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Cauliflower and Lemon Pasta – Take Three

17 Jan

I keep playing with this recipe.  I have since given up on recreating the original since it was so long ago, and I’ve tried so many other things since then that I’m not sure I even remember what it tastes like now.

Last night, I did the following:

roasted a head of cauliflower (split into florets) with olive oil, salt & pepper at 400 degrees

cooked a few slices of bacon til extra crispy and crumbled what I didn’t devour right away

sliced a large shallot, and cooked it in some of the bacon fat

put the cauliflower in the pan with the shallot to hang out while I did other things

zested and juiced one lemon; added the zest to the veggies

cooked up a batch of pasta

Tossed the cooked pasta in a pan with a little bit of the cooking liquid, the veggies and zest, crumbled bacon, then added the lemon juice and some parmesan cheese.  It’s definitely the best so far, and I guess it just proves that everything really is better with bacon.

Summer Salads

11 Apr

The Kitchn knows just what I’m craving.  Light and healthy, not just rabbit food salads for summer.
I cannot WAIT to try the lemony, goat cheese, asparagusy one!

Meyer Lemon Grain Salad with Asparagus, Almonds and Goat Cheese
serves 6
8 ounces uncooked spelt or farro
3 cups water
8 ounces uncooked pearl couscous, or Trader Joe’s Harvest Grain Blend
1 3/4 cups water
1 pound asparagus
Olive oil
1 cup sliced toasted almonds
4 ounces soft goat cheese, chilled and crumbled
2 Meyer lemons, zested and juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon walnut oil
Salt and pepper
Cook the spelt or farro in a large saucepan or sauté pan over medium heat, adding one cup of water at a time and stirring until absorbed before adding more. Keep cooking and stirring until the grain is al dente and dry with no water remaining to be absorbed.
Meanwhile, simmer 1 3/4 cups water in a small saucepan. Add the Harvest Grains blend, stir, cover and turn to low. Simmer for about 15 minutes, then remove the lid and cook, stirring, until any remaining moistness evaporates. Mix the two cooked grains in a large bowl and set aside.
Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus and cut each spear into a 2-inch piece. Rinse out the large sauté pan and dry. Heat a little olive oil over medium heat, and cook the asparagus until just barely crisp-tender – about 1-2 minutes. Add to the grains and toss.
Also toss in the sliced toasted almonds, goat cheese and lemon zest.
Mix the Meyer lemon juice with the oils, taste, and adjust. Pour over grain salad and toss, along with salt and pepper to taste.
This salad lasts very well in the fridge; the herbal flavors of the Meyer lemons bloom nicely when it sits.

Roasted Cauliflower Pasta in a Lemon Cream Sauce

23 Mar

Chef Chris DiMinno at Clyde Common in Portland is my new hero.  He made a dish of roasted cauliflower with a lemon cream pasta that blew my mind.  Of course I had to try to make something similar, and this looked like just the recipe to start me off, even though the reviews are pretty hit or miss with some people loving it and others thinking it was too bland.
To start things off, I oven roasted my cauliflower with olive oil and garlic powder – 400 for about 30 minutes, with a quick stir in the middle until it’s soft and a bit golden brown.
I put on some whole wheat rotelli pasta once the cauliflower was done and while that was cooking, I started on the sauce.
The juice of one lemon to start, with a packet of concentrated chicken stock from Trader Joe’s (I love that stuff), then a little bit of pasta water once the pasta was done to make a sauce.  I cooked the pasta til it was still a bit underdone so it could continue to cook with the sauce.  I used some fat free half and half, and a scoop of fat free sour cream to thicken the sauce and make it creamy – though it really just went kind of gritty – I guess I DO need some fat in there somewhere.  I seasoned it up with a bit more garlic powder and the juice of another lemon, some salt & a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
I had some (boiled – I know, shush) chicken that I used to give the dish a bit of protein power.
The texture was all wrong, but the taste was really good.  I’ll keep working on it.

The recipe I mentioned above seems like it might offer up better results – I should’ve taken my own advice.

3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 lemon, quartered
2 teaspoons garlic powder, divided
1 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 (8 ounce) package rotelle pasta
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place chicken in a lightly greased baking dish. Squeeze lemon over both sides of the chicken breasts and season both sides using 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Bake for 40 minutes, or until juices run clear and chicken is no longer pink inside. 

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, season the chicken broth with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil and add lemon juice and pasta. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until all liquid is absorbed, about 25 minutes. 

