Fall is for Frito Pie
A lot more baking happens in the fall while comforting soups and stews simmer on the stovetop or in a slow cooker. Chili contents are held.
While I've enjoyed a lot of chili in my lifetime, I have never had it served on top of Fritos. I had never even heard of it. . .
Come to think of it, I did come across it once. There was a hotdog stand on a downtown corner where I used to live - Weiner Wagon. Their menu featured three varieties of Frito Pie. Three. I cannot recall if I ever tried one. However, I remember it sounded sort of amazing and disgusting at the same time.
Imagine my surprise when - several years later - I see an Instagram post from Food & Wine with a recipe for Frito Pie. The photo shows three individual size bags of Fritos, slit open, with the chili served right in the bag. Sort of lowbrow for a foodie publication, don't you think? (Is it really food? Is there really an appropriate wine pairing?)
A quick search for Frito pie will net you a plethora of recipes. Turns out, this is not a passing fad. Another publication, Epicurious, ranks eating chili right out of a bag of Fritos as the number one way to eat chili. (For reference, they rank Cincinnati chili as the worst.)
However, while Epicurious does provide a recipe for Cincinnati chili they do not for Frito Pie. That's because it's simple: "split a personal-size bag of Fritos down the middle and pour your chili in."
That didn't keep Food & Wine from publishing a recipe for Frito Pie - a rather highbrow one at that. The first reviewer wrote:
" Ruined the simplicity of what makes Frito pies great with the addition of superfluous, Cali-elitist ingredients. Definitely not a Texas Frito pie that so many of us Texans enjoy every Fall Friday night under the bright lights of high school football stadiums whether our team wins or loses. . . . "
(For reference, Food & Wine also has a recipe for Cincinnati Chili.)
I decided to try it. I made a hybrid Frito Pie, meaning that I made chili from scratch but a far simpler version. I served it in a bowl (not in the bag): Fritos topped with chili (with black beans), topped with shredded cheddar cheese and chopped onion. We ate it in front of the TV in front of a football game for the whole experience.
Mind blown! I couldn't believe I had never had this before.
Consider this: I have made Cincinnati Chili. On purpose. And eaten it. On purpose. So consider your reviewer's point of view. Frito Pie may not be too lowbrow for me.
One-pot pasta with mushrooms in a creamy white wine sauce
- Since I was ordering my groceries online, I purchased Baby Bella mushrooms instead of crimini because they were easier to find and they came in the right quantity.
- I'm not a huge leek fan and I had a bag of Vidalia onions to use up so I sliced up about a cup and a half of the Vidalia.
- I substituted chicken broth for the vegetable broth.
- I left out the dill for no particular reason other than I didn't feel like buying dill.
Peruvian beef stir-fry
Two Worth Mentioning
Easy Weeknight Chili
It was all three. I made this on a Wednesday in about an hour with a few ingredients and it was very tasty. The recipe is from Pressure Cooker Perfection from America's Test Kitchen.
Bison Burgers with Fig Jam and Caramelized Onion, Blue Cheese, and Lettuce on Brioche Bun
Two I liked this week (plus one I liked before)
Not playing chicken anymore
Just so I don't forget
These are two very different recipes. One is big-batch-hearty and the other is big-flavor-no-worry. Both can be relied upon.
Guest Post Review of Bistro Meatloaf
[speak up] Okay, so I want to review a recipe that we made together.
C: We didn't actually make it together.
Well, you helped.
C: I called the fire department.
Ha, ha - well, I think we're getting ahead of ourselves. So, the recipe we're reviewing is from the Los Angeles Times and it was called Bistro Meatloaf and I made it because Papa loves meatloaf and he complains that I don't make it enough and your sister, as it turns out, also likes meatloaf.
C: She likes everything. I mean, she likes to eat everything.
[be nice] When I saw this recipe I thought this is perfect except everything didn't go quite as planned.
C: Yeah, I had to call the fire department.
I had to improvise a little and you didn't actually have to call the fire department. My cast iron skillet is currently in storage a thousand miles from here.
C: I don't get it.
Basically, there's butter in this meatloaf recipe which is good from a flavor standpoint but I had to cook the meatloaf on a cookie tray and when the butter melted, plus the fat from the beef, it splattered on the cookie sheet and created a lot of smoke in the oven.
C: Yeah, every time you opened the oven there was a huge cloud of smoke.
So what happened?
C: We had to eat something else.
C: We got takeout from Alps Village.
What did you order?
C: Not meatloaf.
Editor's Note: The salvaged meat made a good base for Shepherd's Pie. I sauteed the salvaged meatloaf meat with peas and carrots and topped the mixture with mashed potatoes. It was Hubby and GrandKiddo approved for dinner and for leftovers. Would definitely make again. Smoke and all.
I heard this story from the source itself during a Zoom family reunion. It was an online gathering of the sort that's becoming more and more the norm for socializing, a substitute for human contact. It was also a time of remembrance of a special man whom we all loved. We all shared stories of one sort or another. About the man. Also, about flour.
I didn't know there was a shortage of flour. I've been blissfully comfort baking during these weeks of at-home confinement with what I already had in my pantry, unaware that I had such a precious commodity. Dear Uncle, I may need to come see you soon. (If only...)
Muffins have become my latest obsession. My latest indulgence is carrot cake muffins with cream cheese frosting. I eat them for breakfast. (Don't judge me.) But if you must save them for a special occasion (such as a birthday), just know that it's somebody's birthday somewhere. It's not like you could go to their party, right?
So go ahead. Indulge. You have my permission.
It's a good thing I don't have a scale.
Like many of you, I've been baking while I've been sheltered-at-home. (That's something we say in 2020, future readers - sheltered-at-home.) Besides the Banana Bread Muffins (next post), I've also made Apple & Carrot Muffins (almost sound good for you, don't they?), Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins, and Apple, Cinnamon, Oatmeal Muffins. If you're sensing a theme, you're right: It's oatmeal. I like the heft it gives the muffins. One will last me until lunch.
More than that, these recipes utilize what's already in my pantry (or cupboard as the case may be). As I mentioned in the post below, I'm only just building my pantry. I don't have vanilla extract on hand so I left it out and didn't miss it. I never have milk in the house so I've been using vanilla soy milk (you know, that with which I make my lattes). My inspiration came from what was on hand: apples, applesauce, carrots, oatmeal, raisins, honey, and nuts. (We're all a little nuts right now.)
