Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Slow-Cooked Salmon, Chickpeas and Greens

Last weekend was a recharge situation. It was the only weekend in April I was not traveling and was my downtime before a full month of weekend adventures in May. Clearly I should call this the Roaming Lemon or something nomadic. It was a rainy, dreary weekend and I was thrilled to be forced to stay inside and only venture out for yoga and froyo.

After participating in morning yoga on Sunday, I felt nice and relaxed and ready for another week. Of course, before I started the week, I had to make it through my first hot barre class and boy oh boy do you get sweaty! I attended the class at DanceFIT Studio in Natick which is the second studio of Gina Fay's who opened her first dance studio at 24. My life just got put into perspective, hard core. Anyways, hot barre is like hot yoga in that it takes place in a 92 degree room and uses barre workouts to incorporate strength, flexibility and cardio training all at once. I took ballet when I was 7 and that was about it but my mom was a ballerina for many years (no pressure). I am not coordinated but I can do a pliet. I cannot, however, jump up and down in and out of pliets. Needless to say, things got sweaty and slippery and ridiculous.

Gettin' our dancer on
Inspired by my fitness success and desire to not waste it on a bowl of ice cream for dinner, I perused my pile of Bon Appetit magazines for some dinner inspiration. The winner was salmon with roasted chickpeas. Normally I just marinade some salmon, stick it in the oven, microwave some veggies and call it a day. But this recipe was simple enough to make on a Sunday night but complicated enough for me to be impressed with myself. It is afterall a new recipe.

The pastry brush was a casualty of cooking
The recipe calls for four 6 ounce skinless salmon fillets. I was too sheepish to approach a grocery store employee to find this specific hunk of fish so I bought a large fillet and proceeded to attempt to skin it before cutting it into smaller fillets. Fish is slippery and this was a bit of a messy task so next time, I'm going to ask where the skinless fillets are. It made me think of the fish market in Seattle the whole time, they probably skin and filet a fish in 10 seconds flat!

Not so expertly filleted 
While the oven was preheating, I chopped the greens to be the bedding for the fish. I used watercress instead of mustard greens but either would work. The greens are scattered amongst the seasoned chickpeas before adding the fillets of salmon.

We're getting there!
Overall, the prep time was only about 20 minutes so while the salmon cooked, I cleaned up the mess and made the sauce. Somehow, my bottle of honey always crystalizes so the sauce came out a little more oily than I believe it is intended to be. I still found this to be a quick and easy way to prepare fish though! And it was a healthy alternative to ice cream.

The final product
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 15.5 ounce can of chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 1 small bunch of watercress (or mustard greens) chopped
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 4 6 ounce skinless salmon fillets 
  1. Preheat oven to 250. Brush a baking dish or pan with oil.
  2. Combine chickpeas, cumin and 1 Tablespoon of oil in a medium bowl. Mash half of the chickpeas with a fork before seasoning with salt and pepper and spreading out on the pan/baking sheet.
  3. Heat the remaining 1 Tablespoon of oil in a large skillet. Cook the garlic in the oil until fragrant, less than one minute. Add the greens to the garlic and toss until cook (wilted, about one minute).
  4. Add honey and 1/4 cup of water to the greens, seasoning with salt and pepper. Toss until the greens are cooked completely, around two minutes. Spread the greens onto the pan with chickpeas.
  5. Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper. Arrange the fish over the greens and chickpeas. Bake until the salmon is cooked (it will turn opaque instead of slimy fish colored or 30-35 minutes).
  • 1/2 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (only if using capers, heat oil and cook capers until opened)
  1.  Whisk shallot, lemon juice, mustard and honey in a small bowl.
  2. Gradually whisk in olive oil, season with salt and pepper.
  3. Drizzle over salmon and top with capers (if you desire).

Friday, April 25, 2014

Easter Tidings and Cupcakes

Happy belated Easter and Passover and Marathon Monday! I hope you all had some great spring weather and delicious eats, hopefully with your family or friends or at least a furry companion. My Easter was spent in Vermont visiting the local eats and taking in the sunny spring weather. This was the second annual Jew-ish Easter where I spent the weekend with a friend of mine (who is in fact Jewish) exploring local brunch places and taking in the scenery. He and I go way back to freshman year of college and most of my travel adventures involve our group of friends being ridiculous. Most of our buds are science people but he and I are not so we talk about everything else like politics and music. 

