Late summer veggie orzo salad

I have always loved the challenge format cooking shows, where competitors get a basket of miscellaneous stuff and have to quickly make something fantastic.

Our house is sometimes like this when we are nearing the end of the week and due for a grocery shop. I love the challenge of figuring out how to pull something together and the thrill of when it’s actually good.

This pasta salad could be made with a variety of things, substituting what you have on hand (different veggies, shape pasta, lemon for lime). I will say that adding a green of any kind is a nice change of pace and certainly adds some nutrients.

It also helps to have adventurous eaters (or just really hungry ones) to try out the experiments! 😉

Late summer veggies orzo salad

  • 12 oz orzo
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/3c olive oil
  • Zucchini, sliced lengthwise in quarters
  • Yellow squash, sliced lengthwise in quarters
  • 2 ears corn
  • 2 large handfuls mixed greens, arugula or spinach

Cook orzo and rinse. Mix together dressing of lime juice, olive oil, dijon and honey. Season with salt and pepper. Toss orzo to coat. Add in greens. It helps if the pasta is slightly warm to just wilt them. Grill zucchini, squash and corn for 10 minutes. Chop squash and slice kernels off of the cob (let it cool first!) Add to salad and toss to combine.

A goat cheese or vegan goat cheese/chevre is a nice touch of tangy too.

Greek Pasta Salad

  The month of April is a crossover month–hockey and baseball going on, plus of course swimming. I hate that we don’t sit down together every night as a family, but that’s reality.

This recipe is great to make on a Sunday and eat as a snack or side throughout the week. It’s easy to adjust the accessories for preferences (of course the boys would add meat if I asked them!)

Greek Orzo Pasta Salad

  • 1 box orzo pasta
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3c olive oil
  • 1/2 c kalamata olives, halved
  • 1/3c red onion, diced
  • 1c yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 3tbsp sundried tomatoes, julienned
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed
  • Handful of spinach, chopped
  • 4 oz feta

Juice the lemon, add the garlic and season with salt and pepper. Add the olive oil, whisk to mix dressing. Cook pasta, drain and rinse with cold water. Add remaining ingredients and toss together.

Wish I had a cookie!

Since it’s BOGO at Lund’s & Byerly’s this week, I kept the main dishes uber easy and supplemented with a few make-ahead salads. Now that Avery and Alec are home during the day, we are going through a lot of cookies! Avery likes to help bake, so I don’t mind 😉

Our CSA, Hogsback Farm, started up again this week. So a box of locally grown vegetables supplemented our grocery store shopping. I made Pea Shoot Pesto (you could easily substitute arugula or basil for the Pea Shoots, but they bring a really unique flavor–more grassy and less punchy than regular pesto). I used it to make pesto pasta with 4-spice rub grilled chicken and then had some left to use on salami/fresh mozzarella sandwiches. I also used the pac choi and rapini (a kind of green) in a quick and easy stir fry with shrimp and udon noodles.

Grandpa Mark’s Snickerdoodles

1 stick butter

3/4 c sugar

1 1/2c flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla

1 egg

Mix butter and sugar, add vanilla and eggs. Cream until fluffy. Add flour and baking soda. Roll into balls and roll in cinnamon sugar. Bake at 375 for 8 min. Makes about 2 dozen.

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School’s out!

SLP is finally out of school! We’re celebrating this week with summertime favorites. Some recipes, honestly, that are more work than I normally put in, but I want the boys to feel as excited about summer as I am 😉

  1. BBQ Ribs with Calico Beans, cole slaw and corn on the cob. Straight up: Ribs because they take 2 hours to cook are more work than I consider weeknight worthy. The beans are a Jennings family summer “expectation”…great for the 4th of July! **This is an extra credit for mom meal**
  2. Chicken enchiladas
  3. Burgers and leftover beans, plus orzo pasta salad. Use whatever accessories you like in the salad. It’s the base dressing that makes this salad “solid”. Of course fresh herbs! (I used basil, mint, oregano, dill, parsley, chives). I also just grab a few artichoke hearts, kalamatas and sundried tomatoes from the olive bar to make it easy to put together.
  4. Salad with strawberries, mint and gorgonzola. Throw together an entree salad with whatever protein you like, plus fresh berries and cheese (gorgonzola, feta, blue, goat all work. Add a raspberry or balsamic vinaigrette–easy peasy!)
  5. Salmon with bacon lentils and dill yogurt sauce. There used to be a recipe associated with this, but I can’t find it anymore and have adjusted it so much, I guess it’s now an original! 🙂
    1. Mix container of plain greek yogurt with juice from 1/2 lemon, dill, salt and pepper.
    2. Glaze salmon with honey, dijon mustard, crushed red pepper, thyme/dill, salt and pepper. Grill or bake skin side down (roughly 10 min @ 400 degrees).
    3. Boil lentils about 30 min (tender but not mushy). In separate pan, add chopped 1/2lb bacon, sautee until browned, remove all but 2tbsp fat from pan, add 2 cloves chopped garlic, 4 chopped green onions (or chives or regular onions)–watch this step, it goes fast! 30 sec–add drained lentils to bacon pan, throw in some whole grain mustard and season with salt and pepper/olive oil to moisten as needed. Add fresh herbs as you want — parsley, dill are great.

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Everyone’s favorite salads

This week is a crazy week for us. Not a single weeknight for dinner together. We will all be eating on the go 😦

To keep us eating healthy vs stopping for unfulfilling junk, I prepped ahead everyone’s favorite salads on Sunday night. I simply grilled off a whole cutup chicken using the easiest ever salt n pepper chicken technique –some of it got eaten that night and others got used in salads.

  • Pasta with chicken, tarragon and grapes (unique lower-fat tangy dressing: 1/2 c buttermilk, 1/2c yogurt, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1/4 c mayo, 1 tbsp tarragon, salt+pep).
  • Asian sesame chicken salad (make the dressing ahead and cut up vegs)
  • Egg salad for wraps (Matt’s favorite — add dill!)
  • 5 bean salad (I use this recipe as the base, but add green beans, wax beans, small white beans, garbanzo and light red kidneys)
  • Grilled vegetable salad (side dish for the grilled chicken the first night, great leftover!)

Fresh herbs really make these salads pop.

I am thankful too for grill night at baseball 🙂

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May 29: Spice is nice

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This week’s strategy: spice up some family favorites.

My boys like spicy foods, and you can certainly adjust these recipes to your preferences. But here are 3 for this week that leverage a single unique ingredient (chipotle in adobe sauce) and some familiar family favorites:

In case you need to cool down after all that heat, this one is a nice refreshing salad as a side:

Want the full week’s grocery list to go with this menu plan? Email me (

Let’s hope the weather continues to heat up as well! 😉