Corn and Black Bean Salad

I LOVE this salad, it's super fresh and summery.  Because it's so summery I thought I'd better put it up on here really quick before tomatoes and peppers are out of season.  The recipe calls for canned corn but I had some fresh corn from the produce basket so I used that--yum!  I made this with some yellow rice and grilled steaks and it was a great summer meal.

Corn and Black Bean Salad

1 can corn, drained (or 2 c. fresh or frozen corn)
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped
6 green onions sliced or 1/4 c. red onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped (if you don't like things spicy take out the seeds)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c. cilantro chopped
3/4 c. italian dressing
1 tb. lemon juice
3/4 tsp tabasco
1/2 tsp chili powder

Combine all the vegetables in a bowl.  In a smaller bowl combine italian dressing, lemon juice, tabasco and chili powder.  Mix together salad and dressing and chill for several hours. 

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Creamy Pasta Skillet

A good friend of mine is a Pampered Chef consultant and she gave me these great recipe cards with photos on them and a shopping list and I love them!  This recipe was originally called "Pronto Pasta and Sausage Skillet".  I made just a couple small changes and we LOVED it.  I had my friend's son that day so I sent the leftovers home with her and she immediately asked me for the recipe because they loved it too. 

My skillet was a little small for this so next time I'll make this in an electric skillet, but if you have a really large skillet it will work.  If you find that you have too much liquid to fit into the skillet you're using, just add the liquid in batches as it cooks in, which is what I did and it worked out fine.

Creamy Pasta Skillet

14.5 oz box of penne (4 c. uncooked)
1 lb sausage (or ground beef)
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
4 c. water
26 oz jar pasta sauce (I used homemade marinara--about 3 1/2 c.)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 oz softened cream cheese
1 c. mozzarella
1/4 c. grated parmesan

Brown sausage and onion.  Drain the fat.  Add in the garlic, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper and let it cook a minute.  Add uncooked pasta, water and sauce.  Bring to a simmer, cover and cook 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally until pasta is cooked.  Remove from the heat and stir in the softened cream cheese, then top with the other cheeses.  Let stand a minute.

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7-Layer Bake

I'm Baaaaack!  I've now had the baby, for those of you who didn't already know and were wondering why I hadn't posted a recipe in a couple weeks!  As a mom of three I haven't cooked anything so far (except scrambled eggs in the microwave)  because my friends have been bringing us food every night for two weeks which is SUPER awesome.  Every night our dinner just shows up with a smiling face in throw-away dishes.  It's awesome.  I do miss cooking just a teeny tiny bit, but I don't miss the shopping for ingredients and cleaning up the mess, so really this could go on for years!

Anyway, this is a recipe from a few weeks ago and it was really delicious.  But as I went to take a picture I realized my camera battery was dead so Rob took a photo on his iphone which is why it looks wierd.  I based this recipe off of an old Pampered Chef bean dip recipe which was so awesome that we decided we had to make it into a dinner.  It worked out well.  Since I try to avoid naming recipes "Casserole" I came up with 7-Layer Bake.  Call it what you want.

7 Layer Bake
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1/2 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves
3 Tb taco seasoning
1/2 c. water
3 c. refried beans (I made my own.)

1 block cream cheese, softened
2 c. sour cream
1 tsp granulated garlic
2 Tb taco seasoning

4 burrito sized tortillas, cut into 2'' squares
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
3 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
1 can sliced black olives
2 Tb. diced onion or 2 green onions chopped

Preheat your oven to 350.  Brown the ground beef with the onion and drain well.  Add the garlic cloves and cook another minute.  Add in the taco seasoning and water and cook over medium heat a few minutes until it thickens up.  Stir in the refried beans.
In a separate bowl mix together the sour cream, cream cheese, granulated garlic, and taco seasoning.  Set aside.
In a 9x13'' pan layer the diced tortillas, meat mixture, cream cheese mixture and then the shredded cheese.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.  Top with the diced onions, tomatoes and cilantro, and black olives.

