Confetti Shells Pasta Salad

I tinker with ingredients when I need a quick side and this recipe is one of the results. After tasting it, my Bonus Son said, “Whatever you did to make this salad, you need to write it down. It’s perfect.” 

Confetti Shells Pasta Salad

Cooking Time: About 30 Minutes; Serves: 6-8

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces small pasta shells or other small pasta, uncooked
  • 1/2 small red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 c. finely diced yellow bell pepper
  • 1/3 c. roasted red peppers in oil, chopped, oil reserved
  • 1/2 c. coursely chopped very ripe tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 c. petite frozen peas (they’ll thaw in the salad)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cheese (small cubes); mozzarella or gouda is quite nice

Dressing

  • 3 tbsp oil from roasted peppers
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 3 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Cooking Instructions

Gather all ingredients, chopping, dicing and measuring as indicated.  Prepare the pasta according to the directions on the package; drain. Combine all ingredients for dressing in a small bowl. Then combine the rest of the ingredient in a large bowl and toss with the dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let it sit for a while for the flavors to “marry” and the peas to thaw.

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All the ingredients for this simple side
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This brightly-colored and easy (but sophisticated-tasting) salad is a great summer side dish
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We often pair the Confetti Shells Pasta Salad with Plank-Grilled Salmon, pictured above (find the recipe here).

Add grilled chicken breast slices to make this a main dish rather than a side salad.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

New Orleans Jazz Fest Anticipation: Food at the Festival and the Foodie’s Dilemma

The seventh post in a series about the New Orleans Jazz Festival covering food (restaurants and recipes), fun, music and travel tips.

In the run-up to our Jazz Fest trip in early May, we are building anticipation by looking back at past good times in New Orleans and sharing our travel tips.

Today, we discuss a rather serious situation:  The Foodie’s Dilemma.

How to Enjoy Festival Food and Yet Save Room to Experience NOLA’s Restaurants?

The issue at hand is:  the festival food is so wonderful, so food-truck-trashy-tasty good, so “mama’s been making it for years just like this” authentic,  that any self-respecting foodie simply has to eat it.  And yet,  as a proud foodie, you want to save room for the dinners at the myriad of super-fine restaurants New Orleans has to offer, like Bayona, which was profiled in an earlier post.  It’s a difficult thing.  I’ve been to Jazz Fest five times and still don’t have the formula right for solving the Foodies’ Dilemma.  The best advice I have is to do a lot of walking and make room for more!  Since there are nine different food locations all around the festival offering over 250 menu items, you can do a lot of your walking just trying to make up your mind!  The other strategy we deploy is to skip breakfast, make a reservation for an early lunch at a foodie’s choice restaurant, then head out to the festival and start the serious snacking in mid-afternoon.

How to Choose from All the Mouthwatering Goodness?

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Crawfish Monica photo from EatDrinkCulture blog

And that’s the second part of the Foodie’s Dilemma: once you’ve realized you’re just going to be stuffed the whole time, and not really as ashamed about the gluttony as your Mama taught you to be – how do you pick between all of mouth-watering goodness provided by the 70+ vendors?  With the memory-laden lure of your old favorites, how can even a foodie branch out and try something new?  I’ve never had the Crab & Crawfish Stuffed Mushrooms that Prejean’s restaurant brings to Jazz Fest, but how could I pass up the Crawfish Monica or Crawfish Strudel that I always have?  In the crawfish department alone, there were 18 different selections featuring this delicious little crustacean in 2016.  So many options, so little time!  The Foodie’s Dilemma is actually a Foodie’s Delight.

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I snapped this pic while in line for Crawfish Strudel; notice all the hats (read here about the importance of hats)

Festival Food Photos

So today, for your culinary daydreaming pleasure, here’s a look at some of the delectable festival food, just random pics I’ve snapped during a few of our Jazz Fest journeys.  Some of the food was mine; some was in the hands of strangers.  People are always really nice about letting me photograph their food.

People are always nice at Jazz Fest, period.  It’s like a great big family reunion, but, instead of genes and upbringing, the thing you have in common is a love of music and food.

Catfish Almandine, Potato Salad and Creole Stuffed Crab

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Crawfish Strudel

Jazz Fest Food - Crawfish Strudel

Fried Crawfish and Greek Salad with Gyro Sandwich

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Crawfish Bread

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Have these photos piqued your interest?  The resources below include a link to the food section on the Jazz Fest web site.  There’s a lot more there to see and salivate over.

