Classic Pasta Salad

This pasta salad recipe is simple yet delicious.  It gets better with time, which is always a plus. You can make it “full-fat” or low-fat and they’ll both be very tasty.

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Pesto Palmiers

These tasty appetizers can really be made with anything inside.  They’re quick and easy to make and can be done ahead of time and frozen for whenever you need them!

INGREDIENTS

  • Pesto sauce, store-bought or homemade (1/2 cup per puff pastry sheet)
  • Pepperidge Farm puff pastry (each box has two sheets), defrosted but still chilled
  • Parmesan cheese
Instead of pesto, try…
    • Olive tapenade
    • Sweet red peppers and olive puree (just place peppers and olives from Sweet Red Pepper and Kalamata Hummus recipe in a food processor)
    • Chopped sun-dried tomatoes, pesto and parmesan
    • Ham and swiss cheese

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Lay out the sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface
  • Evenly coat the puff pastry rectangle with approximately 1/2 cup of pesto sauce – you want it to be thoroughly covered
  • Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the pesto
  • Begin rolling up the puff pastry, starting with the side closest to you – roll it up tightly, halfway
  • Spin the puff pastry sheet around and roll up the other side until it meets up with the rolled side
  • Repeat this with the remaining puff pastry sheet(s), if desired
  • Turn the roll over and place it on a parchment paper lined baking sheet
  • Place the rolls in the freezer for approximately 20 minutes (you can also refrigerate until firm, about 45 minutes)
  • Remove the rolls from the freezer and cut 1/2 in. wide slices down the roll
    • If you’re planning on making these ahead of time, just place them back in the freezer after you’ve cut them
  • Place the palmiers on the parchment paper  (or a greased baking sheet) at least 1 inch apart – these will grow!
  • Bake at 375°F for 15 minutes, or until golden brown

Spinach Calzone

Usually, spinach calzones are bland… but these are anything but boring!  The trick is all about seasoning the spinach properly – the rest takes care of itself.  

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. bakery dough
  • 2 packages frozen chopped spinach
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste
  • Salt and white pepper, to taste (you’ve got to taste this because spinach needs a lot of salt to have flavor)
  • 1 tbsp roasted garlic puree (I use the brand Inglehoffer)
  • 1 small can sliced black olives
  • 1/4 lb. american cheese
  • 1/4 lb. mild provolone cheese
  • Approximately 1/2 lb. large slice pepperoni
  • Olive oil for brushing
  • Parmesan cheese for topping

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Defrost the spinach in the microwave (high for 10 minutes)
  • Strain very well – you really need to squeeze the spinach dry – press it against the side of the strainer
  • Saute the spinach in a medium saute pan with the 1/4 cup olive oil and garlic
  • Add the olives, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper and mix well – lastly, fold in the parmesan and turn off the heat
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 15 in. x 10 in. rectangle (about 1/4″ thick)
  • Place a row of provolone slices down the center of the rectangle
  • Top the cheese with a wide layer of pepperoni slices (I use three slices in each row)
  • Spoon the spinach mixture on top of the pepperoni (I use all of the spinach, but you can use less if you want)
  • Top the spinach with another wide layer of pepperoni
  • Place a row of american cheese on top of the pepperoni
  • Pull one side of dough over the cheese and then overlap that by pulling the other side of dough over – fold up the ends and pinch to seal closed
  • Flip the calzone over and place seam side down on a greased baking sheet (I use Pam with Olive Oil) – brush the calzone with olive oil and top off with grated parmesan cheese
  • Bake in the oven at 350°F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown


Chickpea Salad

This hearty salad is a perfect healthy lunch because it’s got enough protein to keep you feeling full.  I’ve even had this “salad” over mixed greens to make it feel even more filling.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 2 peppers (1 red, one green), chopped
  • 1 small can sliced black olives
  • 1/2 cup onion (red or vidalia), finely chopped
  • 1 tsp died parsley
  • Red wine vinaigrette (store bought or homemade*)
*RED WINE VINAIGRETTE
    • Red wine vinegar
    • Olive oil
    • Garlic powder to taste
    • Pinch of sugar
    • Salt and pepper to taste

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Combine the chick peas, chopped peppers, olives, celery and onion in a medium bowl
  • Prepare the red wine vinaigrette in a separate bowl
  • Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and mix well
*RED WINE VINAIGRETTE
    • Combine the vinegar and oil at a 1:2 ratio in a small bowl (for ex. 1/3 cup vinegar + 2/3 cup olive oil)
    • Add in the garlic powder, pinch of sugar, salt and pepper to taste
    • Whisk well

3 Bean Chili

This chili recipe is full of flavor and amazing with meat or without… I keep tweaking it and making it differently each time, but I think this is the best version.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. ground beef or turkey (optional)
  • 1 vidalia onion diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic pressed
  • Olive oil
  • 3 peppers chopped (1 red, 1 orange, 1 yellow)
  • 1 can of corn
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 can of dark red kidney beans
  • 1 can of light red kidney beans
  • 1 small can diced black olives
  • 2 large (28 oz.) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup dark beer
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3 tbsp chili powder (at least)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Salt to taste
  • Shredded cheddar cheese

HOW TO MAKE IT*

  • If you’re using ground meat, brown it in a large soup pot with 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Add the diced onion and pressed garlic to the meat with another tbsp olive oil – saute until the onions are translucent
  • Add the chopped peppers to the pot and stir
  • Add the diced tomatoes, beer and chicken broth and stir well
  • Rinse the beans well and add them to the soup along with the corn and olives
  • Add the paprika and cumin and start with 3 tbsp of chili powder
  • Stir the contents of the pot well and let it simmer for about 20 minutes, then taste the soup and add more chili powder if you desire more spice (you may also want to add some salt, too)
  • Let it simmer while stirring frequently for at least an hour
  • Top with shredded cheddar cheese and enjoy!
*If you want to make this chili in a crock pot, follow the same directions but cook it on high for 1 hour and then low for 4-5 hours.

Pesto Tortellini

This recipe is my favorite vegetarian pasta dish.  It tastes great the first night… and even better cold the next day!

INGREDIENTS

  • Approximately 1 lb. fresh 3 cheese tortellini (I like to use Buitoni – a large package is a little over 1 lb.)
  • 1/2 cup pesto sauce (either homemade* or store-bought works)
  •  3 large roasted red peppers (either homemade** or store-bought works)
  • 1/2 cup of mixed pitted kalamata olives
*PESTO SAUCE
    • 2 cups packed basil leaves
    • 2 cloves of garlic
    • 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese (Parmesan works, too)
    • 1/4 cup pine nuts
    • 1/2 cup olive oil
    • Salt and pepper to taste
**ROASTED RED PEPPERS
    • Red peppers
    • Olive oil

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Chop the roasted red peppers into bite size pieces
  • Finely chop the kalamata olives (I use this chopper and it’s awesome)
  • In a large saute or non-stick frying pan, combine the peppers and olives with 1/4 cup of pesto sauce – saute the mixture over medium heat
  • In a separate pot, cook the tortellini
  • Combine the cooked tortellini with 1/4 cup of pesto sauce
  • Once the peppers and olive mixture is heated through fold it in it with the cooked tortellini
PESTO SAUCE
    • Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth
      • Storage: I typically make this in bulk during the summertime and then freeze it in ice cube trays – then I can enjoy fresh pesto sauce anytime