• Herbed Pasta Salad

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    I love pasta salad, and I especially love pasta salad that has bold delicious flavors.  This pasta salad certainly has bold delicious flavors.

    I’m not sure why it’s a common sentiment that a little bit of dried herb goes a long way, but I think that’s the furthest from the truth.  I think if you use just a little bit of the dried herbs, your food won’t have much flavor, and we’re all about flavor!  Don’t be scared off by the amount of dried herbs…trust me, it’s delicious!

    A friend of mine made a similar pasta salad for an event we went to, and while she didn’t have a recipe, she told me what she put it, and this is my version.  This is a great one to bring for a potluck or picnic too.

    Ingredients:

    • 14.5 oz or 16 oz pasta of choice
    • 1/2 c. olive oil
    • 1/3 c. rice wine vinegar
    • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
    • 4 tsp. dried oregano
    • 2 tsp. garlic powder
    • 2 tsp. dried parsley
    • salt and pepper, to taste
    • 4 oz. crumbled feta
    • 1 lb of grape tomatoes, halved.

    Directions:

    1. Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat; then add salt and pasta, and cook until al dente; then drain.
    2. Meanwhile in a large bowl combine olive oil through feta and stir to combine.  Mix so that some of the feta actually breaks down in the dressing (emulsifes) and the dressing becomes a bit “creamy;” then add the tomatoes; then add the pasta.  Toss to combine and taste.  Correct seasoning to taste.

    Herbed Pasta Salad:

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  • The Bidens’ Pasta Caprese

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    I saw this pasta salad in the September 2010 issue of Food Network Magazine, and I knew I had to try it.  I’ve now made this quite a few times, and I’ve adapted the recipe to our liking.

    It is delicious, and I love the addition of the lemon zest.  It’s a great summer pasta salad, which would be perfect for a picnic or potluck.  We’ll definitely be making this one again.

    Ingredients:

    • 1/3 c. olive oil
    • 1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
    • 2-3 shallots, minced
    • 3 garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic presser
    • salt and pepper, to taste
    • 1 TBSP sugar
    • 2 lbs. grape tomatoes, halved
    • 1 lb. pasta of your choice (I used radiatore)
    • 12 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
    • 1/2 c. basil, chopped
    • 1/4 c. mint, chopped
    • zest of 3 lemons

    Directions:

    1. Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, shallots and garlic in a large bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add sugar.  Add the tomatoes and gently toss.  Marinate at room temperature, about 15 minutes.
    2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of slated water to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook as the label directs.  Drain in a colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking.
    3. Add the pasta and mozzarella to the tomato mixture and toss.  Stri in the basil, mint, and lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper.
    4. Refrigerate, tossing occasionally until serving.

    The Bidens’ Pasta Caprese:

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  • Grilled Polenta with Spicy Steak

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    This dish is fantastic!  Definitely tastes like something you would get at a restaurant.  The best part…it’s quick and easy.  Certainly company worthy.

    Recipe is adapted from a recipe in the June 2010 issue of Cooking Light.

    Ingredients:

    • 3 tsp. olive oil
    • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1 tsp. ground cumin
    • 1 1/2 tsp. ground chipotle chile powder (1 dried chipotle, ground)
    • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
    • 1 lb. flank steak or flat-iron steak
    • 1 (18oz) tube of polenta, cut into 8 to 10 slices
    • 1 avocado, sliced
    • 1/4 c. crumbled queso fresco
    • 2 c. pico de gallo (simply mix grape tomatoes, chopped jalapeno, chopped cilantro, garlic, salt and lime juice together)
    • Limes, quartered

    Directions:

    1. Combine 2 tsp. olive oil, salt, cumin chile powder, and pepper; rub evenly over steak.
    2. Heat grill; grill steak until done.
    3. Brush polenta with 1 tsp. olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt.  Place a piece of foil on the grill and add the polenta; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned.
    4. Arrange sliced polenta on a plate; add steak, top with pico, queso fresco, and avocado; then squirt with lime.

