I love lemons so much that in my last two homes, we have planted a lemon tree. Well, we were very fortunate to have a “bumper crop” of lemons this year. This was quite the surprise, since I never covered the tree when freezing temperatures hit Las Vegas! I needed to use the lemons before they spoiled, so I decided to try the lemon poppy seed muffin recipe that I had “pinned” several months ago.
I have to admit I was a little nervous about substituting buttermilk with Greek yogurt, but it came out so delicious and moist that I couldn’t have been happier. It was made with fresh lemon juice and zest, so the flavor was just perfect! The only other change I made was eliminating the ¼ teaspoon salt. I found this wonderful recipe on Food.com by Dine and Dish, September 30, 2004. I promise you that you won’t be disappointed! These lemony treats would be a hit at your next Sunday brunch!
It is truly amazing that my tree has so many edible lemons and that I have so many buds that are starting to flower! I won’t be neglecting this tree anymore and it will be trimmed and fertilized organically soon!
- ½ cup (1 stick) organic butter, room temperature
- ⅔ cup organic sugar
- 2 large organic eggs, separated
- 1⅓ cup organic flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
- Zest of 2 lemons, grated
- ½ cup organic Greek nonfat plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon organic vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Line muffin tin with baking cups.
- Using a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar, until fluffy with a mixer.
- Add one egg yolk and beat well, then add second egg yolk and beat well again.
- Using a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients, poppy seeds and lemon zest.
- With the mixer set at low speed, combine the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, alternating two times with the yogurt, then lemon juice and finally, add the vanilla. Beat until just smooth.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until you get soft peaks. Then gently fold into the muffin batter, until combined.
- Spoon batter into the muffin cup, ¾ full.
- Bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown and inserted toothpick comes out clean in the center. Cool in muffin pan for 5 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.
On my weekly trip to Trader Joe’s, I purchased a one pound bag of organic beets. I hate to admit this, but I have never cooked beets before. I don’t why either, because I love to eat them. So I searched the Internet on how to cook beets. It was so simple. First, I trimmed the ends. Then I filled a saucepan with water and added 2 tablespoons of vinegar and simmered for about 50 minutes, until tender to the poking of a fork. The directions recommended the vinegar to prevent “bleeding,” but there was still a lot deep pink everywhere! I used many paper towels, so as not to stain anything!
When the beets were done cooking, I rinsed them off and dried them using lots of paper towels. Finally, I sliced the tasty vegetable and they were ready to eat. I was amazed how delicious they were with no seasonings. They are so healthy for you too! Here is a list of some of the health benefits associated with them:
- Lower blood pressure
- Boost your stamina
- Fight inflammation
- Anti-cancer properties
- High in vitamin C, fiber, potassium and manganese
I will be preparing my own organic beets from now on, especially when I can inexpensively and easily buy them at my local Trader Joe’s! They make a terrific snack all by themselves or a wonderful ingredient in salads!
Last night for dinner, we had a deliciously healthy salad. It was a mixture of organic baby greens and roasted butternut squash that was dressed with a spicy mustard and chili vinaigrette. The salad had sweetness from dried cranberries and crunchiness from toasty pumpkin seeds. What made this so simple was I brought organic squash that was already peeled and cubed. My recipe was adapted from Health magazine, November 2015. This salad was a colorful and wonderful light meal for fall!
- 2 pounds organic butternut squash, peeled and cut into ¾-inch cubes
- ¼ cup + 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
- 2 tablespoons organic maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons organic apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon + pinch of chili powder
- ⅛ teaspoon + pinch of sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- ⅛ teaspoon + pinch of cayenne
- ⅓ cup hulled pumpkin seeds
- 4 cups (5 ounces) organic baby mixed greens
- 2 tablespoons organic dried cranberries
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking pan with aluminum foil. Toss the squash with 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil and spread over pan in a single layer. Place in oven and roast for 30 minutes.
- While squash is roasting, whisk together in a small bowl the syrup, vinegar, mustard, ¼ teaspoon chili powder, ⅛ teaspoon salt, cumin and ⅛ teaspoon cayenne. Add 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil in a slow steady stream while whisking.
- After squash has been in the oven for 30 minutes, stir and brush with 2 tablespoons vinaigrette. Place back into oven and roast until golden brown for about 15 minutes.
- In a medium skillet over medium heat, stir the pumpkin seeds with 1 teaspoon oil. Add a pinch of salt, chili powder and cayenne. Stir well. Toast for about 8 minutes.
- Toss greens with vinaigrette. Serve greens on 4 individual plates. Sprinkle with cranberries and pumpkins seeds. Finally, add butternut squash. 4 servings.
When baking one of my favorite cookies, I was able to use all organic ingredients, except for the baking powder and the decorations. I did search the internet for organic colored sugar, but could only find “natural” sugar. I was able to find organic food coloring, but it was $9.99 for 1 ounce and the manufacturer could not guarantee the flavor, if subjected to heat. I would then have to make my own sugar. Fortunately, no one in my family has any known sensitivity to food dyes. With that being said, I decided to use what I already had in my pantry, since I rarely bake and decorate cookies. For those who prefer not to use colored sugar, the cookies are still quite festive using Halloween cookie cutters and plain sugar!
The sugar cookie recipe that I am sharing with you is one that my mother used when baking cookies for my sister and me. In fact, my mom made them using margarine, OMG! These delicious cookies are tender and with a delicate buttery taste and hold their shape well for decorating, whether you decorate using sugar or royal icing.
