Meyer Lemon Loaf Cake

IMG_3831The other day I drove to the store on a mission. I currently have 4 open bags of various flours in my pantry left over from gluten-free cake-baking, and I’ve been trying to use them up. Since my mom is gluten-free, I figured this was a perfect opportunity for me to bake some goodies that she could eat too. First on the list was a recipe for muffins made with oat flour, just the thing for a healthy, filling, delicious breakfast treat. A treat that also made good use of my oat flour, of course! All I needed was a box of raisins.

I should have known that I wouldn’t be able to walk out of the store with nothing but one measly box of raisins. Before I even made it through the automatic doors I spied a display of asparagus. One, it was on sale; two, our refrigerator was looking sadly barren in the vegetable department; and three, the asparagus looked so, so plump and fresh. Come on, for an impulse buy, asparagus is certainly not something to be ashamed of. But as I happily bagged up my nice green stalks, I noticed another item nestled alongside the asparagus. Limited-time-only, raved-about-by-multiple-food-bloggers, hybrid-of-a-lemon-and-mandarin-orange, Meyer lemons!

Without a second thought, I plucked up a bag of the deep yellow beauties and dropped it into my cart. I just couldn’t resist. Believe it or not, I’d never before had a chance to try a Meyer lemon, even though I’ve heard multiple people wax poetic on their sweetness, mega-flavor, and superiority to regular old lemons. The healthy oat muffins dropped down a few places on my mental to-bake list and my new beautiful Meyer lemons took front stage.

After much debate, I decided to try out a Meyer Lemon Loaf Cake that I had previously goggled over at Brown Eyed Baker. Luckily I had all the ingredients at home, because I wasn’t about to go back to the dangerously distracting grocery store. I got the cake mixed up in a jiffy, and into the oven it went. The hardest part was letting it cool for an entire hour after being drenched in a sweet lemon glaze. Waiting was pure torture!

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I now understand all the rage about Meyer lemons! They really do have a distinct flavor from normal lemons, being much sweeter, fruitier, and less acidic. The loaf cake had a soft, delicate crumb, was sweet-but-not-too-sweet, and was absolutely bursting with lemon flavor. Also, since it’s baked in a loaf pan you can absolutely call it a quick bread and eat it for breakfast!

If you happen to spot Meyer lemons being sold at your grocery store, I recommend letting yourself have a little impulse buy! You can use them in the place of lemons in any recipe you like, but of course I’m biased to this loaf cake. Enjoy!

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Meyer Lemon Loaf Cake

For the cake:

1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 & 1/4 cups granulated sugar

2 Tbs Meyer lemon zest (from about 4 lemons)

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 & 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp Meyer lemon juice

1 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

For the glaze:

1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9″x5″ loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Place the sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl. Using your fingers, rub the zest into the sugar until the mixture is well-combined and moist. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs into the sugar mixture one at a time, followed by the vanilla and 2 teaspoons lemon juice. While mixing, pour the melted butter into the bowl in a steady stream, occasionally scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula.

Add the flour mixture in three increments, whisking gently with each addition. Mix just until no flour streaks remain. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes, then decrease the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Bake for an additional 33-35 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. When the loaf cake is golden and an inserted toothpick comes out clean, remove the cake from the oven. Let the cake cool in its pan for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the glaze. Stir together the 1/4 cup of lemon juice and 1/2 cup of sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the mixture has slightly thickened.

Run a knife along the edges of the loaf cake and invert it onto a wire rack. Use a toothpick to poke holes all over the top and sides of the cake. Generously brush the cake with the lemon glaze. Let the cake cool for at least 1 hour, then cut and serve. The cake can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for several days.

(Recipe from Brown Eyed Baker)

 

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Chocolate Chip Cookies with Brown Butter, Dark Chocolate, and Sea Salt

cookies_7I like to think of today’s cookies as grown-up chocolate chip cookies. Sometimes I think that adults like to pretend that they’ve grown out of childhood foods such as grilled cheese  and tomato soup, macaroni & cheese, and chocolate chip cookies, but in reality there’s a little kid in all of us. Even the most sophisticated adults can get away with eating  “broiled muenster on ciabatta with tomato basil bisque,” adding mushrooms and gruyere to a classic mac & cheese recipe, and making these cookies, for instance. The food appears dignified and grown-up-worthy, but in reality it’s the same old comfort food from the days of elementary school. Those tricky, tricky grown-ups.

