The older I get, the more that I realize that all of those times that Mama said: “don’t spend your money on me,” she meant it. She wanted then what she still wants, time spent together. Time is something we can never get back, and the older my mama gets, time becomes more precious to me.
In comparison to many families today, my mother’s family was a big one. She had six brothers and sisters. Today, my mother and her sister are the only siblings that remain. I decided that my mama would like nothing better than a little family time for Mother’s Day. So on a recent visit, I invited my aunt and a couple of cousins to a luncheon at mama’s house. I kept the menu simple with homemade chicken salad, pasta salad made with fresh vegetables and purchased Italian dressing, cucumber sandwiches, purchased cheese straws, and I bought a fruit tray, cut up and ready to eat and made a poppy seed vinaigrette dressing. The table was elegantly set with mama’s best china and crystal and the memories we made are priceless.
As you struggle to come up with a gift for mom this Sunday, keep in mind that time spent with you is something she will always treasure!
Simple Pasta Salad
- 1 lb. pasta
- 2 c. cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- ¾ c. sliced black olives
- sliced red onion
- crumbled feta cheese
- chopped bell pepper
- 1 to 1½ c. Italian dressing
- Cook pasta according to package directions.
- Toss pasta, cherry tomatoes, olives, red onion, feta cheese, and bell pepper with Italian dressing.
- Refrigerate for several hours before serving.
You may need to add a little more Italian dressing to salad just before serving.
Fruit Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing
- 4 cups fresh fruit
- 2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- ¼ tsp. poppy seeds
- Wash and cut up fruit, set aside. In a small bowl whisk vinegar, oil, sugar and poppy seeds. Pour over fruit an gently toss. Serve immediately.
- 12 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 1 cucumber, peeled & seeds removed
- 1 medium onion
- dash salt
- dash hot sauce
- mayonnaise on bread, if desired
- Grate cucumber and onion and squeeze dry. (I do this using a clean dish towel. Put in the center of a towel then roll towel and twist.) Set aside.
- Blend cream cheese with an electric mixer. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Store in refrigerator for 24 hours.
- If using mayonnaise, spread on desired bread. Top with cucumber spread and another slice of bread.
Perfect Chicken Salad
- 4 lg. chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
- 1 to 2 c. mayonnaise, depending on how you like it
- ½ to ¾ c. chopped celery
- 1 tbsp. yellow mustard
- ¼ tsp. poppy seeds
- ½ tsp. salt
- Mix shredded chicken, mayonnaise, celery, mustard, poppy seeds, and salt in a large bowl and refrigerate.
I have been on an Asian kick lately. We had little Asian Sliders for dinner over the weekend. They were amazing, but my family was starving, and I didn’t get pictures. It’s a constant struggle of a blogger and their family. Getting the picture before anyone can touch the plate! That just means the sliders will be on the menu again very soon, and that’s a good thing!
This Asian pasta salad is another new recipe. I found the recipe in an old Fresh Market cookbook that I bought on a recent thrift store/treasure hunt. I’m not much of a yard sale person, but I do love finding a good thrift store! It seems that Savannah has started to enjoy it too so it’s possible that we could get into some trouble together!
Okay, I got a little off subject…back to the salad. This pasta salad is full of fresh, crisp vegetables and with the addition of beef, this salad is a complete meal! You could leave out the meat completely if you prefer or substitute shrimp, chicken, or even pork for the beef.
This salad is a simple, prepare ahead meal, that would be perfect for a weeknight dinner. Toss the pasta mix with the dressing just before serving. If you are feeding less than about ten people, toss a portion of the pasta mix with a portion of the dressing because you don’t want to store the mixed salad for very long. The vegetables will become limp, and you will loose the fresh, clean taste of the salad.
Asian Beef and Broccoli Pasta Salad
- Soy Ginger Dressing:
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 1 tbsp. sesame oil
- 2 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
- ⅛ c. sweet chili sauce
- 2 tbsp. mayonnaise
- 1 lemongrass stalk, sliced thin
- ¼ c. vegetable oil
- Pasta Salad:
- 2 lb. sirloin steak
- 1 (10-oz.) bottle teriyaki sauce or marinade
- 1 gallon water
- 2 tbsp. salt
- 1 (16-oz.) pkg. rotini pasta
- ½ lb. broccoli florets
- 3 medium carrots, julienned
- 1 medium red bell pepper, julienned
- 2 c. bean sprouts
- 3 green onions, thinly sliced
- ¼ c. cilantro, chopped
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine the garlic cloves, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, ginger, sweet chili sauce, mayonnaise, and lemongrass. Blend into a paste. With the food processor running, drizzle the vegetable oil in a slow stream until well mixed and vegetable oil has been incorporated. Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Marinate sirloin steaks in teriyaki sauce or marinade for 6 hours or overnight. Preheat grill to medium-high and oil the grates. Grill 5 to 6 minutes per side or until desired doneness. Remove and leg stand 5 minutes, the slice into think 2-inch strips and set aside.
