Southwestern Black Bean Pasta Salad

 

Southwestern Black Bean Pasta Salad

I can remember when I was ten years old, wishing that I was thirteen. I wanted to be a teenager because I thought that was way cooler than being ten. Then like most, the next significant milestone was 16. I think I may have counted down the days until my birthday that year. I wanted a car but I did not get one.  It continued after that;  being impatient for graduation, first real job, wedding date, birth of a baby. Many other important dates that I looked forward to with anticipation that I now look back on with nostalgia.

Now, God willing, Greg and I will celebrate our thirtieth wedding anniversary in November. I look forward to celebrating that date because I am proud that he has been able to put up with me for this long! However, if life has taught me nothing else, it is to enjoy the moment. I’m still a planner, and I look forward to special days, but I am trying to place more emphasis on the here and the now than the tomorrows. After all, I’m not promised tomorrow. My very wise mother always told me, “don’t wish your life away.” Well, Mama, after fifty-three years I’ve started listening to you!

It’s a bit difficult to transition from serious to pasta salad, but here goes.  😂 My family enjoys anything with a little spice. We love anything with buffalo sauce, and we enjoy some Mexican and Southwestern food too! I recently tried this Southwestern Black Bean Pasta Salad, and my family went nuts. Even if you prefer your pasta salad with little other than pasta, this dressing is amazing! The lime juice and cilantro are the key ingredients in my opinion,  but leave the cilantro out if you don’t care for it.

Southwestern Black Bean Pasta Salad
 
Author:
 
Ingredients
  • ½ c. mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1½ tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 12-oz. rotini pasta
  • 1 can (15 oz.) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 can (15-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 (4.5-oz.) can chopped green chiles, drained
  • ¼ c. chopped fresh cilantro
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, and salt.
  3. Add cooked and drained pasta, black beans, corn, tomatoes, chiles, and cilantro to the dressing and toss to coat.
  4. Refrigerate covered until ready to serve.

 

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Chicken Caprese Salad

Chicken Caprese Salad

 

It seems like we have had some pretty healthy years around our house. Some sniffles here and there, but mostly healthy, until this year! It has been our year to make up for lost time!

It all started when Wes came home sick. After that Greg and I both ended up with pneumonia, and I was sick well over three weeks. I do not wish that on anyone!

Thankfully, Savannah never got sick! After all, we needed someone to take care of us! When I finally had an appetite, Savannah made this Chicken Caprese Salad, and I am now obsessed with it! It may be the best salad I have ever had!

I have always loved the freshness of a Caprese salad, but I had never thought about using the same ingredients in a green salad. Everything about this salad is delicious, from the fresh mozzarella and fresh basil to this incredible balsamic dressing!

Chicken Caprese Salad
 
Author:
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • Dressing:
  • ¼ c. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Salad:
  • 12 chicken tenders
  • 5 c. Romaine lettuce leaves, washed and dried
  • 1 c. cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • ½ c. mini fresh mozzarella balls
  • ¼ c fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
  • Salt and black pepper, to season
Instructions
  1. Whisk vinegar, oli, brown sugar, garlic, dried basil and salt together to combine. Place uncooked chicken in a shallow dish; pour a small amount of dressing over chicken and toss around to coat. Reserve unused dressing for later.
  2. Heat grill or a small amount of oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Cook chicken until cooked through, set aside and allow to rest.
  3. Slice chicken into strips and prepare salad with lettuce, tomatoes, mozzarella and chicken. Top with fresh basil. Drizzle with reserved dressing; season with salt and pepper if desired. Serve.

 

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Feisty Feta and Shrimp Dip

 Feisty Feta and Shrimp Dip

Although Greg and I both enjoy cooking we love a good restaurant. Searching the internet for good reviews is one of the first things we do when we visit a new city.  We have our local favorites, and we even plan vacations around the restaurants we like the most.

I am thrilled when we I can duplicate some of our favorite restaurant dishes at home!  A few of my favorites are Hot Crab Dip, that we enjoyed several years ago at a restaurant with Greg’s brother. Pot Roast Stuffed Baked Potatoes are one of my favorites from a restaurant just down the road from our house.  I had Heirloom Tomato Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette at one of our favorite places in Savannah on my birthday a few years ago.  All of these recipes can be found on www.notjustsundaydinner.com.

Feisty Feta Dip with Shrimp is a new one to add to the list. We had this tasty appetizer at one of our favorite restaurants in Augusta, Georgia. It is super easy to make.   Crab meat can be used instead of shrimp, or you can leave out the seafood completely.  Serve warm with pita chips or warm pita bread.

 

Feisty Feta and Shrimp Dip
 
Author:
 
Ingredients
  • 6-oz. crumbled Feta cheese
  • ⅓ c. chopped jarred roasted red peppers
  • ¼ c. chopped jarred artichoke hearts
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 to 2 tsp. hot sauce
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 to 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 to ½ c. cooked shrimp, cut into large bite-size pieces
  • Warm pita bread or pita chips, for serving
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the feta cheese, chopped peppers, artichoke hearts, onions, garlic, hot sauce, cayenne pepper, and black pepper. Pulse until ingredients are well combined, but still slightly chunky. While pulsing add 2 to 3 tbsp. olive oil until the dip reaches desired consistency.
  2. Stir in cooked shrimp and spoon into a microwave safe dish. Microwave on high for 1 to 2 minutes or until warmed through. Serve with pita bread or pita chips.

 

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Cafe’ Blueberry Squares

cafe' blueberry squares

Officially, it’s still summer, but it is after Labor Day. That means no white, if you were raised in the south, and pumpkin spice everything is back!

I absolutely adore everything about fall, even though it actually ISN’T fall.  I love football, falling leaves, bonfires, apples, and the cool, crisp air, even if it is just in the mornings right now.

It is also the time of year when I find myself cooking again. The hot months of summer are almost over, and I can’t wait for that first pot of chili or stew.

I have even started baking again recently. These Cafe’ Blueberry Squares are Wesley’s favorite snack.  They are perfect with a cup of coffee for breakfast. It’s a great way to use those blueberries that you stuck in the freezer just a few months back, and this recipe could not be easier! There are no ingredients that require planning ahead, and it literally comes together in a matter of minutes.

Cafe' Blueberry Squares
 
Author:
Serves: 8 to 10 squares
 
Ingredients
  • Crust and Topping:
  • 1½ c. all-purpose flour
  • 1½ c. rolled oats
  • 1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ⅛ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 c. unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • Filling:
  • 3 c. blueberries
  • ¾ c. granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Generously spray an 11 x 7-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and place the pan on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
  2. For Curst and Topping: In a food processor, put flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon and pulse to blend, about 20 seconds. Add butter and pulse to cut butter into dry ingredients until you have a crumbly mass, not dry but not sticking together.
  3. For Filling: Toss berries in a bowl with sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice.
  4. Spread or pat half of oatmeal mixture firmly into pan. Spread on blueberry mixture. Top as evenly as you can with remaining oatmeal mixture and press slightly. Chill 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 350℉.
  6. Bake 40 t0 45 minutes until fruit starts to bubble; then reduce oven temperature to 325℉ and bake until done, another 15 to 20 minutes or until fruit that bubbles is deeper in color and edges of squares are browned. Cool completely in pan before cutting or refrigerate 2 to 3 hours before cutting.

 

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