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These cookies don’t just sound more sophisticated than regular old chocolate chip cookies; the flavors in these are above and beyond any Toll House-esque recipe! (No offense, Toll House.) It’s no secret that I’m in love with brown butter, which is a key ingredient in these cookies. The nutty, caramel notes add such a depth of flavor to the cookies! Little tweaks, such as an extra teaspoon of vanilla for flavor, an extra egg yolk for chewiness, and a bit of greek yogurt for moisture help make these cookies ultra-delicious. The sea salt and dark chocolate combo is amazing, and of course very grown-up. That means that you can shove three of these in your mouth and still be seen as a mature, responsible adult. Go ahead, you have my permission! These cookies are worth it.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies with Brown Butter, Dark Chocolate, and Sea Salt

Yield: about 2 dozen large cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

2 & 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 & 1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp sea salt (plus more for sprinkling)

1 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg + 1 egg yolk

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 Tbs greek yogurt or sour cream

1 10-oz bag dark chocolate chips (or about 2 cups)

Directions:

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook the butter, whisking constantly, as it foams and bubbles. Continue cooking and whisking until the butter turns golden-brown, small brown flecks appear, and it smells nutty. Immediately remove the brown butter from heat, pour into a shallow bowl, and allow to cool completely.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat together the brown butter and sugars until smooth and creamy. Beat in the egg and egg yolk, scraping down the side of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla and yogurt until smooth.

Gradually stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and chill for at least 30 minutes.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Scoop dough into balls that are about 2 Tbs large. (I like to roll a dough ball, break it in half, and gently press the halves back together so that the top of the ball is rough and more like bakery-style cookies.) Bake the cookies for 14-16 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through. Sprinkle the cookies with sea salt. Let them cool on the sheets for 3 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

(Recipe adapted from Annie’s Eats)

Chewy Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

cookies_16The very first recipe I shared with you on my blog was for my favorite peanut butter cookies. I first made them over a decade ago, and they’ve been my go-to peanut butter cookie ever since. Although they are wonderful made with just their 3 (THREE!) necessary ingredients, I often like to add a little something extra. Whether that something extra is a cup of chocolate chunks, a handful of chopped peanuts, a teaspoon of vanilla extract, or something else that strikes my fancy depends on the day, what’s in my cupboard, and my mood. Over the years I’ve tweaked the recipe here and there, adding a teaspoon of vanilla for flavor, a teaspoon of baking powder to help with leavening, and substituting half the granulated sugar for light brown in order to make the cookies extra chewy.

Through trial and error I’ve learned how to judge exactly when the cookies should come out of the oven, which is when they still seem underdone and soft but the edges are beginning to set. These are MUCH better when they’re still soft and chewy inside than over-baked, dry, and crumbly. They also cook more evenly when slightly flattened with the bottom of a glass or a fork.

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The other day I got the urge to make a batch of my peanut butter cookies, but I felt like adding something extra. Not chocolate chips this time. Something better. I couldn’t stop thinking about a chocolate-peanut butter combo though, so I experimented with adding a little cocoa powder to the dough. It turned out fabulous! The cookies were still full of peanut butter flavor but had a rich, intense chocolate flavor as well…the ultimate combo! I guess it just goes to show you that even a tried-and-true recipe can be adapted a little for the better. Improvement is always possible, even when the original is so darn tasty. Have no fear, original peanut butter cookies; I’ll still be making you. They’ll just have to share the limelight with this amazing chocolate edition!

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Chewy Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Yield: about 2 dozen cookies

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease two baking sheets or line them with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together the sugars, cocoa powder, and baking powder. Stir in the peanut butter, egg, and vanilla until well-combined. Scoop the dough by rounded tablespoons onto prepared sheets. Lightly press each dough ball with a fork in a criss-cross pattern or slightly flatten with the bottom of a glass.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cookies are still soft but edges are set. They may look underdone, but it’s okay…just don’t over-bake these! Let the cookies cool on the sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Enjoy!

