Asparagus, spinach chicken salad with poppy seed dressing makes a great spring dish. (Photo by Teri Robl)

Asparagus, spinach chicken salad with poppy seed dressing makes a great spring dish. (Photo by Teri Robl)

Kachemak Cuisine: Lemon accents spring recipes

All this sunshine and warm temperatures sure have done a lot to reset my outlook after winter. Swapping out the winter coat for a spring jacket, seeing green plants up in the flower bed and hearing the sweet little birds on the harbor trail put a big smile on my face.

I brought my bike up from its winter hiding spot and am waiting for the Other Fisherman to pump up the tires. Boomer and I have enjoyed walking on a snow and ice-free road and my little grandson has been having so much fun playing in the parks and at the beach. It’s so awesome watching him discover the world we live in.

I know Alaska can be fickle this time of year, so I am enjoying the respite from winter while it’s here. I spent all weekend on the boat soaking up those warm golden rays and must have said “it’s soooo nice out” at least one hundred times a day. A few celebratory margaritas may have been mixed up in the blender as well once I was back home. If that isn’t a winter attitude adjustment, I don’t know what is.

Lemon accents springtime recipes perfectly, and nothing says spring more than the bright, fresh taste and happy yellow color of my favorite citrus. We all still want to enjoy tasty meals, but just don’t always want to take the time to spend in the kitchen as we can play outside more now. This super-easy and yummy sheet pan dinner is quick to prepare and tasty.

Lemon Roasted Chicken and Red Potatoes

• 1-1/2 pounds red potatoes (about 5 medium), cut into 3/4-inch cubes

• 1 large onion, coarsely chopped

• 1 medium lemon, halved and sliced

• 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

• 3 garlic cloves, minced

• 1-1/4 teaspoons salt, divided

• 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed, divided

• 1 teaspoon pepper, divided

• 4 bone-in chicken thighs (about 1-1/2 pounds)

• 4 chicken drumsticks (about 1 pound)

• 1 teaspoon paprika

• 6 cups fresh baby spinach (about 5 ounces)

• Lemon wedges, optional

Directions

• Preheat oven to 425°. Place potatoes, onion and sliced lemon in a large bowl; toss with 2 tablespoons oil, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon each salt, rosemary and pepper. Spread evenly in a greased roasting pan. Roast on an upper oven rack 20 minutes.

• Meanwhile, toss chicken with paprika and the remaining salt, rosemary and pepper. In a large skillet, heat remaining oil over medium-high heat. Brown chicken in batches.

• Place chicken over potato mixture. Roast until a thermometer inserted in chicken reads 170° and potatoes are tender, 15-20 minutes. Remove chicken from pan. Immediately add spinach to vegetables, stirring to wilt slightly. Serve with chicken and, if desired, lemon wedges.

This beautiful and flavorful main dish salad is perfect for a bridal or baby shower, or ladies spring luncheon. It’s a great dish to make on a Monday night as well.

Asparagus Spinach and Chicken Salad

with Poppy Seed Dressing

• 1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

• 2 tablespoons water

• 1/4 cup prepared poppy seed salad dressing

• 1 tablespoon orange juice

• 1 tablespoon honey

• 1 teaspoon grated orange zest

• 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

• 8 cups fresh baby spinach

• 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken

• 2 cups sliced fresh strawberries or fresh blueberries

• 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

• 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

Directions

• In a microwave-safe bowl, combine asparagus and water. Microwave, covered, on high until crisp-tender, two-four minutes; drain. Remove asparagus and immediately drop into ice water. Drain and pat dry.

• In a small bowl, whisk dressing, orange juice, honey, orange zest and mustard until blended.

• In a large bowl, combine spinach, chicken, strawberries, almonds, sesame seeds and asparagus. Add dressing and toss to coat.

This salad lends itself to being versatile, so you can substitute the spinach with spring mix or a baby kale blend and try toasted pecans or walnuts, sunflower seeds, or wonton strips to add some crunch.

If you happen to have any frozen raspberries left from last summer, this pie is a perfectly delicious excuse to use them in. I can’t help but think of pie when it’s springtime.

Chocolate Raspberry Cream Pie

• Pastry for single-crust pie (9 inches)

• 3 tablespoons sugar

• 1 tablespoon cornstarch

• 2 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed

Filling:

• 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

• 1/3 cup sugar

• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

• 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped

Topping:

• 2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate

• 3 tablespoons butter

Directions

• Line pie-shell with a double thickness of heavy-duty foil. Bake at 450° for eight minutes. Remove foil; bake five minutes longer. Cool on a wire rack.

• In a large saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Stir in the raspberries; bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil and stir for two minutes. Remove from the heat; cool for 15 minutes. Spread into shell; refrigerate.

• In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until fluffy. Fold in whipped cream. Carefully spread over raspberry layer. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

• In a microwave, melt chocolate and butter; stir until smooth.

• Cool for four-five minutes. Pour over filling. Cover and chill for at least two hours. Store in the refrigerator.

Easter is coming, and since my boys were little guys, I’ve always made some kind of special cake, usually in the shape of a bunny rabbit with coconut sprinkled on it. This year I will have to get busy and make a bunny cake for my grandson. This gramma business is the best thing ever.

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