The internet is a wonderful thing. Enter the ingredients you have on hand and add the word "muffins" and voilà: You have a recipe for using up what you bought too much of when you were hoarding last week at Costco.
I'm sorry I didn't take pictures but seeing as we may be doing this for a little while, I'll get back in the kitchen (I think I'll do the Apple & Carrot ones this weekend to confirm they were my favorite) and get back to you.
I still don't have my cookbooks so my favorite recipe wasn't around and neither is my bread pan. However, the home we purchased came fully furnished and while it didn't come with any cook books or a bread pan, it did come with a muffin tin and paper muffin liners.
Bread was out. Muffins were in. I found this online: Sarah's Banana Bread Muffins on Allrecipes.com. I only had two bananas (not the three called for) and I used sliced almonds which I had on hand instead of the walnuts. I didn't bother reading the reviews before I started and, other than as noted, made the recipe as written.
It only took a few minutes and the results were delicious. And, since there are only two of us, we can munch on them all week. If you come visit, expect these in the morning.
I'm on a roll
Plenty of leftovers for tomorrow (which makes the extra effort worth it).
UPDATED: Leftovers were delicious.
Before I forget, make this:
I was wrong. It was so good, we couldn't resist eating it all up. This is a company-worthy although I'm not sure how you would cook four chicken breasts, pounded thin, without using multiple pans (or two at a time) but it would be worth the extra effort for the results. If making four, don't skimp on the asparagus - get a full pound.
And, if you have to buy a new jar of capers just to make this recipe, then put this on your weekly rotation until they're all used up. That's what I plan to do.
It's that good.
Salmon Pasta Salad
That all being said, the recipe was from Cooking Light. It's not something Hubby would have picked had he been choosing. However, he not only had a second helping, he helped me poach the fish. As I mentioned, we substituted fresh salmon for what was called for. He poached it stovetop in 50/50 Sauvignon Blanc and water along with the dill leftover from the small grocery store package (after reserving roughly half the called-for amount). We also used regular, gluten-ful rotini (Barilla); plain table salt; and, an English cucumber.
The result was easy, light, and flavorful. I think we were both surprised and I think, this time, we would both vote to make it another time.
But then, for reasons I'll explain another time, I found myself, shall we say, displaced. All the freezer food was gone and I was separated from my kitchen tools. During this time, I cooked even less and was restricted to making things with what tools were on hand.
Fortunately, I came upon a receipt that was fairly easy to make, consisting of few ingredients, and satisfying: Butternut Squash Gnocchi from Sunset Magazine. I used black pepper instead of the white pepper called for in the recipe and it turned out fine. (I try not to buy a lot of ingredients that I'll only use a tiny amount of, relegating the remainder to the back of a cabinet to die a slow death. If I can't buy small quantities, bulk, I'll pass on the ingredient or pass on the recipe altogether.)
At the end of the cooking time, I tossed in a handful of frozen peas to the pot of water with the gnocchi and served them together with a little more butter and cheese than called for. (Fat is flavor!) We only made half the recipe and it was more than plenty for the two of us. The rest of the dough, we wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and saved in the fridge for later use. (I'll let you know how that turns out.)
I've never made potato gnocchi before - any gnocchi from scratch for that matter. This recipe from Epicurious is more complicated than the the one I made, but I'm interested in giving it a try. It should be noted that white pepper is called for again in this recipe so it may be worth picking some up this time. Also, I don't own a potato ricer and while I understand using one makes the best mashed potatoes, I noted a reviewer posted that a cheese grater could be used instead. (Great tip, if that works.)
Although my confidence is bolstered by my recent success with the butternut squash gnocchi, I'm not quite confident enough to cook naked, although The New York Times describes it as joyful. That's Florida for you. While I may be somewhere sunny, rest assured I'll be keeping my pants on when I'm cooking.
Updated: This wasn't me, btw.
|The Desert Sun, February 19, 2020|
We ate the first one before it went bad and put the second one to use in a simple salad which we shared at the next potluck we were invited to. Four ingredients: Cantaloupe, English cucumber, feta, and mint. How much of each to use is entirely up to you but I used this recipe from PBS | Food as my guide. (I made the dressing from this recipe, too, but I never used it. I didn't think the salad needed it.)
It was simple and fresh, cool and easy, and is perfect for your next barbecue, picnic, or pot luck. Summer is almost over, so now's the time. Fortunately, the cantaloupes at Costco are ripe.
Moroccan Chicken with Green Olives and Lemon
Light the candles and set the table. This one is worth making.
This recipe from Epicurious is sexier than the name implies, though I don't know what I would call it. One-Pot Chicken Surprise? It starts with chicken but the rest is pretty much up to you from there. What do you have on hand? It's easy, inexpensive, delicious and will either feed a crowd or be enough for leftovers. It's a perfect combination of random ingredients that results in a meal you willl be sure to make again.
The recipe guides you with these choices in the ingredient list:
- Ground cinnamon or cumin
- Ground turmeric, curry powder, or ground coriander
- White rice (any type except for sticky rice)
- Chickpeas, white beans, black beans, or other beans, drained, rinsed
- Dried fruit, such as currants, raisins, cherries, or cranberries
- Coarsely chopped tender herbs, such as cilantro, parsley, mint, basil, and/or dill
I served this to my in-laws recently. My mother-in-law asked for the recipe so here it is.
My mother-in-law is not a particularly adventurous eater. In fact, she is known to make a sour face whenever she tries something she doesn't like. This face will appear regardless of where we are: around the kitchen table or at a 5-star restaurant. (Thankfully, we don't go to many 5-star restaurants.)
By contrast, I'll try almost anything and I like experimenting with new recipes, something that has always frustrated Hubby. I rarely cook the same thing twice. Rather, I cook from recipes I find in a new or borrowed cookbook, or the newspaper or online. Sometimes, I'll buy random ingredients - from the farmers market or produce aisle - and toss them together with whatever's in my pantry for my own creation. "Just once," he would lament, "I wish you would just make meatloaf."
Now that Hubby is spending more time in the kitchen with me, he is more open to new things. New recipes allow him the opportunity to learn new kitchen skills and work with new ingredients. Most of our endeavors turn out good but it does present a challenge - a risk, perhaps - when entertaining. We never know whether what we serve to guests will be delicious or a total flop.
