What I do while I figure out what to do next . . .

Archive for the tag “summer”

The BEST Orzo Pasta Salad

This is my absolute go to recipe for summer!  And since Memorial Day is coming up this weekend – I am off to the store to buy the ingredients for my first summer BBQ!.  I got this fabulous and EASY Orzo & Spinach Pasta Salad recipe at the request of my daughter –
Simply chop all items and put into large serving bow.

Simply chop all items and put into large serving bowl.

(who by the way doesn’t like 1/2 the ingredients on their own) – but loves how they all work together here.  So thank you to my good friend Jill for graciously sharing her recipe with me.  Hope it’s as big a hit at your house as it is at ours.

1 lb cooked and cooled orzo
3/4 lb crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup minced red onion
1/2 cup diced sun dried tomatoes (drained and blotted dry)
1 small can sliced black olives (either sliced or chopped)
3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 TBS balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Combine all ingredients, pour on dressing and
Sooo yummy!!!

Sooo yummy!!!

Mango Avocado Salsa for fish

Mango Avocado Salsa

Mango Avocado Salsa

This is the PERFECT topping for white flaky fish!! Once the weather starts turning beautiful, fish comes back onto my radar and this salsa is a definite keeper!  I forgot to buy the habanero chile when I was out at the grocery store the first time, so I whipped up the salsa a couple of hours ahead of time without it.  Just cover with plastic wrap in fridge.  If your kids do not like spicy you can skip the habanero completely, but the adults really liked the kick that it added. The original recipe called for 1/2 to 1 chile but I did less than 1/2 and it was quite spicy so play it by ear.  The red of the habanero adds a nice color so I would not substitute a milder jalapeno, but reduce the quanity.  My avocado also was a day or so away from being ripe and the time in the lime juice in the fridge brought it around to a perfect consistency by the time I was ready to serve.  So easy.  And so gorgeous!  I served on top of baked tilapia fillets (14 minutes in oven @ 400 degrees – pat fillets dry – place in baking dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, season with coarse salt and pepper and small pat of butter).  Salsa would work with any white flaky fish.


  • 1 avocado diced into medium size chunks
  • 1 ripe mango diced medium
  • 1 small red onion diced small
  • 1/4 finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 habanero chile, seeds removed, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tablespoon EVOO
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt


  • Only 1 step – combine in bowl!

Per 1/4 cup – 91 calories, 6.9 g fat, 1 g sat fat, .9 g protein, 8.2 g carb, 2.7 g fiber.

Adapted from: Everyday Food



Well this is just crazy!!!

I don’t really have a green thumb, but apparently once you put a whole lot of effort into building raised beds and hauling really, really awesome dirt from really far away in your yard (trip, after trip, after trip) you can be a rather negligent gardener and then still reap the benefits for a good portion of the summer.  I do try to plant things my family likes, green beans, corn, broccoli, basil etc.  I also plant things I like and will eat daily or will can like pickles and tomatoes.  But then I get suckered into planting things like squash and zucchini (which I like drizzled with olive oil and grilled) which my family just tolerates and unfortunately, those plants tend to be the things that I am shockingly most successful at growing (see above picture for proof).  Hence my quest for the ultimate zucchini bread recipe.  Stay tuned for that recipe, plus bread and butter pickles, a pesto straight from the Ligurian coast (via my backyard) and an awesome go-to dip that will take you from summer barbeques to football tailgates and beyond! 🙂

I am a Salmon Goddess!

I am. I really am.  And I don’t even eat salmon. EVER.  I think it’s gross. I only (very recently) even started eating white flaky (non fishy) fish and that was only because my husband’s boss served it for dinner.  And you can’t really go, “ick” and refuse to eat fish at the bosses house.  But somewhere along the line between I DON’T EAT FISH and now when I tried it again, it turned out my taste buds have changed and I actually like it.  I even purposely order it on the menu even when there are other things I like too.  Shocker!

So here it is summertime and I am looking for new recipes to try.  Around this time my husband has also decided to be not only dairy intolerant but also iffy on the whole pasta thing.  JOY!  Enter Salmon.  It’s healthy.  My husband likes it.  My children have never even tried it so they don’t know whether or not they hate it yet.  Plus it’s pink and summer looking.  Why not?

