Monday, January 07, 2008

When Life Gives You Lemons...

I'll admit a tall glass of fresh lemonade is worthy of the cliche, but I've been putting lemons to a little more interesting use lately. I picked up eight or so last week at the store, and used them in one old favorite and three new recipes. Hope you like them, too.

Lemon Coolies
I made that name up. It's from an old Arlington Ward cookbook I flipped through last time I was at Mom's. You'll never believe how easy these are to make; with only 4 ingredients, they're perfect to make with kids. And trust me, they're good, too - crispy on the outside, soft & chewy on the inside. "But this recipe doesn't call for real lemons!" you say. True, but for extra zip add fresh lemon zest - it's a winner!

1 box lemon cake mix
1 egg
2 cups Cool Whip (no kidding)
(lemon zest)
(powdered sugar)

Mix first 3 ingredients. Roll balls of mixture in powdered sugar. Bake on greased cookie sheet at 325 until golden brown (about 12-15 minutes.)

Lemon Spaghetti
(Giada de Laurentis)
I saw Giada make this on Everyday Italian once, as an accompaniment to Shrimp Fra Diavolo. It looked sooooooo good, so I made them both and while the shrimp was delicious, the lemon pasta has become a regular on our table. Most recently we had it with Italian seasoned pork chops and broccoli. And while I admit to making it without the fresh basil sometimes, use it if you can - it really makes the dish burst.

1 pound spaghetti
2/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water until tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the oil, parmesan, and lemon juice in a large bowl to blend.

Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Toss the pasta with the lemon sauce, and the reserved cooking liquid, adding 1/4 cup as a time as needed to moisten. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with lemon zest and chopped basil.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes
with Roasted Golden Delicious Apples and Roasted Prociutto
(Tyler Florence)
We almost never buy ricotta cheese but it was on sale recently, so we made a lasagna. I was going to wait until the leftover ricotta went bad and then throw it out...until I happened to catch (in the 5 seconds I was allowed to watch the Food Network on the way to Noggin) Tyler Florence making an enticing pancake breakfast using ricotta and lemons, two things I had in my kitchen at the time. Visit the recipe online to view and print it out.

The sweet lemon flavor was delightful, and the texture was surprisingly souffle-like - no grainy hint of the ricotta. I think it must have just added moisture and sweetness. We had it with warm maple syrup but I'm sure Tyler's apple topping is great.

Warm Lemon Chicken Sandwich with Arugula and Pears
(Rachael Ray)
A surprising winner from Rachael Ray 365, which I've found to be hit-and-miss for good recipes. But when she hits, it's a home run! I loved the unusually complex flavor combination, plus it was easy and fresh. And I got to buy prosciutto for the first time.

2 lemons
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, stripped and chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
4 kaiser rolls, split
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 ripe Bartlett, Anjou or Bosc pear
8 slices prosciutto
1 large bunch of arugula, cleaned and trimmed (2-2.5 cups)

In a shallow bowl, combine the juice of 1.5 lemons, the thyme, salt and pepper. Add the chicken breasts and toss to coat. Marinate the chicken for 5-10 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the mustard with the vinegar, salt and pepper. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, then the parmesan. Toast the rolls. Rube the toasted cut sides with the garlic clove.

Preheat a nonstick skilled over med-hi heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Cook the chicken for 5-6 minutes on each side. Remove to a cutting board and tent with foil.

Thinly slice the pear, and toss in a salad bowl with the juice of the remaining half lemon. Slice the prosciutto into strips. Add the arugula leaves and prosciutto to the salad bowl adn toss with the vinaigrette.

Thinly slice the cooked chicken. Layer half of the chicken slices onto the rolls and top with the arugula salad. Add the remaining chicken and roll tops.


HEWY said...

Love the whole lemon theme

Mia said...

Your dinner table looks so much better than mine!

tona said...

Do the lemon cookies stay as balls, or do they spread out on the cookie sheet? I love recipes with four ingredients. I bet I will have fun making these with the kiddos.

Disco Mom said...

The cookies spread out to normal cookie size. The powdered sugar gets all crackled looking, and they're so pretty. The kids will love them!

exLibris Lady said...

tried the pancakes, SUCESS! they were awesome, and we froze the extras and toast them up for later breakfasts... i typed up a whole story for you on my blog!

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