Cut cooked chicken into bite-sized pieces and stir into cooked pasta, along with the cream and lemon zest. Cook, stirring, over low heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Stir thoroughly before serving.

Garlic and Lemon Chicken with Broccolini

21 Oct

I don’t think I’ll have it for breakfast (I’m no Cameron Diaz or Michael Dickerson), but it sounds like a yummy healthy dinner with leftovers for lunch!
This only serves 2 though, so if you want those leftovers and you’re cooking for more than just your self, double up!
vegetable-oil cooking spray 
1 tablespoon olive oil 
1 4 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes 
1 cup Broccolini, thinly sliced 
1 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour 
1 cup cooked brown rice 
2 cloves garlic, chopped 
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest 
1 whole egg plus 1 egg white, scrambled 
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
1/2 cup fat-free low-sodium chicken broth 
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and heat over high heat. Add oil. Sprinkle chicken and Broccolini with salt, garlic powder and pepper; add to skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken begins to brown, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add flour and cook, stirring continuously, 1 minute more. Add rice, garlic and lemon zest; cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Add eggs, stirring vigorously until egg is cooked and chicken is no longer pink in the center, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add juice, broth and parsley.

It’s almost summer!

19 Mar

Well, color me inspired. This seems like a perfect spot to put my Lavender Lemon Fizz and whatever other fun drinks I come up with for summer sipping. Given the gorgeous weather we’ve had this week, it’s no surprise that I’m already dreaming of warmer things to come.

And yes, it looks sort of like ketchup, but it’s not. I can’t wait to try their yummy sounding concoction.

ingredients (serves 4):

1 1/2 pints fresh raspberries & blackberries (about 4 cups)

1 to 2 tablespoons sugar

6 large springs of fresh mint (about 2 ounces)

juice of 1 lemon

1/2 cup vodka

1 bottle prosecco (750 ml)

Doin it:
Reserve some berries for garnish. mash remaining berries, sugar, and herbs in a large bowl. stir in vodka, juice of 1 lemon, and prosecco. pour mixture through a sieve into a pitcher, pressing through; discard solids. pour into 12 oz bottles, add garnish and cork. keep chilled on ice before serving.

Update to popsicle season

9 Aug

How can I not do lemon blueberry popsicles first after all the air time I’ve been giving this flavor combo lately? I couldn’t and that’s all there is to it.

2 cups water
3/4 cup Splenda
1 cup lemon juice

Add Splenda to water and heat over medium for a few minutes to dissolve. Add lemon juice and stir to combine. Fill popsicle molds 3/4 full and put in the freezer.

(I really want to try this with fuzzy water to see if I can make my pops frizzante and jeezly crow, did you guys know about this?! Now I totally have to try it.)

1 punnet of blueberries
2 spoonfuls of Splenda (or to taste)
flour or cornstarch

Add Splenda to berries and heat over low to make a blueberry sauce. Once berries are mostly broken down, add a teaspoon or so of flour to thicken the sauce.

Keep a close eye on the popsicles in the freezer; you need to let the pops freeze up a LITTLE and then add the blueberry sauce and swirl it through with a skewer. If you wait too long you’ll be too late and have to try a layered version, if you do it too soon it will all settle in the bottom of the mold and you’ll still have to do a layered version.

Lavender Lemon Fizz

15 Jul

Okay okay, I shouldn’t brag about it before I can share it, I know. Here was all the impetus I needed.
Here is the magic.

1 cup Splenda
1 cup water
6 sprigs of lavender (just the flowery bits, not the long green stem part)

Et, voila! Lavender simple syrup. I did the same thing with 2 LARGE sprigs of rosemary and now I have two simple syrups for cocktail deliciousness (the rosemary will go into something with gin I think. . . )

I juiced six lemons and ended up with just under a cup of juice. The breakdown for my “taster” follows; once I liked it (first try even!), I just made a larger batch using the same measurements. You might have to tweak the larger batch depending on varying sweetness of your lemons, and lavenderiness of your syrup.

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tbsp lavender syrup
1 shot citrus vodka (I used Absolut)
lemon fuzzy water
lemon slices & lavender for garnish

Larger batch:
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup lavender syrup
1 1/2 cups vodka

You might add more juice to your liking, but the fuzzy water can definitely help control the alcoholic-ness of the drink.
Garnish with a thin lemon wheel or a twist and a sprig of lavender. Girly – oh yeah. Try making it with gin for your man and leaving the lavender garnish off. (I’m thinking I might shake it with egg whites too before adding the fuzzy water so it gets a nice creamy layer on top.)

