Pasta Salad easy tasty crowd pleaser

I wonder if there are people who are not BBQ’ing this weekend? I can safely say that even when we didn’t have company over we had a BBQ. Weather has so far never stopped us – huh KP? Think pouring rain, no lights, umbrella with drinks in hand and SO many laughs. Food tasted great I think? We were incredibly soaked but we were making memories!
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Even with all the outdoor parties, the unofficial start of summer and the great food out on the grill please take a moment to reflect on the meaning of Memorial Day maybe even take in a parade! A day on which those who died in active military service are remembered.
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I will be making this pasta salad to share with the fam along with BBQ shrimp, steak tips and lobsters. I might even make a potato salad since we have a lot of protein and not a lot of sides. We’ll see what I come up with later today.
IMG_4070IMG_40711 box of pasta such as campanelle, cavatappi or similar; cooked as directed – I use Tri-Colored Rotini
1 Can of small Black Olives drained
Container of cherry tomatoes – cleaned and sliced in half
Container of Feta Cheese
1 Carrot – grated
I like adding sliced salami or pepperoni – but this can be omitted
Ken’s Zesty Italian dressing

Make the pasta according to the package directions. After straining the pasta and while it is still warm add some dressing to toss with the pasta and marinate it.
IMG_4072In a large bowl toss everything else together and toss till its mixed all together.
IMG_4073Just before serving add a little more of the dressing and give it a quick toss again!
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Scalloped Potatoes – must try

So I am going to go out on a limb that when I posted this recipe 4 years ago; none of you made it. Do you want to know how I know. I googled my blog while I was at the store to make sure I had what I needed and noticed I left out an ingredient hmmmmmm. Not my first time and probably won’t be my last. But a couple of my close friends that read my posts called me out on missing ingredients before and no one said anything this time.

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You can sprinkle a little of the cheddar cheese on top – I did not in this picture. My mouth is watering as I am typing and looking at them – they are SO good!

As you can probably tell I don’t make these very often; not because they are not crazy good; only because there are rich and creamy which so they would not be your weekly go to if you wanted to watch what you eat. I was trying to come up with a way not to deter you from wanting to try these. They truly are worth making/eating once in a while

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I used a mandolin to slice my potatoes but it is not necessary


Ingredients
4 cups thinly sliced potatoes
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 dash cayenne pepper
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
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Directions – making a roux
In a small sauce pan, melt butter and whisk in the flour. Let it bubble for a couple of minutes to cook out the flour taste. Add all of cold milk at once stirring with a whisk; season with salt and cayenne. Cook sauce on low until smooth and boiling, stirring occasionally with a whisk and it thickens a bit. Reduce heat and stir in cheese.

Place a half of the sliced potatoes in a lightly greased one quart casserole dish. Pour half of cheese sauce over potatoes.

repeat with second layer of potatoes and cheese sauce. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Bake uncovered for an hour at 350°F

 

Macaroni & “Cheese” butternut squash

I mentioned a bit ago that I heard you could make a pretty decent macaroni and cheese using butternut squash. A few years ago I would have told you you were crazy. Now I am coming around; so much so I tried it. I looked around the internet for a few recipes but decided to make my usual one and replace most of the cheese with the butternut squash. I was still a little skeptical but what was there to lose?
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I will advise you that if you are going to have your family or anyone for that matter try your new recipe I would not tell them what was in it.  I find that if you tell them it’s different or lighter or different in anyway, their senses are on high alert and they are sure to find or even look for something different with it.
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Case in point; my husband was home when I was making my lighter macaroni and cheese and when it was finished I just brought over a fork full and gave him a bite. First reaction was “mmmm good” I had to ask him what he thought it was. He looked at me a little funny and said “macaroni and cheese” but I think my comment made him add “of some sort” I had to confess it was made with squash and very little cheese. Oh and I also used rotini that was made from Chickpeas.  If you haven’t tried chickpea pasta I really think you will be pleasantly surprised. I have made 2 dishes with great success.

