A Tasty Summer Dish

It isn’t often I make a dish to eat hot and decide I like it better cold. However, this pesto pasta salad with tomatoes and mozzarella chilled with some grilled chicken? I find it a delicious summer dinner! It’s also the first time I made pesto on my own (memo to me for future: your blender has a food processor attachment) which mostly went pretty well.

IMG_0529

I only skipped the Romano cheese from the original recipe as I prefer a touch more mozzarella. I also could not find yellow cherry tomatoes at Publix so I bought an organic grape tomato medley pint and tossed in some regular grape tomatoes I had leftover in the fridge from last week’s meal. Delightful!

Ingredients

8 oz. uncooked whole-grain farfalle
2 cups fresh basil leaves
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp grated lemon rind
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup tomato medley, halved (I used the orange and yellow in the mix)
3 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 3/4 cup), divided

Directions

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain. Place pasta in a large bowl.
  2. Combine basil and next 5 ingredients (through garlic) in the bowl of a food processor; process until smooth.
  3. Add basil mixture, tomatoes, and 5 oz. mozzarella to pasta; toss to combine.
  4. Top with remaining 5 ounces mozzarella to serve.
  5. You can serve hot the first night or chill the mixture once at room temperature to serve at a later time.

 

Well, that’s summer then…

I will admit, the fact that it is September literally shocked me. Summer went so fast! It helped that I was very busy for most of it and had lots of fun times but that also meant I apparently didn’t have time to blog. I have reasons.

Up a tree. Photo credit to my awesome cousin Jodi
One, summer was, as I said, busy! I got to go home when the temperature was above 40 degrees which means dinner at the Loop, races in Oswego, ice cream at Byrne Dairy and especially an awesome, no holds barred feast up at Grandma and Grandpa’s camp. It was awesome! And then I went to Orlando to hang with a super awesome family which meant actually having children with me at the Disney parks. This was novel and so much fun and slightly nerve wracking because at times, in case you’ve never visited a theme park of any kind in the summer months, it was CROWDED. The amount of people required capital letters. But, we had a blast and rode lots of rides and ate lots of food and just had a fantastic time at Disney. I then turned right around and left for New Orleans for a conference but I did get to see some of the city but it’s on my “really need to go back and spend days exploring” list because I really only had a day to see the highlights and that wasn’t doing it justice. I did get beignets and coffee at Cafe du Monde though and it is as tasty as they say. I always like when things live up to their praise.
Two, work. I love my job, I really do but we were very busy this summer. Hopefully, sometime this fall people will start to see the fruit of all our work when our new digital library site goes live but until then, I don’t have much to show for everything we’ve done but know that we worked hard this summer on lots of stuff and hopefully this fall we’ll get some awesome things to show for it. One of the downsides of my job though is a lot of hours in front of the computer screen meaning the last thing I often want to touch when I get home at night is my laptop.
Three, I think I am officially in a bit of a reading slump. I haven’t been reading very fast or very much. Nor have I been that interested in what I’ve been reading. I am hoping to get back on track this fall and into a reading routine again. That always helps me stay on track with books even if they aren’t holding my attention very well.
Four, something about summer just means I go out for an hour and then spend four in front of the TV. Not good. I was hoping to get rid of cable (and temptation) but a frustrating couple of phone calls meant it would cost me more to pay for just internet instead of my current bundle (how twisted is that?!) so cable stays. However, a reading routine and books I actually want to finish will help me kick the cable habit I have developed! Also, the start of the fall TV schedule will help as when I know there is a show I want to watch at 10, I make the effort to read from 8 until 10.

Sigh, so good. Beignets and coffee at Cafe du Monde
I also am debating a movie re-watch of all my movies and blogging about it. This is both an effort to do some cleaning of my DVD collection (would I want to watch this ever again?) and also an effort to blog more about movies AND books again. We’ll see if this fall works out for that or if that becomes a winter project (or at least as wintry as it gets in the South – autumn is just depressing because I really miss all the colors)
And recipes too should be making a reappearance here! I actually think I have a recipe to share that I just never did this summer so I will try to dig that up and share ASAP. I did just try a new dish last week but it was kind of blah so not sharing that one. Again, I am hoping to get back into a routine this fall and cooking is on the list to make a priority!
Happy Fall everyone!

Food Stories (and a recipe!)

I’ve been watching, slowly but surely, the lectures from Edible Education 103, a class held at UC Berkeley last fall and headed up by Michael Pollan. I love to eat so a class looking at food and our relationship with it seemed like a good place to start looking into what MOOCs are but also, the class has just been fascinating. The one I watched last night was with NPR’s The Kitchen Sisters who presented on collecting stories about the “hidden kitchens” in communities all over the country. One of their tenets of storytelling is that “Food is the New Music” – everyone has an opinion, a story, a song they want to share and food, like music, can trigger all sorts of memories.

Food is important in my family. We like to get together and eat. Most of my happiest memories involve food in some way. We have certain meals we eat at certain times of the year, we have certain foods we like to share with people, foods we hope our friends like when we bring them to parties. I’ve always loved sharing my family’s recipes over the years with friends or being asked for them as my friends have scattered all over the world on their own adventures. I know my box and folders of recipes with titles like Grammy’s¬†Goulash¬† Jodi’s Pumpkin Bread, Uncle Gary’s Meatballs always meant I took a little piece of home with me no matter where I went.

Come summer, I pull out all the recipes for cold salads, dips and grilling. Recently, I made a batch of my Aunt Marcia’s spaghetti salad. This was a dish I insisted I wanted for a grad school graduation cook-out to not only have as one of my favorite dishes, but also to share the dish with some of my best friends from school. Word of advice to the singles, this recipe makes a TON of food so halving the recipe means you still have leftovers but just not so much that you’re sick of the dish by the time you are done. And hey, if you’re invited to a potluck BBQ this summer, this recipe is a unique and delicious one to take along!

Perfect summer meal in my book! Burger and spaghetti salad

Aunt Marcia’s Spaghetti Salad

Ingredients:
1 lb. cooked spaghetti
1 large green pepper – chopped fine
1 red onion – chopped fine
8 oz. Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing (1 small bottle or half a larger bottle)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1 bottle McCormick Salad Supreme

Directions:

1) Prepare spaghetti as noted on box. Mix together with all ingredients in large bowl.
2) Let chill for 24 hours before serving
3) Still well before serving as the vegetables tend to settle towards the bottle of the bowl over night.