Confetti Pasta Salad

Confetti-Pasta-Salad

 

While writing this article, I decided to do a little research about Memorial Day.  Honestly, I am not sure I’ve ever understood the difference in Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day until now.  Memorial Day is among our oldest holidays, originally conceived in the aftermath of the Civil War.  It is a time to remember and honor those who have fallen in service to our country.    As it turns out there is quite a bit of controversy about Memorial Day.  More than I care to get into but much can be found on the internet, if you are interested.  If I could make two suggestions, the first would be to read this article by a former Navy pilot  http://observer.com/2015/05/its-perfectly-ok-to-say-happy-memorial-day/  and watch this video on the lone Marine  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTPmcp-ZGWQ.

With Memorial Day just around the corner, many will be gathering with friends and family. Anything that can be cooked on a grill will most likely be prepared that day. Many ribs, hamburgers, and hot dogs will be cooked. Potato salad and homemade ice cream will be in abundance!

Greg is typically in charge of the grilling on big cookout days at the Melton house while I am in charge of all other food, including appetizers, sides, and desserts. Doesn’t seem quite fair does it? It’s a good thing I enjoy being in the kitchen!

I am always looking for a new dish or two to throw into the mix.  This year I plan to serve this delicious Vera Stewart recipe for Confetti Pasta Salad. Made with fresh spinach and dill, grape tomatoes, and lemon juice the flavor is light and will pair great with the other dishes you will serve this Memorial Day.  Considering that many dishes will have to be prepared, the ease of this recipe is also quite appealing.

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Confetti Pasta Salad
 
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Ingredients
  • For the Salad:
  • 8-oz. uncooked small to medium shell pasta
  • 2 c. coarsely chopped fresh spinach
  • ¼ c. finely chopped onions
  • 1 (4-oz.) pkg. crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 tbsp. chopped fresh dill
  • For the Vinaigrette:
  • ¼ c. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 lg. garlic clove, pressed
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ c. vegetable oil
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
  2. For the vinaigrette, combine lemon juice, mustard, garlic, salt, and black pepper. Slowly whisk in oil until combined.
  3. Toss pasta with tomatoes and remaining ingredients, including vinaigrette. Serve immediately, or cover and chill up to 8 hours.

 

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Buffalo Chicken Nachos

 

Buffalo-Chicken-Nachos

 

Typically, I would have topped these nachos with some green onions, maybe a few jalapeños or black olives. The truth is, these Buffalo Chicken Nachos are perfect just the way they are pictured! Chips with buffalo chicken, cheese, lettuce and drizzled with Ranch dressing.  Another Savannah recipe that happens to be one of my favorites!

I’m still relying on the family a lot these days. I recently came out of the boot and I can get around pretty good.  If I do too much in the mornings my surgery foot is swollen and in pain by mid afternoon.  That makes dinnertime difficult so thank God for an understanding family!

Last week I cooked chicken in the crockpot with no particular use in mind.  Savannah had a plan though.  She shredded the chicken, added buffalo sauce and proceeded to whip up these amazingly delicious nachos. We were hooked on them, eating nachos every day until all of the chicken was gone. I believe I mentioned that she’s buffalo crazy, but she’s also really good at pulling together a delicious dish!  Thanks Savannah!!

Buffalo Chicken Nachos
 
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Ingredients
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • Salt and pepper
  • Frank's buffalo sauce, to taste
  • Tortilla chips
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Ranch dressing
  • Optional toppings: jalapeños, black olives, chopped scallions, sour cream, tomatoes
Instructions
  1. Salt and pepper the chicken breast and place in a crockpot. Cook on low several hours, until tender and done. Remove from crockpot and cool to touch. Shred chicken and mix with buffalo sauce, to taste, set aside.
  2. Arrange chips on serving dish. Top with shredded buffalo chicken and cheese (or other toppings of your choice). Heat in the microwave to melt cheese. Remove from microwave and drizzle with Ranch dressing. Serve.

 

 

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Peaches and Coconut Cream Popsicles

 

peaches-and-coconut-cream-popsicles

Oh, the memories that popsicles bring to mind. I can remember hot summer days when Mama would let us run through the oscillating sprinkler. We just had the one so we would line up and run through one at a time, jumping the ice cold well water and laughing the whole time.  When she would finally make us stop we would then sit in the warm sun with our bright green, red, orange or purple popsicles to dry off before we would start again.

All these years later I still keep those plastic enclosed popsicles in my freezer for grass cutting days. But I have also taken it a step further by making homemade popsicles. Popsicles are perfect for the whole family and make an excellent summertime dessert. You can find a wide variety of molds and even the quick setting popsicles makers that I like for the convenience.

