everyday food made simple

asparagus pasta salad

Just less than 24 hours ago, we came back home from a two-week long vacation in Taiwan to visit my family. We had so much fun doing touristy things, taking little vacations during our vacation, eating everything in sight, visiting extended family, and spending time with my parents and my sister that I haven’t seen in years.

We were sad to leave, but we were also excited to hurry home and see my favorite boy. We sure missed him! But thank goodness for good friends who were willing to watch him and give him the love and attention he needed while we were gone.

asparagus pasta salad

asparagus pasta salad

We avoided the super hot and humid tropical weather this time around, but everyday was still a warm 80+ degrees with occasional rain storms and more than enough humidity.

Some days when it was sunny and hot, all I craved for was some summery light pasta salad. Like this one, which happens to use lots of bright summer vegetables and dressed with a light Italian vinaigrette. It can be eaten as a light meal, a snack, or as a side dish; it can be eaten cold or at room temperature – it’s so perfect for summer!

asparagus pasta salad

asparagus pasta salad

Are you ready for a confession? I can’t remember if I’ve ever made pasta salad before.

Yep, you heard me right. I’ve made potato salad and creamy broccoli/cauliflower salad before, but never have I made pasta salad from scratch, let alone one with a homemade dressing.

As far as I remember, the only kind of pasta salad I’ve ever made were from boxes that come with a packet of seasoning mix… I should totally be ashamed of myself.

So to redeem myself from being judged, today’s simple pasta salad only requires a few ingredients; you probably already have most of the ingredients for the dressing sitting in your cupboard right now!

asparagus pasta salad

asparagus pasta salad

asparagus pasta salad     

pasta salad with italian dressing
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For the dressing
  1. 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  2. 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  3. 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  5. 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  6. 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste (optional)
  7. 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
For the salad
  1. 2-3 cups uncooked pasta (I used small bowtie pasta)
  2. 1 pound asparagus, cut into 1" pieces
  3. 2/3 cup diced red onions
  4. 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
  5. 2/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, combine all the dressing ingredients and whisk. Set aside.
  2. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over medium high heat. Add in the pasta for the amount of time as directed on the box, minus one minute. Stir occasionally. Add in the asparagus in with the pasta and cook for an additional minute. Drain and rinse pasta and asparagus under cold water to stop the cooking process.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the red onions, tomatoes, and Parmesan cheese, then add in the pasta and asparagus. Drizzle the dressing over the pasta salad and toss to combine. Pasta salad can be served cold or at room temperature.
  4. Serves 6-8
Adapted from Just A Taste
Adapted from Just A Taste
Simple Everyday Food http://www.simpleeverydayfood.com/
Recipe adapted from Just A Taste

© Simple Everyday Food. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or kindly link back to this post for the recipe.

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Now that fall is in the air, all I crave for are comfort foods. Usually this means some sort of soup or casserole dish when it comes to dinner. Don’t even get me started on the numerous desserts that are on my comfort food list – you’d be here for a while, and I’m sure your time is valuable.

Mac & cheese in casserole form is perhaps one of the best comfort foods ever. What’s better than a ooey gooey spiced up mac & cheese with onions, peppers, and seasoned chicken?!

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Okay, I know a warm brownie with a molten chocolate center served with a side of vanilla bean ice cream probably comes to mind, but stay with me here – right now we’re talking about dinner.

You’re going to laugh at me, but this is the first time I’ve ever bought a block of cheese and shredded it myself with a grater. Yep, first time. I’ve always been lazy and used pre-shredded cheese, but I was told those are usually coated with some sort of a flour-y substance that can change the texture of your dish. So this time I put my grater to use and shredded two blocks of cheese myself, and let me tell you what, I don’t think I’m ever going back to the bagged kind anymore. There’s something about fresh shredded cheese that tastes so much better!

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The two cheeses we use for this dish are Wisconsin sharp cheddar and pepperjack cheese. Pepperjack is perhaps one of my favorite cheeses ever, and it gives the dish a nice little kick that pairs well with the paprika, cumin, and green chiles.

