Tag Archives: peas

Orzo Salad with Peas and Feta

My 4th of July plans are pretty low key this year and I plan on curling up with a good book, a turkey burger and a cocktail. But so many people will be heading to the beach, the lake, the park, the pool or a friend’s house for fireworks and that means needing food. Maybe you’ll be having a burger like me or something else grilled. Maybe you’ll take this holiday weekend to consume as much ice cream as you can. Or maybe it’s the time to eat salads and I don’t mean the leafy green kind. I mean the potato-y, mayonnaise-y, pasta-y kind. This Orzo Salad has been a long time staple of mine which is my go-to dish whenever there is a potluck at work, a picnic or any impromptu get-together.

Quick-cooking orzo, frozen peas, and feta cheese are mixed together with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper. That’s it. This pasta salad is so fast to make and easy to throw together at the last minute. This salad doesn’t have a lot of ingredients so the vinegar comes through nicely without being too overpowering and the peas add a subtle sweetness which pairs so well with the pasta. I used basil instead of parsley because I had it on hand but any herb would work here. The herbs provide a bold freshness which only complements this pasta. Orzo cooks in about nine minutes so if you have a box on hand, this is something that you can pull together quickly. Give this a try anytime you need a quick side whether it’s a holiday weekend or not. I bet it’ll become your go-to recipe too.

If you like this, also check out Orzo Salad with Corn, Tomatoes, and Basil.


Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, and toss well to coat.


Cover bowl and chill for 1 hour.


Additions: None

Omissions: None


  • White balsamic vinegar
  • Reduced-fat feta cheese

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light magazine

Spring Green Fried Rice

I have to say I’m really enjoying our Spring in Philadelphia lately.  Normally, Spring lasts all of 3 days before it either gets cold again or boiling hot.  But we’ve had so many crystal clear blue skies and moderate temperatures that I’m just beside myself.  Having nicer weather not only puts me in a better mood but it tends to make me eat better also.  This Spring Green Fried Rice is a perfect Spring meal.  Sure, fried rice doesn’t sound like the healthiest thing but this version is flavorful, packed with veggies and not at all fattening.

Crunchy cabbage, sweet peas, crisp edamame and fresh ginger are mixed with brown rice and soy sauce.  Lightly fried, this rice is also mixed with eggs to give it the typical eggy addition commonly found in fried rice.  If you don’t like ginger, you can leave it out but I think the flavor of the ginger in this dish is really the best part.  Instead of running to get take out fried rice next time, consider making this.  You’ll save calories and money and you be happy with the results.


The ingredients:


In a small bowl beat egg and 1 tsp. soy sauce; set aside.


In a wok or large skillet heat toasted sesame oil over medium heat.  Add egg mixture; stir gently until set.  Remove egg; cool slightly.  Using your hands to roll the cooked egg into a log.  Use a sharp knife, slice the egg into strips; set aside.


In the same skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and ginger, cook 30 seconds.  Add cabbage; cook and stir 2 minutes.


Add edamame and peas; cook for 2 minutes.


Add rice and 2 Tbsp. soy sauce.  Cook and stir for 2 to 4 minutes or until heated through.  Add egg mixture and green onion; cook and stir about 1 minute or until heated through.


Top with crushed red pepper, if desired.


Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Better Homes & Gardens magazine

Chicken Fried Rice

I’ve mentioned before certain foods that I would want to have if I was stuck on a deserted island:  s’mores and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are just a few.  Yes, you know I have a sweet tooth.  I could probably add deviled eggs to that list too.  But another food that I never tire of and could eat every single day is fried rice.  And I mean every. single. day.  I normally eat vegetable fried rice (a habit going back to my vegetarian days) but as much as I love it, I don’t ever try to make it at home.  After all, the Chinese food restaurant is right around the corner and can have my fried rice ready for me in 15 minutes, right?  Well, the problem we all know is that fried rice isn’t exactly healthy and shouldn’t be eaten often, if ever.  But I can’t give it up so why not give in and try to make it, when I can control the oil and the ingredients myself?  This recipe for Chicken Fried Rice seems like a good place to start.

