Summer Orzo Pasta Salad

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Did everyone have a fabulous Fourth of July? I sure did. And one of the reasons it was so good is because of this delicious Summer Orzo Pasta salad. I’m not a huge fan of heavy, mayo-based potato salads, which is why this salad is perfect.  Instead of heavy mayo, its base is olive oil and red wine vinegar. It tastes healthy, and that’s all that matters.

This Summer Orzo pasta salad is the perfect light Fourth of July (or any holiday, really) side dish. It’s so good, you’ll forget that it’s a family-style dish. You might just grab the bowl and a spoon and call it a day. Or maybe that was just me on Saturday.

Summer Orzo Pasta Salad

Ingredients

  • ½ cucumber, chopped
  • ½ cup feta cheese
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1½ cups orzo
  • 1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups red teardrop tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved
  • ¾ cup red onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the Red Wine Vinaigrette Dressing:
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. **For the salad:
  2. Put broth in a large pot and cover. Bring the broth to a boil over high heat. Stir in orzo.
  3. Cover partially and cook until the orzo is tender (6-8 minutes) stirring frequently.
  4. Drain orzo and place in a large mixing bowl. Let the orzo cool completely.
  5. While the orzo is cooling make the dressing.
  6. **To make the dressing:
  7. In a food processor or blender mix the vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper until mixed well.
  8. While the machine is running gradually add in the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Once the orzo is cooled mix the orzo with the chickpeas, cucumber, tomatoes, onion, basil and mint.
  10. Add a ¼ cup of the red wine vinaigrette dressing to the salad and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to eat.
  11. When ready to eat you might want to add the remaining dressing and mix well. I tend to take the salad out of the refrigerator and test the salad to see if it needs additional dressing. When the salad sits it tends to absorb the dressing so it helps to add more.

Recipe adapted from a cedar spoon

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This Fourth, I only had a few things on my agenda: laying by the pool, swimming and eating delicious food. Being in the kitchen for more than an hour was not one of them. And that’s why this dish was the perfect side dish for our Fourth of July blue cheese burgers and bratwurst. Not only was it delicious, it was so easy to make.

I hope you love this Summer Orzo Pasta Salad as much as I did. Looking for some additional side dishes? Check out the following recipes:

Buffalo Chicken Dip
Passionfruit Margaritas
Blue Cheese Potato Salad

Be sure to check out our Fourth of July spread below. Happy Birthday ‘Merica!

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Bake a large tray of brownies, use a star cookie cutter for the pattern & drizzle melted chocolate. Perfect!

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May things

Every weekend in May was packed with exciting events. From baby showers to my mom’s birthday to weddings — and the list keeps going. It’s been, like, totally insane.

I mentioned in my last post that we were in the middle of a kitchen remodel in the beginning of May. And because of that, I think we ate out at least 20 times. Now, some of you may be thinking, “Awesome! What’s wrong with that?” I know it sounds glamorous, but trust me, I was so over eating out, and I could not wait to use my new kitchen. Oh and that whole eating healthy thing? I had every intention of eating healthy… but that becomes impossible when a luscious butter cake is staring at you from the menu.

I spent a full day with my cousin Lani baking yummy treats for a fabulous dessert bar celebrating a 25th wedding anniversary. I wanted to share the dessert bar and the adorable treats we created.

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I’m embarrassed to say, we totally cheated on the cheesecake (it was not made from scratch). Thank you Jello for creating this easy and amazing delicacy that comes right out of a box. No one caught on— they were raving about it. And I felt no need to tell everyone my little secret, thank you very much.

That night, we gazed at our masterpieces and rewarded ourselves with a large glass of wine. Because wine and baking go hand in hand, right?

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I also had the excellent opportunity to travel to Chicago and visit some amazing places. Wrigley field was one of my favorites. That place is incredible! The second you walk in, you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. And don’t get me started on the Chicago Bulls Game 4 game. Playoff games are insane anyways, then add to that the fact that Chicago fans don’t mess around. Unfortunately Lebron had a game winning shot that left the United Center in dead silence, but even that shocking loss couldn’t dampen the crowd’s spirits for long. It was still an unforgettable experience with an amazing crowd.

I visited the LB Antique Market for the first time. Wow! I found some unbelievable deals. The antique market is about 3 minutes and 50 seconds away from my house and been going on for who knows how many years, and I’ve never been— shame on me.

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Summer is here and June’s agenda consists of my first camping trip and laying out by the pool as much as possible.

Happy June, friends!


My Mom’s 50th Birthday

We celebrated my mom’s big 5-0 last weekend. What a fabulous number for an absolutely fabulous woman! Throughout my childhood, she was always decorating for weddings, birthdays and anything else that needed an artful and unique touch.

My mom is, by far, the most creative person I know, which can often cause some anxiety when planning creative events for her. For this party, it was extremely important for me to design and create imaginative invites…by hand. Dun dun dunnnnnnn. For the theme of the party, I had planned a huge backyard party at my house – 50 is a big deal, after all! But when I called and asked what she wanted, she requested something small and intimate. She also had a few specific requests: the color pink, Italian cuisine, immediate family and carrot cake.

I had to obey my mom’s wishes. She was the birthday girl (and my mom!) after all. I created the 5×7 invites with Photoshop and printed them on photo paper. I knew my mom would be happy that I brought out the scrapbooking cutter and matted the invites on black cardstock. (So fancy, huh?) Email me if you would like an editable version. I’m happy to share with you!

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All birthday queens need a fabulous cake with pink candles, and my mom is no exception. I made carrot cake from scratch, filled it with cream cheese frosting, topped it with cream cheese frosting mixed with walnuts, and voila! A cake fit for a queen.

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I created a few fun games for us to play at the table, and we spent the afternoon laughing and reminiscing over old photos.

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It was a great party and everyone had a great time. Happy Birthday Mom! I love you; here’s to another 50 years!

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Baked Ranch Chicken

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Guess what? It rained here in Southern California! I think it’s finally fall. Time to break out your cute boots and cozy scarves. My favorite time of year! Every October through December I gain about 5 lbs. I have no self-control during these months and I loooove comfort food. I found this chicken recipe on Pinterest, and you’re not going to believe the secret ingredient: CORN FLAKES!

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Baked Ranch Chicken

Ingredients

  • 8 chicken halves
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 3/4 cup of corn flakes
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch

Instructions

  1. Melt butter in small bowl.
  2. Take cornflakes and place into plastic bag.
  3. Smash the cornflakes with rolling pin and place in a shallow bowl.
  4. Add Hidden Valley Ranch packet and Parmesan cheese in shallow bowl.
  5. Dip Chicken halves in melted butter and then roll in corn flake mix.
  6. Place in greased 9×13 pan.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

www.MyCrownedCreations.com

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Like I said earlier…it’s my favorite time of year and the Halloween decorations are finally coming out to play. My friend below plays “La Bamba” when you walk by. He is the newest addition to my little Halloween family. My neighbors are probably sick of hearing the song over and over again, but they can deal with it! Grinches.

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I went to the local feed store and purchased this bail of hay. See how fabulous it looks? And it only cost $9.00! My little black kitty guards the front of our house. My husband is allergic, so this is as close as I can get to having my own cat.

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I grabbed this vine wreath at Michael’s and added white and orange flowers. I spray painted the numbers orange and added dollar store spiders to make it SPOOKY! This wreath was less than $20.00 to make, and it’s so festive (and cute, if you ask me!).

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Anyways, back to the food. I hope you love this chicken recipe as much as I do. Currently, I am searching for a chicken fried steak recipe, so if you have a good one please send it my way! Happy Fall, friends!
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