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Category Archives: Side Dish

Sweet Italian Pasta Salad

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Sweet Italian Pasta Salad

Ahhhhhhh, the summer holidays are just around the corner. You know what that means … cook outs and glorious get togethers and the age old question pops up …

“What are your bringing?”

Tell them you are bringing Sweet Italian Pasta Salad.

It’s a recipe that I perfected last year but never bothered to blog about it. It was gone before I could actually snap a photo – it’s like that sometimes. Just how I rolls.

This pasta salad is easy peasy, the preparation of the additions is what takes the most time in my opinion. It’s worth the effort I promise.

Simple, I am all about simple and this dish is simple.  Rotini pasta works well for this pasta salad since it captures the dressing in it’s spiral shape.  I combine some great things like fresh sweet corn (but canned corn works, too), orange peppers, grape tomatoes, spinach, blue cheese and the pièce de résistance, Marzetti’s Sweet Italian Dressing.

What the what? It’s exactly what the name applies, a sweetened Italian Dressing and it’s delish. Yes, this sugar lover would think it’s delicious. I haven’t tried making this superb pasta salad with any other dressings but if I would have to guesstimate … I think it would still be good. So don’t be afraid to explore!

Wishing all my readers a Happy Memorial Day and would like to thank all those who serve and protect our nation!

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Sweet Italian Pasta Salad
A Licious Original Recipe

Ingredients
4 cups of rotini pasta, cooked and drained (I used Barilla Whole Grain Rotini)
1 cup fresh baby spinach, chopped
1 cup corn (either fresh or canned, if canned make sure to drain)*
1 cup grape tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup orange pepper, diced
1 cup blue cheese crumbles
1/2 cup Marzetti Sweet Italian Dressing

Directions
Cook pasta according to directions on box. While pasta is cooking prep your vegetables. Drain pasta and place in a large bowl. Add the veggies; spinach, corn, tomatoes, pepper, blue cheese and combine. Finally add the salad dressing to the mix until coated through out (Every bite should have a taste of dressing). Chill for at least 2 hours and serve with your favorite entree.

*If you decide to use canned corn, it does not have to be cooked before adding to the pasta however if your are using frozen or fresh corn be sure to cook!  I like to roast fresh corn in the oven.

Momma’s Mac (and Cheese)

Mac and Cheese

If comfort could be summed up in a dish, that dish would be macaroni and cheese. Pasta and cheese, yes please. It’s a dish that brings back memories of family dinners; my Mom and then Step- father at the dinner table with my sister and I exchanging thoughts and laughter. The dinner table was the “Switzerland” in my house growing up. We could bicker and argue everywhere else (and did) but the dinner table was off limits. Need peace add food to the mix! Who can fight when there is great food to be eaten. Perhaps that is why there are emotional eaters … food often equates to happiness or peace. I am totally guilty of it.

Ok, I am getting off tangent. Back to the Macaroni and Cheese. This is my Mom’s recipe with some tweaks by me. A recipe is just a guideline after all. My Mom’s Mac is a baked custardy mac and cheese. We did and do not eat the Kraft Easy Mac (no offense to Kraft) in my house. Artificial cheese does not comfort me. The real deal Holyfield does!

A good Mac and Cheese for me is simple; should be moist, seasoned, and cheesey … the more cheese “DA BETTA”. Also use good cheese, my favorite cheese is Cabot. The flavor does not go away once melted, if you have ever used sub par cheese then you know what I am talking about don’t you. I see you shaking your head. Another thing about cheese add varieties; don’t stop at one add more to the mix. There is no right or wrong.

Tip from my Momma: Leave some of the pasta water.I just learned this tip and it works! Don’t leave all of it, I say pour out about half of it. Should be somewhat below the pasta line. More pasta than water. I should have taken a photo of it to illustrate yet I didn’t. *slaps hand* BAD FOOD BLOGGER.

I hope everyone is having a good start to their 2012. I want to know, What is your comfort food?

Until Next Time,

Jennifer

Macaroni and Cheese

A Licious Food Original

INGREDIENTS

1/2 pound of elbow macaroni, boiled as directed on the package

5 ounces (half a container) of Kraft Philadelphia Cooking Sauces Original Flavor*

4 ounces Cabot (half a block) Seriously Sharp Cheese, sliced

4 ounces Cabot (half a block) Sharp Cheese, sliced

4 ounces Gouda (I used Borden’s Gouda Cheese), sliced

1/2 stick of margarine or butter

2 eggs, lightly beaten

Salt and Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit.