If you're ever in Burlington, Vermont or are planning a visit, here are some great things to do! We started at the Magic Hat brewery where the staff are super friendly and hilarious. The tour is free and comes with a beer sample flight. As you can see, the samples are perfect size for Yoda. Yoda is my traveling gnome, he goes on all my adventures and inevitably always finds another Yoda to befriend. After the tour, we hit up American Flatbread Company which has amazeballs pizza, no joke. For our Easter brunch, the ultra crunchy and organic restaurant Magnolia's provided us with eggcellent meals and mimosas before we visited the Ben & Jerry's factory. Get on it!

This is my traveling Yoda with a Yoda-sized beverage
When I was a kid, I spent Easter at my dad's house. At a very early age, it was instilled in me that Peeps were the king of all Easter candy and that egg hunts were just not going to cut it. Instead of just hunting around the yard for treasures, my dad would write clues that would lead us to eggs, candy and gifts. The clues definitely got harder and harder as the years went on but I can still remember the last hunt we had. My brother had outgrown the tradition but I was keen to keep it alive and got very stumped on one of my clues. My dad assumed that I knew what era musicians would be played on a Victrola which was a fair assumption but I did not. So I learned me some Benny Goodman in the process of getting candy. Winning!

One for you, two for me!
Well, I didn't have an egg or a treasure hunt but I did get some peeps! I also made some treats for work that were meant to look like they were frosted with grass and had eggs nestled inside but the icing looked more like slime. Oh well, it still worked! This recipe is from the Food Network magazine. I've been traveling a lot lately so I picked this up in an airport on my way out of town. The magazine has an abundance of colorful recipes for spring and the lemon cupcakes were just calling my name.

Note to self: blend almonds, then add flour
Although these aren't gluten free or made with almond flour, we do have ground almonds incorporated into regular flour. My recommendation would be to grind up the almonds first, before you add the flour in there, to ensure there are no almond chunks (I did not do this so got a little more nuttier cupcakes). Even though these are lemon cupcakes, they only use a little bit of lemon zest and juice. A little goes a long way!

I ran out of regular liners so had to use pirate cupcake wrappers---darn
I discovered that I didn't have enough regular cupcake liners so had to choose between shamrocks, pumpkins or pirates. Pirates won in the end. While the cupcakes were baking, I looked up frosting recipes. I decided not to use the one from the magazine so I could whip up something simpler. Joy of Cooking has a quick and easy frosting recipe that was easily turned green for grass. It's not the best icing if you're trying to sculpt or frost things prettily though. This could have been because I didn't measure the milk so ended up with very soupy frosting but I'm on a mission to find better icing recipes for doing fun decorations like roses.

Action shot!
Unfortunately, the cupcakes got gobbled up before I could get an after shot so no final product! Fail blogger, over here. But use your imagination, delicious lemon cupcakes frosted with green while little jelly beans and M&M eggs are nestled on top. These can easily be adapted for a spring party or even Mother's Day!



  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds (I used whole)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and line a muffin pan with 12 cupcake liners (or non-stick spray). 
  2. Combine the flour and almonds in a food processor and grind until the almonds are ground finely (alternatively, grind the almonds first to chop them up and then add the flour to combine). 
  3. Add the baking powder, baking soda and salt to the mixture until combined.
  4. Whisk the eggs, sugar, buttermilk, vegetable oil, lemon zest and lemon juice in a large bowl. 
  5. Add the flour mixture and whisk together until combined. 
  6. Divide the mixture evenly among the cupcake liners.
  7. Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until a toothpick placed in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  8. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing and allowing to cool completely. 

