Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Hello and pardon my long hiatus. Reasons? Busy at work, rebalancing dinner responsibilities now that hubby is back to work, adding gym workouts to my life, gardening, etc. Nothing serious. Getting out of the habit of blogging just happened so easily, and I’ve had a hard time finding the motivation to start again.

My love of cooking and baking, though, haven’t waned. So let’s see if I can get back into the habit of sharing the kitchen delights, starting with these Lemon Poppyseed Muffins. Bursting with refreshing citrus flavor and the crunch of poppyseeds, these sweet treats disappear in a flash (and reappear on the thighs!), so beware. I fool myself by making them in mini form, thinking I’m not eating as many. Yah, right. I end up popping mini muffins all day until the entire batch disappears, which has occurred numerous times.

I’ve made these bunches of times in the past few months, but I cannot stop myself from eating them, so they’ve vanished before I could ever take a photo. It took a lot of willpower to save these last few for photos, but I finally did it. And now I can finally share a stellar muffin recipe with you. Enjoy!

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

 

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

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Yield: 12

INGREDIENTS

Muffins

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 cups (8.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 tbsp. poppyseeds

Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2-3 tbsp. lemon juice

DIRECTIONS

  1. Adjust oven rack to center position, and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Fill muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest, rubbing with fingers to distribute lemon zest.
  3. Whisk in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In a small bowl, blend yogurt, eggs, vanilla, and melted butter. Add to dry ingredients, stirring gently to blend but not overmixing.
  5. Stir in poppyseeds.
  6. Divide batter evenly amongst muffin tins.
  7. Bake at 400 degrees F for 18-20 minutes (about 15 if using mini muffin pan), until thin knife or toothpick inserted in center of muffins comes out clean.Transfer muffin pan to cooling rack, and after 5 minutes, remove muffins from pan and continue to cool.
  8. When muffins cool completely, drizzle icing over tops (using spouted container or just drizzling with spoon or fork). To make icing, combine powdered sugar with lemon juice. Begin with 1 1/2 tbsp. and add more until desired consistency is reached.

SOURCE: adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod via Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

 

Homemade Limoncello

I dropped by BevMo, a store that sells liquor, to inquire about Everclear. The clerk asked, “Do you need it to clean your garage or make homemade Limoncello?”

Limoncello

Homemade Limoncello–a lemon-flavored alcohol

“Clean my garage?” I questioned, puzzled.

He replied, “People who ask for Everclear either use it to clean the gunk off the garage floor or because they plan to make Limoncello.”

Um…okay…

That’s kinda scary to think that the alcohol used to make Limoncello is also good for cleaning the garage floor. Must be some powerful stuff.

Actually, Everclear is a grain alcohol.

Huh? What does that mean?

Basically, it means the proof is really high, which means it contains A LOT of alcohol, like 95%. In comparison, vodka contains 40%-60% alcohol. Ah, no wonder people use Everclear to clean gunk off their garage floors.

Now that we have that cleared up, why did I make homemade Limoncello? Well, other than the fact that I love to make foods and drinks from scratch just to see how it turns out, the universe sent me two recipes within a week that use Limoncello.

Limoncello Tiramisu

Limoncello Tiramisu — a light and fluffy dessert

One of those I already shared with you: Limoncello Tiramisu, a very light and refreshing dessert. The other is coming soon. Or, you can just enjoy sipping chilled limoncello after dinner (keep it in the freezer for a super chilled drink).

Homemade Limoncello

Homemade Limoncello–Step 1: peel lemons and place peels in a large jar

So, you can buy a 750 milliliter bottle of Limoncello for about $20, and the same size Everclear also costs about $20. Again, I just like the DIY factor. However, by making your own limoncello from one bottle of Everclear, you end up with more than two bottles worth. Pour that into cute little bottles and you have some great holiday gifts! Or, just keep it all and continue to make some fabulous desserts to share with family and friends.

Homemade Limoncello

Homemade Limoncello–Step 2: Pour grain alcohol over peels; allow to steep for 10 days to 3 weeks.

