Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Roger's Pasta Salad

I haven't posted in a bit, so I thought I would put together a little post about a very easy pasta salad.  My husband found this recipe in the little newspaper put out by an area lake community.  We modified it a bit to suit our tastes and you can do the same.

First, I gathered all my ingredients together.  If you are observant, you will see that "one of these things is not like the other" (with apologies to Sesame Street).  Do you see it?  Yes, there it is - a small handgun right between the carrots, Dijon mustard, and pasta.  This is EXTREME COOKING!!  We don't want to take the chance that someone is going to bust in the kitchen and hijack dinner.  (Actually, the hubby put the gun on the counter when he got home and I didn't see it when I took the photo.  If you are a firearms enthusiast, it's a L. W. Seecamp .380.)

If you are brand-loyal or a foodie elitist, you are probably cringing at the Best Choice products shown.  Personally, I think their pastas and tomato products are pretty much the same as most of the higher end items, so I have no issue with using them to save a little money.

For this recipe, I used pork steaks.  I grilled the steaks the night before and let them sit overnight in the refrigerator before slicing.  When writing this post, I realized that I left the green onions out of the recipe this time.  It was still delicious!  This salad gets better with time, as the dressing soaks into the pasta and marinates the vegetables and meat.  This pasta has been suggested as the perfect picnic food.  As long as you are able to keep it cold before serving, it should be great.

I like the Tupperware mixer/shaker for making the dressing, as I can use the measurements on the side of the cup for the olive oil and red wine vinegar.  Once the other ingredients are added, I just pop in the shaker ring and snap on the top.  Then I do my best Carmen Miranda impression and merengue around the kitchen to the music in my head, shaking the heck out of that Tupperware and mixing the dressing by default.  For grating the Parmesan cheese, there is nothing like a Microplane grater.  I own the box grater, this beauty you see in the photo below, and a smaller one that also does little garnish-thingies.

Roger's Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad

  • 1 (16 oz.) pkg. pasta - preferably rotini, cavatappi, large shell, etc.; cooked according to package directions, rinsed with cold water, and drained
  • 1 (28 oz.) can cut tomatoes, drained
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, julienned
  • 1/2 yellow or orange bell pepper, julienned
  • 1/3 cup green onions, sliced
  • 1 (2.25 oz.) can ripe black olives, sliced and drained
  • 2 pork steaks, beef steaks, chicken breasts, or lamb chops, cooked and sliced thin 
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Louisiana Hot Sauce
In a large bowl, combine cooled pasta and vegetables.


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon Miracle Whip or mayonnaise
  • Juice of 1 fresh lime
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Louisiana Hot Sauce
Pour olive oil into mixing bowl, add wine vinegar, minced garlic, mustard, Miracle Whip (or mayonnaise), and fresh lime juice.  Season with salt and hot sauce to taste.  Whisk until smooth.  Pour dressing over and toss well to coat.  Cover and refrigerate at least one hour before serving.  Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese over the salad before serving.

Modified from "Outdoor Cookin' with Otis" (Grand Times on Grand Lake news gazette), 06-25-97.

Friday, October 1, 2010

National Homemade Cookie Day (October 1st)

Today, October 1st, is National Homemade Cookie Day.  It is also my grandmother's 101st birthday... or it would have been.  She passed away peacefully last Sunday, September 26th.  My grandmother, had a good life... a great life, even.  She loved her family, which included 6 children, 18 grandchildren,  39 great-grandchildren, and 9 great-great-grandchildren.  (I am not counting spouses here, but if I did, the whole family numbers greater than 100!)

Grandmother was always a bit shy and quiet.  When she got married at age 18, she was so embarrassed that she wouldn't even get out of the car and go into the pastor's house.  The preacher had to go out to the Model-T Ford and perform the ceremony while they sat in the car. 

Grandmother and Granddaddy, Barbara Anna (Melton) & Johney Burse Maynard, owned and operated Maynard's Drug in my hometown, Washington, Oklahoma, from 1951 - 1980.  Washington is a small town and they sold everything.  Just before school started each year, they sold school supplies and all of the required school books.  The kids and grandkids pitched in to help during that time.  All of the grandchildren longed for the day when they were deemed old enough to help sell school books.  Big Chief Tablets, Fun with Dick and Jane, elementary workbooks, and number 2 pencils all have that old familiar smell that I love.

One of my favorite things had to be the soda fountain.  Grandmother taught me how to make the perfect Coke.  (Hint:  It's all in the wrist... well, and the correct ratio of syrup to carbonated water.  LOL)   It had the old-fashioned pump-type syrup dispensers, fruit dippers, a double-sink, and water spigots - one for carbonated water and one for plain water.    I loved the glass rinser.  It was a small round hole with a rubber ring around the top and a rubber grid on the bottom.  You inserted a glass upside down and sprayers squirted water all around and inside the glass, rinsing it clean.  There were five or six red-leatherette barstools on the opposite side for customers.  The stools were about 3' or so tall and spun around.  I remember we used to get into trouble for spinning on them too much. 

There was a candy counter with all sorts of delicious goodies - Pixie Sticks, Secret Centers, Hershey's Chocolate Bars,  Jaw Breakers, Tootsie Rolls, gum, crackers,  etc.  Just about everything you could imagine was there to choose from.  Halloween meant the addition of wax lips and Wowee! wax whistles.

Free comic books were also high on that favorite things list.  Once the unsold comics were pulled from the shelf and the covers torn off, we got to take home huge stacks of them.  We poured over Archie, Little Dot, Richie Rich, Hot Stuff, Casper, Superman, Batman, and even the war and love comics.  We kept stacks of them in the house and would read and re-read them until they were falling apart.

Most of the grandchildren loved the malt-flavored ice cream.  It was a special ice cream for making malts, and Granddaddy would rebuff our requests for it, but we could always talk Grandmother into letting us have it on a cone.  Malt ice cream was white, but it wasn't vanilla or chocolate, just malt.  I would love to find some now days, and have looked all over the internet and in stores, but it is nowhere to be found.  (If anyone knows where I can find some, please hook me up!)

Grandmother's specialty dessert was Italian Cream Cake.  It was always so tall and loaded with fluffy coconut.  It was absolutely divine.  In honor of her - and of National Homemade Cookie Day - I think I am going to make Italian Cream Cookies... or some type of cookie, anyway.  I won't be able to get photos posted today, but I will update the post later to show the cookies.