Easy – But Yummy – Pasta Salad

When I start making this pasta salad, I know that summer has arrived.  Everyone has their own variation, this is mine.

Summer in a bowl

Ingredients

1 bag – pasta of choice. Hardier pastas work best.  I’ve used Rotini, Fusilli, Farfale (bowtie), and Scoobi-Do is a favourite.  It’s a nice change from  the traditional elbow.

1 jar – Miracle Whip

2 cans – flakes of ham – some people like tuna, I prefer the taste and saltiness of ham

4 eggs – hard boiled

mustard – a healthy squirt

dried dill – a healthy shake

curry powder – to taste

salt and pepper – to taste

Directions

Cook the pasta in salted water to al dente.  Strain and run under cold water until completely cooled.

In a large bowl, break up flakes of ham and cut up hard boiled eggs.  Leave both in fairly large chunks as they will break down more when you stir it all together.

Dump the pasta on top, and add Miracle Whip and combine, to get desired creaminess.  Add mustard, dill and curry, along with salt and pepper, all to taste, testing along the way of course! 😉

That’s it.  It’s best served chilled, though if you plan on storing it in the fridge for a while, the pasta will absorb the dressing, so before serving add a bit more and give it a stir.

I prefer mine very simple, but there are literally hundreds of things you could add to this salad – bell peppers, green onions, spanish onion.  You could add fresh peas if you had some from the garden or market.  That’s what’s nice about it, add what you like to make it your own and suit your tastes.

Serve with a burger or hot dog or whatever summer treat you’ve got off the grill, and enjoy!

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Tomato Salad

This is a quick and easy one.  So simple, and it goes over great during the summer at barbecues and potlucks.  We tease my Mom because once we were having a conversation about what food we’ll be remembered for when we’re gone.  She was concerned that there wouldn’t be a “special dish” that would inspire us all to think about her when we ate it.  My husband said to her, “don’t worry Cathie, you’ll always be remembered for your tomato salad!”

Don’t blink or you’ll miss this one – it’s that quick to throw together.

Ingredients

2-3 tomatoes or more – depending on size

1/2 large or 1-2  small onions (red onions or really sweet onions are best)

1 bottle vinaigrette salad dressing (I most prefer Kraft Sundried Tomato and Oregano for this)

Directions

Slice tomatoes and onions.  Layer in a casserole (like French White) with a lid.

Pour entire bottle of dressing over the tomatoes and onions.

Cover and refrigerate at least 1-2 hours.

 

That’s it!  The longer this stuff sits, the better it is.  It’s even better the next day, so if you can make it the morning of, or even the night before, it’s best.

If you’re having burgers, some of us like to put this salad directly on our burgers for extra zing.

Enjoy!

Stuffed Burgers

Not quite “The Full Monty,” but pretty good nonetheless!

It’s my hubby’s birthday today, and he has requested for his dinner tonight, these stuffed burgers.  He will have to barbecue them, but he doesn’t mind at all, because the payoff is amazing.

Please keep in mind that these are just my version of these burgers, and you could change them up in hundreds of different ways.  Different meats, different stuffings, etc.  You’re only limited by your imagination!

Notes in blue I’ve added after making them last night.

Ingredients:

2 lbs lean ground beef I actually used one package, about a pound.

1 lb, or 4-6 links of your favourite sausages, removed from the casings – I actually used a little more than a pound, I found this in bulk in the meat section of the grocery store.  There was more sausage in these burgers than beef last night…and they were so good! 🙂

2 eggs – To be honest, once I got home I realized I had no eggs, so I took a chance and omitted them, as opposed to going back out to the store.  The burgers were fine without them.

a healthy shake of Worchestershire sauce

salt and pepper

1-2 onions, sliced finely

1 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced – I forgot to add before that once the mushrooms are sauteed, I chopped them slightly so that they weren’t so big inside the burger, and were more the same size as the bacon and onion.

4-6 slices cooked bacon, crumbled

1 cup or so cheddar or marble cheese, shredded.