chicken fajita mac and cheese
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Ingredients
  1. 12 oz of your favorite pasta
  2. 2 tablespoons EVOO
  3. 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
  4. 1 teaspoon cumin
  5. ½ teaspoon paprika
  6. A pinch of cayenne pepper, more if desired
  7. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  8. 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  9. 1 green bell pepper, diced
  10. 1 small yellow onion, diced
  11. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  12. 1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles, drained
  13. ½ cup sour cream
  14. 6 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  15. 6 oz shredded pepper jack cheese
  16. Toppings such as diced tomatoes and cilantro, if desired
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon EVOO over medium high heat. Add the chicken, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper, stir until chicken is coated with the spice mixture. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
  4. In the same skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of EVOO. Saute the garlic, green peppers, and onion over medium high heat until onions turn translucent. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add in the green chiles and cook for another minute or two.
  5. Pour the vegetable mixture into the large bowl containing the chicken. Stir until combined. Add in the sour cream and the two cheese. Stir some more until everything is thoroughly mixed and there are no clumps of cheese.
  6. Transfer the chicken/vegetable mixture into a 3 quart baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes or until pasta is slightly brown and bubbly.
  7. Serve immediately. If desired, top with diced tomatoes, cilantro, or other garnishes.
  8. Serves 6
Adapted from Annie's Eats
Adapted from Annie's Eats
Simple Everyday Food http://www.simpleeverydayfood.com/
If you’re a fan of bell peppers, you can also add in a red and yellow bell pepper to the mix. I’m not a big fan of the red and yellow peppers, so I chose to leave them out of the recipe. However, I do like fresh tomatoes with my fajitas, so I diced up some tomatoes and added them to my bowl. A little bit of chopped up cilantro is also highly recommended – it really brings out the Mexican flavors and it gives the dish a nice bright flavor.

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I also chose to use rotisserie chicken to save some time – it’s a good way to get rid of leftover rotisserie chicken! If you prefer to cook your chicken yourself, just substitute the rotisserie chicken with two diced up chicken breasts instead.

On a totally different subject, I really shouldn’t have mentioned that warm brownie. Now I need to go make myself a brownie in a mug…

What’s your favorite comfort food?

Recipe adapted from Annie’s Eats

© Simple Everyday Food. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or kindly link back to this post for the recipe.

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I wasn’t going to share this recipe with you guys until later this week (or even this weekend), but I posted a picture of this on Instagram the night we had this for dinner, and my friend Christy asked me today when I was going to put it on my blog… so here it is, a few days early.

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There is never a shortage of corn in our house. In the winter we have bags of frozen corn in our freezer, but then during the summer months, it’s all about taking advantage of fresh sweet corn on the cob.

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When I saw this recipe, I just knew I had to make it. Not only do we like sweet corn, we also loooooove pasta. Anything that involves pasta is 99% of the time guaranteed a thumbs-up. I sure wasn’t disappointed, because this pasta was a huge hit at the dinner table a few nights ago!

The “roasted” sweet corn that had a nice char on the outside. The spicy kick from Chipotle peppers. The creaminess of the sauce. The pasta cooked just al dente all played an important part in making this a quick summery dinner. I like my pasta sauce a little bit on the runny side, so if you’re like me, add a little bit more Greek yogurt and pasta water.

You place the corn cobs into a pot of boiling water to get the cooking process started (promptly remove from heat and cover as soon as you add the corn to the water). Although this isn’t a required step, I do recommend it! It makes your job a lot easier later, I promise.

We chose to use bucatini pasta rather than fettuccine. The reason behind it is simple: the straw-like noodles will be able to “trap” some of that yummy creamy sauce in it, so every bite you take, you get pasta with a burst of spicy sauce. Whoever thought of putting a hole through spaghetti is a genius.

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Of course, this can easily be tweaked into a kid-friendly dish by eliminating the peppers. And if you can’t find bucatini noodles, use whatever you can find – fettuccine, thin spaghetti, or regular spaghetti noodles would all work just fine.

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sweet corn bucatini
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Ingredients
  1. 4 ears of fresh sweet corn
  2. 1 lb bucatini noodles
  3. 3 tablespoons butter
  4. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  5. ¼ cup flour
  6. 1 cup milk
  7. ½ cup fat-free half and half
  8. ½ teaspoon salt
  9. ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  10. 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
Instructions
  1. Fill a large pot with water. Bring to a boil. Place the sweet corn in the pot, cover, and remove from heat. Let the ears of corn "cook" in the hot water for a few minutes. Remove from the water and let cool. Reserve 3/4 cup of the water. Once cooled, cut the corn kernels off the ears.
  2. Place the corn kernels in a large skillet without any butter or oil in a single layer (the best you can). Resist the urge to stir them. Let them sit for a few minutes, Stir them around, and let them sit some more until they start getting roast-y looking. Turn off heat, transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  3. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain, while reserving a cup of pasta water for later.
  4. In a large wok (or skillet), melt the butter over medium-low heat, then add the garlic. Stir, making sure you don't burn the garlic. Add the flour and stir some more.
  5. Combine the milk and half-and-half to the flour mixture, whisk until there are no more lumps. Then add in the Greek yogurt and minced chipotle pepper.
  6. Once everything is thoroughly combined, combine the corn kernels and pasta. Stir until everything is mixed well.
  7. Serves 4
  8. If you like your pasta sauce a little bit runnier, add in more Greek yogurt and reserved pasta water until it reaches your desired consistency.
Adapted from Pinch of Yum
Adapted from Pinch of Yum
Simple Everyday Food http://www.simpleeverydayfood.com/
The sweet corn was probably my favorite part of this dish. By putting them in the boiling water and removing the corn after slightly “roasting” them, it prevents you from overcooking it later on. As a result, as you’re eating your pasta, the corn kernels are so fresh and perfectly cooked that they literally burst and pop in your mouth… it’s amazing.