In a large pot boil macaroni as directed on the back of the box. Drain at least half amount of the pasta water. Just a heads up, I use the large pot as my mixing bowl. Add cooking sauce and stir. Add cheese, one type of cheese at a time and stir. Add margarine/butter, stir and allow it to melt from the heat of the noodles (if your noodles have cooled simply melt the margarine/butter in the microwave.) Lastly, add the lightly beaten eggs to the pasta/cheese mixture and stir until incorporated.

Pour mixture into a casserole dish, a 2 or 3 quart casserole dish should suffice. The mixture should have some room to bubble. Another Momma Tip: Use a circular casserole dish if possible to avoid crispy edges and an overall even baking.

Bake for approximately 35-45 minutes, the macaroni and cheese should be bubbling hot and slightly browned.

*NOTE: No Kraft Philadelphia Cooking sauce, substitute with either a cheese sauce or a can of evaporated milk. If substituting with milk be sure to add more cheese to compensate.*

Loaded Baked Potato Salad

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I was never a big potato salad person when I was a kid or teen yet when I was in college I had roommates who challenged my thoughts on potato salad and I realized I CAN like it under the right circumstances. These circumstances would be when I make the potato salad or someone I trust makes it. The majority of my family still does not care for it and I respect that; I still have an ” Oh Heck NO!” ban on Macaroni Salad, Coleslaw, Egg Salad, and any type of mayonnaisey salads that like to be served at summer cook outs.

This potato salad I am posting about today is not the normal Southern Style salad. This is a new Americana salad. No mayo needed. No eggs needed. Dill pickle … fuhgeddaboudit!

If you like sour cream, bacon, and cheese with your potato then this is your potato salad. It’s good warm or cold but just don’t leave it sitting out; that would be bad – very very bad. How would I describe this salad? A fully loaded bake potato but cold; simple and point blank.

Loaded Baked Potato Salad has been a favorite of mine for some time and I would usually just buy it in my local market’s deli yet that is never good enough for me. If I love something then I want to recreate it – so I did. The first two times I made this salad it was more like a mash potato salad and kind of bland. Since the creations sucked the big one, there was no reason to blog about it. If I wouldn’t eat it, why would you?

HOUSTON WE HAVE LIFT OFF! This third time I was successful – no mashed potato salad and flavorful! Instead of baking the potatoes whole this time around, I diced the potatoes and tossed with seasoning and olive oil and baked. This made all the difference! Perfectly cooked potatoes with seasoning that when sour cream, cheese, bacon, and scallions were added it is the bomb dot com!

Serve this salad with your favorite beef entrée or any meat entrée for that matter. Try it at your 4th of July party – You and your guests will be back for seconds my friends!

Warning: I plan to play with this recipe one more time so there may be a modification at a later date.

Until Next Time,
Jennifer

Loaded Baked Potato Salad
A Licious Food Original 

Ingredients
3 Medium size Russet Potatoes, cleaned and diced
2 teaspoons Seasoning Salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup sour cream
2/3 cup cheddar cheese, shredded (I used Kraft 3 Cheese Crumbles)
2/3 cup bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup green onions; chopped plus 2 Tablespoons for garnish

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 Fahrenheit.

Clean potatoes with the skin on, thoroughly. Tasting grit is never good.  Diced potatoes, make sure they are somewhat uniform in size so they bake evenly.   Rinse potatoes again.

In a bowl add potatoes, seasoning salt, and oil then toss until the potatoes are coated.  Start with two teaspoons of seasoning salt but feel free to add more – you should season it to your taste.
Spread the potatoes on a cookie/ baking sheet ; should be one layer no overlapping.

Bake potatoes for 30 to 35  minutes at 400 Fahrenheit  and remove from the oven.  Let the potatoes cool for at least 15 minutes.

In a large bowl add cooled potatoes, sour cream, cheese, bacon, and green onion. Mix together until incorporated. Top with remainder green onions (you can also add some cheese and bacon for garnish, too) and serve if you want it cooled but not refrigerator cool or refrigerate and serve when ready.

Makes approximately 3 to 4 cups.

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