You might be thinking why chickpea pasta it has less carbs than average pasta, more protein and more fiber. So it is just a little better for you than ordinary box pasta. Unfortunately I haven’t seen any at either of my local stores my boxes were bought by my daughter when she visited one of Mario Batali’s Eataly. Looks like I will have to go and check it out.

Macaroni and “Cheese”

Small onion – diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves – minced
2 pounds cubed butternut squash – I used frozen
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
box of chickpea pasta
4 ounce gruyere cheese – grated
few drops sriracha sauce
Parmesan cheese – a small amount for grating on top
1/4 cup seasoned panko breadcrumbs
salt and pepper to taste

saute onion for a couple of minutes in the olive oil.  Add garlic saute another minute. add mustard, nutmeg, butternut squash, stock and milk still squash is softened.
Remove from the heat and using either a stick blender or however you puree your soups. puree the mixture and then add the cheese, season with salt and pepper to your taste.
place in a baking dish and grate some Parmesan cheese and a little seasoned panko bread crumbs.

Per 11 ounce serving
215 Calories – 12g Fat – 14g Carbs – 16g Protein  

 

Leftover Focaccia Panzanella Salad

This weekend I will be playing in my 17th KMS golf tournament. I have been on the board of the foundation for over 10 years and it is an honor to be apart of something that innocently started with a few family and close friends after losing a very dear person in all of our lives. The tournament and foundation has turned into something bigger than anyone could have predicted. We were just a bunch of family and friends that wanted to honor our friend in a fun way that he would have loved. It is the only fundraising we do and the monies collected go to supporting the health and well being of children in the greater Monadnock area. It really is my favorite meeting when we go through all of the grant requests and hand out thousands of dollars to the ones that meet our mission statement. I just wanted to share that little part of me that I am very proud of!

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I also sprinkled some Parmesan cheese on top 

So last weekend I made pizza in my cute little Uuni pizza oven out on the patio. I of course made way more than we needed or could eat. I froze the dough and just made a frittata with the leftover sausage, ham, peppers, onions and mushrooms.
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I have a tendency to not want to throw away perfectly good; case in point the focaccia bread that I made a few weeks ago was quite large and way more bread than anyone should eat in one sitting. While the bread is delicious fresh out of the oven; it doesn’t really taste the same the next day. I ended up make 2 different leftovers with it. I hinted that I would make cheesy garlic bread – I did and it was amazing. No I didn’t take pictures but trust me – make it!!! Melt a little butter and add a little crushed garlic to the butter and spread it all over the bread. Cover in shredded cheddar and mozzarella cheese and bake in the oven until the cheese has melted Aahhhhhhh  

IMG_5261The second leftover was used to make a side panzanella salad; which is basically just a leftover bread salad. I sliced up some red onions very thinly, made an easy dressing and added some baby arugula just to have some greens next to my delicious steak.
IMG_5263Dressing
1/4 cup Red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Honey
1 clove Garlic crushed
salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl add the crushed garlic, vinegar, mustard and honey. Drizzle in the olive oil set aside until the salad is ready.

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Salad
Cubed day old (mine was a lot older – kept in the fridge)
Red onion – a few thinly sliced pieces
Baby arugula
Tomato – remove some of the seeds if you can (I used up some cherry tom’s I had in the fridge)

Place the cubed bread in the oven to dry out even more, I like them lightly browned. Not quite as hard as croutons. Place the arugula, onions, tomatoes and the cooled bread in a large bowl, cover with the dressing toss and serve.

