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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

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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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…I know that’s a bold claim. And perhaps it’s just because these fresh, citrusy cookies were just what I was in the mood for, but I still think I’d venture to say that these cookies are without a doubt AMAZING.

I guess it really depends on what kind of cookies you like. These are chewy, crispy, sweet, tangy, buttery and delicious. I think that includes an adjective for everyone’s tastes ūüôā

I first decided to make these cookies because we ran out of desserts in my apt, and Nate MUST have a dessert after dinner each night. I wanted to make a cookie, but didn’t want to buy any new ingredients because a) I was lazy and b) we’re moving soon and I’m trying to purge my pantry/fridge/freezer.

These cookies were perfect on all accounts. I just about used up my sugar and flour, and in addition, I got rid of two lemons on the verge of going bad, and a lime I happened to have laying around.

Although I don’t recommend doubling the recipe, as I did (it made so many cookies I was rolling little cookie balls and taking pans in/out of the oven for over an hour!), these are super easy. These are perfect to make and take along to your next cookout.


Chewy Lemon Lime Sugar Cookies

Adapted from My Baking Addiction

Print this recipe!

makes 24-30 cookies

Ingredients:
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of one large lemon (or 2-3 limes, or a combo), finely minced
4 tbsp fresh lemon juice (or 1/2 lime juice)
1/2 cup sugar for rolling cookies

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Using a mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until smooth and very fluffy.

Beat in egg, vanilla extract, juice and zest.

Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Refrigerate until stiff.

Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and roll in sugar. Place on lined cookie sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly browned.

Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.

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As I’ve mentioned before, not only is Nate a loyal Trader Joes (TJs) customer, but a creature of habit who eats the same exact items for breakfast and lunch every day of the week.¬†I’ve tried to take him with me to the supermarket that’s nearby (TJs is a 40 min walk), but he just won’t go.

So you can imagine his distress when he discovered that TJs discontinued his beloved Lemon Ginger Scones that he used to eat each morning along with his cereal, yogurt, and giant glass of grapefruit juice (yes, this boy eats a humongous breakfast). This, of course, gave me a challenge to reproduce these delicacies that he couldn’t do without.

I had only tried my hand at making scones on a few occasions, but I figured it couldn’t be too difficult. Over the course of a couple of months I tried several recipes, but only one got the thumb’s up from Nate.

The recipe came from a cookbook I’d requested at Christmas: A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table, by Molly Wizenberg (the creator of the blog Orangette). I had stumbled across its title in several other blogs, touting its greatness.

I read through the whole book in a matter of days. It weaves her life story from childhood to present day, alternating with the recipes that defined those memorable times in her life. I loved every word of it and highly recommend it both for the recipes and the tales.

So you can imagine my delight when I came across her recipe for Lemon Ginger Scones! I had thought I’d have to just find a regular scone recipe and alter it for the correct flavor that Nate desired, but I didn’t have to. I followed her recipe except doubled it so the scones would last Nate a while. They had a bit too much liquid when doubling, so I added more flour. The next time I made them I added only enough liquid for one batch. although still doubling the rest of the ingredients, and it was just right.

They’re flaky, moist and delicious. These are now a staple in my kitchen…and on Nate’s breakfast plate ūüôā

On an unrelated front…

Nicole from HeatOvento350 has nominated me, among others, for the Versatile Blogger Award! Thank you so much, Nicole ūüôā

The rules of the award stipulate that you share seven random facts about yourself and pass the award on to 15 new found bloggers. So here we go:

1) Almost every movie makes me cry (and even commercials sometimes!)

2) My most favorite fruit is the mango, and I’m sadly allergic to them (did you know they’re in the same family as poison oak??)

3) When I was 10, I had 7 teeth pulled at once without being knocked out, but I never had to wear braces.

4) I will never sit alone in a restaurant, but go to the movies by myself all the time.

5) Much to Nate’s amusement, I trained for the Mr. & Mrs. Penn amateur bodybuilding competition when I was in college, and then couldn’t compete because I got mono a few weeks before (I wouldn’t have won anyway).