- ⅔ cup organic butter
- ¾ cup organic sugar
- ¾ teaspoon organic vanilla
- 1 organic egg
- 2 cups sifted organic flour
- 1½ teaspoon baking powder
- Colored sugar
- Mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (ghost’s eyes)
- In a large bowl, thoroughly cream together butter, sugar and vanilla. Add egg and beat until mixture is light and fluffy.
- Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Stir into cream mixture, blending well.
- Divide dough in half. Cover. Chill 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll dough until it is ¼-inch thick. Cut into desired shape using a cookie cutter. Decorate with sugar. Place on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, until slightly golden brown. Makes about 2½ dozens cookies.
My Favorite Little Pumpkin
The pictures below were taken twenty years ago, when my daughter, Laura, was five-months-old. They were taken on a beautiful fall day in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado. I was quite crafty back then, because I made her costume. I was quite practical too, because she wore it the next year as a walking pumpkin! These pictures bring back fond memories of our little girl and our days in Colorado! For those of you, who participate in the holiday, wishing you a happy and safe Halloween!
I can never pass up on the cut up organic butternut squash at Costco. It makes life and cooking so much easier, not to mention how delicious the roasted squash is! The soup recipe I am sharing with you, today, is the perfect blend of butternut squash and spicy chipotle chili. It is the kind of soup you would want to warm your chilled bones on a cold fall or winter day! I found this wonderful recipe by Marcela Valladolid on the Food Network. As usual, I made some minor changes in the ingredients and in the preparation to suit to my tastes and cooking style. I can’t wait to make it for my daughter, when she comes home from Michigan for a weekend visit later this month. I promise you that you won’t be disappointed with this simple and healthy soup!
- 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
- 2 pounds organic butternut squash or 1 medium squash
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon organic extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 organic stalks celery, chopped
- 2 organic carrots, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 cups organic chicken broth
- 1½ teaspoons minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo
- ¼ teaspoon minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo
- ½ cup organic plain nonfat yogurt
- Sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- If using a whole butternut squash, cut it in half and use the grapeseed oil to grease the flesh sides of the squash. Place on a foil lined, rimmed baking sheet. Add salt and pepper to taste. Roast for about 45 minutes, until very tender. If using cut up squash, toss with grapeseed oil in a large bowl. Place on a foil lined, rimmed baking. Add salt and pepper to taste. Roast for about 30 minutes, until slightly brown and tender. Remove from oven and cool.
- Using a large nonstick frying pan, heat olive oil on medium heat. Add onion, carrots and celery; then season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 10 minute, then add the garlic and sauté for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
- If using a whole squash, scoop the flesh into blender. If using cut up squash, place pieces in the blender. Blend the squash and chipotle with some chicken stock, until very smooth. Transfer to a large pot.
- Place cooked onion, carrot, celery and garlic mixture in the blender with some chicken stock. Blend until smooth. Transfer to the large pot.
- Add remaining chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add additional salt and pepper, if necessary.
- In a small bowl, mix together yogurt and chipotle. Add salt to taste.
- Spoon soup into individual bowls, top with “Chipotle Cream” and garnish with cilantro. Serve immediately. 6 servings.
I wish that I was the one who came up with the idea to make these spooky Halloween chips using cookie cutters and flour tortillas, but it was the “Domestic Diva” Martha Stewart! Rather than using cooking spray, I brushed the scary figures with canola oil. My flour tortillas were an organic wheat and corn and an organic whole wheat and corn that I had purchased at Trader Joe’s. What goes perfectly with these delicious and healthier chips other than homemade guacamole! This is the ideal spooky appetizer for any upcoming Halloween party!
- Large flour tortillas, such as organic wheat and corn, organic whole wheat and corn
- Organic canola oil
- Sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Using the cookie cutters, cut shapes out of the tortillas. Place on nonstick cookie sheets.
- Put some canola oil in a small bowl and brush both sides of tortilla chips with oil. Sprinkle with salt.
- Bake until golden brown and crisp, about 10 minutes.
- 3 medium Haas avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
- Juice of one lime
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- ½ medium onion, diced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
- 1 large Roma tomato, seeded and diced
- 1 tablespoon+ chopped cilantro
- Place the avocados in a large bowl. Add lime juice. Mash the avocados using a potato masher. Add cayenne and cumin. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Stir in the onion, garlic, jalapeno, tomato, and cilantro. Serve immediately.
It’s fall and even though the temperature outside is still in the triple digits, I was in the mood to bake and eat some pumpkin bread. When I think of pumpkin bread, it’s the one I buy at Starbuck’s. I searched the internet for the “perfect” recipe and found it on the Food Network website. Their recipe has the right blend of nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon and cloves with just the right amount of moistness. The only change I made was topping it chopped pumpkin seeds. You and your love ones won’t be disappointed with this delicious sweet fall treat!
- 1½ cups organic sugar
- ½ cup organic canola oil
- 2 organic eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup (8 ounces) organic canned pumpkin
- 1¾ cups organic flour
- 1 teaspoon salt, scant
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon cloves
- ⅓ cup water
- ¼ cup pumpkin seeds, coarsely chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using wax paper and a pencil, trace the bottom of the loaf pan. Cut along the lines. Place wax paper liner on the bottom of loaf pan. Grease and flour a 5 x 9 loaf pan.
- Mix together the sugar and the oil. Stir in the eggs and the pumpkin.
- Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add dry ingredients and water into wet mixture, alternating.
- Pour into loaf pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until cake tester comes out clean. Let it stand for 10 minutes and remove from pan and cool.