Monday, March 24, 2014

Greek Orzo Salad

Recently our family was invited to a party over at a friend's house. When I asked my kids for suggestions about what to make, they immediately said "Rice Krispie Treats"!!! Of course I should have known better than to ask! Ha Ha I agreed to make a pan of Rice Krispie Treats to keep the kids happy but I knew that I was craving something else a little more unique as a side dish. 
Always wanting to try something new, the first thing I thought of was a Greek flavored pasta or salad. Trying to keep it simple, I made a quick trip to the commissary to pick up a bottle of Greek Salad dressing and a few other items…unfortunately they did not have any type of Greek dressing available. So I decided to look up a greek dressing recipe online. The recipe I found was perfect with only a few basic ingredients to make the Greek flavored sauce. 

Greek Orzo Salad

adapted from
Perfect Greek Orzo Salad at website

1 pound Orzo pasta
8 ounces Feta cheese, crumbled
1 can sliced black olives, drained
1 large cucumber, peeled & diced
1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced
1/4 cup small red onion, finely diced
6 tablespoons parsley, well chopped

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 tablespoon oregano
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon pepper

Bring large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook orzo as directed on the package.  Drain and rinse with water to cool.  In a large bowl, combine feta cheese, olives, cucumber, tomatoes, red onion and parsley; mix in cooled orzo.  Whisk together dressing ingredients in a small bowl and then pour over orzo salad. Mix well to combine. Refrigerate for 20 minutes before serving.

I wish you could taste the yummy explosion of flavors in this pasta dish! The tartness of red wine vinegar with the bite of Feta cheese and red onion along with the smooth cool blend of orzo pasta and cucumbers.… good! You could easily substitute your favorite pasta (rotini, penne, etc) in place of the orzo. This recipe can also be adapted to your tastes by increasing or decreasing the amount of veggies…or even adding a meat such as chopped chicken or sliced pepperoni.  Whatever you choose, this Greek Orzo Salad recipe is the perfect unique side dish. Keep this recipe in mind for the upcoming warmer months when you need a cool side dish for a BBQ or potluck! 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Stuffing Mix Meatloaf

To say that my life has been busy lately is an understatement!! Between kid activities and base events, I don't know what day of the week it is half the time! One thing I do appreciate during these crazy weeks is comfort food….and nothing is better than buttery mashed potatoes and savory meatloaf!!!
The ingredients couldn't be easier! With the genius addition of Stove Top stuffing mix, you don't have to worry about measuring bread crumbs. I chose the Chicken flavored Low Sodium version…but you could pick any flavor you like!

The original recipe calls for 1 pound of ground beef. Since I'm feeding a hungry family of five, I decided to use 2 1/4 pounds of lean ground beef. It truly works better with that amount because of the use of stuffing mix. I think using only 1 pound of ground meat would increase the stuffing mix flavor. For our family 2 1/4 pounds was perfect! I spread the meat mixture out in a 9 x 13 inch glass pan which decreased the cooking time. 

Stuffing Mix Meatloaf
2 pounds ground beef
1 box Stuffing mix, any variety
1/2 cup water
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce (divided)
1/2 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine beef, stuffing mix, water, eggs, seasoned salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce. Pat into a 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes. In a small bowl, combine ketchup, brown sugar and remaining teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce; spread evenly over the meatloaf.  Continue baking for 20-30 more minutes or until meat is cooked through. 

I took the fast route and heated a bag of frozen mixed veggies plus I made a package of instant mashed potatoes.  The kids devoured their first serving of meatloaf and were asking for more before I sat down at the dinner table! Of course one of my favorite things about meatloaf is the option to create meatloaf sandwiches the next day!! Hope your family enjoys this easy comfort food with a twist!!