Saturday, January 29, 2011

Asparagus Pasta - ***BIG HIT***

I knew this one would be a big hit because I've made it before :)  And, because Merlyn was late getting home (which gave me time to cook) and he was very hungry.

I have also stumbled upon the fact that the way to a husband's heart is to make the food easy to eat. I got home early from work, so I had time to visit the store for ingredients, and to cook the Asparagus Pasta.  I also bought a rotisserie chicken, which I deboned and put in the oven to keep warm.  Merlyn *raved* about how wonderful that was, and the Asparagus Pasta as well - the definitive statement was, "I feel like I'm at Olive Garden!!!"

In case you don't know, Merlyn discovered Olive Garden and its wonderful food last year, so this is a really good compliment.

Whenever I think of asparagus, I remember Merlyn's brother Al serving us wonderfully fresh asparagus that he had hunted for in the ditches around his home.  Good job, Al, and good memories!

I couldn't find a comparable recipe online, so here is the recipe and the cookbook comments.  The recipe was provided to the cookbook by Karen Hilmoe, who is a fabulous cook!  As we were eating dinner, we talked about that and it made us realize we need a road trip to Washington to see our dear family and eat some of Karen't great meals.

I always have something to say when I cook, so my comments are underlined.

Asparagus Pasta

I got this recipe from my niece, Nancy Bryson.  We eat it hot tonight then tomorrow as a salad, cold. - Karen Hilmoe

1 Tbsp. (or less) olive oil
4+ cloves of garlic (whatever you prefer) I used chopped garlic from a jar
1/2 red bell pepper
1 bunch of fresh asparagus cut into 1-1 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup walnuts toasted and coarsely chopped I did not toast the walnuts separately
Italian seasoning (to taste)
Red Pepper seasoning (to taste)
1 pkg frozen tortellini or ravioli I used Bertolli three-cheese tortellini from the dairy case
Parmesan cheese to taste

Start water for your preferred pasta.  Cook pasta according to package instructions.  Meanwhile, heat a large skillet and coat with good olive oil.  Add garlic and cook until a light golden brown.  Add asparagus.  Cook until asparagus is nearly fork tender.  Add red pepper and walnuts.  Add seasonings.  Add pasta when it is finished cooking, toss, and top with Parmesan cheese.

Karen Hilmoe

I served it with chicken, and reheated it the second night to serve with more chicken :)  It was delicious both times and tasted the same the second night (the seasonings did not become any more or less intense as sometimes happens with time).


Here's the challenge: I'm going to make each recipe in the cookbook, "Recipes from Columbia Classics Car Club 1992-2002,' Tri-Cities, WA", one recipe per section, and blog about it.  And then I'll go on to the next section.

Next Section: Cakes
Next Recipe:  Almond Joy Cake

I'll be back after it's cooked.  Bon Appetit!

Friday, January 28, 2011

4-Bean Salad

"You give but little when you give of your possessions.  It's when you give of yourself that you truly give." 

This quote was posted on page 26 of the Trophy Recipes cookbook; Quotes and attributes it to Khalil Gibran.  I would have trusted that attribution without question had I not read Keith Bruzelius' posting on Facebook today, "The problem with quotes on the internet is that it is hard to verify their authenticity." - Abraham Lincoln."

The first line quoted above is a true statement, no matter who said it, and I'll add a truly verifiable quotation:  "Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way." Colossians 3:17, The Message
I did get out of order in cooking <hangs head> but not in blogging - last evening I needed a main dish (and 'coincidentally' had time to cook something), so I went on to the next recipe.  Today, however, it's Four-Bean Salad day.  I have the morning off which certainly isn't enough time to quilt, clean, make Four-Bean Salad, do laundry, and finish our Financial Peace University cash flow statement before I shower and head to work. There are always too many tasks for the time allotted! I'm definitely going to cook and quilt.

The Four-Bean Salad needs time for the flavors to meld, so I'll make it a priority and we will have it for supper tonight. 

Here is a similar recipe for Four-Bean Salad, which should look like the picture below.

I have a much-used recipe for Texas Caviar that is also quite similar to this one, except it adds chopped green pepper and shoepeg corn (love that shoepeg corn!)  Even though many people like it, there's always a lot left over.  I always have to take leftovers to work for days to use it up - Merlyn gets tired of it after one sitting.  I suppose I could freeze it for another dinner party or potluck.

The next question is, "what is the best way to keep track of meals you've saved in the freezer?"

Returning to the tasks of the day, I have changed the bed, brushed the cat, reconciled the checkbook and started a load of laundry.  And I just finished making Four-Bean Salad. Putting together the salad reminded me of summer picnics and potlucks in my childhood: Mom often made 3-bean salad (and it wasn't really my favorite - especially in a group meal where there were oodles of wonderful dishes). I'll have to ask her why she chose that dish: whether she made it because no one at home would eat it and that way she'd get to have some once in awhile; or because it was inexpensive and easy, or some other reason I can't fathom. 

