Thursday, August 28, 2008

South West Pasta Salad

So I am more than a little behind on posting this one. It is another one from the old picture folder of "remember that time I hosted an engagement party?" This was the version of pasta salad I decided to do. No Italian dressing here! It is covered in flavors of lime, cilantro and cumin. I really enjoyed it, and, an added bonus, the dressing for the salad also makes a great chicken marinade. It is definitely best fresh, but can be stored (w/o the cilantro) overnight in the fridge if you want.
I'm entering this South Western take on pasta salad into the newest Recipe Remix. Enjoy!
South West Pasta Salad (Adapted from Allrecipes)
  • 1/2 (16 ounce) package gimelli pasta
  • just under 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • just under 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 1-2 tablespoons chili powder, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 can of corn, drained
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 diced green bell pepper
  • 1/2 diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup chopped roma (plum) tomatoes
  • green onions
  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
  2. In a large bowl combine oil, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, salt and garlic. Stir in pasta and set aside to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in corn, beans, green pepper, red pepper and 1/2 of the cilantro leaves. Spoon onto a platter and garnish with tomatoes and remaining cilantro and green onions. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Green Bean and Cherry Tomato Salad

This one was such a winner. I want to send a HUGE thank you to Smitten Kitchen for this delicious and healthy side dish idea. I served it alongside baked ziti and home made bread. The bread with the salad was delicious. I used it to soak up all the extra dressing. If I was not serving with a crusty bread, I would likely halve the dressing recipe, because it was far too much dressing for JUST the veggies. So great and easy, you have to try it!
I am submitting this wonderful recipe to Joelen's Tasty Tools roundup because you need your whisk to get the dressing right. I reccomend using a very small whisk because of how little you need to mix up.
Green Bean and Cherry Tomato Salad

1 pound green beans
1 pound cherry tomatoes
1/4- 1/2 an onion
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Top and tail the beans (I also halve the big ones at this stage), and parboil them in salted water until tender (2-4 min). Drain and immediately spread them out to cool. Stem the cherry tomatoes and cut them in half. Can do up to here in advance, but do not move ahead before you are ready to eat.

For the vinaigrette, dice the onion fine and put it in a bowl with the vinegar and salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil. Taste and adjust the balance with more vinegar, oil, or slat, as needed. Toss the cherry tomatoes in with the vinaigrette; this can sit for a while. Do not add the green beans until just before serving or they will discolor. Toss and serve.

Friday, August 15, 2008

S'mores Cupcakes

Dhanggit is hosting a party and I'm bringing dessert! Ok, so maybe this dessert wasn't just for Dhanggit. Maybe I made them for the engagement party I hosted, but they were still great party food!
I made s'mores cupcakes with a chocolate cake base, graham cracker and marshmellow frosting and graham cracker topping with a hershey bar piece stuck in. Yum! And so cute, no? The idea was from Sew Darn Cute and the recipes are from her and Martha Stewart.
Makes about 30
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with liners; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, sift together cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla; mix batter until smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to assure batter is well mixed.
  2. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about one-third full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely. Frost with marshmellow topping and top with graham cracker crumbs and chocolate bar pieces.

Here's where it got interesting. If you frost the cupcakes with the fresh frosting, the frosting spreads and droops. See Below.
Lesson learned: Mix graham crackers into the frosting to make it more solid and then refridgerate until it will hold it's shape. Ah, much better!

Marhmellow Frosting and Toppings
2 sticks butter, room temperature

1 lb. (2 cups) confectioner's sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
16 oz. tub of marshmallow cream (Fluff)

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

30 hershey bar pieces

Cream the butter on high until it's light and fluffy. Add the confectioner's sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, and beat until fluffy each time. Beat in the vanilla until incorporated. Add the Fluff (this takes patience and a little ingenutiy) and mix until creamy. Add 1/2 cup graham cracker. Transfer to Ziploc bag and put in fridge for a little over an hour and up to overnight. When ready to use, cut off tip, pipe onto cupcakes. Top with graham cracker crumbs and a candy bar piece.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Frozen Lime Pie

Can I tell you about my new crush. R.R. will always have my heart, but Robin Miller is now finding a place in my kitchen. More specifically, my freezer. I had a Barnes and Noble gift card right around the time they were having an awesome sale, so I picked up a bunch of books including a very cheap copy of Miller's "Quick Fix Meals." I now LOVE this book. I put my tabs in it, and about half the pages are marked! I love her "double duty" efficiency! Call me type A but the planning in it makes me so happy. With crazy law school days ahead, i have taken to making dinners and making extra to freeze, so Robin Miller's book is right up my alley. Expect to see a lot more from her in days and weeks ahead. For the record, I have already frozen chicken tortilla soup and baked ziti.

For right now, though, I currently have a frozen pie from the book in my freezer. Delicious, cooling and SO easy you wouldn't believe. And really, isn't that all you could ever ask for?
Frozen Lime Pie
from Robin Miller's Quick Fix Meals
8oz tub coolwhip, slightly thawed
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup key lime juice
6 oz prepared graham cracker pie crust
*I added green sprinkles and food coloring for color*

Combine first 3 ingredients (plus sprinkles and coloring if using) until smooth. Spoon into pie crust and smooth the surface. Freeze at least 30 minutes and up to 3 months.

I am entering this yummy treat into A Southern Grace's Beat the Heat event.