Tomato, Basil and Feta Orzo

Seeing as I started the summer with a delicious orzo salad, roasted shrimp orzo, I figured I should end the summer with one. I broke open a cookbook I got for my birthday from my Mom.

So far, this cookbook is great! I love the recipes (there are a ton) and the saucy commentary with the recipes. This one was pretty simple. I subbed the mozzarella for feta because it’s what I had on tap. This recipe took literally no thought to put together and was great cold the next day. We had a mini heat wave last week with temps in the 90’s. Having no AC, a cold lunch was necessary. I couldn’t bear to turn on the oven.

Tomato, Basil and Feta Orzo Salad

Ingredients

3 servings of orzo

1/8 cup chopped basil

1/8 cup EVO

1 tablespoon EVO

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved (I used orange and yellow ones from the FM)

1 small minced clove of garlic

1 cup crumbled feta

Sprinkling of pepper and sea salt

Instructions

Combine the halved tomatoes, basil, salt, pepper, feta, and 1/8 cut EVO in a bowl. Stir and let sit for 1 hour. This was great because it allowed me to get a post run shower in. Wahoo!

After an hour, cook the orzo. Combine the cooked orzo with the other ingredients and the additional tablespoon of EVO. Salt and pepper to taste.

Seriously, can a meal get any easier? I don’t think so. The tomatoes were so fresh and amazing, because they’re in season now. The feta melted just slightly onto the orzo and the basil. Be still my heart it was so good! Is there a better flavor combination than tomatoes and basil? Nope.

This makes three servings. With my marathon appetite I housed a serving and a half and chilled the other portion for lunch the next say. As I mentioned above, it was so hot that the chilled portion came in extra handy. I don’t think I would have heated it up if I could have; it was great cold like all orzo salads. This is something I can see myself making in mass for several days worth of lunches.

One Year Ago: I set my 10k PR in the Santa Monica 5000. It was also the race that introduced me to Kaitlin! Isn’t running wonderful?

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Any Excuse for a Cupcake

One Year Ago: Corona Del Mar and Big Foot Lodge

Hey gang, how was your labor day? Mine was fantastic. I ate treats and did plenty of this…

Yes, the sun felt so good today. I met up with Danielle for sun, discussions about important topics (boys) and sipped on coconut La Croix (going to be a new addiction).

This being the last weekend of Summer I decided that I needed to celebrate on Friday. Even though Summer in LA doesn’t really end until, like, October I still decided to mosey on over to Susie Cakes anyways. You know me, any excuse for a cupcake.

Another excuse for a cupcake? Susie Cakes has a new seasonal cupcake!

Salted caramel and apple cupcake

Swoon.

The frosting was salted caramel and the cupcake was pretty much an apple spice cake. It was the best Susie Cake cupcake I’ve had in a WHILE. Seriously, while I love Susie Cakes I had a strawberry cupcake a few weeks ago and it wasn’t my fav. So glad to have my faith restored.

Can you blame me for coming up with random excuses for a cupcake?

How did you celebrate labor day?

What’s in Season Now: August

I realize that I always say one of the best ways to save money at the farmers market is to buy what is in season but I never blog about what is in season or what I’m buying. I thought I would take you WITH me to the beautiful, epic Santa Monica Farmers Market for a little peek at what is in season now.

Peaches

Eggplant – When I saw eggplant a few weeks ago I let out a squeal of delight. I LOVE eggplant and please note that there are about 5 varieties at this booth alone.

Heirloom Tomatoes – Both minis and full size perfect for Grilled Heirloom Tomatoes

Peppers

Bunches of herbs – Actually these are pretty much available year round, $1 for a bunch!

Summer Squash – Again, squeals of glee when I spotted these a few weeks ago! I’ve been using them in this risotto recipe to make summer risotto.

Papaya Melon – Like honeydew but 100% better! Sweet and mild, this is what I use in my Prosciutto Melon Salad.

Carrots – Normally I associate these with Fall, they are so good when honey roasted.

Ginormous ArtichokesGrilled artichokes are good but I need to find other recipes.

BerriesSo summer.

What are you loving at the farmers market right now?

Strawberry Thumbprint Cookies

Last Sunday I took over my new kitchen and declared total domination. I made Maple Oatmeal Scones, fish tacos and these delicious Strawberry Thumbprint Cookies. The summer is winding down for me. I only have one more week at my internship, then one week of vacation (my brother is visiting!) and then school starts. I wanted to spend last weekend using my new kitchen but I also wanted to make some delicious cookies that I could share with my coworkers. I don’t blog about my work life but I must say that I have really enjoyed this summer and I am going to miss my coworkers and my clients.

Did you know that this is my 6th internship?

Oh yes, it is.

