Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Black Bean, Corn & Cherry Tomato Salad

3 Tbs red wine vinegar
3 Tbs olive oil
2 15.5oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups fresh corn kernels (or frozen, thawed)
12 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into cubes
2 Tbs lemon juice
salt and pepper

1) In a large bowl, whisk vinegar with olive oil until blended. Add beans, corn and tomatoes.
2) Toss avocado cubes with lemon juice in a small bowl to prevent discoloration. Add to bean mixture.
3) Just before serving, gently stir salad and season with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature, or cover and refrigerate to serve cold.

Review: This was a good salad. It didn't have a strong flavor from the "dressing," which easily could have been doubled for more flavor.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Southwestern Corn, Avocado & Chipotle Cheddar Salad

1 clove garlic, peeled
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs sherry vinegar
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
3 ears fresh corn, husks removed and bases trimmed, or 2 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
2 California (Haas) avocados, pitted, peeled and diced
1 1/2 cups finely diced Cabot Chipotle Cheddar (about 6 ounces)
1 cup chopped jarred roasted red peppers
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

1) Coarsely chop garlic. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt and mash into paste with blade of knife held sideways. Scrape into small bowl and whisk in oil, vinegar and pepper; set aside. (Alternatively, puree ingredients in blender.)
2) If using fresh corn, stand each ear up on end and cut down along cob with sharp knife, removing raw kernels in strips. Break up strips into kernels.
3) In large bowl, combine corn, avocados, cheddar, red peppers and cilantro/parsley. Pour reserved dressing on top and stir gently to combine. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.

Review: Well, cilantro was used since it seems more "southwestern" to me. And, in Idaho, there is no Cabot and I refuse to look to see if other brands make it. *sigh* I really miss Cabot. So, it was substituted with regular old shredded cheddar and 1 tsp chipotle chile powder. It was pretty yummy. Mike thinks it would be even better with black beans added to it. I think he's right.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Baked Lentils With Cheese

1 package (12 oz) lentils, rinsed
2 1/2 cups water
1 bay leaf
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp each pepper, marjoram, sage and thyme
4 Tbs dried minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (about 1 lb) diced tomatoes
2 large carrots, cut in 1/8-inch thick slices
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 Tbs chopped parsley
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

1) Place lentils in a shallow 3-qt casserole or 9x13 inch baking dish along with water, bay leaf, salt, pepper, marjoram, sage, thyme, onions, garlic and tomatoes (break up with a spoon) and their liquid.
2) Bake, covered, in a 375F oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and stir in carrots and celery. Cover and bake for about 40 more minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove from oven and stir in green bell pepper and parsley; sprinkle cheese on top. Return to oven and bake, uncovered, for 5 more minutes or until cheese is melted.

Review: Mike was helping me with this and told me to dump everything into the casserole dish, and then before I popped it into the oven, he goes "oh - you weren't supposed to put the carrots and celery in until later." Yeah, and the bell peppers! So, it was too late to take it all out, so I just baked it all for an hour. It came out just fine. This was a nice, filling dinner. But, since it's finally gotten into the 80's in Idaho, I believe it's now too hot to cook. So, there will be fewer recipes for the summer. What recipes that do make it to the blog will most likely be salads of some sort, or cold dishes. :)

Almond Bundt Cake With Fresh Strawberries (AKA Castle Cake #2)

2 Tbs sliced almonds
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 cup whole almonds
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pure almond extract
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
4 cups strawberries, halved
4 tsp sugar
confectioner's sugar for dusting
whipped cream for garnish, optional

1) Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 10-inch (12-cup) Bundt pan with cooking spray formulated with flour for baking. Sprinkle sliced almonds over bottom of pan.
2) Pulse flour, whole almonds, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in food processor or blender until almonds are finely ground.
3) Beat butter in large bowl with electric mixer 3 to 4 minutes, or until creamy. Beat in oil. Gradually add sugar, and beat 4 to 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add vanilla and almond extracts, and beat until blended.
4) Alternately fold flour mixture and buttermilk into butter mixture with spatula, making 3 additions of dry ingredients and 2 additions of liquid. Spread batter in prepared pan, and bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until top springs back when touched and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack 5 minutes. Unmold onto rack, and cool completely.
5) Toss strawberries with sugar in medium bowl. Chill 1 hour to let strawberries release their juices. Serve cake dusted with confectioners’ sugar and topped with strawberries and whipped cream, if desired.

