Summer Pasta {version 2}

Here’s a variation of the previous recipe that I posted.  I liked that recipe so much that I experimented with some different ingredients.  This version took a little longer than the previous one because of the bacon, but it was still ready in about 30 minutes.  Enjoy!

Summer Pasta


8 oz dry spaghetti

8 or 9 strips of bacon

1-2 tablespoons of olive oil or butter

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 can artichoke hearts, sliced into bit sized pieces

1/2 can of olives, sliced in half

1 package {about 2 cups} of cherry tomatoes, quartered

juice of one small lemon

s&p to taste

handful of basil leaves, chopped

1/2 cup pine nuts


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place bacon strips on foil lined baking sheet.  Bake in the preheated oven 15-20 minutes or until crispy.  Then drain on towels and crumble.

Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in boiling water.

In a large skillet heat olive oil and saute the minced garlic for about 1 minute.  Then add the tomatoes, salt and pepper.  Saute until the tomatoes wrinkle, then add the olives, artichokes, and lemon juice.  Cook for a few minutes, then add the drained spaghetti and toss. Lastly, toss in the crumbled bacon, pine nuts, and chopped basil and serve.

Summer Pasta with Shrimp

hmmm, I couldn’t think of a very good title for this recipe.  But it was a terrific meal!  It is definitely more of a  “chick-food” type of dish according to Tim, but that’s why I loved it!  It is pasta with shrimp, garlic, grape tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and olives.  Yum!  I could have eaten it without the shrimp even,  I just added them for Tim since he’s not a fan of vegetarian meals.  Anyway, it cooks really fast too, which is why I added the ‘summer’ part in the title.  Its ready in about 15 minutes which is ideal for a summer-time meal when you don’t want to stand over a hot stove for very long.

I was really winging it as I went along, so measurements aren’t exact.

Summer Pasta with Shrimp

Makes 4 servings

Inspired from a Cuisine at Home magazine, Issue 82 for August 2010


8 oz. dry spaghetti

1/2 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 tablespoon butter

crushed red pepper flake, to taste

salt, to taste

1 small carton of grape tomatoes, sliced in half {about 2 cups?}

about 1 cup olives, sliced in half

1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic {about 3 cloves}

1 tablespoon butter or olive oil

juice of 1/2 a large lemon or more to taste

about 8 oz. of fresh mozzarella “pearls” or diced fresh mozzarella


Boil water and cook spaghetti.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over med-high heat with about 1 tablespoon of butter.  Add shrimp and crushed red pepper and cook until shrimp are done.  Remove the shrimp to a plate and set aside.

Add more butter or olive oil to the skillet if needed and add the garlic to the skillet, cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the halved tomatoes and salt, and cook for a few minutes until the tomato halves just slightly wrinkle and sort of burst.  Then add the halved olives.  Cook another minute, then add the lemon juice and cooked shrimp.

Turn off heat, add the cooked and drained spaghetti and toss.   Stir in the mozzarella pearls and serve.

Tim added Parmesan to the top of his, but I didn’t think it was necessary.

We served it with garlic bread.


Mexican Rice

We wanted to have some sort of Mexican flavored meal the other night, but didn’t really have a plan in mind.  I tossed around the idea of making burrito bowls but didn’t really follow through with it.  All along I knew I would be making this rice though.  In the past I always relied pretty heavily on prepackaged rice (and some pasta) mixes for some reason.  But now I’m trying to reduce the amount of processed foods that we eat and take control over what ingredients go into our food.

The meal that we ended up with was this – a side of black beans seasoned with cumin and s&p, sliced avocado, this Mexican rice, grilled sausage, and tomatoes.  It was quite good and colorful too!

Next time I’ll definitely add some cayenne pepper to the rice because it was a little too mild for our tastes.

Basic Mexican Rice

Source:  Delish

1-2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 cup uncooked long-grain rice
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 cups chicken broth (low sodium if possible)
salt & pepper to taste
cilantro for garnish

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and add chopped onions & rice. Cook, stirring constantly, until rice is golden & onions are softened. Add garlic powder, cumin, tomato sauce, and chicken broth; bring to a boil. Season with salt & pepper as desired. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Refrigerator Sweet Pickles

We planted cucumbers in our garden this year with the intent to make pickles first and foremost.  Sure, we love plain cucumbers added to salads and used as dippers for hummus and other dips too, but pickles were the plan.

Then it came time to actually make and can the pickles and I panicked.  Why?  I dunno.  The only two kitchen related fears I have are working with yeast and canning.  I can usually overcome the fear of yeast and am able to go ahead and bake with it.  But someone needs to talk me down from the ledge regarding canning!

