SRC: Dijon Balsamic Orzo Salad

This orzo pasta salad is filled with all of my favorite flavors… dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, tomatoes, basil, and garlic. Simple and sophisticated, this dish can fill all your summer party needs!

Dijon Balsamic Orzo Salad | | #summer #tomatoes #salad #secretrecipeclub #healthy

Ben and I moved to a new house this spring. Though we’re still in Nashville, we are on the other side of town, and as such, have had to get used to new everything. New grocery stores, new commutes, new running paths(!!!), new neighbors… and a new farmer’s market. Our local market is only a couple years old, and as such, is still pretty small. BUT size does not equal quality. Quality > quantity, ya know? Last weekend at the market, I couldn’t resist ALL the lovely tomatoes that have started to pop up. They’re juicy and sweet and oh-s0-pretty. And what better dish to celebrate summer tomatoes than a pasta salad?

Dijon Balsamic Orzo Salad | | #summer #tomatoes #salad #secretrecipeclub #healthy

This orzo and tomato pasta salad comes together, as its name implies, with a fantastic dijon-balsamic dressing. It’s funny, I found this recipe on Heather’s blog, Join Us, Pull Up a Chair. She’s my Secret Recipe Club assignment for the month of July… and her family didn’t care for the salad very much due to the tanginess of the dressing. But I made it anyway. HA! I read the recipe before the blog post so that explains it. And the dressing was tangy, for sure. I adjusted the proportions a little but the balsamic and dijon flavors are pretty prominent and strong. If the dressing is too tangy for your taste, add more extra virgin olive oil, or add some honey. Ben and I thought it was perfect, a great pairing with the sweet tomatoes and fresh basil. MMM!

Dijon Balsamic Orzo Salad | | #summer #tomatoes #salad #secretrecipeclub #healthy

One of the reasons I love participating in the SRC is getting to check out the blogs of other foodies. There’s always SO many good recipes to choose from. Heather started her blog several years ago as way to organize all her recipes because they were taking over her office. I can relate to that! Some of the other recipes I found on her blog that I can’t wait to try include snickerdoodle biscotti, Kung Pao chickpeas, cranberry hootiecreeks [what an awesome name for a cookie!], and cranberry vanilla shortbread cookies. If any of those recipes sound up your alley, be sure to check out Heather’s blog! I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I do. And don’t forget to make this dijon balsamic orzo salad, stat! Enjoy!

one year ago: Spicy Peanut Noodles with Kale and Edamame
two years ago: Ginger Banana Waffles
three years ago: Minty Asian Slaw
four years ago: Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Dijon Balsamic Orzo Salad

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Print

slightly adapted from Join Us, Pull Up a Chair


  • 8 ounces orzo pasta [another small shape would work too]
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 – 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons whole grain dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced [if you really like garlic… if not, use 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder]
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, cut into a chiffonade


Cook orzo according to package directions. While orzo is cooking, toss tomatoes and chickpeas together in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, mustard, oregano, and garlic. When pasta is cooked, drain and then place in bowl with the tomatoes. Stir together, then pour dressing and toss to coat. Season with pepper to taste, then stir in basil or use as a garnish.

If the dressing is too tangy for your taste, add more extra virgin olive oil, or add some honey.

Salad tastes great warm, at room temperature, or cold. Also, it doubles easily! Add other veggies or some cheese if desired.

Click below for more recipes from this month’s edition of the Secret Recipe Club!

Corn and Blueberry Salad

This simple corn salad has a pop of sweetness, a little cheese, and lots of yum. One bite and you’ll be hooked!

Corn and Blueberry Salad... a summer side you don't want to miss! #salad #healthy #bbqYou’re going to LOVE this amazingly flavorful Corn and Blueberry Salad. The best of summer, right here! This salad is a guaranteed hit… and it takes just a few minutes to throw together and uses ONLY seven ingredients! What’s not to love?

I shared the recipe on Thriving Home, so check it out now! Enjoy!

#HotSummerEats: Sun-Dried Lentil and Couscous Salad, Barbecue Black Bean Quesadillas, and Some Reviews!

Today is the last day of #HotSummerEats! And because Ben and I spent the day painting our kitchen instead of blogging, I didn’t get part of this post up for Sunday like I planned. So to celebrate Monday, I have not just one but TWO recipes for you, plus reviews of other products from our wonderful #HotSummerEats sponsors. Ready? Let’s go!

