Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pizza Pasta Salad

Let me just say from the beginning...I am not usually a huge fan of pasta salad. But when my niece was baptized last summer, one of the guests brought this little gem along and I was hooked! I love the pepperoni, the cheese cubes, all of it really, but I think what makes the difference is the dressing. It's Bernstein's Cheese and Garlic Italian, the empty, forsaken bottle of which is pictured below.

Somebody buy me more Bernstein's so I can make this again next week! :)

Incidentally, I went to a baby shower last week and found a different pasta salad that I liked, so I asked the hostess for the recipe and guess what the dressing was? Yup. Bernstein's! I guess it's possible that I am a huge fan of pasta salad, as long as it's made with my beloved Cheese and Garlic Italian!

Pizza Pasta Salad

tri-color pasta, cooked, drained, and cooled
cheddar cheese cubes
white cheese cubes (such as mozzarella, jack, etc)
pepperoni, cut into bite-size pieces
grape tomatoes, halved
black olives, sliced
Bernstein's Cheese and Garlic Italian dressing
McCormick's Salad Supreme (found in the spice aisle)

Toss first six ingredients together, using whatever proportions you like. Then add the dressing and Salad Supreme to taste and toss again. Just make sure that you put in enough dressing so that the pasta is well-coated. Dry pasta salad = more sad face. You could also add any other chopped veggies that strike your fancy, but I prefer to keep this salad in it's purer form. :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Key Lime Pie Ice Cream

This was so good. So, so good. I found this recipe over on Good Life Eats and knew I had to try it. Key Lime Pie is one of my all-time favorite desserts, and I'd been wanting to try making homemade ice cream for a while. I followed her recommendation to use David Lebovitz's method for making ice cream without a machine, and it worked great! It produced creamy, dreamy ice cream with not a whole lot of effort. Just look at that glossy gloriousness!

The only change I made was to add some crushed graham crackers to the actual ice cream when it was nearly set, instead of just putting them on top at the end. I thought this made for some nice texture and sweetness, which it needed. I guess I also added sweetened whipped cream, because that was my one complaint with this recipe: it had a bitter aftertaste. I'm not sure if this is because I got too much of the rind flavor in with the juice (I microwaved my key limes to get more juice out of them, and I think this might have done that) or if it was because some of my limes weren't the proper ripeness or whatever. Next time, I think I will use bottled key lime juice as the recipe suggests, both for saving time and effort and to hopefully cut back on the bitterness.

Even with that complaint, this ice cream was truly heavenly and I plan on replicating it again soon! Here's Katie's (of Good Life Eats) ingredients incorporated with David's steps, which is how I made it.

Key Lime Pie Ice Cream

1 1/2 c. whole milk
1/2 c. bottled Key lime juice (such as Nellie and Joe's)
1/2 c. heavy cream
dash of salt
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
6 graham crackers (1 1/2 cookie sheets), coarsely crushed, divided

Prepare your ice cream mixture, then chill it over an ice bath (I skipped the chilling, since this was not a custard-based recipe). Put a deep baking dish, or bowl made of plastic, stainless steel or something durable in the freezer, and pour your mixture into it.

After forty-five minutes, open the door and check it. As it starts to freeze near the edges, remove it from the freezer and stir it vigorously with a spatula or whisk. Really beat it up and break up any frozen sections. Return to freezer.

Continue to check the mixture every 30 minutes, stirring vigorously as it’s freezing. If you have one, you can use a hand-held mixer for best results (I did this), or use a stick-blender. Keep checking periodically and stirring while it freezes (by hand or with the electric mixer) until the ice cream is frozen. It will likely take 2-3 hours to be ready. (I added the crushed graham crackers when the mixture was starting to solidify but wasn't quite there yet---probably when there was about an hour left to go).

Sunday, June 12, 2011

CPK's BBQ Chicken Salad

CPK = California Pizza Kitchen. California Pizza Kitchen = Heaven.

As I was scarfing down this incredible salad, my husband said something like "Weren't you going to put this one on your food blog?" And then I said something like "Crap! Do you think anyone will notice that it's partially eaten?" By then he was too busy chewing, so I just figured it's like when you're selling a house. If it looks "lived in" it's more cozy, right? Here's my cozy salad. :)

I love getting this dish from the restaurant, but it's actually not my most favorite of the salads they serve. That would be the Thai Crunch salad, which I have also replicated at home. It was yummy, but too work intensive and full of obscure ingredients that I wouldn't buy for anything else. I probably ended up spending more to make it at home than I would to get it at the restaurant. The BBQ salad, however, is easy peasy, and the only ingredient I don't buy often is the jicama. We will definitely have this salad again.

CPK's BBQ Chicken Salad

For the chicken:
1 T olive oil
1 T minced garlic
2 t soy sauce
2 t salt (kosher is best, but table salt is fine too)
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 c. barbecue sauce

Stir together the first four ingredients. Turn the chicken in this marinade and allow it to sit for at least 15 minutes. Grill or broil the chicken until cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes per side. Chill thoroughly, then shred. Toss with the barbecue sauce until coated.

For the salad:
lettuce (iceberg/romaine mix is good)
jicama, peeled and chopped
Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
canned corn, drained
canned black beans, rinsed and drained
tomatoes, diced
Ranch dressing
fried corn tortilla strips (or crushed corn chips)
*the recipe I used also called for basil and cilantro, but I left them out because I was too lazy to go buy fresh herbs. I'm sure the salad would be superb with them, but it was still wonderful without!

Toss lettuce, jicama, cheese, corn, beans, and dressing together. Transfer the salad to chilled serving plates, and top individual servings with tomatoes, tortilla strips, and chicken.