Frosting from Joy of Cooking

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 4-6 tablespoons of milk 
  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • food coloring (optional)
  1. In a large bowl, mix the powdered sugar and softened butter together.
  2. Add the milk, one tablespoon at a time, until you reach the desired consistency. If you add too much milk, add more powdered sugar to thicken the mixture.
  3. Add the vanilla extract and food coloring. Blend until the mixture is fully combined. You may need to scrape the sides with a rubber spatula and finish mixing by hand instead of with an electric mixer.
  4. To frost the cooled cupcakes, you can either use a knife or a frosting bag. The icing will harden slightly as it dries on the cupcake.
  5. Top with candy or leave plain!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Lemon Chicken by Shutterbean

Let's have a refresher on why this blog is called Live Love Lemon. It's not just because I love lemons. It certainly helps, but my twitter handle, Instagram and blog URL are all 'LivinLemon' so Live Love Lemon has really become more of a tag line (now you can go ahead and follow me on Twitter and Instagram!). When I was a kid, I had this porcelain yellow bird that I aptly named Lemon. Lemon could clip onto a shelf or planter or conveniently placed on my finger. One way or another, Lemon was dropped and shattered but was craftily glued back together by my parents. Lemon still lives and resides in my living room after being carefully saved throughout high school and college in a box marked for my first apartment.

So I guess that's more about the start of loving yellow and the name Lemon. But then there's the adage, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Life, like lemons, can be sweet or bitter or sour or burn your eyes so let's take the time to turn these sometimes bitter moments and make them into something sweet. Did that come full circle? Maybe? Okay, we can talk about cooking now.

Shutterbean posted this lemon chicken recipe a few weeks ago but I really didn't read through it until recently. It's super simple to make and requires very little prep time. My chicken turned out to be somewhat frozen at the grocery store so my cook time took longer but it still turned out great! Similar to the stir fry efforts, this can be done quickly to allow you to multitask or relax. The rice cooker is set while the oven is preheating and the onions and lemons are being chopped.

While the chicken should take around 40-45 minutes, cooking times can vary. Chicken and juices are spooned over the rice and served nice and hot! This was much more lemony than I expected but I thought it was a nice refresher. If you prefer less lemony flavor, reduce the amount of juice you add to the chicken.

My Pyrex may have been too small for this
Simultaneous to cooking this recipe and eating a bunch of lemon bars at events, my bestie Joy the Baker made this spring into spring post solely devoted to lemon tart treats. Can we say destined to be friends? Well, I can pretend anyways. I'm pumped for spring and making lemon treats but more importantly, and warmly, for summer when there will be lemonade. No, I didn't have a lemonade stand as a child (but I did have a snow cone stand) but I still find lemonade to be the personification of summer.

It may look messy but it's delicious 
Cheers to sweet, sweet summer and feeling refreshed!


  • 1.5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (Shutterbean used thighs, either will work)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil plus drizzle for pan
  • 1-1.5 large lemons (juices and slices)
  • 1 medium onion (chopped)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 375. Drizzle olive oil (not 1/3 cup, just drizzle) in a pyrex pan. Place chicken in pan and set aside.
  2. In a bowl or measuring cup, mix the 1/3 cup of olive oil, lemon juices, chopped onion, garlic and spices until combined. Pour mixture over the chicken, coating each piece.
  3. Place lemon slices among the chicken to strengthen the flavor. Add salt and pepper as desired.
  4. Bake the chicken for 30-40 minutes or until cooked through. Once the chicken is cooked, remove pan from the oven and leave covered for an extra 5 minutes.
  5. Serve chicken over rice with extra pan juices or with vegetables. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Orange Chocolate Scones

It's been awhile since we've had something savory up in here. I've gone through a phase of cooking lunch and dinner recipes while defaulting to cookie recipes for my sweet tooth. But I can't proclaim to be an amateur baker if I cease to bake things! I've wanted to make scones for weeks now, since Downton Abbey premiered to be specific. And to give you an idea of how long ago that was, Downton Abbey's new episodes are now over and have been over for weeks now.

Keeping in the scones mentality, I had initially planned to make pecan scones but while searching for the recipe, found a different one for orange and chocolate scones. Chocolate--end of story. Dark chocolate has me sold and orange is an added bonus. These bad boys were whipped up in a matter of minutes and in true Lemon fashion, in my haste, I messed it up. However, they still remained delicious.