Chicken, scrambled egg, peas, and rice are combined with a mixture of soy sauce, hoisin sauce, rice wine vinegar and lime juice.  Fresh garlic and grated ginger provide additional layers of flavor to this rich dish.  The lime juice really provides an additional unexpected freshness and the chili sauce gives it a slight kick, which I love.  I used precooked chicken strips since I had them on hand but thin-cut chicken would work well here too since it cooks quickly.  Since I try to eat brown rice as much as possible, I also used ready-made whole grain brown rice in place of the boil-in-bag rice but any kind of rice will work here.  While this isn’t restaurant-style fried rice, this was a tasty and satisfying fried rice dish that isn’t as oily and doesn’t leave you feeling guilty after eating it.  What’s also great about this is you can add adapt it to your own taste by adding other vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, baby corn, grean beans or bean sprouts.  I’ll definitely make this again, maybe even leaving out the chicken, to satisfy that vegetable fried rice craving I get oh-so often.

The ingredients:

Combine 1 tablespoon soy sauce, cornstarch, and chicken in a bowl; toss well.  Combine remaining 4 teaspoons soy sauce, hoisin sauce, rice wine vinegar, lime juice and chili paste in a small bowl.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wok or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken mixture and stir-fry 4 minutes or until lightly browned. (If using pre-cooked chicken like I did, stir-fry just until heated through.)

Push chicken to one side of skillet and add eggs to open side of pan.  Cook 45 seconds, stirring constantly.  Stir eggs and chicken mixture together.

Remove chicken mixture from pan and keep warm.  Return pan to medium-high heat.  Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan.  Add onion, ginger, and garlic and cook 2 minutes or until fragrant.  Add rice and cook 1 minute.

Add peas and cook 1 minute.

Add chicken mixture and soy sauce mixture.  Cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Stir in green onions.

Additions:  None

Omissions:   None


  • Pre-cooked chicken strips
  • Ready-made brown rice

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light Magazine

Penne with Vodka Sauce & Vegetables

I’ve noticed a pattern in the food I’ve been eating lately – vegetarian and with zucchini. For someone who didn’t touch zucchini as a kid and grew up eating deer meat and rabbit, this is an interesting revelation. Trust me when I tell you, I prefer my diet much more now. Although I wish I didn’t eat so many carbs, I’m happy that I don’t eat nearly as much as I did when I was a vegetarian and ate pasta constantly. As in every single night. Because things have changed, I look forward to a hearty pasta dish, especially one made with vodka sauce. Penne with Vodka Sauce and Vegetables is a lightened up version of regular pasta in vodka sauce which is hearty enough that you won’t even notice the fact that there is no meat in sight.

Whole-wheat penne is mixed with zucchini, peas, onion and spinach and tossed in a tomato sauce made with vodka and half-and-half. The sauce is creamy and light, given subtle touch of heat from red pepper flake. Add Canadian bacon for an additional flavor boost as per the recipe if you prefer.  This recipe makes a ton, making it perfect for a family, guests or tons of leftovers.  This will be my lunch and dinner for days but that’s ok.  I’m used to eating a lot of pasta.

The ingredients:

Cook penne according to package directions, approximately 11 minutes. Add zucchini and peas during last 3 minutes and stir in spinach. Drain and place back into the pot.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally; add vodka and cook 1 minute.

Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt and red pepper flake. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Stir half-and-half and half of the parmesan cheese into the sauce.

Toss sauce with pasta and let stand for 10 minutes.

Spoon into serving bowl and top with remaining cheese.

Additions: None


  • Canadian bacon


  • Whole-wheat penne

Overall Rating: Like It

Source: Family Circle Magazine

Spicy Chickpea Samosas

When it comes to spicy food, lately I can’t get enough. If my tongue or the back of my throat doesn’t burn just a touch from whatever it is that I’m eating, I’m just not satisfied. Usually I can get my kick by adding a little bit of cayenne pepper here and there so when I come across a recipe with “spicy” in the title…I may as well melt!

