Orzo Pasta Salad with Asparagus, Feta, Artichoke Hearts, and Sun-dried Tomatoes

D&D_1854So we had an abundance of feta cheese at the office – it is a long story, but I decided to make something of it. For Easter I thought a pasta salad would be good, but something light and fresh. So here is what I did. Another non-recipe recipe, but there it is.

8 ozs Orzo, al dente
1/2 pound asparagus, blanched until bright green (30 second – 1 minute) and the cooled, cut into 1 inch pieces
16 oz can artichoke hearts, drained and diced, or frozen
1/2 8.5 oz jarred sun-dried tomatoes, julienne cut, drained*
2 Tbs minced chives
Feta crumbles from the office – not sure how much, but just make it look good with the color contrast

Vinaigrette –
juice and zest of one lemon
2 Tbs olive oil
1/4 cup minced chives
salt/pepper to taste**

While the orzo is cooking, mix together vinaigrette ingredients in a decent sized serving bowl.  Once orzo is drained, add the hot pasta to the vinaigrette. Let the orzo soak up all that flavor. All that lemon.

Mix in all the other pasta salad ingredients and serve at room temperature.

What could be easier? I am not entirely sure especially since I had it all on hand – thanks work for the feta. Have to take the perks when you get them.

I feel proud of this – I mixed a lot of things together and it really worked.  Thank you Nigella for the vinaigrette recipe.

*I usually use dried tomatoes that I rehydrate in hot water, but this time oil-packed made more sense to me.

** I hate this expression. Do people not really know to taste things and season them with salt and pepper if necessary. Or maybe add more acid with some lemon or vinegar. Now I am being that food person that everyone says I am. Sigh.

Artichoke Bread

This idea kind of combines a couple of other really good ideas. Cheese bread and artichoke dip with some garlic throw in for good measure. This just sounds like dinner to me. That being said, I am sure I could survive on bread and cheese – and maybe some apples and grapes and be a perfectly happy camper.dd_1810

For all the desserts that I bake, they just are not my favorite things. I do it to make the Boy happy and when I have extra to share, I take them to the office or to my local. I am going to make an effort to also start taking treats to the local sheriff’s department and the local fire departments. My only question there is – is that just weird? Will they be suspicious of it? I hope not. Cookies, and baking in general, are just good for me to do and I would like to share.

Last week was a pretty rough week for our LEOs  in Escambia County FL, Santa Rosa County Fl, and Escambia County AL. You probably didn’t hear, but a guy killed two women in Milton, another in Foley and stole her car, and shot a women in Pensacola and then stole her car too. She later died. It was a bit scary because he and his accomplice were seen not too terrible far from my office. I just don’t understand. Who does this? This seems really depressing, but it was that week. Let’s just say we were all hyper aware of our surroundings now.

I am sure artichoke bread will not fix the bad things in the world, but doing something comforting makes life a little better – at least it does for me.

14 ozs artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
2 scallions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 ozs cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded
1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano, grated
zest of one lemon
chopped chives
1 loaf Italian bread, sliced in half horizontally

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix artichokes, scallions, garlic, cream cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon zest, and cheeses, reserving some cheese for the top. Or just add some more, because it is cheese after all

Hollow about 1/2 inch of bread out of both halves of the bread. Spread mixture in the hollow and top with reserved cheese.

Wrap bread loosely in foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until the cheese is melty and golden brown.

Source: Closet Cooking


Super Bowl Planning

Well, I’ve been thinking about the super bowl for about two weeks, but didn’t really get down to work on it till yesterday. It’s the first, in my opinion, food event of the year. I suppose that Twelfth Night is technically, but I can’t ever seem to manage that as it is usually the day I go back to that thing I call a job. Jobs get in the way of cooking. Enough said. For me New Year’s is part of the previous year of food planning – Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas, and New Year’s (eve and day), so it doesn’t quite count – ergo – Super Bowl = 1st food event for 2015.SuperBowlXLIXLogo

The whole idea of “food events” isn’t new*. You can plan your year around them if you choose to do so. It does give me time to experiment and the super bowl, I have to admit is one of my favorites because it is, in our family, appetizers and finger foods (none of them “good” for you) and trying new things and a few standbys that always seem to please. We stay in for the evening and watch – wait for it – the commercials – woo hoo!! I just don’t ever have a dog in this fight – pretty much don’t care who wins. What I would like – though it rarely happens – is a good game, but we can all dream, I suppose. I do prefer Seattle this year, but that’s just because I can’t abide the Patsies.

* We shall expand on this food events calendar notion at a latter time, though not much latter or we will miss the next food event.

So here are my thoughts for this year:

Hawaiian Sliders – this is a take on the ubiquitous ham and swiss appetizer sandwiches. We had the original version (i.e. first version I had seen) at our pre-wedding party in 2002. I’ve read several recipes for this, but have decided that I’m just going to pull the best parts of what I’ve seen and make it work. I am making my own recipe based on what works for us. More on this after the game.

Sun-dried tomato Artichoke Buttons – I’ve been thinking of making this for ages, and I’m finally going to do it. I may eat them all myself (over days, of course), but I think it has potential. But I’m winging it again – no artichoke bottoms at my Publix. Still the flavors sound good, and I’ve made my own pesto as usual – super easy and really good. I’m sure it will work.

Hot Reuben Dip – will do a half recipe as I made it in 2011 for Christmas Eve and it was way to much for our small group.  But the flavors – really good. If you like a reuben, that is. Have thin rye bread to toast for it.

Thomas’ California French Bread – a recipe I’ve had so long (pre 1990’s) that I have no idea where it comes from, but I have googled it and nothing comes up. Is that strange or cool? I’m going for cool. Not sure who Thomas is, but in my opinion – he is a god.

And some sort of cheese cracker – still debating on that. I’m thinking Rosemary Cheddar crackers from a Foster’s Market recipe. I sure do miss the NC triangle. Foster’s Market. Southern Season, UNC-Chapel Hill. They have fall there – sigh. But they also have ice storms, sort of like winter hurricanes.

Any way, bring on the football, um, commercials. Or whatever.