Sunday, August 7, 2016

Basil, Bacon and Bowtie Pasta Salad

I love perusing Pinterest in search of some new and tasty dinner recipe to try. I was searching for a new pasta salad recipe to test as we get in a rut sometimes, and change is good, right? Warm weather calls for cool but flavorful meals. I came across a BLT pasta salad recipe that had some possibilities, but Nature Guy and I both agreed that the lettuce would most likely end up wilted before we finished the salad. Not a huge fan of soggy lettuce, I decided to go with the bacon and tomato in the salad and come up with my own recipe, leaving out the lettuce.

We are fortunate to have an abundance of fresh Basil right now, along with fresh parsley. The squashes are starting to encumber their vines with multiple succulent fruit, so I was in luck for more fresh goodness to toss in. A nice feature of this salad is that with the pepper bacon, herbs, and dressing, there is no need for extra seasoning. This recipe is for 4 servings, which for us gives us two meals without leftovers going on forever. Enough of the blathering, here's the recipe. Enjoy!

Basil, Bacon and Bowtie Pasta Salad

1 1/2 cups bowtie pasta cooked according to package directions, drained and cooled
2 strips of thick pepper bacon, cooked until crisp, and crumbled
1/3 cup chopped purple onion
1/2 medium yellow zucchini or squash, thinly sliced (I used a mandolin)
1 1/4 cups grape tomatoes, cut in half
3/4 cup fresh cooked or frozen green peas, thawed ( you can place them in the colander and pour the hot cooked pasta over them, to help them thaw quickly)
1/2 cup real mayo (seriously, don't ruin a good thing with low or non fat mayo. If you are worried, use 1/4 each plain non fat yogurt and mayo, stirred together)
1/4 cup Ken's Steakhouse Italian dressing (we used the lite version, which only has fat reduced, no gross chemical taste) 
1/4 cup each fresh minced basil and parsley 

Cook pasta according to package directions. I usually place frozen veggies in the colander and drain my pasta into it to help thaw them. Stir together under cold water and drain. In a medium bowl combine pasta, peas, cooked, crumbled bacon, onion, tomato, squash and minced herbs, then toss gently. Stir together the mayonnaise and Italian dressing. Pour over salad and gently toss. Serves 4

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Korean Style Kimchi

We have had an interestingly wet, cool, hot, cool, warm, wet, hot, cooler, warm, summer. It has my vegetable garden growing produce in abundance. I've had several heads of napa cabbage grow to Alaska size and it's wonderfully delicious in salads or stir fries. I can't find enough ways to use it as other produce is also coming on fast so I wanted to find a way to preserve the flavors of summer for winter enjoyment.
We love spicy everything, although as we age we have toned the sizzling hot down to enjoyably spicy. Having said that there is still a place at the table for a bit of sizzle now and then. Kimchi is a great pro-biotic type of condiment that goes well with rice and any topping. This recipe is pretty spicy, so adjust to your taste. If you are worried, add less chili powder than I suggest, and taste a piece of cabbage. You will know if it's too much or not enough. Let me know if you give it a try. Enjoy!

Prep Time:


  • 1 head (about 2 pounds) napa (Chinese) cabbage
  • 1/4 cup  sea or canning salt ( pure salt with no additives is best)
  • 4-6 scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 pound daikon radish or turnips, peeled and cut into thin strips
  • 1 carrot, cut into thin strips
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup Korean red pepper powder (gochugaru) to taste( I used 1/4 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated, or 1/4 teaspoon dried
  • 1 teaspoon cane sugar ( helps with the curing process)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce, optional, but it gives it the characteristic umami flavor 
  • Cold water, filtered or spring 


  1. Cut the cabbage lengthwise and remove the core, then chop the remaining cabbage into one-inch strips.
  2. Place cabbage into a glass bowl and sprinkle with salt, mixing it together with clean hands.
  3. Cover salted cabbage with cold water. Cover with plastic wrap. Let sit at room temperature for 4-24 hours. Note: You may need to place a weight on top of the cabbage to keep it completely submerged under the brine.
  4. Drain the brine from the cabbage. Reserve brine.
  5. Place remaining ingredients in large bowl and mix together.
  6. Add cabbage to bowl and toss with clean hands.
  7. Repack cabbage into individual glass jars with lids, packing tightly and adding brine if necessary to cover. Leave about one inch of space.
  8. Close lids.
  9. Allow to ferment at room temperature for one to seven days, depending on your preference.
  10. Refrigerate once kimchi is at desired fermentation level.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Blueberry Pecan Muffins

Ahhhh, the joys of summer harvest! A soft and oh so delicious muffin, chock full of luscious blueberries and pecans, and topped with cinnamon sugar, fresh from the oven. What better way to start the day? 
We are so very fortunate to be able to buy these berries in bulk at a reasonable price. I'm enjoying a lot of great produce from other sources, as well as our garden, so I will be sharing more delectable treats and recipes as the summer harvest progresses. For now, on to the muffin recipe!

Blueberry Pecan Muffins

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 T flaxseed meal
1 T baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 egg
1 cup almond milk
2 T each canola oil and coconut oil, melted
Cinnamon sugar for topping

Turn the oven on to 375 degrees and grease a 12 cup muffin tin.

Sift together all dry ingredients except for the nuts. Combine with the nuts in a medium mixing bowl. That's right, I still sift, and it does make a difference in how the muffins turn out. Whisk together all wet ingredients and gently stir into the dry ingredients. I was taught by my Home Ec teacher to only stir about 11 times, so I try to do that. I added the berries after the 11 stirs and then stirred 11 more times. The idea is to keep the muffins from turning out tough and full of air holes.

By ice cream scoopfuls add batter to the greased muffin tins. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and then bake for 25 minutes. Enjoy!