Roasted Asparagus w/Lemon Zest Butter

This is an easy side dish to prepare for any dinner or even brunch. I served this as a side to our Christmas Brunch. It was pretty easy to put together and the star of the dish is the Lemon Zest Butter. I recently purchased dried lemon zest from my favorite spice shop to experiment with. One way I used it was to mix it with butter and herbs to add some flavor to vegetables. It came out wonderful and definitely is a great way to use fresh or dried citrus zest, whether it’s lemon, lime or even orange.

Lemon Zest Butter
original Joelen recipe

1 teaspoon lemon zest (fresh or rehydrated dried zest)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
salt to taste

Combine all the ingredients and store in fridge.
Use to flavor roasted or steamed vegetables.

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Lemon Honey Yogurt Muffins

The following recipe was featured in my Muffin Swap event. You can read about it and view other muffin recipes HERE.

Jennifer’s Lemon Honey Yogurt Muffins

Recipe adapted from HERE

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups plain yogurt
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tablepoon grated lemon zest

Lemon Syrup:
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease muffin tins. In a small bowl stir togther flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl combine sugar, honey, eggs, yogurt, melted butter, and lemon zest and beat thoroughly. Add dry ingredients and mix until incorporated.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake 12-15 minutes or until delicately browned and tester comes out clean. Prepare syrup ingredients in small saucepan and boil one minute. Set aside. When muffins are done, poke tops with toothpick. Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of syrup over top of each muffin.

Let cool a few minutes then remove from pan. Serve warm.

Homage to My Papaya Friend…

My friend Steph and I met online. A few months later, she came to visit with her husband. Four months after that, we went on a long weekend girls getaway. And since then, we’ve been there for each other through some very trying times and shared our moments of joy. Currently Steph’s known as my “papaya friend” since she’s expecting and the baby is about the size of a papaya! We have about 5-6 hours drive between us but each month we send packages of fun goodies to make up for not being there in person.

So today happened to be one of those fabulous days I came home to a package sent by Steph. She sent me the Winerd board game I’ve been eyeing for while (personal tidbit: I collect and enjoy board games that are food related!) and she also sent me a cookbook I’ve thought about purchasing myself.

This post is dedicated to Steph and in honor of her and our friendship, I made a recipe from the cookbook she sent me, The New Best Recipe. What recipe did I choose? Well, Blackberry & Lemon Cream Scones of course! Thank you Steph for being such a great friend 🙂

I took the book’s recipe for Cream Scones and put my twist on it by adding fresh blackberries and lemon zest. The end result was a light, fluffy, creamy and perfect scone bursting with blackberries and a nice hint of lemon.

Here’s my adapted recipe for Blackberry & Lemon Cream Scones, inspired by Cook’s Illustrated’s The New Best Recipe: 2 cups (10 oz) unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
2 teaspoons lemon zest
3/4 cup fresh blackberries, halved
1 cup heavy cream

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Place the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together.

3. Using a pastry blender or your fingertips, quickly cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal with a few slightly larger butter lumps.

4. Add lemon zest and stir until thoroughly incorporated.

5. Stir in the heavy cream with a rubber spatula or fork until the dough begins to form, about 30 seconds.

6. Add the halved blackberries (or whole if they are small) and gently fold into the dough so that the blackberries are evenly distributed throughout.

7. Gather the dough and all dry flour bits and press the dough into an 8 inch cake pan, then turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. With a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut the dough into 8 wedges.

8 Bake until the scone tops are light brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
*I’m also submitting this recipe to the Bread Baking Day blogging event! Check out the event round up at Aparna’s blog, My Diverse Kitchen around August 5th!

Seafood Paella

The following recipe was made and shared at my Tapas party. You can read about the event and view links to the other recipes shared HERE.

Seafood Paella
shared at the event by Joelen
recipe adapted from here

3 tablespoons organic extra virgin olive oil

1 large head garlic (or 12 cloves), peeled and chopped
1 medium red onion, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups dry white wine
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers
1/4 cup chopped roasted tomatoes
1/4 cup julienned carrots (matchstick)
2 cups frozen green peas, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 pound shrimp
1/2 pound calamari rings
1/2 pound sea scallops, halved
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley, to garnish

Ingredient Options: If you don’t care for mussels or any of the other seafood ingredients, simply substitute more of your favorite.