This recipe worked. While not complicated or using hard to find ingredients (both plusses), it produced a satisfying and flavorful soup without a lot of overly strong flavors. #comfortfood
I didn't think Mom would like the escarole - too bitter. (What is Escarole, Anyway? - Bon Appétit) I used one bunch curly kale instead. I might have used closer to a cup of lentils (instead of the 3/4 cup called for in the recipe). They did not overwhelm the soup so if you like lentils, feel free to toss in a little more. (I don't know what French lentils are - okay, now I do; I used Simple Truth Green Lentils.)
While 10 stalks of celery seem like a lot they didn't overwhelm. The six cloves of garlic, sliced, provided a nice contrast and a soft flavor that came through pleasantly. I also skipped the dill and lemon garnish. I though it might be too much fuss for chicken soup.
The recipe predicts it will take about a half hour to make but it took me about an hour which included washing and prepping the ingredients, plus cooking time. It also estimates it will serve 4-6 people. I would suggest it might serve 6-8, especially if you serve it with a crusty bread or grilled sandwich side.
It starts by making chicken broth from the carcass of a store-bought (or homemade) rotisserie chicken. I used the leg bones, ribs, and wings and discarded the rest (spine, skin) to make it easier to fish out the bones later. Only half of the chicken meat is called for. You could toss it all in but that would make for a very thick soup. After shredding the meat, wrap up half and freeze it for future use. Don't worry about the sweet potatoes getting mushy. They break apart and thicken up the soup.
I'm glad it went over so well with my in-laws. So well, I sent them home with plenty of leftovers for at least another meal. The only problem with making good food is they might come back!
(Just kidding; I love my in-laws!)
[The link for this recipe from epicurious is in the title (and here).]
Fruit and Stout Cake
At the turn of the century (or thereabouts), I came across an article in Martha Stewart Living, to which I then subscribed, that extolled the virtues of this holiday phenomenon. Somehow, even though I had a career and two kids, I had enough time to bake all five varieties mentioned in the article. I think I liked some better than others but since I can't remember, it might be time to make them again.
The cakes are literally fermented and, therefore, must be made well in advance of when you intend to eat (or gift) them. For this reason (and the fact that I suck at managing my time), you will not be receiving such a cake this year. (Beware, I've already put it on my calendar for November to start baking for next year.)
Of the five recipes included in the article, only one can be made in less than one month's time: Chocolate Panforte. It is possible you'll get a bite of this before the year is over. However, I also found this at Martha Stewart dot com: Miniature Golden Fruitcakes so you're not entirely safe from the gift of fruitcake although it's highly unlikely that I'll get motivated enough to actually make them.
If it's the thought that counts, there you go. Merry Christmas.
Root Vegetable Pancakes With Smoked Salmon, Eggs and Horseradish Cream
This one takes the (pan)cake. Listen, I love anything that comes with an egg on top so this was an easy sell for me. Plus, I love root vegetables so I was definitely interested in making this recipe as presented in The Columbian.
The recipe calls for one pound of root vegetables plus 8 ounces of Yukon Gold potatoes. I used turnips and parsnips and used a Cuisinart to shred everything. I opted to by prepared creamy horseradish sauce rather than making my own. In the end, I forgot to use it and didn't miss it for a second. (Anyone need some horseradish sauce?)
I was able to use smoked salmon but skipped the chives out of laziness. I'm sure it would have been good (garnishes really do matter) but ... lazy. I also didn't serve it with a green salad as suggested because a) why ruin a good thing? and, b) we had more than enough food.
The recipe serves four which is accurate if you end up with exactly eight pancakes. We served the meal as suggested (with the above exceptions) and found it delicious. It was just the two of us so we had leftovers which heated up well after a day or two in the refrigerator. I don't know if you can freeze the pancakes but would try that next time. It would be worth making a bunch and keeping them around for a while. They work well as "brinner," breakfast, or a side dish. And the root vegetables make it hearty without being too heavy.
For dinner, it makes for good comfort food but could be elegant as a breakfast or brunch.
Zesty Kale and Sweet Potato Bowl
Added sugars 1g
Calcium 22% DV
Potassium 36% DV
4 handfuls spinach
5 oz crumbled blue cheese
3/4 cup golden raisins or dried cranberries
1 cup chopped pecans or toasted walnuts
1 apple, chopped
Makes four hearty servings.
This is the backbone for a freeform salad. I prefer spinach but I've also used mixed baby greens. Measurements are estimated since I've never actually measured. (Except for the blue cheese - 5 oz is the size of the container I buy and I toss the whole thing in.) The idea is to make it hearty. Toss in a handful. If it looks good, perfect. If not, toss in a little more.
I have a spray bottle of diluted vinegar that I use as a vegetable wash. Even though I rinse the apple, and usually rinse the spinach or lettuce (when I'm not being lazy), I don't rinse the nuts or raisins. So, after I combine all the ingredients in a bowl, I give the salad a spray with my vinegar spray and give it a toss. I will do this a couple times to make sure everything gets a light coating.
Then I drizzle a little olive oil on top and give the salad another toss. All I'm really trying to do is give the lettuce a light coating. After tossing, I'll drizzle a little more if it looks like it needs it and toss it to distribute. I don't think I use more than a tablespoon, if that. The oil conspires with the vinegar to make a light dressing.
It makes a really nice, fall lunch for four or will serve more as a side.
|A take on iced coffee, shaken not stirred.|
I came upon the discovery that shaking whisky with ice will change its flavor. It not only chills the whisky but also aerates it.
Aerating releases aromatic compounds and alcohol vapors resulting in a smoother flavor and experience. Nothing needs to be added to the whisky. Just ice, shake, and pour. (Be very careful when ordering this at a bar because the bartender will invariably try to add something to it like bitters or a cherry.)
Pasta with Prosciutto, Cherry Tomatoes, and Asiago
There's not much to say about this recipe except that you should make it. It was easy, didn't take long to make, is not expensive, and doesn't require any exotic ingredients. We used Jovial brown rice pasta because that's what we had on hand. Plus, we like the way it cooks up, al dente every time.
We doubled the crushed red pepper which gave it a nice spice. It might have been a little too bland without it.
I don't know where to get three cups of multi-colored cherry tomatoes so I bought a package of red cherry tomatoes and another of yellow ones - the kind that comes in domed plastic containers. The red ones were super ripe and delicious so I halved all of them. The yellow ones were not as sweet so I cut up roughly half of that container's worth or maybe a little more. It seemed like we had plenty of tomatoes so I didn't feel like I had to cut them all up anyway.