Boston Baked Beans

I am going to assume we are going to be getting into BBQ season around here; Once it stops raining that is and gets out of the 50’s – Sorry SF another weather update here. He told me I’ve had a lot of weather talk lately. It’s been bizarre so i’m just sharing wink wink! Currently I am sitting out on the porch with my laptop, a glass of wine, Pandora playing and enjoying the end of the day first nice day in a long time and writing my blog for this weekend as we are going to be away.
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Since I have been sharing all of my favorites with all of you, I find it easier to google myself for my recipes than to go through my ridiculous pile of paper recipes. Pretty sad huh? or is it pretty cool? I know typing in cookingatclarktowers and what I am looking for is a lot faster. On Sunday I googled me (that cracks me up) looking for my Boston baked bean recipe. Nothing came up and I thought that was impossible that I haven’t shared it yet. I could swear that I did and I even had a part of what I thought I said in the blog. I will confess that I might be in there and I have labeled the title something else and wordpress (or just me) can’t locate it? I have been trying to get better at this blogging world but I still have a LOT to learn.
IMG_5199Back to the BBQ comment Baked Beans at a BBQ is a must for me I love baked beans ; I know this is a bit controversial; well that’s a strong word but I have a few friends that hate them. My BFF KP has proclaimed that she ONLY likes mine so that is saying something; I think. See this is one of the comments I swear I wrote but whatever I am going to share it now OR again since I made them on Sunday and they were delicious and worth trying.  I will also admit while they are delish and relatively easy, the baking in the oven takes a long time. This is something you have to plan ahead of time. I know there are a ton of shortcuts to delicious beans but I promise these are worth the effort and again very easy just hands off time consuming.
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1 package of navy pea beans – soak overnight
1 lb salt pork – rind cut off, pork diced / I had a ham bone leftover from Easter in the freezer
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 large or 2 medium vidalia onions – sliced
⅓ cup molasses
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup ketchup
2 teaspoon salt
⅓ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon dry mustard
IMG_5210In a large bowl soak the beans overnight covered in water
Strain and add beans, fresh water, the salt pork and the baking soda to either the stock pot you are going to bake them in or another pan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 12 minutes.  Skim off some of the foam.
IMG_5198Strain keeping the liquid in a medium sized bowl and then add the molasses, brown sugar, ketchup, dry mustard and the salt and pepper stir to combine.
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In a bean pot or dutch oven (which I used) layer onions, salt pork and beans.  Do this a couple of times.

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Cover with the liquid. Place in a 300’F oven for 5 hours. Don’t cringe I’m sure you can do many other things around the house while they are baking.

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Worth the wait!!!

Thank you to a pretty old Betty Crocker recipe!

 

Easy Potato Salad

I have a confession to make; this week there was not a lot of cooking or baking go on in my house; at least by me. I have been writing my weekly food blog for 3+ years now and my “norm” is to make something, take pictures of it and if it comes out good I will share it with all of you. If it isn’t blog worthy I either make something else, pull out something else I might have made and not shared yet or will try to share an oldie but a goody from a couple of years ago. I am sharing my easy Potato Salad – but these are actual photos from this morning! I wanted some today!
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To clarify my comment above about no cooking by me my daughter spent her entire Monday making up lunches, snacks and a dinner. The rest of the meals were quick throw together meals and I would think most of you already have your own that you can quickly put together.
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We are currently have a long weekend as it being Memorial Day – I do want to give shout out to all of the Veterans out there Thank You for your service!
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There are going to be a lot of cookouts around here this weekend; probably not on Monday as they usually are because we are going to have another rain out of a day. We are close to having one of the wettest months of May on record Yeah us! We did get the gardens in though; so that is yeah us!
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My go to Potato Salad

red new potatoes
eggs
mayo
celery
Kens Zesty Italian
scallions

Dice the potatoes into the medium/small even pieces. Boil for about 10-15 minutes; depends on the size of the potato.

put your eggs in your pot and cover with water. bring to a boil, cover and turn off the heat, let sit for 13 minutes.  Move to a cold water bath to stop the cooking process. and Peel once you can handle them.

This is what works best for me. I always make more and once peeled the pretty ones I turn into deviled eggs, the other ones I make into egg salad.

Drain your potatoes and rinse a little in cold water just so you can handle them a little. Place the warm potatoes into a plastic bag and add just enough Italian dressing so that they all get a little taste of it. I used around 2-3 tablespoons. Place in the fridge to cool completely.
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once cooled add to a bowl big enough to mix and then you can put the salad in a nice bowl or a travel bowl. add the sliced egg, chopped celery and top with the chopped scallions.
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