Late Saturday afternoon, Don had a spur-of-the-moment idea that we go for a drive to the Olympic National Park the next day right after church.And, why not take a picnic lunch and a nice bottle of wine?
Sounded good to me!The weather forecast said that it would be in the 90’s and that is hot for Western Washington.Great day to get out of the house.Besides, Don has been working hard all week ripping off the front deck, repairing some dry-rot and now he has next week to put a new deck top on.What a guy!He deserves a break.
Ok, the event is planned, now what will the picnic be……I sorted through my fridge and found some celery, red onion and preserved sun-dried tomatoes, not much else as it really was time to go shopping.Finally, I decided on a pasta salad as I found half a box of pasta in the cupboard.Funny shaped little pasta swirls called Trottole.There has been an unopened jar of chipotle mayonnaise in the cupboard that was an “impulse buy” a couple months ago so this was a great time to try it out. Little by little this salad was coming together, add a little fresh herbs and some left-over grilled chicken and, bam!We have a pasta salad.
We found a great picnic spot near Lake Quinault and as we were digging into our lunch Don said, “This sure beats working on that …. deck!”.
Pasta Salad with Grilled Chicken and Chipotle Dressing
Add the pasta to a large pan of boiling, salted water and cook according to the package instructions. Drain and rinse, place into a bowl and toss with olive oil to prevent it from glueing together. Refrigerate while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
To a large salad bowl, cut the chicken into ½ inch cubes, add the red onion, celery, chives, and cilantro.
Measure out the sun-dried tomatoes and place in a strainer, allow as much oil to drain with the help of a spoon pressing on it. Empty the tomatoes onto a triple layer of paper towels, fold the towel over the top and press down to release the rest of the oil. Rough chop the tomatoes and add to the salad bowl.
In a small dish, mix the chipotle mayonnaise and the sour cream together and toss the salad until well combined, add salt and pepper to taste. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill until ready to serve.
You can make your own chipotle mayonnaise by combining mayonnaise and chipotle powder.
Wild rice takes quite a while to cook and by the time I get home from work I don’t want to wait an hour for dinner to be ready, especially if it is already after 6pm when I get home. To help make weeknight dinners quick and easy, I will often make a large side dish like this wild rice pilaf on the weekend and serve it with a couple of meals during the week. Once I get home from work, I can quickly grill a salmon fillet, steam some broccoli and heat up the rice pilaf all in time to have dinner on the table within 15 minutes. Easy peasy!!
The first time I saw aioli sauce on a menu with a fish entree I did not know what to expect and was surprised to find that is was like a mayonnaise.It is basically made in the same way as mayonnaise with garlic and any herbs that you want to jazz it up.I chose dill here as it is a great accompaniment to fish.It was also delicious mixed in with my tuna salad for a sandwich.
We have a brand-new great-grandbaby, born August 2, 2014!Our granddaughter, Rosemarie and her husband Travis are the proud new parents of a beautiful baby boy. They have been blessed!This is our third great-grandchild but it is the only one living close enough that I can cuddle as the other two live too far away.
Our son, Ron and his wife, Lisa will be arriving at our house on August 19th from North Dakota and will be visiting with us for a week.I’m not sure how much of them I will be seeing though, as this is their first grandchild and they will probably be hanging out with the new parents and that little baby boy.
The fresh grown green beans this time of the year are so crisp, tender and sweet, I prefer to eat them raw or just barely blanched. This crisp green bean salad has you blanch the beans in salted water then shock them in ice cold water so they stop cooking and keep their bright green color and fresh flavor. With the addition of tomatoes, blue cheese, bacon and almonds, the yum factor multiplies. I don’t care for heavy dressings so this vinaigrette is a reduced fat dressing but has a lot of flavor and compliments this fresh summer salad very well.
Farro is an ancient whole-grain, I mean really ancient and it is cultivated in the fields of Italy and elsewhere in the Mediterranean.With the revival of interest in whole grains, farro’s popularity is gaining popularity in America as well and it is also being grown in Eastern Washington by Bluebird Grain Farms.
Last weekend I went with my son Joshua and a dear friend on a 55-mile bike ride. We went up a national Forrest road on Mt. Saint Helens where we reached an elevation of 4,146 feet and had a total gain of 6,742 feet. It was such a great ride with a fairly narrow road and no cars to breeze by us. The scenery could not be beat with a mix of old growth, new growth and fallen trees from the blast zone. The climb up had a few sections that dipped downhill then brought us back up a steep, tough climb then the ride back down the hill was fast and thrilling as we flew around tight corners at 38mph. It was a great trainer for our Tour de Blast ride in September and built up my confidence.
I made this cake for one of Joshua’s old high school friends. She wanted a simple design with succulents and grape vines and she preferred the satiny look of fondant. There is always a challenge with a simple looking cake. I struggle with getting a perfectly smooth layer of fondant on a cake. It isn’t a problem when I place a border around the wrinkled edges and flowers on bumps or tears but this cake left me very little room to hide bumps and wrinkles.
A couple of years ago, Dahn and I entered an online recipe contest sponsored by an olive oil company.I created a casserole with eggplant, tomatoes, basil and goat cheese.It was very good but unfortunately, it was not a winner.They did send me an apron and a shopping bag though, but then everybody that entered the contest also received one.
I love living in Washington State and I really enjoy living so close to Seattle. It is such a culturally diverse state that keeps your senses stimulated with its food, music, art and culture. There is a large Vietnamese population in Seattle, which makes getting authentic Vietnamese food easily accessible. My last trip to Seattle I enjoyed a massive Banh Mi Sandwich for only $4. Banh Mi is typically served on a light, crispy Vietnamese style baguette. It isn’t difficult to find the bread in an Asian grocery store however a traditional French baguette works just as well here.