Freshen up with these healthy lemon recipes

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Lemons are so much more than garnish. They help keep your skin and metabolism bright and healthy.

It's also peak season for the citrus fruit.

Janet McCracken, test kitchen director for "Rachel Ray Every Day," showed off delicious dishes that feature lemons.


Lemon-Rosemary Roasted Chicken Thighs
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 2 lemons--1 zested and juiced (about 1 1/2 tsp. zest, 4 tbsp. juice) and 1 thinly sliced
• 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
• 1 1/2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
• 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk the oil, lemon zest and juice, mustard and garlic; season the dressing with salt and pepper.
2. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the potatoes, chicken, rosemary and sliced lemon with the dressing; season. Arrange the potato mixture and chicken, skin side up, in a single layer.
3. Roast, turning the potatoes once, until the potatoes are golden-brown and tender and the chicken is cooked through, 35 to 40 minutes.

Gremolata Bowties
• 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 pound bowties, cooked, plus 3/4 cup cooking water
• 1 cup peas
• 1 cup grated pecorino
• 1/2 cup minced parsley
• 1 teaspoon lemon zest, plus 2 tbsp. juice
• 1 clove garlic, grated

1. In skillet, cook chicken in oil over high, stirring, 4 minutes; season. Stir in remaining ingredients to warm; season.

Lemon Pizza
• 3 lemons, seeded and sliced crosswise 1/8 inch thick
• 3/4 cup sour cream
• 1/3 cup heavy cream
• Salt & pepper
• 1 pound pizza dough
• 1 1/2 cups fresh ricotta
• 1 tablespoon thyme leaves

1. In pot of boiling, salted water, cook lemon slices, 30 seconds; drain; pat dry. Mix sour cream, heavy cream, 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Stretch dough to fit oiled baking sheet. Spread with cream mixture; dot with ricotta. Top with lemon slices and thyme. Bake at 450 degrees until crust is golden, 15 minutes. Broil until lemons are brown in spots; season.

Homemade Lemon Liqueur
• 24 large lemons, washed
• 1 splash white vinegar
• 4 cups grain alcohol or vodka (about 80 proof)
• 4 cups simple syrup, or to taste
1. To remove any wax from the lemon rinds, cover the lemons in a tub of water with the vinegar and let soak for 5 to 10 minutes; rinse well.
2. In a sealable container, combine 61/3 cups water with the alcohol.
3. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the lemon zest in strips, leaving the white pith behind; add to the alcohol mixture (the strips should be fully submerged). Cover and let steep in a dark place until the strips of zest lose most of their color and the flavor is infused, about 1 month.
4. Strain the liquid, discarding the lemon zest. Add the simple syrup. Transfer the limoncello to a container and store in the freezer. Serve chilled, straight up.

Tip: Simple sweetener
• Making simple syrup is a cinch: In a saucepan, bring 4 cups water to a boil, then stir in the same amount of sugar; heat until completely dissolved. Remove and let cool. Refrigerate in a glass jar.

Tip: Frozen Sgroppino
• This icy Italian drink is like a spiked citrus smoothie. In a large bowl, gently whisk together 16 oz. prosecco or dry sparkling wine, 4 oz. limoncello and 4 scoops slightly softened lemon sorbet until thick and slushy. Pour into rocks glasses and top with fresh mint or lemon zest. Makes 4.

Tip: Limoncello Iced Tea
• Shake 2 oz. limoncello with 8 oz. iced tea. Pour over ice; serve with a lemon wedge. Makes 1.

Tip: Amalfi Spritzer
• Combine 4 oz. chilled prosecco or sparkling wine, 11/2 oz. chilled limoncello and 1 oz. chilled grappa in a champagne flute. Makes 1.

The Easiest Lemon Pudding Ever
• 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 1/3 cup lemon juice
• 2 teaspoons lemon zest plus more for garnish
• Whipped cream

1. Boil heavy cream and sugar; remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice and 2 tsp. zest. Divide among 8 glasses; chill until set. Top with whipped cream and zest.