Orzo Summer Salad

Hands down one of my favorite salads ever! I make it for dinner, BBQ’s, potlucks…you name it, it never lets me down.

 

DRESSING:

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
1/3 cup olive oil

SALAD:

12 ounces orzo pasta
6 cups chicken broth
2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
4 tablespoons thinly sliced chives or green onions
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 cup baby spinach, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
½ cup pine nuts, toasted (heat them in a dry skillet over medium-low heat, tossing often until golden)

DIRECTIONS:

For the dressing, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, honey and oil. Season to taste with a bit of salt and pepper. Set aside.

For the salad, cook the orzo in the chicken broth until tender according to package directions. Drain well but do not rinse. Let the pasta cool to room temperature, tossing often so it doesn’t stick together. Toss the cooled pasta with the tomatoes, chives or green onions, basil, and spinach.

Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and stir to coat the ingredients with the dressing. Season with salt and pepper, if needed. Sprinkle the feta and pine nuts over the top and toss lightly. Serve at room temperature.

 

 

Recipe Source: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

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{Thai Sesame Noodles}

This is the perfect recipe, if you’re craving Thai takeout style noodles. Super easy and quick to through together with delicious flavors.

Ingredients:

3/4 pound dried rice noodles (found in the Asian section of the grocery store)
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, plus a splash to loosen noodles
2 tablespoons Chinese sesame paste or tahini (I used Tahini sauce)
1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
3 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese rice vinegar
1 tablespoon granulated or brown sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
Chili-garlic paste, to taste
1/2 pound cucumber, very thinly sliced
1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts, roughly chopped
A handful of chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

Directions:

Cook noodles according to package directions and rinse with cold water to cool. Drain well. Drizzle with a tiny splash of toasted sesame oil to keep them from sticking until dressed.

Meanwhile, whisk sesame paste and peanut butter in the bottom of a small bowl, then whisk in soy sauce, rice vinegar, remaining 2 tablespoons sesame oil, sugar, ginger, garlic and Chile-garlic paste to taste until smooth. Adjust flavors to taste.

Toss sauce with cold noodles. Add garnishes and enjoy!

 

 

Recipe Source: Smitten Kitchen

{Lemon Tarragon Pasta Salad}

One of my favorite places to eat in Utah is Plates and Palates in Bountiful. Everything is so fresh and delicious. This is the salad I order Every. Single. Time I eat there. I was so excited I found the recipe, and it was a big hit at our family Easter party.

FOR THE SALAD:
1 (16 ounce) box of bowtie noodles
2-3 C red grapes
1 C celery, thinly sliced
1/2 C sliced almonds
1/3 C green onions, chopped
2 C rotisserie chicken
 FOR THE DRESSING:
1 1/4 C mayonnaise (not light)
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 lemons juiced and zested
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tb fresh tarragon, minced (Make sure to use fresh and not dried)
1 Tb sugar
2 Tb honey

Instructions:

 Cook 1 pound of bowtie noodles according to package directions. Pour them into a colander and run cool water through them to lower the temperature.

Into a large bowl, place the drained pasta, 2-3 C red grapes, 1 C thinly sliced celery, 1/2 C sliced almonds, 1/3 C chopped green onions and 2 C rotisserie chicken.

To make the dressing grab some fresh tarragon. Don’t be tempted to use dry tarragon, this recipe is really best with fresh.This is what it looks like out of the package. It has an amazing smell and flavor!

Chop 2-3 Tb of the tarragon and place it in a small mixing bowl, or large glass measuring cup.

Add the zest and juice of two medium sized lemons. Add 1 1/4 C mayonnaise (not light), 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 Tb sugar

and 2 Tb honey. Stir it well to combine. Give it a taste and add a bit more sugar if needed. (Depending on the size of your lemons you might need a bit more sugar).

Add half of the dressing to the salad and stir to combine. Cover the salad and dressing and chill for 1-2 hours. Pour the rest of the dressing over the salad just before serving. Give it a nice stir, making sure everything is well incorporated. Add a few fresh tarragon leaves for garnish if you so choose.

Serve and enjoy!

Recipe adapted by: Jamie Cooks It Up

{Instant Pot Mac and Cheese}

This has become a favorite around here. Super quick to whip up and I love the garlic flavor it has.

Ingredients:

1 pound large or small macaroni
4 Tbs butter
2 tsp ground mustard
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 cups water
4 ounces cream cheese, softened and cubed
1 cup whole milk
16 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Bread Crumb Topping:

2 Tbs butter
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tsp Italian parsley, chopped (you can use fresh or dried)

Directions:
Add the macaroni, butter, water, ground mustard, salt and pepper into the bowl of the Instant Pot. Place the lid on and set the vent to “sealing”

Cook on high pressure for 4 minutes, then manually release the pressure.

Open the lid and add the cubed cream cheese, stirring until smooth

Add the milk and shredded cheese and continue to stir until all the cheese is melted and smooth. Top with grated Parmesan cheese and bread crumb topping.

Bread Crumb Topping Directions:

Melt the butter in a small sauce pan. Toss the bread crumbs in the butter and season with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and stir in the parsley.

