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!  I will try to take some better, brighter pictures.  But for now, I must post this fabulous recipe before tomatoes go out of season!
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. 
To one pot, add asparagus 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 green.
To the second pot, add the orzo.  Cook 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.
This can be served warm, room temperature or cold.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Pumpkin Chip Cookies

Every year, about this time, I get a craving for these 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).


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 grtis
1 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 c pepperjack cheese
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...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Averie's Chocolate Chip Cookies

I want to be this girl, Averie.  I have a love/hate relationship with her because I LOVE her recipes but I hate that I lose all self control! :)  It is a miracle I have not blogged about this recipe.  It is my favorite BY FAR.  I've made about 10 batches since I moved here.  They are highly approved from all visitors and Hunter's office.  I even shipped them to the home office.

A couple things stand out in this recipe:
1.  Pudding Mix
2. Refrigeration of dough required
3.  They are MASSIVE
3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened (1.5 sticks)
3/4 c. light brown sugar, packed
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract (or 1/2 tsp of vanilla paste)
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 3.5-ounce packet instant vanilla pudding mix (not sugar-free and not 'cook & serve')
1 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
1 bag (10 oz) Trader Joe's chocolate chunks
I've tried different chocolate chips but these by far are the best.  I stock up on these.
I've been meaning to post a picture of the butter here.  I first saw the small bars when I moved out here.  They are squatty but the same measurements of the long sticks back home.
This discovery is from the farmer's market (I am obsessed).  You can see the vanilla bean specs in the cookies because of it.
In your mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the wet ingredients (first paragraph) for 4 minutes on med-high speed. 
Scrape the sides.
Add dry ingredients on low until just combined (about 1 min).
Add the chocolate until just combined (30 seconds). 

This is how large the cookies should be.  I use my 1/4 measuring cup. 

They make 14 cookies (ok, i ate one).  Do not be confused.  Be accurate.
When you place them on the tray, flatten them a bit.  They do not spread when baking.  

You will them cover with plastic wrap and put in the frig for at least 4 hours.

They bake at 350 for 11 minutes.  Let them cool on the pan.

I believe they are best the next day...if you can wait that long.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Our Favorite Waffle Recipe

Our favorite impulse wedding giftcard purchase was a Calphalon waffle iron.   Our fav time to use it is a lazy Saturday morning.  I make the waffles while Hunter cooks the bacon.  We've made several recipes but to this date, this is our favorite.

*Our favorite requires a little more work (of course) but a good backup recipe with pantry ingredients can be found here.

The name of the recipe:

Waffles of Insane Greatness
333 reviews and 5 stars...I knew it must be good!


3/4 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c cornstarch
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 c buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil  (I will try less!)
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


I use my mixer...

Mix the dry ingredients - flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix. 

Add the egg, milk, vegetable oil, egg, sugar and vanilla and mix again. Let the batter sit for 30 minutes.  (Some say beat the egg white first but I couldn't tell a difference for the effort.)

Preheat the waffle iron. Do not use non-stick spray on the waffle iron; the oil in the batter will allow the waffle to release easily. (This is part of why I love this recipe!) 

Notice the steam - I keep the setting one notch past the medium setting.
The recipe makes what you see below.  It is perfect for the two of us but you can easily double it!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Shrimp Scampi With Roasted Peppers and Spinach

This is one of my top 5 recipes and... it was a Publix Apron recipe I found on a trip to the grocery after work one day.  It's a great way to sneak in some veggies.  Like many recipes, we eat this for 2 nights (woo hoo).  I don't always measure exactly with this recipe and that is ok.