We happened to have a lot of parmesan cheese on hand (Hubby sometimes can't resist a Costco deal) so we used that instead of Asiago.
The result was a colorful and delicious meal. We didn't get the prosciutto distributed evenly when we served it so we didn't eat much of it until our last few bites. It added a nice salty flavor to the tomatoes but was hardly necessary. The dish can be entirely vegetarian and still be full of delicious summer flavor. If meat is desired, you could use bacon instead of prosciutto, or shrimp. You could also use basil instead of or in addition to the parsley.
We're not sure how the cooked tomatoes will do in the freezer so we plan to eat the leftovers right away. It made four generous servings and could easily be stretched to six servings by making a little more pasta.
Asparagus and Ricotta Pizza
This recipe comes from The Columbian, April 26, 2016, so is not reproduced here. I can tell you this, however. It was delicious.
I've made a different version of this pizza from Real Simple Easy, Delicious Home Cooking which I didn't like as well. Both recipes call for prepared pizza dough but when I tried it with the Real Simple recipe, it came out soggy and unappetizing. When I made The Columbian version (I've made it twice already), I used a thin crust from Boboli which came out crisper.
The Columbian version calls for 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest mixed in with about half the ricotta called for in the Real Simple version. The lemon added an unexpected fresh flavor to the pizza's base which was perfect for summer.
I roasted the asparagus, sprinkled with oil, salt, and pepper, for 5-10 minutes before adding it to the pizza. (I used the same temperature that is called for on the Boboli package.) To that I added black olives, halved, a generous amount of parmesan cheese, and some fresh ground pepper before popping it in the oven. The second time I made it, I also added prosciutto and roasted pine nuts.
Sure, you could add other things like arugula or mushrooms, but it was good the way it was - a simple recipe that was simply delicious.
Easy and delicious, this meal is also low in calories, and high in protein, fiber, and calcium. It's also inexpensive, especially if you have some of the ingredients already on hand. I didn't read the upgrade option provided in this recipe which suggests you can use dried porcini mushroom in addition to the button mushrooms called for. This would have added a rich flavor punch although it had plenty of flavor as it was.
I didn't have sherry vinegar so I used what I had on hand which was Marsala wine. Instead of mascarpone or cream cheese, I used an American-style Neufchatel cheese made by Challenge, which I found at my local grocery store right next to the cream cheese. I could have used regular cream cheese but I feel so much more sophisticated just knowing the difference.
The servings are on the small side but hearty enough if you don't have a big appetite. The leftovers were almost better the next day. If you have other vegetables in refrigerator, such as asparagus, you might think about adding that in or serving it on the side.
Baked Pasta with Sausage, Tomatoes, and Cheese
We made this for Super Bowl Sunday for five picky eaters. By "picky" I mean they have different tastes than I do. Cooking for other people can be tricky, especially if you're not sure what other people like. This meal is basic, yet flavorful enough, to please a varied crowd. Plus, it wasn't complicated and provided for lots of leftovers. (Serves eight.)
The original recipe can be found at My Recipes dot com but I made it with a few modifications.
First, I got the mild, rather than the hot, turkey Italian sausage links because I knew at least one person didn't like spicy food. (The cheese and basil carried the dish.) The recipe calls for a tablespoon of tomato paste but I used more - two good spoonfuls, close to half of a four ounce can. Since it's difficult to find a 1-cup package of shredded mozzarella, I used 2 cups of mozzarella in addition to a generous amount of grated Parmesan (about three ounces.)
After I got the pasta going, I cooked the sausage. Only when it was nearly cooked through did I add the aromatics - the onion and garlic, plus the tomato paste - to give them time to bloom and become fragrant before adding the salt, pepper, and tomatoes. The onion needs more time - 5-6 minutes - so that can go in first. The garlic only needs a few minutes (2-3), followed by the tomato paste (1).
We prepared the dish ahead of time and popped it in the oven during the second quarter and it was ready just in time for half time. Easy to make and easy to eat!
Cheesy Skillet Gnocchi
We managed to get four servings out of this recipe but if you have big eaters or a hungry bunch, consider doubling the recipe. I used regular gnocchi because I couldn't find whole-wheat gnocchi in the grocery store. I also doubled the meat - a quarter pound wouldn't have been enough imo. The store was also out of basil so I used a couple of dollops of pesto instead, added just before broiling.
The gnocchi is prepared in a lightly oiled skillet rather than boiled. I've never done it this way before but it came out beautifully. They had slightly nutty, toasted exteriors and creamy interiors. (You might say the same thing about me but I'm more creamy on the outside and toasted on the inside. Slightly nutty, definitely.)
The second time around, I toasted a scant quarter cup of pine nuts in a small skillet while microwaving the leftovers. When the nuts were a light brown I sprinkled most of them over the re-heated dish. To the hot skillet, I added a leaf of curly kale that had been just rinsed and torn into bite-sized pieces. The water left on the kale from washing it was enough to steam it in the skillet, covered, on the burner with the heat off.
I topped the dish with the kale and the remaining nuts and served it with a fresh crack of black pepper.
If you want your kale to be really tender, try massaging it first. Wait, what? It's a thing. While the kale is still in the colander, just scrunch it up in your hands a bit. You'll feel it soften up in your hands as the color darkens slightly.
Even though I used a spicy chicken Italian sausage, the finished dish could have used a little more heat. Just a small amount of crushed pepper flakes would have been enough. (Toast the pepper flakes in the skillet until aromatic just before adding the gnocchi.)
Tasty and easy to make, a cozy meal on a December night.
Salmon, Asparagus, and Orzo Salad
This recipe passed on all fronts: easy, delicious, good leftovers, few ingredients.
I didn't weigh the asparagus - I just used the bunch I bought from the store. They didn't have a piece of fish that big - 1.25 lb. - so I used the biggest piece they had. (I don't know if it was even a full pound but it was plenty of fish so I'm pretty sure 1.25 lb. would have been way too much.) I used more than 1/4 cup onion. I probably sliced up 1/8 of a small to medium onion and tossed whatever that was in. I was also generous with the feta to use up a package that was already open. The dill was delicious but I also tossed in about 1/4 cup chopped flat-leafed parsley that I already had.
I probably used less than 3 tablespoons of lemon but I didn't want to buy two lemons.
