Pesto Pasta Salad

The food-snobbery factor is high on this one: It’s pasta salad with homemade sun/oven-dried tomatoes, homemade pesto, homemade vinaigrette, and a freshly roasted red bell pepper. I made the vinaigrette more dijon-y than usual, and added ground pine nuts and walnuts as a topping. Now, FORTUNATELY, you can also just buy pesto and sun-dried tomatoes at the store, and the nuts are totally optional. (I *do* recommend making your own vinaigrette though, since it’s easy and most people have the ingredients.) Either way, it’s great. (more…)


Spaghetti Sauce

We’ve been making our own spaghetti sauce for a while, but had never written it down (even though we kept saying we would), which led to us sometimes getting off track and making it not-quite-as-good-as-last-time and unsure where we had gone wrong. This time, I finally wrote it down, including all adjustments (hence the sort of odd measurements), and it was really good! Here’s what I wound up with: (more…)

Pasta for Dinner

There is not much that is fully home-made in this photo but pasta, in general, deserves a post, because pasta dinners are great: With very little effort, you can feel like you’re eating a nice meal at a restaurant. Especially when you learn the joy of improving the store-made sauces (add hearty amounts of oregano and basil, and some parmesan), or full-out make your own, pasta takes on whole new dimensions. To make it heartier, add chunks of red bell pepper, onion, or (vegetarian) sausage. (Works best if you pre-roast or pre-fry them). Top it with parmesan, pesto and pine nuts, and serve with a side of garlic bread made in the toaster oven, and it’s even better.

Pasta meals are even something easy to make when camping, in a pot on the fire or with a jet-boil. We’re firm believers in having a decent meal to look forward to after a long day of hiking, and tortellini (for this we buy the dry type, of course, not the frozen type) seems to make it onto the menu for at least one dinner per camping trip.

The BF’s Mac & Cheese


I’m normally barely interested in mac & cheese, but when The BF made a small impromptu batch of *this* using leftover pasta and cheese… He purposely bakes it nearly to the point of burning, so that, in addition to slightly-chewy bits that hold clumps of noodles together, the cheese also forms these flat, golden crisp parts that we were both coveting (in this photo, there’s one at the top left, and another at the top right). I think it had more of those than usual since it was such a small batch (meaning it was more thinly layered in the pan). With a touch of salt, this was DELICIOUS. I want more!

Tip: When you cook it this much, the oil in the cheese will separate from the cheese. You can blot this away, as he did, before serving, if you’d like to take the opportunity to make the meal a little healthier.

Crab Salad

Crab salad. The ingredients are curly pasta, sweet peas (definitely need to be sweet, not regular; they’re smaller and snap when you bite into them), real or fake crab (made of white fish), diced onion, and, for the goo, mayo or miracle whip (I use the latter, myself) + sour cream, spicy dijon mustard, black pepper, sea salt. I don’t even know anymore exactly what my mom’s original recipe calls for and I’m sure I’ve strayed from it, but I now do 50/50 miracle whip and sour cream, and a healthy glop of the mustard (like 1-2 tbsp if you’re doing half a pound of crab, which probably goes with half or 3/4 of a 1-lb box of pasta, if I recall correctly). Make sure there’s enough of the “sauce” or it won’t taste as good, especially the leftovers, which will be drier. Serve cold. Tip: With fake crab, I’ve learned to put EVERTYHING ELSE together before adding the crab, so the crab chunks don’t flake apart due to over-stirring.