Review: Ah, this was a lot of work. But, it was a great end product. There was a great, nutty taste to it, that was well complemented by the powdered sugar and strawberries. Mmmm

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Three Way Garlic Pasta With Beans & Peppers

1 1/2 heads of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
2 cups cold water
2 tsp salt
3 orange bell peppers
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1/2 lb baby spinach
10 oz campanelli or penne pasta
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 (19 oz) can white beans, rinsed and drained
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1) Reserve 6 large garlic cloves. Put remaining cloves in 2 cups cold water, then simmer in a small saucepan, covered, until garlic is very soft, about 30 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup garlic cooking liquid, then drain garlic in a sieve.
2) Puree cooked garlic with reserved cooking liquid and 1 tsp salt in a blender until smooth.
3) While garlic simmers, roast peppers on racks of gas burners over high heat, turning with tongs, until skins are blackened, 10 to 12 minutes (or broil peppers on a broiler pan about 5 inches from heat, turning occasionally, about 15 minutes). Transfer to a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap, then let stand 20 minutes. Peel peppers, discarding stems and seeds, and cut into 3/4 inch pieces.
4) Mince 2 reserved garlic cloves with thyme and remaining tsp salt using a large knife. Transfer along with spinach to a large serving bowl.
5) Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente.
6) Make sauce while pasta is cooking: Finely chop remaining 4 garlic cloves and cook in oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until pale golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Add peppers and cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Add beans and garlic puree to skillet and bring to a simmer over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.
7) Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain pasta. Add pasta, sauce, vinegar and cheese to spinach and garlic in serving bowl and toss to combine. (Add some of reserved cooking water if mixture is dry.) Serve immediately.

Review: This was not fun. I had lots of help from Mike, started around 4:30 and sat down to eat around 6. The worst part was peeling the peppers, since they were so slimy. Mike feared we would get poisoned by so much garlic. (The blender concoction smelled particularly potent). But, the end product seems to be make up for some of the work, since it was really yummy and a great combination of flavors. I may advise doubling the balsamic vinegar for a little extra, non-garlic) flavor.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Creamy Asparagus Pasta

1 box penne pasta
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups whole milk
4 tsp whole-grain mustard
4 tsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbs minced garlic
2 tsp minced fresh tarragon
1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1) Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 3 minutes less than the package directions. Add asparagus and continue cooking until the pasta and asparagus are just tender, 3 minutes more. Drain and return to the pot.
2) Meanwhile, whisk milk, mustard, flour, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant and lightly browned, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Whisk in the milk mixture. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, and cook until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tarragon, lemon zest and juice.
3) Stir the sauce into the pasta-asparagus mixture. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the sauce is thick, creamy and coats the pasta, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan. Divide the pasta among 4 bowls and top with the remaining Parmesan cheese.

Review: The addition of the mustard in the dish made the sauce have a particular "tang." I still can't decide if I like it or not, but it did not stop me from eating it!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Giant Black Bean Salad

2 Tbs lime juice
1 Tbs white wine vinegar
1 Tbs honey
1/2 small jalapeno, seeded, deveined and chopped
1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt
1 small garlic clove
1/2 tsp mustard
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2-3 big handfuls baby arugula (or other salad greens), well washed
3 cups cooked black beans
1/4 cup feta, crumbled
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted

1) Start by making the dressing. In a blender, combine the lime juice, vinegar, honey, jalapeno, salt, garlic and mustard and puree. Add the olive oil and puree until everything comes together. Taste and adjust with more salt, honey or lime juice if needed. Set aside until you are ready to serve the salad.
2) Gently toss the greens with a bit of the dressing. Arrange it on a platter. Now toss the beans and most of the almonds with a generous splash of the dressing. Arrange the beans on top of the greens and finish by sprinkling with the remaining almonds and the crumbled feta cheese.