Homemade Limoncello

Homemade Limoncello

Homemade Limoncello–Step 3: after steeping, strain peels then strain limoncello one more time

Homemade Limoncello

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 750-milliliter bottle grain alcohol (try Everclear brand)
  • 8 lemons, organic & pesticide-free
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • a big jar

DIRECTIONS

  1. Initial preparation: Wash and dry lemons. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin. (Peeling from top to bottom works most easily.) Peel as thinly as possible to avoid removing the bitter white pith as well.
  2. Place peels in a large glass jar.
  3. Add alcohol, completely covering the peels. Cover jar; allow the peels to steep in the alcohol for 10 days and up to 3 weeks.
  4. Straining: After steeping, pour the alcohol through a strainer and into a large bowl. Press on the lemon peels to release any excess liquid, then discard peels.
  5. Syrup: In a large saucepan over low heat, combine water and sugar. Stir occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. When syrup cools, combine it with the alcohol.
  6. Second straining: Place a wire mesh strainer over a large bowl, and line the strainer with a coffee filter or a couple layers of fine cheesecloth or a floursack towel. Slowly pour the limoncello through the strainer. You may need to replace the filter or rinse the cloth during this process.
  7. Bottling the goods: Use a filter-lined funnel to pour the limoncello into bottles. Seal and store in the freezer indefinitely.

SOURCE: Brown-Eyed Baker (she has loads of pics of the process)

Lemon Cup Cookies (and a blueberry surprise within each one)

Lemony goodness in a shortbread cup! Even better when you tuck a sweet blueberry inside.

Lemon Cup Cookies

Sweet, tart, and utterly scrumptious

I took the sugarless lemon curd that I posted about a few days ago and used it to fill shortbread cups baked in a mini muffin tin. The sweetness of the shortbread offsets the tartness of the lemon curd, creating a perfect pairing.

The blueberries lounging in the fridge beckoned me when I reached for the lemon curd, so I thought I’d try popping one into each shortbread cup before filling it with curd. Turned out to be a great idea. Not only do you bite into a tender and sweet shortbread crust, but you bite into a sweet and fruity blueberry as well as get a mouthful of tart lemon curd. Loads of flavor bursts!

Lemon Cup Cookies

Parbake the dough, then press wells into each cookie

Lemon Cup Cookies

After making wells in parbaked dough, drop a blueberry surprise and then fill with lemon curd

Lemon Cup Cookies (and a blueberry surprise within each one)

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (I’m sure you could use only all-purpose flour for the recipe although I haven’t actually tried that)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened (meaning you can easily squish it between your thumb and forefinger, leaving an impression but still have some resistance)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon extract (or 1 tbsp. lemon zest)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup lemon curd (store-bought or see homemade recipe, included in link as well as below)
  • powdered sugar for sprinkling after cookies cool (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the two flours, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar.
  2. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the oil, egg, and extracts to the butter/sugar mixture; beat until blended.
  4. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture; stir until combined.
  5. Cover and chill dough for about an hour in the refrigerator.
  6. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  7. Drop about a tablespoon of dough into each muffin well, then bake at 350 degrees F for 8 minutes. Remove from oven, and press a well into each cookie. It will be hot, so use the flat end of a wooden spoon or something that you can press into the cookie with. I tried the end of a wooden spoon and found it rather narrow. Then I tried my magnetic lid lifter from my canning equipment, which worked out a bit better. I also tried my tamper, and that seemed to work best. FYI: I experimented with making the wells first, before baking, but this dough rises when baked, so that didn’t work well.
  8. Now that you’ve made a well in each cookie, fill with lemon curd. Remember to drop a blueberry into the well first if you want the blueberry surprise (I even pushed the blueberry into the soft dough on some of them). Pop the pan back into the oven and continue to bake for another 4-8 minutes, until cookies are firm and lightly browned on sides. If you take them out too soon, the cookies will simply fall apart if the dough is not sufficiently baked. Cool for a few minutes, allowing cookies to set, then remove to wire racks to continue cooling.
  9. When cookies are completely cool or right before serving, sprinkled lightly with powdered sugar for a decorative effect.