After finding the first peaches of the season I made these incredible Peaches and Coconut Cream Popsicles. They are amazing and quite addicting.  I usually start out with a double recipe because my family can’t get enough of these!

 

Peaches and Coconut Cream Popsicles
 
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Ingredients
  • 1 can full-fat unsweetened coconut milk
  • ½ c. granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 c. fresh peach puree
  • 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp. orange juice
Instructions
  1. Pour the coconut milk into a medium saucepan. Add sugar and heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Puree the peeled and sliced peaches with 2 tbsp. sugar and orange juice in a food processor until smooth (a few small chunks will be okay).
  3. Combine the coconut milk and peach mixtures. Pour into a large jar and refrigerate until cool.
  4. When cool, pour into popsicle molds. Freeze until firm. Remove from molds and serve.

 

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Vidalia Onion Pie

vidalia-onion-pie

 

First of all, thanks to Loretta and Katy for the cookbook that this great recipe came from.  While I was recovering from my heel surgery, I received a box from them with several old cookbooks (my favorite pastime) and a beautiful wooden spoon.  I have spent hours reading these books and this is the second recipe I have tried, with many others marked to try!

Greg and I went to the farmers market for the first time this year over the weekend. We came home with fresh juicy peaches, crunchy cucumbers, with no wax coating, baby squash, delicious lettuce and microgreens, and a 10-pound bag of those oh-so-good Vidalia onions.

With all my trips to Vidalia over the past few weeks, going to the orthopedic surgeon’s office and taking 14 puppies to the vet, I have been watching the farmers harvest the onion crop and dying to get my hands on a few. This Vidalia onion pie is excellent topped with the smoked Gouda cheese. It is a perfect side dish for any protein or a simple vegetable plate, which I love this time of year!

 

Vidalia Onion Pie
 
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Ingredients
  • 2 lb. Vidalia onions, peeled and sliced thin
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • Dash Tabasco sauce
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch black pepper
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 unbaked pie crust
  • ¾ c. grated smoked Gouda or Swiss cheese
Instructions
  1. Melt butter in a large skillet. Add onions and cook until soft, and most of the liquid has evaporated. In a bowl combine the sour cream, seasonings, and eggs. Add the onion mixture to the sour cream mixture and stir to combine. Pour into pie crust. Bake at 450° F for 20 minutes. Top with grated cheese and reduce the oven temperature to 325°F and bake for 20 more minutes.
Notes
If the cheese starts to brown too much (like mine), cover with foil until the pie is done.

 

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French Apple Tart

 

 

 

french-apple-tart

Our oldest child, Wes, can finally see the light at the end of the “college tunnel.” He just completed his fourth semester of French. He had to take in a French dish on the last day of class and asked me to make an old family favorite, Ina Garten’s French Apple Tart.

I decided to make two, one for him and one to keep at home. This dessert is quite impressive and requires very little effort. It looks like something you might see in a French pastry shop. The tender, flaky crust comes together in a food processor in no time and is the key to this fabulous dessert. The sliced apples are arranged beautifully over the crust. Then the entire tart is brushed with a glaze. This tart is a great weeknight dessert for the family but it’s also special enough to serve to guests.

 

French Apple Tart
 
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Ingredients
  • For the pastry:
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 12 tbsp. (1½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
  • ½ c. ice water
  • For the apples:
  • 4 Granny Smith apples
  • ½ c. sugar
  • 4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, small diced
  • ½ c. apricot jelly or warm sieved apricot jam
  • 2 tbsp. Calvados, rum, or water
Instructions
  1. For the pastry, place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse for a few seconds to combine. Add the butter and pulse 10 to 12 times, until the butter is in small bits the size of peas. With the motor running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and plus just until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  3. Roll the dough, slightly larger than 10 by 14-inches. Using a ruler and a small knife, true the edges. Place the dough on the prepared sheet pan and refrigerate while you prepare the apples.
  4. Peel the apples and cut them in half through the stem. Remove the stems and cores with a sharp knife and a melon baller. Slice the apples crosswise in ¼-inch thick slices Place overlapping slices of apples diagonally down the middle of the tart and continue making diagonal rows on both sides of the first row until the pastry is covered with apple slices. (To make the arrangement beautiful, don't use the apple ends.) Sprinkle with the full ½ cup of sugar and dot with the butter.
  5. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until the pastry is browned and the edges of the apples start to brown. Rotate the pan once during cooking. If the pastry puffs up in one area, cut a little slit with a knife to let the air out. Don't worry! The apple juices will burn in the pan but the tart will be fine! When the tart's done, heat the apricot jelly together with the Calvados and brush the apples and the pastry completely with the jelly mixture. Loosen the tart with a metal spatula so it don't stick to the paper. (I remove the tart from the baking pan to another pan while it's still hot to prevent sticking.) Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.

 

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