Review: Mike bought a mix of greens, that was an unidentified list of different types (the list of possible ingredients was a foot long). Oddly, it contained cilantro. I love cilantro, but would never think of adding it to a salad greens mix! Yet, it really added to this dish. It was amazing. I told Mike that I would eat this every day, it was so amazing.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Quick Artichoke Pasta Salad

1 box rotini
3 jars (6 oz) marinated artichoke hearts
3/4 lb mushrooms, sliced
2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 cans (2.25 oz) sliced black olives
3 Tbs chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 tsp dry basil leaves
salt and pepper

1) Cook pasta according to package directions; drain well, rinse with cold water and drain again. Turn into a large bowl.
2) Add artichokes and their liquid, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, olives, parsley and basil; toss gently. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until next day. Before serving, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Review: This was so yummy!! I'm a big fan of pasta salads in the summer. Mike made this, but was worried there wouldn't be enough "dressing" for the dish. However, it all turned out perfectly. This was awesome.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Garden Lasagna

1 box lasagna noodles
10 oz bag of spinach
15 oz ricotta
16 oz can crushed tomatoes
16 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 green bell pepper, diced
6 stalks celery, diced
1 tsp chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 tsp dried basil
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
16 oz shredded mozzarella and Parmesan mix

1) Preheat oven to 350F.
2) Cook the noodles in a large pot; drain, rinse and set aside.
3) In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except shredded cheese. Layer noodles and filling in a lightly oiled large baking pan, starting with a layer of noodles and ending with a layer of the filling. Cover with shredded cheese and pour 1/4 cup of water over the lasagna. Bake for 45 minutes or until done all the way through.

Review: First of all, this recipe actually called for "real salt." Now, I'm not sure who's peddling fake salt these days, but don't bring it in my house! Mike made this recipe, as I was busy making a cat toy for Dmitri (pics under the lasagna), since he loves big toys - but they seem to only be available around Christmas. Mike did a really great job and the end product was awesome. It really had a "garden" flavor, which I attributed to the addition of celery. After the fact, I'm now wondering how this would have tasted if the celery had been browned in some butter and onion first. Hmmm, this may need to be made again!

Bulgur Supper Salad

1 cup water
1 cup vegetable broth
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup bulgur
4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
4 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp dry basil
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbs dijon mustard
1 jar (6 oz) marinated artichoke hearts
1 large carrot, shredded
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 scallions (including tops), thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped parsley
3 hard-cooked eggs, quartered
2 medium-sized tomatoes, cut in wedges
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar
1 can (2.25 oz) sliced black olives

1) In a 3-qt pan, bring water, broth and salt to boiling. Stir in bulgur. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
2) Meanwhile, prepare dressing: In a bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, basil, oregano, pepper, garlic and dijon mustard. Drain marinade from artichokes into dressing, mixing it well. Dice artichokes and set aside.
3) Turn hot cooked bulgur into a bowl, add dressing, and stir gently. Let stand until cool. Stir in artichokes, carrot, celery, bell pepper, eggs, tomatoes, olives, scallions and parsley.
4) Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or until next day. Can be served over bed of lettuce, or as is. Sprinkle with cheese.

Review: This was supposed to be made for Friday night, but I didn't read ahead or plan for the refrigerating part. So, it was made last night, but eaten for lunch today. Mike thought it tasted a lot like tabouleh, but this had a creamier taste. I loved it and will definitely keep it in mind for pot luck dinners. I always seem to be lacking cold dish recipes and never have a great way of warming food for work-lunch-pot lucks.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Pasta Puttanesca

2 tsp olive oil
2 Tbs dried minced onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 28-oz can plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped, undrained
2 Tbs white wine
2 Tbs chopped basil
2 Tbs chopped black olives
2 tsp capers
6 cups cooked fusilli pasta
2 Tbs minced parsley
2 Tbs grated Parmesan cheese

1) In a heavy skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Saute the onion and garlic for 1 minute. Add the carrots and continue to saute for 5 more minutes.
2) Add the tomatoes and white wine and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
3) Add the basil, olives and capers and simmer for 5 more minutes.
4) Toss the cooked fusilli with the sauce. Garnish with parsley and grated Parmesan cheese as desired.

Review: I was really impressed with this sauce, it just looked really nice. It tasted even better. Of course, I've decided I like anything with capers in it. This was actually taken from the American Diabetes Association (how does pasta qualify as ok for diabetics?), so it clears many requirements. And, I'm clearly not picky about where I get my recipes . . .

