Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Lori's Homemade Pasta Salad

Lori's Homemade Pasta Salad

  As you can see, I made boat loads of this stuff for a community meal a couple of months back and I ended up with over 8 pounds of pasta salad! It was delectable and oh, so delicious! It was also addictive and hard to stop eating as it tasted so good! It was one of my 'throw together' recipes where I did not measure out anything, including the vinaigrette, but just added what looked right. However, I did begin with 1 cup of olive oil and added more as I needed to. I added half the amount of vinegar as oil, so that is how I came up with amounts below. Ditto for the spices.
  You won't need to make that much, and besides, I really didn't use a recipe, I just threw stuff together and it all worked.  I used the vegetables I had growing in my garden at the time: cherry tomatoes, small pickling cucumbers, red onions, green bell peppers, and then opened up a can of black olives, drained them, then sliced them into rings. Yummy.
  I cooked 4 pounds of noodles, but that is way more than what you will need or want to cook. This recipe I am putting together used just 8 ounces of noodles, though you can double the recipe to take to a pot luck, if so desired. The nice thing about this recipe is you can use any veggies you desire, and you can add chunks of bite-sized cheeses or pepperoni, if that is what floats your boat. I like it as it is above, which made a lovely and delicious salad that went well as a side dish with everything. Pasta salads are good year-round, not just during the summer.
  I sure hope you enjoy this recipe and adjust it to fit your veggie likes/dislikes. Broccoli, peas, just about any veggie can be added to this recipe. Make it once, then make it yours.

Lori's Pasta Salad

8 ounces rotini noodles, uncooked*
1 red onion, diced small, about 1/2-3/4 cup
1 green pepper, diced, about 3/4 cup
1 red pepper, diced, about 3/4 cup, optional*
1 small pickling cucumber, diced
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
Grated carrots, about 1/2 medium or 4-6 baby carrots*
1 (6 ounce) can pitted olives, sliced*
1/4-1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese*
1 cup  extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar*
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
dash of Italian blend seasonings (mixture of herbs)*
1/4 tsp Real Sea Salt, to taste
1/8 tsp black pepper, to taste

Cook noodles according to package directions; strain, rinse with cold water to cool; set aside.
Dice all vegetables; set aside.
Combine olive oil, vinegar, spices, salt and pepper; set aside.
Place noodles in a large bowl. Add veggies and stir to incorporate.
Pour vinaigrette over top and stir to blend well.
Add Parmesan cheese and blend.
Cover and chill at least 2 hours before serving, though 8 hours is better. Best if left overnight.

*You can use rainbow noodles, if desired.
*Use red pepper, if you like, but I did not.
*I used baby carrots, but you can use regular.
*You can buy sliced olives or keep them whole in the recipe.
*I like a lot of Parmesan cheese and tend to add a lot. Add to taste.
*I only use Bragg's unpasteurized apple cider vinegar as it has the enzymes in it.
*You can use red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar, if desired, in place of apple cider vinegar.
*I used a dash of Sylvia's Italian Blend spices.
*You can add 6-8 ounces of pepperoni, diced, if desired.
*You can add 6-8 ounces of Mozzarella, if desired.
*You can add some fresh Parsley (1/8-1/4 cup) minced, or some dried (1 Tbls), if desired.

Lori's Pork Ribs

                                       Pork Ribs off the grill

  I wish I had a better camera! That, or I wish I was a better photographer! It doesn't matter as this picture does not catch the essence of how good these ribs were! They were delectable! Tender, juicy, tasty, and smoky. Just the way ribs should be!
  When I was younger I never knew how to cook ribs properly. I've even seen some people boil them to death! I never did that as that seemed to be all wrong, but I did cook them in the oven with mixed results that were less than stellar. Then one of my kids went to work in a restaurant where the specialty was ribs and he told me the basics of how they cooked the ribs to make them moist, delicious, and wonderful. Once I began to cook my ribs that way, I was on my way to making the very best ribs around! These are fall-off-the-bone tender, the way ribs should be.
  I like to use rubs for flavors that you just can't incorporate any other way. The type and kind you use is up to you, but I will give you a basic of what I use. I rarely measure out ingredients or write them down, much to the dismay of my kids as it is hard for me to tell them exactly how I make a recipe with this kind of loose cooking. However, if you have a delectable rub recipe, then use it by all means as it will not hurt my feelings in any way.
  I just used a store-bought BBQ sauce on these ribs (one without HFCS in it), but you can also make your own. Whether you like Carolina vinegar-based sauces or Sweeter Memphis or spicy Kansas City, it doesn't matter, what matters is that this is the best way to make ribs.
  Ribs can be made anytime of year, but in the fall is when pigs are usually butchered and the prices of pork come down and become more affordable. Get some ribs on sale and enjoy these delectable fall-apart meats for a reasonable price.

