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Tomato-Pasta Salad

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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.



 

Tidbits

20160724_094031(1600x1200)I think ten is the sweet spot when baking the King Arthur bun recipe, not too big, not too small.20160724_120430(1600x1200)Just the right size!20160724_174648(1600x1200)Made some tuna salad today, we’ve been giving that bread slicing gadget a workout.  Tuna salad on toast is another good way to use the tomatoes we have coming on strong.  Probably going to boil down some more juice soon.20160724_174830(1600x1200)We are starting to grow fond of leaf lettuce on sammiches, it doesn’t have the same crunch as iceberg but it does lay nice and flat and uniform.20160723_123019(1600x1200)Gabe goes from 90 miles per hour to naptime in about 6 seconds flat.20160721_103040(1600x1200)I have a better photo of the eggs in that nest I first posted about a week ago.  We tried to get a video of the little bird flying from the nest but failed to get anything useful.  I did get a little better look at the bird but just confirmed that it was a wee brown birdie.  It might be a house finch but a tip from a commenter over at Balloon Juice pointed me toward the Chipping Sparrow – the wings of our bird are darker than the belly.20160722_131315(1600x1200)Here’s another cold cuts and cheese sammich with a few sides.DSC_2799 (1600x1200)I’ll wrap with a picture from the archive.  I’m tickled by the balancing act this dragonfly is putting on, and I think the colors are pretty.

Carnitas Pizza

20160612_172223(1600x1200)This is on a basic wheat flour crust.  I suppose if you were to go all in on one of these you could make a crust with masa but I chickened out.  I spread refried beans over the crust as a sauce analog.20160612_173322(1600x1200)A good measure of roast pork was laid down over the beans along with tomato slices and fresh jalapenos (on my half only).20160612_173344(1600x1200)My first thought for cheese was sharp cheddar but I opted for queso quesadilla.  It’s a good melting cheese.  Quesadillas are named for the cheese, not the other way around.20160612_173606(1600x1200)I gave the pie an overall sprinkle of my favorite Tex-Mex seasoning and baked it for  about 20 minutes at 350.  I added a little hot sauce to mine just to kick it up.

Sammich Pr0n

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Beef and Barley Vegetable Soup

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JeffreyW makes mouths water with this photo of his Beef and Barley Soup (with bonus foccacia recipe here)

It has been unseasonably cold here. Today was the first day that I could actually open the windows. So soup seemed like a good idea over the weekend. Chuck roast was on sale for the amazing price of $2.99 lb. So I bought several large pieces, cut them up to dinner size and a couple pounds up for soup and stew. First up was this soup.

Beef & Barley Vegetable Soup

  • olive oil
  • 1 lb chuck, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 6 to 8 cups of water
  • 12 oz sliced carrots (frozen ok)
  • 12 oz green beans (frozen ok)
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup barley
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp salt (more as desired. I use salt-free canned tomatoes, so I usually add more salt)
  • 2 bay leaves (remove before serving)

large saucepan

Heat oil in saucepan, sauté onions for 1 minute, add beef and brown on all sides, add garlic and sauté for 1 minute making sure not to burn the garlic. Add remaining ingredients** and bring to a low boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer for 40 minutes to 1 hour, until barley is tender.  Serve with biscuits or cornbread.

**Alternately – I blend tomatoes, and 6 oz of the carrots, 6 oz of the green beans, 2 stalks of the celery, 1 cup water into a smooth puree, to make a hearty base for the soup. Then I add the remaining veggies as directed above. I like the hearty stock.

Yum.



 

Friday Recipe Exchange: Mix It Up

Cucumber SalsaI did quite a bit of cooking this week, but it’s been busy enough that I haven’t put together the recipes or taken a lot of photos. So tonight I’m highlighting some past favorites.

Pictured above is Crisp Cucumber Salsa, always a hit when I make it. Recipe here.

Baked Ziti is my go-to for dinners to take to events or share when condolences are needed – I often take it unbaked so it can be fresh and hot when needed. It’s also a great make-ahead dinner for weeknights. Recipe here.

