Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Salad


Tri-color Rotini

I hope everyone had a happy and safe Fourth of July celebration with lots of delicious food. ūüáļūüáł It’s been a while since I posted a new recipe (I’ve taken a little hiatus in the kitchen), and thought I’d share this one I made yesterday. It can be a nice main or side dish, and is yummy both warm or chilled. I kept this pretty simple which made it quick and easy, but you can add your favorite vegetables, and/or chicken or tofu‚Ķ lots of possibilities. I used tricolor rotini, but feel to go with whatever pasta you’d like (bowtie, penne, small shells, etc.).

The sun-dried tomatoes are used to make a “pesto”, which I decided to do without the use of a food processor. It¬†was a little more work, but I wanted chunkier bits incorporated into the salad and I think it was perfect.

This serves 3-4, so double the ingredients if needed.

Ingredients

  • 6 oz. (about half a box) of tri-color rotini
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 oz. goat cheese
  • 6-8 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Basil, for garnish

Directions

  1. Combine your finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes, cheese, garlic, olive oil and balsamic in a bowl and stir very well.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  3. Drain pasta and reserve some of the cooking liquid.
  4. Toss the pasta with the tomato pesto, and season with salt & pepper, to taste.
  5. Fold in 1 1/2 oz. goat cheese, until melted and well incorporated, and add the cherry tomatoes.
  6. Crumble the remaining goat cheese and sprinkle on top.
  7. Garnish with fresh basil.

Sun-dried Tomato Rotini

 

 

Candied Sweet Potato Casserole


Candied Sweet Potato Casserole

With the holidays quickly approaching, visions of dinner menus have been dancing in my head. One of my staples is a sweet potato casserole which always receives rave reviews, and I just realized I haven’t posted it. I took the traditional marshmallow-topped dish, and took it to a new level (in my humble opinion). I also decided to use canned sweet potatoes instead of fresh strictly to save on time.

Ingredients

  • 2 (29 oz.) cans sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • 2 tbsp. orange juice (if you’re not an OJ fan, you can use skim milk)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. kosher salt

Topping

  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 cup candied pecans, chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350¬įF.
  2. In a large bowl, mix sweet potatoes, 1/4 cup butter, egg, white sugar, oj, marshmallows, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
  3. Transfer to a lightly greased 9″x13″ baking dish.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine topping ingredients and mix well (using your hands) to a consistency of course meal. Sprinkle over sweet potato mixture.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, or until topping is crisp and lightly browned.

Gourmet Sweet Potato Casserole

Top ‚ÜĎ

Quinoa


Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa)¬†is a grain that comes from the Andes¬†Mountains of South America. Quinoa’s origins are truly ancient. It was one of¬† the three staple foods, along with corn and potatoes, of the Inca civilization. Quinoa was known then, and still is known, with respect, as the mother grain.¬†It is often called¬†the “Supergrain¬†of the Future.” Quinoa contains¬†all eight essential amino acids and¬†more protein than any other grain; an average of 16.2¬† percent, compared with 7.5 percent for rice, 9.9 percent for millet, and 14 percent for wheat.¬†It¬†looks like a grain and is often regarded as a whole grain even though it is actually the seed of a plant that is related to spinach.¬†Quinoa is also low in fat and a good source of other nutrients such as calcium. As quinoa is free from gluten, it makes an ideal alternative for people who¬†eat a gluten-free diet. Quinoa is naturally high in fiber and this is a useful addition to most diets. It is has many uses, like breakfast cereal, as a substitution for rice or in combination dishes such as pilaf, to name a few.

Cooking Instructions:

Quinoa should be rinsed thoroughly before cooking to remove any powdery residue. Place grain in a fine strainer and hold under cold running water until water runs clear; drain well.

To cook, use 2 cups liquid per 1 cup of quinoa. Combine liquid & quinoa in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover & cook until the grains are translucent and the germ has spiraled out from each grain. About 15 minutes.

I add some salt, pepper and garlic to the water prior to boiling for additional flavor.

Cauliflower Goat Cheese Mash


This is a lovely side dish that not only tastes great, but is very low in carbs.

Cauliflower Goat Cheese Mash

Ingredients

  • 1/2 large head cauliflower, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 Tbsp. whipping cream
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. goat’s cheese (I recommend¬†herb-coated)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Cook the cauliflower over medium heat in a large pot of lightly salted water until completely tender, 20-30 minutes.
  2. Drain the cauliflower into a colander. With a bowl or small plate, press on the cauliflower to remove all the water. Toss the cauliflower and continue pressing. This step is very important to the texture of the dish.
  3. Transfer the cauliflower to a food processor (or blender).
  4. Add the cream and puree until completely smooth. If you like a chunkier texture, mash by hand, adding the cream after the cauliflower is mashed.
  5.  Return to the pot. When you are ready to serve the puree, heat over low heat, stirring constantly.
  6. Add the butter, Parmesan and goat’s cheese. Stir until incorporated and season with salt if necessary.
  7. Serve immediately.

Note: Feel free to add 1 tsp minced garlic and/or 2 tbsp chopped fresh chives for additional flavor.

Haricot Verts aka ‚ÄúOMG, Insanely¬†Delicious Green Beans‚ÄĚ


Besides having the traditional Green Bean Casserole at Thanksgiving, I¬†used to overlook green beans when thinking about making a side dish to accompany my main course. Well, that has changed now. These tantalize my taste buds to the extreme. I know… it’s just¬†a vegetable, but in my opinion, these are out of this world. Try ’em for yourself and let me know!

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp teriyaki¬†(can use regular or a flavored one… I use an extra tbsp¬†Soy Vey¬†Island Teriyaki)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 lbs fresh green beans
  • 1/2 c red & orange¬†bell pepper strips
  • 1/3 c thin onion slices
  • 1/2 c whole cashews
  • 2 tbsp sesame seed oil

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the teriyaki sauce, honey & butter.
  2. I prefer to steam the green beans over boiling them as it keeps a lot of the nutrients, but you can do either.
  3. In a skillet, heat up sesame seed oil, then saute the bell peppers and onions for 5-10  minutes (or shorter if you like them crispier).
  4. Add the beans, cashews and lemon juice.
  5. Saute for a couple of minutes, then add the teriyaki-honey sauce and toss gently.
  6. Saute on low for another 5-10 min to blend all of the flavors together.

As a side note, I paired this with my grilled orange-and-bourbon salmon.  ENJOY!!!