Momma’s Hearty Pasta Salad

Any cookout I am invited to, I am quick to scour the buffet table of edible goodness until my eyes are fixed on the beautiful selection of salads- potato, macaroni, fruit and my favorite… Pasta salad! All just waiting to be devoured. And who better to put away a big plate of pasta salad than me? I think of it as my duty to help rid the world of dreaded leftovers that just hang out in the fridge after being forgotten. That’s acceptable, right?

If I’m asked to bring a dish or if I have a cookout of my own, you can guarantee that I am the one who brings the pasta salad. It’s always been a tradition of my mom and mine to make it for big events and it’s highly requested. Momma is a believer that a good pasta salad should be hearty and have just the right amount of dressing that is neither too wet or too dry.

Hearty Pasta Salad

After many years of making it, we found that a good pasta salad starts with a quality dressing and is best the next day as the flavors have time to really infuse into the noodles and veggies. If, after 24 hours, the salad is dry, we can simply add more dressing in as needed. Of course, you don’t have to wait a whole day to dig in but it’s like a good chicken noodle soup- always better the longer it sits.

I’m sure that there are plenty of versions similar to this, and maybe even identical, but this is how we make ours and it’s a favorite to anyone who has tried it. So, if you need something to bring to your next gathering, give this recipe a try!

Momma’s Hearty Pasta Salad

INGREDIENTS:Hearty Pasta2

  • 1 lb. Rainbow (tri-colored) Rotini noodles
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 package of sliced pepperoni
  • 1 can of black olives, drained and sliced or halved
  • 1/2 block of pepper jack cheese, diced or small crumbles
  • 1/2 block of Colby Jack cheese, diced or small crumbles
  • 1- 16oz. bottle of Italian Dressing (our favorite is wishbone)
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cook rotini noodles according to package. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking of the noodles. Add to large bowl with lid.
  2. Dice tomatoes (saving the juice that comes out), onions, cucumber and peppers. Toss everything in with bowl of noodles.
  3. Slice pepperoni’s into half circles, separate and add to the pasta salad mix.
  4. Add olives, pepper jack and colby jack cheeses.
  5. Toss in half the bottle of dressing and the 1/3 cup parmesan. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2-4 hours (or over night).
  6. Right before serving, add remainder of dressing (more or less as desired).

NOTES:

  • Don’t have tomatoes on hand? No problem. Just use a can of diced tomatoes and be sure to add the juice from the can as well.
  • Halved cherry tomatoes are also a great substitute for the whole tomatoes.
  • Every now and then I will switch out or add different ingredients to my pasta. I have been known to use: Broccoli florets; carrots (thinly julienned); green olives; yellow onions; summer sausage (thinly sliced and halved)

I hope you like this recipe for Momma’s Hearty Pasta Salad. You really can’t go wrong with it. Your results all depend on what you like best so don’t be afraid to play around with different variations, dressings or noodles. This just just how we like to make ours and it’s never failed us.

Got a different variation of pasta salad that you like best? Share it with me. I would love to give it a try for my next cookout.

Don’t forget to give my blog a quick follow for new recipes and a updates in my crazy life.  ❤

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Asian Chicken Lo Mien & Honey, Ginger Sauce

Hello beautiful Foodies!

As many of you all already know, my culinary class will be proudly crossing the stage in the next couple months (Wow! That is so weird for me to even say. I DO NOT feel like it’s already time to be graduating.)

Today, my classmates and I were approached by Chef Rob about an idea he had swimming in his head for a last “Hoo-Rah” before our time in Culinary school has ended. Of course we were all intrigued to find out more. That’s when he went on to ask if we would be interested in participating in our own little version of Chopped. Do I really have to tell you our answers? One hint… the vote was unanimous!

Not going to lie- I am super, super excited about throwing down The Hungary Pollock style but I am nervous as crap to be under pressure! Sure, most likely we won’t be using ingredients as off-the-wall as Food Network’s Chopped but the whole idea of coming up with something that will blow whatever judges Chef Rob has recruited out of the water is a little nerve wracking.

