Tortellini Pasta Salad. The Easiest Pasta Salad You Will Ever Make

Tortellini Pasta Salad. The Easiest Pasta Salad You Will Ever Make

I love pasta salad, like really love it. No matter how it’s dressed up, sauced up, garnishes added, I love it all! And I love it best when it virtually makes itself! I mean really, who doesn’t like food that prepares itself???

It might be Winter (well the end of) but somewhere, someone besides me is craving pasta salad.  So I’m gonna go ahead and share this recipe with you now. It is the EASIEST pasta salad you will ever make and definitely one of the most delicious you will ever have!

I love it as a quick and easy side for a meal, but I also love to make it ahead on a Sunday afternoon and then eat it throughout the week for lunches or snacks.  You can add some grilled chicken for a perfectly balanced meal, and sometimes I even add some cheddar. Sugarbush Farm Cheddar of course.  Without further Ado, here is the recipe!

Easy Peasy Tortellini Pasta Salad

Easy Peasy Tortellini Pasta Salad

Easy Peasy Toretellini Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 Bag Cheese Tortellini
  • 1 Bag Frozen Veggies, still frozen ( I use organic)
  • 1 Bottle Brianna’s Balsamic Dressing

Method:

  • Put a good size pot of water on to boil, salt the water well.
  • Pour frozen veggies into a large stainless steel bowl
  • When the water comes to a boil, add in the tortellini, stir, recover and cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
  • When the 5 minutes is up, taste one. Is it done but still al dente? If not give it another two minutes.
  • Drain in a colander
  • DO NOT RINSE
  • Immediately after draining toss on top of all those frozen veggies and use a rubber spatula to combine well. the frozen veggies cool down the pasta and the pasta warms up the veggies. Seriously, could it be any more perfect?
  • Shake the Brianna’s dressing well and sprinkle about half a bottle on the tortellini/veggie mix.
  • Allow to sit out for about an hour before meal time, mixing every once in a while. That will make sure everything soaks up the dressing evenly.
  • If you want you can add some salt and pepper, but you don’t need to, the dressing is pretty perfect in itself.
  • There you have it, serve and enjoy!

This is a pictorial guide to making this salad:

Frozen Peas in the bowl

Frozen Peas in the bowl

Hot Tortellini on the Frozen Veggies

Hot Tortellini on the Frozen Veggies

Dressing on and ready to mix

Dressing on and ready to mix

Now to let it all soak in.

Now to let it all soak in.

Brianna's Balsamic Dressing

Brianna’s Balsamic Dressing, in case you haven’t seen it before

*Dislcaimer, I use Brianna’s salad dressing for my food in my home and my recipes here because I love it and love what it stands for. It doesn’t have crap in it, it is good and good for my body. Brianna’s dressings has no clue that I exist or that I am writing this recipe.  All opinions are 100% my own and I never EVER support, work with, or advertise for a  company I do not 100% believe in, compensated post or not.

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Good Morning French Toast Bake

Good Morning French Toast Bake

166Breakfast is my least favorite meal of the day, I know I know I’ve told you this a million times and you know all about my monogamous relationship with Overnight Oats…. But apparently other people need to eat in the morning! Can you believe it? The audacity! French toast is C’s favorite breakfast ever, but honestly the last thing I usually want to do in the morning is stand at a stove and cook. I do love me some Quiche, anything flavored, as long as there is cheese I love it. And it cooks itself in the oven, awesome! So I was thinking, why can’t French Toast cook itself too? So I searched on pinterest (duh) and found that lots of people make baked French Toast, score!! So I figured why not make my own? So I did.

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If you follow Burlap and Butter Knives on face book  there is no doubt you have seen LOTS of early morning French Toast pictures, I have become obsessed with this recipe!! My friend Jenn came up for the weekend a few weeks ago, there was kind of a blizzard and we wanted something warm and delicious for breakfast so I made this, and now she is hooked too!