In the past 5 years I have: done social psychology and race research (I actually analyzed body language for 2 summers!), education policy research, helped plan a conference on race, culture & education, was a legislative intern in the Massachusetts State House, worked on fair housing litigation (where I learned that I love working with clients) and helped youth emancipating from the foster care system with legal issues <- this summer. This is probably my last internship and it was a great way to end my career as an intern.

There really is no better way to share the love with your coworkers before the end of the summer than make cookies for them. Am I right?

These cookies are like little sugary, buttery bites of heaven with a jam center. Strawberry is the perfect center for the thumbprint and, let’s face it, strawberry jam makes these an appropriate breakfast treat. Obviously my coworkers snapped these up before 10 am. You can just call this “breakfast dessert”.

Oh, and it only has a few ingredients which is nice. Since this is a Paula Deen original, there is plenty of butter involved. I altered some of the instructions based on my personal baking preferences.

Ingredients

1 1/2 sticks of room temperature, unsalted butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg yolk

Just shy of 2 cups flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 jar strawberry preserves

Instructions

Cream butter and sugar together for 10 mins with a handheld mixer.

Add the egg yolk and mix.

Combine the salt and flour in a separate bowl.

Slowly combine the flour mixture with the butter mixture. Make sure the mixer is on a low speed until the flour is completely combined. Add the vanilla.

Take the dough, wrap in plastic and chill for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 350.

Take the dough and roll it into little balls. Place on a baking sheet, covered in parchment. I got to use my new commercial quality baking sheet which I got as an early birthday present! Probably the best present ever!

Once the balls are rolled use your thumb to make a thumbprint in the middle of the ball, flattening it.

Then use a spoon to fill the hole with the strawberry jam.

It’s like a cookie army.

Bake for 15 mins or until lightly browned (mine too about 20 mins).

Then all you have to do it pack it up, bring it to work and become the office hero!

What is your favorite thing to find in the kitchen at work? I love cookies but in my opinion nothing is better than walking in on some bagels and cream cheese when you really need a second breakfast.

Summer Nights

I already have gushed plenty about how much I love summer. This Friday was particularly awesome because I got to hang out with Bloggers and sing songs at the top of my lungs here…

Who doesn’t love that? Friday there was a Grease Sing a Long at the Hollywood Bowl.

Basically you get to watch the movie outside, on a big screen and singing is highly encouraged. I love musicals so I fully participated in the loud singing.

But first, I high tailed it over to The Alcove to pick up my dinner.

I’ve been to The Alcove several times but I’ve never blogged about it before.

After looking over the menu I knew exactly what I wanted! I also grabbed an iced tea.

And this cookie. Isn’t it beautiful?

Then I made my way over to the Bowl to meet up with Kaitlin, some of her friends and Kelley and her husband Irving. I always have a fantastic time with these ladies!

Thanks, Kelley!

For my dinner I had the blackened salmon sandwich. This sandwich, like all sandwiches at the Alcove was pretty much amazing. Look at the HUGE portion of avocado. I have been eating a ton of salmon as of late and this sandwich continued to feed the obsession.

There was also spinach and a lovely spread on the sandwich. On the side there was an apple and pear slaw. It was unconventional and crisp. Perfect health conscious side dish!

I brought one of my favorite summer adult beverages: Sam Adams Summer. This reminds me of summers in Boston and it was the perfect pairing for a night at the Bowl.

Then we settled into our seats. One of the best parts of the event was the people watching. There was a costume contest and there were tons of people who got really into it. The actress that played Frenchie was the MC for the contest and they did a little tribute to Jeff Conway who died recently.

As usual, Grease was fantastic. It really holds up on a 5th or 10th viewing. It was fun watching the movie with the peanut gallery all around. Anyone who has seen Grease as an adult and as a child knows that the movie is actually really dirty. It was fun seeing all the adults laughing and all the little kids being confused by the adult themes.

Going to the Bowl was a great way to kick off summer. I can’t wait to make it back!

Citrus Glazed Pound Cake

Last Friday was awesome for many reasons. Right now I am loving my weekends. Leaving work at 5:30 on Friday and literally having nothing to do is an amazing feeling. This Friday was even better because I immediately drove from work on my friend Molly’s house for an after work happy hour party.

Here is the thing about Molly’s parties: there is always a ton of delicious food (blackberry baked brie OMG) and delicious drinks and a fun mixture of people. I’m always looking for an excuse to combine butter and sugar so I gladly planned to bring a dessert. Molly didn’t ask me till Monday to bring dessert but obviously, I had it planned days in advance what I wanted to bring. For the occasion I decided to try a new recipe Citrus Glazed Pound Cake from Everyday Foods. I had never tried this recipe before but I knew it would be delicious because it called for the butter and sugar to be beaten together for 10 mins.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of unsalted butter warmed to room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon of course salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of orange zest
  • Juice from 1/2 an orange (I used a Cara Cara orange from the FM because they are my fave)

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice

Preheat you oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a loaf pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl using an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar for 10 mins until it is light and fluffy. Scrape down the edges of the bowl to make sure the butter and sugar are thoroughly combined.

