This week has been all about change. We sent our toddler, our baby, to preschool this week. For the last 19+ months, it has been me & her. Us. All day, every day, all week long. For the last 7 months, I have been looking forward to the first day of school as if it were Christmas. I counted down the months, then weeks, then days – I think only Christmas moves slower!
I packed the “baby” a lunch, a snack, and gathered her things. And then I chewed off every single fingernail in a bout of anxiety and nervousness as the clock on the oven moved minute by minute closer to 8:40am. She’s not a baby anymore and still a ways from being independent. We’re somewhere in between, a gray area that lacks enough definition to make it… weird. Unsettling. And it’s not the only thing.
There was a 17 degree temperature swing in the high temps of the previous two Sundays. Even at 91 degrees, you can tell that something’s going on. It no longer feels like summer – the water in the pool is already ice cold but the first official day of fall is still weeks away. We’ve cleared the spent cherry and grape tomato vines to make way for a fall garden and hopefully a bounty of butternut squash. Halloween candy and decorations are out. People are talking about pumpkin bread, Thanksgiving menus, and fall boots. And I’m grasping onto summer tomatoes as if they were a life preserve.
This dish has all the bright, light flavors of summer with a light and stealthily comforting, creamy sauce. And it comes together in under half an hour. The flavors and calorie content don’t really fit the fall comfort food stereotype – fat-free Greek yogurt, lemon juice, and pasta water might not be mistaken for heavy cream and butter, but it’s an in-between dish worthy of the transition between summer and fall.
Lemony Orzo with Chicken and Roasted Tomatoes
A quick and easy light pasta dish full of bright summer flavors.
1 pint grape tomatoes
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
Fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups dried orzo
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup white wine or chicken stock
14 oz can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
1 cup leftover shredded chicken
1/4 cup plain yogurt or sour cream (I use 0% Fage)
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsp fresh basil, thinly sliced and divided
Preheat oven to 450.
Toss tomatoes with 2 Tbsp of olive oil, salt, and pepper, and pour into a baking dish and bake for ~20 minutes while preparing the rest of the meal.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the orzo and cook according to package directions.
While the pasta cooks, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add the onion, pinch of salt, and pepper and cook, stirring often, until deep golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes.
Add garlic clove and cook another minute.
Deglaze the pan with the wine or chicken stock, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom.
Add the artichoke hearts and shredded chicken and cook until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes more and remove from heat.
Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water when draining the orzo.
Transfer the hot orzo back to the pot and toss with the yogurt and lemon juice.
Add the artichoke mixture, 2 Tbsp of the basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss gently to combine.
Add pasta water 2 Tbsp at a time if necessary to make the pasta creamier.
Spoon into bowls, and top with the roasted tomatoes (use a slotted spoon to transfer the tomatoes from the baking dish to the pasta) and the remaining basil and serve.
The recipe is unique in that you take an entire lemon, remove the seeds, and then throw the whole thing in the food processor and grind it into oblivion. The pulp, juice, pith, and peel – the whole lemon goes into this muffin! Yogurt keeps the lemony muffin very moist.
I made half a recipe and still got 12 muffins. I also attempted to make them a tad healthier:
– Substituting half of the flour for whole wheat flour
– Using 0% Fage instead of whole-milk yogurt
– Dumped half a container of fresh blueberries into the batter (after tossing them with 1 Tbsp flour)
Moist. Lemony. Blueberry-y. And definitely a keeper!
It’s my turn to host next week and we’re going big. Sugary. Peachy. Peach Queen Cake with Dulce de Leche frosting. And I’ve already gotten a head start by making plenty of dulce de leche
Lemonade is one of those beverages that have the ability to transform your mood almost instantly. 103 degrees outside? Make lemonade. It’ll still be 103 degrees outside but I promise that, for a few minutes, you’ll no longer care.
Homemade lemonade is such a simple drink to make. Our favorite lemonade packs a lemony punch – it’s tart and not overly watered down. It has just enough sugar to help balance the lemon but not kill the tartness.
You need just three ingredients: lemon juice, water, and sugar. And if you want to turn it up just a wee bit, use half sparkling water and a sprig of mint or basil. Or rosemary. Or thyme. Every one of those herbs can subtly transform a pitcher of lemonade into an extraordinary drink.
Refreshing homemade lemonade lightly flavored with fresh mint.
1 cup lemon juice
3 cups water, divided
1/2 cup sugar
Fresh herbs, for serving (optional)
Pour lemon juice into a small pitcher or carafe.
Add 2 1/2 cups water to the lemon juice.
Heat 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water over medium heat just until the sugar has completely dissolved.
Pour the simple syrup into the pitcher and stir.
Taste for sweeteness/tartness and add additional sugar or water, if desired.
Add ice and fresh herbs to individual glasses and serve.
Blackberry and lemon are two of those flavors that are great on their own but almost magical when paired together. The blackberry-lemon combo is in heavy rotation at breakfast, getting mixed into muffins, pancakes, and scones.
I tried to come up with a way to get blackberries into a scone without completely demolishing the berries in the process. I used my favorite scone base and then folded the blackberries into the center of the scone. There was far less damage to the berries than a previous attempt which was extremely delicious but poorly executed. I love it when mistakes are delicious enough to make breakfast for nearly a week
Blackberry Lemon Scones
A light, tender scone made with lemon and blueberries.
3 cups flour (I used half white, half wheat pastry)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
3/4 to 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
6 oz fresh blackberries
1 large egg
2 tsp water
2 Tbsp coarse sugar (optional)
Preheat oven to 400.
Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine flours, baking powder, sugar, and salt on low speed.
With mixer running, gradually add cubes of butter and lemon zest until the mixture is crumbly and studded with flour - butter bits about the size of small peas.
Add lemon juice and 3/4 cup of the buttermilk. Mix by hand just until all ingredients are incorporated. If dough is too dry to hold together, use remaining buttermilk, adding a couple tablespoons at a time, until dough is pliable and can be formed into a ball.
Stir as lightly and as little as possible to ensure a lighter-textured scone.
Remove dough from bowl and place it on a lightly floured flat surface.
Pat dough into a rectangle. Using a well-floured rolling pin, flatten dough into a rectangle about 12x8 inches.
Spread the fresh blackberries over the long of the dough and fold the short half over onto the top of the blackberries. (I reserved a few blackberries to lightly press into the top of the formed scones.)
Cut into 8 triangles.
Whisk egg and water in a small mixing bowl to combine.
Brush each wedge with egg wash.
Sprinkle with coarse sugar, if using.
Place scones on a Silpat-lined baking sheet and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown and no longer sticky in the middle.