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It really couldn’t be easier, and you make it the night before, so all you have to do in the morning is toss it in the oven! Ok, maybe not exactly toss, more like gently place. Trust me on this, you NEED this in your life!!!

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Soaked overnight and ready to be topped

 

Topping is on and it is ready for the oven!

Topping is on and it is ready for the oven!

Overnight French Toast Bake

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 Slices thick cut Challah  or French Toast bread, or any bread you have around, let it dry out for about a day or so before using.
  • Softened Butter for greasing the pan, about a tablespoon
  • 5 Large Eggs
  • 1 1/2 Cups Whole Milk, Heavy Cream or Half and Half. Honestly any dairy will do, the creamier the better, obviously.
  • 1/2 Cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/8 Teaspoon (A solid pinch) Nutmeg
  • 2 Tablespoons Vanilla
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt

Topping:

  • 6 Tablespoons Softened Butter (separate from the above Butter)
  • 1/2 Cup Packed Light Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoon Flour

Buttery Maple Syrup Pour Over

Directions:

  • Allow bread slices to dry out for a day or so. If you only have fresh bread and don’t want to let it dry out then just make this the morning of rather than night before.
  • Using the first softened butter schmear it all over the inside of a 13×9 baking dish.
  • Arrange bread slices in the pan, you want them to be a little snug, and touch but not be layered.
  •  Whisk  together the eggs, milk (or cream or half and half), brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and salt
  • Pour the egg mixture over the bread slices making sure all slices are well coated. If you need to help them out you can do so by flipping them over or using a spoon to spoon mixture over pieces that didn’t get any.
  • Cover with plastic wrap making sure the plastic wrap makes contact with the top of the wet slices of bread, you don’t want air bubbles, give a little push down just to solidify everything. And put it in the fridge overnight.
  • When you wake up, preheat your oven to 375, make some coffee while it heats up
  • Also while it is heating, make your topping, I usually toss all the ingredients in my food processor. If you don’t have one, a handheld pastry blender works just fine, and honestly in a pinch so do forks. Just mix it all together well and then sprinkle the toping evenly across the top of the French toasts. (make sure to take the plastic off first)
  • Bake for about 40 minutes, until all the bread is nice and puffy and the top is golden brown and bubbly.
  • While the French Toast is baking make your Buttery Maple Syrup. Just heat the butter and syrup together in a pan over low heat and whisk together. It doesn’t need to get too hot just melt together.
  • When the French toast is done remove it from the oven and IMMEDIATELY pour the syrup over the entire thing. (keeping it in the dish of course)
  • I usually let it sit about 5 minutes to soak in, and cool down enough to eat.
  • Dig in! Serves about 6, more or less depending on how much your clan eats.  (also it does reheat just fine in the microwave for the next morning’s breakfast or dessert at night with some vanilla ice cream)
Bananas Foster French Toast Bake

Bananas Foster French Toast Bake

Variations:

  • I’ve added sausage to the bottom of the pan under the bread, that was a hit
  • Bananas are great for a bananas foster version
  • Strawberries are also delicious
  • You can add some pumpkin to the egg mix for a pumpkin French Toast, that is AWESOME
  • You *could* layer the bread and fill the middle with cream cheese… it doesn’t come out as fluffy but it sure is delicious!!!
  • anything else your heart desires!
  • Whipped Cream is always good!

 

Fried Onion Dip, or French Onion Dip, whichever you prefer to call it.