    Grilled Polenta with Spicy Steak:

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  • Pasta Arabiata with Sausage

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    This sauce recipe is awesome!  It tastes like something you would get in a restaurant.  The original recipe calls for cooking the sauce for 4 minutes, but I like the flavors when the sauce is simmered for a longer period of time…it’s richer and bolder.  But if time is short, you can certainly cook the sauce for a short time and it still will be delicious.

    I added zucchini to the sauce and it was delicious.  It was a great way to get more veggies, and it gave the sauce great body and flavor.
    The other thing I like about this recipe is how the cook the sausage.  It’s broiled, which is brilliant, because it’s a very low fat no fuss way to prepare sausage.

    Adapted from a recipe in the April 2010 issue of Cooking Light.
    Ingredients:

    • 1 package of sweet Italian turkey sausage links
    • 1 box of spaghetti
    • 2 small to medium size zucchini
    • 2 28 oz. cans of whole tomatoes, undrained
    • 4 TBSP olive oil
    • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
    • 10 garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press or minced
    • 2 tsp. sugar
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1/2 c. torn fresh basil
    • Parmesan or Pecorino Romano Cheese

    Directions:

    1. Place zucchini in a food processor; process until roughly chopped.  Add tomatoes to the zucchini and process until almost smooth.
    2. Heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add crushed red pepper and pressed garlic; saute for 1 minute.  Stir in zucchini and tomato mixture, sugar, and salt; cook 4 minutes.  If you can cook the sauce longer you won’t regret it.  It gets thick and rich…I let mine simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
    3. Meanwhile preheat broiler.  Arrange sausage on a baking sheet.  Spray with cooking spray.  Broil sausage for 5 minutes on each side or until done.  Remove and slice in 1/4 inch thick slices.
    4. Cook pasta according to directions.
    5. Place pasta in a large bowl; toss with sauce and sausage; add basil and peccorino.

    Pasta Arabiata with Sausage:
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  • Fried Rice

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    Here’s a great recipe for leftover chicken or turkey or use a rotisserie chicken. The leftovers are great too!

    The recipe is adapted from the November 2009 issue of Southern Living.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 TBSP vegetable oil, divided
    • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
    • 1/2 c. diced onion
    • 1/2 c. diced red bell pepper
    • 1 c. cooked chicken, cut up
    • 1 1/2 c. frozen mixed vegetables, partially cooked
    • 3 c. cooked rice
    • 1/4 c. soy sauce
    • 1 tsp. Asian chili-garlic sauce

    Directions:

    1. Heat 1 TBSP oil in large skillet over medium high heat; add eggs, and gently stir 1 minute or until softly scrambled.  Remove eggs from skillet and chop.
    2. Heat remaining 2 TBSP oil in skillet; add onion and bell pepper, and stir-fry 3 minutes.  Add cooked chicken and mixed vegetables; stir fry 2 minutes.  Add rice, soy sauce, and chili-garlic sauce; stir fry 5 minutes or until throughly heated.  Stir in eggs.

    Fried Rice:

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  • Quick Reuben Sandwiches

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    Here’s another really tasty recipe for quick Reuben sandwiches.  To me what makes this sandwich is the homemade thousand islandish dressing.  It’s easy, so don’t skip that step.

    Thousand Island Dressing Ingredients:

    • 1 c. mayo
    • 1 c. ketchup
    • 1/2 c. sweet pickle relish (I only had hot dog relish which is a mix of mustard and relish)
    • 1 TBSP sugar

    Sandwiches:

    • Rye bread
    • Butter
    • Leftover corned beef, sliced and heated
    • sour kraut
    • Swiss cheese
    • Thousand island dressing

    Directions:

    1. Thousand Island Dressing: mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
    2. Sandwiches: take a slice of rye bread, add corned beef, sour kraut, swiss cheese, and some dressing.  Top with rye bread.  Butter the top of the bread and put the sandwich butter side down in a hot skillet.  Cook until bread is browned.  Add some butter to the now top of the sandwich and flip it over and cook until browned.

    Quick Reuben Sandwiches:

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  • Quick Corned Beef Hash

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    The country club in the town where I grew up served an awesome brunch.  Every time I went there I would get corned beef hash.  The corned beef hash was not that minced mush looking stuff you get at some restaurants or out of a can.  They used big roasted potatoes, fresh corned beef, and eggs over easy.  The first time I had it I was hooked!