It all turned out great. This could replace my other orzo recipe for a while. Everyone likes the spicy one but it contains dairy so it's not something you want sitting out all day. I made it for our last boat trip and while everyone liked it the first day, we were pretty much done with it after the second day. It wasn't as well received at the Cornhole Tournament this year either. I think everyone is just ready for something new.
We ate the Salmon Orzo Salad twice and still had leftovers. This one could be another good one for the boat, particularly if you make it in advance. (Even if you just made the salmon in advance.) No dairy, so it might keep a little better, too. I might try making it with tuna, too.
National Burger Day is May 28
Celebrate with these recipes from the Oregonian. (h/t 76003.1414)
We tried the Spicy Black Bean Burgers and we will definitely try them again.
We didn't have a food processor when we made them. We crushed the chips (Did you say chips?) in a Ziploc bag so they weren't as fine as they might have been otherwise.
We made four "burgers" but they were too big serving-wise so next time we'll make six out of the recipe.
And, we didn't serve them on buns. We served them on top of salads. The salads were southwestern-style with corn, red peppers, avocado, and salsa on mixed greens with a little more avocado and salsa on top of the burgers.
Delicious when fresh and when reheated in a skillet. I just wanted to make sure I didn't forget to make them again next year on Burger Day.
Is there a "day" for everything?
Farro Salad with Asparagus, Snap Peas, and Tomatoes
I've become a fan of America's Test Kitchen Radio podcast. This podcast was suggested to me by a boating friend who has the same kind of boat as we do and also commutes between two homes in the Seattle and Portland areas. Over the years, I've met several road warriors who make the same regular trek. We frequently compare methods of relieving boredom on the two and one-half hour drive.
Since then, I've discovered the ATK TV show and website. To access the recipes, you need an account but it's not free. (I don't remember how much it is. I'd log out and check but then I'd have to remember my password.) We paid the subscription fee because we like the information they provide there (although I have, on occasion, been able to find bootleg copies of their recipes elsewhere on the internet).
Signing up also gives you access to the Cook's Illustrated website which is where this farro recipe was found. (You can also find it in the May/June 2015 print edition of Cook's Illustrated.)
When we made it, I didn't have any asparagus so I just doubled the amount of snap peas. I measured the 6 ounces tomatoes as prescribed by the recipe but there would not have been a problem using the remaining 4 ounces in the package I purchased.
I also used fresh feta. I don't remember how much it weighed (it was maybe 3 ounces) but I tossed the whole thing in. If you have more (a typical package is 4 ounces), toss it in!
I could't find fresh dill the day I went to the store so I used an equivalent amount of rosemary which provided great flavor with the dressing.
We got six dinner servings out of this recipe which we ate over the course of a week. Leftovers held up well in the refrigerator and were eaten cold.
I would say the best part about this recipe is that it's good for you but in light of Seattle's Opening Day for
30-Minute Chicken Tagine
I don't have much time to spend on this page today but I wanted to bookmark this recipe which was good the first and second times around. It's from Cook's Illustrated and says it will serve four but I think we still have leftovers in the freezer. I think we'll get a total of 6 or 8 servings out of this one.
Anyway, it was good.
Heather: Here's the recipe for the soup I made last night. Just bookmark this page and you'll always be able to find it. It won't always appear at the top of the page but if you scroll down or search for it, you should be able to find it.
Chicken Tortilla Soup with Chipotle and Fire Roasted Tomato
I doubled the recipe for last night's gathering with the exception of:
- Chicken stock - I used four cups of stock because that's all that would fit in my crock pot
- Onion - I only used one because not everyone likes onion. I can sneak one in but maybe not two.
- Chipotles in adobo - The soup has enough heat without doubling the chipotles. So, remember, if you're not going to double the recipe you might want to consider cutting the onion and chipotles in half and using only two cups of stock for a thicker soup.
- Toppings - I used cotija cheese and skipped the lime and red onion.
Also, I didn't poach the chicken in the stock per the recipe. I poached them separately:
- Brown the tenders, seasoned with salt and pepper, on one side in a skillet with a little oil on medium-high heat.
- Turn and add 1/2 cup water, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low for another five minutes.
- Remove chicken from the pan and let cool slightly, then shred into bite-sized pieces.
I've also used a whole roasted chicken from the grocery store and skipped the poaching step altogether. Then, you might as well skip cooking the onion and garlic and just throw all the ingredients into a crock pot and let it simmer on low all day. It just depends on how much time you have. It turns out great either way.
H/T to my brother who bought me Rachael Ray 2, 4, 6, 8: Great Meals for Couples or Crowds where I first found this recipe.
Eating leftovers without the benefit of all the toppings, I thought I would note that you could add frozen corn, black beans, and/or avocado to the soup.
Just for Reverence
It's routinely requested that I bring Chocolate Fudge Pie to any family gathering. I mention that here as a way to bookmark the recipe so I won't have to look it up again when Christmas rolls around.
Too bad they didn't ask for the Hazelnut Ganache Tart With Sea Salt because that's what I'm making for the day after Thanksgiving. (Now I don't have to share.)
While we're on the subject of wine (see following post), I ran across this list:
Included in the list is a Cono Sur Bicicleta viognier 2013 (Chile) with the following description:
"It’s obvious why Cono Sur decided to sponsor the Tour de France, and this is a good wine to drink on a sunny day while other people exercise."Also, Dourthe La Grande Cuvée sauvignon blanc 2013 (Bordeaux, France):
"I taste in fear of the sweaty reek of cheap sauvignon blanc. Happily, there is none of that in either of the two on this list. I like both but they are a big style contrast. This one’s a brain-rinser . . . ."I ask you, how do those two descriptions not inspire you to drink more wine?
The list also includes the Picpoul de Pinet which I also mention in my next post as one of our recent finds. All of the wines on the Telegraph's list appear to be relatively inexpensive (I am unsure of the exchange rate) and merit further investigation.
Fall Vegetable Curry
This recipe is from Cooking Light's Sunday Strategist for the week of October 6-10. (I would point out that isn't a week but I like having a couple of nights off so why stir the pot, so to speak?)
It was almost as easy as the recipe promised - the two of us whipped it up in about 30 minutes - and it made four hearty servings. (We ate two one night and the leftovers a couple of days later.) The vegetables reheated well and the leftovers were as good as the original dish.
We paired the meal with Picpoul de Pinet, the most reasonably priced French white wine you can get. (Less than $10!) It's a simple, easy-to-drink, uncomplicated wine that you can get at Total Wine.
