Lemon Orzo Salad with Asparagus, Spinach, and Feta

Is this the first time I’ve bought feta in the year+ since I left Greece? Yes. Did I buy the smallest package the supermarket could provide? Yes.

IMG_6134For some reason orzo always seems a cheery pasta to me, and with the bright flavor of lemon and some veggies to make it feel healthy, this is a nice light summer dish. I actually thought about adding chicken, but I didn’t think about it enough and forgot to buy any chicken. Oh well!

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 8 asparagus spears, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 cup packed fresh spinach
  • juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium saucepan, bring the water and salt to a boil. Add the orzo, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat, then add the garlic and cook 3-4 minutes. Add the asparagus pieces and cook a further 3-4 minutes, then add the spinach. Cook until the asparagus is tender and the spinach has wilted.

IMG_6130Combine the orzo and cooked vegetables in a medium bowl, then drizzle the lemon juice on top.

IMG_6131Season with salt and pepper, stir to combine, then sprinkle the cheese on top. Serve still warm.

IMG_6133If you’re at all confident in the kitchen, you can get away with cutting the asparagus and pulling out all your other ingredients while the water comes to a boil, and then cooking the veggies while the pasta cooks, making it actually a very quick dish to through together. I think you could do well adding some grilled chicken breast, or some chunks from a supermarket rotisserie chicken if you want to beef this up a bit, but as is it’s enough for dinner for 2, or as a side for more.

I got some ridiculous ‘healthy’ cookbook recently and was hoping to have a second asparagus recipe to share after this one, but it turns out that, nope, asparagus cake is every bit as gross as it sounds.

Lemon Orzo Salad with Asparagus, Spinach, and Feta

From Two Peas and Their Pod.

  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 8 asparagus spears, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 cup packed fresh spinach
  • juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium saucepan, bring the water and salt to a boil. Add the orzo, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat, then add the garlic and cook 3-4 minutes. Add the asparagus pieces and cook a further 3-4 minutes, then add the spinach. Cook until the asparagus is tender and the spinach has wilted.

Combine the orzo and cooked vegetables in a medium bowl, then drizzle the lemon juice on top. Season with salt and pepper, stir to combine, then sprinkle the cheese on top. Serve still warm.

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Maple Oatmeal Cookies

These are the cookies I made at the same time as last week’s brown sugar maple cookies. As I mentioned then, I liked the texture of last week’s cookies way more, but most of my coworkers loved the texture of these, so I guess it depends on what you’re into. These ones were definitely easier to snack on indefinitely.

IMG_6075Ingredients:

  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup maple sugar (I got mine from the internet, your local store may have some)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

IMG_6063First, adjust your oven racks to be in the top and lower thirds of the oven, rather than having one in the middle. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, salt, and baking soda, then set aside. Line baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.

IMG_6067Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined.

IMG_6068Add half the flour mixture, beat until just combined, then repeat with the remaining flour mixture.

IMG_6069Drop rounded teaspoonfuls of dough, well spaced, onto your lined sheets. Bake until the edges are golden, about 11 minutes, rotating the top and bottom pans halfway through. Let cool 2 minutes on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

These are too big!

These are too big!

The ones one the left are a good size. The thing on the right...I was curious?

The ones one the left are a good size. The thing on the right…I was curious?

This uneven cooking is what happens if you do big ones. The tray way back at the top of the post is the more even cooking of smaller ones!

This uneven cooking is what happens if you do big ones. The smaller ones cook more evenly, and stay a better texture!

IMG_6074

For once you (I) really should listen to the recipe when it says such small amounts per cookie – they cook fairly unevenly when you use a larger amount, although admittedly they still taste good anyway.

Maple Oatmeal Cookies

From Martha Stewart.

  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup maple sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

First, adjust your oven racks to be in the top and lower thirds of the oven, rather than having one in the middle. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, salt, and baking soda, then set aside. Line baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Add half the flour mixture, beat until just combined, then repeat with the remaining flour mixture.

Drop rounded teaspoonfuls of dough, well spaced, onto your lined sheets. Bake until the edges are golden, about 11 minutes, rotating the top and bottom pans halfway through. Let cool 2 minutes on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

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Brown Sugar Maple Cookies

I made two different maple cookie recipes the other day,  to have coworkers taste test them to find the best. I thought these were the CLEAR winner, in taste, texture, and appearance, but most of the other folk to try both have leaned the other way? It’s a mystery to me, but I’ll share these today and the other ones next week, and you can decide for yourself? These ones are thick, soft, maple-y, and stay a good texture for days.

IMG_6066Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 – 1 1/2 teaspoons maple extract, to taste
  • 1 cup bread flour (you can use all all-purpose, but will have flatter, less chewy cookies)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Using your mixer’s paddle attachment, beat the butter on low speed until smooth, 1-2 minutes.

IMG_6049Add the sugars and beat on medium high until well combined and the color has lightened, about 3 minutes.

IMG_6050

You’re beating additional air in, which is what makes the color change.

Add the egg, vanilla extract, and maple extract (starting with 3/4 teaspoon and adding more to taste – I used 1 1/4 teaspoons total) and beat until well combined.

