Green Goodness Pasta Salad- Fantastic Food Friday.

Oh my. This Green Goodness Pasta Salad is whoa. It’s light, it’s bursting with flavor and it’s a beautiful blend of tang, herbs and asparagus. I adapted it from the Greed Godess Pasta Salad in Clean Eating Dinner in 30. I’ve had this bookzine for a couple months now and I happened to grab it while meal planning last week. It’s definitely become one of my new favorite pasta salads. And will most definitely make an appearance or two at some potlucks!

green goodness salad

It is a multi-step meal and I while I think it took a little longer than 30 minutes, it was totally worth it. One way to help it go together faster is get everything measured and ready. Oh- and you need to have the chicken cooked, so use leftovers or cook it the day before.

12 oz cooked and cooled chicken, cut into bit size pieces
2 cups asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
12 oz rotini pasta (use whole grain if you want)
¼ cup EACH chopped fresh parsley, cilantro and dill
3 green onions, thinly sliced
EVOO
Salt and Pepper

Blanch asparagus in boiling salted water for 1-3 minutes, until fork tender. Immediately put in a bowl of ice water to stop cooking. Let it hang out in the cold bath while you do the rest.
Cook pasta according to directions. When you drain, toss the pasta with a little EVOO to keep them from sticking. I left it in the strainer, but you could also spread it out on a tray or cookie sheet.
For dressing whisk together

½ cup plain Greek yogurt (one 6 oz container)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp honey
1 glove of garlic, finely minced
1- 4 tbsp milk (add one tbsp. at a time to get the consistency of a creamy dressing)

Drain the asparagus. If there’s any ice left you can run warm water over it to melt it, or pick out the ice pieces.
In a large bowl, add pasta, asparagus, chicken, dressing and herbs. Mix until it’s well coated with the dressing. Seasoning with salt and pepper if desired. I was pretty liberal with it.

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Fantastic Food Friday- Black Bean Quesadillas

One of my big goals for 2015 is instituting Meatless Mondays. My sister went vegetarian about a year and a half ago, more recently vegan. While she has had tremendous success, I am not quite ready to give up all meat and animal products. So, meatless Mondays it is! Along with that, I am trying to choose more plant based protein sources as well as find local and humanely raised meat sources.

Our first meatless Monday was a big success! Well, I think it was. For dinner we had black bean corn quesadillas. We made things a bit more complicated by making our own tortillas but they were so worth it!

For tortillas, you need

2 ¾ cup flour

1/3 cup lard or shortening

¾ tsp salt

1 cup warm water

(I use lard because we don’t use shortening. Totally not vegetarian, but I didn’t exactly plan very well this week either!)

Dissolve the salt in the water. Mix flour and lard with a pastry blender or fork until it’s all mixed together into small pebbles. Pour half the water over the flour and mix. Continue adding water until everything has been moistened. Knead until you have a medium dough. (Not to soft, but not real stiff!) Divide dough into 12 portions, roll into small balls. Place on plate and cover with plastic wrap. Let them rest for 20 minutes.

Start heating up an ungreased cast iron skillet. On a lightly floured surface, roll each dough into a circle, about 1/8 of an inch thick. Don’t stack these up. Husband and I found it best if one rolled and one cooked them.

Make sure your skillet is screaming hot. Place one tortilla on the skillet. It will bubble. In about 30 -45 seconds flip it over. There should be nice golden brown spots. Cook for another 30 seconds or so. Don’t overcook or they get hard. Don’t use oil or you get fried tortillas. We just threw ours on a plate since we were using them for quesadillas, but if you wanted to keep them warm for tacos, use whatever method you like (roll in foil or put in tortilla warmer). Turn off the stove but keep that skillet close because we are going to use it again!

For the filling, you’ll need

1 cup frozen corn 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed 1 onion, finely diced 1 tsp oil ½ -1 tsp garlic powder ¼ – ½ tsp chili powder 2 tbsp lime juice Salt to taste 8 oz package of cheddar or Mexican blend cheese (or however much cheese you like)

Put the corn in a second ungreased skillet on low-medium heat. Stir and cook until the corn just starts to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Put in a bowl. Place the oil in the skillet and let it heat up. Put the onion in the skillet. Sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic and chili powders. Add the rinsed black beans and stir until heated. Kinda smoosh them down with the back of your spoon. Add the corn back in. When its all combine and warm, put it back in the corn bowl. Mix in the lime juice and salt.

Warm up the skillet again. If you are using store bought tortillas, warm them up slightly on the skillet. You want them warm enough to fold without breaking.

Place 1/12 of the mixture (I totally eyeballed it based on who it was for, kids got a little less than the adults) on half of the tortilla, leaving about a ½ inch of space at the edge. Sprinkle on some cheese. Fold tortilla in half and press down a smidge.

Put the folded tortilla on the hot cast iron skillet. Let it cook for about a minute, watch close so it doesn’t burn. Flip it over, carefully and cook another 30- 60 seconds, just long enough of the cheese to melt.

Cut into wedges and serve with sour cream, salsa, guacamole…

Adapted from The Curvy Carrot and My Worldwide Culinary Adventure.

Fantastic Food Friday- DIY Dressings

Nothing screams summer more than a huge salad. Crisp romaine lettuce, juicy grilled chicken, cucumber rounds, carrot slivers and sugar peas are just… perfect for summer evenings. Taco salads are wonderful for picnics and potlucks. Fruit salads are the warm weather dessert of choice.

But those dressings can get you into trouble. Store bought ones can be full of sugar, salt, chemicals and who knows what else. So here is a roundup of my current favorites!

