Pesto Pasta Salad

August 14, 2013 § 3 Comments

My body has no idea what time it is. I came back from vacation overseas, was a little jet lagged the first two days, got sick for one night, then started back to work on night shifts. My internal clock is just confused.

The last few days when not working I’ve been waking up at just crazy early times, like 4:30 or 5 no matter what time I went to bed. Bottom line is I really love waking up early. I read a little, make a good breakfast, cross some stuff off my to-do list before 7. I know I could up that early all the time but it’s not as good if I have to use an alarm clock.

One morning early I decided to make this Pesto Pasta Salad, like way before is appropriate for even lunch time. But whatever, I can deal with some taste testing of pasta salad before 10 am.

I picked the pretty easy way of making this. Some pre-made pesto from Trader Joes, canned cannellini beans. The longest part was waiting for the water to boil to make the pasta.Also, this is the kind of pasta salad that is SO MUCH better when you let it sit in the fridge for awhile. The flavors really mesh and it gets really delicious. Although its still good right away.

Make this for your next picnic, or when you need a few days of leftovers for work. Enjoy!

Pesto Pasta Salad
from Better Homes and Gardens
  • 8 oz elbow macaroni
  • 1, 8 oz jar of basil pesto
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2, 15 oz. cans cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 3 cups baby arugula
  • 2 oz parmigiano-reggiano cheese, shredded or shaved
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
To Make
1) Put pot of water on to boil. Cook the macaroni just until al dente. Drain and rinse with cool water.
2) While pasta cooks, in a small pan toast the pine nuts until fragrant. When pasta is ready, in a large bowl mix beans, macaroni, half the cheese and half the pine nuts. Add in the pesto and mix until well combined. Stir in the arugula, then top off with rest of cheese and pine nuts.
3) If not serving immediately, cover and chill until ready to eat. Enjoy!

Lemon Ice Cream

August 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

Oh lemons, you are delicious. You make good things to drink, you spice up soup, you freshen up salad dressing and you make AMAZING ice cream.

I was inspired after making some blueberry preserves from a you pick day. I didn’t know how I was going to eat a whole jar, so I decided to make some ice cream to go with it. Vanilla is boring so lemon it was.

Its good on its on or great with blueberry topping too. Adding some melted white chocolate chips to the top too would be extra delicious. Enjoy!

Lemon Ice Cream
(adapted from Epicurious)
  • 2 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 cup fresh lemon zest
  • 1 and 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 cups half-and-half
  • 1 vanilla bean with seeds removed
To Make
  1. In a saucepan, combine sugar and lemon zest to release some of the flavors. Then, whisk in lemon juice, 2 cups half-and-half, eggs and vanilla bean.
  2. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly. Keep on heat just until it comes to a simmer, immediately remove from heat. Strain through mesh sieve into medium bowl and add vanilla bean.
  3. Cover and chill overnight. When cool and ready to make ice cream, whisk in last cup of half and half and make according to ice cream maker directions. Freeze to desired consistency and enjoy!
I served it with blueberry preserves made from this recipe (without the final canning step)

Popcorn and Dark Chocolate Chunk Coookies

July 26, 2013 § 1 Comment

Some of my most vivid childhood memories are of making chocolate chip cookies with my dad at our house in Minnesota. I’d come home from school on Friday afternoon and my dad would have the ingredients all set out.

We’d do the wet ingredients, which is probably when I learned to crack an egg. Then we’d mix the dry ingredients in another bowl, hopefully not confusing baking powder and baking soda or adding in three tablespoons of salt. My sister and I would probably fight about who got to do what, but I don’t totally remember.

Then we’d put them on the baking sheets. We’d each get a huge spoonful of cookie dough. And then clamor to scrape the dough out of the bowl for that extra taste. When they came out of the oven we got a few cookies with a big glass of milk. That was the best.

