Saturday, March 30, 2013

Lemon Noodles


 
 
 
 
I bought myself tulips the other day.  It wouldn't feel like Easter without them.  I have already given my kitchen a Spring makeover and the tulips were the finishing touch.  All of my snow people and winter decorations are put away and I brought out my Spring bunnies.  I love decorating for Spring.  Such a nice, refreshing change after winter.  The kitchen is bright and full of color again!
 
 


This weekend we are having friends over on Saturday and then a big dinner on Sunday at my parents house.  We have a traditional egg hunt (my son colored 4 dozen eggs today!) and my Mom is making ricotta pie.  We'll go to church in the morning and then spend the rest of the day counting our blessings among friends and family (while eating way too much food, but that's just the way it is : )




I'm sure the day will be filled with sugar highs and chocolate melt-downs, but let's face it, I'm in it for one reason and one reason only...stale Peeps!  I've already started "curing" mine.  The more stale they get, the more chewy and amazing they become!  I've always loved them, ever since I was little.  Back then they were only available at Easter time and only came in yellow.  Easter is the only day of they year when you are allowed to eat jellybeans before breakfast and binge on big yellow globs of sugar. By 5 pm we are all in coma's.   







The weather report says we are in for a beautiful day on Sunday so I'm hoping to squeeze in a walk after dinner. It will help with all the Peep related  guilt I will be feeling.... : )








 How will you be celebrating this weekend? Will you get a visit from the Easter Bunny? We will. He'll hide eggs and leave a basket of goodies. We'll find the eggs and then I'll make strawberry french toast to wash down all the jelly beans and chocolate.  For me, Easter is the start of Spring - the beginning of a new season.  Let's celebrate!  
 
 
 
 
 
Egg coloring expert at work. 
 
 


Today was the first day we've had in a long time where we were able to spend some quality time outside.  I literally sat on a bench for an hour while my son sang Wiggles songs to me.  The sun was warm and the breeze had a certain something that I haven't felt since last Spring.  I took deep breaths of air and it felt so good to be outside!  We went for a walk and he rode his bike.  We waved HI to all the neighbors who have suddenly come out of hibernation and then I realized he took his jacket off.  It was almost 60 degrees.  We have finally thawed out! : )  Yay!





In honor of this beautiful, light, Spring weather I thought I would share with you one of my favorite pasta dishes.  I know everyone is sharing chocolaty deserts right now (which I am very grateful for!) but just for a change think about this.  Lemon Noodles!  So good!  They can be served warm, room temp, or even cold.  They are a perfect accompaniment for chicken, shrimp, or can be a star all by themselves.  I love this dish.  It's one of my favorites! 

 
 
 


Recipe adapted from Susan Branch's Vineyard Seasons

1 lb spaghetti
1/4 lb butter
1/2 cup ricotta cheese **
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp grated lemon peel
freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup minced parsley
Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cook the noodles in boiling water; drain and put in baking dish.  Melt butter in a small saucepan; remove from heat.  Stir in ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon peel.  Pour over pasta, toss and bake for 20-25 minutes. 




Remove from oven and sprinkle with lots of freshly ground pepper, parsley, and Parmesan cheese.  Toss and eat.





** Susan's recipe calls for 1 pt of sour cream. I have always used ricotta cheese instead and it comes out delicious, but feel free to use the sour cream if you have it on hand **




I served this with my lemon chicken, roasted green beans, and spinach.
 
 
 
There was enough pasta left over for a second meal the next night. All the chicken was gone, but I chopped up two tomatoes and tossed them in with some of the left over spinach. It was delicious!
 
 
PS. In case you are craving that chocolate fix, I made these coconut cream eggs last Easter and they were a big hit (check them out here).  
 
 
Or try my chocolate coconut bars (here).  Also chocolaty and yummy! <3
 
   
Have a beautiful weekend, friends!  Xo
 
 
And please enjoy my son John practicing his Macaulay Culkin faces. 
We watched Home Alone again last week! 
 