Directions:

In a hot skillet, heat some vegetable oil.  Add  onions and cook slowly until caramelized.  Set aside.  In same skillet, saute mushrooms until tender.  Once cooled, add mushrooms, onions, bacon and the cheese and mix together in a medium sized bowl.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine meats, eggs and Worchestershire sauce.  Combine together until well incorporated and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Divide meat into equal sized portions.  With this much meat you could probably make 8 or so burgers.  Take a portion and flatten it out on your hand.  Take a good bunch of the filling and set it in the center of the patty.  Then wrap the meat up around the filling, and roll like a large meatball in your hand.  Make sure there is no filling peeking out anywhere and it is sealed completely.  Carefully flatten the patty between your hands or using something flat, like a large can or plate.

The most important thing is that when the burgers go on the grill, that there is no sign of filling, almost like you wouldn’t know they’re stuffed.  The filling has to melt inside the burger and cook in there.  If there is any cracks or anything, the filling will leak out, and you’ll lose it.

Cook on barbecue until desired doneness.  Serve on large toasted Kaiser rolls with your favourite burger side.  Sweet potato fries would be good. What I did this time, was butter my buns and throw them in a frying pan for a few minutes so the inside looked kind of like what a grilled cheese looks like.  I find it easier this way, because buns can burn quickly on the grill, and buttering them adds just a tiny bit of crunch and so much flavour.

Change this up any way you want.  Use different cheeses, different veggies, sundried tomatoes or roasted red peppers would be good.  Gorgonzola cheese would be awesome too.

I’d love to hear your suggestions for alternative stuffings, meats, etc.

Enjoy!

Grilled Fruit Kabobs

A few years ago now, we decided to have a dinner completely on the grill.  We grilled up all kinds of yummy savory things – sausages, stuffed peppers, etc etc etc.  But what to do for dessert?  My buddy Renee solved that problem with these fruit kabobs.

In this hot summer heat, we usually try to cook dinner on the grill to help keep the kitchen cool.  But what about when you’re having company, and want to make something impressive for dessert?  You can have a no-bake option, there are plenty of those.  You can fire up the oven and defeat the purpose of keeping the heat down.  Or, you can have your dessert off the grill like the rest of your meal.

Many fruits grill up beautifully.  The little bit of char from the grill combines wonderfully with the natural sugars of the fruit.  Fruit that is normally sweet gets that much sweeter when cooked over a fire.

You’ll want to use fruit that will stand up to the grill and the heat.  Raspberries and such are not recommended.  You’ll lose them for sure.  Great fruits for grilling are pineapple, peaches, strawberries, melons, even bananas.  Go crazy, use your favourites.  The little treat in between the fruit makes it that much better.  Get yours before they’re gone!

Ingredients:

2-3 different kinds of your favourite fruits, cut into chunks, about 1 inch.

1/2 to 1 loaf french bread, cut into cubes roughly the size of the fruit.

1 cup cinnamon sugar – use 1 cup granulated sugar, mixed with 1 tsp. ground cinnamon – you might not need this much, but you can save the rest for other uses.  It’s great sprinkled on buttered toast.

1/2 cup (or more if needed) melted sweet butter

A bunch of wooden skewers soaked in water for 15 minutes or so, or metal ones, whichever is fine.

Directions:

Simply roll each piece of bread in the melted butter and then cinnamon sugar.  Put the fruit on the skewers, leaving some room on one end for turning.  For every two pieces of fruit, put one piece of bread on.

Clean your grill to get all the remnants of supper off.  Lay a piece of foil over the grill at one end for the ends of the skewers to hang over so they don’t burn.  Grill the kabobs over low heat, turning as necessary.  It’s okay to get a few grill marks on the fruit and bread, but be careful, with the high sugar content these can burn easily.  There is nothing to cook through here, you’re just heating them up, getting things going.  The bread becomes candy like – it’s delicious!

These are delicious with a bowl of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt, a nice fruit sorbet, or simply a big blob of Cool Whip or whipped cream to dip in.

Be sure to make lots, the average is 2-3 kabobs per person.

Enjoy!