I think that’s why cookies are my favorite thing to bake, its associate with memories. These amazing popcorn and chocolate chunk cookies have that therapeutic, nostalgic quality with a little bit of new and crazy thrown in.
Pretty sure the popcorn factor just seems nuts. But man, are these tasty! And I’ve totally forgotten about how great making popcorn on the stove is. So simple and you can add some great flavors. I may be hopping on the popcorn topping wagon soon.
For now we’ll stick to add the popcorn into cookies. When I was little we also had an air popper for our popcorn, it was sort of like this number. Awesome.
Anyway, get on this cookie train soon. Set out your regular cookie ingredients out. Get yo popcorn popping on. Cut up some dark chocolate, which is super therapeutic. And mix away.
As a warning it will seem like there is just an excessive amount of popcorn, like double the amount of dough almost. But, with some folding, it will get in there. It kind of breaks down and makes for a great ratio of popcorn:cookie.
Popcorn and Chocolate Chunk Cookies
(adapted from Joy the baker)
makes 24 cookies
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/4 corn kernels (makes about 4 cups)
  • 1/2 unsalted butter
  • 1/2 packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup AP flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate
To Make:
1) Start with the popcorn. In medium saucepan heat vegetable oil over medium heat. After a few minutes, pour in corn kernels in single layer. Place lid on pan, but slightly vented to let out steam while popcorn pops. When popping slows, take pan off heat. Sprinkle with a little bit of salt.
2) Remove unpopped kernels and let popcorn cool in a large bowl.
3) Now, preheat oven to 350* F. In a large mixing bowl cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add in egg and vanilla and beat for another minute.
3) In another bowl, whisk flour, baking soda and salt. Add this to wet ingredients and beat just until mixed.
4) Next, fold popcorn into batter. It will break down and mix in, despite seeming like too much popcorn. Once popcorn is mixed in, add in dark chocolate.
5) Drop tablespoons of dough onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 10-13 minutes until golden brown. Let rest on sheet for a few minutes then cool on rack.

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

July 22, 2013 § 1 Comment

Happy Cookie Week. There is another good one coming at you on Friday. But for today, lets focus on these peanut butter cookies. My husband declared these the perfect mixture of crunch and chewy. Then he wondered how I made them without flour. I said oats and science. I can’t explain the science part though.

The dough for this will seem pretty wet. And the cookies seem a little undone. Rest assured the dough is okay and the cookies firm up. They don’t look appealing before they’re baked. I mean, look at that mess of a mixing bowl.

If you used gluten free oats you’ve got some celiac-friendly cookies too.

By the way, if you look at the original recipe her cookies are way thicker than mine. Not sure why mine turned out differently but I like how they turned out. Enjoy!

Flourless Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 2/3 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup chocolate chips
To Make:
1) Preheat oven to 350 and line two baking sheets with parchment papers.
2) Stir together oats and baking soda with a fork. Using a mixer, combine peanut butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla for 3-5 minutes. With a wooden spoon stir in oats and baking soda, then chocolate chips.
 3) Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon, put dough onto baking sheets. Bake for 10-11 minutes until golden brown. Let cool on baking sheet. Store in airtight container. Enjoy!

Pizza Sauce

July 19, 2013 § Leave a comment

It’s Friday. Therefore you should make a pizza. Logical? Totally. And to put on top of your pizza? This sauce.

It’s literally the easiest sauce to make in the world. No lie. Canned tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs (dried or fresh), salt and pepper and some balsamic. (Not pictured? A pinch of sugar). And you can work with whatever tomatoes you’ve got on had. The original recipe calls for crushed, but if you have diced or whole, no big deal; just drain about half the liquid then blend the sauce.

Now, toppings to go on top of the sauce is a whole other ball game. My husband is a meat man; pepperoni, sausage, the more the better. Me? I’m all about the veggies and fancy cheese, goat cheese and corn is my latest favorite. A little arugula is also right up my alley. Our only compromise is Hawaiian pizza. Canadian bacon and pineapple is our happy place for sharing. But we both agree on this sauce.

  • 1 large can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp italian seasoning (or fresh herbs if you have them)
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp garlic
  • 1-2 tsp sugar
  • S&P to taste
To Make
1) In a medium sauce pan add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste (to make sauce as thick as you like, start with a little and add more as you need), seasoning, vinegar, sugar and garlic.
2) Simmer over medium high heat until sauce bubbles slightly. Add S&P to taste and extra tomato paste to thicken. Simmer about 20 minutes until your pizza is ready to make. Can be kept refrigerated for 1 week or frozen. Enjoy!

