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easy–peasy pasta salad 

first of all, thank you for your kind words and messages yesterday ☺️

tis the season for cookouts, barbecues ( <—–did I ever mention that I don’t like that word?  I lost my 5th grade spelling bee to this word.  There is not a ‘Q’ in barbecue)
Le sigh…  
Anyway.. where you find cookouts, you find fun side dishes!  Our family always had a slaw, potato salad, detox salad or pasta salad in the fridge this time of year. 

A favorite is my Mom’s pasta salad. Nothing fancy, just amazing. 

Recently I made this version of a pasta salad..   And while it can be tweaked to whomever is eating it, this is how I did it.  I have a lot of readers who are adjusting to cooking on their own. I’m going to try to share some easy, inexpensive ideas for y’all. 
This came out a bit on the spicy side. But we love heat around here.  I’ll put the non spicy version in parentheses.

Vinegarette-based pasta salad 

1 pound pasta of choice (we love farafalle for this) 

Sea salt

1 /2 red onion chopped 

1/2 cup pepperoni, quartered 

1/2 block pepperjack cheese ( use Monterey Jack or cheddar for less spice) chopped 

Cherry tomatoes *see tip below for easy cutting *

1/4 cup chopped olives

1/4 cup pepperincinis,sliced 

1/3-1/2 cup of premade Italian dressing ( I like Newman’s for this, use what you like)

1/4 cup herbed feta ( not pictured) 

Broccoli florets go great in this but I didn’t have any

Sprinkle of red pepper flakes 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add sea salt. Cook pasta according to box and drain ( don’t rinse) 

Add about a tablespoon of dressing to warm pasta and toss.  Let come to room temp, tossing every once in awhile.

Add toppings

Then top with dressing and toss!

If using the red pepper flakes, sprinkle a few on top. 
I made this last week and my family devoured it. It’s so simple, yet so tasty.  It has just the right mixture of texture and flavor 
Some more of our family favorite side dishes 

Blistered tomato salad with feta and arugula 

 Spinach fennel salad with blood orange and arugula

Prosciutto cantaloupe salad

***. Easy way to halve a bunch of cherry tomatoes. ***


Take 2 deli- style lids 
Lay tomatoes single file on one lid 


Top with other lid upside down 


Use a serrated knife.  Apply gentle pressure to top lid and slowly cut between the 2 lids 

Bada bing!


The hubs and I have been playing words with friends again.  He’s terribly competitive 🙄. And I never win a match with him 😂😂😂
Anyone else have super competitive family members???

Off to hear about him winning again..

Until next time…
Ciao bellas!

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one-pot creamy pasta

Happy Friday, friends. 
The recipe I’m sharing today is not my own.  It was in Martha Stewart’s magazine a few years back.  It was one of those pull-out recipe cards. 

I must admit, I didn’t think much of it when I saw the recipe, but a snowy afternoon with limited ingredients in the house led me to try it.
Holy cow batman!  Is at as good as fettuccini alfredo?  Nope.  Pasta, cream, cheese butter garlic..  not much can compare with that. 

Was it amazing? YES!

Was it easy?  YES!  Easier than making a box of kraft mac and cheese ( which, btw.. it also kind of amazing it it’s fake orange cheese nostalgic way ☺️) 
Here’s the original recipe for One pot orecchiette, chickpeas and olives

Admittedly, I’ve followed her recipe to a tee… but I’ve also used it as a guideline to play a little. 
Here’s her original recipe, just subbing the kind of pasta I used 

12 ounce dry pasta ( I had bow ties, so I used bow ties) 

* note..  many companies make ‘no bake’ pasta these days.  For this recipe, just use your regular pasta.  I haven’t tried it with GF pasta, but I’d imagine it would work, just keep an eye on it and add more water if  needed) 

1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed 

1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted ( you can buy them pitted.. don’t fret )

3 cloves garlic, smashed ( or 1 tsp garlic powder ( make sure not garlic salt) 

Sprig of fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dried

3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil 

2 TBSP tomato paste ( buy the tomato paste in the tube.  It’s in the canned tomato isle.  Believe it or not. Whole Foods has one of the least expensive tomato paste tubes.  I believe Trader Joe’s also has one) don’t pay more than 3 bucks for it

( optional.. but I always use in any soup or stew.. small piece of Parmesan rind) 

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

Sea salt

Ground pepper

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese ( I also added a bit on cheddar ends that I had in the fridge )

2 cups baby greens 
Place everything up to cheese in a stockpot. 