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Turkey Pesto Panini

This isn't a picture of a true panini, because I don't have a panini press so I just smashed it as much as possible but I think this would make a delicous panini--if you do have a press!

We got some loaves of amazing sourdough bread from the produce co-op and that day I made these sandwiches for lunch and we're hooked!  I had some homemade pesto in the fridge which put them over the top, but a jar of pesto would work just fine!

The recipe is for an individual sandwich so adjust as you need to.

Turkey Pesto Panini2 slices sourdough bread
1/2 Tb pesto
3 slices deli turkey
1 slice provolone cheese
tomato slices
drizzle of balsamic vinagrette (Ken's creamy balsamic vinagrette would work great too, but don't use a runny balsamic dressing.)
Olive oil for brushing

Brush the bread with the olive oil.  Spread the pesto on the bottom, then layer the tomatoes, turkey, cheese and drizzle the balsamic vinagrette.  Grill on each side until the bread is brown and the cheese is melted.  If you're feeling particularly daring add a slice of provolone to each side for extra cheesy-ness.

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Frozen Margaritas

The fact that I'm 9 months-pregnant may make it strange to see a recipe for frozen margaritas, but we had some good friends who were moving to Texas so naturally their going away party was a Tex-Mex theme and what goes better with Tex-Mex food than a margarita? I made several batches of these frozen margaritas for the party. They are a hit!

My mom keeps a batch of these in her freezer a lot of the time and when we're up there (and I'm not pregnant) it makes a summer evening to sit on the patio with a margarita. This recipe has become a family favorite. You can store a batch in the freezer for a few weeks and it doesn't seem to go bad (if you can keep it around that long.) A pitcher of the frozen margaritas would be a great addition to a Labor Day barbecue.

Frozen Margaritas4 c. water
1 can frozen limeade
1 c. tequila
1/2 c. triple sec
1 lime, juiced
Mix everything together and freeze for several hours. You may have to let it sit on the counter for a little while if it's been in the freezer for a really long time. Or you can smash it up with a wooden spoon and eat it like a slushie.

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Carrot Macaroni Salad

I haven't blogged in a few days because I've spent my free time doing internet research on ways to induce labor naturally. Well, those ways don't seem to be working, and I'm confident that God wouldn't punish me by causing me to remain pregnant forever, and I refuse to drink castor oil, so I quit. My due date is still 10 days away so I'll just try to be patient and instead post some yummy recipes for you.

My mom has made this macaroni salad for years and years. Its one of my favorites and I've made it a couple times for potlucks and stuff and it isn't the first thing to fly off the buffet table if people don't know what it is because it isn't the best-looking salad. BUT it tastes so good and when people try it then they immediately want the recipe. SO, you should definitely make it --maybe for your Labor Day bbq this weekend. It would pair wonderfully with some bbq ribs, grilled chicken, or beer brats or even burgers. It goes with any grilled meat!

The recipe makes a lot of salad so you definitely want some company to help eat it up. I always make it a little lighter by using fat free sweetened condensed milk and reduced fat mayo and even sometimes I substitute Splenda for the sugar. I have tried this recipe with whole wheat pasta and I'm sorry to say that this is one recipe that the whole wheat doesn't really work with. It just tastes different. But--I'll leave you to your own devices on this one!

Carrot Macaroni Salad

1 lb macaroni, cooked & drained
1 large green pepper, finely diced
1 medium onion, finely diced
4 carrots, shredded
1 can sweetened condensed milk
3/4 c. vinegar
1/4 c. sugar
2 c. mayo
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper (or more to your liking)
Add the chopped/grated veggies to the pasta in a large bowl. In another bowl mix together condensed milk, vinegar, sugar, mayo, salt and pepper. Stir to combine well. Pour the dressing over the pasta and stir it all together. Chill at least 4 hours before serving.