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Tuesday
Jun072011

Sister's awesome pasta salad

I have fabulous sisters. They have helped me through an incredible amount of crap. I am sure they will all have a spotlight on this blog eventually, but for now I would like to tell you about my sister Lissa. She is an amazing, beautiful woman. She has been by my side through all of my son's surgeries and hospitalizations. She genuinely loves my children, my husband and me. She has beautiful children, a beautiful home and she makes delicious food. Years ago, she and her husband opened up their home to me when I was going through a particularly difficult time in my life. During that time, I fell in love with the food my sister made. This pasta salad was one of those recipes I fell madly in love with. I make it often in the summertime. No other pasta salad compares, to be completely honest. Thank you to my beautiful sister! Not just for this recipe, but for your love and kindness and endless support.

This salad is extremely easy to make. I usually make an enormous batch, so I use our extra large saucepan to mix everything together. If you want a smaller batch, cut the recipe in half and use a large bowl.

In an extra large container/bowl/saucepan, combine:

16-oz. jar zesty Italian salad dressing

1-lb. box rotelle pasta, cooked and drained/rinsed

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

8 medium celery stalks, thinly sliced

16-oz. package cojack cheese, cubed

16-oz. tube summer sausage, cubed

3 13.75-oz. cans quartered artichoke hearts, drained

2 6.5-oz. cans pitted black olives, drained

2 8.5-oz. jars julienned sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Mix well and chill overnight to allow the ingredients to marinate.

I have a large helping left in my refrigerator that I am going to go munch on! Perfect for a hot-weather day (finally).

Isn't summer wonderful? Sisters, too.

Sister’s Awesome Pasta Salad

You will never make another pasta salad again. This is my sister's recipe and it is the BEST!

Contributed by Megan Porta from pipandebby.com.

Published Jun 7, 2011

Serves: 24

Total time: 25 min

Sister’s Awesome Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

  • 16-oz. jar zesty Italian salad dressing
  • 1-lb. box rotelle pasta, cooked and drained/rinsed
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 8 medium celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 16-oz. package cojack cheese, cubed
  • 16-oz. tube summer sausage, cubed
  • Three 13.75-oz. cans quartered artichoke hearts, drained
  • Two 6.5-oz. cans pitted black olives, drained
  • Two 8.5-oz. jars julienned sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Instructions:
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and let sit overnight. Serve chilled.

 

 

Thursday
Jun022011

Avocado and onion salad (and a giveaway!)

This is Week #22 of my 2011 cooking challenge! Click here to view all recipes from this challenge. All recipes created for this challenge come from the Food and Wine Annual Cookbook 2010: An Entire Year of Recipes.

I'm a day late getting this posted. Life is kinda crazy for my family. My son's surgery is a week from tomorrow, and I'm not handling it the best. I want it to be over with, but mostly I don't want it to happen at all. So, while attempting to deal with those conflicting feelings, I'm also carrying a full-time job, being a mom and a wife, maintaining my blogs, cooking, photographing, trying to sleep.. One thing that has gotten pushed to the back burner in the past week is my perusing/commenting on others' blogs. Please be patient with me, and know that I am so grateful that your eyes glance at our little blog on occasion!

As a BIG THANK YOU for reading, and for being patient with me while I get through these next few weeks, I would love to give one lucky reader a box full of goodies from Trader Joe's! Here's what you'll get (Orange Flavored Cranberries, Corn & Chile Salsa, Dried Green Mango, Banana Chips, Milk Chocolate Crisps, Dark Chocolate Bar, Liquorice, Sea Salt, Pecans and Gummy Tummies):

To enter, leave a comment on this post saying anything at all!

For additional entries, leave separate comments for any or all of the following:

- Subscribe to our RSS feed.

- Follow us on Twitter.

- Friend us on Facebook.

- Write about this giveaway on your blog, linking back to it.

I will randomly select a winner on June 8th at 6:00 am!

 

Now onto this simple yet delicious little recipe!

Arrange the following on a serving platter:

3 Hass avocados, thinly sliced

1/4 small red onion, very thinly sliced

In a small bowl, combine:

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Drizzle the dressing over the avocados and onions and serve immediately!

My husband and I sat in front of the tv and ate this entire plate like it was a bowl of popcorn. Except we used forks. And we had really bad breath afterward. :)

Click here for a printable recipe!

Monday
May302011

Strawberries and cream bars

I took my boys to the park tonight and I sweated like crazy while we were there. I know, not necessarily an appetizing thing to imagine, but I loved it! This past winter was traumatizing and so so cold and I promise you that I will never ever complain about heat again. EVER. Bring it on. Now that "summer" is here, I'm starting to get excited about summer foods. I found this dessert in Martha's Everyday Food magazine and knew that I had to make it. It is delicious and packed with summery flavors. Perfect for a hot hot day!

In a blender or food processor, combine:

2 pounds strawberries, hulled and halved

3/4 cup sugar

Pinch of coarse salt

Puree until smooth. Pour into a 9x13 baking dish and transfer to the freezer. Scrape with a fork every 30 minutes until mixture is thick and slushy for about 2 total hours.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat 7 large egg whites on high speed until foamy. With mixer on medium, gradually add 3/4 cup sugar. Increase speed to high and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 3 minutes.

In another medium bowl, beat the following on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 1 to 2 minutes:

2/3 cup cold heavy cream cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

With a rubber spatula, gently fold whipped cream into egg white mixture. Pour over the strawberry mixture and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Freeze until firm, about 4 hours (or, covered, up to 3 days), before cutting into 12 squares.