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Vanilla Funfetti Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting

IMG_3793It’s amazing how much my baking has evolved over the years. Neither of my parents were all that into baking, aside from homemade teething cookies when I was a baby and the occasional batch of muffins, so most of what I do is self-taught. When I first started baking at around the age of 5, I was just learning how to read. I could usually decipher the list of ingredients but the directions down below were more intimidating. I guess that’s why my strategy was to just mix everything together.

I cringe at remembering how I used to make cookies. I would stir together all the dry ingredients (including sugar), “cut in” the cold butter, and then stir in eggs, vanilla, and whatever else the recipe called for. There was absolutely no creaming of the butter and sugar; no making sure that all the ingredients were at room-temperature so everything would bind, spread, and rise correctly; absolutely no regard for the fact that over-mixing flour breaks down gluten and makes baked goods tough. Somehow they still turned out tasty more often that not, but sometimes my cookies were either over-baked little rock mounds or flat, greasy pancake cookies.

One day my aunt and uncle came to visit when I was about six, and I decided to make brownies for them. Unfortunately, the recipe used chocolate chips for the chocolate component, which needed to be melted first (as any fool might guess!). Of course this step happened to be mentioned in the instructions, and following my usual pattern of simply reading off the ingredients I just stirred the chocolate chips in with everything else. Let’s just say those brownies were on the crumbly side and had a lot, like A LOT of chocolate chips! Luckily my sweet six-year-old face saved me and everyone smiled and said they were delicious.

For a few years I went through a cake-baking stage. I loved coming up with any possible excuse to bake a cake, whether it was the birthday of a teacher or an overlooked holiday or just because I felt like it. I had so much fun coming up with different combinations of cake and frosting and practicing my decorating skills. The only problem (aside from the fact that baking a 2-layer cake on a whim for a four-person family leaves a LOT of leftovers) was that I almost exclusively used boxed mixes and canned frosting. Cheap, shameful, chemical-ridden, artery-clogging, blood-sugar-spiking, can’t-even-call-it-food cake mix and canned frosting. No offense though, if you happen to be a fan.

In all honesty, I see nothing wrong with baking from a prepared mix or using processed frosting now and then, especially in a time crunch, but now that I’ve become a baking snob I like to make as much as I can from scratch. That way I know what goes into what I’m making and there’s nothing in there that I can’t pronounce (with a few exceptions…xanthan gum?) Haha. My point is that if it’s at all possible, homemade is almost always better. As good as boxed cakes taste, I find that homemade ones taste even better, AND they’re better for you. Minus all the sugar, fat, and white flour. Ahem.

One of my favorite types of cakes is funfetti. I had always made it from a box until now. This recipe for homemade funfetti cake tastes just as delicious as the real thing….actually even more so! It’s full of sweet sprinkles, has a moist crumb, and is packed with vanilla flavor that comes from actual vanilla, none of that artificial junk. The recipe yields just one 9-inch cake, which I find to be perfect for small gatherings or feeding a small family, but if you’d prefer a 2-layer cake just double the recipe. Easy peasy. Paired with milk chocolate frosting this cake offered a wonderful combination of chocolate and vanilla, but frost it with whatever you like. Just not frosting from a plastic container ;).

The next time you’re about to reach for a boxed cake mix, stop! This cake is made with everyday ingredients and is still extremely fast and easy…you don’t even have to break out an electric mixer! It tastes even better than boxed cake since it’s made with butter rather than oil, yogurt for moisture, and pure vanilla, and will be sure to please any and all funfetti-lovers. The milk chocolate frosting is smooth, chocolatey, and not too sweet….the perfect accompaniment.

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Even my six-year-old baking self could bake this delicious cake, since you basically just stir everything together. The whole process is really a piece of cake. Sorry, but did you really think I could write an entire cake-related post without using at least one cake cliche? I mean, really. 🙂

Vanilla Funfetti Cake

1 & 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup light brown sugar, slightly packed

1 large egg

3/4 cup milk

1/4 cup plain yogurt

1 Tbs pure vanilla extract

2/3 cup multicolored sprinkles (about 2 small containers’ worth)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9″ round cake pan.

