Penne with Asparagus and Pecorino Cheese

I love everything about spring. I love hearing the birds during my morning run. I love seeing the crocus peeking out of the flower beds at my front door. I love not having to bundle up four kids before we can go anywhere.

I love cooking with good, fresh asparagus. It's so nice to watch my girls willingly gobble up a green vegetable!

This pasta dish was universally LOVED at our house. The combination of the zesty lemon, the salty cheese, the garlic and the crisp tender tasty. This will definitely be made again and again.

Penne with Asparagus and Pecorino Cheese
adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Serves 4

8 oz uncooked penne pasta
1 T kosher salt
2 T olive oil
1 lb asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup vegetable broth
1 T grated lemon rind
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh pecorino romano cheese
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 T shaved fresh pecorino romano cheese

Cook pasta in boiling water with 1 T kosher salt according to package directions. Drain.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to the pan, swirling to coat. Add asparagus to pan; cook until crisp-tender (about 3 minutes), stirring occasionally. Remove asparagus from pan; keep warm. Add broth, lemon rind, and garlic to pan; cook until liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup (about 6 minutes). Return asparagus to pan. Add pasta, grated cheese, salt and pepper; toss well. Serve topped with shaved cheese.

Mexican Hot-Chocolate Cookies

These rich chocolate cookies were a hit at my house. The addition of the cinnamon-sugar coating put them right over the edge.
We enjoyed them on the first day of spring with a glass of cold milk. But I will definitely bake up a batch on a cold snowy day next winter, and dip them into a mug of steaming hot cocoa.

Mexican Hot-Chocolate Cookies

adapted from Martha Stewart Everyday Food

2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
2 eggs
1 cup chocolate chips (not in the original recipe, but I thought they were a worthy addition)
2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and 1 1/2 cups of the sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add eggs and beat to combine. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat until combined. Add chocolate chips (you will probably have to stir with a wooden spoon at this point).
In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/4 cup sugar with the 2 tsp cinnamon. Using heaping tablespoons, form balls of dough and roll in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place about 3 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until cookies are just set (7-8 minutes), rotating sheets halfway through (the recipe is written to cook for 10 minutes, until the centers begin to crack...around here, we don't like our cookies crispy, soft and chewy for us please. If you prefer a crisp cookie, cook the full ten minutes.). Let cookies cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes then transfer cookies to racks to cool completely.