Merlyn *hates* the smell of cooking vinegar so I had to wait until he would be gone for awhile and I can get rid of the odor (it's relatively warm out so I can open the door for awhile).  Notice I said 'relatively' - in Pierre SD and January that means anything above 20 degrees.  I'm going to post this and add a paragraph later about the eating of the Four-Bean Salad.


Here's the challenge: I'm going to make each recipe in the cookbook, "Recipes from Columbia Classics Car Club 1992-2002,' Tri-Cities, WA", one recipe per section, and blog about it.  And then I'll go on to the next section.

Next Section: Main Dishes
Next Recipe:  Asparagus Pasta

I'll be back after it's cooked.  Bon Appetit!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Appetizer Vegetable Pizza

It was my day off, so I made 'Appetizer Vegetable Pizza' last evening for supper.  Actually, it was an 'all-appetizer' dinner - we finished off the dessert bites I had made from phyllo cups, lime curd and squirt topping.  Merlyn rounded out his meal with sardines on Ritz crackers - he kept saying that the vegetable pizza needed some tuna, but I disagreed so he had to get his fish another way.

The Appetizer Vegetable Pizza (kind of like this but called for mayonnaise and dill weed to be added to the cream cheese) was good.  It seemed pretty salty - either I put in too much Ranch Dressing mix, or maybe too few vegetables?  [A friend pointed out that I didn't follow the recipe exactly - it said to let it sit for at least an hour for the flavors to mellow.  That should take care of the saltiness.]

About half is left over so we'll have it for supper tonight with our Papa Murphy's pizza. We have guests so I'll see what they think.

I don't think I've used those refrigerated crescent rolls since I was in high school.  For the record, I haven't gotten any better at sealing them together.  

I'm hoping to manage one recipe per day off, but that may be too optimistic.  At the moment, I feel more like vegging with a cup of hot chocolate than cooking. And, the next recipe requires you to cook a vinegar dressing, and Merlyn really hates the smell of cooking vinegar. 

Here's the challenge: I'm going to make each recipe in the cookbook, "Recipes from Columbia Classics Car Club 1992-2002,' Tri-Cities, WA", one recipe per section, and then I'm going to blog about it.  And then I'll go on to the next section (which is 'Soups, Salads, & Condiments.) The next recipe will be 4-bean salad. I'll be back after it's cooked.  Bon Appetit!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Columbia Classics Recipe Challenge

Last summer, I watched the movie 'Julie and Julia' and was captivated.  It enticed me back to those 'thrilling days of yesteryear', to the day when the PBS tower went up and the number of tv channels we could receive doubled in one day!

'Julie and Julia' intersperses Julie Powell's personal challenge to recreate each of Julia Child's recipes in 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking' with scenes from Julia Child's life.  It is very funny, and especially evocative of the 60's.

When we had only one or two television channels,  we watched whatever was on when we were available; and that is the only reason I ever watched Julia Child's cooking shows. (Well, there was the hope that she'd drop something or make some horrific mistake that even I wouldn't do.)  Even so, her voice is indelibly imprinted in my memory.  Merlyn Streep's interpretation in 'Julie and Julia' evokes scenes from the 60's and early 70's (my grade school and high school years) and especially those endless summers of tv-watching.

I began my serious cooking career when Mom enrolled in a Thursday evening college course at Chadron State College to work on her teaching degree, and my first dish was memorable, to say the least.  It was blackened tuna casserole.  Not that I knew that term in elementary school. I was just beginning to learn how to cook noodles, open and drain a can of tuna, and open a can of mushroom soup.  I was already an expert at losing myself in a book, however, which is where the 'blackened' part came in (Dad and my siblings called it 'burned').

Today, I am something of a 'foodie', although not a great cook.  At work, we watch cooking shows during our lunch and afternoon breaks, discussing recipes and critiquing techniques.

Last week, I had my own 'Julie and Julia' moment. I was looking through 'Trophy Recipes from Columbia Classics Car Club 1992-2002,' Tri-Cities, WA (a gift from sister-in-law Karen in Prosser, WA) and it came to me, "I should cook my way through this cookbook!" The more I thougth about it, the more fitting it seemed - I married into the Hilmoe family nearly 32 years ago, and they are definitely a 'car family'. So it's appropriate that my 'Julie and Julia' cookbook be a car club cookbook.

 My coworker, Nadine, and my husband, Merlyn both said, when I mentioned this challenge, "and blog about it!"  I hadn't thought of that, but why not?

So, here's the challenge: I'm going to make each recipe in the cookbook, one recipe per section, and blog about it.  And then I'll go on to the next section.   The first recipe and section will be "Appetizer Vegetable Pizza" from the Appetizers, Snacks & Beverages. I'll be back after it's cooked.  Bon Appetit!

Julie and Julia - the original post (Julie Powell is pithier than I am, isn't she?)