Margarita Pasta Salad: An Old Standby

Margarita Pasta Salad from Brittany's Pantry - A great, crowd pleasing side to go with any dish!Don’t you just love those recipes that you make over and over and they never fail you?  No matter how many times you make it, it always turns out and everybody always loves it.  For my neighbor, its chocolate chip cookies.  She makes one of the best I have ever had and is famous for them.  With my mother-in-law its Keebler Cracker Bars.  My best friend, a Mississippi gal, makes a sweet potato casserole that seems to taste better out of her oven than mine.  This may be attributed to some kind of southern woman secret I am not privy to but whatever the case, we all have them.  I have several in fact.  Many of which, I don’t doubt, will grace this page with reliability and the sureness of success for all who try them.

Today I went to a BBQ and was told to bring a side salad.  My immediate elation at being able to share food with others was tempered by the lack of specifics.  Lettuce, coleslaw, pasta, potato, fruit, vegetable?  You may think I am obsessing, but these are the things that keep me up at night.  I like variety and I didn’t want to be the third person at the party who brought potato salad.  Solution?  A pasta salad that everyone likes, that parents could cut up and feed to the babies that I knew would be present, and most importantly, that I had the time and ingredients to make.  A pasta version of a Margarita pizza, it has only a few basic ingredients.  Add what you like and enjoy.  Leftovers make a great lunch.

Margarita Pasta Salad from Brittany's Pantry - A great, crowd pleasing side to go with any dish! Margarita Pasta Salad

1 lb small shaped pasta, such as bow tie, ditalini, rigatoni, penne, shells etc.
1-8oz pkg, fresh mozzarella, cut into small, bite sized chunks
1/4 c chopped, fresh basil
2 c chopped tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Drain and toss with a drizzle of olive oil just until moistened.  Gently add the other ing.  Chill or serve room temp.  Can be made several hours ahead of time.
Note:  The measurements here are estimates.  Feel free to add more or less of whatever you like or don’t like.  Grilled chicken is a wonderful addition, as are freshly sniped chives.  The different colors of heirloom tomatoes look especially gorgeous.

Turkey Meatballs (Mmm…Italian)

Healthy Italian Turkey Meatballs have incredible flavor and are freezable! {Brittany's Pantry} Yesterday, we surprised our best friends with an evening out while we babysat their kids.  And what kids don’t like spaghetti and meatballs?!  The sauce was a quick concoction of generic jarred sauces I had in the pantry, doctored up with fresh herbs, fresh garlic, and always a pinch of sugar.  Store bought sauce is always so acidic, don’t you think?  I keep these on hand for times when the thought of making homemade marinara sends me running for the hills.  Don’t get me wrong!  I LOVE to make and freeze sauce for later use, but my freezer was empty and my time was short.  I did, however, make the meatballs myself.  So easy.  So quick.  And SO GOOD for you!  I have made these meatballs many times and am always astounded by how great they taste.  A traditional Italian meatball they are not.  But they are perfect to feed my growing family.  I highly recommend making a double batch and after they come out of the oven, cool to room temperature, and freeze the extras in a Ziploc bag. I kept these on hand to zap quick in the microwave and break up into chunks for my toddlers lunch.  Savory, tender, and healthy.

The recipe is by Ellie Krieger.  She is a nutritionist with two great cookbooks, a contributor to the Today Show, a star on the Food Network, and a busy mom.  I am a dedicated follower, as I like to make healthy food for my family but am not a fan of tasteless, fat free fare.  This meatball recipe is from her first book The Food You Crave, which is crammed full of food I make all the time.  Mmm.  I think I’ll head to the kitchen for leftovers…Healthy Italian Turkey Meatballs have incredible flavor and are freezable! {Brittany's Pantry}

Turkey Meatballs

1 lb lean ground turkey
1 slice whole-wheat bread, pulsed to crumbs in the food processor
1/4 c freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 c finely grated carrot
1/2 c minced onion
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 T finely chopped parsley
2 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme
1 large egg
1/2 tsp salt
fresh pepper

Preheat broiler.  Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.  Mix all ing. in a large bowl just until combined.  Form into balls the size of a golf ball and place on the baking sheet.  Broil until browned and cooked through, 10-15 minutes.

Three Lemon Chicken

Grilled Three Lemon Chicken W/Roasted Garlic | Brittany's PantryAt the moment it is pouring.

If that lets up, I will be making grilled chicken for dinner tonight.  Of course, being a true Minnesotan, we can most certainly grill in the rain-or sleet or snow or 30 below temp or a blizzard for that matter, but right now it is raining so hard that I can’t see across my lawn.  Not the best weather to light a fire!  Assuming that the monsoon doesn’t last for the next 4 hrs, I am going to make this chicken.  The flavor is out.  of.  this.  world.  It is adapted from Weber’s Big Book Of Grilling and this cookbook is kind of invaluable in the summer months.

3 Lemon Chicken
Adapted from Weber

1 whole chicken, cut into serving pieces
For the paste:
1 head of roasted garlic
zest of 2 lemons
1 T fresh lemon juice
2 tsp freshly chopped rosemary
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Mix all ingredients well and rub over chicken.  Grill over indirect medium heat until the internal temp of the meat reaches 180 degrees, roughly 45 minutes.  Remove chicken to a serving platter and cover with foil, letting the meat rest for 10 min.  Alternatively, roast it in a 375 degree oven, turning once and broiling the last 5 minutes to get the skin crisp and brown.I am serving my chicken with steamed string beans and whole wheat couscous, tossed with lots of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  If I had some parsley, I would make the Green Beans w/Lemon, Garlic, and Parmigiano Gremolata. The recipe comes from The Splendid Table’s How To Eat Supper.  A truly wonderful cookbook given to me by my brother-in-law.  If you are a fan of public radio and you love to cook, add this to your wish list.