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Warm Garbanzo & Quinoa Salad

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 zucchini, diced
2 carrots, grated
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
2 scallions, chopped
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbs white wine vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup quinoa, or bulgur, cooked according to package directions
4 cups fresh baby spinach leaves

1) Coat a saute pan with cooking spray and heat to medium-high. Add garlic, zucchini, carrots and pepper. Saute until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add beans and saute until heated through.
2) In a food processor, puree scallions, gradually adding oil, vinegar, salt and black pepper to taste. Process to a thick consistency.
3) Add scallion mixture and quinoa to saute pan; heat through.
4) To serve, arrange 1 cup spinach on each of four plates and pile equal amounts of the garbanzo mixture on top.

Review: I used bulgur, because quinoa is very high carb (but, it's also incredibly high protein). And, I didn't want to pull out the food processor for such a small amount of ingredients, so I just skipped step 2 and dumped all the ingredients in for step 3. I figure I didn't lose much by doing so. This was yummy, but could have used a little more flavor. Maybe more vinegar?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Fettuccine With Mushrooms & Toasted Almonds

2 Tbs coarsely chopped unblanched almonds
4 Tbs butter
8 oz mushrooms, quartered and sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups half and half
1 tsp lemon juice
12 oz fresh or 8 oz dried fettuccine
1 Tbs chopped parsley
coarsely ground black pepper

1) Heat a large skillet over low heat; add almonds; toast, stirring, until lightly browned and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Scrape into a small dish; reserve.
2) Melt the butter in the skillet over medium heat. When the foam subsides, stir in the mushrooms. Saute over medium-high heat, stirring, until tender and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic; season to taste with salt.
3) Add the half and half; heat to boiling. Boil until liquid is reduced by half and sauce is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice.
4) Meanwhile, cook the fettuccine in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente, or firm to the bite, 2 minutes for fresh and 5 to 7 minutes for dried; drain.
5) Toss the fettuccine with the mushroom mixture, the parsley and the almonds. Season with black pepper.

Review: This was fairly simple to make. I tend to shy away from dishes that have minimal ingredients (just to ensure I get all my food groups satisfied for the day). However, this was yummy, but then again, how could it not be with that much fat content?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Mariska Mexican Pasta

1 box penne
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 zucchini, diced
2 Tbs coconut oil
1 Tbs dried minced onion
1 tsp chipotle chile powder
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1) Cook pasta per package directions. Drain and set aside.
2) In large skillet, combine oil, peppers, zucchini and onion. Saute for 5 minutes.
3) Add chipotle seasoning to vegetables and saute for 3 more minutes.
4) Add vegetable mixture to the pasta and toss. Top with cheddar cheese and serve.

Review: Mike & I collaborated together to "invent" this recipe. We had some veggies in the fridge that was reserved for a different recipe. However, the scallion and spinach for the recipe seemed to have rotted in the fridge and it wouldn't have been the same without those ingredients. So we decided to use the remaining vegetables and come up with something new. We seem to have done a good job, as this was really yummy. We were conservative with the chipotle, but it could have used more and been fine.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Wagon Wheels With Chickpeas & Creamy Lemon-Dill Dressing

12 oz wagon wheels
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1) Cook the wagon wheels in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente, or firm to the bite, about 12 minutes; drain; rinse with cool water; drain again.
2) Combine the pasta, chickpeas, celery and green pepper in a large bowl. Separately whisk the mayonnaise, yogurt, dill, lemon juice and zest, garlic, salt and pepper until blended.
3) Fold the dressing into the pasta mixture and serve at once.

Review: Mike made this. It's been a long week and he's helped quite a bit. I really loved this, mostly because I really love dill. It was a cold dish, which is great in the summer. Yet, it's cold in Idaho and I can't quite claim it's summer yet. :(

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Curried Vegetable Medley

1 to 2 tsp curry powder
3/4 cup milk
2 scallions (white and light green parts) , thinly sliced
1 to 2 small fresh chili peppers, seeded and minced (optional)
2 Tbs all-purpose flour
2 large carrots, thinly sliced
2 medium all-purposed potatoes, cut into large dice (3 cups)
1-lb bag combination precut broccoli and cauliflower florets
1 cup frozen green peas
Server over couscous, rice or bulgur

1) In large, deep saucepan, combine carrots and potatoes with enough water to cover all but about an inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat to medium and cook until almost tender, about 10 minutes.
2) Add broccoli, cauliflower and peas. Cover and cook until broccoli is just tender, 5 to 8 minutes.
3) Meanwhile, in small bowl, combine flour and curry powder. Gradually stir in milk with a fork.
4) Stir milk mixture into vegetables along with scallions and chili (if desired). Cook, uncovered, until mixture has thickened slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt to taste and serve at once.