I combined the measured ingredients and “topped it off” with the fuzzy water so I have no idea how much I used. Trial and error people.

Grilled pork chops

13 Jul

Every once in a while I select a side dish before a main course. This was the case the last time I went grocery shopping. I saw some gorgeous asparagus and started craving my dad’s awesome shallot & lemon asparagus. Then I saw some nice Niman Ranch pork chops and knew what had to be done. So, as per usual, I decided to let someone do all the hard work for me.
This recipe is crazy simple and I have everything on hand. Score! I only have two chops though, so I’m going to halve the marinade.

Grilled Lemon Herb Pork Chops
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
I’m also adding 1 tbsp fresh chopped rosemary since I have it
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 (4 ounce) boneless pork loin chops

In a large resealable bag, combine lemon juice, oil, garlic, salt, oregano, and pepper. Set aside 1/4 cup of marinade for basting later. Place chops in bag, seal, and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight. Turn bag frequently to distribute marinade.
Preheat an outdoor grill or a grill pan to high heat. Remove chops from bag, and
lightly oil the grill grate. Grill pork chops for 5 to 7 minutes per side, basting frequently with reserved marinade, until done.

I prepared this with my favorite asparagus side dish (with shallots and lemon juice) and omg, heaven.

Citrus Shrimp Salad

13 Jul

I have a bunch of citrus fruit and lettuce in the house, and I saw some gorgeous big ol’ shrimp at the store, and it’s 80 degrees outside (woo!) so I am in the mood for something light, fresh, and summery. Cue citrus shrimp salad.

One orange – zested and juiced
One lime – zested and juiced
One lemon – zested and juiced
1/2 grapefruit’s worth of supremed segments
1/2 of an avocado – cubed or thinly sliced
1-2 garlic cloves – minced or pressed
1 green onion, thinly sliced
lettuce – either butter or romaine
6 shrimp because that’s how many I have – cleaned
orange muscat vinegar from TJ’s because it’s in the cabinet and will go wonderfully, though you can use red wine vinegar, or more citrus juice for the acid in the dressing
olive oil
salt & pepper

Combine the juices and zests with a glug of olive oil (1-2 tablespoons worth). This is enough marinade for many more than just 6 shrimp, so by all means, add more if you’re cooking for more than just yourself. If it looks like way too much juice at this point, you can set some aside to use as the acid in your dressing and forgo the vinegar. Add the garlic and a little salt and pepper and stir to mix. Add the shrimp and allow to marinate at room temperature for 10-15 minutes while you prep the rest of the salad and heat a grill or grill pan.
Clean and cut/tear the lettuce into bite sized pieces. Slice the avocado & green onion, supreme the grapefruit, and add to the lettuce.
Make the vinaigrette.
Grill the shrimp over medium – probably about 3 minutes on each side until pink and cooked through. Toss the salad with the vinaigrette, reserving a couple of tablespoons. Top the salad with the shrimp and drizzle with the reserved dressing.

Lemony goodness cocktails

12 Jul

Giada is killing me this morning.
Blueberry limoncello cooler? Get outta here!

1 (750-ml) bottle limoncello liqueur, chilled
1 cup sparkling water, chilled
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries *see Cook’s Note
5 fresh mint sprigs, lightly crushed, plus extra for garnish
Crushed ice

In a pitcher, combine the limoncello, sparkling water, blueberries, and mint sprigs.

Fill highball glasses halfway with crushed ice. Pour about 1/2 cup of the limoncello mixture over the ice in each glass.

Garnish with mint sprigs and serve.

*Cook’s Note: If using frozen blueberries, add them to the pitcher just before serving.

This also reminds me of my strong desire to make a lavender simple syrup so that I can make a lavender lemonade cocktail. Maybe I’ll give it a whirl with rosemary today; both with regular sugar, and Splenda. OMG you guys, a sugar free sweetened summer cocktail for us South Beachers? Hell. Yes.
I’m envisioning a shot of citrus vodka, maybe, a tablespoon of herb flavored simple syrup (I’ll have to taste it), juice of one lemon, and some soda. Top it with a spring of whatever herb I’ve used and a lemon slice. Is it wrong to want this before breakfast?