6) I completed a year of Architectural grad school, and have a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy, have worked as a Civil Engineer, but currently work in IT in the financial field.

7) Despite #6, I really just want to be a housewife.

Ok, there ya go! I now nominate the following 15 bloggers to play along. If you’ve already done this before or just don’t feel like it, that’s perfectly ok, but here you go:

EspressoAndCream

SugarPlum

SweetPeasKitchen

Mis Pensamientos

KissMyBroccoli

MakeItNaked

Tri2cook

TheCulinaryChronicles

BackToTheCuttingBoard

SweetAsSugarCookies

AFoodLoversJourney

RufusFoodAndSpiritsGuide

InGoodTaste

GetOffYourTushAndCook

LaCaseDeSweets


Lemon Ginger Scones

Adapted from
A Homemade Life

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makes 16*

4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
8 Tbsp (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
6 Tbsp sugar
4 tsp grated lemon zest
1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1/2 cup half-and-half (plus more if dough is too dry), and more for glazing
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 425.

In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Using your hands or a pastry cutter, rub the butter into the flour mixture, squeezing and pinching with your fingertips until the mixture resembles a coarse meal and there are no butter lumps bigger than a pea. Add the sugar, lemon zest, and ginger and whisk to incorporate.

Pour 1/2 cup half-and-half into small bowl or measuring cup and add the eggs. Beat with a fork to mix well. Pour wet ingredients into the flour mixture,and stir gently to just combine. The dough will be dry and shaggy, and there may be some unincorporated flour at the bottom of the bowl. If the dough seems too dry, add more half-and-half, 1 Tbsp at a time.

Using your hands, squeeze and press the dough into a rough mass. Turn the dough, and any excess flour out onto a board or countertop, and press and gather and knead until it just comes together (sometimes I knead in the bowl so I don’t have to dirty my counter). Don’t overwork the dough. As soon as the dough holds together, divide it in two and pat each portion into a rough circle about 1 inch thick.** Cut into 8 wedges.

Place wedges on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Pour a splash of half-and-half into a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the tops of the cones with a thin coat to glaze. Bake for 10-14 in, or until pale golden. Transfer to wire rack to cool slightly, and serve warm.

 *If you want to halve the recipe, halve all ingredient amounts, EXCEPT the half-and-half.
**If halving the recipe, pat dough into 1 circle instead of two.

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The weather in nyc has been so nice lately (aside from all the rain). It finally feels like spring is here to stay ūüôā

On nice weekends, Nate and I like to get out and walk as much as possible. Most people in nyc take the subway if their destination is more than 20 blocks away, but we look at that as a great opportunity to sneak in some extra exercise while getting to where we want to go (and saving $ to boot!).

We’re always looking for fun stuff to do on the weekends and this week I came across an ad for the James Beard Foundation’s Bi-Annual Cookbook Sale.¬†Nate and I laced up our sneakers and headed downtown.

The sale said it was supposed to start at 10am. By the time we got there at 10 on the dot, there was a line of about 5 people. Apparently, the sale takes place in James Beard’s one-time residence- a historic townhouse in the west village. The books are scattered on tables in one little room and it can only hold so many people, so they limit how many people can be in there at once.

Check out that line!

While waiting in line, Nate and I had a discussion to determine whether bi-annual means twice a year, or every two years. I finally pulled out my phone and looked it up, and apparently it means both definitions…how stupid is that?! The two guys in line in front of us must have heard our somewhat ridiculous conversation and informed us that this sale only occurs every 2 years…good thing we didn’t miss it!

I’m not sure where the cookbooks come from, but it’s a sale of used cookbooks that range between $1 and $20. Because I like to think I’m rather frugal, I jumped at the opportunity. I always have the urge to buy cookbooks but never want to spend the money when I know I’ll probably forget I even have them. This was the perfect solution.

