Just a few weeks ago, I wrote about the epic bridal shower my mom threw for one of her BFF’s daughters. She made lobster paella and smoked salmon canapes. We drank champagne and rose. I left home feeling happy, full, and totally in awe.
So, it was sort of a hubris-filled idea to host a bridal shower for one of my BFFs this past weekend. You will note from the picture below what was not on the menu: lobster paella or smoked salmon canapes. (Obvi on the champagne and rose, though).
For everyone’s benefit (and so that I’d actually have something to feed 15 people), I stuck to some tried and true standards. These are truly the go-tos in our house: I realized as I was posting this that every single item is something I’ve already posted about here. Which tells you I’m either really uncreative, or just totally confident in these recipes. Probably both.
(I think) it turned out beautifully. And most important, my friend Sasha seemed really touched.
I hope everyone went home happy and full. Unfortunately, I was already home, which means I was also in charge of cleaning up.
Good thing I had lots of leftover champagne and rose. And basil vodka lemonade. (Main idea: create a basil-infused simple syrup by boiling 1 part water, 1 part sugar and 1 big handful basil. Add to lemonade, another handful basil and a big old splash of vodka. Start showering/TPing the bride/asking the embarrassing “how well do you know your future spouse” questions.)
There’s nothing I don’t love about Mexican food.
Onions? Check. Cilantro? Check. Heat? Check. Crispy, fried corn chips? Check. Melted, delicious dairy? Yes, please. Something you can make with veggies or with meat, so Husband doesn’t complain about wasting away? YUP.
Because we tend to have Mexican food fairly often, I keep a lookout for interesting twists. This quick-pickling innovation, from Cooking Light, really is as good (and as quick) as it sounds. Reduce the amount of jalapeño if heat isn’t your thing. But seriously, make these.
Ground Turkey Tostadas with Pickled Onions and Jalapeño
- 1 thinly sliced red onion, divided
- 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1 small jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced
- olive oil
- 1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 pound lean ground turkey
- large handful chili powder
- about half handful ground cumin
- 2-3 cloves minced garlic
- small handful smoked paprika
- small handful garlic salt
- handful pepper
- handful crushed red peppers
- corn tostadas
- to serve:
- sour cream, cilantro, cheese, avocado
- Combine 1/2 of your sliced onion, vinegar, water, a little bit of sugar, about 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the jalapeño in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a simmer and cook for a minute. Remove from heat and place to the side while you make the rest of your meal.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil and add the other half of the onion, along with bell pepper. Cook down about 5 minutes, and then add ground turkey and garlic. Break the turkey up and add all of the spices. Cook 5-7 minutes, or until browned.
- Drain pickled veggie mixture. Top tostadas evenly with the ground turkey, pickled onions and jalapeños, a bit of sour cream, avocado, cilantro – whatever makes your heart sing.
While lamenting the effectiveness of the tostada as a food delivery system, Husband agrees: we should pickle more vegetables, more often.
I neglected to write a “planning” post this week – whoops! I actually DID plan out our meals, too…though with only a couple of nights of cooking needed (we are headed to MIAMI! this weekend), I took a bit of the easy way out. We did a lot of recycling and reusing chez nous, and we’re still dining on leftovers. For example, this pasta salad, which I made to bring to a friend’s impromptu BBQ on Sunday evening (another reason to love spring: impromptu BBQs).
This “recipe” is an absolute go-to. I remember making it for the first time with my mom probably ten years ago, and it’s become a staple at the yearly beachside bonfire we host with a bunch of family friends. Of course, the first time she made this, my mom was just using up vegetables she had in her fridge – I don’t get my propensity to throw things together and call it dinner from nowhere, you see. There are, however, two secrets to elevating this from grocery store pasta salad to the kind of pasta salad to end all other pasta salads. See if you can spot them.
The World’s (well, in my humble opinion, anyway) Best Pasta Salad
- 1 box curly pasta – my favorite is Cavatappi
- 1/2 jar sundried tomatoes, in oil – coarsely chopped
- 1 bell pepper, sliced (orange adds a nice pop of color!)
- 1 can corn, drained, or ideally, 2-3 stalks of fresh corn, kernels cut off
- 1 small container cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1/2 red onion, chopped
- one bunch green onions, chopped
- handful of spinach
- 2-3 stalks celery, chopped
- a goodly amount of Parmesan cheese
- fresh herbs: cilantro provides a gorgeous zing, but parsley and/or basil also good options
- a good squeeze of anchovy paste (*leave out if making a totally vegetarian version*)
- salt, pepper, crushed reds
- balsamic vinegar
- olive oil
- Boil water for pasta; while you’re waiting, prepare/wash/chop all of your veggies, and place in a LARGE bowl, EXCEPT for your sundried tomatoes.
- Cook pasta according to directions. While the pasta is still warm, toss with the veggies – and then add your sundried tomatoes and a bit of the oil it comes in. Give it a thorough toss.
- Whisk together your dressing and add to your pasta. Finish off your salad with Parmesan and a generous dose of herbs. Serve warm or chilled – it won’t last long either way.
This one’s a go-to for good reason. I made an extra large batch on Sunday, taking most of it to the BBQ and leaving a bit behind for me and the Husband. By Monday evening, I had (very generously) left him two (full!) strands of Cavatappi. I am such a great partner, sometimes.
PS: You can obviously add olives to add brininess, and whatever else your little heart desires. I have and enforce a strict no-olive policy chez nous.
After a week of gorging on my mom’s amazing beef stew, I’ve gone back to my non-protein ways.
(Veggie) tarts are just so GOOD. And sometimes, they’re even good for you. Or at least not terrible.
Inspiration by Martha Stewart…and my friend Kate.
Tomato and Corn Tart with Olive Oil Crust
for the crust
- a little less than 1.5 cups white whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
- about 1/3 cup olive oil, plus a little more
- about 1/3 cup water, plus a little more
for the filling
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1 shallot, chopped
- salt, pepper & crushed reds
- about a cup Parmesan cheese, divided
- 2 eggs, lightly whisked together
- 1 can corn kernels, rinsed (Note: this would be SO much better with fresh corn, but sadly, we’re not quite to that season yet!)
- 1 big handful grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. In medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, & sesame seeds; slowly pour in the water and olive, forming a large ball. You may need to add a touch more water or olive oil to help it stick together.
- Roll the dough out on a floured surface and press into an 8 or 9 inch pie shell. Prick all over with a fork and then bake for about 10 minutes; remove and cover the crusts, so they don’t burn. Reduce the heat to about 375 and bake another 10 minutes or so, until lightly golden brown.
- While the crust bakes, heat olive oil over medium low heat in a saute pan, add onion and shallot. Add salt, pepper and crushed reds, and cook down – until golden and/or translucent. Finally, add the corn and just give the whole thing a quick toss.
- When the crust is done pre-baking, sprinkle the bottom with a health layer of Parmesan cheese. Add the onion/shallot/corn mixture, then top with the tomatoes. Season with a little salt and pepper, lightly pour the egg mixture over it (this just helps it to stick together), and add the rest of the Parmesan to the top.
- Bake for about 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees; serve with a little Parsley and a light side salad. Think about how awesome this will taste when you make it with New Jersey corn, straight from the roadside stand.
The crust does take a little getting used to – it’s “healthy,” after all, and the taste of the olive oil shines through. As with any dish, the fresher the veggies, the tastier it’ll be. Still, it’s been a while since I joined the ladies (and a few good gentlemen) over at Fiesta Friday, but I think this is good enough to bring. What’s more fiesta-y than corn?