SOURCE: adapted from Barbara Bakes

Sugarless Lemon Curd

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • zest from one lemon (or substitute 1 tsp. lemon extract)
  • 3 tbsp. honey
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 egg and 2 egg yolks

DIRECTIONS

  1. Set up a double boiler. I do this by placing a glass bowl over a pot filled with about 1 inch of water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Heat water to a gentle simmer, but make sure it doesn’t boil.
  2. Cut butter into pieces and add to bowl. Also add lemon juice, zest, salt, and honey. Whisk until butter melts, then remove bowl from pot.
  3. In another bowl, whip egg and yolks until well blended. Slowly stir eggs into lemon juice mixture, then return bowl to top of pot with simmering water. Stir continuously until a custard forms, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat once custard thickens.
  4. Cool curd, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, where it will thicken some more. Curd will last a couple weeks.

SOURCE: Traditional Foods via Gourmande in the Kitch

Sugarless Lemon Curd

Once upon a time, some friends and I would partake in high tea a few times a year–a very girly thing. We chose a different spot every time just to experience lots of locales. My favorite was a place in which the owner had collected loads of fancy hats displayed on tall hat racks. Every guest got to pick a hat to wear during tea and sandwiches–such a cute idea that added a touch of whimsy to the experience. And silly photo opportunities.

Have you ever had high tea? Chubby pots of tea, teensy sandwiches, and miniature desserts. And scones. Can’t forget the scones. I think those high tea years introduced me to scones. And along with scones comes lemon curd. And another lemon recipe.

Ahhhhh…another lemon recipe?!

Yep. Sorry. I told you I had more to share last week when I posted the Lemon Love round-up (almost done with lemon recipes, I promise).

So, back to lemon curd. High tea introduced me to lemon curd. And the name–curd–just doesn’t conjure a pretty image, does it? Nor is the lemon curd itself the most attractive thing in the world: a blob of yellow gelatinous-like material. Okay, let’s look past all that.

Sugarless Lemon Curd

A dollop of lemon curd adds a light fruity touch to yogurt

The curd is a spread, like jelly, but it tastes tart and sweet. And it oh-so-complements scones, especially fruit scones, like cranberry scones.

And it’s the stuff lemon meringue pie is made of.

And it’s a quietly fruity touch when added to yogurt. With granola (or this granola recipe)

And it makes mousse very light and summery. Or springy.

But best of all, this particular lemon curd recipe is SUGARLESS! Woo hoo!!

And it tastes just as tart and sweet as the other lemon curd recipe I posted ages ago (please, please, please forgive the horrible picture; that was from my early days of blogging when I had no idea how to shoot a photo for the blog whereas now I have a just a bit more knowledge on how to make a presentable image). The recipe calls for honey as the sweetener, and I couldn’t even tell that the curd was sans sugar. Definite score!

Sugarless Lemon Curd

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • zest from one lemon (or substitute 1 tsp. lemon extract)
  • 3 tbsp. honey
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 egg and 2 egg yolks

DIRECTIONS

  1. Set up a double boiler. I do this by placing a glass bowl over a pot filled with about 1 inch of water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Heat water to a gentle simmer, but make sure it doesn’t boil.
  2. Cut butter into pieces and add to bowl. Also add lemon juice, zest, salt, and honey. Whisk until butter melts, then remove bowl from pot.
  3. In another bowl, whip egg and yolks until well blended. Slowly stir eggs into lemon juice mixture, then return bowl to top of pot with simmering water. Stir continuously until a custard forms, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat once custard thickens.
  4. Cool curd, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, where it will thicken some more. The curd will last for a couple of weeks.

SOURCE: Traditional Foods via Gourmande in the Kitchen

(who has a lovely strawberry parfait recipe which uses this curd)

Ice Cream Sunday: Lemon and Blueberry Frozen Yogurt

Lemon Blueberry Ice Cream

Look at all that luscious blueberry swirl!

