Southwest Pasta Salad

** This post was imported as a part of my top 30 from my old blog – What’s Cooking in the Orange Kitchen**

This is a recipe that has been talked about a lot on the cooking message board that I frequent. I knew the first time that I heard about it that I would love it, but for one reason or another I kept putting it off. Last week I finally had some fresh tomatoes from the garden (not big juicy red ones but little yellow pear ones) so I decided it was finally time to make this pasta salad. This is definitely a great way to use up some of the tomatoes that most gardens are growing (I’m still in mourning over my tomato plants which have been obliterated by the deer, thank goodness one survived!) I really enjoyed it!

As for changes I only made a few and mostly because I was using what I had on hand. I didn’t have red tomatoes so I cut the yellow pear tomatoes into quarters and used those. I also subbed flat leaf parsley for cilantro because the store didn’t have any and I am growing my own parsley and I omitted the avocado because I’m not a huge fan (though if I were making it for a crowd I would probably use it) Finally, I cut the recipe in half and in doing so I think I screwed up the “sauce” measurements because mine was a little on the dry side. If that happens I recommend just mixing a little more salsa and olive oil together and tossing it in. I also want to mention that this recipe would be perfect for a summer cookout because it does not call for any mayonnaise so it would be OK to sit out.


Cara’s Wagon Wheel Pasta Salad
(Source: Cara’s Cravings)

Ingredients

1lb wagon wheel pasta
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 10oz package frozen corn
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced – I used yellow pear tomatoes cut into quarters
8oz shredded Mexican-blend cheese
1 1/2 cups salsa
1/2 cup olive oil
3-4 tbsp lime juice – fresh is a must!
1 tbsp cumin
1-2 tsp chili powder – I went on the heavier side of the chili powder
2 garlic cloves, minced
freshly ground salt & pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro – flat leaf parsley can be subbed if you don’t have fresh cilantro on hand
1 avocado, diced

Directions

Cook the pasta al dente according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water.

In a large bowl, combine the black beans, corn, tomatoes, salsa, and cheese. Add the cooled pasta and mix well.

In another bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, garlic, cumin and chili powder. Pour over the pasta salad, add the cilantro, and mix well. Season to taste with salt & pepper.

Just before serving, stir in the diced avocado.

So You Grew a Garden… Now What? 8

** This post was imported as a part of my top 30 from my old blog – What’s Cooking in the Orange Kitchen**

So maybe you were thinking that I was giving up on my garden and stopping the series since it’s been so long since I posted a recipe. But don’t worry, I am not. The sad news is that the deer have pretty much spoiled our entire “crop” of tomatoes. They ate most of the 15(!!) plants down to sticks. There are only 3 plants that are producing tomatoes and I’m not sure if they are strong enough to actually make red tomatoes but we’ll see. One of the plants is a yellow pear tomato plant and it seems to be doing the best so you can expect a recipe later this week. Next year we plan to put up a fence but for this year I guess we will just have to make do and dream of more tomatoes next year. And I guess I’ll have to buy tomatoes for the recipes I had planned for this series. The good news is that our zucchini plant is THRIVING! We came home from vacation to 4 zucchinis the size of my arm, 3 normal sized ones and a few more that will be ready to pick today or tomorrow.

With that being said, today’s recipe is for zucchini bread. And guess what. I like zucchini bread. No one is more shocked than me. I’ve been saying for 25 (almost 26) years that I do not like it but I admit that I had never tried it. This year my great friend Michelle finally forced me at gunpoint (OK the gun is an exaggeration) to try some and to my surprise I loved it. Since I was planning on posting about zucchini bread anyway it worked out pretty well. This recipe is wonderfully moist and spicy and I definitely ate half a loaf within a few hours of taking it out of the oven. So please, if you have been resisting zucchini bread your entire life, please, give this a try. You just might love it.


Zucchini Bread
(Adapted from Allrecipes.com)

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 ground nutmeg
3 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 unsweetened applesauce
2 1/4 cups white sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini

Directions

Grease and flour four mini-loaf pans or two 8X4 inch bread pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.


Beat eggs, oil, applesauce, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and nuts until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.


Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Mine took about 55 minutes but things usually take a little longer in stoneware. I don’t think that 40 minutes would be enough in a regular pan but I would start checking just to be sure it doesn’t burn. Especially if your oven runs hot. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and completely cool.

So You Grew a Garden…Now What? 1

** This post was imported as a part of my top 30 from my old blog – What’s Cooking in the Orange Kitchen**

For a month now I have been patiently waiting to find a ripe vegetable in my garden that is ready to pick. Finally, when I went to water the garden yesterday, I saw a cucumber through the big beautiful green leaves. When I went to pick it I was even more excited to find that there was another one just a few inches away! Every year I am always amazed at how quickly a vegetable will grow. One day you’ll see a little cucumber that’s a measly 2 inches and then the next day, BAM, it’s a full grown cucumber and that’s exactly what happened! We planted several different kinds of cucumbers and the 2 that were ready yesterday were an English style, so they were long and skinny. (We also planted a pickling variety so you can except a pickle recipe in the series!)

It really was perfect that a cucumber was the first vegetable that was ready because over the weekend I thought of a recipe idea and it has been on my mind ever since. This recipe would also be great with fresh garden tomatoes but mine are still all green, so I bought one from the store. Hopefully it will be my last store bought tomato of the summer!

So You Grew a Garden… Now What? – Recipe #1
Cucumber and Tomato Salad

Salad Ingredients

1 cucumber, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1 tomato, cut into bite size pieces
1/4-1/2 small red onion, cut into 1 inch strips
2 tbsp crumbled feta cheese

Dressing ingredients

3 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp dry oregano
salt and pepper to taste
juice of half of a lemon

Directions

Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients. Pour the dressing* over the chopped vegetables and feta cheese, refrigerate for several hours. I dressed the vegetables in a Tupperware so that I could occasionally give it a shake and redistribute the dressing.

* I recommend pouring just half of the dressing on at first and tossing with the vegetables. Then if it needs more you can add more. Depending on the size of your vegetables you may need all or less of the dressing.