Aside from all the current happenings, baby planning, planning that shot-gun wedding, work, home, my best friend from Florida coming up; Football Sunday still remains.  As such, this requires snack foods, duh.  My dear friend Jenny (you know her as mom of the amazing Andrew) started a cook along for a fantastic new cookbook, The New Midwestern Table by Amy Thielen and I decided why not cook along? I need to try some new recipes, so I jumped on the wagon and ordered the book. You can too here (no I don’t get any credit, it’s just an awesome book)

Picture from Amazon.com

Picture from Amazon.com

I had actually never heard of this book before Jenny posted about it on her blog. (I missed a post in Cookbook Junkies about it, I really need to check notifications more) Truth be told I don’t actually watch the food network… I know, crazy right?  A graduate (with honors) of the Culinary Institute of America, and I don’t watch the Food Network.  It’s just too, I don’t know, too “made for TV”, I miss the days of Sarah Moulton ,  Gale Gand and Julia; Gordon Elliott door knock dinners was the closest to reality cooking TV (or any reality TV) I am ever willing to get.  If there is a special or something that is sciecitific or if Ruhlman‘s fine self is going to be on and I have a heads up I MIGHT set the DVR.  I really don’t watch a lot of TV. For your own reading pleasure I will share with you the shows I DO watch. The Blacklist (hottest middle-aged bad guy with a heart of gold EVER!!!!) The Voice, because I remember Blake Shelton when he played the Dutchess County Fair and had long hair, and because I think Adam Levine is God’s gift to eyesight, even if he does need to eat a days worth of cheeseburgers, and because my friend Ron is his Vocal Coach, AND because he has an amazing voice and does things in concert to a microphone that are generally reserved for showtime afterhours.  Speaking of, I also love the show “Masters of Sex”, I watch it for the Pyrex sightings I swear 😉 I am obsessed with Homeland, LOVE that show, I got my 20-year-old sister addicted, I am quite proud of that. Also, I watch Revenge, simply because I started watching in the beginning and I want to see it through now.  I love Discovery Channel, History Channel, anything dorky or education and I am THERE!! I read a lot more than I watch TV, and I do house work more than both reading and TV combined!!!

Dip and Chips!

Dip and Chips!

Anyhow, so the first recipe for us to all cook is Fried Onion Dip, and it is amazeballs. No joke. Chris LOVED the Lipton dip, like wanted it for every football sunday, and I loathed making it because I knew it was loaded with junk, I just didn’t know how to do it myself.  Now I do, nuff said. It is super easy, and can be made ahead even. I didn’t change anything too much really. I am currently not drinking so I just used some wine Sav Blanc I had picked up for a friend that was already in the fridge.  I am so looking forward to cooking through this book. We are doing 2 recipes per month, how easy is that?  If I have time to do it, you do too! We have 207 people cooking their way along so far (how great is that?!), you can join us at https://www.facebook.com/groups/203576403150384/  !

Onions Browning

Onions Browning

Dip pre Chips

Dip pre Chips

For the Dip recipe, check it out here http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/amy-thielen/fried-onion-dip-recipe/index.html

Spaghetti Bread, the best thing to ever happen to leftovers!

Cheesy saucy goodness!

Cheesy saucy goodness!

I know what you are thinking…. “Jessica has lost her marbles!!” I promise you, the marbles are right here in my hand! I’m not crazy, but after you try this you will be forever wondering why no one thought of this sooner~~

 

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Super easy, spaghetti in the middle and slice!

Confession; I HATE leftover pasta! As in, I loathe even the smell of it. It’s rubbery texture, weird flavor, and dryness are like nails on a chalkboard to me. It’s just wrong on so many levels. And then Spaghetti bread happened and my life was changed forever.

 

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Braided and ready!

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Fresh from the oven!

 

It is quick, easy, and most of all delicious.  Plus of course it gives leftovers a complete makeover so you don’t feel like you are eating the same thing over and over again. (YUCK)

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Front View

Super simple, all you need is a half pound of leftover pasta with sauce on it, some mozzarella cheese and what ever add ins you want. I like meatballs, pepperoni, chicken cutlets, peppers, anything you want! Oh and of course grated cheese and garlic grinder or powder. Follow the directions below and you will be SET, not to mention being the hero of the household for at least a week!