Scones aren't extraordinarily sweet and this recipe only calls for 2 tablespoons of sugar so the dark chocolate adds the tasty sweetness I was seeking. Orange may sound like an odd combination but if you remember back to Christmas time, those orange chocolate candies appear (they look like an orange but are made of chocolate and have a citrusy flavor) in stores.

Time to get your hands dirty

The dry ingredients are mixed together before cutting in the cold butter and getting messy by hand-mixing. Buttermilk and an egg yolk (this is where I just added the whole egg) are blended and added to the flour-orange mixture and kneaded together before crushing in some chocolate. The whole thing is melded together with your hands and laid out on a floured cutting board. The dough is formed into a rectangular loaf and cut into squares. You could also form the dough into a circle and cut scone triangles if you're particular about the shape of your scones.

You can see the chunks or orange zest and chocolate

Lay the pieces out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. The scones won't spread much so you can place them close together but they will puff up a bit. I accidentally added the entire egg instead of just the yolk so these probably came out fluffier than intended (that's what the whites do, yes?) but still got a seal of approval. The recipe only makes 6-8 scones so it's perfect for a little brunch meeting or coffee date. And now I have a bag of dark chocolate chips to munch on! It's a win-win. Dipped in coffee, they served as a morning escape before the daily grind kicked into full gear.

Golden brown and delicious!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Orzo Pasta Salad

Technically speaking, it's spring. If you live in the Northeast though, it has been cold and rainy recently. I love winter because it means Christmas and snuggly mittens and scarves. I've loved winter for long enough and I'm done defending it. I'm done with soups and stews, I want fresh fruit and crisp cold vegetables. Soon enough, I'll be living in front of my air conditioner, cursing the endless perspiration that comes with summer in New England. Before we get to lemonade and burgers, let's start with a transition. Pasta salad is the perfect spring dish for me, I can pretend it's warmer and sense the warm air and cool breeze that should be just around the corner.

The thing about pasta salad is it's much heartier than plain ole salad. I'm a sucker for pasta and part of the reason this blog was started was to learn to prepare meals other than chicken and pasta. But pasta salad is totally different! My favorite pasta salads have an olive oil vinaigrette, cherry tomatoes and pepperoni. I love me some spicy pepperoni with my cold salad. This pasta salad from Joy the Baker (shocking, I know) uses cherry tomatoes, red onion, and cucumber for a great crunch. Orzo pasta was way too hard for me to find probably because I'm blind but this would work well with rotini pasta as well.

Basil also adds some summer flavor
Cucumbers are a strange vegetable to me because they don't really have much flavor. I went on a date once where we got sushi and my date said he didn't like cucumber. How do you a) eat sushi without cucumber and b) have a personal distaste for a vegetable that has no flavor? Let's just say we only made it to date number three when he professed his dislike of cornbread and that was the end of that. At any rate, I've come to appreciate cucumber a little more when mixed with other things like ranch dressing, hummus or orzo pasta.

Crisp cucumbers for some extra crunch
While chopping up the cucumber, I started thinking of all the other things I could make with cucumber. My thoughts ranged from slices for my eyes while I pamper myself with a face mask to cucumber finger sandwiches for a grown up tea party (yes, this was discussed recently among my friends) and then to Pimm's Cup cocktail garnishes. So many uses for such a randomly flavorless ingredient!

All together now!
So once these summer days are finally upon us, cucumbers will be in hot demand for their cooling properties. Until then, I'll just be over here eating my pasta salad in a turtleneck, dreaming of sunny days and the feeling of grass under my feet.

The orzo got a little sticky
This recipe is simple: chop up some vegetables (mainly cucumber, onion and cherry tomatoes) and mix in some orzo pasta (cooked). Once everything is cooled, add some feta cheese and fresh basil to the mix. The most work comes from making the dressing. 1/3 cup of olive oil is mixed with 2 teaspoons of honey and 2 teaspoons of dijon mustard. Shake that all together and bam! Salad dressing. Dress your salad just before eating to keep the salad nice and fresh.