Add 5 cups of water 
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium, stirring occcasionally. Check pasta in 12-15 minutes ( thicker pasta will require longer.  Check at 15 min to see). It should be mostly cooked, with just a slight bite to it. 

Turn off heat, but leave pan on burner 

Add the cheese, replace cover for 5 min so the cheese can melt. After 5 min, stir and if cheese still needs longer to melt, cover for additional 5 min.  Discard rosemary sprig, if used. If sauce seems a bit thick, stir in a bit more water until you get a creamy consistency 


Serve with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes 


Please try this!  I have a lot of friends who are just learning to cook.. a lot of girls just on their own, either senior year in college or just out on their own.  This is a great recipe to start to learn to cook 

You can assemble in the morning and add water and cook when you get home from work
You can play with the ingredients…sub out broccoli crowns and cooked chicken for the chickpeas and olives

Or chopped red pepper and cooked sausage for the chickpeas and olives

Or ground beef and onion,  and pepper jack cheese for a Tex-mex flair

Or you can eliminate the cheese to make this vegan. 
Full credit of this recipe goes to Martha Stewart.  I just wanted to share it because it is insanely easy and tastes like it took a lot longer than it did to make. Try it! 
Enjoy!
Ps…. happy birthday to my long-time friend, Laurie! 🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🍷🍰😘

bow-tie pasta with ham, peas and cream ( and garden pics) 

I’m not exactly sure when I actually started to make this, but I am completely sure that my family devours it! 

While it’s not exactly low-calorie, you can serve up a smaller portion on a bed of baby spinach or arugula. 

Girl math= adding greens to pasta cancels out the cream and carbs 😁

You can also have this on the table in less than 1/2 hour 😎

I know with just about every recipe I’m all like” dudes and dudettes! You must make this!” 

So why should this post be any different? 

Truth be told, I used this recipe as a template to make my 

gnocchi with lemon ricotta sauce with prosciutto and spring peas

*** note to self…  This must be made this week

I give you 

bow-tie pasta with ham, peas and cream 

  

1 pound bow tie pasta, cooked al dente, drained ( never rinsed reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid for sauce 

1 tablespoon butter 

1tablespoon olive oil 

1/2 in thick cut of ham ( ask at the deli.. They will happily cut it for you ) 

1 shallot, chopped finely 

1 pound frozen peas 

1/2 pound snow peas ( optional… Sometimes they are too pricey..  But I happened to find them on sale this week 

*** optional… 1/2 cup vodka***

1 cup chicken stock (boxed is fine if you don’t have any in your freezer.. Just use low sodium) 

1 Half pint heavy cream 

Pinch of nutmeg 

Sea salt and pepper 

Add butter and olive oil to Dutch oven and turn heat to medium. Chop the ham into small cubes and sauté.  After 4 minutes, add the chopped shallot and stir. 

***. This is where the optional vodka comes in.  Vodka takes whatever flavor it’s mixed with and intensifies it so if you use it in this recipe, it adds another layer of flavor, but I promise you it’s still really good without it*

Using either vodka or chicken stock, deglaze the pan by adding directly to ham/ shallot mixture and scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen bits ( aka.. Flavor) 

If using vodka, reduce by half. Then add remainder of chicken stock.  

Add pasta and let simmer for 5 minutes. 

Add peas and cream and grated nutmeg and pepper

Add reserved cooking liquid a little a a time to get the consistency you are looking for 

Taste for seasoning before adding salt… Some hams are saltier than others 

  

I had some pea tendrils from my garden, so I used them as garnish.. You could also use parsley, or just grab a big spoon and dive right in! Who would I be to judge?  I’ve certainly done that before 😁😁😁

Remember This picture from mothers’day? Well, unfortunately ( or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) we had a few trees that didn’t weather the storm all that well…..  So we’ve spent the last few weekends cleaning up and re arranging plants ( some from out very own yard = FREE!) 

Here’s the same view this afternoon 

 

It’s so much more open! I’m loving it! 

I’ve planted zucchini an cukes and tomatoes in all of that cleared space on the left 

I’ve always wanted an English Cottage garden. By opening up the area, I was able to start one! 

