Living by the Old Adage

Lemon cookies goodDid you know that lemons have health benefits – everything from possibly preventing strokes to building collagen in the skin? While you might not choose a lemon as an afternoon snack, you might be like me and opt for something lemony sweet and smooth with a cup of coffee at 3 p.m.

I always think of lemons when spring arrives with its tease of warmth – think yellow, sunshine, lemonade, and lemon vinaigrette with fresh asparagus.

The old adage of “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” seems overused, but really, is there any other way to live?

Here are two of my favorite lemon cookie recipes.

Lemon Ricotta Cookies
Pictured above, these tangy, light cookies were brought to the office by Nancy via Giada De Laurentiis of Food Network. Frankly, Nancy is the Giada of our office!

INGREDIENTS
2-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
3 tablespoon lemon juice
1 lemon, zested
Glaze:
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 lemon, zested

In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the butter and the sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the ricotta cheese, lemon juice and lemon zest. Beat to combine. Add the dry ingredients.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the dough (about 2 tablespoons for each cookie) onto the baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes until slightly golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and let them rest on the cookie sheet for20 minutes.

Glaze: Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir until smooth Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon onto each cookie and spread. Let the glaze harden for about two hours.

Yield: 44 cookies.

Lemon Crinkles
I adapted this easy recipe from one of my favorite bloggers, Tidy Mom.

Crinkle cookies

INGREDIENTS
1 box lemon cake mix
1 8-ounce container Cool Whip
1 egg
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice with the pulp and 1/4 teaspoon of lemon zest
1/3 cup powdered sugar (for rolling)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In medium bowl, beat Cool Whip, egg, cake mix, lemon juice and zest, until well blended. Dough will be thick and sticky.

Drop a rounded teaspoon of dough into a bowl of powdered sugar and roll to coat.

Place on parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. The parchment paper is essential. Let the cookies completely cool on the sheet or they are too gooey to remove. Hint: If you don’t have parchment paper then grease a cookie sheet with Crisco and flour it. Don’t use wax paper. (I can attest to that failure.)

Let the Kids Do the Smashing

CoverI was in Balducci’s last week stopping in for a fresh-brewed cup of their wonderful coffee on my way to the office. I noticed the gorgeous display of chocolate-covered pretzels. Price: $15.99 for 20 ounces of hand-dipped pretzels cleverly decorated with colorful toppings. I don’t know if prices are high this year or I’m feeling frugal, or just wanting to do things myself, but for whatever the reason, I re-created the pretzels, Easter style.

I took some ordinary, bagged Easter candy and used them for the pretzel toppings. Whoppers’ mini Robins Eggs and egg-shaped M&Ms are easily ground in a food processor. Or, put them in a Ziploc bag and smash them with a rolling pin. (The kids love to do the smashing.) I also used some spring-looking toppings.

In the end, I produced about 100 chocolate-covered pretzels for around $20 max. Be creative, use various toppings, different-shaped pretzels, bag them in cellophane with ribbon

Ingredients

  • Pretzels
  • Chocolate for dipping. I used white and dark chocolate. You can buy the Wilton Candy Melts where cake baking/decorating supplies are sold or Dolci frutta meltable chocolate from your grocery store. Check the baking aisle for other brands.
  • Various toppings: crushed candies, mini M&Ms, nuts, mini chocolate chips, sprinkles, and more.

    candy-close-up

    Crush candies for topping after you dip the pretzels in chocolate.

Have at It!

Melt the chocolate according to directions. Dip a pretzel in the chocolate, and then dip in the topping. Place on waxed paper to cool.

That’s it! Have fun! And, please, don’t get me wrong, Balducci’s is great.

good

I used four different toppings with white and dark chocolate.

Reprise of the Leprechauns

An Irish colleen (from the Irish cailín, meaning girl) just came a knockin’ at mee door with some leprechaun hats—edible that is!

Here is Marion Devlin’s recipe for Leprechaun Hats. (At Thanksgiving they become pilgrim hats and, at Christmas, they become Santa Claus hats! She’s a clever colleen!)

Leprechaun Hats
The wee ones love ’em!

Arrange Fudge Stripe Cookies on a baking sheet with chocolate side up (stripes down).

Melt white and dark chocolate according to package directions; keep warm for dipping in separate bowls.

Dip marshmallows in chocolate and place on top of Fudge Stripe Cookies. Top with green sprinkles. Cool to room temperature.

Winter is Dead

She turned to the sunlight
                And shook her yellow head,
She whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”

A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

Although it might still be a little chilly to eat outdoors on the deck or patio, you can bring all the color and blossoms inside for an springtime buffet.

Watch my e-How video on how to pull this off and welcome your guests to your botanical buffet. For table decorations, re-purpose some of your garden implements and decorate with the colors of spring. Your food will also be inspired by the season. Some of my favorite spring-time menu items are:

Click here for my video here on How to Decorate a Serving Table for a Spring Party. (Be sure to press the “CC” button is you would like to view it with captions.)