Summer Pasta Salad

 

Hello all– This weekend we’re happily stacking all the things we need to pack up for early Monday morning, when we fly off for our Laurel & John’s wedding in the woods of Wisconsin!  Party dress,  check. Sunblock, check. Grandma Lo’s wedding cake bride and groom, check.  Surprises for grand-girl Jobay, turning 6 on the wedding date, checkity check.

And meanwhile, around here, we’re cleaning out things lingering in the kitchen before we go.  Had a 1/3 bag of egg noodles, a ready to eat avocado, MORE of Larry’s sweet tomatoes…  Throw them in with some corn, a couple slices of bacon and a little chicken.  Summer Pasta Salad  –just right on a hot summer evening!

SUMMER PASTA SALAD
4 oz. pasta (I used egg noodles)
1 boneless chicken breast
1 tab. olive oil
5 slices bacon
2 ears of corn, cut from the cob
3 green onions, sliced thinly
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 avocados, cut to nice chunks

Dressing:
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tab. tarragon vinegar*
1 tsp. seedy mustard
1 tab. honey
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.  Drain and let it cool.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet.  Cut the chicken breast into 3 flat filets and saute in a skillet until it’s nicely browned and cooked through (3 or4 minutes on each side). Remove to cutting board and cut into nice polite size pieces.

Wipe out the skillet and cook up the bacon.  Crumble it to small bits.

Cook the corn cobs in the microwave 6 or 7 minutes.  Cut the corn from the cobs with a large knife.

To make the dressing put the oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, salt & pepper into a container with a tight fitting lid and shake it up until it’s completely blended.

When the chicken and pasta have cooled, put them in a large mixing bowl and mix in the bacon, corn, tomatoes, green onion and dressing.  Then gently fold in the avocado.  Put to chill it in the fridge for 30 minutes or more before serving. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

 

Zucchini & Tomato Pasta

 

Hi all– Still “tomato time” around here.  So many tomatoes!  We are eating them twice a day–lunch and dinner (so far no tomatoes have slipped into our breakfast cereal!)  And this is my favorite use of our “crop” so far.

The little cherry tomatoes burst and shed their juices.  And this mixed with parmesan and garlic makes a lovely rich sauce.  Throw in some pasta and its a pretty perfect summer supper.  I was excited that we had leftovers to enjoy it all over again!

ZUCCHINI & TOMATO PASTA
8 oz. of your favorite pasta
6 oz. pancetta (or 6 slices of bacon), chopped
2 medium zucchini, chopped to bits
garlic salt & freshly ground pepper
4 cups cherry tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup parmesan romano
1/2 cup fresh basil, cut to shreds

While you are making the tomato topping, put the pasta on to cook.

Cut the pancetta to small bits and cook it in a large nonstick skillet.  When it’s cooked crispy, remove the bacon from the skillet, leaving the fat in the pan.

Put the chopped zucchini in the skillet.  Sprinkle with garlic salt & freshly ground pepper.  Cook 4 or 5 minutes until the zucchini starts to brown, but is still crispy (not soggy!).  Take out the zucchini and set aside.

Then add the tomatoes to the skillet.  Sprinkle with garlic salt and pepper and cook on high heat, 7 or 8 minutes, until the tomatoes are tender and release their juices.  Add the minced garlic to the skillet the last couple minutes the tomatoes are cooking.  Stir in the parmesan romano, stirring to melt it a bit.

Finally add the zucchini & bacon back to the skillet. Stir in the shredded basil.   Spread the drained pasta on a platter and then top it with the tomato mixture.  Enjoy!

Baked Bacon & Eggs

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Good morning!  I meet with a group of young moms (MOPS) every other Tuesday– and each time we meet they fill tables with eggs, muffins, fruit… It’s a breakfast banquet.  Last week, this is was my little contribution.

It’s my go-to egg dish–So easy– and you can change it up.  Take out the bacon & chilis and substitute any omelette-ish ingredient you are partial to– ham, mushrooms, avocado, peppers, spinach, broccoli, sausage…  It can be different every time.  The secret ingredient here is cottage cheese– makes it creamy and smooth! I hope you like it.

BAKED BACON & EGGS
6 strips of bacon
5 eggs
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup small curd cottage cheese
2 cups grated cheddar (I used colby jack)
4oz. can mild green chilis

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Cook the bacon until it’s crispy.  Drain on a paper towel and then break it up into small bits.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs until they are frothy.  Then stir in the flour, baking powder, salt, cottage cheese, cheddar, chilis and prepared bacon.

Pour it all into a 9″ pie plate that has been sprayed with cooking spray– and bake in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Then turn the heat down to 350 degrees and cook for 20 minutes more until the eggs are set and a little browned around the edges.  Best eaten hot from the oven!

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Mexican Cobb Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

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Hi all– We are trying to get a little jump on summer here.  It’s been warm and my thoughts are already on summer break, lazing in bed mornings with a book, lunch dates with friends, weekend beach walks, dinner out under the maples in the backyard…  It’s all about slowing down, less rush.

And salads.  A bright salad for dinner, makes it seem like summer.  Fresh colorful veggies, salty bacon and cheese.  And tart cilantro lime dressing.  It isn’t June yet, but with this salad on the table, it feels like summer!

MEXICAN COBB SALAD WITH CILANTRO LIME DRESSING

Salad:
4 cups leafy greens
3 small tomatoes, cut in quarters
1 firm avocado, peeled and cut in chunks
1/2 cup fresh (or frozen) corn kernels
1 Persian cucumber, sliced thin
3 strips of bacon, fried & crumbled
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed
2 hard boiled eggs, cut in half
1/3  cup cortijo cheese*

Dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tab. lime juice (about 1 large lime)
2 tab. cilantro, chopped fine
1/2 tsp. sugar
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

This is easy.  Spread the lettuces out on a platter and spoon the other ingredients on top.  Done!

