go grΣΣk - my grecian pasta salad

>> Thursday, April 29, 2010

we recently hired a new employee at work and i put together a little roof top luncheon to welcome him to the gang. everyone brought a side dish to share and i decided to contribute with this crazy easy pasta salad. i kind of just threw things in here that i thought would go good together. it turned out wonderful - one of my coworkers even mentioned it being the best pasta salad she's ever had.

1 lb. mini cheese-filled raviolis (i used the trader joe's brand)
12 oz. marinated artichokes, drained and chopped (reserving liquid for later)
1/3 cup black olives, sliced
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
4 cups fresh spinach, chopped
6 oz. crumbled feta
juice of half a lemon

cook pasta according to directions. rinse and cool under cold water until it reaches room temperature. combine rest of ingredients with pasta, seasoning with s&p. pour lemon juice and reserved artichoke marinade liquid over pasta salad, mixing well to combine flavors.  let rest 1 hour in fridge before serving for best results. enjoy!


spring for peas: spring green risotto

>> Friday, April 23, 2010

i found this recipe from one of my favorite foodies, annie. she developed this creation after she was inspired by the one and only, ina garten.  it's the perfect show stopper to kick off your spring with a bang. the risotto highlights fresh, seasonal ingredients like peas, asparagus and leeks. the lemon zest take it to another level, perfuming the entire dish and adding that extra oomph. i followed her recipe almost exactly - the only change i made was to use chive flavored cream cheese in lieu of the mascarpone cheese and fresh chives. i paired the creamy risotto with a simple spinach topped with a tangy balsamic dressing.

i took a picture of my version, but it just didn't compare to the one annie took - so i'm showcasing hers instead.  check out the full recipe.

(image credit - annies-eats.com)


i shouldn't have...but i did.

>> Tuesday, April 20, 2010

and i don't regret it.  if you come across these treats, buy a bag.  worth every calorie.  i mean it.

(image credit - mms.com)


fried pickles for charity.

>> Thursday, April 15, 2010

awhile back, one of my nearest and dearest asked me to help cook for a charity bbq she was putting together to raise money for the vcu massey cancer center. she called it cookout for a cause. the event was last weekend and was a huge success. we raised tons of money, drank lots of natty light (hey - it was for charity and it's cheap) and ate so many goodies. the buffet included oreo truffles, hamburgers, two types of pasta salad, deviled eggs, hot dogs, wings, pizza, fries and onion rings - this was not your typical bbq.  i brought sausage and pepper skewers, roasted vegetable quesadillas with a tomatillo avocado salsa (recipe to come), and beer-battered fried pickles - the main attraction. if you have never had a fried pickle, please get yourself to a restaurant that serves them, stat. or just let me know and i'll come make them for you - they are that good. these babies went like hot cakes. i probably made around 150 and they were gone within 30 minutes. i had people asking for more, some even begging me to get back in the kitchen. i felt like i was on top chef. 

definitely thinking fried pickles will be my staple anytime i'm invited to a bbq this summer. i'll be waiting for my invitations.

2  (16-oz.) jars dill pickles, drained and sliced into circles
1  large egg
12-oz. beer
1 tablespoon baking powder
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup corn starch

pat pickles dry with paper towels. whisk together egg, beer, baking powder and s&p in a large bowl. add flour and cornstarch, whisking until smooth. pour oil to a depth of 1 1/2 inches into a large heavy skillet or dutch oven. heat over medium-high heat to 375 degrees.  dip pickle slices into batter, allowing excess batter to drip off. fry pickles, in batches, 3 to 4 minutes or until golden. drain and pat dry on paper towels and sprinkle with salt right away. serve immediately for best results.

if you're in the giving mood, they are still accepting donations online. 

also wanted to give a shout out to my self-proclaimed biggest fan: erin. we love ya girl, but why haven't you become a follower on because sis said so? also, please tell your husband that carol says hello.


girls night in: caper salsa verde chicken with lemon pepper pasta

i made this recipe the other night for gals night. the salsa isn't really so much a salsa as it is a little herb compote - my favorite part was the anchovy paste which added a little bit of tang and complexity. don't skip this ingredient even if you think you won't like it.  i served the chicken on top of lemon pepper pappardelle noodles from trader joe's because i thought it would go well with the lemon in the salsa.  you can substitute any kind of protein in place of the chicken - fish, pork, steak. pair this with a fresh white wine and you've got yourself a cozy little date night. enjoy!

(adapted from cooking light)
4 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 to 3 teaspoons capers, drained
2 teaspoons onion, minced
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/4 teaspoon anchovy paste
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

combine evoo, parsley, basil, capers, onion, dijon mustard, garlic powder, lemon rind, anchovy paste and s&p in a bowl. set aside. heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat with evoo. sprinkle chicken breasts evenly with s&p and a tad bit of garlic powder.  add chicken to to pan and cook for 5-7 minutes per side, depending on how thick it is. to serve, place bed of cooked pasta noodles on center of place and drizzle with a little evoo. top with chicken and garnish with salsa verde.


act two: asparagus and ham casserole

>> Tuesday, April 6, 2010

as i mentioned earlier this week, we're concentrating on making new meals with our easter leftovers at cotton top.  tonight's menu included this crazy simply casserole where i used leftover spiral ham and roasted garlic asparagus.  before i put it in the oven, the sauce looked a little watery, but after sticking it the oven for 10 minutes, it came out bubbly and gooey - just the way i like it!  the best part about this dinner - it only clocked in at 250 calories per serving (and each serving size is 1 cup).  you can substitute the ham or asparagus for any proteins or vegetables you have lying around the house.  i'm thinking chicken and peas would be great alternatives.

slightly adapted from cooking light
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
3 3/4 whole wheat penne pasta
2 1/2 cups cooked asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon dried ground thyme
1 cup whole milk
1 cup fat free, less sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cup diced cooked ham
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese

preheat oven to 450 degrees. cook pasta according to directions, until al dente.  place flour, thyme and s&p in bowl.  gradually add milk and broth, stirring with a whisk until it's not lumpy anymore. melt butter in sauce pan over medium high heat.  add onions and cook for about 4 minutes.  add milk/stock mixture, stirring constantly until sauce comes together and is thick.  in a larger bowl, combine cooked pasta, ham, asparagus and milk/stock mixture.  pour into greased (with pam) casserole dish.  top with panko breadcrumbs and cheese.  cook for 10 minutes until top is brown and golden.


this week in the kitchen: ham on the brain

>> Monday, April 5, 2010

last night, to celebrate the easter festitives, we cooked up a gorgeous sweet-hot-plum glazed ham. we definitely overestimated our guest's enthusiasm for the spiral round and now have a ton of leftovers. there are lots of different recipes and ideas out there to use leftover ham , but i've settled on cooking just two dinners. after all, a gal does have to watch her figure and eating pork every night is not the way to do it.
  1. chicken cordon bleu roll ups with roasted broccoli 
  2. asparagus and ham casserole with a simple garden salad

(photo credits - timeinthekitchen.com & thekitchn.com)


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