Blog Archives

Really Quick Dinners: Pasta Rustica

Scrolling through my recipes looking for ones I pulled together by rummaging around the pantry, freezer and refrigerator and came up with this one. Quick, easy and versatile.

Pasta Rustica

  • 9 oz pkg. fresh linguine pasta
  • 4 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 green or red pepper
  • 4 green onions
  • ½ tbsp crushed garlic
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Optional: ¼ lb sliced pepperoni or ¼ lb cubed turkey

saucepan, large skillet

Fill saucepan with water and bring to a boil.

Chop tomatoes, pepper and green onions (use greens and whites).  Heat oil in skillet, add onions, garlic and pepper, sauté until onions are golden, careful not to let garlic burn.  Add pepperoni and turkey.  Let simmer on medium to low medium heat.

Add pasta to water while ingredients simmer in skillet.  Cook according to pkg. instructions.

Once pasta is al dente, add tomatoes to skillet, sauté 1-2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or pasta spoon, transfer pasta to skillet, letting most of the water drain before transferring. There should be just enough water on the pasta to create a nice sauce. If it seems too dry, add a few spoonfuls of the pasta water. Stir and serve with grated Parmesan.


Dinner Menu: Pasta with Marinated Vegetables and Bruschetta

Photo courtesy FoodNetwork

Photo courtesy FoodNetwork

Just finished giving the Beast a bath. He hasn’t been in the tub all summer because he loves sprinklers, his pool and my neighbor hosing him down. The first thing I noticed: he’s grown. I’ll post pictures later.

Keeping in the vegetarian theme, here is this week’s dinner menu.

On the board:

  1. Pasta w/ Marinated Vegetables
  2. Tomato & Olive Oil Bruschetta
  3. Grapes

Pasta w/Marinated Vegetables

  • 10 oz Rotini pasta
  • 1 tray ice cubes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small eggplant, peeled & chopped
  • 4 mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 zucchini, sliced
  • 10 to 12 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 6 oz jar marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1 red onion, sliced in rings
  • 2 oz black olives
  • 2 oz grated parmesan


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 oz fresh basil, minced
  • 1 tsp minced oregano leaves
  • 1 to 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Saucepan, skillet, bowl, serving bowl

Mix together dressing and refrigerate. In saucepan, cook pasta according to package directions, drain, rinse in cold water and toss with ice cubes. Set aside and let cubes melt. While pasta is cooking, in skillet, heat oil and sauté eggplant, mushrooms and zucchini until tender. Remove and cool in refrigerator while preparing remaining vegetables. In bowl, toss all vegetables with dressing. Remove any un-melted ice cubes from pasta, and toss with vegetables, refrigerate 10 minutes. Add cheese.

Tomato & Olive Oil Bruschetta

  • 1 loaf Italian bread, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (more if needed)
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 4 basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, sliced
  • 3 green onions, chopped

baking sheet and bowl

Gently toss 1 tbsp of olive oil, 1 tsp crushed garlic, basil, tomatoes and green onions and set aside. Mix togethere 1 tbsp oil and 1 tsp garlic. Spread on sliced sides of bread. Broil bread until golden brown on top (watch carefully). Layer tomato mixture on each half of the bread and then slice each half into quarters or eighths.

Shopping List:

  • 10 oz Rotini pasta
  • 1 small eggplant
  • 4 mushrooms
  • 2 zucchini
  • 10 to 12 cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 6 oz jar marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 loaf Italian bread
  • Large bunch of basil
  • Small bunch oregano
  • 2 Roma tomatoes
  • 3 green onions
  • Grapes or any in season fruit

Also: crushed garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar




Asian Pear and Grape Cabbage Salad

Today sucked. I mean really and truly sucked.


But in other news, there’s water on Mars and the Blood Moon did not bring on the apocalypse and in the words of Scarlett O’Hara, tomorrow is another day.

I have a bunch of nice vegetarian sides and main dishes piled up in my to post file, so I thought this week would be a good time to focus on a few. Farm stands are still going strong, the weather can’t decide if it’s grilling or soup weather, this seemed like a safe bet.

Savoy Cabbage

Savoy Cabbage

Asian Pear and Grape Cabbage Salad


  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp spicy brown mustard
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together all the ingredients, except oil, slowly whisk in oil to create vinaigrette. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.


Red Anjou Pears

Red Anjou Pears

  • 1/2 head of red cabbage
  • 1/2 head Savoy cabbage
  • 1 Asian pear, halved, cored and sliced into thin strips
  • 1 Red Anjour pear, halved, cored and sliced into thin strips
  • 1 cup seedless red grapes, halved
  • 1 cup seedless green grapes, halved
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnut or almond pieces


Cut each cabbage in half to create two wedges, remove core and slice crosswise into thin shreds, toss with pears, grapes and nuts. Drizzle with vinaigrette and toss thoroughly. Let set for 10 minutes and serve.

Asian Pears

Asian Pears














Grilled Sweet Peppers & Potatoes

Grilled Potatoes and Peppers3

From May 2012. Updated with photo.

I know I promised to start a series on basic cooking techniques this week, but as I will explain later in the summer, my work situation is changing rapidly so this week has been consumed with those changes. Thursday’s recipe exchange ingredient is going to be potatoes, so I’m getting the ball rolling tonight with foil wrapped grilled potatoes and sweet peppers. Absolutely one of my favorite grilled vegetable recipes.  Yummy. Now I’m going to have to go make some.

