Posts Tagged With: Dinner

Lameo Excuses and Broccoli Bowtie Pasta

I’ve been a touch absent on the ol’ blog-ski as of late.

I could give you all the excuses:

I spend over 30 hours with these children last weekend between the school day Friday and Relay for Life (which is an 18 hour overnight fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.)

I followed up the Relay festivities on Mother’s Day by cooking paella for the first time for my lovely Mummy. (More to come on that soon….ish.)

I’ve been writing my silly little heart out over on the Llamadorks Tumblr, mostly about my newest obsession: Carly Rae Jepsen.

But in lieu of all these lame excuses let me offer you some salad.

A tasty, refreshing and down right irresistible pasta salad that will no doubt be my go-to for the summer.  It’s tangy, sweet, salty and I’ve been (literally) eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I can’t actually take credit for the recipe though. It’s a Southern Living creation I found floating around

I did make some (very delicious) tweaks to it though, which I’m sharing here in italics.

Broccoli Bowtie Pasta Salad with Grapes and Bacon
Adapted from Southern Living

  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 (16-oz.) package farfalle (bow-tie) pasta (I used a full pound, whoops!)
  • 1 pound fresh broccoli
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (I used half mayo, half 2% Greek yogurt)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup diced red onion
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups seedless red grapes, halved
  • 8 cooked bacon slices, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved 
  1.  Prepare pasta according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, cut broccoli florets from stems, and separate florets into small pieces using tip of a paring knife. Peel away tough outer layer of stems, and finely chop stems. (This is also when I cooked my bacon and halved grapes)
  3. Whisk together mayonnaise and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl; add broccoli, hot cooked pasta, grapes, bacon and pecans. (The recipe said to chill for three hours, but I enjoy warm pasta salad so I dove in right away.)

Since I used a whole pound of  pasta this recipe made a ton of salad, so if you don’t want to be eating off it all week (which obviously doesn’t bother this gal!) I suggest following the original recipe and only use 8oz of dried pasta.

Love to all,
~the filled with lame excuses and lots of pasta salad gal, Jess

Categories: Rad n' Random, Waz Sup(er) | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Epic Easter Eats

Ok, ok. Epic is the most over used adjective on the internet for the year 2012 and we are only midway through April. Crap.

I just couldn’t resist the alteration. What can I say, I’m not so secretly an English Nerd.

But really you guys? Easter Dinner was really good. Really, really good. As in Bomb Dot Com good. Maybe even worthy of epic?

I’ll let you be the judge.

And while veggies are my besties, and that plate is indeed the definition of Irish/Southern lovely, this meal was all about the pig.

Spinach, Mushroom & Feta Stuffed, then Grilled Pork Chop style piggie that is.

And the best part is? These tasty babies were totally a creation of yours truly (ok, ok, Mom had some serious influence too).

Unfortunately, this is the state of your truly’s brain tonight:

What that means for me is another mega-dose of Ibuprofen and an early bedtime. What that means for you is another night (or so) waiting in suspense for the recipe that is the driving force behind the beauty of those juicy, bursting at the seams with flavor (oh and spinach!). My apologies. (And what that means for my friend Tim, liking that I have a mutinous brain? Well, I’ll let it go this time, as I’m sure he’s appreciate of my whit, and grit, not my body part malfunctions.)

Love to all,
~the “wow I’m really dragging this Easter Dinner thing out, eh? Well, it was pretty epic.” gal, Jess

Categories: Celebrate Good Times-Come On, Waz Sup(er) | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Monday Meals-Quick & Comforting

Some meals are meant to be cooked all day. You can luxuriate in the process. You can bond with your family and friends. You can test out new recipes, flavor profiles and techniques. Meals like that are for Easter Sundays, for lazy summer days by the grill, for baking sprees on a chilly fall night. Mondays are NOT that night. (Actually, Monday nights aren’t even for recapping epic meals like the one I prepped and enjoyed for Easter Dinner; but scouts honor I will. This week.)

No. Monday nights are for this.

