Category Archives: What’s 4 Dinner Solutions

Photo by Peter Pereira

Tomato-Pasta Salad


Yesterday’s bounty from my yard and some bonus homemade salsa

Tomato season is in full swing. Every meal has tomatoes in one form or another. This is a nice combination of flavors to shake things up from the usual pasta salads:

Tomato-Pasta Salad

  • 10 oz dry rotini pasta, cooked, drained, chilled
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Dijon or stone-ground mustard
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp dried basil, crushed
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 oz fresh basil
  • 4 oz fresh spinach leaves
  • 2 large tomatoes, cut into thin wedges
  • 4 oz Kalamata (Greek green) olives
  • 4 oz shredded parmesan
  • 2 oz crumbled Feta
  • 8 oz diced ham (opt)

serving bowl, bowl, saucepan

In small bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard, pepper, garlic & basil.  Slowly whisk in oil.  To serving bowl, add pasta, fresh basil, spinach, tomatoes, olives, parmesan, opt. ham and toss with dressing.  Garnish with crumbled feta.


Crazy Things We Do For Love


I feel like I owe you a house update since I just dropped of the face of the blog there for a while. Just a few pictures of the new house. Until it has fresh paint and some artwork on the walls, we’ll focus on the floors, LOL.

I have most boxes unpacked, but the closets are a disaster. I stuffed anything and everything in them, knowing I’d have to go through them after I was more settled.

The last three weeks have been about the new floors (see Bixby above modelling them). Once they were installed, I could concentrate on unpacking.

Kitchen 1

I actually had the kitchen set up before moving day, so that has been great. At the very least I’ve been able to cook for everyone without too much trauma. Though the first two weeks it was like cooking in someone else’s kitchen, I didn’t remember where I put anything.

Kitchen 2

I love the open corner cabinets. Great place to showcase my Fiestaware and cookie jars. Overall the kitchen is reasonably functional, could use a few more cupboards (it has a plethora of deep drawers) so I’m on the lookout for a tall narrow cabinet to put in the corner. Thrift stores and antique markets are my favorite places to look. I love real wood and old things. Speaking of antiques:

martini bar 1

This amazing piece was a housewarming gift from LFern and her family. They were using it in their family room as an entertainment center. It will live on in mine as same.


When you open the door, it lights up. Although I’m told I’m not allowed to keep it plugged in unless I allow Mr. LFern to rewire it (it has the original cloth cord).


Bixby showing off my radio – found at a yard sale twenty years ago for $50. Still works! Although it sounds kind of weird with adult contemporary blaring from the speakers. Needs some big band.

Bixby 8 5 16

All and all, settling in. Still trying to wrap my brain around buying a house in a sellers’ market. It was probably the most stressful house I’ve ever purchased and at the same time, once all the wheels were in motion and my bid accepted, a breeze.

I’m a bargain hunter by nature, so I have some hurdles to work through in my own mind about the process/purchase. More on that later…I learned a lot of how to cope with a crazy market that I’d like to share.

The garden is up next….then tonight’s recipe exchange…stay tuned.


Pie Pr0n

DSC_2008(1600x1200)I had a couple of pre-made pie crusts I bought on a whim.  We went with a beef filling that included carrots, onions, potatoes, and mushrooms.  The beef was from an all day simmer in the crockpot, the mushrooms, onions, and celery were sauteed in olive oil, and the potatoes and carrots were both boiled until tender before being combined with Bisto gravy made with the water the veggies were boiled in.20160801_122645(1600x1200)I like an egg wash on these savory pies, and a good sprinkle of kosher salt.  I baked this deep dish pie for what seemed like hours in a 350 oven and the crust just would not brown for me until I placed it into my toaster oven set to broil.  I gave it a good brushing with butter before it went under.DSC_2010(1600x1200)

July 4th: Pasta Salads

summer pasta salad

JeffreyW gives us a delicious example above

I am going to a quick 4th of July party on Monday – I still have to work, and pack. I’ll probably be working the entire holiday weekend so I can take off the week after I move.

My friend and I were talking menu items and pasta salad made our list. So I thought I’d put up a few salad recipes for the holiday.

My favorite is Chipotle Macaroni Salad and can be found here.

Greek Pasta Salad adds a fresh take on the traditional pasta dish. Recipe is here.

Tangy Pasta Salad incorporates lots of fresh vegetables. For complete dinner menu, recipes and shopping list, click here.

Pasta Salad final

And finally, this one is just as it says, quick and easy, and very tasty.

Quick and Easy Macaroni Salad


  • 1/2 cup creamy Italian dressing (I like Newman’s Own)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • pepper

Blend together well and refrigerate until ready to mix in.


