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Pasta/ Salads

Cubano Orzo Salad


The rice looking pasta.

This is another recipe using my Pappardelle’s pasta I bought at the Pike’s Market in Seattle last summer. (Can’t believe it took me a year to get around to using it.)

Years ago I tasted a rainbow orzo that I bought at Central Market in Houston. It had beautiful colors of purple, orange, green and white and for some reason it was discontinued and after that I could only find green, orange and white. That is until I happened upon this southwest blend that is made with blackbean, red pepper, red bell pepper and spinach and a lot of other flavors that make this beautiful and delicious.

For this recipe I am using what I remember from my favorite Central Market salad (and the ingredients were printed on the nutrition label, so how easy is that) but added in some of the ingredients from Pappardelle’s recipe they gave me when I bought the pasta.

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Pasta/ Side dish

Pesto Pasta with Peas


A day in the garden.

Does this pasta look like it was born in a garden. Fresh basil and parsley from my garden, fresh spinach and English peas.

This year I was co-chair (with my friend, Linda) for arranging programs for our garden club. We had been told about this garden up in Conroe, Texas, Hope Farms Gardens and knew we just had to see it. Barbara Lopez opens her home gardens for one month in April/May for people to tour and buy her plants. Her gardens are a fun place to shop because you know exactly where the plants belong. If the plants for sale are placed in her shady parts of her yard that means they belong in the shade. Same for the sunny parts of her yard and that will be where she has the plants needing sun during the day.

So, we decided to see if our Hospitality Chairperson would like to take a look at her gardens to see if she thought our members would like to have our end-of-year lunch there instead of a restaurant or country club. Everyone agreed so for all of last year I had been thinking about what I wanted to do for lunch.

After a trip to the dollar store, I came away with 45 $1 rectangle baskets perfect for our French inspired luncheon. I have literally hundreds (not really) French looking cloths (I do have about 175 cloth napkins though that I accumulated while working at Williams Sonoma). The menu started taking shape about a year in advance with the baskets to hold all the goodies. Nancy’s Chopped Salad from Smitten Kitchen caught my eye early on and I knew I wanted to put this in a wide mouth pint jar. I also knew I wanted to do a fruit crumble dessert in the wide mouth 8 oz. jars. This Pesto Pasta with Peas is a recipe I have been thinking about for a while because I knew I wanted to use these tinsey tiny bow tie pasta noodles. Homemade focaccia bread and some baby bell cheese rounded out the basket.

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Pasta/ Salads

Southwest Pasta with Black Beans and Cotija Cheese

You can never have too many pasta recipes. 




Doesn’t it seem like when we are invited to a dinner or potluck it’s hard to come up with something different to make. I know I have a problem and I’ve been cooking for a very long time. I’m always in search for something unusual that someone else might not show up with. And, when it comes to pasta dishes it seems like you see the same ingredients — tomatoes, peppers, onions etc. I really like the idea of the enchilada sauce in this recipe mixed with the yogurt or sour cream and then the addition of the Cotija cheese and green olives.

This is a great room temperature pasta main dish, side dish, or I guess it could pass for a pasta salad. Either way, it’s delicious.

The colors from this pasta blend from Pappardelle’s come from blue corn flour, red chili peppers, green jalapeño, dried spinach, paprika, grape skins extract and some turmeric. I really wanted the pasta to retain the beautiful colors even though it might be covered up with the enchilada sauce mixture; but it did not.

In our area this pasta is sold at Berings hardware in Houston, but they also sell in farmer’s markets across the US. So check out your state to see if you have one of their vendors close to you selling in a farmer’s market or store.

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Spinach Fettucini with Sweet/Hot Sausage

Good on a cold winter’s night.


Nothing taste better to me on a bone chilling night than pasta, a good salad and maybe some homemade bread or even a good loaf of some artisan bread you picked up at the store.

There are so many pasta and sauce recipes out there that you could probably make a different pasta each week and never have to repeat a recipe.

I found this recipe in a Creme de Colorado cookbook about 20 years ago and I have been making it ever since. I remember the first time I made this dish I was catering an event at a local art gallery. Two people came up to me after the dinner and said they would like me to cater the exact same dinner for them.  So, I did make it again and actually a few more times before I ever TASTED the dish. Now, you may say, how could you do that. I don’t have an answer. Sometimes I read a recipe and I know I will like it. I guess I felt no need to sample the finished dish.  After making the dish several times (I finally tasted it) it has become a favorite of mine. I love the sweet and hot taste of the Italian sausage together with the sauce. I heard the judges on a cooking show say “if you aren’t tasting, you aren’t cooking”, guess I should start tasting some as I go.

This recipe has a lot of olive oil and butter and of course you could always cut down on the oil and butter that make up the sauce and probably substitute some broth in place of it. If I were you I would follow the recipe the first time as written and then tweak the second time you make it. I cooked 1 lb. each of the hot and sweet sausage and you do want both the sweet and hot flavors or the different sausages. Sometimes if I find the sausage at the butcher counter then I will buy just 1/2 lb. of each. The day I made this I decided to go on and cook the whole package of each and add some extra meat to the dish. You can either freeze your extra sausage for another use or add it to the fettuccini.

I made this for our Bunco Christmas get together last week and it was a big hit. Thanks ladies for being my guinea pigs (tasters is a better term I guess).

Do you have a favorite pasta dish? If so, I’d like to hear about it; please leave in the comment section below.

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Entree/ Pasta

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Browned Sage Butter

Fall is here! Hip, Hip, Hurray!


Fall is here and don’t you just love this time of the year. Thoughts of comfort foods start filling my head and this recipe turned out soooo good I almost knocked the breath out of myself patting myself on the back.

Our leaves haven’t started falling yet; sometimes that doesn’t start until December or even January before we see the sky full of floating leaves. But, with a fading summer and those nice cool nights ahead of us it won’t be long before we are seeing piles of leaves raked up just waiting for some kid to jump and play in them.

While in Chicago several weeks ago Fall was starting to show its prettier side.  On our walk to take our grandson, Oliver, to school one day we enjoyed flowers still blooming but also sidewalks full of leaves that gave way to a crunchy sound as we strolled on top of them. We cooked some roasted chicken one night on the grill and a grilled salmon another night and the two sides that couldn’t wait to make their appearance again were Stephanie’s Magic Beans and my Cauliflower Mash with Kale which went perfect with both dishes and to top one of the meals off we cooked some chopped apples and cinnamon which we ladled over ice cream and I think this recipe is going to go onto my favorites list of things I have blogged.

I took a shortcut making the ravioli and used wonton pieces instead of making my own pasta. We all look for shortcuts and I think this is one shortcut you won’t mind taking. And, the good thing about this recipe is that you can freeze the uncooked raviolis for an easy meal some winter night ahead. (If you freeze the raviolis, put in a single layer and put in freezer until they are frozen then put enough in one bag for a meal.)

At the Firefly restaurant in Nashville back in the summer my husband had a Butternut Squash Ravioli with goat cheese and what better to go over it than a Browned Sage Butter. I think this ravioli screams for the browned butter and browned butter and sage are a perfect pair.

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