Pork Ribs
1-2 racks of ribs
1 batch of dry rub, your choice (I will post one later)
Heavy-duty foil
BBQ sauce, your choice

Buy ribs.
Take off membrane, if you know how.
Rub with a dry rub of your choice and allow to sit for 2-4 hours or overnight.
Once the ribs have marinated in the rub, place one set of ribs on a large sheet of foil, wrap tight, then wrap again in another sheet of foil.
Place in a large (15"x 20" x1") jellyroll pan, then place in pre-heated oven at 350 degrees.
If cooking another, repeat and place second set of ribs in oven, too.
Bake for 2 hours.
Remove pans and take ribs out of foil.
Place ribs on a hot grill and then swab with BBQ sauce of your choice. Allow ribs to cook on grill so that the sauce gets caramelized, then turn and do other side.
Remove ribs from grill and let set for 5-10 minutes before slicing to eat.

Make sure you wrap ribs tight in the foil so they steam inside and the steam does not escape.
Do not cook longer than 2 hours in oven or they will overcook and shred.
If you don't want to add a dry rub, then don't.
If you don't want to add a BBQ sauce, then don't.
Don't overcook on grill, but make sure the sauce cooks well on the ribs. About 5-10 minutes on each side.


Green Beans, Potatoes and Ham

Green Beans, Potatoes and Ham

When I was a child my grandma would always make a huge pot of this for dinner with the very first harvest of green beans from the garden, and then maybe one or two more batches before summer was
over and all the beans canned for the year. I like to make this a few times per year myself as it is a
nourishing and deliciously easy soup that uses up ingredients from the garden.
  Over the many years of my life I have eaten this made by other people. Most people gather green beans, stem and snap them, then cook them for 2-3 hours in water, adding the potatoes and ham shortly before the beans are "done". It is the way I used to make this soup as it is how I was taught, but over the years I have learned how to make this much more quickly, saving much of the nutrients in the beans, and adding other items that make this much more tasty and nutrient-dense.
  A dinner of this soup with some hearty homemade bread and butter is a meal worthy of kings. My husband loves this meal and asks for it sometimes. I have even made it in the dead of winter from canned beans, though it is not as healthy as when it is made from fresh ingredients. However you make it, you will enjoy it and so will your family. Promise.
  I have never in my life measured out or weighed the ingredients in this soup. This is one of those soups where you just add what you want and hoof it as there is no 'official' recipe that I know of where one uses exact amounts, so you will also have to "eye" the amounts you are using and make it work. In this recipe (picture above) I used a piece of ham bought as a slice from the store for convenience. but the very best ham to use is leftover ham from a whole ham as it will be more smoky and delicious tasting, besides being more tender. However, I did not have leftovers from a whole ham, so I had to use a slice, which is not smoky, is not as tender, and does not need to be added until shortly before the soup is done. Some people use bacon in place of the ham, and you can, too, but I don't like it as well. You could also use pork hocks or any other kind of pork, but I like ham best.
Green Beans, Potatoes and Ham
Fresh green beans (about a pound or so)
1 quart of homemade or canned chicken broth
4 Tbls. of real butter*
Red or white potatoes cut into bite-sized pieces
About 1 cup or so of onions, diced*
Leftover ham cut into bite-sized pieces or a slice of ham from the meat department
Real sea salt and pepper, to taste
Pick, clean, and snap your green beans.
Place a steamer basket inside of a large pot, add water to bottom of pot almost to the basket, then place in green beans, put on lid, and put over the fire. Allow beans to steam to desired tenderness, which for me is about 25 minutes.
While beans are cooking, peel and dice potatoes; put to the side till ready to cook.
Dice onions and put to the side.
When done, drain the beans and put to the side.
Clean the large pot, then add the quart of chicken broth and place over the fire on medium heat. Add the butter and the potatoes and cook till potatoes are almost done, about 15-20 minutes, depending on size of potatoes.
While potatoes are cooking, cut up ham into bite-sized pieces, trimming off any excess fat.
Add onions so they can cook 10 minutes or so until opaque. Also add the beans at this time.
If you are using leftover whole ham, this can be added with the onions and beans, or even when the potatoes come to a boil.
If you are using a slice of ham from the store, then add about 5 minutes before soup is done so the ham does not cook much and get tough, but gets heated thoroughly.
Once the food is all cooked, the soup is hot and bubbly, check the seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve piping hot along with bread thickly spread with real butter.
*Do NOT leave out the butter! This has two uses: 1) keeps the potatoes from boiling over in the pot and 2) gives a richness and depth to the broth.
*If you don't like onions, then omit them.
*For time's sake, you can snap the beans, cut the potatoes, chop the onions, and dice the ham before cooking if you are worried about the time factor. If you do this, place potatoes in cold salted water in a pan to sit so they do not oxidize and turn brown. Drain them before adding them to the broth to cook.