Thursday, March 31, 2011

An Easy Orzo Salad

The weather has been so gorgeous lately, it's put me in a spring kind of mood. Sunny, breezy, lots of time outside and great ideas to use my newly potted herbs. I potted herbs I knew that I'd be using throughout the spring and summer and planted vegetables in the garden that I knew I could pair with them. Two of the herbs I use most regularly are basil and mint. I put fresh basil in all of my Italian dishes and mint in my freshly squeezed lemonade which my boys love! Both of these went into my orzo salad over the weekend. I got the basic recipe from Giada's DeLaurentis' website but tweaked it a little bit for the ingredients I had on hand.


  • 4 c chicken broth 
  • 1 lbs of orzo
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans
  • 2 c grape tomatoes halved
  • 1 c diced red onion
  • 1/2 c finely chopped basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • (optional) 1 c. light feta cheese
  • about 1 c Wish Bone Red Wine Vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Boil the orzo in the chicken broth for 9-10 min. Drain and let cool in the fridge. Toss with a fork occasionally until it cools. After it cools completely add beans, tomatoes, onion basil and mint and toss with vinaigrette. Salt and pepper and let it sit in the fridge for an hour or so for all the flavors to combine. (if you're adding your feta you can add it with all of the other ingredients before you toss it with the vinaigrette.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Easy and oh so good!!

After posting on facebook about this Lasagna I got a couple of requests for the recipe! Little did they know it would be my next post. So Salty Brownie fans I'm doing a double this week and taking off next week since it's Spring Break with the kiddos :) I really like this lasagna one, because it's really easy to make. Two, I can sneak in some veggies for everyone including the kids and three, it's seriously yummy. So bust out your 9x13's people and get crackin'! Enjoy ya'll!

1 box of lasagna noodles (I use ready to bake whole wheat)
1 can of your favorite pasta sauce *gasp!!!* Yes people, I use canned sauce for my lasagna.
16 oz. ricotta cheese (low fat if you like)
16 oz. cottage cheese (I use 1%)
1 package of grated mozzarella or Italian blend
2 eggs
1/3 c grated parm cheese
1 lbs ground turkey or beef
1 diced onion
1 pkg of frozen chopped spinach (defrosted and drained)
1 tsp pepper

preheat your over to 350 degrees. Brown your beef or turkey (make sure and salt your meat while it's cooking) on the stove and while it's cooking mix up your ricotta, cottage cheese, eggs, pepper and parm in a medium bowl. After your meat is browned add the diced onion and spinach and cook on med heat for about 5 min. Pour in your jar of pasta sauce and let simmer for another few minutes. in the bottom of a 9x13 put a small bit of sauce to cover the bottom. Layer your lasagna noodles then ricotta mixture, a bit of mozzarella cheese then meat sauce again. Start over again with the noodles and do this until it reaches the top ending with the last bit of meat sauce. Cover the top with extra mozzarella cheese and bake for 45 min. covered. Uncover and bake for another 15.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Sweet Delight!

Now that spring is just around the corner, I’ve started planning out our garden and the recipes that will go along with the ”yummies” we’ll reap. We’ll probably plant here in a couple of weeks and let me tell you, there is nothing like getting your veggies and fruit straight from your backyard. Even if you have a small backyard, which I think we have, you can still make room for a small section in a corner or by a window. If you’ve never gardened before or are a bit weary of the time commitment, start with fresh herbs. Herbs to really well in pots and they are pretty hard to kill. Also, plant something you’ll eat! There’s no sense in planting something you’re not going to love. One thing we’ll be trying AGAIN this year (last year was a big fail) is strawberries. Strawberries are by far my favorite fruit, oh how I love them! They’re packed with vitamins, can be used for snacks, salads and desserts and are beautiful! So, today I’ll be sharing one of my all time favorite recipes that’s very easy and great for a dinner party. Balsamic Strawberries with a Ricotta Whip. I love this recipe because it’s very easy, displays beautifully and is very elegant. It’s also fresh and clean, not heavy at all, perfect for a dinner party where guests can mingle while still enjoying a dessert. I suggest that when you’re picking out your balsamic vinegar choose one that’s priced in the mid range. You don’t need to use really expensive vinegar but the cheap ones just won’t cut it. Believe me…I’ve tried. You can also reduce your fat content by using a “skim” ricotta. As another recommendation, use martini glasses or wide rimmed glass to serve this dish! It makes for an elegant display.


1 c ricotta cheese

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 Tbsp honey

3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp sugar

1 lb strawberries sliced

2 Tbsp basil, fresh (chiffonade)


In a food processor add the ricotta cheese, vanilla and honey. Pulse for a minute or two then refrigerate it for about an hour.

Combine vinegar and sugar in a small pot and bring to a boil; reduce to simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Let the syrup cool completely before topping your strawberries.

In four separate glasses fill the bottoms with the ricotta mixture. You can use a piping bag to make it look uniform. Add your sliced strawberries on top of the cheese mixture and drizzle your balsamic syrup on top. To finish it off, top each glass with a small amount of your basil.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Cake Balls!

Cake funny. Gah... I didn't even know what cake balls were until I asked my sister in law Daphne for some help in party planning. After she told me about them, I immediately knew that I'd want to make them. So, I invited some girlfriends over and they helped me figure this cake ball thing out. I used Paula Deen's recipe and after my first try, (sorry Paula) I have some ideas on how to make them taste better, look more uniform, and professional.

1. Use your own butter cream. In the recipe, it calls for one tub of store bought icing and I just HATE that stuff. It's no good...use your own.

2. Def. use a melon baller or 1/2 TBS to form your balls. If the balls are too big, you're not going to get the chocolate all over it.

3. make your balls ahead a time and freeze them the day before. If the balls are too soft they'll fall off the toothpicks and you'll be fishing for the darn balls all afternoon.

4. Don't temper your own chocolate. Use the good quality confectioners chocolate as directed. it dries quickly and tastes yummy.

5. For the love of everything good in this world DECORATE THEM! Dip those suckers in sprinkles, cookie crystals, or nuts. They look SOOO pretty decorated. I didn't decorate my chocolate ones and although they were my favorite, they looked pretty lame. I wish I would have drizzled them with white chocolate.

6. When decorating them dip them directly into the sprinkles. That way the hole that your toothpick makes becomes the bottom of your cake ball and you don't have to worry about filling it in.

Hope everyone tries they're hand at these! They're perfect for holidays, showers and weddings!