First up… Catalina Dressing. If you make taco salad, you gotta have Catalina dressing. I modified this recipe from Simply Scratch. Husband now prefers this over store bought. And so do I.

Catalina Dressing

½ sweet yellow onion
½ cup ketchup
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup honey
¼ cup brown sugar
½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Rough chop the onion and then throw that onion into your food processor and whirl it around a few times to mince it. Add in everything else, except the EVOO. Blend that all up. When it’s good and mixed, SLOWLY, SLOWLY, EVER SO SLOWLY drizzle the EVOO in while the food processor is running. Blend a few more seconds. Store it in the fridge, but I think it’s best served at room temperature.

Next up… Copycat Applebee’s Asian Dressing. I’m so sorry, I don’t have my original source for this. But is so much like the Applebee’s dressing, it’s scary. And if you close your eyes and serve it with romaine lettuce, grilled chicken, crispy noodles, slivered almonds and shredded carrot, you can almost imagine you are out for lunch instead of your kitchen!

Asian Salad Dressing

6 tablespoons Honey
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ tsp sesame oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Blend everything up with a mixer. I use my immersion blender and it works perfect!

How about Lemon Poppyseed dressing? It’s the same one from this post. But here it is again!

Lemon Poppyseed Dressing

1 tbsp mayo
2 tbsp honey
½ tsp poppy seeds
1 tsp lemon juice

Whisk it all together. Pour it over fruit salad, or on romaine tossed with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and pecans.

I haven’t found a great ranch dressing yet. I’m still looking. But two other recipes I’d like to try soon are Creamy Sweet Onion and this Russian dressing.

What’s your favorite dressing to make? Do you have a great ranch dressing you make you want to share with me?

Fantastic Food Friday- Sweet and Spicy Cucumbers

Do you have cucumbers coming out of your ears yet? I have a confession. I don’t really like cucumbers. If they aren’t pickled or in relish or have loads of dip on them, I probably won’t eat them. But I will eat these sweet and spicy cucumbers from Our Best Bites, because… YUM!

Watch your cucumbers go from boring to WOW! In about two hours, you have a terrific spicy side dish or snacks throughout the week and is also great to take on picnics.

But me being me, I’ve made some modifications to the recipe based on what I usually have in my pantry and to clean it up a little.

So go here first and check out the original recipe. Then come back and see what I did!

Here’s what you need!

3-4 cups peeled, sliced in half-moons cucumbers
1 tablespoon salt
½ cup apple cider vinegar
½ c water
3 tablespoons coconut sugar (You can use white sugar, but coconut sugar keeps it clean!)
2 tablespoons finely diced red onion (I run mine through the food processor)
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Put cucumbers in a colander and toss with salt. Let drain at least an hour. If you skip this your final dish will be watered down. Who wants that?

While it’s draining, bring the vinegar, water, sugar and red pepper flakes to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce to a simmer. Let simmer until its reduced to 1/3 to 1/2. Let cool to room temp. Stir in onions.

When the cucumbers are done draining, place in bowl and combine with the marinade. Let it chill out in the fridge for another hour or so.

Too spicy? Try this cucumbers salad!

1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
½ cup ice cubs
¼ cup white vinegar
½ teaspoon sea salt

Mix cucumbers, vinegar and salt in a quart mason jar. Pour ice cubes over the cucumbers, cover and put in fridge. I usually let it sit until the ice cubes are melted.

How do you like your cucumbers?

Fantastic Food Friday- Tangy Turkey Mac n Cheese

August 1st! To me, August 1st is the official kick off to canning season, which is silly because the best jam making happens in June when strawberries are plentiful. Maybe that’s preseason. Getting us warmed up for August. Getting are muscles into shape for lifting heavy buckets of produce and full canner loads.

And if you are like me, you way underestimate the time needed to make something and then all of the sudden your kids and husband want dinner! Aaagghhhh! Need something fast and healthy!

So you open the fridge and see…. Nothing. Oops, so caught up in canning you forget to get groceries. I’m not the only one, right? RIGHT?!

But, sometimes, the best dishes are the ones I just throw together. Usually, they are made up of random things I have in my pantry or fridge. Like, last week, my mom came over. We needed to make lunch, but since it was the day before grocery shopping, pickins’ were pretty slim. Luckily, she brought a package of ground turkey, so I used that has inspiration. I knew my girls would eat pasta and I wanted something creamy. Homemade mac n cheese had come to mind, but I didn’t have milk to make a roux… so… this is what I came up with….

 

Tangy Turkey Mac n Cheese

1 20 oz pack ground turkey, cooked, scrambled, seasoned with salt and pepper, garlic, onion powder and parsley. Really, use whatever you want. How about some Italian seasoning on there?

½ box of whole wheat pasta pasta, like elbow macaroni, cooked and drained

1 bag frozen broccoli, cooked (or add it to the pasta to cook at the same time) (I like Kroger’s dinner starters)

1 6 oz container of plain Greek yogurt

1 8 oz package shredded cheddar cheese

 

Once everything is cooked, stir it all together in one big pot over low heat until cheese is melted. It was tangy, creamy, cheesy and pretty darn good! The ingredients are staples in my house and I usually have them all- even at the end of the week!

 

Have boxed macaroni and cheese? We love Annie’s Homegrown! Here are some stir in ideas!

 

Tuna and peas

Shredded chicken and broccoli (so good on white cheddar!)

Cut up hot dogs

Tomato (How about some basil too?)

Mushrooms

Ground beef and pepper

Left over taco meat and salsa

Diced ham

 

What do you put in your mac n cheese?

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