In a paella pan or large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté garlic until soft, about 3 minutes. Add onion and cook for 3 minutes. Add rice and sauté for about 4 minutes or until rice becomes translucent, stirring frequently. Add 3 cups of the broth and 1 cup wine, saffron, paprika, marjoram, red pepper flakes and flakes and salt. Cover pan and reduce heat to simmer. Cook 15 minutes. Check occasionally, keeping moist with broth if needed. Add all seafood, peas, red peppers, carrots, roasted tomatoes and the remaining broth and wine. Squeeze lemon over entire dish and sprinkle with parsley. Serve straight from the pan.

Cherry Tomatoes Stuffed w/ Spanish Olive Tapenade

The following recipe was made and shared at my Tapas party. You can read about the event and view links to the other recipes shared HERE.

Cherry Tomatoes Stuffed w/ Spanish Olive Tapenade
shared at the event by Linda
recipe from here

For the tapenade:

1/2 cup Spanish olives with pimento
1 1/2 teaspoons drained capers
1 teaspoon brandy, preferably a Spanish brandy such as Solera Gran Reserva
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
32 small cherry tomatoes
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Make the tapenade: in a food processor, pulse the olives until chopped fine.
Add the remaining tapenade ingredients and pulse until olives are minced.
With a sharp knife, slice the stem end (1/4-inch down) and the bottom (1/8-inch up) from each tomato and discard.
Using a 1/4 teaspoon, remove the juice and seeds from each tomato half, leaving the outside shell intact.
Spoon a generous 1/4 teaspoon of the tapenade into each shell and garnish with the parsley.

Lemon Bars

The following recipe was shared during my Chef Spotlight Dinner highlighting recipes of Chef Wolfgang Puck. You can view other recipes and pictures of the event HERE.

Lemon Bars
shared at the event by Joelen
Original recipe found here
Crust
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 ounces unsalted butter, cut into chunks

Lemon Custard
8 eggs
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup lemon zest
Confectioner’s sugar, for decorating

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.

2. In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the flour, sugar, cornstarch, and salt. With the machine running, add the butter and continue to process until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Transfer the mixture to a buttered 12-by-18-inch baking pan. With your fingers, press it in to form an even layer of crust.

3. Bake the crust until light golden in color, 15 to 18 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the lemon custard topping. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the sugar, flour, and salt and stir until well blended. Finally, stir in the lemon juice, milk, and lemon zest.

5. Pour the lemon mixture over the prebaked crust, return the pan to the oven, and continue to bake until the custard has set, 20 minutes more. Remove the pan from the oven, let it cool to room temperature, and then chill, covered, in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

6. Before serving, use a sharp knife to cut down through the topping and crust to make 3 dozen bars. Carefully pry them from the pan and dust with confectioner’s sugar before serving.

Simple Roast Chicken

The following recipe was made and shared at my Chef Spotlight dinner, highlighting Julia Child. You can read and view links to the other recipes HERE.

Joelen’s Simple Roast Chicken
recipe from Food Network:

1 (3 1/2 to 4 pound) chicken
1 small yellow onion, quartered
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1/2 cup celery leaves
Salt and black pepper
Butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups chicken broth

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Wash the chicken in hot water and dry thoroughly. Season the cavity with salt and black pepper and stuff with the onion, lemon, and celery leaves. Rub the chicken lightly with softened butter and season all over with salt and pepper. Tie the drumsticks ends together and set the chicken, breast side up, in an oiled v-shaped rack or on an oiled roasting pan in the oven.

Roast for 15 minutes at 425 degrees F, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees, baste the chicken, and roast for 15 minutes. Add the chopped onion and carrot to the pan, basting them and the chicken. Continue roasting the chicken until the juices run clear, for a total of 45 minutes plus an additional 7 minutes for each pound. (In other words, a 3 1/2 pound chicken would take a basic 45 minutes plus an additional 25 minutes, for a total 70 minutes or 1 hour and 10 minutes of cooking time.)

Remove the chicken and spoon the fat out of the roasting pan. Into the pan, stir in the herbs and blend in the broth and, stirring constantly, boil for several minutes on the stovetop to concentrate the flavor. Correct the seasoning and strain the sauce into a warm sauceboat. Carve the chicken and serve with the warm sauce.