Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ranch Pasta Salad

Do you ever get sick and tired of the same old side dishes you serve with meals? ME TOO!

Over the summer we have held quite a few fabulous barbeque's, but sometimes, I feel like I serve the same old things at every event or outing.  The Italian pasta salad,  potato salad, coleslaw, chicken salad, tuna salad... I know you know what I mean.

Every year by the end of summer I am completely bored with grilling and the side dishes that accompany those burgers and brats. Last time we had we had friends over, the temperature reached to nearly 100°F degrees. I wanted something nice and light, but heavy enough to fill up our guests. I also didn't want to go back to the store!  I searched the pantry and fridge and came up with this super easy ranch pasta salad.

Now days, Todd asks for this all the time. You have to appreciate simple, easy recipes that taste good! Oh... and I blogged this one just in time for Labor day, because I just knew you would NEED it.

Ranch Pasta Salad

One (1) 1 Lb. box of rotini pasta, (or any shape you prefer.)
One (1) 16 Oz bottle of your favorite ranch dressing. (I use wishbone.)
Two (2) Cups fresh basil, (or spinach,) chopped in half.
Two (2) 2.5 oz. cans of sliced black olives, optional
One (1)  pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Prepare pasta according to the directions on the box. Drain, rinse, and empty into large mixing bowl.

Add coarlsey chopped basil, tomatoes, black olives and ranch dressing. Stir to combine.

Salt and pepper to your liking and serve!

Wasn't that painless?!

Stay safe and have a wonderful labor day weekend!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Egg, Prosciutto, and Arugula Sandwich

Hello there! Once again... I am behind on my blog! Sorry about that.

I must admit, this summer has gone incredibly fast. I am just not sure where time goes anymore! In fact, I never even posted about our wonderful trip to Alaska because before I knew it, life went on to the next big event. Thankfully, things are slowing down a bit more and I am getting back into the routine of things. By that I mean cooking.

Truth be told, I have fallen into the "just throw something on the grill" routine, and am not feeling all that guilty about it. Sweet corn was recently in full swing and I literally ate it with every meal for almost a month. There is nothing better than fresh sweet corn on the grill! Not to mention shrimp, chicken, the massive amounts of halibut we shipped back from Alaska, brats, burgers... it all tastes wonderful and doesn't need much but that good charcoal flavor. We live for our summer grilling months here in Minnesnowta.

Last weekend, however, I woke up and felt inspired to COOK something "different" for breakfast. I am so incredibly bored with scrambled and over-easy eggs. Instead, I craved something with much more flavor. I hit the internet and then... out of nowhere... this beautiful dish stood before me and I knew I had to have it and have it NOW!

So simple, yet so divine!

I really, really, really hope you try it and love it as much as Todd and I did.

Egg, Prosciutto, and Arugula Sandwich
Serves: Four (4)

Two (2) English muffins, cut in half
1 tablespoon butter
Four (4) slices prosciutto
Four (4) eggs
One (1) cup fresh arugula
Salt and pepper, to taste
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
1/4 cup white vinegar, for poaching

Bring a medium pot of water to a rapid boil and stir in vinegar.

Meanwhile, in a non-stick frying pan, lightly fry prosciutto over medium heat until browned and slightly crispy, about 4-5 minutes. Set aside.

Now, to poach your eggs. Crack one egg at a time into a small bowl. When your water/vinegar has reached a rapid boil, gently slide the egg into the water. Repeat with the other egg. Allow the eggs to cook for about 2 minutes. The yolk should still be runny, but the whites should be set. Remove each egg from boiling water with a slotted spoon onto a tea towel to remove excess water. Poach the remaining two eggs. (If poaching eggs intimidates you, don't panic! Remember, it may take a bit of practice, but you WILL get it down pat after a few beginner's mistakes. Here's a great tutorial by Alton Brown on Serious Eats to help you through it.)

Lightly toast and butter each half of your English muffins. Top each half with a handful of arugula and one slice of crispy prosciutto.  Top each with a poached egg. Add salt, pepper, and drizzle with your best olive oil.

Voila! Easy, right? Now, make a mess out of that thing!

Source: Adapted from Versus from my Kitchen; a Curtis Stone Original

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Some of My Favorite Things

I have been insanely busy lately, (who hasn't been, right?) I truthfully haven't even had time to bake or cook! This is rare for me as I ALWAYS find time to cook, but lately my kitchen is lacking a workout, (and so am I.)  Fortunately, I have a freezer stocked with soups, pastas, and other things that have been holding us over until I can get back into my original routine.

Today though, I thought it would be fun to take a moment and share some of the things in my kitchen that I couldn't live without.

Note: I am in no way paid for endorsing any of the products below... I just have them and really like them.

#1 - My Dutch Oven

I really want to get rid of every single other pot in my house. Whether big or small, this thing does the trick! So why have 15 different pots? (The only reason I can think of is because you spent a lot of money on them!?) Once you get one  of these babies you will find yourself utilizing it in all sorts of ways! You can spend anywhere from $30.00 to $199.00 but in all honest they work the same. Save yourself the cash and go middle of the road like we did, and try out Martha Stewart's line from Macy's. 

#2 - A Pizza/Grilling Stone

I love pizza! Nothing tastes better than making it from scratch! This versatile stone can be used for making pizza but also can be used to cook vegetables, seafood, poultry and pretty much anything you can think of! The best part... do them on the grill or inside! I got mine at Sur La Table for a little more than $50.00, but I am sure you could find one cheaper!

#3 - Joseph Joseph Rocker Garlic Crusher

There is nothing better than fresh garlic. And even I, (the usually patient cook,) sometimes get irritated with peeling, chopping, and then chopping again and again. Forget it! This little gem makes it a cinch! Again, a Sur La Table trip well worth it. I LOVE that store!

#4 - The TRU Triple Slowcooker

There is absolutely nothing better for warming and serving at your next party. Recently, I hosted a party where I did a taco bar and used this for a trio of chicken, beef, or shrimp taco options and it was perfect! I am already gearing this puppy up for football season!! This I got at Kohls with one of my fabulous 30% off coupons.
#5 - A Salt (and Pepper) Pig

I gave up on salt/pepper shakers and grinders awhile back. Nothing got more annoying. While cooking a meal, I don't want to turn a grinder 47 times to get a tiny amount.... I want to lavishly put it everywhere! I threw them out and got a salt (and pepper) pig instead. Now, I just grab it and throw it all over. LOVE. This item is again from Sur La Table... but I am sure any cooking store has them!

There ya have it! Those are just a few of my favorite items in the kitchen. What is your favorite item? The one thing you can't live without?

Have a great day in the kitchen!