Real Food For Families

Dish To Pass


We’re into the summer party season. If you’re lucky, every weekend there is a new opportunity to go hang out with friends and family on, in and at their various decks, pools and camps. The price of admission…a dish to pass. Here is a simple pasta salad to bring along, made with just a handful of fresh, summer ingredients. Make it in the morning and refrigerate it for a few hours. Pack your swim suit and your sunscreen and enjoy the party!

~16 oz. box of spiral pasta
~about 4 tomatoes, diced
~fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes
~several handfuls of fresh basil, chopped
~your favorite vinaigrette dressing to taste. We just stir together balsamic vinegar and olive oil in a 1:2 ratio with a little salt and pepper.

1. Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain and rinse with cold water.
2. Combine the pasta with the tomatoes, cheese and basil.
3. Add the dressing and mix it in, 1/4 cup at a time, until the taste is how you like it.

An annual visit from these friends signals the start of the summertime fun!

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Happy Belated Mother’s Day!


The last time I posted something here it was snowing…my apologies to anyone who checks in regularly! Spring has finally sprung and baseball, first communions, bike rides and trips to the local ice cream parlor have nudged blogging time aside. I’ll try to get back to posting here soon! In the meantime…check out #5 on the Mother’s Day card from my son…that makes me smile! And here is a spring pasta recipe from BBC Good Food to try out. Katie gave me a chive plant for Mother’s Day and I am planning on putting it to use in this recipe. (If you make this, note that many of the commenters said that they needed to double the amount of sauce.) I hope you are all enjoying the Spring season!

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Chickpea Salad


I found a version of this Ina Garten recipe while perusing the recipe archives of A Life From Scratch and thought it was a nice way to pretend that we live in a much warmer climate. It has been a looooonnnnng winter where we live and it is showing no signs of ending anytime soon. So dice up some cucumbers, slice some tomatoes, squeeze some lemons and think spring. It’s got to arrive eventually!

Chickpea Salad
For the salad:
~2, 15 oz. cans of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
~cherry tomatoes, about 20, sliced in half
~one cucumber, diced (I remove the seeds also…slice in half lengthwise and scrape a spoon down the middle to remove them)
~6 scallions, thinly sliced
~handful each of chopped, fresh basil, mint and parsley (our grocery store sells small recipe ready quantities of fresh herbs that work well for this)
~6 oz. crumbled feta cheese

For the dressing:
~juice and zest of 2 lemons
~2 cloves garlic, minced
~1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
~1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pepper
~1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1. Combine all of the salad ingredients.
2. Whisk together the lemon juice/zest, garlic, salt and pepper.
3. Slowly whisk the olive oil into the lemon juice mixture.
4. Drizzle as much of the dressing over the salad as you prefer.
5. Check your calendar again…yes…it’s still February 😕.


Roasted Red Peppers

I scored these beautiful peppers during our most recent visit to my parents home. One of my favorite things to do with red peppers is to roast and then marinate them. I use the recipe from Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything” cookbook.

First, you roast the peppers in a 500 degree oven for about 30 minutes, shaking the pan a few times during cooking so they don’t stick. They will come out looking like this…


Then you let them cool until you can handle them, peel the skin off and remove the stems and seeds. You will then be left with this…


Next, you mix a 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil and a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar in a jar. Add a minced garlic clove and some salt and pepper to taste. Add the red peppers and let them marinate for at least an hour and up to 24 hours.


And finally, you will be left with extreme deliciousness that you can add to whatever you like…or just eat them as is!

We used ours to top some whole grain Naan bread along with pesto and feta cheese…baked for 5-7 minutes at 450 degrees…yummm!
Here are a few more pictures from our weekend…as you can see, Fall is in full swing around here!


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Chopped Salad with Grapes, Pecans, Feta and Rice


We are not vegetarians, but we do occasionally like to eat meat free meals and this is one of our favorites. When I make rice, I try to make extra so that I can make this salad. You can change up the ingredients depending upon what you like. You’ll notice in the above picture, I used arugula and actually didn’t have any rice that day. This delicious salad has enough protein and fiber to be a real meal versus just salad (if you happen to be one of those people that doesn’t consider salad to be a real meal!). I adapted this recipe slightly from The Kitchn.com .

Chopped Brown Rice Salad with Grapes and Pecans
Serves 6 to 8

For the salad:
1 cup cooked brown rice, cooled to room temperature
1 cup whole pecans
1 heart of romaine lettuce
2 cups red grapes
1 cup crumbled feta cheese

For the vinaigrette:
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F and spread the nuts on a baking sheet. Roast the nuts in the oven for about 10 minutes, stirring once or twice, until toasted a darker shade of brown and very fragrant. When cool enough to handle, transfer the nuts to a cutting board and roughly chop. Set aside.

Chop the lettuce into bite sized pieces and slice the grapes in half. Combine the rice, chopped pecans, chopped romaine, feta and grapes in a large bowl and lightly toss to combine.

To make the dressing, combine the vinegar, olive oil, brown mustard, a pinch of salt, and a few shakes of black pepper in a small bowl. Whisk to combine, taste, and adjust as needed.

Leftovers will keep for about 5 days refrigerated.


Finally…Spring is Here!



I’m taking a big risk this weekend…I’m going to wash all of the snow pants and put them into storage. We have had the most beautiful, 70+ degree days here in central New York and I am told that it is going to continue well into next week. The Dandelions are back and all is well in the world!
This is the week to trek over to your favorite farmer’s market and pick up some asparagus. Then make some Pasta Primavera or an Asparagus/Feta Pizza (of course making half of it cheese and pepperoni so the kids will eat it!). We made the pasta this week (see recipe below) and are going to try the pizza this weekend. So stop for a moment (in between all of the wardrobe switching, deck furniture pulling out, baseball/soccer practices and lawn mowing) to sit down with a glass of iced tea (or a cold beer!) and enjoy the sights and sounds of spring!



~Broccoli, Asparagus, Carrots (or whatever vegetables you have on hand)
~1 cup of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
~1/2 cup green onions, chopped
~pasta of your choice (12 to 16 oz.)
~2 Tbsp butter
~1 garlic clove, minced
~2 Tbsp white wine or broth
~1/2 cup heavy cream
~1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
~salt/pepper to taste
~2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil or 1 tsp dried

1. Chop the broccoli, asparagus and carrots into similar bite sized pieces and cook in a large saucepan with a steamer basket, 5 to 10 minutes once the water begins to boil.
2. Cook the pasta according to directions.
3. While the pasta water is coming to a boil, prepare the sauce by melting butter in a skillet over medium heat, then adding the green onions and sautéing them for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute. Add the wine or broth and cook another 5 minutes. Then add the tomatoes, cream and Parmesan and turn the heat down. Simmer for 2 to 3 more minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and stir in the basil.
4. Combine the cooked/drained pasta, sauce and vegetables and serve with additional Parmesan cheese.

This should all come together in under 30 minutes. I adapted this recipe from the Simple Bites site.

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