Grilled Sweet Peppers & Potatoes:

  • 1 sweet red pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 small yellow onion (opt. Vidalia or Walla Walla sweets if they’re in season)
  • 4 lg. red potatoes (peeling opt)
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • foil

Seed peppers.  Slice peppers & onions into thin rings.  Slice potatoes into thin slices.  Tear 4 sheets of foil, large enough to hold ¼ of all ingredients and fold over.  Add ¼ of peppers, onions & potatoes to each sheet of foil.  Mix together vinegar, oil, salt & pepper, then drizzle over each serving.  Fold and seal foil.  Grill over medium heat (not directly over flame) for 20-30 minutes until potatoes are tender, flipping halfway through.

Christmas Eve Recipes: Smashed Potatoes

DSC_6813 [1600x1060]

JeffreyW luckily made some Smashed Potatoes and took a great photo. 

Everything is ready to go, all I have to do is pop the Cornish Game Hens into the oven. Once they are done, I’ll up the temperature to 450 degrees and finish up the potatoes while the chickens rest.

I boiled the potatoes this morning and let drain completely and then refrigerated them until it’s time to crisp them up.

Smashed Potatoes

  • 2 lbs of small red or gold potatoes, no more than 2″ in diameter
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

saucepan, baking sheet

Boil potatoes in salted water until tender.  Drain completely.

Drizzle olive oil on baking sheet – use plenty so the potatoes don’t stick – and arrange potatoes on the pan, leaving room between each so they can crisp up. Using a a potato masher or heavy glass, smash each potato flat. With a basting brush, generously brush oil over each potato. Salt and pepper to taste and garish with fresh rosemary or pieces of minced garlic.

Bake in a 450 degree oven until potatoes are crisped. 15-20 minutes.

See the full Christmas Eve menu here.



Roasted Grape Tomatoes

We have a couple of grape tomato bushes out back and they have been churning out tomatoes by the score.  I went out this morning and picked a half bucketful and there were that many on the ground.  I went looking for a roasting recipe and Martha Stewart came through for me.DSC_9082 (1600x1060)I used more olive oil than required, probably, and had a lot of fresh thyme.  These took longer than a hour and I bumped the temp up to 400 or so before I got much in the way of  a color change.  I stirred them once and returned them to the oven.DSC_9088 (1600x1060)We ate some of them with angel hair pasta for lunch.  My basil has gone to seed but I did find a few bright green new leaves that looked tender.  The portion of the tomatoes I used for the dish had a tablespoon or two of butter stirred in.  Pretty good stuff, not sure what to do with the rest of the tomatoes, I picked enough to fill that pan three times, the last batch is in the oven as I write this.

Sammich Pr0n – Leftover Spaghetti

DSC_8648 (1600x1060)I’ve had a spaghetti sandwich before so this isn’t breaking any new ground, but the caprese style toppings puts this one right over the top.  I have a sad that my homemade mozzarella didn’t melt well but maybe the next batch will do better.  When I went to the patio to pluck a few basil leaves for the chiffonade I found and destroyed three Japanese beetles.  Those damn things infested one of Mrs J’s potted rose bushes and it’s just now coming out of that insult.  Anyway, I filled the roll and drizzled on some good olive oil and then popped it into the toaster oven, adding the basil at table with fresh ground pepper and salt.

Sammich Pr0n – Cold Cut Sub

DSC_8563 (1600x1060)

Braised Pork Chops

DSC_8527 (1600x1060)We decided to do pork chops today and were set to do the cream of mushroom soup thing with them but couldn’t quite picture the gravy on the couscous we had picked out for a side.  We opted to dump in two cans of tomato bits with green chilies after the chops browned in olive oil, added a chopped Vidalia onion, covered it, and set it asimmer. We had some frozen, ripe Anaheim peppers and thawed those enough to split and remove the seeds and membranes and tossed them in with the chops.  When they had cooked down a little they were pureed in a blender with a little oil and garlic.  The puree was pressed through a sieve and the liquid added back to the pan.  Mrs J noticed some brown mushrooms that were nearing their use by date so in they went, too.DSC_8528 (1600x1060)One of Mrs J coworkers gifted her a couple of squash and they didn’t go to waste.  They marinated in oil and balsamic vinegar and were grilled right before the meal was plated.  Delicious!

Guest Recipe: Cilantro Lime Hummus

I have been so busy, I’ve barely been in my kitchen to eat, much less cook, and I’m holding onto several items to post, which hopefully I’ll get to eventually. But until then, once again Joshua D comes to the rescue with another recipe. Thanks Joshua!!!

This is an oldddd dust-off recipe from the long-forgotten files! It’s inspired by a restaurant in Spokane, Washington called Niko’s that serves great Greek food. If you’re one of those unfortunates for whom cilantro tastes like soap, just use Italian parsley. The effect won’t be the same, but I understand the why. This can also be spiced up with a chile if desired.

Cilantro-Lime Hummus

  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Break up beans in the food processor. Add in lime juice, sesame seeds, garlic, and cilantro. Blend until well-ground. Pour in olive oil slowly through the feeding tube until it’s the consistency you want. A wonderfully different take on a Mediterranean classic!

Joshua De Mers


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