Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Lemon Orzo Pasta with Tomatoes and Asparagus

This is one of my absolute favorite recipes from Pinterest.  I've been making it for years and just today realized I had some pictures but never made the post!

Lemon Orzo Salad with Asparagus and Tomatoes
12 oz. orzo
1 bunch fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

1 lemon, zested and juiced
4 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper

Grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Bring 2 large pots of water to boil. 
In one pot, add asparagus to boiling water and blanch, about 2 to 3 minutes, depending on the thickness of your asparagus. 
Place blanched asparagus in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and keep them pretty green.

In the second pot,  cook the orzo per package instructions.  When tender, drain and place in a large bowl. 

Add blanched asparagus and tomato halves.

Mix olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl. 

Stir into orzo and vegetables.  Stir in grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Serve warm, room temperature or cold (my fav).

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Pumpkin Chip Cookies

Every year, about this time, I get a craving for these pumpkin chip cookies.  Let's be honest...I crave them year round. But this time of year I find an excuse to make them more often.  Some places only carry pumpkin seasonally (ahhem Trader Joes) and some all year.  So if you cannot find it, don't give up.  In Albertsons it is by the pie fillings and not by candied yams and sweet potatoes like one would think.  This was one of the first recipes I discovered on pinterest circa 2011.  I have made it my own.

The cookies can be described by having a hint of pumpkin. Even those that do not like pumpkin like this recipe.  They are very cake-like and fluffy (so leave room on your cookie sheet for them to spread). Think of them as muffin tops.  If you don't care for butterscotch you substitute 2 cups of chocolate chips (I prefer half and half).

Pumpkin Chip Cookies


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup canola oil
i cup canned pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


Preheat your oven to 325.

In a separate bowl, mix the first section of dry ingredients.

In your mixer on medium speed (with the paddle attachment), beat eggs and sugar until light yellow (almost 2 minutes).   Turn to slow speed and mix in oil, vanilla and pumpkin.

Add your dry ingredients until just combined (about a minute).

Fold in chocolate/butterscotch chips.

*I used two baking sheets, one insulated and one not, to see which I preferred.  I would NOT use insulated.  They cook more thoroughly and stay together better.  I even think they rise better using a traditional cookie sheet.*

Using your 1/4 measuring cup, make about 10 cookies per baking sheet. Don't fill up the cup entirely.  I did 8 per sheet (2 sheets) and they were entirely too large (even for me).  If you did 10 a sheet, the recipe will yield about 20 cookies.  They pour out quite nicely.

Bake in the oven for about 16 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes before removing from the baking sheet.

The picture above shows the cake and muffin-like consistency.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Shrimp and Grits Casserole

This shrimp and grits recipe is courtesy of Nancy's mother, using grits that Catherine and David sent us when we moved to Boise, and with photography help from Claire while visiting.  My friends are the best.

This Shrimp and Grits recipe can be prepared ahead of time because it is a casserole and makes for good leftovers (another plus for the Hodges' house).  When Nancy lived with me her mom would send her back to Birmingham with frozen containers of these shrimp and grits.  That began my obsession.  There is a bit of food prep but you mix everything together and are set!  Ironically my coworker uses the same recipe - it was also published in Southern Living.  You see, it is a good one!

First, can I just tell you how amazing these grits are? I've made this recipe probably 50 times but these grits make it extra special.  The casserole holds together better with these grits (before I would use a bowl which was ok).  I don't think I can eat any other grits ever again (think rich, creamy and chunky).  So keep this in mind for the recipe.  Old fashioned stone ground corn grits are WAY better than Quaker instant (no offense). 

Here is a close up picture!

You recognize this bag.  I use this shrimp often from Fred Meyer. I am weird and have to find wild shrimp.  The small shrimp work well because you get a good amount throughout the casserole.

This is one of our favorite finds at the Boise farmer's market and I kick myself for not having a picture.  There is an older couple with a booth dedicated to garlic - every kind you can imagine.  Hunter and I like to pick different ones each time we go.  Asian tempest was described as sweet.  Chesnok red was full-bodied - that is the one I used for this recipe!


4 c. chicken broth
1 c. regular grits
1 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese (~ .25 lb)
1 c pepperjack cheese (~ .25 lb)
1 T butter
6 green onions, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced (or 2 small)
1 lb shrimp, peeled and cooked
1 10 oz can Rotel
1/4 tsp pepper

*For this recipe I used my food processor both for the cheese and for the peppers and onions.  The peppers and onions definitely make for a better presentation hand chopped but it tastes just the same.  AND it saves some time.

Bring chicken broth to a boil and add grits.  Stir and cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  

Stir in both cheeses into the grits.  Set aside. 

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat and saute bell pepper, onions and garlic for about 5 minutes. 

Stir together grits, green onion mixture, shrimp, pepper and rotel. 

To give you an idea, this is what it will look like:

And this is the fabulous dish my sister gave me as a gift one year.  Food never sticks.  I use it often!  It works great for this recipe.  

After about 35 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven, I present you with the colorful finished product...