- In a large pot, bring 1 gallon water and 2 tbsp. salt to a boil over high heat; add pasta and boil according to package directions, stirring frequently. Add broccoli during the last minute of cooking and remove from heat, drain and rinse with cold water; set aside.
- In a large serving bowl, combine pasta and broccoli with beef, carrots, red pepper, bean sprouts, green onions, and cilantro; chill until ready to serve.
- To serve, pour Soy Ginger Dressing over salad and toss to evenly coat.
This is FRIENDS week on NJSD. All of the recipes I will be sharing this week were given to me by a friend. If you are a friend and don’t have a recipe on here this week don’t fret, I’m only sharing three recipes. This recipe is from a friend that does not even like to cook. My family thinks this is, hands down, the best mac and cheese ever!
Michelle and I have been friends for almost five years. You would never know it if you were around us, though. Most people think we are lifelong friends. We were on a committee together when our oldest kids were seniors in high school. We met one morning at Waffle House for breakfast to discuss our plan of action and have been friends ever since. I think I speak for both of us when I say our friendship just came naturally. I have a blast when I’m around her. We laugh often. You know those belly aching laughs…we do those. Laughs like you remember as a kid. I’m so thankful to call her friend! She makes life easier and a lot more fun.
Michelle brought this mac and cheese to our house for a cookout and it has been a family favorite since. It is the creamiest macaroni and cheese I have ever had, and it’s super easy to make. This is an excellent dish to server alongside all of the fresh vegetables available now at your local farmers market. (This isn’t the best photo to show you exactly how creamy it is but I’ll try to take a new one the next time we make it.)
Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
- 2 c. uncooked elbow macaroni
- ½ c. unsalted butter
- ½ c. all-purpose flour
- 1½ c. milk
- 1½ c. sour cream
- 3 c. shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- Melt butter and stir in flour. Add milk and sour cream, stirring to combine. Continue stirring over medium heat until thick and bubbly. Stir in 2 c. shredded cheese, salt, and pepper. Add cooked macaroni and still well.
- Pour into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350°F until heated through and cheese melts on top.
Do you ever have those weekends that are jam-packed? You have that list that you’ve been making for months, and you decide that you are finally going to check things off that list. You work all day, and you accomplish more than you thought you would. Now the day is over, and you are hot, sweaty, and hungry. The thought of cooking is exhausting, but the thought of going out to dinner is even more exhausting.
With a little bit of planning, you will have this delicious summer pasta on the table in no time. This recipe is an Ina Garten recipe that is super simple. The tomatoes and a few of the other ingredients need to be mixed and left to stand at room temperature for 4 hours. With a mid-day break, this is easy to do. Other than the wait time, this dish can be ready in 15 minutes or less. It is a light and fresh meatless meal and a great end to a productive day of work!
Summer Garden Pasta
- 4 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
- Good olive oil
- 2 tbsp. minced garlic (6 cloves)
- 18 large basil leaves, julienned, plus extra for serving
- ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt
- ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound dried angel hair pasta
- 1½ cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
- Combine the cherry tomatoes, ½ cup olive oil, garlic, basil leaves, red pepper flakes, 1 tsp. salt, and the pepper in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature for about 4 hours.
- Just before you're ready to serve, bring a large pot of water with a splash of olive oil and 2 tablespoons salt to a boil and add the pasta. Cook al dente according to the directions on the package (be careful - it only takes 2 to 3 minutes!). Drain the pasta well and add to the bowl with the cherry tomatoes. Add the cheese and some extra fresh basil leaves and toss well. Serve in big bowls with extra cheese on each serving.
Do you love the beer cheese fondue at The Melting Pot? If so, you are going to love this new recipe. I have a plastic container full of magazine clippings. I should probably throw them away, but occasionally I will come across a gem. This recipe is based on a recipe that I found in that box. I made a few changes, because some ingredients are not available in this part of the country. The results are great though! This is a delicious and creamy dish!
Beer Macaroni and Cheese
- 16-oz. elbow macaroni
- ¼ c. butter
- ¼ c. all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp. Coleman's ground mustard
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- ¾ tsp. white pepper (black pepper is fine)
- 2½ c. milk
- ¾ c. amber beer
- ¼ c. heavy whipping cream
- 3 c. shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
- 2 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 1 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
- Cook macaroni according to package directions for al dente.
- Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, heat butter over medium-high heat. Stir in flour, mustard, salt, and pepper until smooth; gradually whack in the milk, beer, and cream. Cook, stirring until thickened.
- Reduce heat and stir in 2 c. Cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, and Parmesan cheese until melted.
- Drain macaroni; stir in sauce. Transfer to a greased 3-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining Cheddar cheese.
- Bake at 400°F, uncovered, until golden brown and heated through. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.