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you know how they say that winter is all about nesting? how we all gain those extra 5-10 pounds courtesy of meat sauces and carbs and other such comfort foods? well, while i definitely gained my “winter weight”, i haven’t exactly been nesting. or, maybe i’ve been nesting, but i haven’t been cooking nearly as much as i did last winter. i got this amazing giant dutch oven from sur la table for hanukkah, and i’ve used it once. ONCE! that is a travesty.

i’m not sure what got into me this winter. i could use the easy excuse and say i was too busy for heavy duty cooking, but i think the true reality is that i just got lazy. but suffice it to say, my kitchen has not been seeing enough action (you and me both, kitchen), and it’s time to whip my ass back into shape.

this weekend marked the first time that it actually felt like spring here in new york, and i celebrated it with a stroll through the union square greenmarket on saturday afternoon. i only came home with flowers – the best of the produce isn’t out yet – but as i walked through, i was reminded of just how much i love picking up a bunch of fresh vegetables and herbs, coming home, and making magic out of them. spring is one of my favorite cooking seasons – hellooo, sugar snap peas and asparagus – so it’s high time that i get my booty in gear.

as a little inspiration, here are 5 easy weeknight meals i’m vowing to whip up over the next 2 weeks. first up is tonight’s meal: easy weeknight chicken tacos. YES PLEASE.

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other recipes i’m dying to try:

this rigatoni with asparagus pesto and ricotta salata (i heart pesto)

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this roasted harissa salmon with lemon couscous

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this slow cooker healthy chicken tikka masala (i am forever on a quest to make good tikka masala)

NOTE: slow cookers aren’t exactly quick, but they are easy. pile the stuff in before you leave for work, come home, and voila! dinner is served. 

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and last but not least, this creamy corn chowder. i LOVE corn chowder, but never thought to blend it. genius!

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sometimes i think about how skinny i’d be if i didn’t eat carbs, or really, pasta in particular. i love rice, but i could give it up. i’d miss bagels, but i could do without them. i could care less about traditional bread; i’m not a sandwich girl. but pasta. pasta i could not live without. those paleo folks who shred zucchini and call it pasta? kudos to them, but i ain’t buying that shit. pasta is pasta, and i’m not going to cut up some veggies and call it a carb. hells to the N-O. i eat more pasta than i should, that’s for sure – so when i do eat it, i try to make sure it’s relatively healthy, and not doused in some disgustingly fattening sauce (alfredo, i’m looking at you). i always toss my pasta with a) homemade pesto b) homemade meat sauce or c) fresh veggies and herbs. the canned stuff makes a rare occurrence when i’m feeling uber lazy, but i do my best to ensure that if the pasta is boxed, whatever goes on top of it is fresh.

such is the case with this easy-as-pie recipe, for lemon parsley spaghetti with garlic and parm. when i made it the other day, i was craving greens, so i tossed some broccoli in as well. all you need are lemons, garlic, butter, italian flat leaf parsley, olive oil, parmesan, and spaghetti. that’s IT. and trust, this stuff is good. you could whip it up for a dinner party and impress your guests.

what you’ll need:

  • 3/4 lb spaghetti (you could sub linguine or any other thin pasta here)
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil ( i use trader joe’s)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped (make sure you don’t get the curly kind! italian parsley is flat leaf)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest, grated
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • salt + pepper
  • parmesan cheese

what you’ll do:

boil water for your spaghetti. while it boils, slice and dice all your goodies. grate the parm, chop the parsley, dice the garlic, zest your lemons, and squeeze ’em of their juices.

once your water is boiling, toss in your spaghetti with a pinch of salt. while the pasta cooks, throw your butter and olive oil into a skillet, and let the butter melt. turn the heat down to medium, and throw in your garlic. saute for a few minutes, until your entire kitchen smells like garlicky goodness (the best smell on earth). when garlic browns, turn off the heat.

drain your pasta, and toss is with the garlic/olive oil mixture. next, mix in your lemon zest/lemon juice/parsley. top with parm, season with a bit of salt and pepper, et voila! a delicious, easy, springy and oh-so-pretty meal!

ps: if you wanted to add protein, some lemony shrimp would be perfection on top of this dish.

pps: if you wanted to add veggies, simply chop them up and throw them into the pasta water for the last few minutes to cook them up, then drain them with your spaghetti.