So, I consider this recipe a compromise with canning.  Dipping my toe into the water if you will.  We still get pickles out of the deal, but I don’t have to can using a water-bath or pressure cooker.

A word of warning:  Due to the turmeric, this liquid may stain everything it touches including your fingernails, light colored countertops, plastic spoons and bowls, etc.  Use the necessary precautions that you see fit such as working on a cutting board to protect your countertop, wearing disposable plastic gloves {I didn’t, but I haven’t had a manicure in over 3 years.}, and using metal spoons and glass bowls.

Also, if you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you should not be surprised that I couldn’t find an ingredient at my local grocery stores, so I had to substitute pickling spice for the whole mustard seed.

Refrigerator Pickles

Source:  family recipe

Yield:  one large jar of pickles


1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp mustard seed {I subbed a pickling spice mixture containing mustard seeds}

1/4 tsp celery seed

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup cider vinegar

2 small onions, thinly sliced

3 cups thinly sliced unpeeled cucumbers {about 2 medium cucumbers}


Place the sliced cucumbers and onions in a large glass microwave-safe bowl.

In a small bowl combine the dry ingredients.  Add the vinegar to the dry ingredients and mix well.  Then pour over the cucumbers and pickles.

Microwave uncovered on high power for 5 minutes.  Stir well and microwave for 5 more minutes.

Pour or spoon all of the onions, cucumbers, and liquid into a clean jar using a wide mouth canning funnel, add lid, and refrigerate.

I don’t know if its necessary, but I give the jars an occasional gentle shake over the first 3-4 hours that they’re in the fridge.

Menu 7-18-10



BLATs {Bacon, lettuce, avocado, and tomato} with mac & cheese

tacos with rice

salmon {Yikes, I’ve never cooked it before!} with orzo

chicken piccata, probably with pasta and broccoli again


Marlboro man sandwiches and corn on the cob

Other things I want to make:

Oreo bars

Chicken Piccata, Take 2

I wasn’t really looking for a new chicken piccata recipe as I already have a terrific one in my repertoire.  I was just in the mood for a new lemony type of chicken dish.  Something perfect for summer and quick.  As I was searching, I stumbled upon this piccata recipe by Ina Garten.  She has never let me down, so I went ahead with it and am glad I did!  It was actually even easier than my other recipe and Tim liked this one better.  I thought they were a tie, but I’m going to make this recipe again next week just to be sure. 😉

I served the chicken over pasta with a side of broccoli.  Next time I’ll reduce the amount of salt and add a few tablespoons of capers to the sauce.

Sorry, the pictures were taken before I added the sauce.  And I skipped the sliced lemon and parsley garnish.

Chicken Piccata

Source:  Ina Garten


  • 2 split (1 whole) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 1/2 tablespoon water
  • 3/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • Good olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons), lemon halves reserved
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • Sliced lemon, for serving
  • Chopped fresh parsley leaves, for serving


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place each chicken breast between 2 sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap and pound out to 1/4-inch thick. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

Mix the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper in a shallow plate. In a second plate, beat the egg and 1/2 tablespoon of water together. Place the bread crumbs on a third plate. Dip each chicken breast first in the flour, shake off the excess, and then dip in the egg and bread crumb mixtures.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium to medium-low heat. Add the chicken breasts and cook for 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Place them on the sheet pan and allow them to bake for 5 to 10 minutes while you make the sauce.

For the sauce, wipe out the saute pan with a dry paper towel. Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and then add the lemon juice, wine, the reserved lemon halves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Boil over high heat until reduced in half, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and swirl to combine. Discard the lemon halves and serve 1 chicken breast on each plate.  Spoon on the sauce and serve with a slice of lemon and a sprinkling of fresh parsley.


Garden Update July 2010

I haven’t really mentioned our garden too much this year.  But it is going strong.  🙂

So far we’ve had lettuce {now done}, peas {done}, red and white onions, and cucumbers. The sweet corn and green beans won’t be too far off and we have one tiny bell pepper starting to grow.




We’re also growing carrots, cantaloupe, tomatoes, and jalapenos.  But, those won’t be ready for awhile yet.

We tried to grow strawberries, but that was a big ol’ fail.  And I never got around to planting my herb seeds – parsley and basil.  Maybe I’ll pick up some plants to transplant this week?

As always, a big thank you goes out to Tim for doing most of the work!  He tills, plants, weeds, and I harvest.

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