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Lemons more than a garnish

Lemons offer endless possibilities. They can flavor just about anything, from meats to drinks and desserts.
Lemons offer endless possibilities. They can flavor just about anything, from meats to drinks and desserts.

I love lemons. When spring arrives, all my written lemon recipes come out of the box. Lemon bread, lemon pancakes, chicken lemon picata, grilled shrimp with lemon, marinades and raspberry lemonade are just some food and beverages that mean spring is in the air.

There's something about that tart sweetness that gets me every time. I found out a long time ago that lemons are more than a peel twist in a martini or a garnish slice on a glass of lemonade. Lemons can flavor just about anything, from meats to drinks and desserts.

Grilling season is almost here and lemons are a perfect addition to any marinade or rub. Seafood always tastes better with a sprinkle of fresh lemon juice. A slice of lemon pound cake makes a perfect ending to a meal.

Sure, I'll admit I often use sugar to cover the tartness, but I recently discovered lemons can be naturally sweet. If you haven't tried a Meyer lemon, you're in for an sweeter than normal treat. With their smooth skin and more rounded shape, they're also less acidic. Eureka and Lisbon lemons are two of the most popular sour lemons. Eurekas have fewer seeds, Lisbons are seedless. And here's an interesting fact: a lemon tree can annually produce almost 3,000 lemons.

Just a small quantity of lemon juice or zest (peel) can make anything taste better. Try tossing pasta, salads and dressings and vegetables with lemon juice. Rub sliced lemon or squeeze fresh lemon juice on chicken, fish and even pork. Any recipe you have that contains mayonnaise will taste better with a squeeze or two of lemon juice.

Here's a quote from poet Maya Angelou: “In all my work, I try to say, 'You may be given a load of sour lemons, why not try to make a dozen lemon meringue pies?' For a lemon lover like me? Definitely words to live by.

RASPBERRY LEMONADE (onceuponachef.com)

1-3/4 cups fresh squeezed lemon juice, from 8-12 lemons, strained

8 oz. raspberries, plus more for serving

5 cups water

1 cup sugar

Lemon wedges, for serving

Fresh mint, for serving

Combine raspberries and 1/2 cup of lemon juice in blender; purée until smooth, then pass mixture through fine sieve into large bowl to strain out seeds (the fastest way to force it through is by pressing a ladle against strainer in circular motion).

Add remaining lemon juice, water and sugar to bowl and stir until sugar is dissolved.

Taste, and add more sugar, lemon juice or water if necessary (keep in mind that ice cubes will water it down).

Pour into glasses with ice cubes and garnish with lemon wedges, raspberries and fresh mint, if desired. The lemonade will keep in fridge for a few days.

LEMON GARLIC SHRIMP (sheknows.com)

Serves 4

1/2 cup olive oil

4 tablespoons butter

1 lemon, zested then cut into slices

4 lemon thyme springs, stems removed and discarded

1-1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined

6 garlic cloves, sliced thinly

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Heat large oven-proof skillet on stove top over medium heat. Add olive oil, butter, lemon zest and thyme to skillet. When butter is melted and oil is hot, add shrimp, lemon slices and garlic; stir to combine. Transfer to oven and cook, stirring once halfway through, until shrimp are just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Top with fresh parsley and serve immediately.

EASY LEMON CHICKEN PICCATA CASSEROLE (teaspoonofgoodness.com)

Serves 4

1 can of each: condensed cream of chicken soup and cream of mushroom soup

1/2 cup milk

1 1/2 potatoes, thinly sliced 1/4 inch thick

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1 small red onion peeled and thinly sliced

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts

pinch salt and black pepper

1 lemon thinly sliced and halved

2 tablespoons capers

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Add condensed soups and milk to saucepan and whisk to combine. Heat over medium-high heat until simmering, stir frequently.

In separate bowl, add potatoes, onion, garlic, and chicken. Pour in condensed soup mixture on top, along with pinch of salt and pepper.

Combine all of the potato and chicken mixture until it is evenly coated. Pour mixture into a 9-by-13 baking dish. Layer lemon slices into mixture randomly. Sprinkle top of mixture with capers.

Cover top of casserole dish with aluminum foil. Bake one hour and 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Carefully remove foil and change oven to “broil”. Broil casserole for an extra two to three minutes to crisp up top. Remove pan from oven and serve warm.

LEMON CRINKLE COOKIES (frugalmomeh.com)

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon extract

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Yellow food coloring

1/2 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In medium bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In large bowl, cream butter and sugar then mix in egg, lemon juice, lemon extract, vanilla extract and five or six drops of yellow food coloring. Slowly add dry ingredients and mix until well combined.

Pour powdered sugar onto a plate.

Form 1-inch balls from dough and roll them into powdered sugar to coat well. Place balls

onto baking sheet about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool on baking sheet slightly before transferring to cooling rack.

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