 

Recipe adapted from: Kelsey Nixon

{Chicken Enchilada Pasta}

This meal was really simple to throw together and it was a good mix up from regular pasta dishes. The Mexican flavors were really creamy and delicious.

 

Ingredients: 

2-3 chicken breasts, cooked & shredded
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 {4 oz.} can diced green chiles
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
2 {10 oz.} cans green chili enchilada sauce
2/3 cups red enchilada sauce
2 cups shredded cheese {I used colby & monterrey jack}
1 cup sour cream
Penne pasta
Optional toppings
Avocado
Green Onions
Black Olives
Tomatoes
Sour Cream
Directions:
Cook chicken, drain, and shred.  Meanwhile boil pasta according to package and chop the veggies. Heat olive oil in a deep skillet and cook onions for about 3 mintures. Add garlic and red pepper and cook another 3 minutes.
Add cooked chicken, green chilies, cumin, chili powder, salt and enchilada sauces. Let sauce simmer for about 10 minutes. Add cheese and stir until the cheese is melted and heated through. Now toss in the 1 cup of sour cream, DO NOT bring to a boil otherwise it will curdle. Stir until the sour cream is well mixed and heated through. Drain the pasta and return to pot. Pour sauce and mix well. Serve and garnish with option toppings.
Recipe Source: Pintrest

{Almond Basil Pesto}

This was my first time making homemade pesto without pine nuts. I think I almost like the almonds better. It really did taste very similar, plus almonds are a lot cheaper!

Ingredients:

2-3 cups packed fresh basil leaves
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Put everything in a food processor, except for the olive oil. Turn the processor on slow until well mixed, then start drizzling the olive oil in until all mixed and paste like consistency. Salt and pepper to desired taste.

{Baked Ziti}

We love this meal, it’s one that the whole family (kids included) will gobble up. It makes a pretty big pan, so a lot of the time I will make it when we are having people over for dinner. Its also great to split into 2 pans and freeze one for later.

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 whole Large Onion, Diced
1 pound Italian Sausage
1 pound Ground Beef
1 can (28 Oz.) Whole Tomatoes, With Juice
2 cans (14.5 Ounce) Tomato Sauce Or Marinara Sauce
2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
Salt And Pepper, to taste
16 ounces, weight Ziti Or Rigatoni, Cooked Until Not Quite Al Dente
1  regular size tub of Cottage Cheese
1-1/2 pound Mozzarella Cheese, Grated
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 whole Egg
Fresh Minced Parsley

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté for several minutes, or until starting to soften. Add Italian sausage and ground beef and cook until browned. Drain off fat, leaving a bit behind for flavor.

Add tomatoes, tomato juice, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Stir and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. After that time, remove 3 to 4 cups of the sauce to a different bowl to cool down.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a separate bowl, mix together the cottage cheese, 2 cups of the grated mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, and salt and pepper. Stir together just a couple of times.

Drain the pasta and rinse under cool water to stop the cooking and cool it down. Pour it into the bowl with the cheese mixture and toss to slightly combine (there should still be large lumps.) Add the cooled meat sauce and toss to combine.

Add half the coated pasta to a large casserole dish or lasagna dish. Spoon half of the remaining sauce over the top, then top with half the remaining mozzarella cheese. Repeat with another layer of the coated pasta, the sauce, and the mozzarella.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbling. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

(Sprinkle chopped parsley over the pasta before serving!)

Recipe Source: The Pioneer Woman

{Thai Sesame Noodles}

This is a simple dish to throw together on those busy weeknights when you don’t really want to cook at all. The flavors are wonderful, and you can eat them alone or as a side dish to something else. We love them anyway and anytime.

INGREDIENTS:

12 ounces of spaghetti noodles
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp. sugar
4 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
3 Tbsp. Sesame oil
1/2 tsp garlic chili oil
3 Tbsp. canola oil
4 green onions, sliced

Whisk all the above ingredients together, except noodles and green onions.
Pour the sauce over cooked warm noodles and toss.
Sprinkle with green onions and any other yummy toppings of your choice, the possibilities are endless.

Recipe adapted from: The Pioneer Woman

{Zucchini Pasta}

I love a good pasta. This one is really tasty and simple. I didn’t add in the mint leaves because I didn’t have any on hand, if you end up adding them, please let me know how you like it.
3 Tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 -3 medium zucchini, shredded
1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1 lb penne or farfalle pasta
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbs fresh mint leaves, chopped (optional)
1/4 cup pine nutes
1 Tbs heavy cream

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. When it is hot, add the garlic, zucchini, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring often, for 15 minutes or until the zucchini is quite tender,
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until the pasta is tender but still has some bite. Dip a heatproof glass measuring cup into the pasta cooking water and remove 1/2 cup. Drain the pasta into a colander and return it to the pot.
 Stir in the Parmesan and add the mixture to the cooked pasta. Stir well over low heat until the pasta is hot. Add a few spoons of the pasta cooking water if the mixture seems dry. Add in pine nuts and cream  season with salt to taste, stir in the mint and serve.