If you can’t stand the heat…

Pork Blanquette with Spring Vegetables

Pork Blanquette with Spring Vegetables

If someone had told me two weeks ago that I’d be braising pork on a sunny 75-degree day, I’d tell them they were crazy. I don’t stick to strictly seasonal meals but heating up my kitchen to slow cook something doesn’t make any sense when it’s already hot enough out there.

Nonetheless, I was so captivated by a recent recipe from Gourmandistan that I couldn’t help myself from doing just that. The recipe in question was a blanquette of pork, or braised pork shoulder in a happy broth of stock, cream and lemon. While the pork and the cooking liquid sounded lovely on their own, it was the pretty and colorful spring vegetables that called out to me. Just look at Michelle and Steve’s version of this Pork & Sons recipe and tell me it doesn’t look mouth-wateringly delicious.

And so, eager and excited, I thawed out a little two-pound pork butt that was nestled in my freezer and got to work. While I was clearly easy to convince, here are a few words of encouragement in case you need some enticement  to turn on your stove and make this:

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Nothing says spring like lemons & asparagus

Creamy spring pasta with lemon, parsley and asparagus

Creamy spring pasta with lemon, parsley and asparagus

I love lemon pasta — in fact, it’s even made it onto this blog before in the way of a baked lemon pasta. And while it was delicious, it hasn’t stopped me from exploring other renditions of lemony carb-filled goodness.

Which is why I felt the overwhelming need to try out a recipe for Spaghettini with Creamy Lemon Sauce from Liz of My Favourite Pastime. Liz makes all sorts of fabulous looking food but I just couldn’t get this particular pasta dish out of my mind. Maybe it was because she mentioned making it once with coconut milk instead of cream, which really piqued my interest.

Ad while I am still very curious about using coconut milk in this, I thought for my initial attempt I should go straight for the cream. After all, cream plus cheese plus butter must equal delicious. That combination has never steered me wrong before!

I did, however, stray just enough to add in some blanched asparagus. I splurged on a gorgeous organic bunch from the market and their flavor, pumped up by the lemon in the pasta, was divine. This meal, eaten on a surprisingly sunny spring day, was the perfect dinner to make my Monday less painful.

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A Year in the Making: Springtime Sugar Cookie Nests

Sugar Cookie Nests

Sugar Cookie Nests

Last year I saw some really, really cute cookies on Pinterest. They were little thumbprint cookies, topped with chocolate and decorated with tiny chocolate eggs. I had every hope of actually making them. But then life happened and my motivation for fiddling around with tiny cookies flew right out the window.

Luckily this year was less chaotic and I actually managed a few sweet spring-time experiments like homemade Peeps and — finally — these little sugar cookie nests. And I have to say they were adorable enough (and tasty enough!) to be worth the wait.

While there are TONS of cookie nest recipes around, I really liked the simplicity of this one — no mini muffin pan necessary, just a basic sugar cookie recipe and some imagination. I contemplated using coconut flakes as the grass, but in the end I went with melted dark chocolate, green jimmies and mini chocolate eggs.

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Farro & Edamame: A new adventure with an ancient grain

Farro Pasta with Edamame, Almond and Mint Pesto

Farro Pasta with Edamame, Almond and Mint Pesto

I am an out-and-proud farro devotee. For the past few years I’ve been borderline obsessed with the ancient grain — utilizing it in as many applications as possible and encouraging other people to give it a try. So I was pretty excited when my husband recently brought me home a pound of farro pasta (which was especially sweet as he is not as enamoured with farro as I am).

Farro Pasta

Farro pasta — love its pretty color!

The pasta had been sitting in my cupboard, patiently waiting, while I investigated online looking for a perfect debut recipe. Finally I decided on a winner, this recipe for Farro Pasta with Edamame Pesto from The Kitchn. Given how well-known this web magazine is, I felt comfortable trusting their opinion and excited to try something new.

And I’m happy I did because this a recipe I’ll be utilizing again and again. I love different forms of pesto — broccoli pesto in particular, yum! — but hadn’t tried this combination before.

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Tales from the Garden: The first berry blush

My friend DB recently gave me some of his amazing strawberry plants since the starters I bought three years ago never produced a single berry. I was hopeful that his would be more successful and they are definitely off to a great start!

Strawberry ripening

One strawberry is already starting to ripen!

First berry blush

I’m so excited!

Flowers for Mothers…

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Irises

It’s pretty fun being able to pick flowers right from my garden…

Iris

It’s also very convenient that my mom loves irises!

And as a side note: I have finally recovered from my vacation withdrawal and will be back to posting regularly starting tomorrow.