Tag Archives: lemon

Daddio

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I know I always talk about how my mom is my rock, my best friend and I don’t know what I would do without her. While all that is very true, it doesn’t mean I don’t feel the same way about my dad.

He is one way rad dad.

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Growing up he was pretty strict with both my sister and I – more so with her than with me. I did get away with a lot more, but he was still very strict about schoolwork, having fun vs. studying, being prepared for college and figuring out what I wanted to do with my life.

And it always amazes me how after almost 30 years, he still remembers the tiniest details about my likes and dislikes. I wanted to make sure he knew I remembered one of his likes: blueberries. So I made him scones; the kind he can enjoy with his morning coffee while talking to my mom, or afternoon tea, or sneak a snack in, in between his classes at the university.

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While baking them, I kept thinking about how he and I were when I was growing up. There were a lot of times I wanted to be a stupid, rebellious teenager (and I was at times I’m sure) because I wasn’t allowed to go to dances, or go see my friends band play in downtown Flint while all my other friends went. But when I think back on it now, I realize, “Hmmm…so he didn’t want his 15-year-old daughter hanging out in downtown Flint at 10:30 p.m….and I thought that was weird?” If anyone knows Flint, it’s not horrible, but it’s also not the safest place, especially if you’re rather new to the area, like we were.

But that didn’t mean he didn’t have a sweet spot for kids, because he did! When I look through old albums and see pictures of he and my sister, or he and I, it melts my heart. He really was – and still is – a loving, caring, sweet dad who just wanted the best for his daughters.

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I have really fond memories with my dad, like when he taught me how to skip stones, introduced me to photography, how we’d sing along to The Carpenters in the car on family road trips to national parks, and when I’d take his video camera and conduct interviews with our friends at parties (a journalist from the ripe young age of 8!)

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Regardless, I want to make sure he knows that despite being strict and and the fact that we didn’t always get along when I was growing up because I was a typical pain-in-the-ass teenage girl, he shaped me into the person I am today. I wouldn’t be as neat, clean, a bit of a perfectionist, motivated or driven in my job or life the way I am if it weren’t for the values both he and my mom instilled upon me. I’m a better person because of him and he and I have really grown to appreciate the things we both do.

Blueberry Lemon Scones with Lemon Glaze
 
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Scones bursting with blueberries with a light, refreshing lemon glaze drizzled on top.
Author:
Recipe type: scones, breakfast, baking, blueberries, lemon
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • FOR THE SCONES:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus 1 teaspoon for sprinkling on scones
  • Pinch of salt
  • 6 tablespoons (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 cups blueberries
  • 1 tablespoons lemon zest (1-2 lemons)
  • 1 cup half & half, plus 1-2 tablespoons for brushing on scones
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • FOR THE GLAZE:
  • ½ cup confectioners sugar
  • Juice of two lemons (5-6 tablespoons)
Instructions
  1. FOR THE SCONES:
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  3. Sift flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large, mixing bowl
  4. Add the cold butter cubes and mix with hands or pastry cutter. The mixture should look like a crumble when you are finished
  5. Fold in blueberries and lemon zest
  6. Make a well in your mixture, and add the half & half
  7. Mix well – the mixture will be very sticky!
  8. Pour mixture out onto a well floured board or surface
  9. Using your hands press out the dough into a rectangle
  10. Cut lengthwise once, then horizontally three times. You should end up with 7-8 squares. Cut the squares diagonally so you end up with 10-14 triangles
  11. Place scones on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
  12. Mix 1 tablespoon half & half with vanilla extract, mix and brush on each scone
  13. Sprinkle the scones with some sugar
  14. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and blueberries are bursting.
  15. FOR THE GLAZE:
  16. Mix the confectioners sugar with the juice of 2 lemons. Mix well until kind of runny. If too thick, add more lemon juice. If too thin, add more sugar until consistency to be pourable.
  17. Drizzle glaze over scones once they have completely cooled

 

Storms and Sunshine

 

I’m alive!

Well, sort of. I have been so freaking busy with work it’s ridiculous. I started a lead role (hooray!) at work, but I have been so busy (phew :-[) but I love it (hooray!). REB has been busy with work too being the big shot network admin guy on campus and that has meant we've either come home from work super late, or we've had other things going on after work.

I hate having off weeks with the hubs. We try to do a date night once a week, but it doesn't always happen. Truth be told, one of my favorite things is being able to just sit and have a meal with him. At least we still work out together at night! Hooray weights! Hooray cardio! Hooray hooray!

