Lemon Garlic Yukon Gold Potatoes

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Hey there strangers! I’ve missed you!

Right now I’m at my parents house in Ohio cuddled up in bed with my cats. I only have 2 more days left with them before I leave for China and I am going to love their faces off while I still can. It’s been a pretty traumatic couple of weeks for them so I think they’re appreciating this cuddling down time.

2 weeks ago Tiffany flew home with my sister. Then Biggie had to adjust to her being gone and I moved everything out of the apartment and she was really not happy about that. Then, 1 week ago Biggie flew home to Ohio with me. Once in Ohio I expected a beautiful reunion between the 2 of them but that just didn’t happen. Instead Biggie hissed at Tiff and Tiff sat there with a sad look on her face and it took 3 days for them to get back to normal. It didn’t help that there are 2 other cats in my parents house so tension is already high and they have basically been locked up in my room for the past week.


Wish there was a way I could explain all of this to them. I know they will get lots of love and attention at my parents house but it doesn’t make this process much easier. I’m sad, they’re sad, and there is just no way to tell them why it’s all happening. So while I can I am cuddling with them, playing with them, and, like I said, basically loving their faces off. 🙂

But today’s post isn’t just about cats. I also have a recipe to share today. (woohoo!) I made these potatoes a few weekends before the mass craziness of moving ensued. Lemon Garlic Potatoes are a great way to add variety to your menu by taking a break from your usual side dishes. They come together quickly, require minimal work, and I love the subtle but fresh flavor of the lemon. Plus, it’s nice that the ingredients are all things that I usually already have on hand. The baking time is a little longer than some side dishes, but since that time is basically hands off you can work on the main course or just sit back and watch and episode of FRIENDS.


Lemon Garlic Yukon Gold Potatoes

Ingredients
1-1/2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into quarters
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
Juice of one whole lemon
2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium baking dish, toss the potatoes with the melted butter, garlic, and salt, then drizzle with lemon juice. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake for another 15 minutes, uncovered. When they start to turn golden brown and are fork tender, they are done.

Slightly adapted from Pennies on a Platter

Blackberry and Lemon Muffins

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I can not believe how quickly this last month has gone. I swear it was Sunday and now it’s already Friday again. In fact every night this week I would think, “I need to get a post up tomorrow.” Guess that didn’t work out so well since this is my first post this week. Oops.

The good news is that I am T-minus 21 days to China! Of course, as with every move in my life, I am full blown denial and shut down mode. Denial and shut down mode is when I reach the point of knowing that the move is right around the corner and knowing that there are a bajillion things I need to do and somehow being completely unable to complete any one task. Seriously, I require the assistance of person with the ability snap me back to reality. Lucky for me my sister will be here Saturday to [hopefully] do just that.


In the meantime I have managed to whip up some goodies to share on the blog in the coming weeks. Since it’s Friday, you know I had to share something sweet.

I have a huge soft spot in my heart for muffins. It might be because it’s kind of like eating a cupcake for breakfast. That, and it love a good breakfast on the go. Since I have zero time in my morning for “extras”, a breakfast that I can grab and eat while walking to my car is really ideal. These muffins have a fresh lemon flavor (yay for lemon trees in SoCal backyards!) with bursts of berry goodness. I chopped my blackberries up pretty finely (part of my weird cooked fruit texture aversion) but you could also leave them more chunky, if you’re into that sort of thing. Definitely don’t skimp on the lemon zest because it really brightens them up!


Blackberry and Lemon Muffins

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Grated zest of 1 small lemon, about a heaping tablespoon
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 cup sugar
8 Tbsp warm melted butter (1 stick)
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups (about 6 oz) chopped fresh or frozen blackberries*, if frozen defrost and drain liquid

*Yes I realize blackberries are not in season. They just looked so good and I was craving them, so I bought them. You can always use frozen berries and brands like Trader Joe’s are pretty good.

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare 2 muffin tins with 18 liners.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest. Set aside

In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, sugar, lemon juice, butter and vanilla.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and, using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, mix together just until evenly combined. Add the blackberries and gently fold into the batter. Careful not to over mix, that can cause tough muffins.

Divide the batter into the muffin cups, filling each about 2/3 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in pan for just a few minutes, until the muffins are cool enough to handle and transfer to a wire rack.

Adapted from Simply Recipes

Lemon Greek Chicken

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I am a jet-lag fighter. I like to think that I can go from one time zone to another with out missing a wink. I fully expected to come back from China and need about a day or two to adjust and then be fine. HA! I think the fact that I fell asleep on the couch by 8 pm 4 out of 5 nights this week proves otherwise.

I was exhausted this week, which was a huge bummer because I had a lot of plans to jump right back into my kitchen and make dinner every night. The night I made lasagna was a huge personal accomplishment and utterly wore me out. To the point that the next night we just had sushi. By Thursday I needed something simple. This one-dish meal (well one dish and a measuring cup) was just what the doctor ordered.