 

  

 

Of course, it doesn’t look like much yet, but I resisted the urge to plant too close in favor of doing it properly 🙂 

Bonus? With the tree cleared on the left I can see the garden from my dining room window! 

 

 

I made some new pillows for my bench 

 

 Transplanted my plants that I started from seed indoors 2 months ago ( my arugula and peas LOVED the snowstorm! ) 

 

  Utilized a hanging basket for my herbs 

 

Planted a couple of urns 

  

 

The four- legged princess approves 😎🐾🐾🐾

Are you planting anything fun this year? Tell me about it! 

my mom’s pasta salad 

so apparently it’s spring,  although here in Denver you wouldn’t have known it this past mothers’ day. 

  

Seriously.   It was pretty awesome! 

  

Because I got to make a snow lady! 

Today I’m sharing what is pretty much a basic pasta salad.  My mom made this growing up all the time.  Now I do! We pretty much always have a bowl of this in the fridge from spring to summer. 

  

mom’s pasta salad 

1 box of small macaroni ( shells, elbows, etc) 

2 celery stalks, chopped 

2 carrots, peeled and chopped 

1/2 red onion, chopped 

Hellman’s mayonnaise ( anywhere from 1/2 cup-1cup) 

***Powdered garlic ( 1/2tsp minimum, more if you really like garlic) 

Sea salt and pepper. 

Cook pasta in salted water, just until tender.   Drain ( don’t rinse). While hot sprinkle  with salt, pepper and garlic . Let cool . 

Mix all ingredients together. 

  

And that’s it! Season woth salt and pepper!

When my daughter’s friends come over they eat this like candy. 

My niece  once stole the bowl off the counter and I had to chase her! 

she and my daughter actually sat in my oversized tub ( empty tub ) with the bowl and two spoons. 

I couldn’t make this up if I tried! 

*** I once made an incredibly over garlic dip…  It was insane.   Ever since then Scott claims I tried to kill him with garlic…  So I tend to use less garlic than most.  Season to your own family’s tastes!

I have a few other pasta salad recipes, but this one here…. It’s the family favorite! 

thug kitchen’s chickpea tabouli 

hint… She’s not wearing any shoes 😉

Yup… I’m back at it. Actually I’ve been cooking an awful lot. I’ve come to realize what great therapy it is for me!

There’s so much I want to share with you, that I have literally been sitting at my kitchen table for an hour trying to decide which ones I should write about.

I’m in a bit of a snark this weekend, so I decided on the off-color recipe ( actually it has a lot of color!)

Have y’all heard of Thug Kitchen ?

It’s a couple of peeps who like to use 4 letter words.. The really colorful ones..

They started a blog and recently released a cookbook ( if you aren’t easily offended, I urge you to google thug kitchen cookbook trailer… I laugh every time that I watch it… If you are easily offended, then don’t research it or click on the link to the recipe I’m about to share )

They cook plant- based foods… Yes, vegan…. Trust me, don’t let that stop you from trying their recipes… Just throw a steak on the grill and make it into a side dish 🙂

I’ve made 3 recipes from the blog this week

Pasta with cauliflower cream sauce

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Buffalo Falafal ( didn’t take a picture, but hot dang these were tasty )

And chickpea tabbouleh ..
amazing! )

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It was just as fun to make as it was to eat

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I’ve also been doing a ton of canning… I mean LOTS!

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I’m channeling my inner homesteader… I find the entire process very soothing.. I think it’s the organization part of it…

In fact I have 2 big pots of beets ( one red, one golden) on the stove right now getting ready to be pickled!

I leave you with a picture of the tree right outside our bedroom window.

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Nature’s art 💝

Happy autumn! I have so much to share!

Oxox

friday smiles

friday smiles

 

click for link

flashback…. Ali’s graduation party

Hello friends 🙂

Our youngest daughter, Alison graduated from high school just 2 weeks ago.. And since we were sooo busy I’m just not getting around to posting about it.

It was a very special time. Both my boys and my daughter in law, Amanda, flew In for this special event.

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And of course, Scott

It all went by so fast..

We had her party the day after graduation simply because everyone was in town. I spent many hours thinking about the kind of party that I wanted to have for her. ( which was really good for me because it helped to keep my mind focused on that versus my life changes right in front of me)

The weather was less than desirable. In fact, downright miserable. Scott had wanted to have the party at a hall, but Ali and I really wanted a big white tent in the backyard.