Ingredients

  • 1 package pizza dough or bread dough from the grocery store
  • 1lb Mozzarella
  • 1/2 lb leftover spaghetti and sauce
  • any add ins you like. Meatballs, sausage, pepperoni, veggies, anything at all!
  • Olive Oil (a tablespoon or so)
  • Grated Parmesan
  • Garlic Powder or Grinder
  • Salt and Pepper

Instructions:

  • Preheat over to 375°
  • Roll out pizza crust or bread dough
  • Place the 1/2lb of sauced up leftovers in the center of the dough
  • Place your add ins evenly throughout the pasta
  • Cut slits in the dough about 1 inch wide up along the sides of the dough (see pictures) leaving the ends whole
  • Fold each end of dough over the pasta (see pictures)
  • Fold strips of dough tightly over the pasta in a criss cross fashion (this keeps the pasta super moist!) (see pictures)
  • when finished, brush the top of the loaf with olive oil
  • Then sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic and grated parmesan
  • Bake for about 45min to an hour or till golden and delicious!
  • IMPORTANT!!!! After removing from the oven let it sit and rest (and cool off) for at least 10 minutes!! Trust me, it’s worth the wait!
  • Enjoy!
Sriracha Potato Salad with Bacon and Scallions

Sriracha Potato Salad with Bacon and Scallions

I love Sriracha mayo for my fries, wouldn’t it be equally good as a potato salad? I have been wanting to make this salad for a while, I had never heard of such a thing but I figured it would have to be good.  So I started formulating this in my head, and finally brought it to fruition in bright reality and bold flavors.  One thing that always used to  bother me about potato salad is that it was  too much bland potato, big pieces of potato with only a small amount of dressing, it made no sense. Cutting the pieces smaller certainly would not  work, they would boil away to nothing; but slightly mashing them, now that would be perfect!  That is how I make all my potato salads now, and each time is perfection.  (except crack salad, I go traditional cuts for that because my friend Jenn would kill me if I changed her recipe)

Siracha Potato Salad with Bacon and Scallions

Sriracha Potato Salad with Bacon and Scallions

 

This is GOOD, real good. I tried making it two ways with the bacon, and without the bacon for my vegetarian friends, and  it was delicious both ways.  When making without the bacon I used an additional scallion.  Really, seriously either way, it’s amazing! And since it has bacon in it, that makes it acceptable for breakfast, right?  I kind of want to put a fried egg on top, am I crazy?

Seriously, this Potato Salad is good!

Seriously, this Potato Salad is good!

Potatoes before and after cooking

Potatoes before and after cooking

This will tantalize your taste buds in a way you never thought potato salad would. It has just the right amount of sriracha so that it won’t burn your mouth off or any other part of your body.  Although I wouldn’t recommend it for babies, it would be fine for adventurous teenagers.  😉

Scallions halved lengthwise, and bacon ready for a paper towel

Scallions halved lengthwise, and bacon ready for a paper towel

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 24oz (1lb  9oz) small red potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt (for the water)
  • 1/2 lb bacon
  • 8 oz mayo (about 1cup)
  • 3oz sour cream (about 1/4 of a cup)
  • 1/2 oz sriracha (a tablespoon or two)
  • 2 large scallions or 3 if omitting the bacon (If using medium scallions use 3, if small use 4)
  • A generous pinch of ground pepper

Method:

