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It’s January and I finally had a moment free so I joined up with my favorite bloghop group for a new ingredient/flavor of the month…January is #citruslove¬†month!

This month’s recipe comes with a nice little story attached…let’s just say Thursday was not my day:

I woke up with vertigo. As soon as I rolled over to get out of bed, the room was spinning. It happens to me now and then so I wasnt too concerned, but there was no way I could get out of bed and to work so I called in sick. I tried to go back to sleep to get the spinning to subside. By midafternoon I was feeling a bit better.

I knew the date for posting my #citruslove recipe was this weekend and since it was early afternoon I figured today was the perfect day to cook up some citrusy dinner since I normally wouldn’t get home from work for another few hours. I had an idea in mind for a lemony pasta. I also had leftover sour cream and ham that Nate’s mom sent me home with after New Years. I thought they could all combine into a tasty dish.

Nate came with me and we did some grocery shopping and after catching up on my Teen Mom 2 (oh come on, you know you watch it too), I got started on dinner.

Things were going well until I started zesting the lemon. I had a brand new zester, but as any of you who have used one know, you have to apply a lot of pressure to the fruit to scrape the peel off.

*this is where you might want to skip to the end if you’re not good dealing with blood…

I was just about to finish zesting the lemon when I pulled a little too hard and the zester decided to zest the side of my palm instead. At first I just felt pain but then I looked down and it was a deep slice gushing blood. I get lightheaded when I see blood, especially if it’s my own. I screamed for Nate while running cold water over it. I then applied pressure with a paper towel while I sat down and attempted not to faint.

Nate desperately wanted to help and asked me what to do but I was too light-headed to answer. I finally laid on the bed with my feet up and managed to instruct Nate where I *luckily had butterfly bandages in the linen closet. I would never have bought these but, being the pack rat that I am, I saved them from when my parents were moving out of their condo. Since Nate was unsure and I was too freaked out to think, I did what I do in any emergency, I called up my mom ūüôā

My mom calmly talked me through what Nate should do and Nate very adeptly sealed up my wound. I don’t know what I¬†would have done if I had been alone!

After laying down for a while and making sure the wound was bound enough to stop bleeding, I was determined to finish this meal. I sat on a chair in the kitchen while instructing Nate how to make the rest of the pasta since there was no recipe. Luckily most of the chopping was done since Nate isn’t a fan of using knives. Mind you, Nate has never cooked a meal from scratch.

All-in-all he did an awesome job and dinner was delicious! So that just goes to show you how easy this meal really is ;)…and how lucky I am to have such a wonderful, helpful and sweet fianc√© (and a mom who remains cool and collected in a state of emergency!).

Don’t worry, no blood got onto the pasta ūüėČ

Be aware that this pasta is very lemony, so steer clear if you’re not a lemon person. ¬†That being said, Nate and I both thought this may be the most delicious pasta I’ve ever made! Yep, I’m willing to make a statement that¬†bold!

The tart lemon perfectly complements the richness of the sour cream and makes the whole dish seem “light.” Neither Nate nor I are usually a fan of creamy sauces but this one was perfect!

This month’s #citruslove is brought to you by the following lovely hosts:

Astig Vegan ~ Richgail
Baker Street ~ Anuradha ~ @bakerstreet29
BigFatBaker ~ Erin ~ @BigFatBaker
CafeTerraBlog ~ Terra ~ @CafeTerraBlog
Cake Duchess ~ Lora ~ @cakeduchess
Georgiecakes ~ Georgie ~ @georgiecakes
Hobby And More ~ Richa ~ @betit19
Mike’s Baking¬†~ Mike ~¬†@mikesbaking
Mis Pensamientos ~ Junia ~ @juniakk
Oh Cake ~ Jessica ~ @jesshose
Simply Reem ~ Reem ~ @simplyreem
You Made That? ~  Suzanne ~ @YouMadeThatblog

Please join in on the #citruslove¬†fun by linking up¬†any¬†citrus¬†recipe¬†from the¬†month of January 2012. Don’t forget to link back to this post, so that your readers know to come stop by the #citruslove¬†event! The twitter hashtag is #citruslove¬†:).

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…(Powered by Linky Tools)

Creamy Lemon Pasta with Ham and Escarole
Recipe by me

Print this recipe!

serves 5-6

1 medium head of escarole< roughly chopped
1 lb pasta
2 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 Tbsp miced garlic
zest and juice of one lemon
8 oz. sour cream
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cups diced cooked ham
salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta as directed. When pasta is al dente, add escarole and cook one minute. Reserve 2 cups pasta water (for thinning sauce out later) and drain pasta/escarole.

While water is boiling, melt butter in a large saucepan. When butter is melted, add onions and cook til soft, 5ish min. Add garlic and cook until garlic begins to brown.

Add lemon juice to pan and stir to get any stuck bits off bottom. Add sour cream and parmesan and stir to combine. Add ham and continue to cook until it’s warmed through. Salt and pepper.

Add pasta/escarole to saucepan and stir to combine with sauce.  If necessary, thin sauce out with some of reserved pasta water to help pasta get coated.

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Do you ever have one of those days where you get home late and have to cook dinner, blog, do more work, watch a dvr-ed show, give your cat attention so she doesn’t meow all night AND get to bed at a decent hour? Is that too much to ask for?!

Obviously I’ve been having quite a few of those days (as you may have figured out from Black Bean Burger post, my evenings are short on time), and it’s really starting to get to me. I thought of trying to eliminate some items off my list of things to do, but the only really optional item is the tv, and even that isn’t a choice…I mean a girl needs to have some time to just chill and decompress, right?

So I decided if i can’t eliminate any of my tasks, perhaps I could at least make them easier. Time-saving.

I made a dinner that came together in about 5 minutes, and while it does have to bake for 45 minutes, those are 45 minutes that you can be working on your blog, etc. So it’s a win-win situation.

This meal isn’t quite what you’d think of as a nutritious meal, but it has carbs, protein and veggies so it’s really pretty darn good! It uses processed cheese (Velveeta) but you could easily substitute fresh shredded cheddar. It won’t have the same consistency or be nearly as good, but you could do it ūüôā

It uses Minute Rice, aka the smartest invention ever. Minute Rice, also known as instance rice,  is rice that has been pre-cooked and dehydrated so that it cooks more rapidly. While regular rice takes about 20 minutes to cook, instant rice only takes about 5-10 minutes. Because it has already been cooked, all that is necessary to prepare instant rice is to simply re-hydrate it with hot water.

While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend eating this as straight-up rice (although I’ve never tried it), putting it in a casserole is ideal.

Now that I’ve saved you time on dinner, go watch that show you dvr-ed…you deserve it ūüėČ

Broccoli, Ham, Cheese and Rice Casserole
Adapted from Cooking Light (11/99)

Print this recipe!

Serves 4 (as a main dish)

Ingredients:
1 cup uncooked instant rice (brown or white)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup fat-free milk
4 ounces light processed cheese, cubed (such as Velveeta Light)
2 tablespoons butter or stick margarine, softened
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained
1/2 pack of deli ham, chopped (or as much as desired)
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed reduced-fat, reduced-sodium cream of mushroom soup, undiluted

Preheat oven to 350¬į

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, and spoon into a 2-quart casserole. Bake at 350¬į for 45 minutes.

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