Sunday, February 21, 2010

Church pot-luck fun

Okay, so all three items I brought to the church pot-luck fellowship meal today were a big hit and were incredibly tasty. That is such a rare occurrence that I thought I'd share my recipes here.

First off, the pasta salad. I am NOT normally a fan of pasta salad. It's usually too sweet or vinegary or just generally yucky. But the pasta salad I made yesterday evening is so good, I'm going to make it again and again. I actually threw it together from stuff I thought sounded good, and it ended up being even better than I thought it would be.

Basil-Avocado Pasta Salad
(makes a ton; halve it for smaller batches. Do the math. I'm not into numbers, myself.)

Two cartons of grape tomatoes, halved
Four avocadoes, diced
One six-oz. jar of parmesan-romano cheese shreds
One carton of baby portabella mushrooms, washed and quartered
One carton of fresh basil, chiffonade-sliced
One box of Barilla mini-farfalle bowties, cooked and drained and lubed-up with EVOO
One bottle of Caesar dressing (your choice of brand)

Throw all of it into a big bowl together, pour the Caesar dressing over it, toss it together, and refrigerate it overnight to let the flavors intermingle nicely.

UPDATE: The leftovers for this are even better-tasting, but it might be better to toss the diced avocado in lime juice first before putting it into the salad because it tends to get kinda brownish on the edges. Tastes fine, just isn't terribly attractive as a leftover. Other than that, I can't wait to make this stuff again. It's just that good. I had it for lunch today at school. Rick ate the last of it for lunch here at home.

Dijon Pulled Pork
(again, makes a ton. Adjust accordingly.)

One pork butt, whatever size will fit into your crockpot
One bottle of Dijon mustard (the generic brand will be fine)
White wine

Put the pork butt into the crockpot. Pour the entire contents of the Dijon mustard bottle into the crockpot on top of the pork butt. Pour white wine over this until the liquid comes about halfway up the sides of the pork butt (more or less, doesn't matter THAT much). Set the slow cooker to Low and leave it on all night long, about eight hours or thereabouts. When you get up in the morning, if you don't faint from hunger at the incredible smell, pull the pork apart with a fork and remove the big shoulder-blade bone if there is one. Serve on a bun.

Easy-Cheesy cheese ball
(makes one cereal-bowl-sized cheese ball)

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
One packet of Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing mix, made according to the recipe on back of the packet except with half the liquid ingredients -- it calls for a cup of milk and a cup of mayo, use half a cup of each instead)

Mix these two ingredients together, along with a handful of shredded cheese (Fiesta Blend or cheddar).

Line a cereal bowl with stretchable plastic wrap, then sprinkle another handful of shredded cheese onto the wrap. Spread it out a little, then pour the cream cheese/ranch mixture atop the cheese shreds and then wrap into a ball-shape. Twist the wrap closed and put the cheese ball into the freezer until you need it.

You could also top it with pecans or chopped pistachios instead of more shredded cheese.

Enjoy, y'all! I'm not gonna lie to you, these three recipes are the bomb. The yeast bread I made was also quite yummy, but I didn't want to share that with anyone else, so I sliced it up and put it into a ziploc bag for me to snack on during the week. Most store-bought bread contains cornstarch or even corn syrup, which tears up my GI tract something fierce, so if I want to eat bread, I have to make it myself. That's why I love-love-love my breadmaker.

You hardly ever see breadmakers anymore, seems like. They were all the vogue at one point about ten years ago, and then people bought them and never used them. Well, I actually USE mine. It works beautifully and it wasn't a high-dollar item, either.

Any-hoo, the recipe I've been using for home-made bread includes white flour, hot water, honey, organic sugar-free peanut butter, kosher salt, and shelled pistachios. It's some serious good stuff. I might try it with rice flour (mochi) sometime; my system tolerates wheat flour, but it's much happier with rice-based ingredients than with any other kind of starch. Maybe half and half to start with.

My iron supplement arrived in the mail on Friday. Hooray! Hopefully in another week or so, I'll be able to get a new round of labs done to check and see whether it's absorbing. I'd like to be able to have my "oomph" back.

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