  • Make your bacon ahead of time (350 oven for about 20 minutes or till done, I like mine extra crispy) and drained on a paper towel (save the grease in a cup in the fridge of course)
  • Wash the potatoes and leave whole, if some  are strikingly bigger than the others, cut those in half so that they cook evenly
  • Place in a good size pot, add the 2 tablespoons salt and cover with about 4-5 inches of water
  • Cover the pan with a lid, turn on high, set the timer for 25minutes
  • The potatoes will come to a boil, let them cook at that covered boil till the timer rings. You may need to adjust the heat to medium/high depending on your stove.  Again just let them boil covered, no need to stir. I start the timer from when I turn the burner on, and this always works for me.  If you want to test for doneness, pierce a potato with a knife, if should slip off easily.
  • Drain the potatoes, place in a good strong bowl, and lightly mash with a potato masher, allow to cool a bit
  • In a separate bowl, weigh the mayo, sour cream and sriracha, add the pepper and whisk together
  • Half the scallions lengthwise down and finely chop
  • Crumble the bacon (maybe eat a piece or two, you know, for quality control)
  • Pour the sriracha mix over the potatoes (make sure to scrape the bowl with a good rubber scraper to get every morsel of deliciousness)
  • Toss in the scallions and bacon, and mix together using the rubber spatula and a folding motion
  • That is it, your done! Stick in a spoon in the amazing sriracha potato salad you just made, and eat up!
Ready to enjoy!

Ready to enjoy!

Classic Macaroni Salad, just like Grandma used to make!

Classic Macaroni Salad, just like Grandma used to make!

Classic Macaroni Salad

Classic Macaroni Salad

Sunday I had the pleasure of attending a Goddess Girl Event in High Falls, and wow, I am speechless, it was fantastic! Goddess Girl Events are an amazing day of pampering, luxury and bliss all put on by Tamme Stitt Photography; along with Christene Spiezio, LMTGina Truhe Make Up, and Hair by Adrienne Nixon, these women wow’d me big time!! I have never felt so beautiful and so pampered! Everyone needs to experience a day like that!

This is me! All done up and heading home :-)

This is me! All done up and heading home 🙂

After my morning of amazingness, I went home, aka back to reality.  Mister Chris had requested burgers and potatoes for dinner.  Honestly I wasn’t in the mood for potatoes; Margaritas on the beach sounded MUCH better. Le sigh, reality always wins.  But I still didn’t want potatoes. I scanned the kitchen, “what can I make, what can I make, what can I make…..”, and then it hit me, I haven’t made macaroni salad in FOREVER! It’s quick, easy, and I already had all the ingredients right there in my kitchen, and let’s be honest, nothing beats not having to go back out to the store!  I made it just like my Grandma used to make it, no deviations! I wanted to add some pickles but I decided to really keep it classic and use just the juice.  Give this a try when you need a quick side or a dish for a BBQ or picnic. It is a sure fire crowd pleaser!

In the making, not exactly picturesque.

In the making, not exactly picturesque.

Recipe:

  • 1/2lb Elbow Macaroni
  • 3 Hard Boiled Eggs (see here for how to make perfect hard-boiled eggs with no green ring)
  • 3/4 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 1/4 Cup Pickle Juice (I use bread and butter pickle juice and it is perfectly fine if some of the spices get in there)
  • 2/3 Cup Grated Carrots, packed well (or more or less to your liking)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Make your hard-boiled eggs.  If you use my method they will cool perfectly in time for the Macaroni.
  2. Boil the macaroni according to the instructions on the package, I cook mine for 9 minutes.  Make sure to salt the water well! Allow to cool in the colander.
  3. Put the macaroni in a medium-sized bowl, with plenty of room for mixing
  4. Add in your mayonnaise, and carrots
  5. Now cut your eggs DIRECTLY above the bowl, that way you can just open the cutter and the eggs fall in, and you won’t loose a single ounce of eggy goodness! I use the OXO egg slicer, it’s perfect, and I highly recommend it.
  6. Add a dash of salt and pepper, and mix it all to combine using a large rubber spatula. I find the large rubber spatulas work best. They don’t break up the noodles, but they DO  break down the yolks and really get them mixed in well with the mayonnaise, which is exactly what you want to happen.
  7. Adjust your salt and pepper accordingly and enjoy!
Just like Grandma used to make!

Just like Grandma used to make!

How to make roast beef, a simple, straightforward and easy method I guarantee to be delicious.