 
 
 
 
Aaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Cinnamon Sugar Popcorn


I'm going to let you in on a secret (or maybe I'm the last to know).  Cinnamon and sugar are AMAZING on popcorn!  I'll admit, at first I was suspicious. I've put a lot of things on popcorn, but never cinnamon & sugar. After my first bite I was hooked.  It's that combination of salty and sweet that make it so delicious! Just writing it about it makes me want to make some more! 

1 package microwave popcorn (or 1/2 cup popcorn kernels)
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Pop the popcorn according to the package directions.

In a large bowl toss to coat the popcorn with the melted butter, sugar and cinnamon.  EAT~





Where has this popcorn been all my life? 



Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Baked Apple

Here's a quick way to treat yourself when you wake up on a cold, dark March morning hoping for it to feel like May, but in fact it feels like January. 

First: make coffee.  Second: drink coffee. 

Third: make this...



It's a hollowed out baked apple with oatmeal inside.  Oh yes!  This will make things all better! Trust me.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Wash and core a nice, big apple.  (Any kind will do.  I used a Granny Smith because that's what I had in the house at the time, but I've also used Cortland and Empires).  When coring the apple be careful not to break through the bottom.  Do a wide core so there is lots of room for the filling.

Mix together the following:

1 tbsp oats
1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tbsp chopped walnuts (opt.)
2 tsp soft butter
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg

Fill the apple with the mixture and place in a shallow baking dish.  Pour 1 tbsp of apple juice around the apple and bake for 30 minutes, until tender.  Serve warm - right out of the oven is best.





If no one is home,  a scoop of vanilla doesn't hurt the situation.  No indeed....




This recipe is from Susan Branch's Heart of the Home and is one of my favorite comforts.  It will make the most darkest day, warm and fuzzy ~ xo



Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Spring Vegetable Tart




Spring is in the air! It's true what they say about March "in like a lion, out like a lamb".  I remember as a kid I never really understood that saying.  It was just something  the teacher tacked up on the bulletin board with our classroom drawings of lions and lambs around it.  Now, after all these years, I finally get it.

Only last week our yard was covered with snow (literally!) and then today I saw little purple crocuses peeking their heads out of the cold ground to say hello.  They are always the first ones to appear.  It's a sign of good things to come : )

We've also turned our clocks ahead and gained an extra hour of daylight which has improved my mood immensely.  I feel energized. It's amazing what a little spot of sunshine can do for you.  I'm no longer driving home from work in the dark and we are eating dinner before the sun sets.  Brilliant!

With Easter only a few weeks away I've been thinking about a Spring menu and brunch ideas. I found this recipe for a vegetable tart in a free magazine at the grocery store.  I fell in love with the photo and couldn't wait to try it. It was delicious and made a nice presentation as well.  Perfect for an Easter brunch. Here's how to make it...





1 lb asparagus, chopped in 1/2 inch pieces
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 red pepper, halved and thinly sliced
2 tsp olive oil
salt & pepper
1 (store bought) rolled 9-in pie crust, at room temperature
3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 egg
2 egg whites
1/3 cup skim milk
3/4 tsp dried thyme
1 large tomato, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place asparagus, onion, and pepper on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper.  Toss to distribute and coat the veggies evenly.  Bake until tender, about 25 minutes.





Gently unroll pie crust.  Press into an ungreased 9-inch pie plate.  (Use a fork to poke a few holes in the base and sides of dough.) Bake until lightly golden, about 10-12 minutes.  Cool slightly.

Reduce heat to 375 degrees.  Place roasted veggies in crust.  Add ricotta cheese in dollops evenly across the veggies. 




In a small bowl whisk together the egg and egg whites.  Add milk and thyme, lightly whisk to combine. Pour this mixture over the veggies. 




Top with tomato slices. 





Bake at 375 degrees until toothpick comes out clean when poked through the filling, about 45 minutes.  Let rest at least 15 minutes before serving.  Best served warm or at room temperature.



 
 
 
We had leftovers and it was just as good the second night.  Even my hubby liked it! Yay! Now if I could only get my son to eat asparagus....too much to ask for? Can't win them all, I guess.... : )
 




So happy to see this burst of color in the backyard!  We are getting there!  Xo