Zesty Orzo Salad with Grilled Chicken

Looking for a hearty summer salad for a warm day? This recipe was inspired by something my son ate at his sister’s house, but then he improvised and served it with grilled chicken, which took it to the next level. Here’s what he did:

Zesty Orzo Salad
(Serves 6-8 as a main course if topped with chicken)

Prepare 16 oz orzo according to the instructions on the box, making sure to salt the water well and cooking it until it’s al dente. Drain, rinse, and when it’s cooled down, add and mix together well:
One can drained chickpeas
8 oz. crumbled goat feta cheese
1 cubed cucumber
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Italian dressing
4 tablespoons crushed mint leaves (or 1 cup fresh)
4 tablespoons crushed basil leaves (or 1 cup fresh)
1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives
1 small, chopped red onion
2 lemons, zested and squeezed (which will make about 1/2 cup liquid)
2 cups raw spinach or assorted salad mix
1 teaspoon sea salt (to taste, which might require more)
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
6-8 grilled chicken thighs, either added on top or chopped and added to the mix

Joel served it with grilled chicken and fresh bread and butter, and it was really delicious, but this recipe makes a huge bowl, so I took a bowl over as a side dish to some friends’ home the next night. Actually, it seemed to get more savory in a day or two, so it lasts really well (although test and add more salt and pepper as needed).

“The Lord liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted” (Psalm 18:46).

Link love back to this site: https://www.gimmesomeoven.com/herb-lovers-lemony-orzo-salad/

Light and Fluffy Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Meringue Pie
(serves 8-10)

My daughter’s favorite pie is lemon meringue, and so I wanted to be sure to have one ready for her when she arrived with her family last weekend! Meringue pies are wonderfully fluffy and light, so they’re especially perfect for warm weather, but (of course), they’re also yummy at any time of the year! As my father used to say, “I only like two types of pie: Hot and cold!”

Light and Fluffy Lemon Meringue Pie

Here’s the recipe:

Graham Cracker Crust:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Place in the bottom of an 11″ pie plate:
7 crushed graham crackers
½ stick melted butter
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

3. Stir until completely mixed and pat it down into a uniform depth in the pie shell.

4. Bake at 350°F. for 12 minutes or until golden brown on the edges. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.

Lemon Pie filling:
1. In a saucepan add together:
1.5 cups granulated white sugar
1/3  cup corn starch
¼  teaspoon salt. Stir all ingredients until smooth and without lumps.
2. Add:
1.25 cups water. Mix thoroughly and then heat on the stove, stirring (almost) constantly to keep it from sticking on the bottom. It is done when it thickens and starts to bubble.
3. Then add:
½ cup lemon juice and zest from 2 large, fresh lemons
4 beaten egg yolks (add one at a time and stir quickly and thoroughly)
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter until melted and the filling is uniformly smooth and thick.
4. Remove from heat and allow it to cool.

Pour the filling into the baked shell and allow the entire pie to cool to room temperature. (If it’s still warm, it can melt your meringue.)

Meringue Topping:

  1. Now might be a good time to turn the oven back on to 350°F., because it’s best to have the oven hot when you slide the pie back in with the meringue on top
  2. To make the meringue topping, place in a mixing bowl:

4 egg whites
¼ cup sugar, beaten until medium-stiff peaks form. Spread evenly on top of the pie.

Bake in preheated 350° oven for 10 minutes or until lightly browned on top.

Serve as a dessert for dinner, at tea time, or late at night when your daughter and her family arrive for a visit! 🙂

Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God” (Ecclesiastes 5:19). I’ve been studying “gifts” in the Bible and have been impressed by the fact that even the capacity for enjoying our blessings is a gift from God!