Review: I didn't add the chili pepper, because Mike's been getting mad at me for making dishes too spicy. :( This didn't have a strong flavor, but was a nice, filling dish.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Baked Elbows With Zucchini, Tomato & Parmesan

2 cups elbow macaroni
2 Tbs butter
1 Tbs dried minced onion
2 zucchinis, sliced
1 tomato, cubed
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 garlic clove, minced
1 15 oz container ricotta cheese
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1) Preheat oven to 350F. Cook the macaroni in plenty of boiling salted water until just slightly undercooked, about 6 minutes; drain.
2) Meanwhile, melt butter in wide skillet; add onion; saute 1 minute. Add zucchini; saute 5 minutes more. Stir in tomatoes, parsley and garlic; simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes. Stir in ricotta, milk and half of Parmesan cheese.
3) Combine the cooked elbows with the sauce. Pour into a buttered 1 1/2 quart shallow baking dish; sprinkle the top with the remaining Parmesan cheese.
4) Bake until top is lightly browned, about 20 minutes.

Review: This was a little disappointing. I never thought I'd say these words, but the cheese overpowered the vegetables. However, it was still good and was quite filling.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Spaghetti With Walnuts And Parmesan

12 oz spaghetti
6 Tbs olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 Tbs finely chopped parsley

1) Cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente, about 7 to 10 minutes; drain.
2) Heat oil in a small skillet; stir in garlic; saute 1 minute. Add walnuts; saute 2 minutes, stirring.
3) Toss the walnut sauce, spaghetti, cheese and parsley together. Serve immediately.

Review: Mike made this for me, as today was the first day of a very long work week. It was a super easy recipe, but was still pretty yummy.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Asparagus Pesto Lasagna

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups low-fat milk, divided
6 Tbs pesto, or more to taste
2 Tbs grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for garnish, optional
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp olive oil
2 lbs asparagus spears, tips cut off and reserved, spears chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
1 clove garlic, minced
16 no-cook lasagna noodles
2 cups shredded Fontina or mozzarella cheese, divided

1) Preheat oven to 350F. Whisk flour and 1/2 cup milk in saucepan until smooth. Gradually whisk in remaining milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly, and boil 1 minute, or until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in pesto, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Reserve 1 cup white sauce.
2) Warm oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped asparagus (not tips) and cook, stirring often, 5 minutes, or until tender. Add garlic; cook, stirring, 1 minute, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
3) Coat 13x9 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Place layer of noodles in dish, overlapping slightly. Layer with half of cooked asparagus, 3/4 cup shredded cheese and half of sauce. Add another layer of pasta, remaining sauce, remaining cooked asparagus and 3/4 cup shredded cheese. Top with layer of noodles, then with reserved 1 cup white sauce. Arrange reserved asparagus tips over top and sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese.
4) Bake, uncovered, 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden. Let stand 10 minutes; serve with additional grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Review: Wow, this dish was a combination of many of our favorite flavors. I figured, how could I go wrong? The flavor still surpassed my expectations and was just awesome. I used whole-wheat flour, which gives the sauce an odd look, but it makes it healthier. I also used a combination of mozzarella and Parmesan for the shredded cheese, because we can't find just straight up mozzarella cheese. Although, we think this mix has been making our lasagnas super yummy.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Olive Pasta Salad

3 cups cooked macaroni or shell pasta
1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped finely
1/3 cup pimento, chopped finely
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped finely
1/2 cup shredded cheddar
1 cup olives, sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup roasted sesame seeds
1 Tbs lemon juice
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp basil

1) Toss pasta, green pepper, pimento, parsley, cheese and olives together in a large bowl.
2) In a separate bowl, blend oil and seasonings together, and add dressing to salad. Toss all ingredients, chill and serve.