    A few nights ago we made a corned beef (you know, the kind that comes in the meat case with the seasoning packet).  Surprisingly both kiddos loved it!  We will certainly be making that again.  When I was thinking about how to use the leftovers, corned beef hash came to mind, so we had brunch for dinner.

    One word: delicious!

    Ingredients:

    • Tator tots, cooked according to package
    • Leftover corned beef, reheated
    • eggs, over easy

    Directions:

    1. Cook tator tots, reheat corned beef, cook eggs over easy.
    2. On a plate put tator tots, top with corned beef, top with eggs over easy.

    Quick Corned Beef Hash:

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  • Easy Chicken and Dumplings

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    This is a tasty, hearty, and super easy version of the slow cooked classic: chicken and dumplings.  Be sure to use low sodium broth, and if you don’t I would suggest using half broth half water, otherwise it will be too salty (trust me–there is plenty of salt in the rotisserie chicken, cream of chicken soup, and dumplings).

    This dish makes for a great weeknight meal, as it only took about 30 minutes to prepare, and that’s from start to finish!

    Recipe is adapted from the January 2010 issue of Southern Living.

    Ingredients:

    • 4 c. LOW SODIUM chicken broth
    • 3 c. shredded chicken (rotisserie chicken)
    • 1 10.75 oz. can reduced fat cream of chicken soup
    • 1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
    • 1 10.2 oz. can refrigerated jumbo buttermilk biscuits
    • 1 c. carrots, diced
    • 1 c. celery, diced
    • pepper, to taste

    Directions:

    1. Bring first 4 ingredients to a boil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.  Increase heat to medium-high and return to a low boil.
    2. Place biscuits on a lightly floured surface. Roll or pat each biscuit to 1/8 inch thickness; cut into 1/2 inch wide strips.
    3. Drop strips, 1 at a time, into boiling broth mixture.  Add carrots and celery. Cover and reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent dumplings from sticking.
    4. Season with pepper.

    Easy Chicken and Dumplings:

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  • Creamy Jalapeno and Cinlantro Dressing/Sauce

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    This dressing is so good.  It’s good on salads and fish tacos.  We loved this dressing on fish tacos so much that we had fish tacos 2 times in one week.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 c. mayo
    • 1/3 milk
    • 2 tsp. chopped cilantro
    • 1-2 jalapenos, minced
    • 1 tsp. garlic, minced
    • 1 tsp. onion, minced
    • juice of 1 lime
    • 1 tsp. white vinegar
    • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
    • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
    • 1/8 tsp. ground cumin

    Directions:

    1. Whisk all ingredients together.
    2. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
    3. Top your favorite salad or taco and enjoy!

    Creamy Jalapeno and Cilantro Dressing/Sauce:

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  • Chicken and Broccoli Pad Thai

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    I love Pad Thai, and the nice thing about this dish is that it is quick and easy to make.  It’s certainly a bit more adventurous than my kiddos are willing to try, so I just set aside some of the chicken for them, and they were happy with that.  You could also skip the chicken and make this a vegetarian dish.

    This recipe is adapted from a recipes in 30-Minute Suppers Winter 2010 by America’s Test Kitchen.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 lb. chicken breasts, sliced thin
    • 8 oz rice stick noodles
    • 1 head of broccoli florets
    • 1 TBSP vegetable oil
    • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
    • 3/4 c. water
    • 1/4 c. soy sauce
    • 1/4 c. lime juice
    • 2 tsp. Asian chili-garlic sauce
    • 1 c. bean sprouts
    • 1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro

    Directions:

    1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Add chicken and saute until cooked.  Set aside.
    2. Meanwhile blanch broccoli in boiling salted water.
    3. Cook noodles in boiling salted water.
    4. After chicken is done cook eggs, stirring constantly until scrambled.  Transfer to plate.
    5. Add water, soy sauce, lime juice, sugar, and chili-garlic sauce, and cook until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.  Add chicken, noodles, broccoli, and egg; toss to coat.  Then add bean sprouts and top with cilantro.

    Chicken and Broccoli Pad Thai:

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