Shepherd’s Pie for Spring

I know a lot of Christians serve ham for Easter to celebrate being no longer under the constraints of the Jewish dietary laws, and I know lamb is very expensive in America, but if there’s one time of year when I like to splurge, it’s at Passover, which is just before Easter, and is known as “Good Friday” to most of us. Jesus was the Lamb of God, sacrificed on Passover as a “once for all” sacrifice for sins, and I want to celebrate by roasting lamb for my very favorite celebration of the year!

Happily, there is usually some lamb left over, and my favorite way to use up the extra lamb is by making a Shepherd’s Pie. Here’s how:

Savory Shepherd’s Pie
(Makes 8 hearty slices)

Start by preheating your oven to 350°F.

Next, peel and slice four large potatoes and boil them for about 20 minutes in salted water that covers them completely while you’re accomplishing the tasks below. (I’ve drained these potatoes, which are finished cooking and are ready to be mashed.)

In a frying pan, add the following ingredients and saute/simmer until tender:

The leftover drippings and broth from your lamb roast
1 medium, chopped onion
4 large, chopped carrots (there are fewer here because I also used leftover roasted carrots, which I hadn’t added yet)
1 cup chopped celery and celery leaves (I like the heart of the stalks for this)

Next, add all the lamb (at least 1-2 cups) chopped into bite-sized pieces (or shredded).

When everything is cooked until tender and heated through, add:
1 cup frozen peas
1 tablespoon crushed garlic (fresh or dried)
2 teaspoons seasoning salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon thyme

Sprinkle 1/2 cup of flour over the top and stir into the mixture.

At this point, I added some leftover roasted potatoes chopped into bite-sized pieces, but this is optional (although I think it tastes good). For sure you need to add: 2-3 cups of water drained from the boiled potatoes (enough to make a thick gravy). Turn off the heat and keep covered until you’re ready to finish the pie.

After the potatoes are cooked, tender, and drained, most of the liquid, but perhaps not all, will go into the gravy mixture. Then, pour off any remaining fluid, leaving about 1/4 cup potato water in the bottom of the pan with the potatoes. Then add:
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt and whip in a blender until really fluffy and light.

Empty all the meat and veggie mixture into your biggest pie plate (mine is an 11″).

Arrange the mashed potatoes like whipping cream with high peaks on top.

Dot the top of the pie with about 2 more tablespoons of butter cut into chunks and then sprinkle liberally with coarse (or regular) salt.

Bake in the oven at 350°F. for 30-45 minutes, until the tips are turning a golden brown. (The higher up in the oven, the faster it will brown on top.)

Really, shepherd’s pie is a meal in itself, although I served it with warm garlic bread, grilled egg plant, french-style beans and steamed asparagus. You can serve it with anything or nothing, but I hope however you eat it, you’ll enjoy it as much as we do!

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’” (John 1:29, ESV).

(Speaking of Jesus:) “He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12).

Kitchen Sink Lasagna

Do you ever have a refrigerator full of leftovers that you’re not sure what to do with? My older brother Wolle trained me in as his sous chef when I was about eight, and I never ceased being amazed by his inventiveness. Up until then, I thought I had to follow a recipe to make something that tasted good, but he taught me to improvise, because he was forever pulling something unusual out of the refrigerator to add to an otherwise standard dish.

Not too long ago, our refrigerator was full of bits and pieces, so I put everything on the counter and decided to try to use them in a lasagna. I’m not actually sharing this recipe so you’ll try it, but it turned out so well that my husband and son had no clue it was all a scheme to use up scraps until I confessed. So, I’ll tell you what I did, but only to inspire you to try improvising sometime when you have a few bits and pieces that you’re puzzling over how to use.

I started with a typical beginning, by frying together:
1 pound ground hamburger
8 oz. mushrooms
1 chopped onion
2 tablespoon crushed garlic
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon regular salt
1 teaspoon seasoning salt

Then the fun began. I added some leftover pulled pork, the remains of a jar of pesto sauce and what was left of a jar of capers.