Summer, I LOVE YOU. Seriously, seriously love you.

Strawberries and Cream Bars

These beauties are summer in the form of dessert! (source: Food Everyday: Martha Stewart)

Serves: 12

Total time: 2 1/2 hrs, plus 4 hrs freezing time

Strawberries and Cream Bars

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds strawberries, hulled, halved if large (6 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • Coarse salt
  • 7 large egg whites
  • 2/3 cups cold heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Instructions:
  1. In a blender, combine strawberries, ¾ cup sugar, and pinch of salt and puree until smooth. Pour into a 9x13-inch baking dish. Transfer to freezer and scrape with a fork every 30 minutes until mixture is thick and slushy, 2 hours. Smooth top with a rubber spatula.
  2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat egg whites on high until foamy. With mixer on medium, gradually add ¾ cup sugar. Increase speed to high and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form, 3 minutes. In another medium bowl, beat cream and vanilla on high until stiff peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. With rubber spatula, gently fold whipped cream into egg white mixture. Pour over strawberry mixture and smooth top with rubber spatula. Freeze until firm, about 4 hours (or, covered, up to 3 days), before cutting into 12 squares.

 

 

Wednesday
May252011

Green chile bacon burgers with goat cheese

This is Week #21 of my 2011 cooking challenge! Click here to view all recipes from this challenge. All recipes created for this challenge come from the Food and Wine Annual Cookbook 2010: An Entire Year of Recipes.

I need to take a picture of The Infamous Pile of Snow because, sadly, it still stands. It plays mind games with me. I'll be cruisin' out of work on a beautiful day, excited to get home and spend time outside with my family. And there it sits, around that first curve, staring at me. I find it impossible not to look back. Then I ask myself a series of questions: What season is it? Where do I live? Will that thing ever go away? Then I turn up the radio, roll down my windows and hurry home.

If I'm lucky, by the time I get home, my husband is starting to grill up some sort of delicious meat or veggie for dinner. At this point I am able to answer my questions with confidence: It is spring! I live in Minnesota! The snow will melt! Let's eat!

This burger was delicious. It made me happy. I ate some edamame salad along with it, so that made me doubly happy.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange 8 thick-cut slices of bacon on the paper and brush both sides with mango chutney. I couldn't find the chutney and I didn't have time to make it, so I used Jalapeno Strawberry Jam instead and it was awesome. It was the perfect happy accident.

Bake the bacon for about 30 minutes, turning once, until it is caramelized. Let cool.

Rub a poblano chile with olive oil. You might notice that I rubbed two poblano chiles and two jalapeno peppers with olive oil. I don't like to follow the rules when it comes to chiles and peppers. Grill the pepper(s) over medium heat until charred, about 5 minutes. Transfer them to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Peel the skin(s) off and coarsely chop the pepper(s).

Brush the cut sides of 4 hamburger buns with olive oil and grill just until toasted, about 30 seconds.

Brush 4 large tomato slices with oil and grill until lightly charred, about 1 minute. Place the grilled tomato slices on the bottom half of the buns.

Form 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef chuck (we used venison) into four 1-inch-thick patties and brush them with oil. Season with salt and pepper and grill over high heat, turning once, until the burgers are nearly medium-rare, about 6 minutes.

Top each burger with a slice of fresh goat cheese and the chopped peppers. Close the grill and cook until the cheese is completely melted and the burgers are medium-rare, about 1 minute.

Set the burgers on the buns, top with the bacon and a handful of watercress and serve immediately!

It is spring it is spring it is spring!

Click here for a printable recipe!

Monday
May232011

Edamame summer salad

Since the day I started this blog, I have been excited to write a post about this salad. I'm a huge lover of salads, so it holds great meaning when I tell you that this recipe is in my Salad Top 3 list. It is DELICIOUS. It is fresh and healthy and I could eat it every day of my life. I'm not kidding.

It is also super simple to throw together. And it's pretty. I'm sure it would also be a crowd-pleaser, but I wouldn't know this for sure because it never makes it to the crowd when I prepare it.

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil.

Add a 12-oz. package of frozen shelled edamame to the boiling water and cook for 3 minutes.

Add 2 cups of frozen corn kernels to the saucepan and boil for 1 more minute.

Drain the corn and edamame very well and place in a large bowl, along with:

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

Juice from 2 limes

1 teaspoon white sugar

1 teaspoon coarse salt

2 cloves of garlic, very finely minced

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced

Mix well and chill before serving. Er, you know, if you have the willpower to do so. I always dig right in and have a hard time stopping, but it really is tastier when it is cold and when the ingredients have had a chance to intermingle.

I hope you all enjoy this one as much as I do!

Edamame Summer Salad

Super fresh and delicious, this is one of my all-time favorite salads.

Contributed by Megan Porta from pipandebby.com.

Published May 23, 2011

Serves: 8

Total time: 15 min, plus 2 hrs marination

Edamame Summer Salad

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
  • 12-oz. package frozen shelled edamame
  • 2 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
Instructions:
  1. In a large bowl, combine the red wine vinegar, olive oil, cilantro, lime juice, sugar, salt and garlic. Set aside.
  2. Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the edamame and boil for 3 minutes. Add corn to the boiling water and continue cooking for 1 minute. Drain well and pour into the bowl with the dressing. Gently mix in the cherry tomatoes and green onions. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.