Besides being fast and easy to throw together, this meal is light but filling at the same time. The lemon really brightens the potatoes and chicken. Jesse liked to take each bite and rub it into his lemon slice. Flavor wise this is the perfect summer meal and in San Diego, where there is a breeze and the temperature is in the mid-70’s, I don’t mind turning my oven to 400 degrees. But, if you’re in the part of the country that is over 100 degrees you may want to wait until it cools down a little!

Lemon Greek Chicken
(Adapted from The Pampered Chef Stoneware Inspirations)

Ingredients
2 lemons, divided
1/4 olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp dried oregano
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 lbs chicken breast (I used boneless, but it originally called for bone-in split breast)
8 small potatoes cut into fourths *
1 medium onion, cut into 1 inch wedges
1 medium bell pepper, cut into strips **
8 ounces whole mushrooms **

*I found a package of red, yukon gold, and purple potatoes at Trader Joes
**Your eyes are not playing tricks on you, there are no peppers or mushrooms in the picture. 15 minutes into roasting I realized I had forgotten to add these, but I’m including them in the ingredients because I know they will be great.

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Zest then juice one lemon into a 2 cup measuring cup. Add oil, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper to the cup and mix well. Slice the second lemon into thin slices

In a large oval baking dish, or a bar pan with at least 1 inch tall sides, lay out the onions, potatoes, peppers, mushrooms. Pour 1/2 of the lemon juice over the vegetables and use (clean) hands to evenly coat. Add the chicken and lemon slices to the dish and arrange so the vegetables are surrounding the chicken. Pour the remaining lemon juice mixture over the chicken and use a pastry brush to evenly coat. Cover the dish tightly with a lid or aluminum foil.

Bake for 30 minutes then remove the cover and bake for an additional 15-30 minutes, or until the juices of the chicken run clear and the potatoes are fork tender. Occasionally baste the chicken and vegetables with the pan juices.

When Life Gives You Lemons

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I worked really hard in nursing school and right about now it would be truly fantastic to be working as a registered nurse. Unfortunately, contrary to popular belief, the market for new graduate nurses right now just, well, sucks. Finding a job as a registered nurse without at least 2 years experience is difficult. Getting a job at a hospital, almost impossible. Here in San Diego the major hospitals all offer New Graduate Residency programs that start once or twice a year. Awesome, I thought, when I read about them. The programs run for about 10 weeks and it includes didactic lectures as well as hands on nursing work with a preceptor.

Back in January when I graduated and moved to San Diego I thought, well, I’ll just apply to that program, have a few months off before it starts, then jump right into the program and start my dream job. HA! If I only knew then. I applied for the programs, along with half of Southern California. For the Children’s hospital there were approximately 24 positions, 12 of which went to internal candidates. The other 12 positions? Roughly 500 or so recent graduates competed for those. I think you can guess how that ended.

Lucky for me I was able to find something to keep me occupied until the right nursing job and I meet. Working as a nanny has it’s ups and downs. The girls can be really fun, sometimes a touch stubborn, but most days I really enjoy spending time with them. It’s also great to have a little bit of work each day and also a little bit of free time. It’s also allowing me the freedom to take my upcoming trip to China. Another perk is the lemon tree in they have in the backyard that I am welcome to pick from.


Just a week ago I picked my first ever lemon off of a tree. C, the oldest, helped me pick some ripe ones. I told her I wanted to make lemon bars and she got really excited. I have made this recipe before and I really like it. Because they are creamy, almost like cheesecake, they are enjoyed even by people that don’t typically like lemon bars. So if life is giving you lemons, make these creamy lemon squares!


Creamy Lemon Squares
(Adapted from Kraft)

3/4 cup NILLA Wafers, finely crushed (about 20 wafers)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup cold butter, cut into small cubes
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream Cheese, softened (I use 1/3 reduced fat)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp lemon zest, divided
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp baking Powder
2 tsp. powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degress.

Line an 8×8 pan with foil. In a medium bowl combine the crushed wafers, flour, and brown sugar with a fork. Using a pastry blender, or 2 forks, work the butter into the mixture until it starts to resembles wet sand. Pour the mixture into the bottom of the pan and press down to completely cover the bottom. I like to use the bottom of a flat glass or measuring cup to make sure it’s evenly spread out. Bake for 15 minutes.

Wipe out any remaining crumbs from the mixing bowl. Then add the cream cheese and sugar and beat with a mixer until well blended. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until combined. Finally beat in the flour, lemon zest, lemon juice and baking powder. Pour over the baked crust.

Bake for 25-28 minutes or until the center starts to set and the edges are just starting to pull from the sides. Let cool completely then refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Cut into squares and sprinkle with powdered sugar for serving.