A quick skillet dinner that is loaded with flavor, comforting “meat & potato” elements and bright, fresh kale. Oh and did I mention you can eat it 20 minutes after walking in the door? Yep. That is a Monday Meal in my world.

Just chop some garlic, slice some red creamer potatoes, crumble some hot Italian sausage links and saute with kale. No additional seasoning required. So easy. So classic. So Monday.

Oh, right and it’s delicious. Duh. (Guess I left part of my brain at my desk. Good thing I can blame it on Monday, eh?)

Love to all,
~the, “oh my goodness I’m so happy to be eating meat (sausage!!!!) again now that Lent is over” gal, Jess

Sausage, Red Potato & Kale Skillet

3 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4-5 small red potatoes, thin sliced the length of the potato
3 links hot Italian Sausage, casings removed
2-3 cups kale, washed and chopped into bite-sized pieces (I used the Morning Glory brand- washed and chopped in the bag-so quick and easy!)

1-briefly saute the garlic in the olive oil until fragrant in a large skillet over medium heat for 30-60 seconds
2-Add the red potato slices in a single layer and cover the skillet. Allow the potatoes to brown for ~5 minutes. Do not stir them. Just don’t, ok?
3-Meanwhile remove the casings from the sausage and prep the kale if you didn’t buy the bagged/washed/chopped variety.
4-Flip the potatoes over and add the sausage, breaking it down into crumbles over the potatoes. Let it be for another 4-5 minutes. Cover.
5- Continue to stir/crumble the sausage and shifting the potatoes around. They should be nearly tender at this point. Cover when not siring.
6- Add the kale in a layer over the sausage/potato mixture and cover so the greens can begin to steam/wilt down, approximately 2-3 minutes
7-Mix the kale in and allow everything to meld together for another 3-4 minutes over low heat.
8-Serve with sour cream if desired.

Categories: Waz Sup(er) | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Holiday Weekend Gone to Heck in an Easter Basket!

Here is my wardrobe for the weekend:

Sparkles & Dots

Now before you start wondering if I go to an oddly formal/cocktail attire only church for Easter Vigil (I mean, Mass does start at 9pm, why not?) the orange polka-dot dress is my Easter frock of choice this year.

Oh no, I’m spending my Good Friday Evening chaperoning the 2012 Jr/Sr Prom. Heaven Help ME. (I’m actually really excited about this to be honest. I LOVE this group of seniors and can’t wait to embarrass them all night with my nerdy science dancing.)

Actually, I’ve had a wonderful Good Friday thus far. I’m so lucky that my school district honors Good Friday as a holiday, which saves me from taking it as a personal day. It is my family tradition to go to Stations of the Cross at noon (I’m Catholic, if you didn’t know that already) and then a light wine and cheese meal at The Wine & Cheese Gallery (wow, how appropriate- wine & cheese at a place with “wine & cheese” in their name.) This year’s Stations of the Cross was one of the most moving experiences I have ever had, in or out of the church setting. So, it’s only fitting that I’m going to meditate on those thoughts for a bit longer and write up a whole post on that later.

Easter Dinner Menu

For those of you who have been “hanging around” with this Gal for a while (either in real life or weblife) you know that Easter Dinner is always a battle in my house. Last year we had to pull the chicken enchilada compromise out to make it dinner without attacking each other with the silver flatware.

Things this year have come together a bit more smoothly. Mostly because I didn’t even try to suggest lamb. Secondly because Mum and I wrote the menu on our 12 hour drive home from VA during spring break. I actually suggested a stuffed flounder, kind of Florentine style with crab meat, Parmesan and spinach. Sadly, flounder isn’t readily available in the ‘ville and since I’m really trying to focus on local, seasonal goods shipping it in wasn’t an opinion I wanted to go with. Mom & Dad had a pork loin in the freezer just waiting to be cut into chops, (please don’t make me think about where that piggy came from…might be worse than ordering the fish!) so here is what we came up with:

Mixed Green Salad (or Fruit Salad-my grandmother is contributing this part of the meal, so she decides)

Spinach, Mushroom and Feta Stuffed Pork Chops, inspired by this Culinary Disaster recipe
Kale Mashed Potatoes, aka Colcannon, inspired by this Parsley Thief recipe
Fresh Green Bean Casserole, based on the classic French’s French Fried Onions recipe

Guinness Cheesecake for dessert, using this recipe from Closet Cooking

I can’t wait to get cooking and tasting! For now it’s time to go “beautify” myself for prom. Ack.