Anyway most of our dinners have been quick things like veggie burgers on salad, savory stuffed sweet potatoes (one guess who those were for :)), or fending for ourselves in general. Awful. I should be a good Indian wife and have dinner on the table for my man every night! [pause for jokes]. OK I take that back. I did make baked samosas a few nights ago. But really, my sister made the filling and had brought me the extras. I merely put it into poked puff pastry and baked it off. HEY. That took time! And they were tasty.

Where was I? Oh yeah. We’ve been so busy that I was determined to cook my man (and me!) a meal that would be satisfying and not too heavy.

Enter sunshine and summer in a bowl.

Or in layman’s terms: Caprese Israeli couscous with heirloom tomatoes.

It’s seriously the one thing I needed after these past few weeks! And let’s not forget how depressing the weather has been. If it isn’t 90 or 100 degrees outside, it’s storming. I decided to change all that today. It was the first night we both got home at a reasonable time, I had enough time to replenish our fridge and pantry thanks to Trader Joes, and I even had enough time to be one of those people who buys flowers at the store “just because.”

I also managed to pick up those little beauties you see in the bottom right. Just call me super woman. I told REB I wanted to make something fresh and light for dinner and that’s exactly what I did. Nothing screams fresh to me more than heirloom tomatoes, a light vinaigrette and a grain I haven’t had in ages.

I expressed interest in making couscous, but also wanted caprese. BOOM. This was born.
What we ended up with was a caprese couscous with a deconstructed pesto….lemon…dressing…thing. It was good. And you should make it. Because I said so.

Did I mention I started a lead role and I’m now more assertive than ever?

No? Oh Ok. I started lead role at work! Hooray!

Caprese Israeli Couscous
 
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Author:
Recipe type: entree, side dish, vegetarian, heirloom tomatoes, couscous, pearled couscous, basil, pine nuts
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • COUSCOUS:
  • 1⅓ cups Dry Israeli (pearled) couscous
  • 1¾ cups water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup mini heirloom tomatoes, halved, quartered, whatever
  • 4 ounces (1/2 container) bocconcini (baby) mozzarella, halved
  • 10 whole basil leaves, chiffonade
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • DRESSING:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 whole lemon, juiced
Instructions
  1. Start by bringing the water to a boil.
  2. In a separate pot or sauce pan add the couscous and olive oil and cook over medium heat until lightly toasted, stirring occasionally.
  3. When the water is boiling, slowly add it to the couscous.
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and let it simmer for 12 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed.
  5. While the couscous is simmering away, wash the tomatoes and cut them in half. The small ones you can leave whole. Set aside. Do the same with the mozzarella. Stack the basil, roll tightly and slice thinly to create ribbons.
  6. In a small dry pan, add the pine nuts and cook over low heat until toasted. Remove from heat. Keep your eye on them so they don’t burn!
  7. Once the couscous is cooked, transfer to a bowl. Add the tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and toss lightly. The heat from the couscous should melt the mozzarella a little.
  8. For the dressing, combine balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, minced garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pour over couscous, add the tablespoon of olive oil, give it one good toss. Sprinkle the toasted pine nuts on top and enjoy!

 

The best thing is having leftover to take to work tomorrow. I think once I get into the groove of things, I’ll be back to my old self. At least I have the weekend to look forward to. I hope to have some culinary adventures! Stay tuned :)

Do you ever get into cooking slumps and do “fend-for-yourself” nights?

Lemon Grilled Tofu with Mediterranean Chopped Salad

 

The winter blues. OK scratch that. We haven’t really had much of a winter here, but it’s gone back to the weird, annoying cold weather. I swear, one day it’s in the mid-40s and the next it’s in the 20s. It’s also sad that I find 40-degree weather to be warm. Ah, Michigan. So because of the cold we had today we decided to make a nice grilled dish with a side salad that just screamed summer!

So this site had a recipe for grilled tofu and a chopped salad so we decided to make it! There’s a whole marinading process, which really didn’t make sense to me since we weren’t cooking meat. I think if we hadn’t done that, it would have been fine. We probably could have just made the sauce and brushed it on as it grilled, but hey! What do we know?

I was mostly excited about the grilling part. I love grilled anything (well vegetarian anything). We used our panini pan (the bottom part) instead of busting out the huge grill pan. It worked like a charm! We also only made half the recipe, but I’ll leave the steps for the whole thing since you can use the same amount of “marinade” for two pieces of tofu as you would with four.

Patience is a virtue. But waiting for grill marks is a beautiful thing. The more you know.

And can I just mention the salad we had with it? It was simple, delicious and light! Like I said, summer on a plate. Om nom nom. Give this a try if you love tofu! I’m sure you’ll love it! Oh and the best part? This entire meal is right around 300 calories! I kind of wish I had made all of it. Would have made for a great lunch tomorrow. Blast!