Crawfish Monica Recipe from Emeril’s Test Kitchen

Did you know that the amount of rotini pasta used to make the Crawfish Monica sold at the festival in a single year is 6 tons???  That stuff is hurt-yourself good.  So here’s a Crawfish Monica recipe via GoNOLA, with a video from chef Chris Wilson, the director of culinary operations at Emeril Lagasse’s test kitchen.

Resources

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Found Recipe: A New Holiday Sweet Potato Favorite

We love our holiday food classics here at Glover Gardens, but it is also fun to mix it up a bit.  At Thanksgiving this year, my Aunt-Mom (there’s a story for another time) did just that with these wonderful sweet potato “stacks” she found in Cooking Light.  Yum!  And look how attractive they are.

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These sweet potatoes were just right – not sweet and just the right savory level.  And the serving size is excellent.  Photo by Frank Harvell (AKA my Dad).

My Aunt-Mom says she doesn’t like to cook but is really, really good at finding great new recipes.  This one can be found online at Cooking Light’s site here:  Sweet Potato Stacks with Browned Butter.

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Photo for Cooking Light online by Jennifer Causey

 

A Weeknight Dinner Party Lifts My Spirits

My Dad has been in the hospital for the whole month of July.

My Dad is going to get better and get up and walk out of that hospital.

His ordeal began on July1 in the Bahamas with two disastrous days in the hospital there, followed by 2 1/2 weeks in Florida after arriving there via air ambulance (accompanied by my Aunt-Mom). Finally, he is in an ICU here in the Southeast Texas town where we all live.

People have been amazing during this time.  The taxi driver from the Bahamas has called my Aunt-Mom to check on Dad.  Friends she made during the weeks in the waiting room in the Florida ICU are calling and texting her to keep tabs on him.  Dozens and dozens of cards have been sent.  Over 100 people are keeping up with my updates about Dad on Facebook.  Phone calls, texts, private messages and prayers from family and friends bolster his spirits and ours.  We’ve heard from folks from all parts of Dad’s life, from childhood to former colleagues to members of the churches he has attended over the years.  Two of Dad’s retired colleagues from his days with Motorola even left a sign in their yard after the air ambulance brought him back to Texas.  People are wonderful.

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Simple Pleasures are a Blessing

As I visit my Dad in the hospital each day, I realize how much I take the simple things in life for granted.  Being able to walk around outside, look at the sky, take a deep breath of the hot July air, watch a squirrel bury nuts.  Drinking a long, cool glass of water, munching on peanuts.  Washing a fresh tomato and then slicing into it, watching its bright red juices run out onto the cutting board.  Leaning deeply into a hug and squeezing the other person for just a few seconds longer.  Going to a friend’s house for a home-cooked meal.  Dad can’t do any of things right now.  But he will again.  He will.  I know he will.

The Weeknight Dinner Party

Close friends who live near us decided we needed some TLC and asked us over for dinner at their house, on a Wednesday night.  I can’t remember the last time I’ve been to someone’s house for an actual sit-down dinner, much less on a weeknight!  Parties, yes, lots of them, holiday meals, yes, but a real dinner, just a dinner, with a dessert and everything – it’s been a while.  There’s work, and business travel, and chores and pets and the getting the last kid ready for college…everyone has their version of this too-busy life and entertaining is a luxury not many folks have time for.

When we arrived, the Grill-Meister and I were greeted with extra-long, extra-tight hugs, a glass of wine or champagne, and the merry assertion that the even the dogs had been bathed in preparation for our visit.  (I think it was true, too – those dogs smelled good.  Not at all like my dogs.)  There was a marvelous home-cooking aroma in the air as we entered the kitchen.

We ate family-style in the breakfast nook overlooking the back yard, and the meal was a comfort-food delight: oven-roasted pork tenderloin, potato wedges and Caesar salad, with warm yeast rolls.  So yummy!  And there was a nice California Pinot Noir, too.

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Our hostess downplays her cooking skills and claimed she had never before attempted a pork tenderloin, but I’m not sure I believe her, because it was cooked just right. (It is so easy to overcook a tenderloin.)  Apparently it was a team effort; she said she couldn’t make herself use the meat thermometer, so her hubby stepped in and made sure the pork was removed when got just the right temp reading.  And her potato wedges were also perfectly cooked with just the right amount of seasoning, which turned out to be a secret ingredient.  Ranch dressing mix.  Really.  I found the recipe online and have included it below.

For a couple of hours, the four of us ate and drank and laughed and talked, lingering over our dinner.

We told stories, dreamed big dreams for the future, bragged about our kids (of course!) and talked about my Dad getting better.