“See you” on the flipside of this beautiful holiday weekend.

Happy Easter, everyone!

Love to all,
~the dancing little Easter Bunny gal, Jess

Categories: Celebrate Good Times-Come On, Hey Teacher (Wo)Man, Sinfully Sweet, Waz Sup(er) | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Classic Comfort Food: Meat Sauce (Hold the Meat)

Meat Sauce. It’s pretty much a staple in the American childhood. Even if you only had it at a friend’s house like me,  I’ll bet you have some memory of ground beef swimming in a seasoned tomato sauce, just waiting to be ladled over a mountain of spaghetti noddles and topped with Parmesan cheese.

Truth Time: I had totally forgotten about Meat Sauce, because growing up in an Italian family we didn’t do the whole, dare I say “generic,” spaghetti night at home. (Spaghetti is an all day event in my world!) But as I mentioned above it’s a staple in many other households, including some of my best friends houses growing up.

When I was visiting my aunt and uncle in Virgina recently my aunt had to make her famous “spaghetti”…which is actually a very tasty meat sauce with some mushrooms and green peppers in the mix. Considering I’m still abstaining from meat right now I was reluctant to have any, but she had worked pretty hard on it, so I cheated and you know what? Meat sauce is pretty darn good!

Then I started thinking about all my vegan and vegetarian friends and how they wouldn’t be able to enjoy the simple beauty that meat sauce can be. Well, my beloved vegheads, this one is for you.

And here is my secret to this vegan meat sauce:

Yes, the often feared, but correct revered tempeh. This fermented soy product comes in many favored forms these days, but I started off my “not so meaty” meat sauce with a block of plain tempeh.


Tempeh can be crumbled easily with your fingers, or you can use a box grater if you want more of a shredded texture.

Browned in olive oil with a generous volume of sliced fresh garlic renders the bland crumbles into a savory treat that would be great on it’s own.


Or you can saute up some onion, green pepper, and portabella mushrooms with a can of crushed tomatoes and basil to add to the tempeh.


Toss some penne noodles and serve on a bed of kale with steamed broccoli.

Now that is what I call a meat sauce, hold the meat!

Meatless Meat Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 8oz package soy tempeh (unflavored)
4-6 garlic cloves, sliced (I like things really garlicky, adjust to your taste)
1 small sweet white or yellow onion, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
2 cups portabella mushroom caps, sliced
1 320z can crushed tomato with basil (or use your favorite jarred sauce, omitting the sugar)
0.5 lbs penne noodles, cooked and drained (or another pasta of your choosing)
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon “Italian Spice Blend” (dried basil, oregano and parsley)

1-while 1 tablespoon oil heats over medium heat, crumble the tempeh.
2-Add the garlic, and saute just until fragrant, about 45 seconds
3-Add the tempeh, sauteing with the garlic ~5 minutes, or until the tempeh is brown
4-Add the fennel seeds to the tempeh/garlic and saute for an additional 60 seconds, then remove the tempeh mix from the heat
5-Add the remaining oil to the pan and saute the onion, pepper and mushroom for 3-4 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender-crisp.
6-Mix in the crushed tomatoes, letting the veggie/sauce mixture come up to a gentle simmer.
7-Sprinkle the sauce with the sugar (this will help cut down the acid of the canned tomatoes)
8- Return the tempeh to the pan and season to taste with an Italian Spice Blend of your choice (I used basil, oregano, parsley, salt and black pepper)
9-Toss with the pasta, serve with your favorite green vegetable and enjoy!

Categories: Waz Sup(er) | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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