Someting to Keep Out the Heat….

Who wants to turn their oven on when it’s this hot outside? I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want to be cooking a pot roast when it’s 100 degrees outside! After a long, hot day of running errands, yard work and cleaning house, all I want for dinner is something cool and refreshing – not warm and gooey. Don’t get me wrong- I love a nice, warm tuna casserole as much as the next guy, but definitely not in the summer. That’s why this salad is particularly nice. Cold, crisp, light – everything a summer salad should be!

I made this for a Father’s Day picnic with my parents. We went to an outside concert where you could take a blanket and a picnic and just spread out and listen to good music. So much fun! My mother brought cucumber sandwiches, cantaloupe, watermelon, cheese and crackers and summer sausage, and I brought this salad along with some chocolate cupcakes and pink lemonade –  what a great meal! We all really enjoyed the salad – it was absolutely perfect for a picnic! I really loved the crunch of the vegetables – so refreshing! This is a dish I will most definitely be making again and again – it’s great because it gets better the longer it sits. I made it the night before and it was perfect the next day. This is an ideal summer salad – a definite keeper!

Crunchy Noodle Salad
-Barefoot Contessa

Kosher salt
1/2 pound thin spaghetti
1 pound sugar snap peas
1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
3 tablespoons toasted white sesame seeds, divided
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded, and thinly sliced
4 scallions (white and green parts), sliced diagonally

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, bring another large pot of salted water to a boil, add the sugar snap peas, return to a boil, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until crisp tender. Lift the sugar snap peas from the water with a slotted spoon and immerse them in a bowl of ice water. Drain.
For the dressing, whisk together the vegetable oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, garlic, ginger, 2 tablespoons sesame seeds and peanut butter in a medium bowl.
Combine the spaghetti, sugar snap peas, peppers and scallions in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the spaghetti mixture. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds and the parsley and toss together.

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Quickie Post: Tuna Salad

There’s not a whole lot to say about tuna salad- it’s nothing new. Most of us have been eating it our whole lives. In college, I used to eat it every day at lunch  when I worked in the music department office, and people would come in and go, “Ewww, what’s that smell? Ugh, gross! Yuck – it smells fishy in here!”, which actually really got on my nerves, but didn’t stop me from eating it every day (hehe- take that, you tuna haters!).  Tuna salad can be pretty dull. Tuna, mayo, relish…not much to write home about. But with the right ingredients, tuna salad can be pretty darn tasty! I’ll show you how I make it (and my mom, and grandmother, and sister…) and you can decide if it still sounds dull, mmkay? Here we go!

Tuna Salad

1 large can, chunk light tuna in water
1 celery stalk, chopped into very small pieces
2 dill pickles, chopped (not the uber-huge monster pickles, and not baby dill, either – just a regular sized pickle)
3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 small apple, chopped (any kind of apple you like – I used Fuji, but if you like it more tart, Grannysmith is good)
approx. 1/4 cup mayonnaise (the real thing)
approx. 1/4 cup Miracle Whip
1 teaspoon Cajun Seasoning (I use Tony Chachere’s…in my family, we use this on just about everything)
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
splash of pickle juice

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and chill until ready to serve. Enjoy!
*As far as the mayo goes, you can use as little or as much as you like – these are just approximations, as I usually just throw some in and taste as I go.

This is the tuna salad my family has been making forever – it’s always delicious and perfect for a summer picnic! It’s got a lot of crunch and a lot of flavor – hope you enjoy it!

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Peas Forgive Me… ;-)

Ok, I know it’s probably one of my cheesiest titles yet, but I really do want to apologize for being MIA for over a week now (and, the post is about pea salad, so there you go). I promise I have a good excuse – the opera company I sing with is doing Carmen in a couple of weeks and I’m right in the smack middle of rehearsals. Driving 30 minutes to and from almost every night and every Saturday and Sunday, getting home after 10 or 11 o’clock in the evenings, trying to memorize music, and remember where I’m supposed to stand on stage without looking like a complete idiot (which still happens quite a lot, incidentally)….all this plus dog-sitting a poodle along with my own high energy pup and teaching voice lessons two days a week. This doesn’t leave much time for food-blogging. And to be quite honest, I haven’t cooked a thing in over a week – except this pea salad.

Easter was a really nice, welcomed break for the hubby and me. On top of the joy of celebrating Jesus’s resurrection, being with family, eating tons of Nana’s delicious ham and other yummy Easter-y things, it was just nice to have some time off and rest a bit. Although I didn’t rest too much – I was busy making a ginormous banana pudding (my mommy’s famous recipe) and this tasty pea salad! I had never had pea salad, and I’m not sure what made me want to try it, but for whatever reason I threw it together and decided to take it to my parent’s house for Easter Sunday. It was pretty good, too! I love the little cubes of cheese, and the bacon really gives it a good flavor. So, here is my “Peas Offering”, if you will (hehehe), and I promise I’ll try to do better with my food blogging in the coming weeks. Bear with me, ya’ll!

Creamy Pea Salad

One 10-ounce package of frozen tiny peas (thawed)
1/2 cup chopped fresh celery
3 green onions, chopped (I used only the green parts, otherwise I think it would overpower the salad)
3-4 slices of bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled or torn
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, cut into tiny cubes
1/2 cup real mayonnaise
1 or 2 tablespoons sour cream (depending on how much you like)
salt and pepper to taste

*I like to chop the celery and cheese about the same size as the peas, so everything is the about the same size

Combine all ingredients and chill until needed. Pretty straight forward, huh?

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Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Salad

For those of you who don’t know – Pioneer Woman is a cooking blog I really enjoy reading. Her recipes are really reasonable, simple, and of course, very tasty! She reminds me a lot of my big sister, Lindsay – they have the same sharp, witty personality. Maybe that’s why I love her blog so much…  Anyway, I saw her recipe for chicken salad recently and decided I just had to try it (chicken salad is big in my family!).  As usual, it was very simple to make and tasted pretty good too – not as good as my mom’s (hi, mom!), but you know how that goes…nothing is ever as good as mom’s.

Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Salad

1 whole fryer, cut up and poached
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
green (or red) grapes, cut in half (as much as you’d like, really)
fresh chopped dill
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream (I used sour cream)
tablespoon or 2 fresh lemon juice
tablespoon brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
pinch cayenne pepper

After chicken has been poached and cooled – cut into small chunks. Toss in a large bowl with chopped celery and grapes (I also added some chopped pecans.) In another bowl, mix mayo, yogurt, dill, lemon juice, brown sugar, salt and pepper, and cayenne together. Pour over chicken/grape/celery mixture and toss to coat. Let sit in the refrigerator for at least 2 or 3 hours (overnight is best) so all the flavors can “marry”. Pioneer Woman adds that you can also add some chopped bacon if you want! Yum!

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