IMG_6051Add the flours, corn starch, baking soda, and salt, and mix on low until just combined.

IMG_6052Scoop the dough using a 2 ounce cookie scoop or measuring a scant 1/4 cup, into 13 – 15 portions, rolling into balls. Place on a plate and cover with saran wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to 5 days.

IMG_6053Preheat oven to 350 and line or grease two baking sheets. Spread the dough balls widely, and bake 10-12 minutes, rotating at 5 minutes, until just starting to brown at the edges.

IMG_6062 IMG_6064If your cookies are still big domes when removed from the oven, tap them on the top with the back of a spoon to flatten. Cool on the pans for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

IMG_6065How anything can top these, I just don’t know!

Brown Sugar Maple Cookies

From Averie Cooks.

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 – 1 1/2 teaspoons maple extract, to taste
  • 1 cup bread flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Using your mixer’s paddle attachment, beat the butter on low speed until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Add the sugars and beat on medium high until well combined and the color has lightened, about 3 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla extract, and maple extract and beat until well combined. Add the flours, corn starch, baking soda, and salt, and mix on low until just combined.

Scoop the dough using a 2 ounce cookie scoop or measuring a scant 1/4 cup, into 13 – 15 portions, rolling into balls. Place on a plate and cover with saran wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to 5 days.

Preheat oven to 350 and line or grease two baking sheets. Spread the dough balls widely, and bake 10-12 minutes, rotating at 5 minutes, until just starting to brown at the edges. If your cookies are still big domes when removed from the oven, tap them on the top with the back of a spoon to flatten. Cool on the pans for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

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Chocolate Pudding Pie

A rich no-bake dessert for your summer evenings!

IMG_6045Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 30 chocolate wafer cookies, such as Nabisco’s Famous Chocolate Wafers (I’d actually strongly remember using 15 Oreos instead, as the leftover Oreos are way way better than the leftover Nabisco cookies)
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

Filling:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups 1% milk
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon white rum OR 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • fresh raspberries and whipped cream, for serving

IMG_6023To make the crust, process the wafers in a food processor until finely ground.

IMG_6021Add the melted chocolate and oil and continue to process until well blended. Press into the bottom and sides of a 9″ pie plate. Freeze 15 minutes, or until set.

IMG_6022In the meantime, make the filling. Combine the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, and salt in a large saucepan and whisk well. Add 1 cup of the milk and the egg yolks and whisk until smooth, then whisk in the remaining milk. Cook over medium heat until thickened and bubbly, 5-10 minutes, stirring constantly.

IMG_6024 Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, stirring until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.

IMG_6026Stir in the rum or vanilla, then pour into the crust.

IMG_6027Cover with saran wrap and chill 4 hours, or until set.

IMG_6041Serve with the berries and whipped cream.

IMG_6043 IMG_6044

Chocolate Pudding Pie

From myrecipes.

Crust:

  • 30 chocolate wafer cookies, such as Nabisco’s Famous Chocolate Wafers (which I learned while making this are boring/bad alone, but taste like the cookie part of Oreos when used in a crust) or 15 Oreos
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

Filling:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups 1% milk
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon white rum OR 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • fresh raspberries and whipped cream, for serving

To make the crust, process the wafers in a food processor until finely ground. Add the melted chocolate and oil and continue to process until well blended. Press into the bottom and sides of a 9″ pie plate. Freeze 15 minutes, or until set.

In the meantime, make the filling. Combine the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, and salt in a large saucepan and whisk well. Add 1 cup of the milk and the egg yolks and whisk until smooth, then whisk in the remaining milk. Cook over medium heat until thickened and bubbly, 5-10 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, stirring until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Stir in the rum or vanilla, then pour into the crust. Cover with saran wrap and chill 4 hours, or until set. Serve with the berries and whipped cream.

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Marshmallow Sandwich Cookies

One of my coworkers (Hi Carol!) has been bringing me recipes pages from a local paper, and this recipe comes from one of those. These sandwich cookies are thin and firm, but chewy. They’re a good balance of chocolate and marshmallow, too!

IMG_6017Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar, plus additional for rolling
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 salt
  • 24 marshmallos

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. My new roommate brought a Kitchenaid when she moved in, but it fell out of her car onto the street so now the power lever’s a bit messed up and you have to just unplug it to turn it off. Still, broken Kitchenaid > no Kitchenaid!

IMG_6006Beat in the corn syrup, egg, and vanilla.

IMG_6008Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a medium bow, then add to the butter mixture, beating until evenly combined. Cover and refrigerate dough 15 minutes. During that time, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

IMG_6009Pour sugar into a plate or pie dish. Roll dough into 1″ balls, then roll the balls in the sugar to coat. Place balls 3″ apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

IMG_6010Bake 10-11 minutes, or until set.

They can be moved pretty quickly from the oven to a cooling rack, as long as you have a spatula.

They can be moved pretty quickly from the oven to a cooling rack, as long as you have a spatula.

Remove cookies to a wire rack and let cool completely. By the time you’ve got all your batches of cookies out of the oven, your first batches will be cooled and ready for the next step.

