French Fridays with Dorie – Lemon Barley Pilaf

This is definitely a recipe I would never have chosen on my own for two reasons, the first being that I’ve never cooked with barley ever in my life and the second being that Tristan is not a fan of rice or rice-like things. But it seemed easy enough and the 1/2 cup of barley only cost me 33 cents so here we are.

I really liked the look of the barley toasting in the pan with the slightly cooked onions – plus is this not the prettiest spatula ever? I use it for everything. My love of Le Creuset is immeasurable and never-ending.

I did end up subbing in some sun-dried tomatoes for the red pepper and some parsley is taking over the role of “greens” for the scallions but I think I got the idea Dorie was going for. I really had no time to run to the store before making dinner so I used what was available. I made it with the magic chicken and some peas for me (but not for Tristan). I also whipped up some poor-man’s garlic bread – just toast with butter and garlic powder sprinkled on. I did zshush it up a bit with some pretty Celtic fleur de Sel but it was pretty basic other than that.

I liked this more than I thought I would but I have to say I probably will not make it again unless a toddler is over for dinner. It just reminded me of like every recipe in our Cooking for Baby cookbooks at the store. Can’t wait to see what everyone else did with this one!

Baking with Julia – Lemon Loaf Cake

This week’s Lemon Loaf Cake was our “easy” recipe for the month and I don’t think anyone could argue that this wasn’t super simple. I actually had all the ingredients on hand to make it last Tuesday on my day off so I didn’t even have to take a shower or change out of my yoga pants to go to the store. That’s always a bonus. My husband is one of those people who can’t not get cleaned up for the day but this trait has not rubbed off on me in the ten years we’ve been together. Maybe this makes me disgusting but if I’m not going anywhere or seeing anyone, I have no problem with being dressed in my grubbies while I clean and cook and do all that kind of stuff. Am I in the minority here?

The recipe itself is even super short so I felt like I had to dress it up with my neat little line of farm fresh eggs. I never buy white eggs anymore. I’m sure there’s not a flavor difference really, but the brown eggs just look so sophisticated, don’t they? Instead of buttering and flouring the pan, I buttered and sugared the pan to sweeten this baby up just a little more. I’m nothing if not a sweet tooth.

My friend Susan had told me that you can make this substitution in any recipe that calls for buttering and flouring your pan and I hadn’t tried it yet so I just thought, what the hell? I think this is the first recipe that I haven’t had to fire up my trusty Kitchenaid for and it was kind of strange! Instead everything just got whisked in a big bowl until it was just mixed. Check out all this zest!

I had thought that this amount of zest would make for a REALLY lemony cake but the finished product just had a bare hint of lemon. I should have taken the juice of those suckers and made a glaze of some sort to make the lemon flavor really pop but I just decided to keep it simple and follow the recipe. I did make some whipped cream to dollop on the top though and instead of putting in vanilla like I usually do, I added some lemon extract. It gave the whipped cream a nice zing.

Just so others can learn from my mistakes, I once added a little lemon extract to a vodka tonic because we were out of lemons and I thought it would be an apt replacement….IT’S NOT! My lips were numb for like an hour after I drank it. It was really weird. This week’s hosts are Truc of Treats and Michelle from The Beauty of Life. Head over to one of their sites for the recipe if you want to have a little lemon loaf cake of your very own. Oh and I promised a friend I would include a link for the easiest and tastiest chicken breasts I have ever made! They were so good and so super simple! Try it! If you don’t like it, you did it wrong.