After about a 20 min wait, we finally got in. There were hundreds of cookbooks! It was kind of hard to really take your time and look through them since there were so many people and the books were scattered on tables in no particular order. I made my way to the back where the $1 books were. We browsed for about 15 min and finally selected 5 cookbooks. I had no idea if they’d be any good, but at that price I couldn’t resist. I got all 5 books for $14!

When we left the building, the line was all the way down the block. I couldn’t believe so many people knew about this thing and came to it. We walked all the way home (6 miles roundtrip) with a stop off at this awesome spice shop, Kalustyan’s,¬†to pick up some Indian spices for what I was going to make for dinner.¬† When I finally got home and assessed my goods I was quite pleased with my thrifty purchases ūüôā

When I arrived home I got to work on dinner: Curried Chickpea Stew with Spiced Rice. I had been wanting to make Indian food for so long (although this recipe was adapted from Cooking Light so I’m not sure how authentic it is) but kept putting off going to the spice store since it’s not exactly around the corner. I didn’t want to get the spices at the regular supermarket, thought, because if they even had the ones i wanted, they were sure to be ridiculously priced.

At the spice store I had picked up a big bag of cardamom pods, and some tumeric, neither of which I’ve ever used before. As soon as I opened the cardamom pods, the fragrant, almost floral aroma wafted out. They smelled SO good. I’m definitely going to put the rest to use in some dessert since this recipe only used 3 of them.

*Please do not be turned off by the extensive ingredient list for the chickpeas. They turned out so delicious and now I have all the spices on hand for next time.

I’m also throwing a bonus recipe into this post since the few dark, crappy pics don’t warrant a post of their own. I made a simple and delicious Israeli Couscous with Peas and Mint the other day…just in time for the wonderful spring weather. Nate later informed me that he doesn’t actually like peas (oops!) but he ate it anyway, indicating how delicious this dish really is.

Ugly picture. Yummy food.


Curried Chickpea Stew with Spiced Brown Rice

Adapted from Cooking Light

Print this recipe!

serves 4

Rice:
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1/2 tsp ground tumeric
3 cardamom pods, crushed
1 cinnamon stick
1 2/3 cups water
1 bay leaf

Stew:
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups chopped onion
1 Tbsp grated peeled fresh ginger
2 tsp garam masala (or 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp coriander, 1 cinnamon stick)
3/4 tsp ground tumeric
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 cardamom pods, crushed
2.5 cups water
1 cup diced carrot
1/4 tsp salt
1- 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1- 14.5 oz can fire-roasted crushed/diced tomatoes, undrained
1 Tbsp cornstarch, if needed
1/2 cup Fage 2% Greek yogurt
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Rice:
Put all ingredients in Rice cooker and stir. Cook til done. Or you could could it in the normal rice way in a pot.

Stew:
Heat a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbsp oil and swirl to coat. Add 2 cups onion; saute for 6 min or until golden. Add ginger through the cardamom; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Add 2.5 cups water, carrot, 1/4 tsp salt, chickpeas, and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 min or until carrots are tender and sauce is slightly thick. If stew still isn’t thick, take out some broth, whisk the cornstarch into broth until dissolves, then mix back into pot. Continue cooking and stirring for 1-2 min or until thicker.

Discard cardamom.

Place rice mixture into each of 4 bwols; spoon chickpeas over rice. Top with yogurt and cilantro.

*To cut carbs, I served my portion over spaghetti squash. I baked it for an hour at 375. After letting it cool, i cut it in half and scraped the strands out with a fork. Then I mixed in some salt, pepper and garlic powder.


Israeli Couscous with Mint and Peas

Adapted from Martha Stewart

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serves 4

1 cup Israeli couscous (or orzo)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 shallot, minced (about 2 Tbsp)
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 lb fresh peas, shelled, or 2 cups frozen peas
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp chopped mint

Cook couscous according to package directions. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot and lemon zest, and saute until translucent.

Add peas and lemon juice, and cook until bright green and tender, adding a little water if shallots brown before peas are tender.

Add cooked couscous, season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Remove from heat and stir in mint.

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