Orzo and Basil Salad

Orzo and Basil Salad, page 153

I do not have a single picture of this recipe. Instead I'm sharing one of our favorite treats and then I'll get to the recipe. This picture is from a recent food & wine pairing party we hosted. It's something I discovered a few years ago and have done my best to share with anyone willing to eat with me.
Extra Sharp White Cheddar and Honey
Have you tried it? Is is a favorite? Do you kids like it? What kind of cheese do you like best? Local honey? Lavender honey? Clover honey? Truffle infused honey? "Off the shelf does it really mater what kind" honey?
Please do tell, because I want to know. And really, I probably need to know.

On to Orzo and Basil...
I followed this recipe well. I used the suggestions for substitutions and some of the additions too. Only, I didn't eat any of it. I trusted Jonathan and Elliott and the empty bowl. I didn't eat any, because I used Orzo and I'm unable to eat the kind I had. I've not found a GF Orzo except online. I've not see it at my local grocery or at TJ's. Maybe I could try it with arborio rice? Gluten Free readers, what do you think? 

In the corner of page 153 the time given for this recipe is 10 minutes. It's quick FZ pals, very quick. Here's my hint, cook the Orzo in the morning when you are fixing this, put it in the fridge for the day and it'll be perfectly ready to mix with the other ingredients and be called dinner.

Kitchen Action
Lacking in Pantry: Not-A-Thing
Additions, Subtractions or Method Changes: Nothing. Well, I used canned beans.
What I'll try next time: Use a GF pasta.
How it Scored:
Jonathan: 4.5
Elliott: 4


Pasta and Herb Soup

Pasta and Herb Soup, page 172

Exhibit 1)
 Exhibit 2)
 Exhibit 3)
 Exhibit 4)

By the time you viewed Exhibit 2, you could tell the changes had begun. I'm guilty. Guilty for not following the recipe as printed.

Defense: I had grape tomatoes that needed to be used, so I used them. All of them. My tomato use was far greater than the 1 tomato, chopped the recipe listed. I also used more onion and probably more veggies. That means I probably used more broth too. Would I still be considered guilty if I say I just doubled it?

Nope. Especially since we had it for dinner more than one night and lunches in-between.

Kitchen Action
Lacking in Pantry: 1 single tomato
Additions, Subtractions or Method Changes: extra veggies, lotsa extra veggies. I used rice pasta, not wheat pasta to make it GF.
What I'll try next time: triple it?
How it Scored:
Jonathan: 4.5
Elliott: 4
'becca: 4.5 (hot and cold)
Chas: to the left eating ham & a bread stick. He saw the tomatoes I put in it and made his decision before tasting. One day, one day, I keep telling myself.


Pasta Salad with Olives and Beets

 Pasta Salad with Olives and Beets, page 144

I love beets.
Elliott loves beets.
Jonathan tolerates beets.
Chas will not touch beets, but thinks the way they turn things, specific things, pink is awesome. 

I don't use the microwave often. Actually, we keep it in the garage, so it has never dawned on me to cook potatoes or root veggies this way. When I read the description of this recipe suggesting that the beets be cooked in the microwave, I chopped them, placed them in a glass bowl and into the garage I went. Six minutes later they were nearly finished. I'll use the microwave this way again. Thanks Chef Biju and Dr. Lim!

I was out of my favorite penne rice pasta from Trader Joe's, so I tried a new brand and it was swirly. I like swirly, it would work. Too bad it was just ok. I'm glad the boys have a soccer tournament in Kansas City in a few weeks. KC = TJ's I'll head to the Missouri side to stock up. Any of you know why I'll go to the MO side, not the KS side? Hint: it's not because it's closer to where the tournament is being played.

Beets, nuked & sauteed.
Pasta, boiled. 
Sauce to make. 
Elliott helped with this part. He placed the remaining ingredients into a bowl, mixing them well. As he chopped the olives, he popped a few in his mouth. Elliott is an olive, black olive, lover. Quickly he learned black kalamatas, taste a little different from the black olives he finds at Christmas dinner. You know, the kind you put on you fingers and chomp off one by one until your cheeks look like a chipmunk? "Ewwww!" He was not a fan. But he kept on stirring. 

We added the sauce to the beets and pasta, covering them well. This was pre-soccer, so I placed the pan in the oven until we got home. Actually, I ate a bowl before we left for the pitch. Delicious. I loved the zing of the mustard, olives and lime. 

Kitchen Action
Lacking in Pantry: lemon
Additions, Subtractions or Method Changes: lime for lemon and I did use Parmesan.
What I'll try next time: I'll try it with regular olives. I think Elliott would like it better this way.
How it Scored:
Jonathan: 2.5, he liked the sauce, just tolerated the beets
'becca: 5, loved it!
Elliott: After the olive taste, he wasn't a fan.


Ham and Swiss Sandwich

Ham and Swiss Sandwich, page 42

Jonathan and I started a spin class this week. It's begins ten minutes after five o'clock in the morning. My alarm sounds at 4:33, giving me enough time to pull on clothes, clean my teeth and use the bathroom. I grabbed the water bottles I'd filled the night before (2 extra minutes of sleep saved) and drove to the gym. Isn't it completely natural, that marital bonding would happen on the spin bike?Who had this brilliant idea anyway? Mine, it was completely my idea. Yup, me, the one who made the call, pressed the numbers, handed over the debit card and BAM! just like that we were registered. As I'm questioning my brilliance, I'm also ready for lunch at 10:30 sharp. Please help, is this what happens at the end of triathlon season?