A couple years ago, I visited Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in Ohio and sampled every flavor (many thanks to the young man behind the counter who so graciously tolerated me). I walked out of the shop with a triple scoop, one of them Lemon and Blueberry Frozen Yogurt. Oh-so-tart lemon with a pop of blueberry swirled throughout! Bestill my heart! Yep, I floated along in bliss.

Lemon Blueberry Ice Cream

Lovely layers of blueberry sauce

Well, now I can have that same blissful taste made in my own kitchen thanks to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home, for she shares the recipe in her book. Yahoo! If you love lemon, you’ll love this frozen yogurt. You can skip the blueberries if you aren’t a fan of them, or you can swap them for another berry fruit. Next time I make this, I think I’ll puree the blueberries rather than leave them chunky as the recipe calls for. I love the blueberry taste but would prefer more puree than hunks of blueberries in my ice cream.

P.S. How do you like this new blog design? I was playing around on the computer and decided to try a new look. I’m also trying to figure out how to self-host the blog (headache for me who isn’t very apt with technology), so in the future, I’ll have more changes. Please let me know if I mess anything up and it isn’t working properly!

Lemon and Blueberry Frozen Yogurt

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INGREDIENTS

Blueberry Swirl

  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • Note: if using raspberries or blackberries, increase to 2 cups berries and 1 cup sugar

Lemon Syrup

  • 2-3 lemons
  • 3 tbsp. sugar

Frozen Yogurt Base

  • 1 1/4 cups Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 ounces (4 tbsp.) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • zest from one lemon

DIRECTIONS

Blueberry Swirl

  1. In a small saucepan, combine blueberries and sugar; bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring every so often. Simmer for about 8 minutes, until blueberries are tender and the sauce thickens. Remove from heat, cool, then refrigerate until cold. The swirl can be made a day or two in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
  2. Note: If using raspberries or blackberries, after mix has cooled, strain through a sieve to remove seeds.

Lemon Syrup

  1. Remove zest from lemon first for use in the ice cream base. Do this by using a vegetable peeler, removing zest in large strips for ease of straining them out later.
  2. Remove juice from lemons, straining out pulp and seeds.
  3. Combine lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; cool. The syrup can be made a few days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

Frozen Yogurt Base

  1. Make a cornstarch slurry by mixing 2 tbsp. of the milk with the cornstarch; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk cream cheese until smooth; set aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan, combine milk, heavy cream, sugar, corn syrup, and lemon zest; bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat; boil for 4 minutes. Remove from heat; gradually whisk in cornstarch slurry.
  4. Bring mixture back to a boil and cook, stirring until it thickens slightly, about 1 minute.
  5. Slowly whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth.
  6. Add yogurt and lemon syrup; whisk until smooth. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon resealable bag and submerge the bag in an ice bath (ice and water in a large bowl). Or, you can pour into any kind of container that can be submerged in an ice bath or surrounded by frozen blue ice packs. Allow ice cream mixture to turn cold, about 30 minutes.
  7. Remove the zest from the base (this proved to be a bit of a challenge to fish out all the peels and run them through my fingers to save as much base as possible. Next time, I might try to cut the peel in one long strip instead of several strips.) Pour base into your ice cream maker and follow manufacturer’s instructions for churning.
  8. Pack frozen yogurt into an airtight container, alternating layers of frozen yogurt with layers of blueberry sauce. Freeze until firm, about 4 hours minimum.

SOURCE: Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home book

Lemon Loaf

LemonLoaf

The lemon tree in our backyard, nearly 50 years of age, got planted when hubby was a young kid, and it even got transplanted a handful of years later into a new home. Yep, it has been around a looooooong time. And it produces prolifically, allowing us to enjoy lemons year round.

Lemon Tree

The lemon tree in our backyard–nearly 50 years old and still going strong!

Last week I visited a buddy of mine in her new home, which sports a Meyer lemon tree in her backyard. She graciously gifted me a bagful, which I brought home with much excitement. Now why would I get so excited when we have lemons from our own tree? Because, folks, her lemons are Meyers, which are on the sweeter and juicier side than ours (because they are lemons crossed with oranges). The fruit from our tree grows huge but with thick skins, and their pucker factor is waaaaaaaaaay up there.

