June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!!

Today was a pretty special day in our house... It was my husband's first Father's Day! (We're counting it even though the baby hasn't been born yet...).  When I asked him what he would like me to cook for his big meal, he simply replied, "I dunno... kabobs?".
A pretty loose suggestion.  Here's the menu I came up with:

Father's Day Dinner
Beef and vegetable kabobs
Asparagus and Spinach Orzo Salad
Grilled Multigrain bread
Individual sponge cakes with fresh berries and cool whip

Overall, a very easy dinner, especially since I took a few shortcuts with dessert, and used store-bought cake and cool whip! It was simply too hot to bake today.

I started this morning by cutting up and marinating the sirloin (1.5lbs, which marinaded for about 7 hours).  I am a big fan of marinades, sometimes spending far-too-long agonizing over which one to pick in the condiment aisle, (you have to admit, there are waayyy too many choices), and sometimes just throwing things together and making up my own.
Today, I made my own:

Beef Marinade
1 cup low sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp. chili garlic paste
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Fresh ground black pepper
A few sprigs of fresh rosemary

The vegetables I chose were yellow squash, red onion, red bell pepper, and mushrooms.  The great thing about kabobs is that you can mix and match proteins and veggies to suit your taste.  (And have fun skewering everything together.)

Tonight's orzo salad is a variation that I have not made before, but will definitely make again.  I have made "Greek" Orzo salads in the past, but I wanted to make a version that was "greener".  The dressing/vinaigrette is nice and light and refreshing.

Asparagus and Spinach Orzo Salad (serves 6)
8 oz. Orzo pasta, cooked
1/2 bunch asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces and blanched
11/2 cups torn baby spinach leaves
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese, plus more for garnish
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup (approx.) balsamic vinegar
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, whisked in until desired consistency
Kosher salt and fresh pepper to taste

For the pasta: cook pasta as per package directions, adding both salt, and 1-2 tbsp. of olive oil to the water. (I find that the oil keeps the pasta from clumping together). Strain, and let cool.

For the asparagus: Bring salted water to a boil.  Clean and cut asparagus spears into 1 inch pieces.  Prepare a bowl of ice water.  When water comes to a boil, toss in your cut asparagus and cook about 3 minutes (until asparagus turns bright green).  Scoop the cooked asparagus out of the boiling water with a slotted spoon, and immediately place in the ice water bath.  The ice water will stop the cooking and leave you with fresh-tasting crisp asparagus pieces.

Strain asparagus pieces and place into a medium-sized mixing bowl.  Add in your cut cherry tomatoes and torn baby spinach.  Next, toss in the feta cheese.  Mix in the orzo pasta, (if it's not completely cooled, don't worry!! The spinach wilts just a little bit, making it nice and tender, and the feta will become creamy and distribute throughout the salad nicely!).  In a separate bowl, whisk together lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Toss salad with dressing and add salt and pepper to taste.  Put into refrigerator to cool. Just before serving, top with crumbled feta cheese garnish.

Grilled bread is about as easy as it gets... but it's also one of the most delicious grill menu items out there. Tonight's bread was a loaf of multi-grain that I picked up at the farmer's market yesterday.  I cut the loaf into slices, (setting aside the ends), then brushed both sides of the slices with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled them with kosher salt and fresh thyme leaves.  Then, they were grilled on each side until crisp and grill-marked.

Tonight's dessert was all about the fresh berries.  I love raspberries and blackberries, (and they happened to be on sale), so they took center stage.  I wanted a nice light, fresh, summery dessert to top off our very summery meal... and it was perfect.

I hope that everyone had a wonderful, and delicious, Father's Day!!

Our "daughter" Honey

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