Shrimp Scampi with Roasted Red Peppers and Spinach
(altered just SLIGHTLY from the Publix website)


3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (before we discovered the Boise market I would use the jarred

minced garlic)
1/3 c. Parmesan cheese, finely grated
8 oz linguine pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup roasted red peppers, finely chopped
12 oz peeled/deveined shrimp, thawed
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth (or stock)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (I reduced it from 3 - it's not needed although it does take
 some bite out of the kick if you choose to do all 3 T.)
4 cups baby spinach leaves (6 oz)


  • Bring water to boil for pasta.
  • Slice garlic.
  • Chop peppers.
  • Grate cheese (1/3 cup).
*Most of the work is prep.  Be sure you have it all ready because once you start, it goes fast!  
In fact, I line my ingredients up for this one and it is done start to end in 15 minutes.


*It is also good to note this has kick.  So if you want less kick lessen the spicy peppers or red 

pepper flakes.

  1. Cook and drain pasta following package instructions.
  2. Preheat large sauté pan (we use our lovely new wedding gift!) on medium 1–2 minutes. 
  3. Place oil and garlic in pan; cook 3–4 minutes or until the garlic edges begin to turn golden.
  4. Add peppers, shrimp, pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook and stir 1 min.
  5. Add broth; cook 2–3 minutes or until reduced by about one-half and shrimp have just turned pink
  6. (It never reduces that quick for me but I like liquid so I am ok with it.)
  7. Reduce heat to low; stir in butter, spinach, cheese, pasta, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. 
  8. Toss until butter and cheese melts and spinach wilts. Serve.

This garlic is "polish gem."  I will take a picture of the sweet garlic farmers next time we go.  
They have quite a selection.  I never knew there were so many types.  Spanish rojo is another one of our favs.

Trader Joes made up for the Publix loss.  I am addicted to these peppers. I stuff them with blue cheese for snack!
  I use about 6 for the recipe. 

This is a Fred Meyer find.  If you know me and shrimp, you know I am picky where my shrimp comes from.  
No Thailand farmed shrimp for me.  Blame it on a movie I watched re: food in grad school.  
This bag of shrimp retails (its been on sale) for $4.  I kid you not.  Thank you, Fred Meyer.

I like to chop the spinach up in smaller pieces if they are large leaves so it is spread out further and 
I don't notice I am eating leaves (I am weird like that).

Isn't it a beautiful dish?!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Herbed Chicken Parmesan

I first posted this recipe January 2011 and, 3 years later, still love it.  Every time I make it I cannot believe I don't have it on a regular rotation.  It now has 151 ratings and 5 stars.  It deserves its own post and notes so I am adding my alteration and tips.

The original recipe from allrecipes is here.  The version below has my alterations.


  • Breading:
  • 2/3 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese, halved
  • 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs (I increased it to be sure I had enough breading)
  •  (I leave out parsley...we don't care for it.)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • large egg whites, lightly beaten 
  • 2 chicken breasts*
  • 1 tablespoon butter

  • Sauce:
  • 1 jar bottled tomato-basil mushroom pasta sauce (I love sauce so I make it a large jar!)
  • 4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 slices of provolone cheese
  • * Albertsons has the hand trimmed chicken...thank you Albertsons.  Trimming is my least favorite part of baking chicken.  I slice them in half so they are thin and positioned well for tenderizing.  It makes it into 4 breast pieces that cook easily through as well

  • Combine parmesan, breadcrumbs, basil, and salt in a shallow dish. Place egg whites in an additional  shallow dish. Dip each chicken tender in egg white and dredge in the breadcrumb mixture.   Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.   Add chicken.

  • I didn't take a picture.  You know, salmonella and cell phones don't mix.  

  • But this picture is after the chicken is breaded.  See how well they fit in our large frying pan.  It is one of our amazing wedding gifts and I use the mess out of it. 

  1. Cook 3-4 minutes on each side. Take off heat.

Combine sauce ingredients and microwave until hot.   Pour the sauce over chicken in pan. 
Sprinkle evenly with the remaining Parmesan and provolone cheese slices. Wrap handle of pan with foil, and broil until the cheese melts.

And here it is!  It easily feeds us for 2 nights!

*I love my new placemats.