Sun-Dried Lentil and Couscous Salad for #HotSummerEats |

Inside door number one we have this fabulous lentil and couscous salad! I love having recipes like this on hand to make that I can grab out of the fridge for lunches at work all week long. It’s truthfully been awhile since I’ve cooked couscous and when I first tasted this salad yesterday I wondered why the hiatus? Israeli couscous is so good!! It’s almost pasta, but not quite, so it pairs so well with lentils and any other veggies you want to throw in. This time, I used red and yellow bell peppers and some sun-dried tomatoes. Normally when I make salads like this, I make a vinaigrette as the sauce, but this time I took the easy way out and used this Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette from Out of the Weeds. You can WIN this in our #HotSummerEats giveaway, but you gotta act fast since it ends today! I don’t usually buy salad dressings because vinaigrettes are super easy to make, but sometimes it’s nice to let someone else do the work for you… especially when they use normal ingredients that you’d find in your pantry too! This vinaigrette is so fresh and adds a fun, light tomato flair to my lentil and couscous salad. If you can’t get this vinaigrette locally [or can’t wait until your online order arrives], you can use your favorite vinaigrette instead. :) I’m so glad I got to try this Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette! It’s flavorful, fresh, and perfect for anything from salads to meat marinades. Amazing!

Barbecue Black Bean Quesadillas for #HotSummerEats |

The next recipe I have to share with you involves black beans, barbecue sauce, and cheese. Now, that combo might seem a little weird. I mean… black beans and cheese I get, but barbecue sauce and black beans? Barbecue sauce and cheese? Just try it! It’s so good! But first the back story. Whenever I get home late from work or Bible study or anywhere really and need some dinner, quesadillas are my go-to… one of two kinds. Banana, peanut butter, and chocolate [arguably NOT the healthiest choice, I know… but delicious!] or black beans and cheese. I always have those ingredients on hand so it’s easy, filling, and delicious. Usually to season my bean and cheese quesadilla, I turn to salsa or taco seasoning. But since I live in Nashville and see people put barbecue sauce on anything and everything, I wondered how it would taste on beans. Like baked beans, kinda. Even though I don’t like baked beans…

Barbecue Black Bean Quesadillas for #HotSummerEats |

I received Southern Gold Barbecue Sauce from Voodoo Chef for #HotSummerEats and decided to try it out on a recent weeknight. Man! The barbecue sauce/black bean combo is great! It’s just like chicken, except not. Haha, I’m so eloquent right now. But really, this barbecue sauce is wonderful. It’s mustard based–sweet and tangy, with just a pinch of heat. I could eat that stuff by the spoonful, it’s that good. Just like I said with the vinaigrette, you SHOULD get it [or win it I hope!] but if you can’t feel free to sub regular barbecue sauce + mustard to make this quesadilla. This combo is where it’s at! :)

#HotSummerEats reviews on thepajamachef.comMan, I’ve already shared two great recipes. But now I have a few product reviews for you so keep on reading. :) I got to try Caribeque‘s Island Thyme spice rub. Ben was cooking the night we tried it, and he rubbed it on a pork tenderloin, then added some olive oil and panko bread crumbs and baked it until it was cooked through. WOW was this good! Seriously the best pork I’ve ever had. If it wasn’t raining I would have gotten some better pictures.

#HotSummerEats reviews on

The Island Thyme was tangy and full of lots of herbs. It had a little kick but not too much… made me feel like I was at a Caribbean restaurant instead of my own kitchen. :) I think it would also be wonderful on some roasted veggies. :) We enjoyed some dill and butter green beans and some sweet potato fries with the pork. I dipped my sweet potato fries in my new favorite ketchup… Chai Curry Chup by Intensity Academy. I know chai seasoning + ketchup + curry sounds weird, but it’s a totally addictive blend of sweet and hot and normal ketchup. It’s very hard to describe but it’s the best thing ever. Seriously the best product I tried as part of #HotSummerEats. Everything was good but this was phenomenal! On burger night a few weeks ago, I mixed the Chai Curry Chup with mayo as a burger topping and that was great too.

#HotSummerEats reviews on

Last but not least I want to tell you about the unique line of salad dressings from T.Lish. So far I have only sampled one of the three I was sent, and I want to eat salad for every meal just to enjoy the sweet garlic dressing!

#HotSummerEats reviews on

This dressing tastes like something I’d make in my own kitchen–no preservatives, nothing fake. It’s just a really good salad dressing made with quality ingredients. Some of the other #HotSummerEats bloggers have used these dressings for pasta salad or marinades–find all the recipes here! I have plans to use the Asian Sesame in stir fry but it just hasn’t happened yet. Will report back when it does! :) My only complaint with this salad dressing is that it makes a mess when pouring it. Maybe we just got a bad bottle, but it did spill down the side quite a bit. That happens with my own dressings too, so no worries!