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So next time when you invite your vegetarian friends over, make this for them! It’s filling, delicious, and flavorful.

Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Pinch of Yum

© Simple Everyday Food. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or kindly link back to this post for the recipe.

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So a few months ago when we had a pot luck at work, one of my favorite coworkers, Erika, made this amazing buffalo chicken pasta salad she found on Pinterest via Life on LeRoy. It was a hit that day, and I even told her that I’ll take any leftovers home if there was even any left.

Of course, by the end of the day, the entire bowl of pasta she brought was licked clean and empty. It was probably for the better, as I have already had about 2-3 huge helpings of it throughout my 12-hour shift.

Now that it’s finally (FINALLY!) going to be in the upper 60s this weekend, what better way to celebrate the arrival of spring/summer than making some good ole pasta salad?

Instead of using the classic blue cheese & hot sauce combo found in “buffalo sauce”, I found a brand at the grocery store that combined ranch dressing and hot sauce instead and decided to give it a whirl.IMG_0763

Well, it turned out to be quite delicious. A whole box of pasta is a lot when you’re only feeding two people, so my good friend Nicky “volunteered” to help me out and will be bringing some home with her this weekend.

buffalo ranch chicken pasta salad
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Ingredients
  1. 1-16 oz light buffalo ranch salad dressing
  2. 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
  3. 7-8 stalks celery, diced
  4. 1 red onion, diced
  5. 1 lb of your favorite pasta
  6. Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to directions on box. Drain.
  2. In a large bowl, combine diced onions, celery, shredded chicken, the whole bottle of salad dressing, and pasta together.
  3. Toss well to make sure everything is evenly coated with the dressing.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Place in refrigerator until pasta is chilled throughout.
Adapted from Life on LeRoy
Adapted from Life on LeRoy
Simple Everyday Food http://www.simpleeverydayfood.com/
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Enjoy!

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Well guys, in case you’re not sick of pasta dishes yet, here’s another one for you.

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I actually made this sometime during the week last week during a very busy weekday where we wanted to make something quick and healthy for dinner, and surprisingly enough, it turned out great!

When I first saw the recipe, I was a little skeptical when I saw it was a dish with marinara sauce AND tuna…. as the dish cooked on the stove, I secretly prayed that it wouldn’t turn out too fishy.

Well, I personally didn’t think it was fishy at all, and even the hubs liked it (anything I make that he’s willing to try and actually liking it is a win for me).

Note: even though my recipe card calls for a 23.5-oz can of marinara sauce, you can also make your own by puree-ing 6-8 plum tomatoes in the food processor to make it even healthier. We were short on time (and energy) so I cheated. Tsk tsk.

thin spaghetti with tuna and spicy marinara sauce
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Ingredients
  1. 1 23.5-oz jar of marinara sauce
  2. 2.5 tablespoons EVOO
  3. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, depending on taste
  5. 1/2 cup dry white wine
  6. 2-2.6 oz packages of light tuna packed in water
  7. 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh basil
  8. Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to directions on package. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet (I used a wok) over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly until garlic is just golden. Make sure you don't burn the garlic!
  3. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the wine and cook until reduced by about half. Add the marinara sauce and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil.
  4. Add into the tuna, breaking it up into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon and simmer over low heat until sauce thickens slightly.
  5. Add the pasta to the sauce, tossing to make sure all the pasta is evenly coated and stir in the basil.
Adapted from Food Network Magazine
Adapted from Food Network Magazine
Simple Everyday Food http://www.simpleeverydayfood.com/
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That’s enough pasta dishes for the week. I promise my next post won’t require any sort of noodles.

Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine

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