Lemon Grilled Tofu with Mediterranean Chopped Salad:
•1/2 block firm tofu, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
•2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
•1 seedless cucumber (hothouse) coarsely chopped
•1/4 cup chopped scallions (like 3-4 stalks)
•1/4 cup chopped parsley
•1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, sliced or coarsely chopped
For the tofu marinade:
•1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
•1 tablespoon olive oil
•3 teaspoons minced garlic
•1/4 teaspoon salt
•1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
•2 teaspoons dried oregano
For the salad dressing:
•2 tablespoons olive oil
•1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
•1/4 teaspoon salt (but you don’t need that much if you add more olives!)
•1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Seed both the tomatoes and cucumber and cut into bite size pieces. Put them in a bowl, add the parsley, scallions and sliced kalamata olives.  Add the olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper, toss lightly, cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes (or longer if you want). I think the longer it sits, the better it tastes so the flavors have time to develop and become delicious!

Next in a shallow bowl, whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper until combined. Stand the tofu block on it’s side, and cut crosswise (lengthwise) into 1/2-inch cutlets. We only used half the block so we had two pieces. You could cut all of it into four pieces and make it all if you want. Take the tofu and put it into the marinade coating each side. Cover and let it refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.

When it’s time, get your grill pan screaming hot. We just sprayed some non-stick spray to the pan, let it get hot and then put each piece of tofu on. Grill on each side for 5 minutes on each side. You can brush on the remaining marinade every few minutes to help create more flavor as it grills. Serve with the salad and enjoy!

I know it seems like there’s a lot of prep work, and there is, but it was definitely worth it! :)

Do you ever make summer-themed dishes in the winter?

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Tofu Piccata

Tofu piccata was on the menu tonight! Once again, we went searching in the great Internet space to find another recipe that used tofu and REB found a recipe featured in the Vegetarian Times. It was actually a recipe made with seitan, but we had tofu in our fridge (like we usually do) so we decided to use that. This recipe also called for soy margarine but we used real butter. You could absolutely use that though and make this entire meal vegan!

Back in the olden days when I ate meat, chicken piccata was a dish I ordered if it was on a menu at a restaurant. I have an absolutely love of capers. Any recipe that is vegetarian with capers will always get my vote. Why didn’t I think we should try making this with tofu? This recipe is ridiculously easy to make, too!

Here’s what you need:
•1/2 block of firm tofu (see below for preparation)
•All-purpose flour, for dredging
•Olive oil (4 tablespoons total, more or less)
•3 medium shallots, minced
•2 tablespoons capers, drained
•1/2 cup white wine (we used a dry Pinot Grigio)
•1/2 cup vegetable broth (I was hoping for low sodium, but they were out)
•2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
•2 tablespoons butter
•1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
•1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
•Salt to taste (I doubt you’ll need any – see below)
•1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

We had a lot of leftover sauce since we only made half the tofu, but that’s OK. You can reduce any portion of the recipe if you want. I didn’t want to skimp on flavors though ;)

Start by standing up the tofu block and then cutting in half, length-wise. Store the other half for a future recipe. Then cut that half into half.
Take two pieces of paper towel, put a piece of tofu between them, and press. You want to drain as much liquid out of the tofu as possible. Plus, this will help thin the tofu so it will crisp up better. Once you’ve done that, cut each tofu in half, diagonally so you’ll end up with four tofu triangles total.

Put a few tablespoons of all-purpose flour on a plate, dredge the tofu and shake off the excess.
Heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over high heat. Let the tofu cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. Once you’ve done this for all the pieces, transfer to a plate lined with paper towel. We actually put them on some aluminum foil and put them into the oven to keep warm at 300°F.

This image shows one half that we cut into two more pieces

In the same pan, add more oil (about another 1 to 2 tablespoons) and heat up the shallots, garlic and capers and sauté for 1 or 2 minutes stirring frequently. Then whisk in the lemon juice and wine and let it cook for 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for 1 or 2 minutes. Whisk in the parsley, butter (you could use nonhydrogenated vegan margarine to make this vegan) and pepper. If we had low-sodium broth, I would say you might need to add 1/2 teaspoon or so of salt. However, since the capers and the broth are so salty, taste the sauce first and then use your judgment if you need more salt or not.

We served it up with some wild rice, poured the sauce over the tofu and nommed it up!

This was so delicious! Patting the tofu completely dry gave it a meatier texture. The capers were crisp and salty, and the wine and lemon together made for a wonderful fresh taste.

Now, I will say that I was a little conflicted about the amount of parsley. Ina Garten loves her parsley, but I think it’s kind of a garbage herb. For me, it’s used for garnish and sprinkling on a plate and not a main flavor of a dish. But even I can admit that when it warmed up, it did smell fresh. I probably would use less next time though.

Happy eating :)

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