Add the vanilla and then gradually add the eggs. Beat well and continue to scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure that they are thoroughly combined.

Add lemon zest, orange zest, orange juice and lemon juice. Combine with a spatula.

With the mixer on low add the salt and then gradually add the flour beating until combined.

Pour the cake into the loaf pan and bake for 65 mins. Check that the cake is done (by inserting a toothpick into cake and seeing if any batter sticks). Let cool on wire rack for 1 hour.

Whisk together confectioner’s sugar, lemon juice and orange juice in a small bowl. Pour over the cooled cake and let set.

Clearly, I have issues with my glaze. After consulting my expert (and co-worker) I think my issue is that I add too much liquid. Either way, this cake was a big hit at the party! It was moist, citrus-ey, and I didn’t have any leftovers to take home with me. Pound cake is really easy to make. This one wasn’t too sweet and definitely had a summer twist to it. I will be making this again. This recipe is a keeper.

Oh, and it also pairs well with three blackberry mint juleps.

But, then again, what doesn’t pair well with a blackberry mint julep?

That’s what I thought.

Speaking of cocktails, check out my guest post on Two Boos Who Eat about fun summer cocktails!

Roasted Shrimp and Orzo Salad

Don’t call it a comeback. I finally took to my kitchen today for the first time in longer than I would like to admit. My eating habits during finals were pretty terrible. There were endless trips to the hot bar at Whole Foods and random snacking. I’m pretty sure that I didn’t get proper nourishment for two weeks with the exception of a few meals and truthfully, I wasn’t that hungry. My appetite came roaring back during yoga last night (a 3 min head stand will do that to you) and today I took back my kitchen with this lovely summer dish.

Today felt like January in LA. It was cool (60 degrees, and yes I realize that there was a WIND CHILL in Chicago today so I won’t complain too loudly but I did see a women in a parka today so we’re going to count it as a ‘cool’ day). I think this dish would be great at a picnic, as a bbq side dish or, you know, whenever you want to feel like it’s 4th of July weekend. This recipe is a Barefoot original so feel free to pretend you’re in the Hamptons drinking a pitcher of mojitos with Jeffery as you eat it.

Ingredients:

Serves 3

3 servings of orzo pasta

1 lemon

10 shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 minced scallions

Generous chopping of fresh dill (I used a lot because 1) I love dill and 2) I bought an obscenely large stalk at the FM this week)

1 small hot house cucumber, unpeeled, seeded and diced

1/4 small red onion, diced

Generous sprinkling of Feta Cheese

Salt

Pepper

EVO

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Take 3 servings of orzo (as directed by packaging) and cook until al dente. Once the orzo is done, drain and set aside in a large bowl. Then in a small bowl, combine juice from 1 lemon (make sure to remove any lemon seeds that escape in the process of juicing), a 1/8 cup dollop of EVO, plus salt and pepper to taste. Whisk together.

Combine with the orzo in a large bowl. Make sure to stir in thoroughly.

Next, chop the dill, onion, scallion, and cucumber. Set aside.

See, the dill I bought was SO freakishly large that it didn’t fit in the camera frame!

Get your shrimp out!

Put the shrimp in a baking pan, sprinkle liberally with salt, pepper and EVO. Make sure the shrimps are covered in salt, pepper, and EVO and roast in the oven. This should only like about 7 mins at the MOST. Make sure the check on them so they don’t get overdone. If leftover shrimp freaks you out like it freaks ME out you could, in theory, wait to do this step until you are going to serve. The orzo stores well and you could just cook the shrimp right before you want to consume it.

Toss the shrimp in with the orzo. Then add the chopped ingredients (dill, scallions, red onions, and cucumbers). Top with the feta cheese and toss.

At this point, you can refrigerate the salad or let it sit at room temp for an hour like Ina instructs. But, if you’re like me, you photograph and eat as quickly as humanly possible because it is so tasty!

This pasta salad is delicious. The lemon and dill together felt like summer and the crispness of the onion, scallions, and cucumber was amazing. Can you promise me that if you make this you will only use the freshest of the fresh farmer’s market ingredients? Because using anything less or subbing out an ingredient just wouldn’t do the flavors justice. Roasting is by far my favorite way to cook shrimp (ok, I lie, I also have a special place in my heart for grilled shrimp) and it puts a great extra-special touch on this dish. This is the kind of thing I can see myself making on a Sunday and then bringing to work for lunch throughout the week. Oh yes, I see jealous co-workers in my future.

What meal just reminds you of summer? I could use the upper- another overcast day that requires boots might put me over the edge.