Review: Mike made this and had it ready when I came home from work. Except he couldn't find the sesame seeds in the cabinet. :( This was super olive-y and I loved that!

I made this again on 3/14/2011.  This time, I was able to add toasted sesame seeds, which made the dish soooo much tastier!  I also substituted white wine vinegar for the lemon juice and it had a better flavor. 

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Cracked Wheat Vegetable Pilaf

1 cup bulgur wheat
1 cup boiling vegetable stock
2 Tbs chopped parsley
1/4 cup diced green or red bell pepper or carrot
3 scallions (including tops), thinly sliced
2 cups shredded Cheddar of jack cheese
1 cup whole kernel corn
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 tsp dry basil
1/2 tsp each oregano and garlic salt
1/4 tsp pepper

1) In a large bowl, combine bulgur and stock. Stirring occasionally, let stand for about 1 hour, or until liquid is absorbed.
2) Stir in parsley, bell pepper, scallions, cheese, corn and egg. Add tomato sauce, basil, oregano, garlic salt and pepper, and stir gently.
3) Spoon into a shallow, greased 1 1/2 qt casserole dish. Cover and bake in a 350F oven until heated through , 25 to 30 minutes.

Review: Well, the local grocery store was out of bulgur. So, this was made with cracked wheat. I'm not sure why the title uses that, but the list of ingredients asked for bulgur. Hmm. Cracked wheat is VERY different than bulgur and it didn't look appetizing. Even after baking it, I let Mike try it first, just in case it was as yucky as it appeared, with a promise of pizza delivery if it wasn't good. However, it was yummy. Which actually disappointed Mike, as he was crossing his fingers for pizza. :) I just need to work on my presentation. It might have been so soupy because I wasn't about to let it sit for an hour soaking up water, but instead simmered on medium-low heat until most of the liquid was absorbed and the cracked wheat was edible.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Vegetable-Herb Salad

4 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
2/3 cup chopped parsley
1 green or red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
2 cups coarsely chopped cauliflower or broccoli
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
2 each, large carrots and zucchini, shredded
1 pkg (10 oz) frozen peas, thawed
1 cup each, mayonnaise and plain yogurt
2 Tbs Dijon mustard
1 tsp each dry rosemary, basil and oregano
2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
2 scallions (including tops), thinly sliced
1/3 cup sunflower seeds

1) In a shallow 4-qt serving dish, place lettuce in an even layer. Distribute parsley, bell pepper, cauliflower/broccoli, celery, carrots, zucchini and peas in even layers over lettuce.
2) Mix mayonnaise, yogurt, mustard, rosemary, basil, oregano, garlic salt and pepper. Spread evenly over top. Sprinkle cheese and scallions over dressing, then sprinkle sunflower seeds over all. Cover and chill up to 24 hours.

Review: Mike was kind enough to make this one. :) It's been a rough week at work, so I was happy to have dinner done when I came home. What I wasn't prepared for was how much food this made. We used spinach instead of lettuce and doubled the peas, but we still had about 12 servings. Seriously, this would be great for a potluck! It was delicious, too. The dressing was fairly subtle, but the rosemary came on strong (probably because Mike crushed it).

Monday, June 1, 2009

Penne With Zucchini & Mushrooms

1 Tbs olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs dried minced onion
1 zucchini, diced
8oz button mushrooms, sliced
1 28oz can plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped, drained
2 tsp minced thyme
fresh ground pepper to taste
6 cups cooked penned pasta
2 Tbs grated Parmesan cheese

1) In a heavy skillet over medium heat, heat the oil and wine together. Add the garlic and onion and saute for 1 minute. Add the zucchini and saute for 5 more minutes.
2) Add the mushrooms and saute until mushrooms begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes. Add the minced thyme and freshly ground black pepper.
3) Toss the sauce with the cooked penne. Top with Parmesan cheese.

Review: The original recipe called for rigatoni and eggplant. I made using zucchini and rotini. We topped this with Parmesan after taking the pic. We both had 2 bowls, because this was so yummy. I'm not sure what the magic combo was here, but it was greatly enjoyed by both of us.