Sometimes wonderful recipes just happen by accident. Yesterday, I had planned to make a roasted chicken breast recipe from Ina Garten. The recipe calls for fresh garlic and herbs to be sautéed in olive oil. Well as soon as I got started, and the air began to fill with that delicious garlicky aroma, I realized I hadn’t actually bought any chicken breasts. Oops…it was a classic case of “mom brain,” and I certainly wasn’t dragging Maverick back to the store at that point.
However, I really didn’t want to let that garlicky goodness go to waste, so I started looking to see what else I had on hand. I noticed the garden fresh cherry tomatoes on the counter that my mom had brought me, and then I remembered the orzo pasta I bought on a whim, and bingo!
That’s how this recipe came about, and let me tell you as simple as it was, it was so flavorful. I boiled the pasta and added some lemon juice to the garlic and oil. As soon as the pasta was cooked, I drained it, and coated the pasta with the lemon-garlic oil. Divine! Instead of just using raw garlic, the pasta was infused with the garlic oil, which didn’t overpower the delicate flavor of the tomatoes. This is going to be staple at our house until those delightful fresh tomatoes go out of season!
Garlicky Summer Tomato Orzo
- 1 cup orzo pasta (most any pasta will work)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes (use the freshest ones you can find!)
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil
- 1/2 teaspoon
- Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese (optional but why not?!)
- Cook the pasta according to package directions, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water after the pasta has cooked.
- While the pasta cooks, sauté some garlic in the oil, in a large skillet over medium heat for about 1 minute. Be careful not to let it burn. Remove the garlic from the heat once it has softened and add the lemon juice.
- Add the warm pasta and the reserved pasta water to the garlic and lemon oil. Toss this around until the pasta is completely coated. Toss in the tomatoes and basil, and serve warm or at room temperate.
This weekend we had some new neighbors that moved in beside us. Even though we have had a pretty busy couple of days, I kept thinking we needed to go introduce ourselves, and I knew I wanted to make something for them. Since I was short on time, I decided to take an idea from my mother in law and make some good ol chicken salad for them.
When we were moving into our house a couple of years ago, my MIL showed up with a loaf of bread and chicken salad, and it was simply perfect! It was so nice to have something to throw in the fridge that we could snack on or have for lunch while were in the unpacking/organizing process. Chicken salad also seems appropriate right now considering this super hot July we are having here in Tennessee.
I threw a pack of crackers in the bag and Voila, I’ve got an easy and thoughtful “welcome to the neighborhood” gift! This would also be a helpful gift for a new mom or someone recovering from a surgery or illness. Plus, you can double this recipe and have plenty leftover for your family as well, that’s a win-win in my book!
Be sure to scroll on down to the bottom of this post for these Quick Chicken Salad Melts!
Classic Pecan Chicken Salad
- 2 lbs chicken breasts
- 1 cup halved green grapes
- 1 1/2 cups sliced celery
- 3/4 cups roughly chopped pecans, toasted*
- 3/4 cups mayo (light, if desired)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons dijon
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- Fill a large pot half way full of water and bring to a boil. Place the chicken breasts into the boiling water. You may add seasonings such as garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper if desired to the water.
- Boil the chicken, covered, for 20-30 minutes depending on how big the breasts are. Remove from the water and allow the chicken to cool, and then shred it with your hands or using two forks.
- In a larger bowl, toss the chicken together with the grapes, celery, and pecans.
- In separate bowl whisk together the mayo, lemon juice, dijon, honey, salt, and pepper. Pour the dressing over the chicken mixture and stir until the salad is completely coated.
*To toast the pecans, place them in a dry skillet over medium heat for about 6-8 minutes until they begin to smell nutty.
Check out these Chicken Salad Melts we had last night for dinner with the remaining chicken salad. Place a few slices of bread on a sheet tray, scoop some chicken salad on each one, top each with a slice of cheese, and bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees, top with a fresh tomato, and dinner is served!
What better way to celebrate the 4th of July than with homemade ice cream?! I come from a long line of ice cream lovers, and homemade ice cream during summertime celebrations has always been a staple in our family. My grandparents use one of those old fashioned ice cream makers that makes a whole bunch of the good stuff, but to keep it simple, I use my Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker at home. It’s super easy to use, and the possibilities are endless when you start thinking up new flavors.
In my cookbook (The Outdoor Table), I have two delicious ice cream recipes that are made the old fashioned way, with an egg yolk custard base and all. However, I know many of us are looking for something a little quicker than that, so this ice cream recipe just uses good old heavy whipping cream to make it lusciously creamy. Is it low fat? …Um no! BUT, remember this is a special treat, and wouldn’t you rather have a small bowl of the real thing than a bigger bowl of a not so creamy, low fat alternative (probably ends up being about the same in calories when you get a larger portion anyway).
Plus, this ice cream is made with real ingredients, completely from scratch, which makes me feel better about any dessert I’m eating. The kicker in this one is the buttermilk, it gives the ice cream a slight tang that cuts some of the richness. It’s the perfect complement to the quick strawberry jam that gets swirled in at the end of churning. If you haven’t made homemade ice cream yet, give it a try, you simply can’t beat it!
TIP: The possibilities are endless when it comes to baking with buttermilk! Use the leftover buttermilk from this recipe for biscuits, pancakes, cornbread, cakes, or maybe even my Strawberry Upside Down Cake!
Strawberry Swirled Buttermilk Ice Cream
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups chopped strawberries
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- Place the heavy cream, buttermilk, 3/4 cup sugar, and vanilla in a large saucepan over medium heat, stir occasionally until the sugar has dissolved.
- Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl. Chill the mixture completely in the refrigerator.
- Meanwhile, place the strawberries, lemon juice, 3 tbls sugar, and cornstarch in a saucepan. Use a potato masher, (or the back of a fork) to mash the berries slightly and mix the ingredients together.
- Bring this to a boil and allow it to simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool completely.
- Once the cream mixture has chilled, pour it into a 1 1/2 quart ice cream maker and churn according to package directions. Usually for about 20-30 minutes.
- Once the ice cream has churned, layer it with the strawberry mixture into a resealable container. Then use a knife or skewer to swirl the two together. Place in the freezer for 4 hours.