This week’s dinner menu is Cranberry Pepper Steak and Bleu Cheese Mashed Potatoes, click here for menu and recipes.

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This yummy photo is from JeffreyW – it’s Bacon Dill Potato Salad – instructions here.

What’s on the menu for you this weekend? Grilling yet? Have anything fun planned?

Pasta Jambalaya_Snapseed2

Tonight’s featured recipe is another quick but tasty dinner entry. When I was a kid I used to love the Friday nights my mom said, I’m tired of cooking let’s just have hamburger goulash – which was basically hamburger, tomato sauce and elbow macaroni with some spices thrown in. This recipe is like an adult version of that, with some real flavor.  Still easy to put together.

Pasta Jambalaya

  • 12 oz penne pasta
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp to 1 tbsp Cajun or Creole seasoning
  • 15 oz can black beans
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 4 oz can chopped green chilies
  • 4 oz smoked sausage, sliced (I like Andouille)
  • 4 oz shredded Mexican 4-blend cheese

saucepan

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well. In the saucepan, heat oil and then sauté onion, pepper, celery and carrots until onions are translucent and celery soft. Add garlic, Cajun seasoning, tomatoes, chilies, beans, carrots and sausage. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat, add pasta and let simmer for 20 minutes. Serve with cheese as garnish.

Note: When a recipe says to add 1 tsp to 1 tbsp, or to taste of a spice, add it in small increments, 1/4 to 1/2 tsp at a time. Remember you can always add more, but it’s pretty tough trying to remove what you’ve added.😉

That’s it for this week. We’ve finally gotten rid of the clouds and it looks like a great weekend to spend outdoors Have a great weekend. – TaMara

 



 

Friday Recipe Exchange: Spring Whiplash

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This was my favorite photo from JeffreyW this week. That’s Homer (remember him?) doing his best Egyptian statue imitation.

We are having a week of weather whiplash, so the recipes this week reflect that. Some for those 75 degree days and some for the upcoming wet and wild weekend.

Two soups make the cut tonight.

Chicken Alfredo Tortellini Soup (recipe here), easy to put together and pair with a nice Antipasto Salad (recipe here) for a quick dinner or great for a lunch treat.

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French Onion Soup popped up on my radar several times over the past few weeks. So now I want some. It’s almost sweet onion time (Vidalia, April-May, followed by Walla Walla Sweets – June) and I think they make the best onion soups. JeffreyW’s mouth-watering photo above is only the beginning – entire slideshow and recipe are here.

Lace Cookies2b

Turkey Cutlets and Lace Cookies were on the dinner menu this week. Full menu, recipes and shopping list are here.

What’s on your menu for the weekend? Cooking for summer, spring or winter in your area?

BLT Salad

Tonight’s featured recipe has been one of my favorite salads lately. Especially when the temps were close to 80 degrees.

Confession. I hate avocados. And guacamole leaves me cold. My friends love going to Mexican restaurants with me, I get my guacamole and sour cream on the side, then pass them on to my table-mates. But the avocado dressing for this salad, I can’t get enough. Go figure.

BLT Salad with Avocado Buttermilk Dressing
This recipe serves 2

Salad

  • 4 strips thick cut bacon (or substitute turkey bacon)
  • 2 hearts of Romaine lettuce, shredded
  • 4 to 6 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 avocado, peeled and cubed*
  • cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)

Dressing

  • 1 avocado
  • buttermilk or ranch dressing**
  • limejuice
  • salt & pepper to taste

skillet, bowl, serving bowls

Dressing: halve avocado, remove pit and scoop flesh into bowl, add an equal amount of buttermilk dressing, limejuice to taste (I used about 1 tsp) and mix until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside

Add bacon to skillet and cook on medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towel to cool and drain. Slice into 1/2 inch pieces.

While the bacon is cooking, prep the salad fixings. Toss with cooled bacon pieces. Add to serving bowls, top with dressing and garnish with cilantro leaves.

*the easiest way to cube an avocado is to halve it, remove the pit and then score it into cubes. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the avocado, then turn the skin inside out and the cubes pop out.

