Saturday, April 18, 2015

Greek Pasta Salad

I planned to make this recipe for 6 months before I finally made it!  Our puppy requires a lot of attention and this is the first dinner I cooked that was more complicated than hot dogs and a can of pork and beans.  I made it while she was milling around my feet, and she didn't pee on the floor or anything :D

That success apart, this is a really good pasta salad.  I halved the recipe, but it still made a lot.  You know it's good if you still are looking forward to eating it 4 or 5 days later!  We liked it so much that I plan to make it again once the weather warms up a bit.
The recipe is from the blog Rocky Mountain Woman.  My only changes (other than halving the recipe) were to use roasted bell peppers instead of sundried tomatoes (I couldn't find any at the store), and I cut way back on the dried oregano.

As a side note, the dip pictured with the raw veggies in this photo is Dilly Dip.

Greek Pasta Salad

1 lb assorted dry pasta
15 oz can small whole olives, drained and rinsed
12 oz jar roasted bell peppers, diced
1/2 of a 12 oz jar sliced peperoncinis, drained
7 oz container crumbled feta cheese
for dressing:
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/3 C olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard

Cook pasta in salted water, drain, and rinse with cold water until pasta is chilled.  Drain thoroughly.  Stir in olives, roasted peppers, peperoncinis, and feta.

In a medium bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients until everything is incorporated.  Pour over pasta salad, stir, and refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving.

Yield:  Depends on whether you do this as a main dish or side, but about 8-16.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Peanut Butter Melts

This recipe comes from the murder mystery book The Blueberry Muffin Murder by Joanne Fluke.  The book is from a series, and all the book titles follow the "The (baked good) Murder" format.  Each novel has several recipes in it.  I first purchased one of the books randomly at the grocery store a couple of months ago, and have come to really enjoy the series.  The stories aren't particularly suspenseful, and the writing style doesn't charm me like some authors, but they just really appeal to me for some reason and are almost comforting to read.  They're the mashed potatoes and mac and cheese of my home library!
Anyway, I have a lifelong love of all things peanut butter, but peanut butter cookies rarely live up to my standards of peanut butteriness.  The flavor is usually too weak.  I love a really good PB cookie, but have only found two recipes that are good enough.  One is this one and the other I haven't posted on the blog yet.  I decided to try this version because the name appealed to me (Peanut Butter Melts, interesting!), the melted butter seemed interesting, and I liked that it has molasses.  It also has a full cup of PB, which seemed promising!
The recipe did not disappoint.  The dough is softer than most, but all the butter (both peanut and regular) means it isn't sticky.  They also spread out more than most PB cookies, but aren't ridiculously thin or anything.  Of course, the flavor is what's most important, and these ones are really good!  Lots of peanut butter (though I may experiment with adding a bit more), not too excessively sweet, and just all around yummy.  On the first day, they're nice and soft in the middle, but crunchy/chewy around the edges.  After spending the night in the cookie jar, they loose some of the crunch and firm up a bit in the middle, but are still relatively soft and definitely still yummy today, 5 days after I baked them.  Even my husband likes them, and he's not usually crazy about non-chocolate chip cookies.

Peanut Butter Melts
1 C melted butter
2 C sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp molasses
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 C peanut butter, smooth or crunchy (I used smooth)
2 eggs
2 1/2 C flour
Preheat oven to 375 and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Beat together melted butter, sugar, vanilla, and molasses.  Mix in baking soda, baking powder, and salt, then mix in peanut butter until well combined.  Add eggs and mix again until well combined.  Add flour and mix just until the dough comes together.
Roll dough into walnut sized balls and place 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets.  Press the tines of a fork into the top of each ball in a cross hatch pattern.  Bake cookies until very light golden brown, 8-12 minutes (mine took 11).  Let cool on cookie sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to cooling racks.  Store cooled cookies in a covered container.
 Yield:  I got exactly 50 cookies from this recipe.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Secret Recipe Club: Deviled Ham Spread

For this month's Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned the blog Sid's Sea Palm Cooking! Sid cooks up a variety of really interesting recipes, and hosts a tapas night every month. That sounds like an awesome idea and I wish I was organized enough (and social enough) to do that! Besides, who doesn't love tapas?
My recipe choice was Deviled Ham Spread. I picked it mostly because I've never had or made anything like it, and it isn't really something I'd usually make. This recipe club seemed like a good opportunity to make it! I also considered Light and Airy Biscuits for a Crowd, and Tijuana Tilly Cheese Enchiladas. In the end, I went with the ham spread because I could prepare it quickly and didn't have to actually heat anything up, which is great if you may be faced with frequent interruptions. Why am I facing interruptions? We got a puppy :D She's beautiful, sweet, and adorable, but she also has a teeny tiny bladder and requires a lot of my undivided attention and frequent spur of the moment trips outside! She's actually pitching a fit in her pen right now because Mama's paying attention to the computer instead of playing with her. I think I chose the right recipe!  Needless to say, very little cooking has been happening since we got her two weeks ago.
I did make two little changes to the recipe. First, I used mayo instead of sour cream because sour cream in large amounts upsets my husband's stomach and I knew he would end up having the ham spread on sandwiches for lunch during the week. I also used onion powder instead of shallots, but that's only because I remembered the shallots as we were driving out of the grocery store parking lot. Oops! No harm done, but I'd like to try the shallots next time.
Verdict? Yummy, and unlike anything either of us have had before! I'm glad I tried it. Next time I make it, I'll do the shallots instead of onion powder like the recipe says, and I may actually halve the amount of cream cheese so the ham is a bit more prominent. No complaints though, this is a solid recipe and makes a lot!
Deviled Ham Spread

2 C cubed ham
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 C mayo
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp yellow mustard
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 clove garlic, minced
salt to taste

Place ham in the bowl of a food processor and process until fine.  Stir together all other ingredients in a medium mixing bowl, then stir in ham.  Add salt to taste.  Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours, then serve with crackers, pretzels, veggies, or as a sandwich spread.