Monday, May 31, 2010

A favorite BBQ Potluck recipe

I tore this recipe out of a magazine awhile back. I wish I knew who to give the credit to, this is an AWESOME salad! My favorite coleslaw.

Two-tone Coleslaw

2/3 c. mayo
3 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. snipped fresh dill
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
7 c. shredded green cabbage (I use the shredded mix with carrots)
3 medium red apples, cored and thinly sliced
1 c. chopped sweet onion

(If you plan to chill this salad for more than 2 hours, toss the apple slices in a little lemon juice to keep it fresh and crisp looking.)

For dressing mix mayo, vinegar, dill, salt, pepper and sugar. Mix well.

Stir together cabbage, apples, and onions in a large bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours or up to 48 hours, stirring occasionally.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I've never met a vegetable I didn't like...

It's true, I love vegetables! Fresh produce is one of my all time favorite things. I sometimes can go a bit nutso in shopping the produce section, buying more produce than we can eat before the freshness expires.

I enjoy spring and summer cooking because I love vegetables. It is the BEST time of year for making salads and side dishes. Believe it when I tell you I even LOVE chopping vegetables. I own a food processor but, it rarely gets used. Give me a knife and cutting board almost anytime, unless they have to be SUPER fine or cut in mass quantities, such as when canning salsa or chile sauce.

So, I challenged myself this year to try to find some great tasting new sides that are heavy on the vegetables and other healthy foods. Of course, if they have protein I'll do a few cartwheels.

Both of these recipes come from Cooking Light magazine, the March 2010 edition. They are both winners, great fresh taste! (Excuse my photography, it's not the best... and I'm thinking the magazine let their pasta cool a bit before adding the feta so it didn't melt and get all soft like mine. Tasted good though.)

Penne with Chickpeas, Feta and Tomatoes

8 oz. uncooked penne
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 c. chopped shallots
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 cups halved cherry tomatoes
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup small fresh basil leaves
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. grated lemon rind
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add shallots and garlic; saute' 45 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in bell pepper and chickpeas; saute' 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes; saute' 2 minutes. Stir in pasta and reserved cooking liquid; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat. Add feta and remaining ingredients; toss to combine.

Yields: 4 servings (serving size 1 1/2 cups)

Pasta with Asparagus, Pancetta, and Pine Nuts

My results (without the pancetta) looks a bit plain but was delish! It could use a bit of red color because the one in the magazine looks much better!

8 ounces uncooked cavatappi pasta
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 tsp. minced garlic
3 Tbsp. pine nuts
2 oz. diced pancetta
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup (1 oz.) crumbled Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta according to the package directions, omitting salt and fat; add asparagus to pan during the last 3 minutes of cooking. Drain. Sprinkle pasta mixture with garlic; return to pan, and toss well.

Arrange pine nuts in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 3 minutes or until golden and fragrant, stirring occasionally. Place in a small bowl.

Increase oven temperature to 465 degrees. Arrange pancetta on the jelly roll pan. Bake for 6 minutes or until crisp.

Combine lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over the pasta mixture; toss well to coat. Sprinkle with pine nuts, pancetta, and cheese.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 2 cups)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 parents love me... know how I know?

They gave me one of these...

One night they came over and saw that I had purchased one of these. It sat by the front door still in it's box...

They said "take it back, you can have ours!" (Mom said it streaks her wood floors)

You see, I don't know where I have been but, I have not known about this little gadget. I first saw it when I was at the gym and due to treadmill boredom I watched an employee clean up the dirty "rain tracked" floors. After my workout I got a bit of a closer look and I almost offered to clean part of the floor myself but, I thought that the girl may think I had lost my mind. So, I asked twenty questions. How does it work? How does it clean? Do you love it? Is it easier? blah... blah...

Upon the gym employee's words of praise I started to search the weekly ads for a sale. Finding one, I purchased the Shark Steam Mop and fortunately my parents paid a visit before I cleaned my floors.

What do I think? I LOVE IT!! I was a bit scared after reading some of the online reviews, so happy they are wrong. I think my LEAST favorite household chore is mopping. It is such a pain, and I've always had a enormous amount of tile flooring that makes the job tempting to procrastinate until I can no longer avoid it.

I think it is a miraculous product. True, it is not perfect... but it's very close! I couldn't get it to work at first (no steam would come out) but called the customer service number and they said it was probably due to water being left it it during months of no usage. They told me to shake it real hard and I admit, I rolled my eyes as soon as I heard it. After a thorough shaking it has worked each and every time.

This gadget makes cleaning my tile flooring 10x easier, it ranks right up there with the dishwasher on my list!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Baked Asparagus with Balsamic Butter Sauce

Here's a yummy recipe that I found at

Baked Asparagus with Balsamic Butter Sauce

1 bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed
cooking spray
salt and pepper to taste*
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange the asparagus on a baking sheet. Coat with cooking spray and season with salt and pepper. Bake the asparagus in the preheated oven for 12 minutes, or until tender. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat, and stir in soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. pour over the baked asparagus to serve.

(*I went easy on the salt since the sauce uses soy sauce. It's easy to season later if you feel it's necessary. I didn't need to.)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Book Shelf: Time Riders

I can't put this book down! It is a witty, sci-fi, romantic mystery. A very fun read!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Pioneer Woman's Creamy Lemon Crumb Squares

So, I tried out a Pioneer Woman recipe a few weeks ago. It was delicious and very easy to prepare...

Want to make some? Click below...

Pioneer Woman's Creamy Lemon Crumb Squares

Friday, May 7, 2010

Storing Digital Photos

Not too long ago while at a salon/spa awaiting a pedicure I was browsing through a magazine and spotted this:

It's beautiful isn't it? See those drawers and how she organizes her digital photos? By year (blue tab dividers) and the various colors of the jewel cases that hold the cd's represent something. Red could be Christmas, Blue could be vacations, etc... She labels each cd and files it by date. I just love it!

This is a perfect idea to store my digital photos. I had to learn the hard way that creating a backup, OFTEN, is the way to go. Last summer there was a lightening storm and it wiped out our computer... software, photos, files, etc... I know that probably not every photo was saved to the backup. The most recent photos are gone... it's something I don't like to think about. Lesson learned though... back up and back up often. IF might really mean WHEN.

This drawer filing system is also an excellent storage idea if you need to free up some hard drive space.