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

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and sugars until smooth. Whisk in the egg, milk, yogurt, and vanilla until well-combined. Gradually stir in the flour mixture, stirring until smooth. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the sprinkles, mixing just until incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool in its pan for 20 minutes before removing to a cooling rack. Cool the cake completely before frosting.

(Recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction)

Milk Chocolate Frosting

Yield: enough frosting for one 9-inch round cake (double the recipe to frost a 2-layer cake)

1/4 cup (half a stick) of butter, softened to room temperature

1-2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder

2 Tbs heavy cream or milk

Directions:

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until it’s smooth and creamy. Add in 1 cup of powdered sugar and mix until combined. Add in the cocoa powder, vanilla, and cream, scraping down the bowl with a spatula as you mix. Gradually add in additional powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached. If the frosting gets too thick, add in a little extra cream or milk.

Beat the frosting for 2-3 minutes or until fluffy. Spread onto cake, cupcakes, or cookies.

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Vanilla Cake

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Waaaay back in August, on the day before my birthday, my friend Sarah asked me if she could hang out at my house for a few hours after work since she needed to stay in town for a theater rehearsal later that night. What I didn’t know is that she had been secretly collaborating with my parents for days, planning a surprise party for my 18th birthday. I, being my usual clueless self, had NO idea whatsoever that they were up to something, although when I look back the signs were pretty obvious. Such as:

  • Sarah casually suggesting that we drive into town and take a walk on the dock before dinner was ready, which seemed a little strange.
  • My dad casually suggesting that we park in front of a certain restaurant downtown since the parking is so crowded everywhere during the summer, a piece of advice that seemed a bit uncalled for.
  • Sarah casually asking to stop at the ATM on the way to the dock and “forgetting” how to use it, taking forever to enter in her PIN number and withdrawal amount. (I now know that one of our friends was running late so I needed to be stalled.)
  • Seeing our other friend Julia rush into the same certain restaurant holding a bunch of balloons as we circled around looking for a parking place, and Sarah acting frazzled that we had seen her.
  • Walking toward the dock, which is located right next to the restaurant, and seeing 4 of my friends walk out of the restaurant, smiling oddly.

In all honesty, it wasn’t until they all said “Happy Birthday, Emma!” that I figured out what was going on. I was actually thinking how coincidental it was that they all happened to be eating at the same restaurant at the same time, and was still trying to figure out who Julia might be bringing balloons to…anyone’s birthday I had forgotten about? Oh, that’s right. Mine!

Needless to say, I was super surprised and incredibly touched by my sweet, sweet friends. It was a feeling that I wanted Sarah to get to experience too, which is why I decided right then and there that I would throw her a surprise party come April, her birthday month.

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Due to some dietary restrictions, I knew we needed to have a gluten-free, dairy-free cake, and after scouring the internet for recipes that didn’t get reviews such as “has a grainy texture” or “tastes like glue” I finally found a recipe that looked pretty promising: Sugar Mama’s Gluten-Free Vanilla Cake. Unlike many gluten-free recipes that call for a store-bought gluten-free flour blend, this one contains 3 different flours all bought separately. It was a bit of a splurge but definitely worth the price, because the combination of sorghum flour, tapioca flour, and coconut flour helped produce a cake that wasn’t just “good…for a gluten-free cake.” It was just plain good!

I was pretty skeptical as to how the end result would taste, but I was pleasantly surprised. While the texture and taste is still far from your average Betty-Crocker-style vanilla cake, the crumb was nice and moist, almost like banana bread in texture, and stuck together well without being super dense. No gummy or gritty texture, no grainy aftertaste, just a mild, sweet-but-not-too-sweet vanilla flavor. This cake is the perfect base for adaptations (lemon, banana, etc.) and this definitely won’t be the last time I make it! (Especially with all those special flours hanging out in my pantry!)

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For the frosting, I was all set to make a dairy-free vanilla frosting made with margarine sticks, powdered sugar, and vanilla. To make a long story short, frosting attempt #1 was a major fail. Not as in eh, I probably won’t be making this again since it’s not very delicious; this was a fail that entailed dumping an entire bowlful of greasy, gluey frosting down the sink. (Oh, the shame!) It just couldn’t be saved. No matter how much powdered sugar I added, the frosting continued to taste like greasy margarine. It also took on a lovely grayish hue. Back to the drawing board (er, mixing bowl) it was!

