Dinners

Recipe—Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta

Recipe—Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta

Right now, I am drowning in youth sports. My son is currently playing soccer and baseball which takes up about 5–6 days a week and sometimes we have both on the same day. I lost my sanity a few weeks ago.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love it! It just means that I need to be diligent in my menu planning and have some recipes that allow me to have dinner on the table quickly. We certainly have nights where dinner consists of sandwiches, Kraft Mac N Cheese, or takeout, but I try and cook a real dinner at least 4–5 nights a week. That means whatever I am making needs to be quick!

This recipe takes less than 30 minutes to make and costs about $15, assuming you have the basic stuff on hand. It is so simple, fast, and tasty! My family loves this recipe!  The chicken comes out so juicy and flavorful after simmering in the creamy lemon sauce. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Recipe—Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta

INGREDIENTS
4–5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
1/4 c flour
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb penne
1 c chicken broth
3 lemons, 2 for juicing and 1 sliced
3/4 c heavy cream
1/4 c capers
parsley, chopped

STEPS

  • Season both sides of the chicken breasts with salt and pepper.
    Place the flour in a large Ziploc bag and add chicken breasts.
    Toss the chicken breast in the Ziploc bag until they are all evenly coated in the flour.
  • In a large skillet, heat the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat.
  • Place the chicken breasts in the skillet.
  • Cook the chicken for 6–7 minutes per side or until cooked all the way through.
    While the chicken is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta per the package instructions.
  • Add the broth, juice from two lemons, sliced lemon, heavy cream, and capers to the skillet with the chicken.
  • Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
    Bring the sauce to boil and reduce heat to medium-low heat.
  • Continue cooking the sauce until it has thickened up, about 3–4 minutes.
  • Transfer the chicken breasts to a plate or cutting board.
  • Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet with the sauce, tossing to coat all the noodles.
  • Serve the pasta on plates and top with a chicken breast.
  • Sprinkle the dish with fresh chopped parsley and serve.
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Salads, Side Dishes

Recipe—Asparagus and Feta Salad

California is one of the leading producers of asparagus in the United Stated. Asparagus is so big in California that the city of Stockton even throws an entire festival in honor of asparagus. True story! I grew up eating asparagus on a regular basis. (By the way, I am 33 and still crack up that it gives you stinky pee. I don’t think I will ever grow up.) I could eat asparagus every day. There are just so many ways to prepare it but I think I have found my favorite way to eat the lovely green spears, grilled asparagus and feta salad. Man this was awesome! My husband and I devoured the whole bowl so if you are cooking for more than 2 people just go ahead and double or triple the recipe. Trust me you will eat it all! There was just so much flavor in the salad and it was so light and refreshing. Perfect for spring or summer. We just served it with a simple grilled chicken breast seasoned with nothing more than salt and pepper and it was the perfect complement. This my friends, is good eating.

Want to know more about asparagus? Then check out this old post and you will be an asparagus pro!

INGREDIENTS
1 bunch thick asparagus, ends trimmed
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp pepper
zest from one lemon
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 c crumbled feta cheese

STEPS

  • Preheat the grill to about 325º.
  • Place the asparagus in a baking dish and coat with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and then season with salt and pepper.
  • Place the asparagus on the grille making sure that they are perpendicular to the grates so that they don’t slip through.
  • Close the grill and cook for 3 minutes.
  • roll the asparagus over and cook for another 3 minutes.
  • Remove the asparagus and transfer to a cutting board.
  • Allow the asparagus to cool for 5–10 minutes.
  • Cut the spears into 1–2” pieces.
  • Place the cut asparagus into a medium bowl and toss with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, and half of the feta.
  • Top the salad with the remaining asparagus and serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe adapted from Once Upon a Chef.

Dinners

Recipe—Creamy Lemon Pasta with Seared Scallops and Peas

Quick and super easy recipes are always popular with me and it’s even better when I can actually find one that is delicious and somewhat gourmet. A meal like this makes the average day feel a little extra special. Scallops aren’t something I cook very often due to the price but they sure are awesome to indulge in every now and again. They are incredibly simple to cook and have a really mild flavor sure to please the whole family. This sauce is the perfect pasta sauce for summer. It’s light and super refreshing with all that lemon. Whether you are looking for a quick dinner for a work night or even an elegant one for company, this is a great go to recipe.

Note: Start with the lesser amount of lemon zest and lemon juice and adjust accordingly per your taste.

INGREDIENTS
1 lb fresh scallops
salt and pepper
lemon pepper
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
16 oz fettuccine noodles
1 tbsp butter
1/2–1 tsp lemon zest (depends how much you like lemon)
1/8–1/4 c fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
15 oz container ricotta cheese
1/2 c peas (if using frozen be sure they are defrosted)

STEPS

  • Bring a large pot of water on to boil.
  • Rinse scallops and pat dry.
  • Season the scallops with salt and lemon pepper.
  • Put the pasta on to boil and cook per package instructions.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the butter over medium high heat in a large skillet.
  • Add the scallops to the skillet in a single layer.
  • Cook turning once until golden on the outside and no longer opaque in the center, about 3 minutes per side.
  • Transfer the scallops to a large plate.
  • Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan along with the lemon zest, lemon juice, thyme, and additional salt and pepper.
  • Stir in the ricotta until you have a nice creamy sauce and then add in the peas.
  • Drain the noodles and add them to the skillet.
  • Toss to coat.
  • Transfer the pasta to a serving dish and top with the seared scallops.

