Category Archives: Home Cooking

Everything is Awesome

Summer Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad

I’m a firm believer in go-to-recipes – ones that always turn out perfect and can be varied to fit the event.  Pasta salad has the advantage of being not only an easy recipe but one of those recipes that can also unite vegans and meat-eaters.  Growing up my mom had her go-to variation and my first few pasta salads were basically her recipe – but over time I decided to branch out and have established my own “standard”.  While a few of the characters might change based on what’s growing in the garden, I keep the same dressing and rarely ever switch out the beans!

Everything is Awesome

Serves: Serves 5-6, as a side

Ingredients

  • 1 lb tri-color rotini
  • 1 tsp garlic scrapes, diced (or 2 cloves garlic, diced)
  • 1/2 vidalia onion,
  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 cups cannellini beans, presoaked and well washed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 3 basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 argula leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup feta, crumbled

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta per box instructions, then drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. Meanwhile prepare the vegetables and place in a large pyrex bowl. Mix together the olive oil, vinegar, and herbs.
  3. Toss the pasta with the vegetables then stir in the dressing.
  4. Top with feta (optional) - then serve and enjoy!
http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2014/07/everything-is-awesome.html

I generally enjoy this pasta salad with bbq tofu but with the addition of the beans it works just fine as a cold dinner – and generally it is eaten solo for lunch the next day.  It can also be made in advance, just be sure to add a tbsp of EVOO to the bowl and then toss well in order to insure it doesn’t dry out.  I’m sending this over to July’s Simple and in Season since everything about this recipe screams summertime!  This month Sally at MyCustardPie is hosting this awesome round up as our normal hostess is quite occupied with a new baby boy!

In gardening news I’ve now harvested almost a dozen cherry tomatoes, with more popping up every day!  I’ve also collected two jalapenos, what is most likely the last of my argula (which was used in this recipe!), and I’m still waiting on my first eggplants.  There’s a chance I’ll need to pull my veggies inside later this week, something about  a July Polar Vortex – which is another advantage of having a pot garden!

Sock You

Spicy Kale and Tomato Sauce

Spicy Kale Sauce

It seems the end of one growing season is already here as I look outside to see lots of wilted greens that weren’t picked in time.  I’m hopeful that the farmer’s markets but have some for at least the next week or two – but soon I’ll be forced back to the grocery store in order to get one of the staples of my diet: kale.  It wasn’t too long ago that I was living a kale-free existence, unaware of this amazingly healthy and tasty treat.   Now that I know it’s there – I essentially add it to everything!  It adds the perfect crunch with just a hint of bitter, which is perfect for me since I’m allergic to the more common acids (aka citrus).  I also understand that kale is not for everyone but I firmly think that’s just because everyone hasn’t tried kale!

Sock You

Serves: Makes 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1/2 vidalia onion, diced
  • 5 roma tomatoes, peeled and halved
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 basil leaves, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp fresh oregano, diced
  • 1 cup kale, torn

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a deep skillet. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 10 minutes, or until golden brown.
  2. Add the roma tomatoes, seed side down and cook for 7 minutes, then flip and use a spatula to break down the tomato. Add the fresh herbs and continue cooking for 5 minutes before adding the kale, half at a time.
  3. Once the kale has cooked down, cover and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Then Serve and Enjoy!
http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2014/07/sock-you.html

I served this sauce over some whole wheat pasta but spaghetti squash or polenta would also work well.   What’s next? Kale cookies? Kale Cake?? Probably not, but I plan to continue this love affair as long as possible – unless I turn my skin green in which case I might back off.

Now for other gardening news: first red tomato has been picked!  There is one more that’s on the verge of ready and another 3 dozen or so close behind.  I’ve also jumped up to 8 fairy eggplants and 5 jalapenos :-) I have a feeling July is going to be a delicious month!!!

For What

Avocado Tomato Grilled Cheese

Avocado Tomato Grilled Cheese

I’m thrilled that summer has finally arrived, yet sad that days are already getting shorter.  It seems like winter just ended, and yet I’m already seeing stories advertising “back to school” and “fall fashions”.  If it’s alright with them I’m going to stay in a firm state of denial until at least labor day – I need my long hot day of sun!  Today’s recipe features my favorite summer ingredient (which won’t come as a shock to anyone): tomatoes.  To say that I’m stoked about the emergence of tomatoes at the local markets doesn’t begin to cover it as few things are as awesome as a summer tomato.  Since I’ve only been able to harvest a few little cherry tomatoes so far I needed to figure out a recipe where I only needed a few in order to make a big POP.  As an added necessity I had half an avocado and a bit of fresh bread that needed to disappear before heading to visit family in NYC.  What better way than a lazy (but delicious!) grilled cheese sandwich?!?