If you made it this far, you deserve a reward… so here are the recipes! :) :) Ha! Enjoy! Thanks for reading along with #HotSummerEats and thanks to Camilla for organizing and hosting this great event. Most of all, thank you to all our sponsors! You have helped make the event spicy, flavorful, and fun! I always LOVE getting to try new foods and finding new companies to support [and enjoy]. Hope you enjoyed it as well and be sure to enter the giveaway now!

Sun-Dried Lentil and Couscous Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Print


  • 1/2 cup lentils, rinsed and sorted
  • 1/2 cup Israeli couscous
  • 1/2 cup bell peppers, diced small
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, diced small [drained if water/oil packed]
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs, chopped [I used dill, rosemary, and lemon thyme]
  • 1/3 cup Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette from Out of the Weeds [or another salad dressing of choice, or a mixture of pureed tomatoes, oil, vinegar, and herbs]
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • Parmesan cheese, grated


Bring a medium saucepan full of water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, then add lentils and cook for 10 minutes. Add couscous and cook another 10 minutes or so, until lentils are cooked through–soft but not mushy, and couscous is cooked to al dente. Drain lentils and couscous and place in a medium bowl. Toss with peppers, tomatoes, and herbs. Drizzle vinaigrette over top, tossing until combined. Season with pepper and serve with Parmesan.

Barbecue Black Bean Quesadillas

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Print


  • 2 flour tortillas
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup black beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1/4 cup bell peppers, diced small
  • 1/4 cup Southern Gold Barbecue Sauce from Voodoo Chef [or 2 tablespoons of your favorite barbecue sauce + 1 tablespoon of your favorite mustard]


Heat a large skillet or griddle pan over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray or grease with butter, then place one tortilla on the pan. Add half the cheese and allow to melt.

In a small bowl, stir together black beans, bell peppers, and barbecue sauce. Heat until warm in the microwave, about 45 seconds. Add half of mixture on top of cheese–just one side of the tortilla for easy folding.

When cheese has melted and tortilla is crispy to your liking, fold and transfer to plate. Repeat with additional ingredients, then serve, sliced, with additional barbecue sauce for dipping.

Check out other #HotSummerEats recipes at the link below:

Disclaimer: Thank you to Caribeque, Intensity Academy, Out of the Weeds, T.Lish, and Voodoo Chef for providing samples and product to use for#HotSummerEats recipes without additional compensation. I was not asked to provide positive feedback. All opinions are my own. Please check out Caribeque on Facebook here or here, Twitter, and Instagram here and here to learn more. Please check out Intensity Academy on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest to learn more. Please check out Out of the Weeds on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest to learn more. Please check out T.Lish on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest to learn more. Please check out Voodoo Chef on Facebook and Twitter to learn more.

SRC: Green Goddess Dressing

A creamy, tangy dressing filled with lots of fresh herbs and onions… green goddess dressing is divine! 

Hello, friends! What a week! We just moved and are getting settled in our new home. But I couldn’t miss out on the Secret Recipe Club this month so I made my recipe wayyy in advance. So unlike me. :) This month I was given Jenna’s blog, The Painted Apron. Jenna is a lovely woman who gets to divide her time between Birmingham and Orange Beach, Alabama. She loves her family [just browse her blog for adorable grandkid photos! Awww.], football, and hospitality. My husband was very sad to learn that she’s an Alabama fan and wants to say GO BUCKS! OH! He’s a major Ohio State fan and is still basking in the glow of Big Ten > SEC victory in the National Championship last January.

Green Goddess Dressing | #src #salad

All that aside, it was so fun to check out Jenna’s blog this month. Some of the recipes that caught my eye included: Creamy Corn Dip, Cranberry Salsa [must make at Christmas!], Cinnamon Roll & Sausage Breakfast Pudding [this would be an awesome dish to make while on vacation… we always stay in condos so low-prep recipes are great!], Apple Pear and Walnut Gorgonzola Galette, and Savory Apple Pie Quesadilla. I must have been in a fall mood when I browsed her blog, but I eventually settled on this great salad dressing. I know I’ll be able to enjoy it all summer long!

