Monday, May 31, 2010


The garden is doing well.  The seedling bell peppers & eggplant were failures so I purchased some plants at the local store.  Peas, beans, cukes, melon & squash are going nuts!  The lattice is ready for the climbers!  Some pics:

Mexican Pasta Salad

I love mexican food - so when I found this recipe for a mexican pasta salad at Cara's Cravings, I made it right away!  A great change from the normal pasta salad that I usually make so many times during the summer.  I made just a few modifications, as presented below.

1 lb wagon wheel pasta
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can corn
1 medium bell pepper, diced
2 medium tomatoes, and diced
1 1/2 cups salsa
1/2 cup olive oil
The juice of one lime
~2 -3 tbsp Taco Seasoning
freshly ground salt & pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 avocado, diced

Prepare pasta as per package instructions.  Drain and rinse with cold water to cool
Add beans, corn, and tomatoes to pasta in large bowl.
I mixed the cilantro and olive oil in the food processor.  Then drizzle the cilantro oil over the rest of ingredients and add seasoning.

Mix and add salsa as needed to coat (I did not measure and use 1.5 c.).  Season with salt and pepper, and dice and add avocado immediately before serving.

Asparagus & Artichoke Pasta

We mixed up a great dinner with just a few random ingredients - the result of poor planning turned out to be a great and easy dinner!

1 bunch fresh asparagus
1 can artichokes, rinsed & quartered
1 medium onion, sliced
light olive oil
1/2 bag whole wheat pasta
salt and pepper
garlic powder or fresh
fresh grated parm to taste

Cook pasta as per package instructions.
Snap the ends of the asparagus off and break each spear into 3-4 pieces.  Add asparagus and onion to a med-hi saute pan containing ~2 tbsp olive oil.  Add salt and stir frequently.
Add quartered artichokes to pan once the asparagus is bright green and onions are almost cooked through.  Cook for a few minutes.
Toss pasta in with veggies, add more oil to have a light coating.
Serve with fresh grated parm cheese

Monday, May 3, 2010

Yardwork Part III

Our backyard along the house has been a mess since we moved in almost 3 years ago.  There are beautiful ferns growing there, which had been unfortunately joined and choked out by lots of weeds.  The ground was a mud/ mix of random stones and rocks.  I don't have any good up-close pictures of this sad area because, well, why would we photograph it; it was a mess!

Here is the closest picture I can find:

We decided to fight back against the ugly.  We re-purposed stones from the chimney that was taken down to make a barrier wall, weeded everything but the ferns out, used newspapers as weed growth - preventer, and put in landscape stones to finish the area.  It was HARD WORK... the border stones had been relocated to the far end of the property and had to be wheelbarrowed back up.  But we are so happy we finally did it!  A busy but rewarding day.

Near the side door:

(Propane tank hopefully is next to go-relocated around the corner of the house)

Lily- approved!

Homemade (larabar inspired) Energy Bars

I recently discovered the deliciousness that is a Larabar.  They are so healthy because of their limited ingredient list, which, coincidentally, makes them really easy to make!  I found instructions here at Enlightened Cooking.

I purchased organic dates, dried cherries, almonds, peanuts, and banana chips in the bulk section of the grocery store and got to work.  I started with the PB&J-inspired bar since I thought it would go over well with the husband :)  By the end of the food processing...we had both eaten a couple raw dates (new to us) - they are really delicious!  Not sure whether I will have to go thru the trouble of food processing since they are great on their own - but I digress...

PB&J flavor Energy Bars
1/4 cup+ dates, pitted
1/4 cup+ dried cherries (or raisins)
< 1/3 cup peanuts.

Blend dates and cherries in food processor and remove when they have melded into a paste.  Set aside in separate bowl.  I say "1/4 cup +" above because the initial mix was too peanutty.  Plus, more fruit is a good thing :)
Chop peanuts in processor (no need to wash processor).  Lay out plastic wrap to wrap the bars, because your hands will soon be stickyyyyy-
When the nuts are pulverized, mix with fruit paste in bowl to combine all (3) ingredients.

Form into bars.  Since I ended up adding more fruit, I made 4 bars.  The EC recipe indicates that it makes 2.

Refrigerate to maintain freshness.  Enjoy pre- or post- workout for a super healthy snack!

Potato Salad

I couldn't find the recipe card of my mom's classic recipe, so I went to allrecipes of course for a basic overview, and this came out really great.  Changes made are incorporated below.

6 potatoes
3 hard boiled eggs
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tbsp sweet pickle relish
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1 (generous) tablespoon Grey Poupon
ground black pepper to taste (generous)
1/4 cup light mayonnaise

Hard-boil and cool your eggs.
Peel and slice potatoes into large chunks (generally 1/8ths or 1/4s).
Boil potatoes for approximately 10 minutes (totally dependent upon the size of your pieces).  Stick with a fork or knife - they are done when you can poke through them relatively easily without them falling apart.
Meanwhile, cut up celery and onion.
Cool potatoes when done cooking and chop up eggs.
Stir all ingredients together.  I add the mayo by the tablespoon or 2 at a time to ensure it doesn't get too mushy.  We don't like overly-mayo-ey potato salad.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours prior to serving so flavors can meld.  Stir prior to serving and add a bit more mayo if needed/ desired.

Goes great with rotisserie chicken and roasted asparagus ;)

Rotisserie Chicken

A classic summer meal!  An easy way to get moist, delicious chicken.

1- 3-4 lb. whole chicken, giblets removed
3-4 tsp seasoned salt
2 tsp black pepper
recycled aluminum foil

Season chicken and put on rotisserie holder

Wrap chicken in foil and place on rotisserie in preheated grill

Enjoy a margarita while the chicken cooks at approximately 375 deg F for 1 hour

After 1 hour, remove foil and cook for another 1/2 hour.  Take temperature at this time so you see how close to/ far from 180 deg F you are.

When temperature is reached, carve and enjoy!