Phone Pics + Pasta Salad

I still haven’t found my camera cord (le sigh!), but I took a phone pic of the pasta salad I made this weekend.

I’ve made this many times without using a consistent recipe — I usually just eyeball it and add things until everything looks and smells good. The following recipe is really just a guideline; feel free to adjust it as desired!

The Recipe: Pasta Salad With Ham and Provolone
Serves: 6-8
Time: 15-20 minutes

8 oz rotini (or your favorite pasta)
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 cup chopped red peppers
1/2 cup diced ham
1/2 cup diced fresh tomato
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
4 oz provolone cheese
1 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp oregano
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 tsp crushed red pepper

Do This

Start a pot of water boiling, and add in a pinch of salt and a few drops of oil. When the water reaches a rolling boil, add in the rotini and cook for 10 minutes (or as directed on the package).

While the pasta is cooking, start chopping up the red pepper, tomato, ham, and basil. If your provolone isn’t shredded (I bought the sliced kind), chop it up into small pieces — if you can, try to make the pieces the same size as the tomato/pepper/ham for consistency.

Drain the cooked pasta, and toss it with olive oil and red wine vinegar in a large bowl. Mix in the spices, ham, cheese, and veggies, and toss until everything is evenly distributed. Cover the bowl, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

This pasta salad was a giant hit as a side dish, and a perfect cold complement to grilled brats and burgers.

Some notes: I’m not a huge fan of creamy pasta salads, so I decided to go with a vinaigrette base instead. I also left olives out intentionally (they’re not my favorite) but if they’re a must-have, please add them in. If you’ve got something more exciting than deli ham (like prosciutto!), that’s totally worth a try, too.

Another note: Letting the pasta cool off a bit after draining is a good idea. If it’s too hot, it’ll melt the cheese and make the salad clumpy.


Lost & (not yet) Found

My camera battery charger is MIA. This makes me sad, as I can’t take any food photos without battery power!

In the meantime, check out this recipe for Gooey Butter Cake, a St. Louis treat that I got to try the other day: Gooey Butter Cake (courtesy of and Heimburger Bakery)  If you like cake batter, this is heaven.

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Throw Another Shrimp on the Barbie

Throw some chicken on there, too. And maybe some peppers and onions.

Foodie confession: Today was the first time I prepared shrimp that didn’t come from a bag. Scandalous, I know! I finally decided to stop being a lazy cheater that buys pre-cooked frozen shrimp, and picked up a pound of the real deal. The little frozen buggers just didn’t look like they’d be big enough to fit on a skewer.

“Ugh, why do you always have to de-turd these things? Look at this one, caught him after Thanksgiving feast. I think I’m gonna need a pooper-scooper.”

Okay, so maybe cleaning shrimp wasn’t the most exciting process, but it’s one hundred percent worth it, because it’s fresh, recently-alive shrimp and not freezer-burned precooked shrimpettes.

The Recipe: Soy-Lime Chicken and Shrimp Kebabs
Serves: 3-4
Time: 45-50 minutes

1 lb shrimp
1 lb chicken breast, cubed
1/2 large white onion, cut into skewerable sections (optional)
1 each red, yellow, and orange pepper, also cut into skewerable sections (optional)

Soy-Lime Marinade
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup lime juice
6 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp fresh ground pepper
1 tbsp basil
2 tsp kosher salt

Do This

De-shell, de-vein, de-turd, and otherwise clean the shrimp.

Fire up your charcoal grill, and get it ready. If you’re using a gas grill, you can skip this step, but charcoal enthusiasts will need some time to get things prepped for phenomenal grilling.

Place your clean, happy shrimp into a large shallow bowl with the cubed chicken breasts. Pour the olive oil, lime juice, soy sauce, and all of the spices over the shrimp and chicken, and stir it all around to make sure that everything is well-mixed. Take a big whiff, because it smells quite good, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the grill is ready to go. Or for a minimum of 30 minutes.

If you wish to make a veggie skewer or two, cut up your peppers and onion while the meat marinates. I also recommend making a small pot of rice, for a delicious side of fried rice that you can make while everything’s grilling.

When the grill is ready to go (or when you’ve decided that the chicken and shrimp have been marinating long enough), slide everything onto skewers, and throw them on the barbie! If your chicken cubes are small enough (I usually try to go for 1″ cubes), it doesn’t matter whether the shrimp and chicken are on separate skewers — the cook times will be fairly close. Put the veggies (if you’re making them) on their own skewer, though.

Because grilling is such a mysterious art (or maybe I’m just saying this because it completely confuses me sometimes), your cook times may be different from mine. On a humid, moderately warm evening in St. Louis, it took about 15 minutes to grill 2 lb. of meat and two skewers of veggies. Moral of the story: cook the meat until it is done (shrimp should be a bit pink, chicken should not be pink at all…that’s not confusing!) but not charred. Unless you like charred, of course.

I enjoy these kebabs with a side of veggie fried rice and a nice Schlafly Pilsner.

The only photo I could snap of the finished kebabs ended up happening after most of the skewers had been cleaned. I count that as a compliment.

These kebabs are quite different from my usual chicken or beef kebabs. Not in a bad way either — they’re tangy and flavorful, and are officially on my summer grill rotation. Put them on yours, too.

Tis The Season

My Gma bought me an awesome cast-iron dutch oven. Aside from a KitchenAid stand mixer, this was my most-wanted piece of kitchen equipment. I can braise now! Thanks, Gma :)

I’m seasoning it at this very moment. According to the little card that came with it, seasoning involves brushing the inside of the dish with cooking oil, and letting it hang out in the oven (at 350) for an hour.

This is either going to be ridiculously easy, or my kitchen is going to catch fire.