Having it at home was also important to us as we knew that only 5 short days after the party we would be completely moved out and that this would be the last time that we would get together with our friends and families in this home.

I ended up calling and having sides to the tent added once I saw the forecast.. And the morning of the party I called and ordered a heater.. ( it was in the 40s, damp, windy and cold)

The heater was the best decision EVER!!

Everyone seemed to have fun ! It was so nice to have the majority of our families there and so many of Ali’s friends and a few of mine

Here are some random pics..

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Yes.. Flat Dave was the first party guest… With my family, I’m not surprised at all

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Ali with a few of her friends

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My adorable niece, Kalli

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Lots of family, including Scott’s 102 year old grandmother!!!

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A lot of the food I was able to make ahead

I served

Baked ziti
Chicken broccoli Alfredo
Sweet and sour meatballs
Lemon orzo salad
Anniversary chicken ( chicken with bacon and cheddar cheese)
Homemade pickles
Southwestern bean salad

Lots of snacks and drinks including homemade sangria!

I have all of the recipes that I used in case you are interested. Everything was easy to make a head of time and came out great ( I think)

Of course, I have zero pics of the food, except for the cake and cupcakes 😉

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It was everything that I envisioned her party to be.. We are all so proud of her!!

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It may have been cold and raw outside but it didn’t matter… The love inside that tent was awesome… ( not to mention the fabulous heater 😉 )

Oxox

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Cooking in Colorado

yes. friends, I am here confessing to you.. I am in love with white beans.

it’s true. and on my recent trip to Denver I told you about a situation that I go myself into.

you see… I was able to use an entire kitchen to make dinner…except, other that appliances and cookware, I had zero food. I mean nada. zilch. less than nothing.

I did not even have salt or pepper 😦

We had stopped at the whole paycheck store the day before I decided to cook ( to buy apples and kombucha… I’m addicted to the booch.. Lord help me) when I saw a container of cooked white beans.

I kid you not when I tell you that I kept thinking about these beans.

I may have had a dream about them that night.

or not.

but probably.

like yes.. it’s true I dreamt about the dang beans

could I even MAKE this up?

So when Scott suggested that we cook in Sat night rather go out and deal with the crowds.. i was all over it.

Except that we were starting from scratch.

so I put my thinking cap on….. *psst… it’s pink 😉 *

I knew I had to have those white beans. I just had to ..

and white beans marry so well with greens. When I saw local spinach at the store, I knew I was onto something.. But Scott and Ali would want an additional protein… chicken thighs were on sale.. so I added that to the basket. and a lemon. I love lemons. Like maybe too much. I start most days with warm lemon water

I wanted fresh pasta, but at 8.99 a whack, I skipped it in favor of dried linguine.

and the smallest jar of oil that i could find.. which happened to be truffle flavored.. which is ok.. I was going to make it work.

and some light cream.. to round the dish out. and finally, frozen peas.

and since this is how I cook…. ( all willy- nilly, most of the time sans- recipe ) I give you

ingredient-challenged barefootgirl cooks in another kitchen white beans & greens with pan seared chicken thighs in a lemon garlic cream sauce sprinkled with peas.

my fingers just hurt even typing that..

so grocery list…….

cooked white beans

garlic cloves ( 3)

bunch of fresh spinach

a lemon

small jar of oil ( truffle in our case, but any heart healthy oil will do)

chicken thighs ( skinless)

light cream

dried pasta

parmesan cheese shreds

frozen peas

*pick up chicken stock. I’ll explain in a bit*

( I was hoping to find salt and pepper packets so that I didn’t need to buy salt and pepper to then have to throw out, but the register lady ( my hopefully someday job) told me to go to the salad bar and sprinkle s&p into a salad dressing container.

pure.

genius.

I started by draining & rinsing the beans and heating a saute pan with a bit of the oil… adding the beans, season them with salt and pepper, adding 1/ the chopped garlic and smashing a few of the beans.

I then added the rinsed spinach right on top

( don’t worry about the extra water on the spinach, it will help the steaming process).. add the spinach directly on top, cover immediately and remove from heat.

don’t peek.. you sneaky- peeker- you…

next. add oil to another saute pan, season thighs with genius salt and pepper and place thighs in pan, allowing them to brown.