Frosting attempt #2 was perfect. It would just so happen that as I was standing there, angry at having to waste all my ingredients in the batch before and having lost all my faith in the internet as a recipe source, I happened to spy a recipe for Buttercream Frosting printed on the back of my half-used bag of powdered sugar. Why not try it? It called for butter of course, but I simply swapped it out for Earth Balance margarine sticks and the frosting turned out wonderful. I used vanilla coconut milk rather than the regular milk the recipe called for, which gave an extra dose of vanilla flavor to the frosting. To be honest I think I prefer this to regular old buttercream. Yay, powdered sugar bag recipe!

I’m so glad this cake turned out well. Now I have a good base-recipe for future endeavors in the gluten-free, dairy-free world. Since my mom doesn’t eat gluten or dairy, I foresee a delicious gluten-free, dairy-free birthday cake in her near future. Perhaps in the form of a surprise party! Too bad her birthday was last week.

No more of that Oh, I don’t need a cake, it’s too much trouble since I’m gluten-free nonsense. To quote Julia Child, “A party without a cake is just a meeting.” Well said, Julia, well said.

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Gluten-Free Vanilla Cake

Makes two 9-inch round cakes or 24 cupcakes

1 & 1/2 cups sorghum flour (or rice flour)

1 & 1/2 cups tapioca flour

1 cup coconut flour

2 cups granulated sugar

1 tsp sea salt

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp xanthan gum

1 cup vanilla coconut milk* (or almond milk, soy milk, etc.)

2 tsp lemon juice

2 cups warm water

1/4 cup + 2 Tbs vegetable oil

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 Tbs pure vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9″round cake pans and set aside.

Measure the cup of coconut milk and add in the lemon juice. Allow the mixture to sit while assembling the rest of the ingredients.

In a large bowl, whisk together all the flours, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and xanthan gum. Using an electric mixer, beat in the milk/lemon juice, water, oil, applesauce, and vanilla until smooth. Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans and smooth the tops with a spatula.

Bake the cakes for 30-35 minutes or until cakes are golden, the tops bounce back when lightly touched, and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in their pans for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edges and invert onto a wire cooling rack. Cool cakes completely before frosting.

(Recipe adapted from Sugar Mama)

Creamy Dairy-Free Vanilla Frosting

Yields enough frosting for a 9″ two-layer cake

1/3 cup Earth Balance spread, softened (or other non-dairy margarine)

Pinch of sea salt

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup coconut milk* (or non-dairy milk of choice)

1 pound powdered sugar

Directions:

Beat together the Earth Balance, salt, vanilla, and coconut milk in a large bowl. Slowly add in the powdered sugar and beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. If the frosting is too thick, add in more coconut milk 1 teaspoon at a time; if it’s too thin, slowly add in more powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached.

Spread or pipe the frosting onto cooled cakes, cupcakes, or cookies. Leftover frosting can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator and brought back to room temperature before using.

*Note: the coconut milk used in these recipes is NOT the type from a can. I used vanilla coconut milk purchased in a carton, which is much thinner than canned coconut milk. Cartons of coconut milk can usually be found in the milk section of your grocery store.

Roasted Vegetable & Asiago Frittata and Lemon-Roasted Potatoes

IMG_0284I’m not a big magazine or newspaper reader, but my family subscribes to the weekly magazine The Week, which I read religiously every week…if that wasn’t clear enough, I read the weekly magazine The Week every week. Hah. What makes it one of the few magazines I actually like is the fact that it has a nice variety of articles, not just boring news or endless celebrity gossip. I love reading through sections such as People, Film Reviews, Best Properties on the Market, Health and Science, and It Must Be True…I Read it in the Tabloids. One of my favorite sections is a tiny, quarter-page column entitled Only in America. It often features the most ludicrous lawsuits that make one’s faith in humanity fade just a leeetle bit.