Lemons3

Notice how the Meyers are round and have tinges of orange color, both to the skin and the innards?

With these lovely Meyer lemons to experiment with, I perused my recipe files and found several new ones to add to my Lemon Love. For starters, I thought I would share this lemon cake in loaf form, and it is loaded with lemon flavor: juice and zest mixed into the batter; lemon syrup soaked into the warm cake; and finally, lemon icing drizzled on top. Lemon heaven, folks!

Lemon Loaf

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Yield: two loaves (eat one now; freeze one for later–but ice it after it thaws)

INGREDIENTS

Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 8 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup grated lemon zest (3-4 lemons)
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Syrup

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Glaze

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 4-6 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

DIRECTIONS

Cake 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9-inch x 5-inch loaf pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  3. In another bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Using an electric mixer on low speed, blend in the melted butter.
  4. Still on low speed, mix in half of the dry ingredients just until incorporated.
  5. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla until combined.
  6. Mix in the remaining dry ingredients until just incorporated.
  7. Pour batter into the loaf pan; bake 20 minutes, then rotate pan and reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Bake for 30-35 minutes more or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow loaf to cool in pan at least 15-20 minutes.
  8. Turn cake out of pan; transfer to wire rack set over lined baking sheet (to catch drips from glaze).

Syrup

  1. Combine the sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan; cook over medium heat until sugar is completely dissolved.
  2. Poke the top of the loaf all over with a toothpick or skewer; brush lemon syrup over the top (use it all).

Glaze

  1. Make glaze when loaf completely cools. Sift powdered sugar, then mix it with lemon juice until smooth. Drizzle glaze over top of cake and allow to set.

SOURCE: Baked: New Frontiers in Baking via Annie’s Eats via Cook Like a Champion

Lemon Love: A Roundup of Lemon Recipes

Lemons and I hooked up in my early childhood. Its tart personality sucked me in and I was completely smitten. 

In my youth, my mom used to set up a small kiddie table in the middle of our kitchen, cut lemons into wedges piled high in a bowl, and place them along with a bowl of sugar in the middle of the table. Oh, how I adored dipping my wedges into the sugar, then sucking the combo of lemon juice and sweetness. Pure and absolute delight for my little gal self.

I also loved the game my older brother and I would play. Sitting opposite each other, we would proceed to have a Pucker Face Contest. The game was to see who could suck on the lemon wedge the longest without making one of those squishy, squinty eyed puckered-face looks generated by the sourness of lemons. You know, a face similar to this one:

These memories inundated my mind the other day after a friend of mine gifted me some Meyer lemons from her tree (sweeter than the ultra-tart ones I pick from our backyard tree), and I thought about sharing a post highlighting all the lemon recipes I’ve posted–both of the sweet and of the savory variety. And I have a few recipes coming your way in the next few weeks… Anyhow, click the links below to view the recipes.

What are your favorite recipes that use lemons?

IMG_5618

Lemon Rosemary Zucchini Muffins

StrawberryBasilLemonade

Strawberry Basil Lemonade

P1030559

Lemon Pasta with Roasted Shrimp

IMG_5344

Watermelon Lemonade Sorbet

lemonbars

Lemon Bars

P1020213

Lemon Thyme Sorbet

LemonMousse1

Lemon Mousse

BrwnBttrAsparagus

Garlic Lemon Green Beans

Lemonade2

Lip-Smacking Lemonade

CrnbryScns3

Lemon Curd

sugarcookies

Lemon & Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies

QuinoaEdamameSalad

Edamame Quinoa Salad

Artchkbrschta

Artichoke Heart Bruschetta

BasilPesto

Pesto

IMG_4821

Herb-Roasted Whole Chicken

RoastedVeggies

Roasted Veggies with Caper Gremolata

And I couldn’t locate the picture for this recipe, but here is the link:

Spicy Lemon Trout