Since finding out, I have been wrapping my brain around all kinds of flavor possibilities, thinking “this could go well with this ” and “that would be awesome with that”(and obviously planning for a worst case scenario with mystery food items). While details are still in the air, it’s our understanding that we will have access to everything in the kitchen and, like Chopped, we will be required to use EVERYTHING in our Mystery baskets. I’ve even jumped right in to studying my Flavor Bible (if you do not have this book- GET IT! I’ll be making a post about this wonderful find another day!).

One recipe I’ve came up with brings the flavors of Asia right to your table. Ok -confession- I actually made this a few days before learning about the Chopped Competition but still… it falls in the same category, right?

The other day I was in the mood for something Asian inspired so I whipped together a Honey, Ginger sauce; cut and fried up some chicken and threw in some julienned veggies. Oh! And let’s not forget the stir fry rice noodles! In no way would I consider myself an Asian food connoisseur, but the flavors this sauce was packin’ had me feelin’ pretty dang good about this dish!

Here’s how I make it:

Asian Chicken Lo Mien with Honey, Ginger Sauce

IMG_1607fb.jpg

For the Sauce:

  • 1/3 Cup Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 2/3 Cup Honey
  • 1 Tbs. +1 tsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbs. Garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs. Ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp. crushed Red Pepper (optional if you do not like heat)

For the Chicken Lo Mien:

  • 2 Boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into thin strips
  • 2 Tbs. Sesame Oil
  • 3-4 Carrots, julienned
  • 3 Celery stalks, julienned
  • 2 Green Peppers, julienned
  • 5 oz. Stir-fry Rice noodles, prepared according to box
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced on a bias

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together all ingredients for the sauce. Set aside.
  2. Add chicken to another bowl and coat with 1/4 cup of the Honey Ginger Sauce. Let marinate in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  3. In a wok (or in my case- a large skillet), heat Sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and stir fry until cooked through.
  4. Add carrots and celery. Stir fry for about two minutes before adding in the green peppers.
  5. Add rice noodles, Honey Ginger Sauce and green onions; stir fry 3-4 minutes or until noodles are tender.
  6. Place noodle mix on a serving platter, sprinkle with cilantro sprigs and lime wedges.
  7. Grab your chopsticks and dig in! 😀

Notes

  • If you’re not afraid of a little heat, you can add as much red pepper as you like to give it that extra oomph! I, personally, love to have my Sriracha Sauce close by for those moments when I need a little extra soul warming.
  • If you do not use your noodles immediately after softening, cover noodles with plastic wrap or let them soak in cold water until ready to use. If they become sticky, rinse gently with warm water to separate!

I hope you enjoy my version of this flavorsome meal as much as I did making (and eating) it. I am always having fun in the kitchen so when I put this one together and it didn’t taste like something you just found in the trash, I just had to share with all of you.

Got another Asian inspired dish? Tell me all about it! I’m always looking for new ways to spice up my dinner options so I would LOVE to try some suggestions!

 

 

Garlic Roasted Asparagus

Alrighty Folks, please don’t crucify me… It’s been a long past few Garlic Roasted Asparagusweeks and as most of you may know (if you’ve been keeping up with my blogs) I have been practically chained to my homework. This left me with little time to cook and in turn… little time for blog posts. (I know, the horror!). I am FINALLY on a much needed fall break from school. In that time, I did manage to make a few things so that when I got time I may share them with all of you foodies out there.

What better way to kick off my fall break of blogging than with Garlic Roasted Asparagus? Before last year, I have only heard of asparagus and never had the opportunity to try it for myself. When I did (OMG), it was heaven in my mouth. It’s seriously became a favorite veggie in my household. I try to pick up a bundle every time I hit up my local Kroger.

When I let you in on my little secret of how I make mine, your mouth will drop at how simple and fast it is to make this. If your skeptical, don’t be! This is a great side dish to almost any meal.

Garlic Roasted Asparagus

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Bundle of thick speared asparagus
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • coarse sea salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • olive oil for drizzling

DIREGarlic Roasted AsparagusCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Prepare asparagus by breaking off the woody ends. Lay them in a single layer on sheet pan.
  3. Drizzle
    lightly with olive oil.
  4. Sprinkle the salt, pepper, and garlic evenly over the asparagus.
  5. Roast for 10 minutes in the oven (if you have skinnier spears, shorten this time as the spears will become tough and stringy).
  6. Grab a plate, some asparagus and enjoy!