Last week’s edition of The Week brought quite a stunner in the Only in America section. Apparently an Ohio prosecutor has filed an indictment against Punxsutawney Phil, who allegedly misled the entire nation by predicting an early spring that has yet to appear. Yes, that’s correct. Phil the Groundhog is facing the death penalty. While seeking punishment for our weather-predicting groundhog seems a bit over the top, to say the least, I have to admit that spring is certainly taking its sweet time to appear. Temperatures are still dropping into the 30s at night where I live, and the past few days have been gray and drizzly. If one more person utters the incredibly annoying phrase “April showers bring May flowers,” I just might lose it. I want spring, and I want it now! (But I’m not mad at you, little Phil.)

To make matters worse, last weekend we had a short-lived bout of beautiful spring weather. I’m talking sunshine, cloudless skies, 60+ degree days, and dandelions bursting up everywhere. I spent as much time outside as possible, running on the beach and sitting on my deck trying to make up for a long, sun-less winter. I should have known it was too good to last, because according to my favorite weather station the next predicted day of sunshine is a week from Tuesday. The weather gods are just plain cruel, tantalizing us this way.

I guess Dr. Seuss would say, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” Easter really was wonderful, from the beautiful weather to spending time with family. I cooked brunch for my family in the morning, which consisted of a Roasted Vegetable & Asiago Frittata, Lemon-Roasted Potatoes, and fruit salad. Everything was delicious, if I do say so myself. By the time everything was out of the oven and on the table we were all too ravenous to wait for me to take pictures, but luckily my brother whipped out his iPhone and took a couple screenshots. Good enough!

This really was the perfect meal for Easter Brunch. The baked frittata was amazingly quick, easy, healthy, and delicious, filled with fresh roasted veggies that can be made ahead to save time. The possible variations for this frittata are endless: you can use different types of veggies, more cheese, less cheese, crumbled bacon, cubed ham or chicken, etc. That said, I have to say that this combination of roasted red pepper, zucchini, red onion, garlic, and asiago cheese hit the spot…by the end of the day my family of four had eaten up every last morsel.

I’d never thought to roast lemon slices along with potatoes, but they ended up caramelizing a bit and bringing a big boost of flavor to the roasted potatoes. To make these extra-special, use Meyer lemons if you can find them!

Well, aside from last weekend’s sunshine it looks like you were wrong, Phil….spring has not sprung. At least not yet. Still, I hardly think the solution is to punish our groundhog. After all, he has to live with this nation-wide ugly weather, too!

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Roasted Vegetable & Asiago Frittata

Serves 8

1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil

3 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into fourths

4 unpeeled garlic cloves

1 large zucchini, cut into 3″ x 1/2″ slices

1 small red onion, cut into strips

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

8 large eggs

1/4 cup shredded asiago cheese

Directions:

Arrange oven racks on lower and middle sections of the oven, and preheat to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil.

Place the bell peppers and garlic onto one of the sheets and the zucchini and onion onto the other. Drizzle about half a tablespoon of olive oil onto each of the sheets and toss to coat. Roast the zucchini and onion on the lower oven rack and the peppers and garlic on the middle rack for 15 minutes, or until zucchini and onions are tender. Remove the zucchini and onions from the oven and switch the peppers and garlic to the bottom rack. Roast the peppers and garlic for another 10-15 minutes or until peppers are charred.

Let the vegetables cool slightly, then peel the garlic and chop all the vegetables into coarse pieces. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Spray a 9-inch cake pan with baking spray. Whisk together the eggs, salt, and pepper, and pour into the pan. Add in the roasted vegetables. Bake the frittata for 40 minutes, then sprinkle the asiago cheese onto the top and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until the center is set. Let the frittata cool in its pan for 5 minutes, then slice into 8 wedges and serve.

(Recipe adapted from Ladies’ Home Journal)

Lemon-Roasted Potatoes

1.5 pounds small yellow potatoes

1 small lemon

1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wash the potatoes and slice into quarters lengthwise. Place the potatoes into a 9″x13″ glass pan and drizzle with olive oil. Toss the potatoes to coat them with the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cut the lemon into 8 thin slices, removing any seeds. Place the lemon slices among the potatoes. Roast for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender and browned, stirring halfway through to ensure even roasting. Serve warm.

(Recipe adapted from Simple Bites)