Sunday, April 28, 2013

Summer Orzo Salad

I don't think any of us understand the Midwest this year. 37 degrees last week. Snow on cars. Seriously, it's Mid-April.

Anyways, I'm ready for summer. And in an effort to get my way, I decided to make one of Jon's top salad requests: Orzo Salad. Light, but satisfying. Great side to a burger bar or potluck. Check it out.

The ratios of orzo to veggies depends on your preferences and taste ultimately. And you can certainly substitute or eliminate veggies you don't like. I usually just see whats in the veggie drawer.

Experiment. Isn't that what college is all about? (Of course with common sense!)

Mixing Bowl
5qt Saucepan
Sharp knife
Chopping board

1 cup orzo, cooked

Raid The Fridge:
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 yellow pepper, diced
2-3 green onions, thinly sliced
(Or red onion)
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 carrots, quartered and chopped
1/2" thick block feta, cubed
(Or your favorite cheese)

1/4 cup Olive oil
1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
Salt & Pepper
1-2 Tablespoons Fresh Summer Herbs, finely chopped
Lemon Juice, optional

If you really don't want to make dressing just get a store-bought vinaigrette.


Once you have got all the components chopped and ready.  Put it in a large mixing bowl. 
Add the dressing.  That's it!

Serve it up!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Roasted Smashed Hot Potatoes

As promised from last weeks blog, I agreed to posting a recipe I modified from The Pioneer Woman's recipe collection that I'm sure you can make as well: Crash Hot Potatoes

The original recipe came from Australia, and I've simply made a few additions to make this a great side dish with a spicy twist. So far, I have had nothing but rave reviews in that nothing is ever leftover.

If you prefer the tamer, traditional flavors--nothing wrong with that--stick to the original recipe as outlined.  Add it to the meatloaf you just mastered, hopefully! Bound to impress!

5-Qt Saucepan
16" x 19" Sheet Pan (or something similar, oven-proof, flat, and with edges)

12 - 15 small new potatoes (depends more on the size of your crowd and size of sheet pan)
1-2 tsp salt

Olive oil
Salt & Pepper
4 Tbls butter, melted
2 cloves garlic, minced

Garlic Salt & Lemon Pepper
Fresh herbs, chopped-thyme, rosemary
Jalapeños, sliced

1. Wash your hands.
2. Clean and prepare your space.
3. Preheat oven to 450F degrees.

4. Place potatoes in saucepan.
5. Cover with water & 1-2 tsp salt
6. Boil potatoes until fork-tender.  Approx 15-20 min. (should be small potatoes). Set aside.

7. Prepare sheet pan with olive oil.
8. Sprinkle pan with salt and pepper.

9. Place cooled potatoes on sheet pan.
10. Use fork to gently mash potatoes
11. Drizzle smashed potatoes with olive oil, salt & pepper and thyme/rosemary (herbs optional)

OR Branch Out!

12. Melt butter in small bowl, add garlic and any other fresh herbs.
13. Set aside while taters boil.

14. Once potatoes on pan and mashed, brush with garlic-and herb-infused butter.

15. Scatter sliced jalapeños over potatoes.

16. Salt & Pepper to taste.  Or Garlic-Salt or Lemon-Pepper.

17. Bake @ 450 F degrees x 20-25 minuttes until golden brown.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Easy Meatloaf

Sometimes you need to try new things, or re-invent old ones. So here's a suggestion: break away from the old stand-by of making hamburgers with ground chuck or sirloin--instead, make a delicious crowd pleaser with a little extra effort--good ol' fashioned meatloaf. Who'd-a-thunk? Kid eats meatloaf?  Yep, that's Jon.  And from a parent's standpoint who wants meal diversity--it's an awesome burger alternative.

Add 'Crash Hot Potatoes' (next recipe this week), green beans in butter and basil (as already demo-ed with carrots)...and you might just find yourself running "Jon's Campus Bistro Blueplate Special".
You do know Steve Jobs never finished college, right?

Plan for requests to make this recipe again!  Leftovers are fantastic heated or made into a sandwich.

9" x 13" Pyrex dish
Large mixing bowl
10" non-stick skillet (if you are opting to add flavor with sautéed onions)

4 slices stale white bread, torn
1/3 cup milk, any type
1 lb ground hamburger / sirloin
1 lb ground pork
1 large yellow onion, diced & sautéed
1 tsp butter
1 Tbls olive oil
2 eggs
2 tsp kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
1 tsp thyme
1 pinch nutmeg (optional- I tend to skip this)
1 Tbls fresh parsley, chopped (optional, if budget tight or not handy)


1. Wash hands and have kitchen cleaned.
2. Preheat oven to 400F degrees

3. Dice onion.
4. In non-stick skillet, sauté onions and set aside to cool.

5. Combine torn bread and milk in a mixing bowl.
6. Drain and squeeze milk out of bread.  Discard milk.
7. Add meats, bread, onions, eggs, and spices together and mix with your hands.

8. Form meat mixture into a log in the UNGREASED Pyrex dish
9. Cover log with strips of bacon.
10. Some folks like adding a final touch of BBQ sauce or ketchup here. I don't, but you might like the sweetness.

11. Bake @ 400 degrees x 25-30 minutes.
12. Turn down to 350 degrees for another 20 minutes.
13. Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting.

Use baking time to prep your salad or other sides.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Artichoke Dip With A Kick

Jon is one of those kids with the metabolism of a horse. Annoying as @#*%, right?
(Otherwise, he's a pretty cool kid and it's his birthday today!)

He's tall, skinny, good-looking, and can eat just about anything he wants any time of the day as many times as his stomach will permit without exploding--and he doesn't gain a single ounce.

And what could be better when making appetizers and dips?
Having someone around who can actually eat them!

As we all know, they are frequently not "health-conscious", and for Jon, he actually needs the fat.
For the rest of us, it simply shows up on the hips, butt cheeks or 'love-handles' unless we torture ourselves and abstain from tasting the goodness.

So, I've done my best to take some of the fat out of one of Jon's favorite dips so that everyone can enjoy it without the guilt while maintaining all the flavors.

Artichoke Dip With A Little Kick

Approach with caution and at your own risk. You have been warned!

Oven-proof 10" x 7" Pyrex  (if you only have a 9" x 13" Pyrex, double the recipe)
Mixing Bowl
Functioning oven

20 ounces Marinated Artichoke Hearts (set 5-6 slices aside)
1 1/4 cup Parmesean, grated
1 cup Light or Reduced-Fat Mayonnaise
1 small yellow onion, diced or grated
1 shallot, finely chopped (optional)
1/2 tsp Freshly ground pepper (or regular)
1/2 tsp Kosher salt (to taste)
Dash of cayenne pepper (optional, if you are a wuss)

Crackers, such as Wheat Thins, Ritz, Crisps

1. Wash your hands.
2. Read the recipe.
3. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.

4. Drain artichoke hearts and set a few aside for topping later.
5. In a mixing bowl, use a fork to partially mash the artichoke hearts.
6. Add the parmesan and onion.
7. Add the mayo, salt, pepper, and cayenne

8. Stir it all together.
9. Place in the un-greased pyrex dish.
10. Scatter the remaining artichoke hearts on top.

11. Add some pepper and cayenne for color.
12. Bake at 350F degrees for 35 minutes and until golden brown on top.

Buy something cool and unique.