) I did make these muffins and although he didn’t eat any of the muffins (and neither did I) he certainly wasn’t above taking a picture with them ๐Ÿ˜‰

Picture 126 copy

They came together SO quickly and the batter tasted amazing. It was bright and just sweet enough. I didn’t have the dried currants called for in the recipe but I figured that dried cranberries went just as well with the citrus flavors in this muffin. They smelled amazing coming out of the oven and were THE perfect texture.

I’ll definitely have to actually TASTE one of these next time I make them.

Thank you to Lauryn of Bella Baker for choosing this recipe. Click here for the recipe.

Picture 134 copy

Whole Lemon Poppyseed Cake

10-20-08 203 copy

Before I began baking, lemons weren’t a central part of my life.

I didn’t need them in my fridge. I didn’t use the zest. And I wasn’t that concerned if I didn’t get every drop of juice out of them.

Now that I am an avid baker… lemons are a must in this house. You never know when you’ll need one or a dozen. I used the juice for cakes, the zest for cookies and the sad remains to deodorize my cutting board and disposal.

Waste not, want not… right?

This pound cake is the perfect example of not wasting anything from this wonderful fruit. It uses everything… juice, zest, pith, everything!!

10-20-08 209 copy

Whole Lemon Poppyseed Cake
Adapted from the Sweet Melissa Baking Book

Yields 1 loaf

For the cake:
1 & 1/2 lemons (do NOT use 2 whole ones, it will be very bitter)*
1 cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar
3 large eggs
12 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon poppy seeds

For the lemon glaze:
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar

4 5

Position a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter and flour a 1 1/2-quart loaf pan.

1. Using a sharp knife, remove the little green stem from the lemon skin. Cut the lemon into 8 pieces.

2. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse the lemon pieces (skin and all!) and 1/2 cup of the sugar until pureed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, so that no large lemon skin pieces remain.

3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar until smooth. Stir in the lemon pulp. whisk in the melted butter to combine.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and poppy seeds to combine. Sprinkle over the lemon mixture and, using a rubber spatula, gently fold until just combined.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. The cake is done when a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack and cool for 20 minutes before unmolding the cake onto the rack for glazing.

6. For the glaze: In a small saucepan, combine the lemon juice, and sugar at a high simmer. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, or until reduced by half.

7. Using a pastry brush, brush the hot glaze all over the cake while it is still warm.

The cake keeps tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for 2 days. For longer storage, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 5 days, or freeze well wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil for up to 3 weeks. Defrost still wrapped at room temperature.

1 3

* If you don’t already have a use for the other half of the lemon consider slicing it and adding it to a chicken or salmon dish. Or deodorize your wooden cutting boards (sprinkle your board with salt and scrub with the lemon half). Or deodorize your garbage disposal (put 1 cup of ice and half a lemon in your garbage disposal and let it run, rinse with cold water).

Day 3: Honey and Beer Spice Cake

10-20-08 259 copy

Welcome to day 3 of my ‘I’m going to lose my mind trying to post something new and not boring every single day until Christmas’ extraviganza.

Would you still read my blog if I really did lose my mind? It would probably be good for business since everyone loves a scandal. Speaking of scandal, nothing goes hand-in-hand with it better than booze. And booze brings me to this cake.

10-20-08 261 copy

Yep, there’s beer in it. An entire bottle’s worth. It’s tender and spicy with just a hint of beer flavor. Just go with it, I promise it’s good stuff.

Buuuuut, if you’re difficult and you don’t accept the ‘but the alcohol bakes off’ excuse… there’s hope yet. I’m sure you could substitute apple cider ย just as easily. Maybe even orange juice…?

So grab a beer, take a swig for yourself (if you’re into that kind of thing) and pour the rest in to make this cake. Top it with a dollop of freshly whipped cream, glaze, or just leave it plain. Decisions, decisions.

10-20-08 266 copy

Honey and Beer Spice Cake
adapted from Booze Cakes via Joy the Baker
makes one 9ร—13-inch cake

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon all-spice
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup honey
12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) pale ale beer or honey beer

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9ร—13-inch pan and set aside.*

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment, cream together butter, sugars, spices and lemon zest. Mixture may look crumbly, but mix for about 3 minutes and it should come together nicely. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition.
Beat in the lemon juice and honey.

Add the flour mixture and beer. Alternating, first add a third of the flour mixture, mix. Add half of the beer, mix. Add the second third of flour, the rest of the beer. Mix. Then finally add the last third of the flour. Beat the batter on high speed for 30 seconds. The batter will be loose and smooth.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake in the upper third of the oven for 45-50 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

* This recipe halves well and bakes up nicely in a 9×9 square pan.

Shipping Safe: NO. This cake is pretty moist which means it’ll break and crumble easily. Instead, share this cake with a neighbor ๐Ÿ™‚