The meal ended with a moist and luscious lemon pound cake with a cream cheese frosting that came from a local boutique bakery.  I shouldn’t have eaten it, but I did.  And I’m not sorry.

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It was a wonderful, restorative, satisfying evening.  I’m looking forward to my Dad being able to enjoy a meal like this soon.

Ranch Roasted Potatoes

Click here for a link to the Original Ranch Roasted Potatoes recipe from Hidden Valley.  They were super-good.

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Photo from Hidden Valley recipe site

 

 

 

Mashed Potato Pancakes

I love holiday leftovers for a day or two, but then I’m ready to transform anything that’s remaining, like those mashed potatoes that we all know were just a delivery device for the gravy.  It’s not an original idea to make potato pancakes from leftover mashed potatoes, but we’re especially partial to this version here at Glover Gardens.

Moist, lush and flavorful, these potato pancakes are extraordinarily good.  So says the Grill-Meister.

The recipe makes about 8 fairly large pancakes, or a dozen or more medium ones.  They can be the star of a vegetarian dinner, paired up with soup or a quick green salad.

Ingredients

1 egg
1/2 cup half ‘n’ half
2 1/2 cups of mashed potatoes
1 cup grated cheese
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/4 – 1/2 cup vegetable oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Garnishes (optional)
1/2 cup green onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
Sour cream
Grated cheese

Cooking Instructions

In a medium bowl, beat egg and half ‘n’ half with a fork or whisk. Add mashed potatoes, grated cheese and 1/4 cup of the parsley and mix well.  Add salt, baking powder, red pepper flakes and white pepper, and mix again.

Heat a large skillet with 1/4 cup of vegetable oil on medium high.  Using a big spoon, make mounds of potato mixture in your desired pancake sizes in the hot oil in the pan.  Top with salt and freshly ground  pepper.  Cook for about 5 minutes or until nicely brown on the first side, checking occasionally to make sure the pancakes aren’t burning by lifting an edge with your spatula, then turn and cook on the second side until brown.  The pancakes will be thick and slightly mushy when you turn them; be careful not to let them fall apart.

As the pancakes are done, remove them to an oven-friendly serving platter or cookie sheet and keep warm in the oven on low.  Garnish liberally for the best presentation.

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The potato pancake “batter” is very thick
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Make the pancakes big if they are the star of your dinner
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The finished product can be a meal in itself with its lush garnishes

Copyright 2015, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Simple Potatoes, Yummy Crunchy Goodness

Admit it – a crunchy, garlicky, rosemary-crusted potato bite is a visit to comfort food heaven, isn’t it?  My family absolutely loves these Rosemary Roasted Potatoes.

Just a few simple ingredients unite to become more than the sum of their parts in this versatile side dish.

Rosemary-Garlic potatoes have only a few ingredients.
Rosemary-Garlic potatoes have only a few ingredients.

I’d love to hear from you – just click the Comment button if you have questions or comments, or if you try the recipe and have feedback.  Happy cooking!

Ingredients

  • 2-3 long sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped (about 2 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp course kosher or sea salt
  • 1 tsp course or freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (or more if you like it spicy)
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 olive oil
  • 2 large baking potatoes, washed

Cooking Instructions

Preheat oven to 475°.  Spray a large baking with cooking spray.  Stir the first 6 ingredients together in a medium-large bowl.  Slice the potatoes long-wise, then again to make long fries, then cut the fries in 1/2 inch diagonal shapes.  Stir the chopped potatoes into the bowl until they are all covered with the olive oil spice mixture.

Spread the potatoes on the baking sheet and pop into the over for 5 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cover tightly with foil.  Cook for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and stir with a spatula to keep from sticking.  Put back into the oven, uncovered, for 10+ minutes until the potatoes have the crispiness you desire.  You can also finish them under the broiler for 1-2 minutes, if you want really really really crispy potatoes.

To serve, mound the potatoes in a heated ceramic bowl, and finish with fresh-grated pepper.


I like to vary the size and shape of the potatoes depending on the main dish they are complimenting.  Sometimes I do long planks shaped almost like home fries, which have more creamy potato interior inside the crunchy-spicy exterior.  These are a good side dish for fancy burgers.  The larger the potato pieces, the longer they need to stay in the oven.


January 2017 Update –

I didn’t realize when I posted this, my first recipe, that it would be super-important to include a picture of the finished product!  Here are the Rosemary Roasted Potatoes on a little luncheon plate with sliced rare steak and broccoli, a super-traditional meal.

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This little plate has everything you need

Copyright 2o17, Glover Gardens Cookbook