Daily Archives: August 5, 2010

Thursday Night Menu: Fresh and Easy Edition

Tonight’s menu is a cheat. I’ve posted the Pasta Caprese before (late last summer), but it is such a good summer meal, it bears repeating. And besides it’s my birthday. I’ve taken the day off to do fun stuff. Enjoy!

On the board tonight:

  1. Pasta Caprese
  2. Italian Bread
  3. Vanilla Ice Cream w/Warm Walnut Topping

Pasta Caprese

  • 9 oz linguine or fettuccine
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 4 oz cubed mozzarella
  • salt & pepper to taste

saucepan and large serving dish

Prepare pasta according to package directions. While it’s cooking, mix remaining ingredients together. Drain pasta completely (dab with paper towels, if necessary) then add to tomato mixture. Let sit for 10-15 minutes to let flavors blend. Serve warm or you can refrigerate and serve cold. Add a nice loaf of bread for a complete dinner.

I use a fairly expensive mozzarella for this dish because it’s softer, tastier and absorbs more flavors. Any locally produced mozzarella would work. Also, my local farmers’ market has a pasta vendor, who hand-makes many flavors of pasta. This dish works very well with flavored pastas – fire roasted chili, lemon pepper, tomato basil, red bell pepper – the list goes on. You can also change up the cheese to a Queso Blanco (again, use a fairly expensive or locally produced one), use cilantro instead of basil and use a chili flavored pasta for a whole new dish. The possibilities are endless.

A yogurt shop used to serve this as a topping and I had to make it.  Also really good on pancakes, French Toast and German Pancakes.

Warm Walnut Topping

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup light corn syrup
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts


Heat sugars, syrup and water to a low boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat; simmer until thickened, 10-12 minutes. Stir in butter and walnuts. Great over pancakes, too.

Shopping List:

  • 9 oz linguine or fettuccini
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 4 oz mozzarella
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
  • Nice loaf of Italian bread
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 oz light corn syrup
  • 12 oz chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 gallon quality vanilla ice cream

Also: olive oil, crushed garlic, butter


A Peck of Pickled Peppers

Spent pretty much all day mucking about in the kitchen with peppers.  Learned a lot.  Nearly ruined all those lovely jalapenos.  Sliced them too thin and cooked them too long.  The banana peppers went a bit better.  I swear I crammed those in there until I could cram them no more and they still turned out looking like bottled vinegar with a few peppers floating about.  The jalapenos were even worse, I started with 8 pints.  When I finally pulled them out of the canner I thought no way am I going to take a picture of these.  Opened all 8 jars and spooned the peppers into 3.  Ran another sealing cycle on those 3 and another jar half full of little but whole peppers.  Sigh.

Go ahead and laugh, enjoy!

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Accidental Recipe: Roast Chicken Salad w/Homemade Mayonnaise

BadExampleMan had a really nice recipe this morning, so I thought I’d share it with you.  Here’s “what happens when a guy looks in the fridge”:

Spicy garlic mayonnaise

A variation on Alton Brown’s recipe, adjusted for taste and on-hand. Using the food processor is awesome – your arms don’t get tired!

  • 2 T rice vinegar
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1 whole egg + 1 yolk
  • 1 t table salt
  • 1 t ground mustard seed
  • 1/2 t garlic powder
  • 1/4 t dark brown sugar
  • Scant 2 c safflower oil
  • 3 T hot chile oil

Add all wet ingredients (except the oil which is a liquid but isn’t “wet”) to the work bowl of a food processor along with the salt, mustard and sugar. Pulse 5 times. Turn processor on and add oil in a steady stream until incorporated. Keep at room temperature for 2 hours. Refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Note: there’s a good reason for leaving the freshly-made mayo at room temp for 2 hours. In the unlikely case that the eggs are contaminated with salmonella, the acidity from the vinegar and lemon juice will work to kill the bacteria, but that action will only take place at room temperature. Refrigeration slows down all biological processes including the massacre of the evil beasties.

Roasted chicken salad

  • both breasts off a roasted chicken, diced
  • 1/2 a small onion, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 small roasted potatoes (optional)
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs (optional)
  • 3/4 – 1 c spicy garlic mayo
  • smoked paprika

For the rest of the recipe, click here…..

I’ll be trying this one, soon.