snow day dinner: Baked Lemon Chicken, Vegetable Tian and Angelfood Cake with Lemon, Honey and Yogurt Sauce

shadow across the frozen tundra that was the driveway

Three snow days in a row.  Thank God my baby is a senior in high school.  I'm thinking I would be a little frantic anticipating one more snow day tomorrow.  I do have a couple of goals for the day, however.  Maybe I will at least put on mascara and a pair of jeans.  My sweatpants need a rest and truthfully I need to put on something that buttons and zips to keep me honest.  I do not own a scale, the true test is always freshly washed and dried jeans.  No cheating with pre-worn and gently stretched jeans.

Today my goals were to prepare something blog-worthy, take photographs and post the same day.  Let's see if I can wrap this up before midnight.  I just bought a new cookbook that I found referenced on a blog I read.  I think.  You know how you click on a link and then another and another and then if you haven't bookmarked it you have no idea where you found it? That would be true in this case.  Anyway, Sara culled the new book and found a lemon chicken recipe.  I remember a favorite childhood lemon chicken dish that my mom would make using chicken legs with bone and skin (imagine), cream of chicken soup and lots of lemon juice which surely came from a bottle.  That lemon chicken was divine.  This lemon chicken called for boneless, skinless chicken breasts and 6 fresh juiced lemons along with dry white wine.   More modern, surely better for me but I can fondly remember the creamy old-school goodness of the condensed soup version.

I've had the Barefoot in Paris cookbook from Ina Garten for years, but at some point I moved it into the cupboard where rarely consulted cookbooks go.  Her vegetable tian called out to me because I had the zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes, onions and garlic ready to go and a trip to the store seemed pretty unlikely with a driveway packed from 4-6 and in some places more frozen sleet.  Our entire landscape and hardscape has been glossed  over by a very thick and glossy and impenetrable layer of frozen sleet.  It looks like snow, but you would need a pick axe or maybe a jackhammer to make a dent in it.
she does not look like she is enjoying herself nestled under the boxwood along the front walk
she's doing an awful lot of pondering

Then I thought about yogurt cake (which I swore was in the Barefoot in Paris cookbook, kind of like how I lose track of where I am online, same thing with all the cookbooks and magazines in my kitchen). Thought about yogurt cookies which I first had in Banff, Canada and loved for their moistness and cake-like consistency.  But decided on angel food cake with a yogurt, honey and lemon sauce from Giada DeLaurentis because I had a dozen extra eggs and almost unlimited time today.  Don't get stuck on the sauce, it's pretty tangy.  I offer some other ideas.  Home baked angel food cake is really good and not hard if you separate your eggs one at a time before adding to the bowl.

I am currently dodging the dinner dishes.  I am famous for this.  I love to cook, but I really do not like doing dishes.  I usually sit at my computer after dinner and avoid doing them as long as possible.  I also dislike a dirty kitchen, so I'll most likely clean-up and light my kitchen candle then return to posting in a bit.  This is how some nights I start writing and then some morning I wake up to finish writing because something calls me away.  Usually it's a ball game or a show Sara and I regularly watch.  With just months to go until the empty nest, Sara almost always wins over anything.  There will be plenty of nights with just me, the cat and the guinea pig.   Better not go there.

And so the editor's note will read: indeed, after washing dishes got completely side-tracked last night and the same-day post goal not met.  However, after a two-day delay due to the storm, I completed my 30-day yoga challenge this morning.  I am completely hooked.  I've mentioned before that for me it's not just the strength, flexibility and balance that I love.  It's the mental and emotional balance that is the reward.  A little tested on the way home, however, when the grocery's self-check attendant was so slow and ice melter could not be found.  There are, apparently, still limits.

So, on with the recipes.  For God's sake it's taken 6 paragraphs and too many detours to get here.

Baked Lemon Chicken

3/4 C fresh lemon juice (5 or 6 lemons)
1/4 C olive oil
1/4 C dry white wine

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (it's a lot of marinade, could marinate more chicken if needed)

1/2 C flour
1 T lemon zest
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
olive oil for browning

1/4 C brown sugar
1/2 C chicken broth
1/4 C fresh lemon juice

Combine marinade ingredients and pour over chicken breasts * in a glass/ceramic/plastic dish.  Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours, but up to overnight.
*If you have a jacard pierce the chicken all over to help chicken absorb marinade.  Mine is from a fancy gourmet shop, but I have seen them at bigger stores for less.  They are great for all cuts of meat and cut down on the marinating time in case you forget to get started on time.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a shallow pan or pie dish, blend the flour, zest, salt and pepper together with a fork.  Remove chicken from marinade and discard marinade.  Dip chicken in flour mixture and roll or turn to coat.

Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a large skillet (non-stick to use less oil).  Brown dredged chicken pieces on both sides (maybe 3-4 minutes per side).

Coat a baking pan with cooking spray.  Place chicken in pan.  Sprinkle brown sugar over chicken.  Pour chicken broth and lemon juice around chicken.  Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.

ingredients striking a pose

piercing chicken with the jacard

dredging chicken

browned, topped with sugar and ready for the broth, lemon juice and oven


Vegetable Tian

olive oil
one large yellow onion, halved and cut in thin slices
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound yukon gold potatoes, skin on
3/4 pound zucchini
1 pound medium tomatoes
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp dried thyme or 1 T fresh
1/4 C grated Parmesan or Gruyere, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Heat oil in a medium nonstick pan and cook the onions over medium-low heat until translucent, 8 minutes or so.  Stir in the garlic and cook another minute.  Spray baking dish with cooking spray.  Spread onion mixture in bottom of dish.

Slice the potatoes, zucchini and tomatoes into 1/4-inch thick slices.  Layer them alternately in the dish in a single layer over the onion mixture.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme.  Drizzle with a little additional olive oil (no more than one tablespoon).  Cover the dish with foil and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until potatoes are tender.  Uncover the dish and sprinkle cheese on top if you choose.  Bake and additional 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

onions and garlic bed

sliced and ready to go

creatively layered in dish

ready to serve

Angel Food Cake with Lemon, Honey and Yogurt Sauce

12 egg whites, at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp lemon oil, optional
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 T lemon zest
1 1/2 C powdered sugar
1 C cake flour (essential, do not use all-purpose flour)

Sauce *
1 C plain yogurt
1/4 C honey
1 T lemon juice

For the cake:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  
Separate your eggs one at a time before adding to the bowl of your mixer (that way you don't risk ruining the whole thing with one bad separation).  Add the cream of tartar and sea salt.  Beat on medium speed until frothy.  Add the vanilla, lemon oil (if using), lemon juice and lemon zest.  Beat on high speed until soft peaks form, about 3-4 minutes.  Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat until stiff peaks form, 2 minutes more or longer.  Egg whites really need to be at room temp in a very clean bowl and how long it takes to form stiff peaks is weather dependent.  This is a great job for a stand mixer.  Sprinkle the cake flour over the egg white mixture.  Using a spatula, carefully fold in the flour until incorporated.  Spoon the batter into and ungreased 10-inch nonstick angel food cake pan.  Bake for 30-40 minutes until the top is browned and a tester comes out clean.  Invert the pan on a wire rack and cool completely, at least one hour.

For the sauce:  Stir together the yogurt, honey and lemon juice. * I used Greek yogurt and this was very tangy.  I liked it, but would not consider it a crowd pleaser.  Instead serve with a fruit sauce (cook down some frozen fruit with sugar to taste) or whipped cream and fresh fruit.  My grandmother made vanilla angel food cake for my birthday (and pretty much everyone's) and served it with heavy cream whipped with just a little powdered sugar and frozen strawberries beat in the cream.  It was pink and amazing.  Any berries would work well with the light lemon flavor of the cake.

Loosen the cake from the sides of the pan (I used a long boning knife).  Release the cake and place on a serving plate.  Cut into slices and serve with the sauce or my other suggestions.  It's pretty tasty plain.  Another thought would be a lemon glaze.  Take about a cup of powdered sugar and stir in the juice of at least half a lemon and a little milk (a tablespoon or so) and drizzle over the cooled cake.

cake ingredients

beyond frothy and almost soft peaks

glossy stiff peaks

folding in cake flour

spoon into pan

all done, maybe a few minutes over actually




  1. wow your family is so lucky. I hope and I know that they realize how impressive you are. Thanks for the blog I feel like we are still having coffee when I read them.

  2. In order to post that last comment I had to type the word "bongbomb" as a security feature. really?


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