Orange Bird Back to School Dinner

Since these are such strange times and we are adjusting to another brand new schedule, I traded in our traditional first day of school snack for a family dinner.

Now, every little celebration starts with a spark of inspiration. This darling Orange Bird pitcher from the Taste of Epcot festival was the impetus for everything that follows!

I set the table with a green checked table cloth, my cute OJ pitcher and our Georgia napkins from Honey + Hank. (Also used for this dinner!) A few clementines were the finishing touch.

Our day in review “activity” was a fill in the blank… “Regarding this school year, orange you glad…”

You can roll your eyes now. It’s okay! My family did too!

“Regarding this school year, orange you glad…”

As compiled by our family:

  • that we have everyone at home together.
  • that school is back.
  • to see people on line that you haven’t seen for six months.
  • Elsa finally can go to school too.
  • I get to learn how to apply for a job in business.
  • that mom is the lunch lady.
  • that I have parents that help me.
  • that all teachers act nice on the first day.
  • that almost all teachers are nice every day!

Orange Bird Inspired Menu

I love coming up with inspired menus, and this one was no exception.

  • Grilled chicken
  • Herbed ricotta bruchetta
  • Endive Orange & Roquefort Salad
  • Orange French lace cookies

Endive Orange & Roquefort Salad

Ina Garten Foolproof


  • ½ teaspoon grated orange zest
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ¼ cup good olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:

  • 2 heads Belgian endive
  • ½ cup walnut halves, toasted
  • ¼ pound French Roquefort cheese, ½-inch-diced
  • 1 sweet red apple, unpeeled, cored and medium-diced
  • 4 ounces baby arugula
  • 1 orange

In a small bowl, whisk together the orange zest, orange juice, olive oil, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/3 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.

Cut the heads of endive in half lengthwise, remove the triangle of core at the base of each half so the leaves separate, and cut the leaves in half again lengthwise. Place in a large bowl. Drizzle the leaves with the vinaigrette and add the walnuts, Roquefort, and apple. Add the arugula and toss. Zest the orange into the salad with a strip zester. Peel the orange and remove the white pith around the orange with a small sharp knife. Cut the orange sections between the membranes and toss them on the salad. Discard the membranes. Sprinkle with salt and serve. 

Herbed Ricotta Bruchetta

From Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That

  • 2 cups ricotta
  • 3 tablespoons minced scallions, white and green parts (2 scallions)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 round sourdough bread
  • Good olive oil
  • 1 whole garlic clove, cut in half

Combine the ricotta, scallions, dill, chives, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper and set aside.

Cut the bread in half and cut each half into 6 thick slices to make 12 slices total. Brush the bread with olive oil. You can either grill or oven toast the bread until lightly browned. Afterwards, rub each slice of bread with the cut side of the garlic clove. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and spread with the herbed ricotta.

Grilled Chicken

Honey cooked on the Big Green Egg, with Garlic Expressions (salad dressing) marinade. The chicken counts as part of the “Bird” theme, right?!

Orange French Lace Cookies

Ina Garten Foolproof

  • 2 cups blanched sliced almonds
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter 
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed 
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup 
  • 2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, defrosted 
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest 
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.
  2. Place the almonds on a sheet pan and toast them for 5 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned, tossing once to toast evenly. Place 1 cup of the toasted almonds in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and chop them very coarsely. (Reserve the rest for later.) Combine the chopped almonds with the flour and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, place the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, orange juice concentrate, orange zest, and vanilla in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Off the heat, gradually whisk in the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the reserved toasted almonds.
  4. With 2 teaspoons (tableware rather than measuring spoons), drop rounded spoonfuls of batter (about 1 1/2 inches wide) onto the prepared sheet pans, spacing them at least 2 inches apart. (I put 8 on each pan.) Bake for 7 to 9 minutes, until the edges are golden brown, turning the pans in the oven to brown evenly. Allow to cool and transfer to a wire rack. Repeat for the remaining batter. Store the cooled cookies in an airtight container between layers of wax or parchment paper.

It was a sweet family dinner for the first day of school. We all, quite literally, fell into the bed afterwards.

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5 thoughts on “Orange Bird Back to School Dinner

  1. Amanda…your posts always bring a smile to me face. Love how you create such fun ways to celebrate even the simplest of days. Can’t wait to try these recipes…num.

    My two sons are also getting ready to start school…one as a Professor at a wonderful college and the other as a grad student at another great college. Even though they are several years older than John and Whit I know they loved all the back to school memories I tried to make special.

    Blessings for another memorable school year😊

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