Also at Total Wine is the Rose of Sangiovese from Lauren Ashton Cellars in Woodinville. It's more expensive than the aforementioned but it's still less than $20 and very good. Again, simple and easy to drink, it doesn't necessarily need to be paired with food. Just something that's nice to have in the fridge and to share the next time people drop in.
Or, you could just keep it for yourself.
What do you do when you've been on a boat for two weeks and the strawberries are starting to go bad? Infuse vodka, that's what!
Mash them with a fork . . .
. . . into a pulp. (The longer you were on the boat, the easier this will be.)
Put the strawberry pulp into a receptacle. At the time, the best available happened to be my french press coffee maker.
Take the plunge!
Next boat trip make sure you have some vodka on board, and plenty of fruit.
Baked Pasta with Sausage and Cauliflower
- 8 ounces uncooked pasta (I used a small tubular pasta from the bulk food section. Smaller than penne, I think.)
- 6 ounces (or whatever sized package is available) hot Italian sausage, casings removed
- Half a cauliflower, cut into flowerets (I realize you have to buy the whole thing but you'll only need half.)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme (If I could save thyme in a bottle . . . )
- Thinly sliced onion (We used one quarter of a large white one. Use what you like but the flavor and crunch are nice.)
- 1 (28-ounce) can fire roasted whole tomatoes
- 1 package fresh mozzarella (you know, two big balls of the stuff floating around in brine)
- Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (However much you have handy. Buy some if you don't already have some.)
- Preheat oven to 375°
- Cook pasta. Drain; set aside.
- Sauté sausage until browned, stirring to crumble.
- If you need to, drain the sausage. With the heat off, add the tomatoes (including juices) and use a blunt object (such as a spatula or wooden spoon) to break up the tomatoes.
- Toss pasta with sausage/tomato mixture and remaining ingredients in a baking dish. (We used two 9x9 glass dishes - one for immediate consumption and one for leftovers.)
- Slice up the mozzarella and distribute as evenly as possible over the top. Better yet, layer it: put in half the pasta, then half the cheese. (Layer, rinse, repeat.)
- Bake at 375° for 20 minutes or until brown and bubbly.
- Sprinkle Parmigiano-Reggiano over pasta before serving or put in on the table and let your favorite senior citizen do it himself.
- Eat, grin, enjoy.
- (Hubby likes to add a crack of fresh pepper, too. Good idea.)
Creamy Blueberry Chicken Salad
As in the following recipe, we used romaine because that's what we happened to have in the refrigerator but it turned out just fine. (Although, arugula might have provided a nice contrast to the sweet blueberries. Or, we might also consider adding sliced anise bulb next time.)
In any case, this one passes all four tests (below).
Grilled Chicken and Corn Salad With Avocado
- Be delicious,
- Relatively easy to make with few ingredients (is this one or two?)
- In a kitchen with limited tools, and
- Good for leftovers.
Grilled Chicken and Corn Salad With Avocado, on the other hand, fared better, passing three of four tests. The recipe is from Real Simple Easy, Delicious Home Cooking: 250 Recipes for Every Season and Occasion but you can also find it on the Real Simple website here. The recipe is heavy on the garlic and rosemary which is good as long as you like those ingredients. We used romaine lettuce instead of spinach, and grated cheese (was it Romano?) instead of shaved Parmesan, because that's what we had in the refrigerator. Otherwise, we stuck to the script.
We don't have a grill in Vancouver (yet) so this didn't pass test #3 but we ate this two nights in a row so it passed test #4. While we could have made the chicken on the stove, it was well worth grilling the corn. (Grilled corn is sweeter and more flavorful than it's frozen counterpart.)
For dessert, we made
Roasted Strawberriesfrom Cooking Light's Simmer & Boil. You're not going to want to make this unless it's cool enough to turn the oven on.
The two of us ate this up - no leftovers! I recommend you double the recipe if you plan on sharing (or in order to pass test #4). The strawberries continue to let off juice after roasting so you could roast them before dinner and make the glaze after you're through with dinner. You might even consider skipping the glaze and, instead, serve the strawberries in their own juices (or on ice cream) and simply drizzle some balsamic vinegar on top. It's an unusual but berry tasty treat!
Shrimp Cobb Salad
This might also work well on the boat - or other mobile vessel - especially, if you can prepare the shrimp, bacon, and dressing before travel. You can toss everything together except the dressing and the avocado or assemble on the go.
The recipe is from Cooking Light which you can find here.
It's really that good.
Lemon and Olive Chicken With Arugula and White Bean Salad
|Photo: Sang An|
Recipe from Real Simple.
This one is as delicious as it is beautiful. We made it as written so I will make only a few comments. First, I am no expert when it comes to chicken. I always under-cook it and find that my actual cooking time is twice whatever the recipe called for. For this reason, I generally avoid chicken. Whatever your relationship with chicken, I suggest this recipe is worth the effort. Second, and finally, I didn't actually measure the pesto. I just scooped in whatever looked like a tasty amount.
Tasty it was. We made it on a night when it was not too hot to have the oven on but warm enough that chicken with lemons, olives, and pesto salad was appetizing dinner fare.
Finally (last comment for real this time), the recipe calls for 2.5-3 pounds of chicken for four servings. That seemed like a lot so I only got six drumsticks which was more than plenty (for us) for four servings.
Chorizo-Potato Tacos With Black Bean Salsa
|Photo: Christopher Baker|
Recipe from Real Simple
Before you gag on the idea of eating something that might be good for you with the added insult of fake meat, consider, for a moment, that it might actually be delicious.
I know, sausage made from soy? That's just gross. Well, it is, really, but so is sausage made from sausage if you really want to think about it.
Just get over yourself and click on the recipe link below the photo - and, no, this is not a sponsored website. (I wish!) I just like to eat food with lots of tasty flavors. There's a little chopping and prep involved but if you are serving wine, you might find someone to help you around the kitchen.
Go on, what do you have to lose?
Sautéed Chicken with Roasted Pepper Pasta
- If you can't find mozzarella pearls, or don't want to buy fresh mozzarella, shaved or grated Parmesan would work great.