That’s how I ended up standing clueless at the fish counter one afternoon at 5pm.  There were two kinds of salmon.  Alaskan Sockeye wild salmon which was bright red on sale for 9.99 lb (regularly 19.99 lb) and a lighter pink farm raised salmon that said “dye added”  also for 9.99 lb.  Luckily, there was a super cool “I know about food” guy standing right in front of me who was ordering the sockeye – so I hit him up for the scoop.  Already, I don’t like the idea of dye added to a food I am buying to be healthy, and as a self respecting woman, I am almost honor bound to buy the more expensive salmon on sale.  Plus, cool guy sealed the deal when he said the wild salmon is much for flavorful and firm.   I did a little more research when I got home.  In addition to having no color added, wild salmon is less fatty, has more omega 3’s and protein than farm raised salmon.  Also farm raised salmon has more toxins and is given antibiotics to ward off disease from being raised in close confines.  Honestly, if wild salmon isn’t on sale, just save up your $$ and eat it less often rather than ever going for the farm raised.

So, having gotten the nod and the wink from super cool food guy. I head home with my purchase to experiment.  I read a couple of recipes, but it is already getting late and I really need to just get going already so I minimize to GREAT SUCCESS!  I’m serious.  Salmon Goddess.

INGREDIENTS (to serve 6)

  • 2 lbs wild sockeye salmon
  • 1/4 cup mounded light brown sugar
  • 3 TBS creamy country Dijon mustard
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper.


Preheat broiler

Place salmon on tin foil lined rimmed baking sheet.  This is REALLY REALLY important.  When you see the after picture you will understand why.

Lightly score salmon along serving lines and sprinkle with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper.

Mix together country Dijon and brown sugar into a glaze. I used a creamy country Dijon – so with the mustard seeds, but also with a nice texture.

Completely cover salmon with glaze.  I needed to let the salmon sit with the glaze for a while because my dear husband did not in fact leave the office when he said he would.  The glaze runs all over, so I would reapply as much as necessary before popping under broiler.

Broil 10 minutes – do you see what I mean about the tin foil being vital!  I think without it, I would have just had to throw the pan away.

Serve immediately.  We also had a jasmine rice, some crusty bread and grilled asparagus to go along with the salmon.  Did I mention I ate it too!  Seriously, awesome.  Even for me.  Everyone liked it (well boy child ate it but, really, as we know, only really loves tacos, spaghetti and meatballs and the like – I think he might have said meeh in a sort of positive tone – which I took as a success from him)





Tomato, Cucumber and Feta Summer Salad

It is one of those too hot to eat days and this salad is just perfect for days like today.  I saw the picture this morning on Pinterest and I just had to whip it up.  I didn’t even need to go to the grocery store because the ingredients are all my favorites and I had them either in the house or growing in the garden.  It was just that easy!  Well, I did have to go outside into the smoldering heat and climb up a slight incline to said garden to pick the basil (which is thriving despite being planted WAY too close to a sprawling pumpkin vine).  FINE, my husband was right.  I over-planted again, but I just cannot bring myself to thin out plants that have sprung up from tiny seeds – it just seems too mean.   Anyway, back to the salad. . . I halved the recipe this time because it will not keep without getting mushy.  Also, I’m probably the only member of my family who could live on cucumbers and tomatoes. So plan accordingly.  You can make ahead, but do not add in the dressing until 1/2 before you want to eat.  You can eat right away (I did) but the flavors will keep developing if you give it a little time.

Adapted from a recipe from Local Kitchen


  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 English cucumber
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese
  • 1/4 shredded basil
  • 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt.

Quarter cherry tomatoes and add to a large bowl

Dice cucumber and add to tomatoes

Yes, you are correct.  That is NOT  1/2 a red onion.  My house ATE my 1/2 a red onion.  Instead I found 1/2 a large shallot.  It worked.  It was fine. But you should use 1/2 a red onion instead.

Now add the 1/2 cup of crumbled Feta cheese.  I really like this picture.  I don’t know why.  Maybe it’s the heat and I’m just easily impressed.

Finally add the shredded basil and toss to combine.  I tried to have my son take a picture of me shredding basil, but he’s too short.  You just saw forearm.  See below.



So You will just have to use your imagination and know that I once I was done taking pictures with my right hand, I went back to two-handed shredding 🙂

To a small bowl add red wine vinegar, EVOO, sugar, sea salt and pepper and whisk until emulsified.

Drizzle dressing over salad.

Toss and you can either eat right away or  let it sit for 1/2 an hour for flavors to develop.

And I was wrong about this salad only appealing to me (in my family).  My short child proclaimed that not only did she like it.  She LOVED IT! But that may be because she doesn’t have a Prada backpack 🙂


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