I hope you liked this recipe for my Garlic Roasted Asparagus. Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Have a favorite side dish  recipe that you love, send it to me and I’ll give it a try.

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Chicken Teriyaki Stir fry- the not so traditional way.

  


_MG_0484 copy 2Today was one of those days that I just didn’t feel like spending my whole afternoon slaving over a hot stove. I am still recuperating from my daughter’s birthday party, yesterday. Between the water balloon fights and water guns, I’m not real sure who had more fun; the kids or the adults. It was a great time but after that, I’m ready to just take it easy.

If you haven’t figured out by now, I will do whatever I can to shortcut the time spent in my kitchen while still putting out a delicious, pretty, and filling meal. It’s just the way of a tired momma. I think every parent I know does this in some way, shape, or form. So I don’t feel particularly bad when I do it. 

This recipe is in NO way an authentic stir fry recipe. In fact, my teriyaki sauce was just put together one day and it just happened to be perfect for what I was going for. It’s become my go-to recipe when I’m trying to sneak in the vegetables for my girls. They love the way the crisp veggies crunch in their mouth as they stuff their little faces. I also whipped this up in a jiffy (which keeps my hungry little ladies from yelling, “momma, is it done yet?” every 5 minutes), so if quick and delicious is what you’re looking for, give it a try.

Chicken Teriyaki Stir fry_MG_0487 copy

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 Tbs. Teriyaki marinade and sauce
  • 4 Tbs. Barbeque sauce
  • 2 Tbs. Honey
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tbs. oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into strips 
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1/2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 carrots, cut into thirds and julienned (cut into strips)
  • 2 stalk of celery, cut into thirds and julienned
  • 1/2 bell pepper, julienned
  • 1- 12 oz pkg. frozen broccoli cuts , thawed (fresh will work as well) 
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 cups white rice, already prepared

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a small bowl- mix the first 4 ingredients and set aside. This makes about a cup of sauce. 
  2. In a large frying pan (or wok) over medium-high, heat the oil. 
  3. Add chicken and red pepper flakes. Cook until chicken is cooked halfway through. 
  4. Add celery, carrots and sesame seeds. Cook for 2 minutes. (The chicken should be completely cooked by now)
  5. Stir and add green pepper. Cook 1 minute. 
  6. Add in the sauce, broccoli, salt and pepper. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, reducing heat as needed. 
  7.  Serve over a bed of white rice, garnish with extra sesame seeds, grab some chopsticks (or if your chopstick skills are as poor as mine, grab a fork), and dig in!

NOTES

  • When cooking the veggies, be sure not to overcook them. They should have a little crunch to them, but not underdone. The color should also be vibrant. 
  • You can add or substitute other vegetables but the cooking time can vary. 
  • We also like to just mix the rice right into the stirfry when it’s cooked all the way through. If you do this, you may need additional teriyaki sauce. 

I can already guess what you’re probably thinking, “How does barbeque even fit into stir fry?” Well, I can’t really give you an answer to that. Sorry 😦 I can, however, tell you how that came to be. I was down to just a few sauces but was REALLY feeling some chinese food, particularly stir fry. I happened to find some teriyaki marinade sauce. It was too thin for what I wanted so I pondered what in the world I could use to make this thicker without taking the flavor away. I honestly don’t even know what made me try the barbeque, but I snatched it up. I added a little of this and a little of that and tasted it to see how bad the damage was. To my surprise, it was perfect. The barbeque added the right thickness without overpowering the teriyaki. My husband raved about how good this was for forever and made sur_MG_0486 copye he packed it in his lunch for work. SCORE! Proud wifey moment 😉

I hope my use of our everyday condiment doesn’t scare you away from trying this out. It’s quick. It’s simple. It’s delish! 

If you liked this recipe and want to try it out, be sure to let me know how it turned out for you in the comments! I would love to hear all about it! Please share with friends so that they may enjoy this too!

Thank you for following The Hungary Pollock!