Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Orzo with Smoked Tomato Vinaigrette

I saw this on the Food Network & thought it looked good. It was! (Sorry about the all caps, I can't seem to change it!!)


  • 1 pound (2 dry pints) cherry tomatoes
  • 1 pound orzo pasta


  • 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon smoked salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan


Place the tomatoes in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until the tomatoes are tender and the skins are charred in spots, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and place in a large serving bowl.

For the vinaigrette: Place the tomatoes, basil, vinegar, olive oil, honey, smoked salt*, and pepper in a blender. Blend until smooth.

Pour the vinaigrette over the pasta and toss until coated. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Season with smoked salt and pepper, to taste, and serve.

Modifications: I couldn't find smoked salt, but I did find bacon salt! (My husband just about died when he saw the combo of two of his favorite things.) & it did work as a good substitute. Still interested in smoked salt, though!

Italian Breaded Pork Chops

I made this recipe for Easter (found on All Recipes.com), & it was yummy! But here's a BIG FAT TIP: if you aren't used to sticking skillets in the oven, MAKE SURE you grab the skillet handle WITH AN OVEN MITT! I definitely grasped the handle after taking it out to check to see if they were done, & had the spend the rest of the day with my hand in a bowl of ice water.


  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 1/2 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 4 pork chops


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. In a small bowl, beat together the eggs and milk. In a separate small bowl, mix the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and parsley.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large, oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Stir in the garlic, and cook until lightly browned. Remove garlic*, reserving for other uses.
  4. Dip each pork chop into the egg mixture, then into the bread crumb mixture, coating evenly. Place coated pork chops in the skillet, and brown abut 5 minutes on each side.
  5. Place the skillet and pork chops in the preheated oven, and cook 25 minutes*, or to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F (70 degrees C).

*Modifications: I used a thin cut pork chop, so it was done after about 15 minutes, so I would just check it early depending on the size. (For some reason, checking the temperature of pork to see if it's done doesn't work for me.) Also, I left the garlic in the skillet & put the pork on top because I love garlic, & I thought it was really good.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Veggie Quiche

I made a quiche about a month ago, & it was good but not super awesome. So I tweaked it a bit, & we loved the result. I used spinach & broccoli, but I think you could throw in any veggie you like (bell pepper, mushroom, onion) & it would still be delicious.

Pre-made refrigerated pie crust (I bought store brand this past time, & I think this is something you should get the name brand version of - see notes for explanation)
4 eggs
1 cup milk
Chopped spinach (I used 10 oz frozen)
Chopped broccoli (10 oz frozen)
1.5 cups shredded Italian cheese blend (you can use another kind if you want)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
Spices to taste (I used salt, pepper, onion powder)

-Preheat oven to 375 degrees
-Let pie crust come to room temperature, then unroll & place in pie pan. Using a fork, poke holes in the bottom of the crust. Put in heated oven for about 5 minutes to set (so it doesn't get soggy).
-Warm olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add veggies (if frozen, thaw first) & garlic, stir together until warm.
-Add spices & 1 cup of the cheese, stir together until cheese is melted.
-Whisk eggs & add milk to eggs.
-Place veggie & cheese mixture in the set crust, then pour in egg mixture.
-Bake quiche in oven for 15 minutes, add remaining cheese to top, then continue baking for another 30-35 minutes until set.

Notes: I had too much veggie/cheese mixture, so I didn't use all of it. Also, my quiche overflowed the crust, I think partly because it was store brand so it sunk a bit on the sides when I set it. Didn't bother me tho, it was still yummy! So you may want to adjust your ingredients if you are going for presentation.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Chicken Tacos & Chicken Tortilla Soup

These chicken tacos are really yummy. It makes probably 10-12 servings, so you can cut the recipe in half, or you can make it all then use the leftovers for the chicken tortilla soup recipe below!

Chicken Tacos

4-5 frozen chicken breasts
16 oz black bean & corn salsa
1 cup brown rice
chicken broth
toppings (sour cream, cheese, avocado)

-Place chicken breasts in the crock pot & top with salsa. Cover & cook on low for 5-7 hours.
-Shred chicken.
-Cook 1 cup brown rice in chicken broth. Add spices if desired (I used cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, salt & pepper).
-Place shredded chicken on a tortilla. Top with desired toppings (I used the ones listed above. I also put the rice on the taco, but you can eat it on the side).

Chicken Tortilla Soup (from allrecipes.com)

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed chicken broth
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 cup whole corn kernels, cooked
  • 1 cup white hominy
  • 1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 boneless chicken breast halves, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • crushed tortilla chips
  • sliced avocado
  • shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • chopped green onions

  • Directions
  • -In a medium stock pot, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic in oil until soft. Stir in chili powder, oregano, tomatoes, broth, and water. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • -Stir in corn, hominy, chiles, beans, cilantro, and chicken. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  • -Ladle soup into individual serving bowls, and top with crushed tortilla chips, avocado slices, cheese, and chopped green onion.

  • Modifications: of course I left out the onion & used onion powder instead. I also nixed the corn & used a can of hominy instead of just a cup. We ate about half of the chicken taco base, then I used the leftovers in this recipe. So yummy!