IMG_6012Place several cookies face down on a plate, and place a marshmallow on the center of each. Microwave 12 seconds, then immediately put another cookie on top of the marshmallow and press to create a sandwich.

IMG_6013 IMG_6014 IMG_6015Repeat with remaining cookies. I ended up 1 cookie short of 27 sandwiches, but eating that one loner wasn’t too much of a hardship!

Marshmallow Sandwich Cookies

From the Casper Star Tribune.

  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar, plus additional for rolling
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 salt
  • 24 marshmallos

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the corn syrup, egg, and vanilla.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a medium bow, then add to the butter mixture, beating until evenly combined. Cover and refrigerate dough 15 minutes. During that time, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pour sugar into a plate or pie dish. Roll dough into 1″ balls, then roll the balls in the sugar to coat. Place balls 3″ apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 10-11 minutes, or until set. Remove cookies to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Place several cookies face down on a plate, and place a marshmallow on the center of each. Microwave 12 seconds, then immediately put another cookie on top of the marshmallow and press to create a sandwich. Repeat with remaining cookies.

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San Francisco Pork Chops

Now, before you ask, I have no idea what makes these SF-y. I do know, however, that I liked them, which will have to do for today.

IMG_6004Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup beef broth
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I thought I had bought these, but couldn’t find them and ended up using a dash of cayenne instead)
  • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 3 inch-thick boneless pork chops (or 4 3/4″ thick boneless chops), with excess fat trimmed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • noodles, for serving

Whisk together the broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, remaining 2 teaspoons of oil, and the red pepper flakes in a small bowl until the sugar dissolves, then set aside.

Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the chops until browned, about five minutes per side, then remove to a plate and set aside.

IMG_5999Add the garlic to the oil left in the pan and cook, stirring, for 1 minute, then add the pork chops back. Pour the broth mixture over the chops and raise the heat until the liquid comes to a boil, then cover the skillet and reduce heat to low.

IMG_6000Simmer until the meat is tender, 30-35 minutes, flipping the chops once around the 15 minute mark.

You can see the biggest one has been cut, to check that it was cooked all the way through.

You can see the biggest one has been cut, to check that it was cooked all the way through.

Remove the cooked pork to a platter. Whisk together the cornstarch and water, then pour into the liquid left in the pan and simmer until thickened, about five minutes.

IMG_6002Serve the pork over the noodles, and drizzle the thickened sauce on top.

IMG_6003 IMG_6005Yum! I have somehow gone through an alarming amount of soy sauce since I moved to WY, but I didn’t find this especially salty in the finished dish. Just…tasty.

San Francisco Pork Chops

From AllRecipes.

  • 1/4 cup beef broth
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 3 inch-thick boneless pork chops (or 4 3/4″ thick boneless chops), with excess fat trimmed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • noodles, for serving

Whisk together the broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, remaining 2 teaspoons of oil, and the red pepper flakes in a small bowl until the sugar dissolves, then set aside.

Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the chops until browned, about five minutes per side, then remove to a plate and set aside.

Add the garlic to the oil left in the pan and cook, stirring, for 1 minute, then add the pork chops back. Pour the broth mixture over the chops and raise the heat until the liquid comes to a boil, then cover the skillet and reduce heat to low. Simmer until the meat is tender, 30-35 minutes, flipping the chops once around the 15 minute mark.

Remove the cooked pork to a platter. Whisk together the cornstarch and water, then pour into the liquid left in the pan and simmer until thickened, about five minutes. Serve the pork over the noodles, and drizzle the thickened sauce on top.

 

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Plum Cobbler

There is the possibility, which I will neither confirm nor deny, that I have eaten this for dinner three nights in a row. It’s just really good! And, I mean, it’s basically fruit and a biscuit like I might have had with dinner anyway, so… Yeah basically healthy. Basically.

IMG_5985Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 cups sliced, fresh, unpeeled plums
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons shortening
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • whipped cream, for serving

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine 3/4 cup sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon in a medium saucepan. Stir in the plums and lemon juice, then put over medium-high heat.

IMG_5977Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils, then cook, continuing to stir, for 1 minute before removing from heat.

IMG_5978Pour into an ungreased 2 quart casserole, then place in the oven.

IMG_5979Combine the flour, remaining tablespoon of sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and stir together. Cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Stir in the milk until just evenly combined.

IMG_5980Take the plum mixture out of the oven and drop the dough on it in six large spoonfuls.

IMG_5981Bake 25-30 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown.

IMG_5982Serve, still warm, with whipped cream.

IMG_5983 IMG_5984

Plum Cobbler

From Better Crocker.

  • 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 cups sliced, fresh, unpeeled plums
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons shortening
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • whipped cream, for serving

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine 3/4 cup sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon in a medium saucepan. Stir in the plums and lemon juice, then put over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils, then cook, continuing to stir, for 1 minute before removing from heat. Pour into an ungreased 2 quart casserole, then place in the oven.

Combine the flour, remaining tablespoon of sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and stir together. Cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Stir in the milk until just evenly combined, then take the plum mixture out of the oven and drop the dough on it in six large spoonfuls.

Bake 25-30 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown. Serve, still warm, with whipped cream.

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