Tomato Avocado Grilled Cheese

Ingredients

  • 4 slices of your favorite bread
  • 2 tbsp yogurt spread (or unsalted butter)
  • 2 roma tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 4 slices of favorite "cheese" or cheese (I used Colby)

Instructions

  1. Evenly distribute the butter on all sides of the bread.
  2. Heat a large griddle over medium heat and place two slices of bread on it, allow to cook for about 2 minutes then remove and set aside. Place the other two slices on the grilled, cook for two minutes, and then flip.
  3. Place a layer of cheese on the toasted side of the bread, then add half of the tomato and avocado slices. Place one last layer of cheese then top with the reserved pieces of bread - toasted side down.
  4. Continue cooking for 5 minutes, then gently flip, and press sandwich down for 30 seconds. Cook on the final side for 7 minutes, or until desired browning level.
  5. Remove and enjoy!
http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2014/06/for-what.html

I served this up with some fresh coleslaw – the recipe for which is forthcoming – and it was the perfect summer dinner.  Heck, this would also make the perfect summer lunch, or brunch, or linner or whatever!

In gardening news the new tally is:  41 tomatoes (only 1 is close to picking), 4 jalapenos, 7(!) fairy eggplants, and the fine beginnings of a rosemary bush.  My containers might not give me the same options as my awesome box garden in VA but it’s certainly doing its best to give us in fresh veggies.

What about Angels

Garlicky Green Beans with Confit Tomatoes

Turkish Stuffed Eggplant

I apologize for the repeat photo but none of the ones of the green beans straight on were in focus – so a repeat it is!  Since I had been falling behind a bit for my 52weeksfood challenge, I decided to do two challenges in one week.  The Turkish dish being the delicious stuffed eggplant I posted about this past Thursday, and the confit dish being today’s feature.  While I had heard of confits before (thank you Top Chef), I always assumed it required skills well beyond mine.  Nothing like being proved wrong and getting a delicious meal out of it!  BTW – this is not an appropriate side dish for people that don’t enjoy garlic.

Garlicky Green Beans

Serves 4-5, as a side

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary
  • 2 basil leaves, diced
  • 3 plum tomatoes, halved
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 lb green beans, ends snipped off

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Toss the halved tomatoes in 2 tbsp of olive oil, along with the thyme, basil, and rosemary. Place flesh down in a roasting pan and cook for 45 minutes.
  3. Remove the tomatoes and set aside.
  4. Heat the rest of the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and red onion and cook for 10 minutes, before adding the green beans. Cook for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.
  5. Toss the tomatoes in - then Serve and Enjoy!
http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2014/06/what-about-angels.html

The tomatoes can be done a day or two in advance – just add them a little bit earlier so that they can get heated up.  Taste wise they reminded me of sundried tomatoes, just a real concentrated WOW of tomato goodness.  The tomatoes would also go well on top of pizza, pasta, or as an alternative to brucshetta.

In the Real World

Corn Bisque with Avocado

Corn Bisque

Good morning (evening???) and welcome to June’s installment of the Secret Recipe Club!!!  I have to say being a member of Group A means that my blogging month always starts off with a bang in the flavor department – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  This month I was partnered up with the Cookaholic Wife, and after reading her about page it turns out we have a lot in common.  We were both married in 2010, we’re both on the verge of turning 30 (eeek!), and we both live in Baltimore :-D For an added chill, you can switch our anniversary and birth months since we’re virgos that got married in April – so needless to say  I think Nicole is rather awesome.   Her blog is also stuffed to the rim with delicious recipes featuring ingredients that are easy to locate – but since we’re in the same city that does make a bit of sense.   I first debated making her Onion Dip, as a tribute to the crap dip that got her started on the blogging path, but I could not get the idea of her Corn Bisque out of my head.   Corn chowders are one of my favorite winter soups and the idea of a light and springy corn soup just spoke to my belly on a deep level.   I did make a few in changes to the recipe to cut back on cholesterol (yes, sometimes I do listen to my doctor) but for a more authentic experience just switch the almond milk back to regular milk!  Using the yogurt in place of the half-and-half also allowed me to leave out the cornstarch as the soup was plenty thick!

In the Real World

Serves 4-5

Ingredients

  • 5 medium ears corn on the cob
  • 1 small vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup Greek Yogurt, almond milk
  • 1/4 cup almond milk, original flavor
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 avocado, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped

Instructions

  1. Slice the kernels off each corn cob and set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes then the garlic and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes. The garlic and onion should be slightly golden.
  3. Pour the vegetable stock in to into the pot and add the corn kernels. Bring to a quick boil and then reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 5-7 minutes.
  4. Use an immersion blender to process the soup, adding the milk and Greek yogurt at about the halfway point. Continue to heat over very low heat for a final 10 minutes.
  5. Serve the soup topped with the diced avocado and enjoy!
http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2014/06/in-the-real-world.html

 I did leave the crab out but I’m happy to report that my hubby added enough Old Bay to his to counter the lack of crab.  The avocado provided the perfect contrast to the airy soup, and I’m now curious to see how I can include that in my winter chowder.

This soup was perfection and I can easily see myself making it time and time again – thanks Nicole!!!