Orzo Salad

The weather can’t make up its mind. We went from comfort food earlier this week to pasta salad and grilled ribeye last night. And this wonky weather has given the whole family a nasty cold.

I don’t mind either weather type. It’s really this cold that sucks. Who wants a stuffed up nose when all this amazing produce is popping up at the farmers’ markets? I can’t taste a thing!

Well, if you’ll remember from last year’s post about the Summer’s bounty, I live for Sunmer veggies. Heirloom tomatoes kissed by the sun, zucchini and cucumbers and the crunchy, sweet, colorful bells. We haven’t had our first heirloom yet but I couldn’t resist mixing this pasta salad together highlighting the start of our Summer bounty.

And many thanks to my BFF for the salad recipe inspiration years ago during one of our many awesome camping trips. xoxooxox

Orzo Salad
* 1 tomato (if you can get heirloom, do it!), diced
* 1/2 cucumber, diced
* 1/2 red onion, diced
* 1 1/2 cup cooked orzo pasta, cooled
* 1 handful of pitted kalmata olives, sliced
* 1/2 red, yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
* 1/2 zucchini, cut into 4 spears lengthwise and then sliced thinly
* 6-7 leaves of fresh mint, sliced
* 4 leaves if basil, sliced
* 1 handful of crumbled feta
* glug of olive oil and balsamic vinegar (to taste, think like you’re dressing a salad and then add from there)
* pinch of salt and pepper

The key to this recipe is the size of all the veggies and adjusting the oil/vinegar/S&P. Hint: the cucumber and red onion should be little dices no bigger than the orzo.

Now that you have carpel tunnel syndrome from chopping so much. Mix everything together and put it in the fridge to cool.

Enjoy with a grilled steak for an easy (well besides all the dicing) Summer meal.

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Mexi Pie

This is a dish with a lot of memories. My Mom used to make this pretty regularly and taught me to make it by the time I was a tween. It’s soooooo simple and easy-peasey. As long as you’ve got a good can-opener, this dish could be made in 10 mins or less.

I know, I know, I said can-opener. I usually try to stay away from that tool but this dish is worth the extra sodium. Just keep it for special occasions, like a Monday!

Note: it is so much better the next day. So make extra.

Mexi Pie
adapted to be a little healthier than Mom’s recipe

* 1/2 can of black beans
* 1 Tbsp cumin powder
* 1/2 tsp salt and pepper
* 1/4 tsp chili powder
(Above ingredients replaced 1 can no-beans Hormel chili in Mom’s recipe)
* 1 can cream of mushroom soup
* 1/2 can of chicken stock
* 1/2 rotisserie chicken (or 2 “Dolly Parton” sized chicken breasts – as Mom would say, boiled)
* 1 can of diced green chilies (tiny can)
* corn tortillas
* flour tortillas
* shredded Mexican cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix first six ingredients. Shred the chicken. Slice the tortillas into 4″ wide strips.

Put a row of corn tortillas into a pie dish. Then a row of flour tortillas. Put half your shredded chicken then half your wet ingredients in a layer. Add a bit of cheese. Repeat, finishing with a lot of cheese (I didn’t put cheese on my half and it was still delicious). Cover with foil and cook for 30-45 mins. It’ll be bubbling. Let it sit, uncovered to thicken for 15 mins before serving.

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And remember to save some for the next day. The tortillas soak up the flavors and its delicious pan fried like this.

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Serve with avocado, cilantro and sour cream.

Enjoy!