Thursday, October 25, 2012

When Life Deals You Lemons…Cook With Them!

After several days filled with the Runner's World festivities, I’ve finally settled down into my regular routine at home with work and family.  Although my life is still crazy balancing my job in the classroom, lining up costumes for everyone, planning my daughter’s school Halloween party {I’m her room mom} and her birthday party, plus trying to find time to run, I sometimes feel like a hamster on a wheel.  By the end of the day, I am ready to crash by 9pm.  Does anyone else ever feel like that?  That aside, I do have some fun ideas planned for these upcoming parties, and I plan to share them in the very near future.  But for now, I need to concentrate on costumes, cupcakes, and keeping sane. 

Over the weekend, we joined our friends to make Limoncello.  If you’ve never had it before, Limoncello is an Italian lemon liquor which tends to be thicker than most.  It's sometimes served as a palate cleanser or as an after dinner aperitif.  Whenever we make our batch, lemon peels are submerged in Everclear and then they are set to rest for up to three months.  After that time, the lemon peels are removed, and simple syrup is added for sweetness.  Once again, the mixture needs to rest for a little while longer until the proper sweetness, texture and flavor has developed.  The final step is to bottle the liquor and enjoy!  Although ambitious, our goal is to have it bottled and ready for the holiday season.  {Sorry...no pictures of this process.  It was Saturday night after the race and I was tired...it slipped my mind!}

A few tips: Keep Limoncello in the freezer since it's best served freezing cold.  Plus, you only need a small glass of this delectable drink because a little bit goes a long way.  

Since we used a ton of lemons, or should I say, only their zest, we had a lot of fruit leftover.  So there was no waste, we divvied up the zested lemons and made a plan to use their juice for things such as lemonade, marinades and pasta dishes.

Usually Sundays are low-key days for me when I like to cook a nice meal for my family…or possibly even bake something!  Because I had some time, I used some of the leftover lemons to make lemon chicken, along with Giada's Lemon Spaghetti.

I've had this recipe on my to-do list for a while, so I decided to channel those same flavors into a simple marinade for the chicken.  In the marinade, I combined lemon juice from two lemons, ½ cup of olive oil, chopped parsley, two chopped scallions, salt and pepper in a large, gallon-sized zip-lock bag.  Three chicken breasts were added and I let them marinate for about 5 hours.  Fred cooked them on the grill and they came out perfectly.  The chicken had a nice lemon flavor that accompanied the pasta nicely.  

For the pasta, Giada combined olive oil, lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper and poured it over hot pasta.  To add some "green" to the dish, I steamed asparagus and tossed one-inch pieces into the pasta right before serving.  The mixture, along with a bit of reserved pasta water, created a tangy sauce that my entire family enjoyed.  

What do you do with the lemons that come your way?

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