One of the most iffy things I added was some leftover refried beans, since that’s not something you usually put in pastas. However, I couldn’t taste it in the finished product, and it seemed to make the lasagna perhaps less wet than it might have been, which balanced the dairy products that I was soon to add . . .

But first, I added what was left of a jar of spaghetti sauce plus another full jar. That all looked pretty good, so I was ready to try a few more dangerous additives. 🙂

Instead of using ricotta cheese and eggs (which is the right way to do this), I had some leftover cottage cheese, sour cream, and yogurt. I dumped them all in. To tell you the truth, I think the refried beans kept the lasagna from being too runny.

Instead of the usual half a pound of mozzarella cheese, I had some leftover cheddar and some shredded 5-cheese Italian. In they went! I also added about 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, even though I never classify that as “leftover.” (Would it really be lasagna without any Parmesan??)

Last, but not least, I had some leftover fresh spinach and parsley. By this time, I was crossing my fingers and toes, but my refrigerator looked very neat and clean, so I was holding my breath to see if this combo would cut it with the critics.

The rest is standard practice again. I submerged 12 pieces of lasagna into salted, boiling water. I always lay a couple cross-wise and at various angles so they don’t stick together.

Cook the noodles until they’re tender (according to directions on the package). This is the perfect time to start preheating your oven to 350°F.

Line a 9X13″ pan with three cooked noodles. (Remove from the pan carefully with two spoons so you don’t break them.)

Add 1/4 of the sauce to cover the noodles completely.

Repeat the process three more times, so that you’ve used up all 12 noodles and all your sauce.

I was afraid the lasagna would overflow the pan because I had so much stuff in it, so I put a cookie sheet under it to catch any drips. Believe it or not, it didn’t overflow!

As a final touch, I spread a second 8 oz. of grated cheese over the top and baked it in the oven at 350° for 40 minutes. So far, so good. It really didn’t look much different from my usual lasagna, although the pan was a little fuller.

I served it with cold slaw, fruit cocktail (items that also needed to get used up) and made if festive by opening a bottle of sparkling grape juice. Totally non-traditional, but we all liked it, and it all got eaten up. So, I’d never go out of my way to get all those crazy ingredients, but sometime when you’re not sure what to do with a whole refrigerator full of the tail end of a dozen items, why not trying making a concoction? Think about what might be the common denominator. Have you used many of the ingredients separately in a number of similar dishes? Pasta? Asian? Soup? Using up leftovers is a little like solving a puzzle sometimes. If you find (or have already found) an unlikely combo, I’d love to hear about it!

Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits” (Psalm 103:1).

Cauliflower Cheese Soup

This dish was inspired by my needing to use up some of the food in my refrigerator that was leftover from trying to stock up before my hand surgery. Everybody loves broccoli cheese soup, but I didn’t have broccoli. I had a big head of cauliflower and bits and pieces of a half a dozen types of cheese that weren’t getting eaten. The smoked Gouda was almost hard as a rock and so difficult to shred that I ended up cutting it into small chunks. All this to say, you can use up hard or soft cheeses, as they’ll both eventually succumb to the heat and emulsion process. If you like all the types of cheese you use, you’ll like the soup!

Cheesy Cauliflower Soup

In a large cooking pot, saute until tender and starting to brown:
2 tablespoons butter
1 chopped onion

Shake together until blended:
1 cup flour
1 cup milk. Add to grilled onions

Add to pot:
8 cups water
1 head cauliflower, chopped
8 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded or sliced (or other cheeses)
8 oz. other cheese (aged Gouda and Swiss, or whatever you have on hand)
1 bay leaf (remove before emulsifying)
2 tablespoons garlic
2 teaspoons seasoning salt (I used Lawry’s, but whatever you like is good)
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chopped chives

Simmer for a half an hour (with the top on the pot), until the cauliflower is tender and the cheese has all melted and blended. Stir often to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and carefully blend with an emulsion blender until it is as smooth as it can be. The cauliflower doesn’t become as creamy as squash, so the soup is more the consistency of soupy, cheesy grits (or something like that), but the flavor is excellent and it’s a very healthy, filling dish for a cold night! If you don’t have an emulsion blender, no worries! Just serve it up chunky style. It still tastes great!

