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Sun-dried Tomato and Asparagus Pasta Salad

July 6, 2011

Thanks for all your kind words and support about our race. I’m already searching out my next race. Joey, on the other hand, is taking a few steps back from distance running and is going to focus on shorter runs paired with lots of lifting and agility workouts.

Races aside, we are in full-on wedding mode over in this neck of the woods. Tomorrow is my last day of work before the wedding, and my family starts arriving in town tomorrow, too. I’m so excited to spend a few days with my mom, dad, Andrea, my little sisters among other family members before the wedding day arrives.

But amid the craziness, a girl’s gotta eat, right? My mom and I made this tasty and off-beat pasta salad last week, inspired by Food Network’s ‘Mix and Match Pasta Salad’ article. To be quite honest, the combination of ingredients was fun and tasty, but the Creamy Parmesan Dressing was anything but rich and complex. So we did our thing and dressed it up a bit with the addition of Greek yogurt, balsamic vinegar, dried dill and a little olive oil for a thinner consistency.

Thank goodness there is plenty of summer left to make this again and again.

A serious dose of wedding updates coming up soon!

Sun-dried Tomato and Asparagus Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad
*1 lb. fusilli pasta, cooked according to package directions, drained and rinsed under cold water and drained again
*2 cups steamed chopped asparagus
*3 ears of cooked fresh sweet corn kernels
*1 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

*1/2 cup 2% Greek yogurt (plain)
*1/2 cup sour cream
*1/3 cup olive oil
*3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
*1/8 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
*1/2 teaspoon dried dill or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
*1 garlic clove, minced
*1 1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese 
*Salt and pepper to taste

*Place cooked pasta in a very large bowl along with the asparagus, corn and sun-dried tomatoes.
*In a small mixing bowl, combine all the dressing ingredients. Stir until well combined. Pour mixture atop pasta mixture in larger bowl. Toss or stir until well-combined. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to an hour before servings. Makes 8 to 10 side-dish servings

Happy Cooking!


Raw Corn and Tomato Salad with Basil-Lime Dressing

June 6, 2011

I loved being in Austin over the past four days, but there is nothing quite like coming home and getting back into the groove of a schedule and routine. Don’t get me wrong, the food in Austin was amazing, but at the end of the day I would rather just eat at home.

The process of cooking my own food and preparing meals with ingredients from my kitchen is such a safe, soothing and relaxing process. I think that has something to do with the fact that I can be slightly type-A and I enjoy knowing what exactly goes into each meal I consume.

For almost a week now, I’ve been dreaming of making this salad. Fresh, uncooked corn kernels from good old Iowa sweet corn and tangy, juicy grape tomatoes cut with rich shards of cheese. The Basil-Lime Dressing that tops this corn salad is bright and zesty, and would make a great topper to a lettuce-based salad, too.

Raw Corn and Tomato Salad with Basil-Lime Dressing
*1/3 cup light balsamic vinaigrette
*1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
*Juice from 1/2 lime
*2 cloves garlic, peeled
*1/3 cup packed fresh basil leaves
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*Corn kernels from 4 ears of fresh sweet corn, uncooked
*1 1/2 to 2 cups sliced cherry or grape tomatoes
*1/2 cup shredded Asiago cheese

*In the bowl of a food processor, combine the ingredients for the dressing. Blend until well-combined and smooth. Set aside.
*In a large bowl, combine the corn, tomatoes and Asiago cheese. Drizzle dressing atop salad mixture and toss to coat. Sprinkle with black pepper and additional salt, if desired. Makes 4 to 6 side-dish servings

Happy Cooking!


Quinoa with Spicy Tomato Peanut Sauce

September 29, 2010
I’ve been on a bit of a roll with quinoa lately. I’m not entirely sure why, though I do think it might have something to do with the fact that I’m trying to cut back on the number of dollars spent at the grocery store and use the ingredients I actually have at home instead. 
When I moved into my apartment 8 months ago my parents took me to Costco to stock up on the basics and get me on my feet. Evidently quinoa seemed like a basic necessity at the time, because I’ve had an embarrassingly large amount of unused quinoa lurking in my pantry ever since. 
And while using quinoa, or any other grain for that matter, may sound like a good idea in the morning, mustering the desire to cook it at night is another story. To remedy this, I’ve started cooking large batches of barley, quinoa and brown rice on Sunday, then storing them in the fridge for the week to come. All that’s left to do at night is whip up some type of quick sauce, like this Spicy Tomato Peanut Sauce, to mix it up each meal. 
Quinoa with Spicy Tomato Peanut Sauce
(Printable Recipe)
The title of this recipe doesn’t lie – it’s spicy! Feel free to scale back on the chili powder if desired. Since a little bit of this sauce goes a long way, I had leftovers, which I stored in my fridge for a couple weeks and used as a dip/spread. 
*1 cup quinoa, prepared according to package instructions
*1 Tbsp. olive oil
*1 shallot, diced
*1/4 tsp. chili powder
*1/8 tsp. paprika
*1/4 tsp. salt
*1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
*1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes
*1 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter
*2 Tbsp. heavy cream
*1/4 cup tomato sauce 
*Chopped Peanuts (optional)
*In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Add in the shallot, chili powder, paprika, salt and black pepper. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until shallots are softened and spices are well combined and fragrant. Remove from heat.
*Place tomatoes in a food processor or blender with the heavy cream and tomato sauce. Process until almost smooth and only small chunks remain. 
*Return skillet to heat and add in the processed tomato mixture. Heat through. Add in the peanut butter and stir until well combined. Remove from heat and spoon over quinoa. Garnish with chopped peanuts, if desired. 

