Fresh, Flavorful, and Filling

Last night I made the most delicious pasta salad. I got the recipe from the July/August 2010 edition of Food Network Magazine. It was pictured on the cover and I just had to eat it. It was beyond yum. I used whole wheat pasta, which makes it an even heartier meal. The fresh lemon juice and basil were just perfect in it. I'm going to try another recipe from the same magazine for dinner tonight...if it turns out well, I'll post it :)

Roasted-Pepper Pasta Salad
~Fresh, flavorful, and filling~

  • Kosher salt
  • 12 oz mezzi rigatoni or other short tube shaped pasta (I actually used the spiral kind)
  • 2 bell peppers (red and/or yellow) halved, stemmed, and seeded
  • 6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 1/4 cup almonds (I used whole almonds from the bulk section of the grocery store)
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • 8 oz bocconcini (small fresh mozzarella balls)*
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, leaves torn
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat the broiler and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Add the pasta to the water and cook as the label directs. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking. Shake off the excess water.
  3. Meanwhile, place the bell peppers cut-side down on a foil-lined broiler pan, add the garlic and broil until charred (7 - 8 minutes).
  4. Transfer the peppers to a bowl, cover, and set aside for about 5 minutes.
  5. Heat a dry skillet over medium-high heat. Add the almonds and toast, shaking the pan, for 4-5 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop.
  6. Squeeze the garlic from its skin onto the cutting board (this is fun). Add 1/2 tsp salt and mince/mash the garlic into a paste with a large knife (so was this).
  7. Peel the roasted peppers and slice into strips; transfer to a large bowl. Add garlic paste and drizzle with olive oil. Finely grate about 1 tsp lemon zest into the bowl and squeeze in all of the lemon juice.
  8. Add the bocconcini, basil, almonds, pasta, 1 tsp salt, and pepper to taste. Then toss together and serve.
* I actually had a large ball of fresh mozzarella and cut it into chunks. Incidentally, I had frozen this ball of cheese after buying it on sale. I had forgotten about it and kept it in there for several months. When I asked the lady at the fancy cheese counter at Wegman's if it was ok to still use it, she proceeded to act shocked and dismayed that I even froze it! She insisted that I couldn't freeze soft cheese like that. Um, ok...well I did, and it worked fine. The mozzarella tasted fresh and delicious. Crazy cheese lady.

I enjoy finding recipes that don't have meat in them, but are still filling. This was a complete meal and even though my husband was skeptical ("But where's the chicken?" The man loves chicken.) he quickly changed his mind once he began to eat it. Becoming less dependent on having a meat for a protein at every meal is not only good for the environment, but also for your budget. If you have any meatless meals that you adore, please feel free to send the recipes my way!



I haven't been doing a whole lot of intense cooking this week because I was inspired to do something else in my kitchen.

Do you want to know what that something was?

Painting!!! I've wanted to paint my kitchen's off-white walls since the moment we moved in two years ago. Each time I got inspired to do it, I reminded myself that I detest painting. I also had the notion that I was a bad painter.

Well, this summer I got this feverish creative burst of energy and decided to drive myself to Home Depot and pick out paint colors. Green is my favorite color and it seemed most appropriate for my favorite room of the house. I picked out a color called "Grass Cloth". There was a color that was rather close to that called "Asparagus". I had this long debate in my head about whether to get the "Asparagus" because it's the name of a vegetable and it was going to go on my kitchen walls. But I was really drawn more toward "Grass Cloth" and decided that choosing a paint color based on the appropriateness of the name would be idiotic.

Here is the kitchen the day we moved in:

And here is the kitchen now!

I suppose I could have cleaned off the counters and put away the dishes in the drying rack before taking the picture...but so what. This is an authentic working kitchen, so it's never completely clean and clutter free.

I have the most delightful plan for above the sliding glass door to the right, but I won't tell you until I do it. Once I do it, I'll take another picture and post it. I'm sure you are writhing with suspense, but you will just have to wait.

To my surprise, I discovered that I didn't really detest painting like I thought I did. I also discovered that I'm rather good at it. I don't seem to mind taping everything in sight, so the edges come out nice and neat.

I painted some of the living room/dining room walls, too!



This looks a bit more orange in the picture...but it's really a golden yellowish color. It's bold but I think it's fantastic!

Hey...speaking of orange, why not paint the downstairs bathroom orange?

Boring Bathroom

Awesome Safari Colored Bathroom:

I was inspired by that wooden elephant wall hanging. It just seemed so safari-ish and I thought orange would be perfect. I also have a Van Gogh print hanging in there that goes really well with the whole orange, yellow, and red vibe.

Now I'm kind of itching to paint some other rooms...maybe the upstairs hallway? upstairs bathroom? laundry room? But before I tackle any more home improvement projects, I plan to get to the store and plan some yummy summer meals for this week!

Happy 4th of July!