The store deli had an interesting pasta salad that we brought home for a quick side. They called it a bacon and tomato pasta salad and I found it delicious. This is an attempt at a copycat recipe. I went to Google for some ideas and this came up. It seemed incomplete as the Kroger salad had some dried herb flakes that I decided must be basil. I added a lot of basil, maybe 2 tablespoons or so to my small test batch.A lot of the recipes I turned up in the search included ranch dressing, and I think that may be the way to go in the future. After sitting overnight in the fridge the pasta shells I used had absorbed most all of the liquid and were looking dry. I added more mayo cut with half and half and chopped another tomato to fold in. It’s an interesting dish, and fun to experiment with. The Kroger deli used rotini but just about any bite size pasta will work.
B is for bacon but this one is sous vide pork belly, sliced about a quarter inch and crisped a bit. SVPBLET just doesn’t roll off the tongue quite right.I really like this taco rack. I bought it thinking to use it to oven crisp store bought tortillas but it’s perfect for holding these home made tortillas for dressing. My perfect BELT would have the egg yolk still runny, this time I scrambled and chopped a couple of eggs to make them easy to build with.The sauce is half mayo/half sour cream and that seems to work pretty well, it is spread on the tortilla about like you would spread mayo on toast for a traditional BLT sammich.Enjoy!
I make these all the time because they really are easy and a great way to have a cheeseburger without losing half the cheese to the grill. And the sweet potato cajun fries are the perfect sweet, spicy combo. Grill some plums and dinner is done. Enjoy.
On the board tonight:
- Jalapeno-Cheddar Stuffed Burgers
- Kaiser Rolls
- Cajun Sweet Potato Fries
- Raw Vegetable Tray
Jalapeno-Cheddar Stuffed Burgers
Ingredients for each burger:
- 4 oz ground beef
- salt, pepper
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp crushed garlic (opt)
- 1 oz sharp cheddar, sliced thin
- 2 or more slices of pickled jalapenos
Mix salt, pepper and garlic into the ground beef. Form two, 2-oz patties. Place jalapenos on one burger, cheese on the other.
Place the two sides together and seal the edges completely. Gently flatten the burger, but be careful because you don’t want the cheese busting out of the center.
The key to grilling or frying these is low and slow. Medium heat seals them and allows the cheese to melt without drying the burger out. I flipped at the 5 minute mark, but depending on the heat, 3-4 minutes may be enough to flip. They’re thin, so the beef cooks quickly, but you want to make sure the cheese melts. I would say minimum 4 minutes per side.
If cheese starts to leak out, flip and flip again as needed. DON’T press down on these burgers while you grill, you’ll have a cheesy mess.
Now the warning. Did I say WARNING? Yes I did. You’ll need to rest these burgers to let the cheese cool a bit. Otherwise you could be biting into a scalding cheese center. You’ve been WARNED.
That’s the basics, now let your imagination run wild. Maybe I should have titled this, How To Stuff A Wild Burger.
Cajun Sweet Potato Fries
- 3 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed and peeled
- 1 to 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp sugar
- 1 tsp Cajun seasoning
- ¼ tsp cumin (opt)
large bowl or baking dish and baking sheet
Cut potatoes into quarters lengthwise, then cut each quarter into 2 or 3 lengthwise slices. In bowl, toss with remaining ingredients and place in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake at 450° for 15 minutes, turn and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown outside and tender inside.
If you grilled the burgers you can also grill the plums. Slice in half, remove the pits and grill over low heat
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 4 oz shredded cheddar or jalapeno jack
- sliced jalapenos (I use pickled)
- 4 green onions
- 1 tomato
- 3 large sweet potatoes
- 4 large Kaiser rolls
- Favorite raw vegetables
- Vegetable dip
- 4 to 8 plums
Also: cumin, Cajun spice, sugar, salt, pepper, olive oil, crushed garlic
French Toast Alert System may be activated, but I have my own comfort snow foods. Big pot of soup on the stove:
- 1 lb ground beef (or 1/2 ground beef, 1/2 spicy Italian sausage)
- 1/4 of a small onion, chopped
- 24 oz diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)
- 2 cups loosely packed baby spinach, cleaned
- 8 oz sliced carrots (I use frozen)
- 1 cup green beans
- 1 cup water, more as needed
- 2 tsp crushed garlic
- 1 tsp dried basil, crushed
- 1 tsp dried oregano, crushed
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (opt)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Grated Parmesan for garnish
- spinach chiffonade for garnish
In saucepan, brown ground beef and onions. In a blender, blend together spinach and tomatoes, until smooth*. Add to beef mixture, along with vegetables and spices. Bring to low boil, stirring frequently, reduce heat and let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with Parmesan and spinach chiffonade. Makes 4 generous servings.
*Blending the spinach, tomatoes together gives you a nice hearty tomato base for the soup. You can add some additional spinach leaves at the end if you like, letting them get limp but not overcooked.
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:
- Pasta w/ Marinated Vegetables
- Tomato & Olive Oil Bruschetta
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.
- 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
What a week we’ve had here. I retreated to the kitchen often, cooking truly reduces my stress and helps me refocus. And since everyone needs to eat, I have a perfect excuse to retreat and regroup.
Cool weather blew in today, signalling the start of soup season, a great time of year. I have quite a few soup recipes and I began the season with one of my favorites, Tomato-Spinach, pictured above and recipe here.
Next up, Pumpkin Bars, because I needed something to share with friends and this recipe makes a lot. Click here for recipe and photos.
JeffreyW went to the Farmer’s Market and made Refrigerator Pickles, there are plenty of great photos and the pickle recipe here. He went on to use the beans he purchased to make Three Bean Salad, here.
And finally, for the pet lovers, some Bixby pictures and a bit of an update.
It’s the last official weekend of summer, how will you usher it out? What’s on your plate for the weekend? We are going to head up to the mountains to take in some color, which is predicted to be a short show this year.
For tonight’s featured recipe, I decided to experiment with flavors I would have never thought of on my own. Facebook and blog friend Michael F, shared a recipe on Facebook from Italy, in Italian no less, and the photo intrigued me. I let google translate the recipe (which was a hoot) and went about putting my touches into it.
It was so unusual, my most reliable recipe testers politely declined my dinner invite. Totally understandable. But I will tell you I was pleasantly surprised how well this turned out. If you like pork and apples, this has a similar flavor palate. It was also quick and easy to prepare. I’m glad I decided to experiment.
All right, if you’re up for something new and different, here you go, tonight’s featured recipe.
Sausage and Grapes
- 8 links Italian sausage (I used spicy, but you could use any style sausage you favor)
- 1/2 sweet onion, finely diced
- 2 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 cup green seedless grapes, washed, dried and halved lengthwise
- 1 cup red seedless grapes, washed, dried and halved lengthwise
- salt and pepper to taste (I used none, didn’t need it)
- angel hair pasta
- freshly grated Parmesan
Slice sausage links into four pieces each, add to skillet and fry on medium high for about 10 minutes. Add onion and fennel seeds, cook another 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent. Add grapes, stir until well mixed, cover and let simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes while pasta cooks.
Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain well.
You can toss with the sausage mixture, or serve separately. Serve with Parmesan.
The pasta was my addition. When I asked Michael what would be a good side, he suggested eggplant or roasted potatoes. Roasted zucchini spears would probably work well, too.
That’s if for this week. Have a great weekend. – TaMara