**If you don’t like buttermilk or ranch dressing, you can substitute sour cream and 1 tsp crushed garlic for the dressing.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend…I’ll let you know if it’s two feet of snow or just rain for us – TaMara



 

 

Dinner Menu: Turkey Cutlets and Lace Cookies

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Tonight’s menu was chosen because I love turkey and don’t like it just at holidays. I was actually thinking of making turkey burgers this week and then remembered this recipe. You can substitute pork chops easily – boneless work best – increase cooking time, cooking until juices run clear. And if you like, substitute boxed stuffing for the rice. It’s all about what you’re in the mood for. The Lace Cookies are a fond childhood memory: a middle school friend and I used to make a version whenever we had the chance, usually rainy, cold days on Cape Cod.

On the board tonight:

  1. Turkey Cutlets w/Apple Chutney
  2. Rice
  3. Green Beans or Brussels Sprouts
  4. Coconut Lace Cookies

Turkey Cutlets w/Apple Chutney

  • 1 cup unsweetened chunky applesauce
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • ½ onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 lb turkey cutlets
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

saucepan and skillet

In saucepan add applesauce, tomato, onion, sugar, vinegar, cinnamon & ginger. Bring to a low boil, stirring constantly, reduce heat, cover and let cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes. In skillet, melt butter and oil. Salt & pepper* cutlets and add to pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes each side, or until cooked through. Serve cutlets with rice & chutney.

*you can also add a little sage, garlic or poultry seasoning if you like. With the chutney, I’m partial to just the salt and pepper.

Coconut Lace Cookies:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup regular oats
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup shredded coconut
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 3 tbsp water
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup

baking sheet and bowl

Combine flour, oats, sugar, coconut, & baking soda in bowl, mix well. Add water, margarine & syrup and stir well. Drop by teaspoon onto baking sheet. Bake at 325° for 12 minutes until almost set, remove to rack to completely cool. Makes 2 dozen.

Shopping List:

  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 1 lb green beans or Brussels sprouts
  • 1 cup unsweetened chunky applesauce
  • 1 large tomato
  • ½ onion
  • 1 lb turkey cutlets
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup regular oats (not quick)
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 4 oz shredded coconut
  • 1 stick butter

Also: light corn syrup, olive oil, salt, pepper, cinnamon, ginger, apple cider vinegar, baking soda

Lace Cookies_Snapseed



 

Mmm… Lasagna

DSC_1844 (1600x1060)I usually make this with ricotta as a base for shredded mozzarella, Parmesan, and provolone but decided to go with a bechamel this time just to see how it would work.  I’ve been seeing the basic white sauce used in a few different lasagnas prepared on one of my TV cooking shows.  I made one with 4 cups of milk and stirred the cheeses into that and added the ricotta just for the hell of it.  Made a ton of cheese sauce thinking I’d make two pans but my lasagna noodle count was off so I packed one pan, slightly larger than my usual, as full as I could.  Still had leftover cheese sauce.DSC_1848 (1600x1060)Freshly made lasagna, still warm from the oven, will slump all over the plate.  I let mine rest for a half hour but it still oozed all over.  Here’s a nice slice that’s firmed up overnight in the fridge.  The green is chopped spinach that went into the white sauce.  The tomato sauce has sausage in it but this would be just fine without any meat added if that’s your preference.DSC_1850 (1600x1060)Even just the one pan is way too much for the two of us so I divide it like so and slide it into the big freezer so I can vacuum seal the portions for later.  They’ll keep a long time like that.

White Beans in Tomato Sauce with Sausage

 

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Not much to this one, I opened two cans of cannellini beans and a can of San Marzano tomatoes and dumped them into a pot in which I had browned some Italian sausages and sweated a diced onion in a little olive oil.  I removed the sausages after they had cooked in the sauce for a while and sliced them, in the photo they have just been returned to the pot.

I was pretty sure there was an actual recipe for this dish.  A search for white beans + tomatoes + sausage + recipe found several.  I noted that this recipe called for sage as a seasoning so I added some rubbed sage.  I already had bay leaves and some marjoram and dried basil and the garlic in mine.