Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

I can’t say enough wonderful things about this soup. Definitely didn’t see this one coming! Dad brought us another stockpile of whole fryer chickens – which is the perfect size to roast, then break down and turn into soup. But, we wanted something a little different. While I love my classics (chicken and noodle, chicken and rice) I wanted something a little different. I had a half a box of orzo, and some pretty lemons – so I went to Google to see what it could direct me too.

It led me to this recipe from Cooking Light, and it turned out exceptional. We enjoyed it for dinner last Sunday night, I ate the leftovers for lunch all week long, and was disappointed when it was all gone! Which, isn’t like me at all – I’m usually over leftovers on day 2. The lemon in it is just perfect – not enough to make you pucker or be overpowering – but just enough to brighten up the flavor of the broth.

I also think it’s a great dish to segue into spring. Still a warm and comforting soup on a chilly evening, but brings the fresh flavors of lemon and fresh parsley to the table. I’m already thinking about the next time we’ll make it! All of us in the house are still thinking and talking about this one. Definitely a new family favorite.

Pub-Style Shepherd's PieSt. Patrick’s Day is always a much anticipated holiday in our house. We’ll take any excuse to drink a good beer of course, but I also happen to look fabulous in green! I’ve never been a corned beef & cabbage gal – I usually opt for this Pot Roast with Stout Gravy for our St. Patrick’s Day Feast. But, this Shepherd’s Pie is definitely giving it a run for it’s money…

Unlike the pot roast, this recipe is completely doable after a day at work. Sweating some veggies, browning some beef, then making a quick pan gravy with plenty of dark Irish stout. And while that’s going on, you can be boiling your potatoes to mash for the topping. I baked and served right in my cast iron skillet – I always love the rustic presentation at the table, especially for something like this dish. And one less pan to wash is always a good thing.

Not terribly long in the oven either, just enough time to get the gravy bubbling and the taters nice and browned on top. Which, is actually about the time it takes to sit down an enjoy a nip of Irish spirits, or taking a few moments to read your wee little leprechauns a tall tale. Stay tuned, because I have a few other St. Patty’s Day favorites I’m looking forward to sharing with you guys this week!

Mushroom, Onion & Swiss BurgerI’d say that sauteed mushrooms and onions are one of the best toppings for a burger in the world. And, the “old-standbys” become that way for good reason – because they’re awesome. The preparation of the mushroom and onions is but the work of a few fleeting moments, but lifts your burger into a whole different stratosphere, than just a plain ol’ cheeseburger would.

I was actually planning on making these In-n-Out copycats, when I realized I was out of pickles (the horror!) so had to change my tactics. I had a half of a package of mushrooms in the fridge, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to use them! Sauteed them with onion until golden, grilled the burgers, let the gooey Swiss melt – dinner was served, and it was a damn fine burger!

This really just made me hungrier for backyard BBQ’s with friends in the months ahead. Also, the beach! My mom & dad got us a portable Weber propane grill this year for Christmas. So, we’re looking forward to grilling burgers both bayside and oceanside this year! It’s also great to take to the park and grill some hot dogs for lunch while the boys play. And, I love that I can do it by myself – without Jon’s help. I see us getting quite a bit  of use out of it in the coming months. Come on, summertime!

Ginger Pork Stir Fry

Stir-fries are one of my favorite options for a weeknight meals. Healthy, quick, and flavorful – I usually find myself adding one to our menu weekly. They’re also great for a “clean out the fridge” kind of night. I had close to a whole pork tenderloin leftover that I used for this dish. I was worried that the pork would be overcooked after stir-frying. But, it was just as tender and juicy as it was the first night we enjoyed it.

But, if you didn’t have a cooked pork tenderloin hanging around (which, you totally should make that recipe. It’s pretty much amazing) – you could of course slice it thin, and then cook in the wok before the veggies. I added broccoli, red pepper, and water chestnuts for a crunchy kick. But mushrooms, carrots, or snow peas would be other great additions. That’s why I love stir-fries – they are pretty much good with anything you throw at it!