Pasta and Peas in Lemon Cream Sauce

redbirdsetal 007

Pasta and Peas in Lemon Cream Sauce

adapted from a recipe found in Bon Appetit magazine, 2003

3 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter

3-4  large shallots, minced

1 cup  chicken broth

1 1/4  cups whipping cream

2 teaspoons lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste

2 cups fresh or  frozen green peas, thawed

2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh mint leaves

2 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice (I used frozen Meyer juice from last year’s crop of lemons. If using regular lemons, reduce to 1 tablespoon and add 1 Tablespoon orange juice)

16 ounces farfalle or penne pasta

12 thin slices prosciutto, may substitute with crumbled bacon

Shaved Parmesan cheese

Melt butter in large skillet, add shallots and sauté about 2 minutes. Add broth. Simmer over medium heat until mixture is reduced to 1/4 cup, 2-3 minutes. Add cream, lemon zest , and cayenne. Simmer until sauce thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Add peas; simmer t until heated through, stir in mint and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

While preparing sauce, cook pasta al dente, stirring occasionally. Drain; return to pot and toss with sauce.

Divide pasta among serving plates. Drape prosciutto slices on top and sprinkle with shaved Parmesan.  This is a wonderful Spring or Summer supper served with crusty French bread and  fresh slices of melon or tomato quarters.

Lemony Cupcakes


Final touch for our Easter dinner!   Cupcakes have risen to new glory recently.  No longer plain flavors with plain frosting and a stuck on decoration, these hand held confections have delicous combinations for taste and some very fancy names.  Skye helped me bake two kinds* for our Easter celebration, and our cupcake wrappers made them even fancier.

First, we made lemon cupcakes with the addition of a surprise flavoring ingredient.  In addition to fresh lemon juice and lemon zest, these cupcakes have a bit of limoncello, an Italian liqueur, which adds another layer of mouth watering lemon essence.  I found several recipes online for these cupcakes, but most seemed to originate from one posted at  This lady knows good things about cupcakes!   My adaptation omits the filling several recipes included, lemon curd.  I love lemon curd, but after a huge meal, I thought that would be gilding the lily!  It also made the preparation much simpler. We used our home grown Meyer lemons from the freezer.  Here is our version.


For cupcakes:

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 ounces butter
4 ounces cream cheese
2 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs
1/4 cup limoncello
1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice
1 cup buttermilk
zest of 2 Meyer lemons

For frosting

2 ounces (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon limoncello
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set butter and cream cheese out to soften.  Combine flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

With electric mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese and sugar on medium speed 3 minutes, or until light and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add limoncello and mix briefly. On low speed, add flour mixture and buttermilk alternatively. Add lemon juice and zest and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Divide the batter between 2 twelve cup muffin tins. If you have extra, bake in a small loaf pan.  Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the middle comes out clean. Cool.

For frosting,  beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until light and creamy. Add the limoncello and beat for an additional minute. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add sifted powdered sugar and beat until  smooth.

To frost, fill a quart size Ziploc bag with cream cheese frosting.  Cut a small tip off one corner and use this to squeeze a dollop of frosting onto each cup cake, refilling bag as needed.  If you wish, use a  pastry bag with a star tip to pipe frosting onto each cupcake. Decorate with a lemon slice or berries if desired.

* Our second batch of cupcakes were Red Velvet!  Another day, another post!  What is your favorite cupcake?  Why?

Herbed Roast Beef

015I continue with more recipes from a wonderful Easter dinner with friends and family around the table.  I have made many different kinds of pot roasts.  Our old standby is chuck roast seared with lots of salt and pepper and cooked in coffee, along with potatoes, carrots and onions, baked long and slow in the oven.  But circumstances on Easter Sunday made the timing awkward  for cooking in that way. I wanted to serve a beef dish as well as our Easter ham, and I decided I would try slow cooking in a crock pot. This recipe is simple and delicious.  I prepared the top round roast and got it into the crock pot early Sunday morning, and when we walked in the door after church, a heavenly smell greeted us.

I adapted my recipe from one at, which gives its credit to the

“Taken from The Everyday Low-Carb Slow Cooker Cookbook”

    • 1 cup red wine
    • 1 cup water
    • 2 tablespoons dried thyme (I use Penzey’s French Thyme)
    • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary
    • 2  tablespoon black pepper
    • 2 teaspoons sea salt
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 5 pounds lean top round roast
    • 8 –  10 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
    • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
    • 4 pieces thick peppered bacon, cooked but not crisp


  1. Pour the red wine and water into the crock pot.
  2. In a small bowl, combine herbs, pepper, salt, and olive oil; stir to mix and make a thick paste. Rub the oil and herb mixture all over the roast. Place into the crock pot. Sprinkle the garlic and onions around the roast and lay the bacon strips over the top of the roast.
  3. Cover and cook on High for 6 hours..,
  4.  Turn the slow cooker off and let the roast rest in the slow cooker for about 15 minutes. Remove roast to a platter.
  5. To serve, use a sharp knife to slice the meat against the grain.Dip the roast slices into the cooking juices before serving, or serve the cooking juices  in a small pitcher

If you have cooking juices leftover, this makes a wonderful addition to onion soup or a pot of Beef Burgundy!


Easter Panzanella

011Easter lunch at our house was a success.  We combined a delicious make-ahead meal with the joy of celebrating Resurrection with family and good friends around our table.  Make that tableS because we had thirteen happy diners here last Sunday.  I learned a long time ago that the secret to making good food for guests while enjoying it myself lies in doing almost everything the day before.  Several parts of this meal will be featured in the posts this month, but today’s salad was my favorite.

Panzanella is a traditional dish made in various parts of central Italy, particularly Florence.  There are many variations but almost all use stale bread, cubed, and combined with tomatoes plus other summertime vegetables and basil.  This recipe combines several of those with inspiration from Ina Garten’s preparation for one she calls Greek Panzanella.  I like the addition of feta cheese and Kalamata olives as well her method of pan toasting the bread cubes which go well with the crunchiness of all the fresh vegetables. More traditional bread salad will have the bread cubes soaked in marinade, making a softer ingredient.

Easter Panzanella

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

6-8 cups of bread cubed from Ciabbata or Rosemary Bread

4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved – or  tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 English cucumbers, sliced 1/2-inch thick

2 red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 yellow bell pepper,  cut into 1-inch cubes

1 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 red onion, cut in 1/2 and thinly sliced

Kalamata olives pitted, 1 cups

Feta cheese, crumbled, 2 cups

Fresh basil for garnish, optional

For the vinaigrette:

4 garlic pods, minced 

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

6 Tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1  teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Wash all vegetables and pat dry.  Remove seeds from peppers, chop, and place in a large bowl. Add  sliced tomatoes.  Halve the cucumbers lengthwise.  Using the tip of a teaspoon, run  gently down the center to scoop out any seeds, then lay the cucumber halves down to slice and add them along with sliced red onion to the other veggies.  Toss to combine.  If you are making this ahead of time, place each vegetable in a zip loc bag and refrigerate until serving time. I prefer to slice tomatoes at the last minute as they tend to soften.

Prepare vinaigrette by whisking together red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper. Set aside

Heat olive oil in a large iron skillet. Add the bread ; cook over, stirring often, for 8- 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil if needed.   Add  crumbled feta cheese, olives, and  bread cubes to chopped vegetables, then toss with the vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper as desired. Garnish with a sprig of fresh basil.

Flavor improves by allowing this to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.