Sundried Tomato Pasta Salad

June 4, 2010

I am going camping. I’ll say it again. I, Madison Mayberry, am going camping for the very first time in my 22 years of life. For those who only know me through this site, it may be hard to understand the humor in this, but for friends and family who know living, breathing, non-camping me, it is nothing short of earth shattering. To top things off, I am recovering from a 24 hour bout with food poisoning that left me curled up in a ball on my couch for the better part of Tuesday.

Once you finish laughing, your prayers would be greatly appreciated.

My camping companions for the weekend? J. and his family- all experienced campers. For the outdoor excursion, J. and I were asked to contribute a salad and some type of sweet. Initially, I jumped at the thought of bringing my favorite lettuce salad, but the prospect of trying to keep lettuce wilt-free, and bringing multiple containers for the ingredients and dressing seemed daunting. I’m no expert, but I think ease of transport and durability is important when camping.

Pasta salad won out because it actually seems to taste better after a couple days. The flavors become richer as the dressing settles into the pasta and there is no need to worry about bruising or wilting. And it’s not just about being easy; this pasta is seriously delicious. It’s sweet, salty, light, and summery – pretty much everything you could ask for in a pasta salad. When looking at this photo, you might notice the Asiago cheese is missing. Since I still have to transport the salad, I’ve left off the cheese so I can add it in at the last minute, but you can be sure the cheese will not be forgotten. 

I’m off to pack my bags and mentally prepare to camp. My camera is coming with, and you can be sure there will be photos upon my return. Wish me luck!

Sundried Tomato Pasta Salad
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
(Printable Recipe)
*7 oz. jar sundried tomatoes 
*3 cloves garlic
*3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
*1 cup olive oil
*1 tsp. kosher salt
*1 Tbsp. dried basil

*16 oz. corkscrew pasta
*1 pint cherry tomatoes
*1 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese

*In a food processor or blender, combine all the ingredients for the dressing. Blend for 2-3 minutes, until the tomatoes are finely chopped. Set aside.
*Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water until pasta is no longer hot.
*Place pasta and tomatoes in a bowl. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Top with the Asiago cheese. Serve cold.

Happy Cooking!


Turkey Burgers with Broccoli Tomato Salad

September 23, 2009

Tired. The word of the day, week, and maybe even the month! It’s not so much the kind of tired that you feel when you had one night of bad rest, but rather, the kind of exhaustion you feel when that one night of bad rest becomes multiple nights and tasks and responsibilities pile up. I don’t have kids or a family, but I think I’m beginning to understand why so many moms resort to the help of take-out when exhaustion settles in.

But let’s be honest, take-out can be a minefield to navigate. Often expensive and unhealthy, sometimes getting back in the kitchen is truly the best option. Truth be told, it dinner doesn’t have to be an elaborate production. There are nights for that, and then there are nights when it’s just about nutrition and fuel, and if it tastes great, count it a bonus.

So while this may not be the definition of culinary brilliance, it does meet the basic requirements of a healthy, tasty, weeknight-friendly meal. A nice way to add a little extra weight to this meal would be to put the turkey burger on a whole-wheat roll with some typical burger toppings, like lettuce and tomato. The salad oh so good! Chopped broccoli, tomatoes, feta cheese, and a bit of balsamic vinaigrette make it super simple. Serve it cold and enjoy the leftovers for lunch.

Turkey Burgers:
*1 lb. ground turkey
*2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
*1/2 tsp. salt
*1 tsp. Italian seasoning
*1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Mix together the above ingredients and form into 4 patties. Grill or pan-fry over medium-high heat, 5 to 6 minutes per side, or until no pink remains. Place burgers on foil lined baking sheet. Turn oven to broil. Sprinkle the cheese over the four burgers and place broil for 2 minutes, until cheese is nicely browned.

Broccoli Tomato Salad:
*1 head broccoli, steamed and chopped
*4 medium tomatoes, chopped
*4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
*4 Tbsp. balsamic vinaigrette
*1/2 tsp. salt
*1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

Mix together the above ingredients and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes, until chilled. Serve with turkey burgers.

The bottom line? Life is too short and cooking too fun to stress about weeknight meals. Let these recipes get you on the path to healthy, family-friendly cooking when time and energy is running low.