These Spicy Chickpea Samosas not only have a slight kick but they are full of other delicious flavors like garlic, ginger, cilantro, and scallions. Samosas are a typical Indian street food which are fried but here they are baked which makes them a healthy appetizer, snack or light lunch. These are made with phyllo dough which usually uses tons of butter to make them flaky and decadent but the dough here is sprayed with non-stick spray which lightens it up while still keeping the layers crispy and flaky. I love the fact that these are vegetarian, as most traditional samosas are, but feel free to swap out the chickpeas with ground meat if you choose. This chickpea mixture is so good by itself, I could just sit and eat it with a spoon!

I served my samosas with a side of sweet, tangy mango chutney but this recipe has instructions to make a cucumber raita that can be made which will help tame that spicy heat. But I say bring that heat on!

The ingredients:

In a large skillet, cook carrots in canola oil for 3 minutes until carrots are slightly softened.

Add in scallion, ginger, and garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Add in tomato paste, cumin, mustard, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Cook for 1 minute.

Stir in peas, water, and chickpeas. Cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and add in cilantro and lemon juice. Allow mixture to cool.

Unroll the thawed phyllo dough and cover with a damp towel or paper towel to keep it from drying out. Take one layer of the phyllo, lay it on a flat surface and spray with non-stick spray. Carefully place another layer of phyllo on top of the first one and spray with non-stick spray as well.

Fold phyllo dough layers in half lengthwise and flatten with your hand. Place a spoonful of the chickpea mixture at one end of the dough. Carefully fold one corner of the phyllo over the mixture into a triangle.

Continue folding the dough in triangles until you reach the end. Place on a baking sheet and brush with melted butter or spray with non-stick spray and keep covered with a damp towel. Repeat with remaining layers of phyllo.

Bake the triangles in a 400°F oven for 10 minutes.

Additions: None


  • Butter (I used non-stick spray instead)


  • Ground cumin for cumin seeds
  • Dry mustard for brown mustard seeds

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light Magazine

Orange Pepper Soup with Cilantro Purée

The last time I was at the produce market, I picked up a big bag of orange peppers for no reason other than to have something colorful and different in my refrigerator.  I cut some up for stir-fry, threw in some with chicken in curry sauce, and chopped some up for salad.  But since produce markets give you more than you need, I was still left with several that I didn’t know what to do with.  That’s when I came across this recipe for Orange Pepper Soup with Cilantro Purée.  The recipe calls for yellow peppers but the orange peppers are just as sweet and worked just as perfectly in this chilled soup.  Although this is loaded with other flavors like garlic, onion, potato, apple, ginger, and fennel, the orange peppers are the star and are beautifully complemented by the other ingredients.  The other highlight to this soup is the addition of curry powder which lays low in the background and provides a subtle warmth.  The cilantro purée adds another layer of fresh flavor that works deliciously with the peppers.  To easily make this soup vegetarian, use vegetable broth in place of the chicken broth.  This soup would be perfect for a warm summer evening but it was still just as a good on a cold December day.

The soup ingredients:

Chop all of the produce (all of it will go into the blender so a coarse chop is fine).

Heat a skillet with butter and sauté the onion and fennel until soft.

Add in the curry powder, ginger, and garlic and sauté 1 minute.

Stir in the white wine and cook until evaporated before adding in the chopped peppers, apple, potato, chicken broth, and salt.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat.  Simmer 20 minutes.

When mixture has slightly cooled, add to a blender and process until smooth.  Chill for 2 hours and stir in lemon juice.

The purée ingredients:

Add all ingredients into a blender and process. 

Add a small amount to the soup with crème fraîche or sour cream before serving.

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None


  • Orange peppers for yellow peppers

Overall Rating:  Like It

Source:  Cooking Light Magazine

Risotto Primavera

I could eat risotto everyday.  If you like risotto too, this Risotto Primavera is a delicious, creamy (and crunchy) dish which mixes arborio rice with asparagus, peas and cherry tomatoes.  This dish can easily be made vegetarian by substituting vegetable broth for the chicken broth.  Just take your time with it.  No matter how much you might want to, don’t rush it.  It’s a slow and patient process that results in a warm and comforting dish that you won’t mind eating even if it’s summertime.   

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light Magazine

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