Mediterranean Cous Cous Salad

July 12, 2013 § 2 Comments

I’m not a huge recipe repeater. In fact, in my first year or marriage I don’t think I made the same thing twice, except for pizza. I just really love trying new things and mixing it up. I’ve mellowed from that a little bit but not a ton; I’d rather make something new most days.

The reason I told you that is to emphasize that when I say I’ve made this four times in a month and a half you realize that’s a big deal. This salad is REALLY GOOD. It’s become my go to potluck, picnic, lunch thing. Try it. You’ll see.

Back to the salad. It’s got some great ingredients and is perfect for summer. It doesn’t involve a stove, is good warm or cold and you can use fresh basil and tomatoes. If you add some grilled chicken you’ve got a main course too.

You also combine the flavors or sun dried tomatoes and marinated artichoke hearts. You can’t go wrong. Hop on the cous cous salad train! (Oh and feel free to add some red onion, I’m not a huge fan so I skip it, but if its your jam just go for it).
Mediterranean Cous Cous Salad
  • 1 cup Trader Joe’s Cous Cous
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 1 jar marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, in olive oil
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • juice from one lemon
  • Olive oil
To Make:
1) Prepare cous cous according to directions on the box. Or you can boil the water in a large glass measuring cup, then pour in olive oil and cous cous and cover with pastic wrap. Let sit for 15 minutes then fluff with a fork.
2) Prep your ingredients: drain and rinse garbanzo beans. Cut the marinated artichoke hearts into smaller pieces. Halve the cherry tomatoes. Chop basil into bite sized pieces.
3) Pour cous cous into large bowl. Add in the rest of the prepared ingredients and feta cheese and mix well. Squeeze lemon juice on top and add a little bit of olive oil. Toss and enjoy!

Blueberry Crumb Cake

July 3, 2013 § Leave a comment

I feel like holiday breakfasts are underrated most of the time. Who gets excited about Thanksgiving breakfast? No one, you just end up snaking on those weird onion things all morning long. Gross. Anyway. You should make this for your 4th of July breakfast! Embrace the fact that you have a whole day off (or not, if you work retail or in health care…wah wah).

It’s a scrumptious, blueberry filled breakfast treat. Anything with crumb in the title works in my book. Or anything you put streusel topping on at all really.

It’s a pretty basic crumb cake batter, flour, cinnamon, sugar. You get the idea. Mix all that stuff together. Follow the recipe below.

Start with fresh blueberries if you’ve got ’em. And it’s summer so they’re actually popping up in stores now. I splurged and got a large box at TJ’s for $5.99. You could also use frozen as TJ’s has those for like $2. You’re going to coat them with a little bit of flour.

Fold them into the batter. And spread that in a greased and floured baking pan. Make your streusel topping and spread that on top and you’re in business and ready to bake. If you have a crowd to feed and want to make a 13×9 just double the recipe. Finally, lets take a minute to acknowledge that I got my stuff together in time to make a holiday recipe and post it before the actual holiday. Happy Holiday Week!

Blueberry Crumb Cake
For cake:
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for pan and blueberries
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup milk (or buttermilk)
  • 1 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
For Struesel topping:
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
To Make
1) Preheat oven to 350*. Grease and flour a 8 or 9 inch square baking pan, dust with flour.
2) Using a mixer, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then add in egg. In another bowl, whisk flour, powder, soda, salt and cinnamon in a bowl.
3) Now, alternate mixing in the flour and milk just until combined.
4) Wash and dry the blueberries. Stir 1 tsp of flour to cover them. Once down, fold in the blueberries to the batter. Spread the batter evenly in the plan.
5) Make the streusel topping but mixing all ingredients together until moist crumbs form, using your hands or a pastry cutter. Sprinkle topping over the batter.
6) Bake for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out cool. Let cool completely before serving.

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