After an hour of flats and sprints, climbs and 2's and 3's and my desire to go aero, which is totally uncool in a spin class, I was hungry and all I had on my mind was this recipe. I'd seen it the day before & picked up the ingredients. When we got home, I walked in the door, woke Elliott, walked DandyDoodle and got to work.

Feed Zone Pals, it's easy. Super easy and so yummy and healthy and either FG* or GF** depending on how you fix it.

 I fully intended to get ham from deli, but forgot. I had to stop at Sam's later in the day, so I picked up a package of Black Forrest Ham there. Not freshly sliced, but it worked.

This is FG sourdough. I cooked it on both sides, then topped it with the Swiss for a few minutes to melt. Next, I added the ham before transferring it to a plate, topping it with kale and then the eggs. For mine I used Udi's Millet-Chia bread. It's my favorite.

I was in Chicago last week. I knew it would be a wild week for Jonathan. Chas was headed to Mexico, Elliott had student council early and soccer in the evenings, school drop off and pick up, lunches to pack, breakfast and dinner to make...the list continues. I knew Jonathan could handle it and with no trouble he did. He even discovered at Walmart they had a package of 40 Eggo Waffles for under $7.

This is why I love him. He knows what our boys like, ex: waffles for breakfast, and he know exactly what he can handle. He knew making waffles like I do, from scratch, 2 at a time in the waffle iron, would not be possible, but he wanted to give them a breakfast they loved. So he did. Just in a different way. I share this to let you know instead of a Ham and Swiss Sandwich with a poached egg, Elliott wanted waffles. And not the waffles I fix.

Kitchen Action
Lacking in Pantry: Nothing
Additions, Subtractions or Method Changes: Sauteed kale for salad greens, poached the eggs instead of over easy, skipped the mayo
What I'll try next time: I think I'd keep it the same. Maybe if it was fixed for lunch, I'd use salad greens and keep them raw & add mayo.
How it Scored:
Jonathan: 5
'becca: 5 (x5 that's how many times I could have eaten it that morning)
Elliott: waffles and fake syrup. (not only do our boys love Eggo, they also prefer Mrs. Butterworth's to Maple.

*FullaGluten **Gluten Free for those who may be new. I'm GF, but my family is FG. I make it work when I can and share with you how, just in case you are in the same situation.


Chicken Tacos

Chicken Tacos, page 130

I cut the chicken into small chunks in the morning before leaving the house. I added the onion, chiles, spices and lime juice to the mix, stirred it, then placed it in the refrigerator for the day. 
It should come as no surprise that this was an after soccer dinner and having the chicken ready to put in the skillet helped me fix dinner quickly. I'd also set a delay on the rice cooker, knowing that it would be ready just as soon as we were ready to eat. Making sure that I do preparation for dinner earlier in the day, if I am able, gives us more time around the table before teeth are cleaned, prayers are said and we drift into dreams. 

What helps you? I'm always looking for new ways that will give me an extra few minutes of "table time" with my boys. It's the best part of my day. I'm a complete failure at meal planning. Wait, usually*, mostly, ok almost always, I'm a complete failure at meal planning. I'm an almost daily grocery shopper. I do better when a recipe has pictures, than detailed instructions and my imagination. If I see a recipe tweet in my stream or thumb through a new magazine or it's Wednesday and the Food section is in the newspaper, I'll scrap the scheduled meal on the plan, I mean if I had one, and make what sounds good. Thus the reason for my daily trip to the grocery.

So, what about you? Do you plan for the week? Month? Do you see what The Pioneer Woman is fixing on her ranch? Do you grocery shop daily or a few times a week or do a giant shop at Sam's for the month? I'd love to know. 

A quick apology for my absence lately. Currently I have 4 recipes ready to share, but I need to add the photos & details. I'm working on it today. 

Kitchen Action
Lacking in Pantry: 2 mild green chiles
Additions, Subtractions or Method Changes: I used a can of small diced green chilies, I marinated the meat in the spices, onion and chiles.
What I'll try next time: I didn't make the spicy slaw this evening. I've made it before and can see how well the two would pair together. When I make it again, I'll make the two together.
How it Scored:
Yes -- FIVE's all around the table.

*When Jonathan travels, I scrap the daily trips to the grocery & meal plan. We have quesadillas.
Chicken. Cheese. Bean. Chicken & cheese. Cheese and bean. Chicken, cheese and bean. Chicken and Greek yogurt. Chicken, Greek yogurt & bean.  Ground turkey or beef or venison. Except no more venison. We've finished what we were given last year by my brother-in-law and this Nimrod family, we are not hunters. Don't even own a gun. If you like to hunt and have extra, I'll pay processing.


Flatiron Steak with Mustard Sauce

Flatiron Steak with Mustard Sauce, page 237
(photos will do the talking)

Kitchen Action
Lacking in Pantry: nothing
Additions, Subtractions or Method Changes: Would you believe me if I told you I made it the way the recipe told me to make it? I did.
What I'll try next time: I'm not sure. I'm up for suggestions. Have you tried this recipe? How did you like it? Did you follow the recipe or make any changes?
How it Scored:
All around the table -- 3