- Substitute plain vinegar for white wine vinegar if you don't already have some of the fancy stuff.
|Photo: Jennifer Causey; Styling: Ginny Branch|
Recipe from Cooking Light on My Recipes dot com
2I made this salad on a different night and I didn't make it as written. I had some leftover salad dressing that I used instead of what the recipe calls for. (My dressing was one part balsamic vinegar to two parts olive oil with some minced garlic and ground black pepper. There might have been a tiny bit of honey or Dijon mustard but I don't remember.) Anyway, someone at the office brought in kale and butter lettuce fresh from her garden so I added some of both to the arugula along with some flat leaf parsley. But that was it - no veggies, just green stuff and Parmesan cheese. It was extremely flavorful but you can't go wrong with fresh right-out-of-the-garden greens.
Garden Pasta Salad
Inspired by Roasted Asparagus and Tomato Penne Salad with Goat Cheese
Part of the reason I post here is so I can remember recipes that I like. The fact is, I rarely make the same thing twice. It's a source of frustration for Hubby who would prefer that I have some regular comfort foods in my repertoire - like spaghetti and meatballs, or meatloaf - that I could bore him with on occasion. Even when I make those dishes, though, I rarely make them the same as I did the time before.
I've added a time stamp to these entries, therefore, so I can also remember approximately when I made these dishes. I wouldn't want to make meatloaf in August and salad in January, now would I?
In the interest of time, I won't post the whole recipe for Garden Pasta Salad. Rather, I'll just record my notes here for now.
- Use whatever pasta shape you have handy. Spaghetti or spaghetti-like pastas probably won't as well, though.
- I actually counted out the asparagus spears and tomatoes. I don't always do this but the balance was nice in the final product with these amounts. And, if you think you might use the asparagus and tomatoes later in the week, why not?
- I could't find arugula when I went to the store - they were out - so I bought a spinach/arugula mix which worked nicely.
- I used regular goat cheese (half a 4 oz log) which was tasty and creamy. Crumbled goat cheese might have been easier to work with and distributed better.
- Get someone to help you. It goes much faster that way! We did it in about 30 minutes. Our division of labor is: one of us cleans and chops the fresh food and handles clean up while the other deals mainly with assembling the ingredients and managing the actually cooking process.
- Six minutes was plenty of time to roast the veg. We didn't roast the tomatoes an additional four minutes and I don't think we needed to.
- The tomatoes burst when you slice them after cooking so I would recommend putting them into the bowl first. You might not have to slice them at all but their warm juices mixed nicely with the goat cheese in the final mix so I thought it was worth it.
- The salad dressing was good. Make it.
- We ate it warm for dinner and cold for lunch the following day. I liked it warm better but it was a light meal and I think it would have been better with a handful of walnuts in it (warm or cold). The walnuts (or some chicken) would have made it heartier. Or, I might think about making it in advance and using as a side salad and/or as a meal/side on the boat. (You could throw in any other vegetables you have on hand - peppers (roasted or not) or thawed frozen peas.) Of course, if a light meal is what you're after, this is the ticket!
Skinny Chicken with Peppers 'n' Stuff
Some olive oil
A generous handful* vertically sliced yellow onion
Red and yellow bell peppers, cut into strips
7. Kiss your friend and enjoy your meal.
8. If you haven't invited two more friends. Kiss your friend again the next day when you have the leftovers for lunch.
I had capers in the fridge when I made this but forgot to add them. A tablespoon or so might have been a good add. If you need a little cheese, some feta would be good if it's already handy. Kalamata olives would work too. This was a simple and easy recipe that's worthy of company. Invite two friends but don't feel like you need to kiss them (unless they help in the kitchen).
*Remember "You're in good hands with Allstate?" That's what I mean by "handful" - about the amount you could put in your hands if you cupped them together with your fingers overlapping - like this.
Hazelnut Ganache Tart with Sea Salt - Bonus Material!
Ganache (//; from the French word for "jowl") is a glaze, icing, sauce, or filling for pastries made from * * * >>>>CHOCOLATE<<< * * * and cream.
Wikipedia [emphasis mine]It's reasonably easy to make if you have all the required equipment. You could probably substitute a large zippered plastic bag for the food processor to make the crust although you might need a coffee grinder, mortal and pestle, or small hammer to get finely ground hazelnuts without one. You also need a nine-inch removable-bottom fluted tart pan although you could probably get away with a regular pie pan.
This one is worth sharing. But I wouldn't if I were you. It's worth keeping all to yourself.
Ravioli with Brussels Sprouts and Bacon
In this recipe, they're sliced thin and become somewhat of a slaw. They're tossed with a little vinegar at the end, for what reason I have no idea. I hesitated using the vinegar but I went along with it thinking that maybe the vinegar does something to enhance the flavor of the little cabbages or change the pH. What's more, there's no sauce to enhance this pasta dish - just Brussels sprout slaw, nuts, and Parmesan cheese. The vinegar was this dish's only sauce.
Sounds like an odd combination - which is why I definitely wouldn't call this Vinegar Brussels Slaw with Blech! - but it worked. The Brussels slaw looked like a disproportionately large mound compared to the pasta which was meant to support it. However, the slaw cooked down nicely and let off enough moisture to compliment the pasta much better than expected.
I know I didn't sell this one well but I will definitely make this one again. And, I think you should try it. I only used half the bacon called for because that's what I had already previously prepared, kept frozen for such a use.
It serves four senior citizens quite well.
(Jan 2015 made this again. Yep, still good.)
Chicken, Quinoa, and Green-Olive Stew
MyRecipes.com might want to think of a more clever name for this recipe. Like, Mediterranean Stew. Or maybe, OMG Really Freaking Good Chicken Stew! Ingredients include a tasty combination of flavors including cumin, chili powder, cayenne, olives, and orange zest. (Don't skimp on the zest. It's a nice compliment to all those other flavors.)
We opted to use a 14 ounce can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes (including their juices) instead of plum tomatoes and we also added a little more than a tablespoon of capers. I only used a little more than a pound and a half of the chicken thighs (since that was the size of the package I bought). I used a whole can of garbanzo beans rather than the cup it called for because what else was I going to do with the leftover beans? Might as well throw them all in there.
I happened to have the quinoa in my pantry so I used it as directed but you could probably substitute a white rice and be okay. (You might need to add extra moisture if you just toss the rice in there uncooked.) I also threw in a carrot, in hearty bite sizes, because I thought the stew could use another vegetable.
The recipe says it will serve 4-6 which is true if you are hosting big eaters. We'll get four meals out this one so I would suggest "4-6" translates to eight senior citizens.