  • 16 oz box favorite pasta
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp celery seeds
  • 1 tsp crushed dried basil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 oz shredded carrots
  • 1 celery stalk, minced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 8 oz cubed mild cheese (I used a marbled colby/jack)

Bring water to a boil, add 1 tsp salt and pasta. Cook until al dente (firm to tooth). Immediately drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Do not drain well, allow macaroni to stay wet, remove to bowl. Immediately add garlic, spices, celery seed, and let sit for 5 minutes. As the pasta absorbs the remaining water, it absorbs all the flavors. Next stir in carrots, celery, cheese and tomatoes. Save tossing with the dressing until 5-10 minutes before serving. This keeps the pasta from absorbing all of it and becoming mushy and flavorless, but still gives it enough time to meld the flavors together.

Next up – what I decided to bring to the party….stay tuned….


Jack 2002 – 2016

DSC_3277(1600x1200)We rescued two year old Jack from an abusive and neglectful owner.  He’s had health problems throughout his life and has always been small for his breed.  When we got him he had no callouses on his foot pads, he had been kept in a wire bottomed cage and never exercised.  His feet bled until they toughened._DSC5202(1600x1200)He once disappeared for over a week.  He and his best pal Buddy took a tour of the countryside, Buddy came back without Jack.  We were losing hope he would turn up but one afternoon I looked out the window and there he was.  We fitted both the boys with GPS collars after that.DSC_3332(1600x1200)

He liked swimming in the pond,DSC_4766(1600x1200)

trips down to the creek with Buddy,DSC_4416(1600x1200)

and runs through the fields in the fall.DSC_4491(1600x1200)

In his last years his eyes clouded over, he went deaf, and his heart started failing.  He found it harder and harder to catch his breath.DSC_3799 [1600x1200]He breathed his last a few days ago.  We miss him.

Daydream Believer: 50 Years (Oh My Gosh I’m Old)

Clearly,  I am over-tired and stressed, as I teared up while listening to the surviving members of the Monkees this morning. They were talking about their 50th anniversary tour and still mourning the loss of Davy Jones  – almost 4 years ago – and teared up themselves wondering how they can still sing this song on tour. How do they? They play this video and have the audience sing along:

I have so much to do this next week, including getting paperwork together for my mortgage and the inspection on Tuesday, I doubt there will be much blogging (from me) this week. But, fingers-crossed, in the next few weeks there will be lots of new home blogging. Stay tuned.  Have a safe and fun holiday weekend.  – TaMara


Hopefully, I’ll soon be cooking here….


Memorial Weekend Recipes: Baby Back Ribs with Citrus Glaze


DSC_2163 [1024X768]I didn’t have any photos of my ribs, but JeffreyW never fails to bring the yummy. 

Baby Back Ribs with Citrus Glaze

  • 4 to 6 slabs baby back ribs, about 10 – 12 ribs per slab
  • Chinese five spice powder
  • salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Foil

Season the ribs liberally on both sides with spices. Place the ribs on the grill and cook for about 5 minutes per side. Remove the ribs from the grill and allow to cool (or if you prefer, you can broil them, 5 minutes per side).

Preheat the oven (or grill) to 325 degrees. Wrap the ribs in foil, tightly,  and then wrap in another layer of foil, place on a baking sheet or directly on grill, and bake for 2 hours. Remove the ribs from the oven and allow to cool while still wrapped.

Prior to serving, spoon the Citrus Glaze (see recipe below) over the ribs, liberally coating both sides.  Serve with remaining glaze.

4 – 6 servings

Citrus Glaze

  • 12 oz orange juice concentrate, not diluted
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 of a 7-ounce can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, pureed in the blender or finely chopped (more or less depending on the heat you desire)
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup sugar

In saucepan combine  ingredients and cook over medium-high heat until the sugar has melted and the sauce has reduced to half and coats the back of a spoon, about 20 minutes.  Careful, you’ll have to stir frequently and watch to make sure it does not boil over or burn.


Memorial Weekend Recipes: Grilled Potato Packets

Grilled Potatoes and Peppers3

Grilled potatoes and peppers above can be found here 

These are so easy to make, one of my most requested and clean up is a breeze:

Grilled Potatoes

  • 4 large potatoes
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 to 2 tbsp butter
  • parsley or chives
  • salt & pepper


Thinly slice each potato, layer one on each piece of foil, then layer sliced onion and parsley or chives. Melt butter and add garlic, drizzle equally over each potato. Wrap and seal foil.  Grill, turning halfway through (about 15 minutes each side).  Cook until potatoes are tender and onions crispy.


Long Time Running


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