And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them” (Genesis 6:21).

World’s Fluffiest Parker House Rolls

My daughter-in-law Brianna makes the world’s fluffiest Parkerhouse rolls. They melt in your mouth and have become a treasured menu item for the most special family dinners. We have to count them out carefully so that everybody gets their fair share, because even our youngest grandchildren relish them! Think Heidi, if you remember that story; at least, that’s what I always think of when I eat one!

Here’s the recipe, which Brianna got from an online source, Bobby Flay. Hers look even better (to my way of thinking), but I’ll list his site at the end so you can see how the original master does it too.

Heat 1.5 cups milk in a small saucepan until it simmers. Remove from the heat and add:
1 stick (4 oz.) butter
1/2 cup sugar. Stir until the butter and sugar have melted and dissolved. Cool.

In your mixing bowl, dissolve:
1 package active dry yeast in
1/2 cup warm water and let it sit until it starts to foam. Then add:
the cooled milk mixture, plus
3 large eggs
1.5 teaspoons salt
3 cups all-purpose flour. Mix with a dough hook until smooth, then add another
3 more cups all-purpose flour, about a cup at a time, until a smooth ball forms.

Remove the dough unto a floured surface and knead it for about five minutes, adding flour only as needed so that it’s not too sticky to handle.

This is probably the most crucial step, and I think it’s a matter of experience to figure out how it should look and feel, but if you’ve made bread a few times, you know it’s best when it feels elastic, soft, and a bit bouncy without being sticky.

Place the dough back in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm location and let it rise until double, which takes about an hour.

Take the dough out of the bowl and punch it down (to let out some of the air).

Form them into balls and place on a greased cookie sheet. Brianna makes 20 large rolls, and that works just perfectly (unless you have more than 20 guests). You could make 24 smaller rolls in two 9X13″ pans if you need more, but don’t think little ones couldn’t eat such big rolls. Our kids devour them!

Cover the top loosely with plastic wrap (could lightly dust the tops with flour it you’re afraid the wrap will stick to the tops). Set in a warm place to rise again. Give them 30-40 minutes. This would be the perfect time to preheat your oven to 350°F.

Bake at 350°F. for about 20 minutes, or until they’re turning a golden brown on top. I tend to bake things on the light side, because I think they stay soft longer, but that’s unlikely to be an issue with these rolls, since they’ll disappear fast! Remove from the oven and brush with a little melted butter. Serve warm!!

And ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God, ye, and your sons, and your daughters.” (Deuteronomy 12:12)


Vegetarian Special: Black Bean and Corn Burritos

When visiting my daughter last weekend, I looked over her shoulder and played second fiddle in the kitchen while she whipped up a delicious batch of wet burritos. This is a vegetarian dish, in honor of giving animals a break! If you’re a vegetarian, or even if you’re a meatatarian like me but enjoy a wide variety of dishes, you might appreciate giving beef a break for a night and making these!

Black Bean and Corn Burritos

Saute in olive oil in a frying pan until tender:

1 onion, chopped
1 ball pepper

Add and heat through until creamy and hot:

3/4 cup frozen corn
1 (10-15 oz) can black beans
1 can stewed tomatoes with green chilis
2 oz. cream cheese
3/4 teaspoon cumin
Garlic powder, red pepper, and salt to taste

Use this mixture as a filling for flour tortilla shells. Roll and top with:

Grated cheese

Broil in the oven until the cheese melts and starts to brown

Serve immediately, garnished with chopped, fresh cilantro, and possibly with sour cream, salsa, chips and guacamole.

I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine” (Psalm 50:11).