It started innocently enough, my love affair with beef.  As the tale goes, we were in a restaurant in Florida and as I (a teeny tiny adorable little Italian Irish Princess) grew hungry, I exclaimed “WHERE’S THE BEEF????”  Volia, history was made. Some of my earliest food memories are of my father making steaks; and while I love my steak memories, nothing quite warms my heart like the way Roast Beef does.  Its hearty goodness, bursting at the seams with flavor,  dripping with just the right amount of fatty goodness. Crisp on the outside and on the inside warm and soft with silky pink juices flowing freely with each slide of the knife.  Oh no, we aren’t discussing restaurant roast beef, making a juicy and flavorful roast beef at home is completely within your reach. My method is a 2 day process, but easy as peanut butter and jelly and well worth it the effort!! That being said, yes I realize some people buy their peanut butter and jelly premade, but that is a discussion for another day. Oy vey!

Perfectly cooked Roast Beef

Perfectly cooked Roast Beef

I prefer to use a rump roast, but you may many different cuts. A few I have found to be good are  top round (rump), bottom round (rump), eye round,  top sirloin (top butt roast  or center cut roast), Tri tip; or just ask your butcher what cuts they have available and would be good for roasting. Chances are you can find a very inexpensive cut that will be enough to feed your whole family.

Juicy and Rare

Juicy and Rare

 

Roast beef sliced, and with all the fixings!

Roast beef sliced, and with all the fixings!

Roast Beef Recipe

Day 1: Make your dry rub 

  • 2 tablespoons each garlic powder, onion powder, seasoned salt 
  • 1 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • Generous handful of brown mustard
  1. Combine all the dried spices together in a bowl and mix well to ensure they are evenly distributed.
  2. Coat the rmeat liberally with the mustard
  3. Taking the spices in your hand, sprinkle them, pour them, whatever works for you, to coat the roast COMPLETELY.  I am talking encased completely!  Use up all the dried spices and make sure every inch is covered.
  4. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap!
  5. Set in the fridge overnight, fat side down.
Whole and resting, then sliced and waiting

Whole and resting, then sliced and waiting

Day 2: Roast the beast

  1. About an hour before you plan to roast it, Take the roast out of the fridge, unwrap and place in the pan you intend to roast it in, fat side up.
  2. Preheat oven to 450°f, calculate your total cooking time, 20 minutes per pound for medium rare,  for a rare center, 15 minutes per pound.
  3. When the hour is up, put the roast on a center rack in the oven, and cook at 450°f  for  15 minutes
  4. Reduce heat to 350°f and continue to cook for the remaining length of time. (As an example, for a 4lb roast, I cook it 15 minutes at 450°f, and then 65 minutes at 350°f)
  5. Take out of the oven, place on a cutting board, slicing platter or large plate (where ever you intend to cut it)  and allow to rest for 20 minutes.  Just take it out, set it there, and walk away, don’t touch it!  I don’t use a meat thermometer, I use this method.  The roast pictured here in this post,  I cooked using the 15minute per pound guide, specifically because I wanted a very rare center, to be used another day for steak sandwiches.
  6. I cannot stress to you enough, the importance of letting meat rest after cooking. This is one of the first things we learned at the CIA, and I have remembered it always. It allows the meat to finish cooking, this is called “carryover cooking”, things like steak and roasts will rise in temperature another 5 degrees during this process!  It also allows the juices to redistribute evenly, allowing for a piece of meat that is juicy throughout, and also keeps more of the juices inside the meat once you cut it, and you want the juice!  Before I bore you anymore with the science of it all, just look at the pictures here at serious eats, if these pictures don’t convince you to put down the knife and wait, nothing will! 😉
  7. When the 20 minutes are up, slice that beast up and enjoy however you like your roast beef.  With gravy, potatoes, on a sandwich, rolled around asparagus, any way you want!
Roast Beef Deliciousness

Roast Beef Deliciousness