Recipe adapted from Crumb.

Appetizers

Recipe—Creamy Smoked Salmon Dip

Are you on the hunt for an elegant and absolutely delicious hours devours? If so the hunt can come to an end. This dish takes less than 10 minutes to make and is the perfect snack to serve at the next function you have coming up. Salmon is an incredibly popular fish here on the West Coast and I really enjoy the flavor combination of smoked salmon, cream cheese, and capers. This has all those wonderful flavors plus a nice refreshing zest of lemon and a little bite from the shallot. One of the things that is great about this recipe is that it can be whipped up minutes before your social function or even made ahead a day or two ahead of time. This appetizer truly is perfect for an afternoon or evening social, or even spread on your bagel for breakfast.

Note: You can serve this dip with crackers, toasted bread, sliced cucumber, pretty much anything, but what I love is this dip served with everything crackers or bagel chips. Just something about all those wonderful flavors really takes this already awesome dip to the next level.

INGREDIENTS
4–6 oz smoked salmon
1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c mayonnaise
1/2 c cream cheese
1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
2 tsp capers
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 1/2 tbsp shallot, minced
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp white wine
1/2 tsp lemon pepper
1 tbsp chives, minced

STEPS

  • Place all ingredients except for the salmon in a blender or food processer and blend until well incorporated.
  • Add the smoked salmon to the blender and pulse until desired consistency.
  • Transfer the dip to a small bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • Serve with some toasted crostini or your favorite crackers.
Dinners

Recipe—Buttery Lemon Dill Salmon

A couple times a year I like to complete an 11-day cleanse. It is just a way to flush out all these impurities and reset my digestive system. The weight loss is a huge perk too (Down 8 lbs! Wahoo!). For some reason during this last round I was craving salmon! And I mean REALLY craving it, like every day! I was daydreaming about a big slab of salmon covered in butter, lemon, and dill. I knew that would be one of the first dinners I would prepare for myself once I was done with the cleanse. This recipe did not disappoint. The fish was super moist and all the flavors and buttery goodness really seeped into the meat. I was shocked when even my 3-year old son devoured a huge chunk of the tasty fish. This recipe for oven baked salmon is ridiculously easy to make and super quick to get on the table. It also makes for a beautiful presentation. This may just be on the menu at my next dinner party.

INGREDIENTS
1 salmon filet (1 1/2–2 lbs)
2 tbsp butter, softened
1/4 c white wine
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp lemon pepper
1/2 tsp dried dill
lemon slices (optional)

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 425º.
  • Pat the salmon dry and place it in a greased baking dish.
  • Rub the butter all over the fish.
  • Combine the wine and lemon juice in a small bowl and stir.
  • Pour the liquid over the fish.
  • Sprinkle the salt, lemon pepper, and dill over the fish.
  • If you are using the lemon slices place over the top of the fish.
  • Bake the fish for 20–25 minutes or until the fish flakes off easily with a fork.
Sweet Treats

Recipe—Lemon Crackle Cookies

The other day when I dropped my son off at daycare there was a signup sheet for a bake sale. I signed up because, well… I love doing that sort of thing! I didn’t even pay attention to the date until I got to work and went to write it on my calendar. Holy smokes! It was the next day! That meant that after I got off working a long day I had to pick up my husband from work, go get my car from the shop (this is why I had to pick up the husband from work that day), go to the grocery store, swing by daycare to get the munchkin, cook dinner, bathe the little rascal, and THEN bake something for the bake sale! And being a mom there is always dishes and laundry in the mix too. What had I gotten myself into?!? I am not one to flake out so I just decided I had to come up with one heck of a quick and easy item to make. That’s when I had remembered seeing easy chocolate cake cookies. Basically you use boxed cake mix as the base for the cookies.

There always seems to be plenty of chocolate at bake sales so I mixed it up and made what I am calling Lemon Crackle Cookies. These were so incredibly quick and easy to make. They were super cheap and they turned out really good! Think of a fluffy version of a lemon bar. This recipe makes between 3 and 4 dozen cookies so they are perfect for a bake sale or even a cookie exchange. I recommend you give them a shot whether or not you are strapped for time.

INGREDIENTS
2-18.25 oz boxes Duncan Hines lemon cake mix
4 eggs
2/3 c vegetable oil
grated rind from one lemon
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 c powdered sugar

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 375º.
  • In a large bowl mix together dry cake mix, eggs, oil, lemon rind, and lemon juice.
  • Put the powdered sugar in a shallow bowl or plate.
  • Form small balls with the dough and then roll them in the powdered sugar. Be sure the cookies have a really thick coating of the sugar if you want them to have that crackle look.
  • Place at least 2 inches apart on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  • Bake for 7–9 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom.
  • Allow cookies to sit on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to a cutting board or cooling rack.