Here we are on Day 8 already, think of the possibilities for the upcoming 4th of July holiday!

I received a couple of emails this past week that I thought were kind of fun, one was from Lynn in Washington state who asked what I had against mayo. I really don’t have anything against mayo Lynn, I just prefer to make a fresh aioli when needed and for the family picnic, where food service rules don’t always apply, it is safer to stick with foods that are going to weather the fluctuating temperatures well without risk. The problem isn’t necessarily the mayo itself, but the combination of ingredients it is mixed with.

I love talk of food safety when it comes to holiday gatherings, don’t you? 🙂

Another email came from roxinrox in NY and she asked about menu planning services. Folks, I’ll be the first to say that I absolutely ADORE planning menus. This makes me a bit of an odd ball but anything that gives me an excuse to sit and read cookbooks for an hour is bliss to me! I do understand that not everyone loves to do that, nor do they love to create the grocery list or do the shopping. Menu planning services can be great for that. There are several online services but frankly, after my brief review of one service just recently I was disappointed…very disappointed. They are kind of a take it or leave sort of service. The first weeks menu left me with three of five entrees a no go. One was kid friendly, and that’s cool, but we don’t really need recipes for chicken finger type meals here. Another was, well, very boring. And the last was a salad, now my husband is a very sweet and awesome guy but he is also a construction worker and if I fed him salad for dinner the left side of the refrigerator would be wiped out by the time I woke up in the morning. Same goes with my daughter, she volunteers with the horses 3 days a week and takes care of all the creatures here too…she needs FUEL! So I would nay to the standardized planning services.

My menu planning service is more client centered. This service is part of my private/personal chef services, but came into play about 5 years ago when I wasn’t able to take a booking for a party and the client was desperate for help. I put together her holiday menu for her and she had great success in pulling it off,even with very little time on her hands to do so. I have an in-depth questionnaire that helps find your families likes and dislikes, allows for special dietary needs and is tailored toward your lifestyle. Each week the client is given recipes for 6 dinners, one of which is “leftover friendly” for the seventh or shopping day, and include a detailed shopping list. I guarantee that you will not have a repeat in the menus for at least 4 months (unless you request it of course). This is great solution for the time starved who still enjoy cooking, and if you commit to 4 weeks of menus your fifth week is free. My service is priced a bit higher than some of the online services, but the personal level of service and individual attention to detail make it worth so much more.

Back to our 8th day of Mayo Free Pasta Salad!

Orzo with Spinach and Peas

(serves 8 generously, 10-12 as a side)

This was inspired by an Ina Garten recipe and is one of my favorites.

For the salad:

1 cup cooked orzo

1/2 lb baby spinach leaves
2 – 10 oz bags of frozen peas defrosted
1/2 c freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
1/4 c toasted pignoli (pine nuts)
For the Pesto

2 c fresh basil leaves (be sure to use just the leaves)
I use a combination of genovese and lemon Basil for this recipe
3 small cloves of garlic
1/2 c freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
1/4 c freshly grated romano cheese
1/4 c freshly grated asiago cheese
1/2 c toasted pignoli (pine nuts)
(toast them by lightly browning them in a small pan over medium heat, the remove from the heat and reserve for use)
1-1/2 c extra virgin olive oil

Cook 1/2 cup of dried orzo to al dente, drain and rinse in cool water and reserve.

Make the pesto first by pulsing the basil, garlic, and pignoli together in a food processor or blender until you reach a fine mince. With the food processor running. add the oil in a stream until the pesto becomes smooth and silky. It will be a bit thin and that’s ok 🙂 Add your cheeses to a bowl and then pour the pesto mixture over the cheese and blend to combine well. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

Wash and spin your spinach leaves and place in a large bowl with the peas and 1 cup cooked, cooled orzo and pour the pesto, pignoli and parm over the top and stir gently to combine.

I’m making this today at some point so look for photos if my arm can handle it!

It’s bread baking day….yummm….bread

Have a fabulous Sunday and do something delicious!
Colleen

Creatively serving the Greater Binghamton area in the lovely Southern Tier of NY. www.foodwineartdesign.com

Colleen is a private caterer and personal chef, she also hosts the internet’s favorite resource for the home wine maker at www.homemadewine.net. Her blog and websites are viewed by thousands each day who enjoy her simply explained, illustrated and photographed recipes and helpful tips.

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