Green Goddess Dressing | #src #salad

I’ve heard of Green Goddess Dressing before, but don’t really think I’ve ever had it before. Apparently it was concocted in the 1920s in San Francisco as part of a movie celebration. Fun! Truly, it reminds me of a more sophisticated version of ranch dressing. Creamy, herby, and tangy, this dressing is a fun creamy topping for salad. Traditionally, this dressing is made with sour cream and mayonnaise, but this time I used greek yogurt instead of sour cream because I had it on hand. We have enjoyed this dressing for the past two weeks on any and every salad we can find… but the first time, it was fabulous on a salad made up of red leaf lettuce, sauteed asparagus, sliced radishes, chickpeas, crumbled feta, and sliced hard boiled eggs. No matter how you serve it, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as much as we did! Thanks, Jenna, for a great recipe. :)

one year ago: Tropical Cake Mix Cookies
two years ago: Sweet Potato and Kale Egg Bake
three years ago: Reese’s Blondie Pie
four years ago: Sweet Potato Waffles

Green Goddess Dressing

  • Servings: 1.5 cups
  • Time: 5 minutes
  • Print

from The Painted Apron


  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil [or basil paste from Gourmet Garden]
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley [or parsley paste from Gourmet Garden]
  • 1 tablespoon anchovy paste
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice [from about 2 lemons]
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • crudites or salad, for serving


Combine all ingredients in a jar or small bowl, then process with an immersion blender until smooth. Serve as a dressing or dip. I enjoyed my dressing with this Asparagus and Chickpea Salad from A Nutritionist Eats [ingredients: red or butter lettuce, sauteed asparagus, sliced radishes, chickpeas, crumbled feta, and sliced hard boiled eggs].

Dressing keeps well in the fridge for about a week. Enjoy!

Check out all the other delicious recipes made by my friends in the Secret Recipe Club this month!

Mujaddara: Mediterranean Lentils and Rice with Carrot Slaw

Lentils are the new black beans. :) This easy vegetarian meal is our new staple weeknight dinner! The carrot slaw elevates the classic Mujaddara dish into something extra special.

Mediterranean Lentils and Rice with Carrot Slaw |

I used to not know what to do with lentils. They seemed mushy and weird. But then Ben and I started frequenting this fabulous Turkish restaurant in Indiana and I fell in love with their red lentil soup. So I bought lentils to recreate it at home… and they sat in my pantry for like two years. And moved to Nashville with us. Once here, I started making red lentil soup, but that’s all I did with lentils. Until I found this recipe in an old issue of Food Network Magazine. [True story.] Though the recipe didn’t say this was Mujaddara, aka the beans and rice of the Mediterranean, Middle East, and beyond, it clearly is. 

Mediterranean Lentils and Rice with Carrot Slaw | thepajamachef.comI had a hard time making lentils and rice look pretty but there you have it. Since the fall, we’ve had this for dinner almost every other week and it’s so simple I can practically make it in my sleep! Since I can’t leave recipes alone, I have simplified the dish a weeee little bit from the original. Namely, the traditional dish calls for caramelizing the onions. I’m sure that’s great, but for a quick weeknight dinner? Not gonna happen, sorry. The traditional dish also serves the onions on top of the lentils and rice. But there’s no way Ben would like that, so I just dice ’em up like usual and saute them until they’re really soft and call it a day. Or a night. Or a dinner, whatever. I’ve also noted this in the recipe itself but you can use ANY rice and ANY lentils to make this fabulous meal. My most used combo is brown lentils with jasmine rice, but any combo will do. Just know that the amount of time it takes to prepare this dish is related to what type of rice and lentils you choose. Red lentils are quick, brown rice is slow, etc. And don’t forget the carrot slaw. It’s tangy and earthy and uses just three ingredients to make its magic! Carrots, lemon juice, and cumin. You can season with salt and pepper too. It’s divine! I really should always make a double batch of this stuff because Ben and I are ADDICTED to it, and I usually make more later in the week for leftovers. The contrast of the hearty lentil and rice mixture with the fresh slaw and yogurt is just fabulous. Enjoy!

one year ago: Apple Rubies in Coconut Milk
two years ago: Double Blueberry Walnut Muffins
three years ago: Quinoa Pancakes
four years ago: Lemon Blueberry Bread

Mediterranean Lentils and Rice with Carrot Slaw

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 30-45 minutes
  • Print

from Food Network Magazine


  • 1 1/2 cups rice – I’ve used basmati, jasmine, brown, and white so use what you like/what you have!
  • 3 cups water or broth
  • 3 cups shredded carrots – about 6 medium carrots
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons cumin, divided
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup lentils – any kind you like… red, green, or brown
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • freshly ground black pepper + salt
  • plain greek yogurt or sour cream, for serving [or tzatziki!]
  • fresh cilantro, for serving


Begin by preparing rice according to package directions.

In a medium bowl, combine carrots, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, and a little freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft, about 6-7 minutes. Stir often and when almost done, add garlic, cinnamon, cayenne, and remaining cumin and cook until fragrant. Add lentils and water/broth to the pan and stir well to combine. Raise heat to high, and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low, and allow to cook for about 10-15 minutes or until lentils are tender. When rice and lentils are done, add rice to the lentil pan and stir to combine.

Serve rice and lentils topped with carrot slaw, yogurt, and cilantro.