Life + Style

January 22, 2013

Creamy Lemon-Pepper Orzo with Chicken

 One of my new resolutions has been to cook for my family.  This is a task I've failed at before.  On ideal conditions I have zero interest or skill.  Throw in two babies and I'm completely inept.  Matthew is an amazing cook and has very high expectations for his food which makes my confidence in my own meals plummet.  He's assured me time and time again that I'm not terrible and he'd rather have a basic plate of my food on the table after work than just about anything else he'd have to cook or order himself.  Sorry Baby, was my biggest line.

I read some tips on meal planning this weekend that made it really simple.  You just put it into your calendar.  Simple as that.  Write it down for the week and shop once.  I've got mine set up in google calendars and I get my daily email which takes all the scary creativity out.

Yesterday morning I brought my kids and my list and we bought ingredients for five meals.  Weekends are going to be left to Matthew or takeout.

I'm excited to give my family the gift of a meal each night.  I'm proud that my kids will see me cooking.  Not in an anti-feminist, mom does the cooking kind of way.  But in a way that involves them and teaches them and encourages them to want to feed themselves as well.

I know I'm not too big on recipes or cooking here on the blog but if y'all are interested I'm more than happy to share.  I've got a whole week's worth of recipes and grocery lists ready on Mondays.

What do you think?  
Interested in meal planning along with me?   
Do you already do it?

 Cream Lemon-Pepper Orzo with Grilled Chicken

1/4 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt, at room temperature
    1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    1 large clove garlic, minced
    Juice and zest of 1 lemon
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    3 boneless skinless chicken thighs
    1 cup whole wheat or other whole grain orzo
    1 cup frozen petite peas, thawed and patted dry
    2 ounces finely crumbled goat cheese, at room temperature
    4 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as basil and tarragon


Whisk together the yogurt, 2 teaspoons of the oil, garlic, lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a medium bowl until well combined.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and preheat an outdoor or indoor grill to medium heat. Rub the chicken thighs with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Grill until nicely marked and cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board at let stand for at least 5 minutes.

Add the orzo to the boiling water and cook according to package directions for al dente, stirring in the peas the last minute of cooking. Drain the orzo and peas, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Stir the orzo and peas into the yogurt mixture, along with the goat cheese, 3 tablespoons of the fresh herbs and at least 3/4 cup of the cooking liquid, until well combined. Transfer to a platter.

Thinly slice the chicken and arrange on top of the orzo. Sprinkle with the lemon zest and the remaining 1 tablespoon fresh herbs and serve.



  1. OMG I would love you forever if you would share your menu and grocery list! I love to cook but wait to get the groceries every day until after Baby Girl's nap which means we have to rush to the store, get home, and cook in an hour and a half. It's chaos. I never know what I'm going to cook until that afternoon. I hate planning ahead but it would make it so much easier on everyone if I did!

  2. I have been doing a menu planner for years...ever since we first got married. I can't just buy random ingredients at the store and then pull together meals at night. I have to have a plan. I post my menu planner on my blog ever week if this helps. I just stared keeping a hard bound journal of our dinners but the google calendar is a good idea too! Happy cooking!

  3. You know I love recipes so keep em coming. So proud of you, I bet you will start to enjoy cooking. It is seriously my happy time. I turn on a cartoon for Sterling, pour a glass of wine, and get cooking. I do however need to be better about meal planning. I usually decide each morning what I am going to cook and go to the store that day.

  4. I would love it if you would share your week recipes here. I know that would be a lot of work but totally fun for me. I enjoy cooking too. It can just get hard with Fletcher since he's in that stage... I tell myself that I will do it every night (except for nights I have plans and on weekends of course) once he's better about entertaining himself consistently.

  5. Yes yes yes please!!!! I have tried the meal plan before but always fail, but we can partner up and hold each other accountable! Here's to cooking our family homemade meals!

  6. Meal planning is the best! I do it weekly too. I actually like going to the grocery store and trying new things out because we get bored easily, lol. It is really hard with two little ones though. Some days I plan a nice meal, but the day just says otherwise. Other days we just don't want what I've planned so we all find a recipe that sounds good, gather the ingredients, and cook together. It's really fun. Good luck! I know you can do it : )

  7. YES this looks amazing! I love trying to plan for the week but wish I was better at it :-)

  8. Wow Julia, Im impressed. After 37 years of cooking I have lost interest, so this is a good shot in the taste buds for me. I'd like to cook more and follow your progress! good luck- this looks amazing!
    xo Nancy

  9. That recipe looks so good! I try to meal plan so I don't have to run to the grocery store for one ingredient every day. Definitely helps! And then Cameron doesn't have to ask me every day, "what's for dinner?" :)

  10. Looks delish! Have you made it yet? I am the one in the relationship without the cooking genes. Brad has great instincts and enjoys it, whereas I have to have a recipe and would be totally happy not doing it, so I can relate to the low confidence cooking for a cook. I try to sketch out a few main dishes ahead of time each week, and make a spare for the freezer when I can.

  11. meal planning saves me, and we dont even have kids yet. It takes so much of the stress out, and I love to cook. But, let me tell you nothing means more to the hubby then me taking care of dinner.

  12. Umm YUM! This looks delicious, Julia!!

  13. This looks wonderful! We've been trying to cook more, it's just hard after working all day to find the motivation, even though it's something I love. A good compromise I've made with myself is that not all homemade dinners have to be elaborate...sometimes grilled cheese and a salad will just have to do!

  14. Looks amazing! You should add this recipe to my friend's cookbook fundraiser! I did a post about it on my blog. She's gathering recipes for a cookbook that she will sell to raise funds for her to go to Tanzania on mission work. They need lots of recipes!

    Jillian @

  15. I HATE cooking. It has always felt like a major chore. And having to cook at a time of day when both kids are starting to melt down just makes it even more special. I tried meal planning for two weeks once and it made my life so much easier. Don't know why I stopped. That recipie looks amazing by the way.


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