We made it Monday night and it took longer than the hour the recipe predicts for preparation. If you read ahead and figure out when your down time is, you can do some of the chopping and measuring during those times rather than getting all your ingredients ready in advance. Maybe then you can do it an hour. It took us closer to 90 minutes.
It was worth the effort. We had some of the leftovers Tuesday night and it was even better the second time. The rest is in the freezer to be doled out sparingly during Tax Season. ("Cook once, eat twice" is the motto this time of year.)
This one is a definite keeper. Outstanding.
We served it with a Saintsbury Chardonnay which is an easy, go-to, screw top, unfiltered wine that runs about $22/bottle, depending on where you buy it. Although, we will be buying a quantity of the 2012 Horse Heaven Sauvignon Blanc. Though young, the 2012 is easy to drink, with lots of grapefruit and light on the palate. Good as an apéritif or as a summer wine. (It will be stocked on the Double Jack.)
In need of some carbs over the weekend, we decided on vegetarian bolognese. We used this recipe and made it according to the directions with one exception: We used whole wheat spaghetti instead of rigatoni. That was only because we had whole wheat spaghetti and we didn't have rigatoni. The recipe calls for five ounces of assorted mushrooms in addition to one ounce of dried porcini. We used crimini and shiitake for "assorted."
It's not the same as a traditional bolognese, but it turned out great. Next time (and I'll definitely make it again), I'll put in the whole can of tomato paste. The recipe calls for a mere two tablespoons but the whole can isn't much more than that so why not toss in the whole thing? You could add protein in the form of shrimp, white fish, or even *gasp* meat but it was hearty enough the way it was and (did you know?) mushrooms are a source of protein. Indeed, like every other food out there (including potato chips, it seems), mushrooms are an underestimated super food.
Mushrooms are low in carbohydrates, calories, and sodium and are cholesterol and fat free. High in fiber and protein, mushrooms are also rich in B vitamins to help maintain a healthy metabolism.
(Read more here.)There was plenty of good flavor here (I loved the carrots) but you could add a little dried pepper flakes if you wanted a little more punch. I might add cauliflower next time, not that it would add much in the way of flavor. It just sounds good.
Recipe serves six and it certainly would have if we had served a group. As it is, we ate heartily and will have more than enough leftovers for two more meals.
Someone recently asked me where I get my recipes. I used to get a lot of recipes from magazine subscriptions: Epicurious, Real Simple, Sunset Magazine, and Cooking Light. Now, I get my recipes from the websites of these magazines (for free). I have several cookbooks but the one I refer to the most is Joy of Cooking which also has a beautiful website.
The Red Quinoa Bowl with Swiss Chard and Poached Egg recipe came from Sunset's Best of 2013. Since then I've found their Best of All Time recipes. The first one that pops up on that one is White Wine Coq au Vin. I made that one exactly as written and I thought it was wonderful. Hubby was not as enthusiastic but we have lots of leftovers so I'm hoping he'll change his mind. (It came out a little soupy so I might add some starch when reheating. That, or serve it over mashed potatoes which is a starch which would be under not in. Just saying.)
The veggie tacos (mentioned next) turned out okay. That time, however, I was more "meh" while Hubby wanted it on the "make it again" list. We'll see.
Bonus material: If you live anywhere near me, we discovered a new Indian Restaurant. It's located in an innocuous strip mall next to a chiropractor's clinic, called Bombay House. It is the freshest, most flavorful Indian food I've ever tasted. Also, you can get an emissions test for your car right next door to the mall, so if you need to renew your license plates, I suggest a stop for lunch.
Plain Old Quinoa with Green Leafy Stuff Served in a Bowl with Fried Eggs
- 2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
- About 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/2 onion, roughly chopped
- 1 large carrot, cut into thick coins
- 1 bunch Swiss chard, stems chopped and leaves torn, divided
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1 portabella mushroom, dark gills removed, then halved and cut into 1/2-in.-wide slices
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives
The Porcini Fondue with Ham and Ciabatta was a bust. I admit, I cheated though. I bought a pre-packed cheese fondue instead of making my own. I don't know if it would have turned out any better if I had grated and melted the cheese myself but the packaged stuff was very sharp. I don't remember the brand but it was a blend of gruyere and Swiss but the flavor was predominantly and overwhelmingly Swiss.
I didn't have a fondue pot but I was able to find a small crock pot that held about two cups, the same amount as the cheese squeezed out from the fondue kit. It cost less than $5 at Walmart. You can't really cook anything in it but it works well for keeping warm dips.
The bread went over well and, in fact, I thought the cheese tasted reasonably good with it. But the big news is I got rid of all that ham.
We made the Creamy White Bean Soup with Smoked Ham Hocks for dinner last night for which we purchased smoked pork shanks (aka ham hocks). Go figure, we bought even more ham! It was entirely worth the $5 investment which was comparatively expensive considering the 10 pound ham was $10. The shanks (there were two) were a combined 1.5 pounds.
That still leaves us with 9 pounds of ham so my plan is to put it all in the fondue.
Eternity is a Ham and Two People
The theme at my sister-in-law's house for Christmas this year is fondue. I found a recipe that uses ham: Porcini Fondue with Ham and Ciabatta. I also found a recipe for Creamy White Bean Soup with Smoked Ham Hocks which I'll have to modify because I don't have smoked ham hocks. I'll make that in January.
Then, I'll should only have 7 pounds left to consume.
Can that be a New Years Resolution? Eat a pound of ham per month? (And don't forget to pass by the ham in the grocery aisle the next time it goes on sale.)
- four eggs
- half an onion
- 3-4 slices bacon
- tomatoes and basil leftover from the Pasta Primavera (below)
- grated Pecorino Romano
- shaved Parmesan
- one ciabatta roll
- a few bites of leftover Pasta Primavera
- 8 ounces uncooked penne pasta or another shape that will grip a sauce like fusilli
- 2 cups asparagus cut in 2-inch pieces
- 1 red or yellow bell pepper, cut in 2-inch pieces
- grape tomatoes, halved, about half of one of those little pint containers
- basil leaves chopped in large pieces, about half of that little package from the produce section
- 4 ounces pesto, homemade is nice but prepared is easier
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
- 1 ounce Parmigiana cheese, shaved (about 1/4 cup)
3. Rinse and chop vegetables while pasta boils.
4. Toss the asparagus pieces in with the pasta in the last three minutes of boiling.