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Citrus Mania

Updated: May 2, 2022

So, I'm holed up at my place in Palm Springs this week, excited for the A Perfect 10 launch soon - experimenting with recipes, trying my hand at my first-ever cooking videos, selfie tripods, all's all new to me.

Our citrus trees are full of lemons, kumquats, grapefruits, mandarin oranges. I thought I'd try a few dishes today, with fresh fruit from the trees.

First off - lunch! I made Lemon Bucatini e Pepe - the easiest, most refreshing and vibrant pasta recipe you will ever try out. Here's how I do it:

1. Boil a standard package of bucatini noodles in salted water (you can use any pasta, but I think bucatini is the best for this).

2. In a large saucepan, melt 2 sticks of butter. Once melted, add the juice of two lemons, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, and one large heaping Tablespoon of black pepper. Combine well, let simmer a bit while the pasta is cooking, and then off the heat.

3. When pasta is done, add directly to the lemon sauce pan - no need to strain. Combine well. I usually add 1/3 cup of the pasta water as well.

4. Serve in a large bowl with fresh Parmesan and lemon zest on top. YUM!

Next, I made a fresh fruity dessert with a mix of fresh and canned mandarin oranges. I'm a sucker for old school, church bake sale type desserts - give me a shortbread crust, and some type of creamy fruity layer, and a whipped cream layer, and I'm the happiest boy at the bake sale. Today, I made a version of this - what I'm calling Mandarins and Cream Bars. OMG these are good.

1. Prepare a basic shortbread crust: Combine 9 T. softened butter, 1/2 c. sugar, and 1t. vanilla in a mixing bowl. Using electric beaters, combine until fluffy. To this, add in 1 1/2 c. flour and 1/8 t. salt, and mix well. This will be a buttery, crumbly shortbread dough.

2. Pat this dough into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish, sprayed with cooking spray. Cook for about 13 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let cool completely.

3. Prepare the fruity filling. Drain two 11 oz. cans of mandarin oranges, reserving the juices. In a large mixing bowl, mix together 1/2 c. of mandarin juice (save the rest for the whipped cream topping), 1/4 c. sugar, one 24-oz container of sour cream (feel free to use low-fat sour cream if you wish), and two 3.4 oz. packages of instant vanilla pudding mix. Stir in the mandarin oranges. (I threw in some fresh mandarin slices from my tree as well).

4. Spoon the filling over the cooled shortbread crust.

5. In a separate small bowl, combine one 8oz container of Cool Whip with 1/3 c. of the extra mandarin orange juice. Spread this over the fruit filling layer.

6. Chill in the fridge for an hour.

7. Cut into squares, and garnish each bar/square with fresh mint (I chiffonade it) and a few nice salt flakes.

Enjoy! Until next time...

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