Once browned on one side, using tongs.( not to self and all of you… oxo makes the BEST tongs. I unfortunately did not have those there.. I will be changing that very soon ) anyway.. using the tongs. flip the thighs over and allow to brown on the other side. add the remaining garlic and then I added the cream.

* now here is where I would make a change.. I would use chicken stock here instead, and add the cream at the very end. the cream started to curdle a bit.. it was still really good, but if you use chicken stock now to cook the chicken in.. you will be happy 😉 *

cover the chicken and allow to simmer until chicken is fully cooked.

this is an excellent time to cook the pasta in boiled salted water 🙂

add frozen peas once chicken is cooked.. allow peas to just heat through.

next remove the lid from the bean mixture

isn’t it pretty 🙂

and if you are feeling like it’s a wild and crazy night since you are in another city, mix in a bit of cream

and a squeeze of lemon juice. and just to take it over-the-top

some parm cheese

this.. was my dinner….

and this was theirs..

I topped each with a squeeze of lemon for freshness..

yum 🙂

now when all was said and done.. I added the leftovers to one pot ( cutting up the pasta) and made the base of a soup… all that you would need to do is add a bit of chicken broth and heat for a quick weeknight soup 🙂

going out in the city is nice, but every once in awhile, it is nice to just stay in and enjoy the view and the cooking…. and that is how this family spent our Saturday night. And not one of us would have changed it 🙂

enjoy this recipe.. now that I’m done typing, My tummy is rumbly and I’m on the hunt for the ingredients to make it again..

caio friends 🙂

psst.. if you haven’t read it on facebook.. congrats to Lynn on winning the hand knit socks! remember, mom is offering free shipping on any of her items for the month of Oct with 100% of her proceeds going to ward breast cancer research… thank you to all who have taken advantage of this.. I guarantee you… her fingerless gloves are the best!

oxoxo~shel

small friends & pasta party!!

Yesterday was a very busy day here at Casa Hagg.

Not only did I get to spend the day with two of my favorite kiddos in the world

~L

and

~G (peanut butter face)

but we were also having a team-building , carb-loading pasta dinner for the girls’ JV soccer team..

We spent the morning playing race-cars , coloring big empty boxes & getting the house ready for the party

and having lunch 😉

When it was time for  L to get on the school bus to kindergarten..

G & I set out on an adventure for acorns

for his favorite stuffed squirrel.. ( he now has a winter-long stash;) )

For the dinner I made a tossed garden salad ( nothing fancy, I never know who will eat what..)

garlic bread

traditional baked ziti

made with sausage, ricotta, mozzarella & tomato sauce

but I also wanted another pasta option.. so I came up with this recipe.

beware.. calorie counting is prohibited for this dish… it is comfort food at it’s best

Baked shells with a parmesan-cream  sauce & broccoli

here is what I used:

1 box of medium shells, cooked according to package, except reserve 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water before draining.

1 stick of unsalted butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 pint half & half

2 cups chicken stock

nutmeg

1 8-ounce package of 5 cheese blend shredded cheese

2 cups frozen broccoli, defrosted & chopped.

here is what I did:

in large stockpot ( the same one that I boiled the shells in, they were chillin’ in the colander in the sink)

Melt the butter over medium heat; add the flour & whisk with a whisk to make a slurry.

Let cook for about a minute to let the raw flour taste cook off; slowly add the half & half, whisking constantly.. then do the same with the chicken stock.

Add a pinch of nutmeg, stir occasionally as the mixture thickens.. season with salt & pepper; Add shredded cheese & let cook until the cheese is all melty.

Add the pasta & stir to combine, adding some reserved pasta liquid, starting with 1/2 cup, then adding more if needed.

Stir in broccoli & pour entire mixture into a buttered baking dish.

Top with grated Parmesan cheese, cover with foil & bake in a 350 degree oven for 1/2 hour.

This. Was. Heavenly.

As I went for my second helping last night, I promised myself a day of all vegetables today as retribution..

I keep reminding myself of that as I know that there is just enough of this in my fridge for lunch should I decide to break my promise with myself & indulge.

Which I won’t.

I think.

Yeah, I won’t.

Probably.

Good luck Lady Saints in your first home game of 2010!!

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