Sweet Treats

Recipe—Lemon Italian Ice

If you think a cold glass of lemonade is refreshing on a hot summer day, wait until you try this frozen treat, Lemon Italian Ice! There is no comparison. This is better, hands down. Your kiddos will think so too.

My son and I make this during the summer and it is the most refreshing thing I have probably ever had. The lemon mixture with fresh zest is just the perfect amount of tart and sweet and it is crazy how light and fluffy it is! Absolute heaven! 

I absolutely love how easy this recipe is to make. So easy that my 11-year-old does most of the work. I pretty much just zest the lemons and he does the rest. Plus, it is basically 4 ingredients. Fresh lemons, sugar, salt, and water. So simple and relatively healthy compared to other frozen treats.

So as the weather warms up and you are looking for creative ways to cool off, give this a try. It is sure to do the trick!

Notes: 

  • The trick to making this is to work quickly when you are processing the frozen cubes and keep the fluffy ice from melting. We had a container ready to go in the freezer and as soon as I emptied each batch from the blender to the container, it went back into the freezer. This really kept it light and fluffy and it never froze together. 
  • To get 1 1/2 cups of fresh lemon juice, you will probably need between 8–10 lemons.
  • This makes a pretty decent sized batch so you can easily get 6–8 servings out of it. 

INGREDIENTS
grated zest from 2 lemons
1 1/2 c fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 c sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 c water

GARNISHES (optional)
fresh raspberries
fresh mint leaves

STEPS

  • In a medium saucepan, combine the lemon zest, juice, sugar, salt, and water.
  • Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until the sugar is dissolved. 
  • Allow the mixture to cool for about 30 minutes.
  • Pour the liquid into ice cube trays and freeze overnight.
  • Put 6–8 ice cubes at a time into a food processor or blender and pulse until all the cubes are broken up and you have a fluffy mixture.
  • Immediately transfer the “fluffy ice” to serving dishes OR a freezer safe container to be enjoyed later.
  • Repeat this process with the remaining cubes.
  • Garnish your Italian ice with some fresh raspberries and mint sprigs.
  • Store the leftover Italian ice in the freezer in a tightly covered container. 
  • To serve later, remove the Italian ice from the freezer and allow it to sit for 5–10 minutes to help soften it up for scooping. 
Salads, Side Dishes

Recipe—Cauliflower Tabbouleh

To me, spring means transitioning those hearty comfort foods to lighter more refreshing dishes. Gotta start getting this body bikini ready! Just kidding, this mom bod hasn’t rocked a bikini in over 11 years. A good ol’ tankini is more my style. LOL In reality, I just crave lighter foods as the weather warms up, and the produce section of the grocery store transitions with the season. Everything just seems more vibrant and robust.

This cauliflower tabbouleh is perfect for warmer weather as it requires no cooking, so you can leave that hot stove off. The flavors in this dish are so refreshing as it is PACKED with herbs! You have lemon zest, mint, garlic, and red pepper. Freaking delish!

This dish is one of those that actually gets better as it sits. I like to make it the day before I plan on eating it so the cauliflower bits really take on all those yummy flavors. It is one of those perfect dishes to make on Sunday to have for lunches throughout the week. You know I am all about that meal prep! (Just beware, you may have some garlic breath so pack some gum too.)

While traditional tabbouleh is made from bulgar wheat, I actually use a bag of riced cauliflower in this recipe making it keto friendly and low calorie. It goes fantastic with some grilled Greek chicken and tzatziki!

INGREDIENTS
10 oz bag frozen riced cauliflower, thawed
cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 cup small tomatoes, cut in half
1 c fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 c mint leaves, chopped 
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp lemon zest
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt

STEPS

  • Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine. (Yes, it really is that easy.)
Sweet Treats

Recipe—Glazed Lemon Cookies

We are on Day 4 of 5 of my Christmas Cookie Week! That’s right, this week I will be posting 5 of my favorite Christmas Cookie recipes!

Glazed Lemon Cookies

We have the cutest little lemon bush in our back yard and it holds a special place in my heart as it was a housewarming gift from some of our friends when we built our house 6 years ago. Every year come December, it never fails, the lemons are ready for picking. For that reason, these glazed lemon cookies have become a staple in our holiday cookie rotation. They are so soft and light and I just love the zestiness the fresh lemon brings to them. While I love making these around the holidays they are also perfect for spring or summer.

Note: I recommend placing some paper towels or wax paper under the cooling rack before taking the cookies out of the oven. When you do the glazing you will get some drippage and the paper towels or wax paper will help to catch that excess sticky goodness that make cleanup so much easier.  

COOKIE INGREDIENTS
2 1/4 c flour
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c butter, softened
1 1/4 c granulated sugar
zest from 2 lemons
2 eggs
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

GLAZE INGREDIENTS
1 c powdered sugar
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt.
  • In a large bowl beat together the butter, sugar, and lemon zest on medium-high speed for 3 minutes.
  • Add the eggs, lemon juice, and vanilla to the butter mixture and continue to beat until evenly incorporated.
  • Gradually add in the dry ingredients until combined.
  • Form small balls with the dough and place at least 2 inches apart on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  • Bake for 8–10 minutes or until they just start to get a light golden color on the bottom.
  • Allow cookies to sit on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
  • Once the cookies have completely cooled, whisk together the powdered sugar and fresh lemon juice to make the glaze. (You want to be able to drizzle the glaze so add a tad bit more lemon juice or water if needed to thin it, or more powdered sugar if you need it thicker.)
  • Transfer the glaze to a transfer to a piping bag with a very small opening or a Ziploc bag. (If using a Ziplock bag, you will want to cut a small tip off one corner.)
  • Drizzle the glaze back and forth over the cookies.
  • Allow the cookies to rest for at least an hour so the glaze has time to set.
  • Enjoy!
Dinners

Recipe—Summer Squash with Cheese Tortellini in a Lemon Garlic Cream Sauce

Many pasta dishes have a certain heaviness to them, which makes them great comfort foods for fall and winter. This is a pasta dish that defies that logic. The lemon zest and fresh summer squash gives this dish a wonderful light and refreshing quality that will have your taste buds tingling all summer long. The sauce is what I would call a grownup version of alfredo sauce. It has that wonderful creamy quality but with more flavor. This recipe is great for many other reasons. It is incredibly cheap to make, it’s super easy, it’s delicious, and it took me under 15 minutes from start to completion, making it the perfect dinner for a busy night.

Note: You can also substitute ravioli for the tortellini.

INGREDIENTS
16–18 oz cheese tortellini (fresh or frozen)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
2 tsp garlic, minced
3 summer squash (zucchini and/or yellow squash), thinly sliced
salt and pepper
1 1/2 c heavy cream
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp green onions or chives, chopped

STEPS

  • Cook the pasta per package instructions.
  • While the pasta water is coming to a boil, heat the olive oil in a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add the shallot s and garlic and cook for 3–4 minutes.
  • Add the squash and season with salt and pepper.
  • Cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 4–5 minutes.
  • Add the cream and lemon zest and cook until the cream begins to simmer and thicken.
  • Add in the grated parmesan and stir to combine.
  • Drain the pasta.
  • Once the sauce is the desired thickness, add the cooked tortellini to the pan.
  • Transfer to serving dishes and top with extra parmesan and a sprinkling of the green onions.

Recipe adapted from Real Simple.