For the dressing, put the olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, sugar and salt & pepper into a container with a tight fitting lid.  Shake til it’s thoroughly blended and drizzle over the salad.

Great served with a chunk of cornbread– or if there’s no time to bake, a handful of crispy tortilla chips. Dinner for two.  Enjoy!

*I didn’t have cortijo cheese in the fridge, so used feta.

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White Bean & Bacon Tomato Soup

DSC00443Hello all– There’s not usually bacon hanging around in our fridge.  But when the kids are coming home for a visit, I head straight for the market and get all the things they like to eat. Including bacon.  Lots of it.

So now they’ve come and gone for Christmas/New Years.  And there’s still a bit of bacon lingering in our kitchen.  What better to do with it, than a big pot of white bean & bacon tomato soup?  It’s one of those warm & cozy soups– sweet little beans, salty bacon and all that rich tomato holding it all together.  With a slab of brown bread and a crunchy salad, it’s dinner.

WHITE BEAN & BACON TOMATO SOUP
1/3 pound bacon (about 6 slices), cut to bits
2 onions, chopped fine
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tab. fresh thyme leaves
2 late bay leaves
1/2 tsp. salt
several grinds of fresh pepper
28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
14 oz. can petit cut tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
2 14 oz. cans cannellini beans, rinsed in a strainer
garnish– thyme sprigs & grade parmesan romano

Cook the cut bacon in a soup pot until lightly browned.  Remove the bacon.  Pour out all but 3 tab. of the bacon fat from the pot.

Add the cut onions to the pot.  When they are lightly browned, add in the garlic, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper.  Cook a minute more.

Then add in the crushed tomatoes, petit cut tomatoes, chicken broth and cannellini beans. Simmer the soup for 15 minutes.

Serve it up hot topped with grated parmesan romano cheese and a sprig of thyme just to make it pretty.

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Chili (with beer & bacon!)

IMG_2706Hi there–  I wish I could say we were avid football fans– and we had this super chili recipe to serve up to all our football fanatic friends while we cheered on our team in front of the t.v.  But actually, we go to one one Cal Berkeley game every fall to hang with our kids– and if some kind hearted friends include us in their super bowl party, we’re all in!

But I’m imagining this is the kind of chili that would go just great with football.  So if you love football (& chili) and want to have a big pot of something hearty & warming to serve your football watching friends, well, here it is:

CHILI (WITH BEER & BACON!)
4 strips bacon, cut to small bits
2 yellow onions, chopped
big splash of olive oil
2 pounds coarse ground beef*
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tab. cumin
1 tsp. smoked paprika
2 tsp. chili powder
12 oz. bottle of beer (India pale ale– or your favorite)
2 14oz. cans petit cut tomatoes (with garlic & herbs)
2 14 oz. cans of chili beans
1 tab. brown sugar
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped finely
1/4 cup cornstarch
for garnish– sour cream, grated cheddar, green onions, more cilantro…

In a soup pot, cook the bacon until it is crisp and then remove it from the pan.  In the bacon dripping, cook  the chopped onions and take them out as well.

Drop the beef into the pot and cook it 5 or 6 minutes until is is all  browned.  Spoon off any extra fat that is in the pan.

Add in the garlic, cumin, paprika and chili powder and stir to coat the meat.

Then mix in the beer, tomatoes, chili beans, and cilantro and set the pot to simmering slowly for about 30 minutes.

In a container with a tight fitting lid, shake together the corn starch and 1/2 cup water.  Stir it into the chili to thicken the broth. Drop the bacon and onions back into the pot!

Serve it piping hot topped with cheddar or sour cream or green onions or cilantro (or any combination there of)– along with a slab of cornbread and a bright salad.  Football watching ready!

*When I went in to the get the meat from the butcher, I expected to find coarse ground beef for chili, but no.  They had “shredded beef steak”–   chunkier than I had planned.  But in the end it turned out great!  I think any chopped beef would do…

Cozy Lentil Soup

IMG_2488Hi everyone– It rained!!  It finally rained– all through the night and pounding showers early this morning.  Our drought riddled yard was soaking it up.  The suns come out now, but there are still drips dropping from the trees and drops speckling our windows.  All at once, everything feels so fresh and new.

Just the day for some lentil soup.  Love this because it’s so easy– Ten minutes to throw it into the pot and then just wait while it simmers for half an hour.  And bacon.  It has bacon.
It makes a nice big potful– we’ll be having leftovers in lunches this week…

COZY LENTIL SOUP
4 strips of bacon
2 tab. olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup yellow bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
2  14 oz. cans petit cut tomatoes with onion & garlic
4 cups chicken broth
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. smoked paprika
2 cups lentils
salt & pepper to taste

granish–sour cream, cilantro or green onions, chopped, freshly ground pepper

Cut the strips of bacon into small bits.  Brown them in the bottom of your soup pot.  Remove them to a paper towel.  Remove all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan.

Heat the olive oil in the pot.  Drop in the onions and cook until they are translucent.  Then add in the garlic and peppers and cook 3 minutes more.

Add in the tomatoes, chicken broth, cumin paprika, cumin and lentils.  Simmer on low for 35 to 40 minutes until the lentils are tender.  Add salt & pepper to taste.  Put the bacon back in just before serving.

Serve it up hot topped with a spoonful of sour cream, and a little something green for pretty.