orzo with feta, basil, and shrimp.

One of the best things about summer is that it’s really easy to whip up a seasonal meal that’s equally simple and delicious. Summer flavors just lend themselves to that – light with fresh herbs and lemon. Easy.

I found this original recipe through Williams-Sonoma on a night when we were in a bit of a time crunch to put something good on the table, and then promptly leave the house. We already had most of the ingredients, and I added in a bit of fresh lemon because just about everything is better with lemon this time of year. With a glass of crisp Sauvignon Blanc, it was exactly what I was looking for – light and flavorful. Of course it didn’t hurt that I had Deano singing Mambo Italiano in the background while I danced barefoot through the kitchen, chopping basil and sautéing shrimp.

orzo with feta, basil, and shrimp

Ingredients

1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. sweet Spanish paprika
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. sea salt, plus more, to taste
3 cups orzo
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, snipped into small pieces, plus 4 to 6 whole leaves
1/4 lb. feta cheese, crumbled
juice of 1 lemon

Instructions

In a bowl, stir together the shrimp, the 1/4 cup olive oil, the paprika, red pepper flakes and the 1/2 tsp. salt. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the orzo, stir well and cook until al dente (tender but firm to the bite), according to package instructions.

Meanwhile, in a large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the 2 Tbs. olive oil. Drain the shrimp, discarding the marinade, and add the shrimp to the pan. Cook, turning once or twice, until the shrimp are opaque throughout, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the shrimp and any pan juices to a plate and cover to keep warm.

Drain the orzo and transfer to a warmed serving bowl. Add the shrimp and their juices and stir several times. Add the snipped basil, lemon juice, and cheese and gently stir again once or twice. Garnish with the whole basil leaves and serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.

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book review | the little shop of happy ever after.

The Little Shop of Happy Ever After

I finished The Light Between Oceans earlier this week (4 stars, heartachingly beautiful and painfully real) and upon doing so, I needed something light-hearted with a happy ending. Clearly, this book sounded perfect.

This was my first novel to read by Jenny Colgan and I absolutely fell in love. I spent two days, curled up in my chair, completely devouring it. I laughed out loud and found myself falling in love with Scotland and books all over again. I simply did not want it to end.

Throughout the entire book I found myself wanting to pick up and move to the Highlands, embrace the quiet county life and spend my days eating local sausage and reading books. I have a feeling this is going to become a go-to book for me whenever I need a quick, cozy escape. All in all, it was utterly delightful.

beer mac and cheese.

Ok, so if you are anything like me, then I probably don’t need to sell you on this recipe because the promised combination of beer, cheese, and pasta is all that you need. However, I’m going to sell it anyway for those of you who may not be in raptures just yet.

I get it, I get it – some of you don’t like beer. Actually, I really don’t get it because there is an entire world of flavor that you are missing out on! Just like wine, a good beer can elevate certain foods from being good to being downright heavenly. Nevertheless, even if you aren’t a beer drinker you will still love this mac and cheese. Scout’s honor.

When making this, you’ll want to pick a good cheddar cheese (I chose Tillamook) and a lighter, crisp beer so it doesn’t overpower the sauce (I chose Shiner Prickly Pear, because Texas – duh). The beer is going to add a rich, malty flavor to your sauce and cream cheese is going to make it…well, creamy. Then, because this recipe isn’t amazing enough, go ahead and top it off with some crispy bacon. Your taste buds will thank you later.

beer mac and cheese

Ingredients

1 pound macaroni or cellentani pasta
12 ounce bottle beer (an IPA would work well too)
8 ounces cream cheese
1 pound shredded cheddar, off the block (not pre-shredded)
1 cup crumbled bacon

Instructions 

Place a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil. Once boiling, cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, pour a bottle of beer in a second large pot. Place the pot over high heat, and add the cream cheese. As the beer starts to simmer, break the cream cheese into pieces with a whisk and whisk into the beer.  Add the shredded cheddar. Warm and whisk until completely smooth.

Once the pasta is cooked and drained, pour it into the cheese sauce. Reduce the heat to low, then stir and cook another 3 minutes to thicken. Salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, scoop the beer mac and cheese into bowls and sprinkle with crumbled bacon.

beer mac and cheese

*recipe via