Italian Pasta Salad

This is a great simple summer salad you won’t want to stop eating.  The Italian dressing is light on the vinegar and with the mix of Asiago cheese, roasted peppers and fresh basil take it to another level of yumminess!!!

Pasta-Salad

I was so excited for Easter this year.  Beto and Paloma came over and we went to our friends Alison and Anders for an egg hunt and potluck!  Paloma hung out with their kids Viola and Bjorn at our wedding.  They really like each other, and it was cute to see them hunting for eggs together.

Italian-Pasta-Salad

This is one of my favorite pasta salads and knew it would be perfect for this potluck, along with some wine of course.  It goes great with a Pinot Gris, white Rioja, a light Pinot Noir or Tempranillo.

Italian-Pasta-Salad-with-Asiago-Cheese

Recipe –  6 – 8 servings

  • 1 – 16 oz Package Pasta (Your Choice) 
  • 1 Container Cherry Tomatoes (About 2 Cups)
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper – roasted – diced
  • 1 Small Yellow Bell Pepper – roasted – diced
  • 1/4 Red Onion – minced
  • 1 Cup Asiago Cheese – finely shredded  (You can use Parmesan if you like it milder)
  • 1 Cup Fresh Basil – chiffonade
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • Sea Salt to taste
  • 1 Recipe Basic Italian Dressing

Instructions:

Start by cooking the pasta.

While pasta is cooking  roast the peppers.

When pasta is al dente put into a large bowl and let cool.

When pasta is cool add tomatoes and Basic Italian Dressing.

Mince the red onion, dice the peppers, grate the asiago add to bowl and stir well.

Lay the basil leaves on top of each other, roll them into a tight tube shape and slice thin into strips and add to bowl.  Stir well.

Italian-Pasta-Salad-w-Asiago-Cheese

Health benefits:

Bell Peppers are matured green bell peppers and have more nutrition as they mature.  They are super high in vitamin A which helps to support healthy eyesight, especially night vision and are extremely high in vitamin C, so much so they have twice as much as an orange which makes it really good for the skin.  Red peppers are one of the highest veggies in lycopene, and have been successfully tested in the prevention of many cancers.  They have a good source of the antioxidant mineral manganese and B-complex and vitamin E.  They help reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol, helps controls diabetes and helps reduce pain.  They are also a good source of fiber, folate, vitamin K, molybdenum and manganese.

Tomatoes are great for the heart due to the extreme antioxidant support, niacin, folate and vitamin B6 that help the reduction of heart disease.  They are also high in vitamins A, C, K and potassium.  The choline in tomatoes helps assist the absorption of fat and reduces chronic inflammation.  It also helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory.  Tomatoes are high in Lycopene the antioxidant that gives tomatoes their red color.  Cooking tomatoes breaks down the cell walls, which helps to release the lycopene and is better absorbed by the body with a little bit of fat like olive oil.  The Zea-xanthin in them helps filtering harmful ultra-violet rays, which protect eyes from “age-related macular disease.”  They are also a powerful blood purifier and great for skin and bone health.

Fresh Basil has anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.  The herb contains exceptionally high levels of beta-carotene and vitamin A and is rich in zea-xanthin an anti-oxidant that helps protect age-related macular disease.  It has a good amount of Iron and also helps to detoxify the liver.  It contains phytochemicals that may lower cortisol, a hormone secreted when you’re stressed that causes weight gain, so add some fresh basil to you water or tea.

Roasted Poblano Cilantro White Bean Soup

This is a very flavorful and comforting soup!  The roasted poblano peppers add such a depth of flavor, the jalapeño adds just a touch of heat and the roasted poblano cilantro salsa puts it over the top.  It is perfect with some blue corn chips or some crunchy crostinis.

Roasted-Poblano-White-Bean-Soup

This isn’t exactly a spring soup but it’s so dang good, I had to share it with you!  I have no problem eating soup year round no matter what the weather.

I made a pretty big batch of the Roasted Poblano Cilantro Salsa and I thought it would be perfect with white beans!  I absolutely love this soup!

Roasted-Poblano-Cilantro-White-Bean-Soup

It’s crazy planning a wedding and all the festivities that are involved.  You plan, plan, plan, and before you know it you are partaking in these plans and then it’s over.  It becomes a blur!  There were so many friends that I hadn’t seen in years, it was a bit overwhelming and it was hard to say goodbye!  Luckily Robby had four weeks off work to start our new life together as a married couple.  We are waiting to take a honeymoon but I am super excited because we are going to spend a few days on the Russian River.  My mom use to live in Sebastopol and she had a good friend that lived on the river.  I loved it there and I am very excited to go back after so many years.  Erin from The Forest Feast had posted about a trip to the Russian River and I thought I have to go back there.  She also talked about a restaurant she liked in Guerneville callled “Boon eat + drink” and she said the mac n cheese was really good.  We are definitely going to check it out because I am a mac n cheese freak!  I can’t wait!

_Poblano-Cilantro-White-Bean-Soup

This soup is perfect with a cold beer!  I also enjoy it with a glass of white Rioja or a Sauvignon Blanc.

_White-Bean-Soup

Recipe: 8 – 10 Servings

  • 12 Cups Filtered Water plus 2 Cups
  • 2 1/2 Cups Dried White Beans
  • 2 Garlic Cloves – whole or minced
  • 1 Recipe Roasted Poblano Cilantro Salsa
  • 2 Poblano Peppers – roasted
  • 1 Jalapeño or Serrano Pepper – minced
  • 2 Cups Shredded Jack Cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • 3 Tablespoons Brown Rice Flour (or regular all-purpose)
  • 1/4 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 2 Unsalted Vegetable Bouillon Cube
  • 2 Cups Milk – (I used 1 %)
  • 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon + 2 Teaspoons Sea Salt or to taste
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Black Pepper or to taste

Garnish options:

  • Diced roasted poblano
  • Blue corn chips

Instructions:

Sort through the beans to remove any rocks and rinse.  Add the beans to a 4 0r 5 1/2 quart pot, then add 12 cups of water and the garlic.  Bring to a boil, then turn to medium-high heat for about 1 to 1 and a 1/2 hours or until soft.

 Roast the all of the poblanos at the same time, 2 for the soup and 2 for the salsa.

Remove the stems and seeds from the poblanos, dice 2 poblanos into small cubes and set aside until the beans are cooked.

While beans are cooking, make the Roasted Poblano Cilantro Salsa.  Add the jalapeño or serrano pepper from the soup recipe to the salsa.  (this saves the step of mincing it).  Cut the stem off, and either cut into one inch pieces or slice in half to remove seeds. (most of the heat is in the seeds)

Shred the cheese and set aside.

When the beans are soft, add the extra 2 cups of water and turn down to a low heat and add the salsa, diced poblano, olive oil, salt and pepper.

 Melt the butter on medium heat in a sauce pan, then add the flour and stir for about a minute.  Add the wine and bouillon and stir together into a paste.  Slowly whisk in a little milk and mix in well.  Bring milk to a boil and turn heat to medium-low and slowly add the cheese a little at a time.  When completely melted add to the soup.

Cilantro-Roasted-Poblano-White-Bean-Soup

Health benefits:

White Beans are a super rich source of dietary fiber, which is good for the prevention of constipation, also helps digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis. They are great for heart health because of their significant amounts of folate (support of red blood cell formation, one cup of the cooked beans provides 63.7% of the recommended daily intake for folate) and magnesium (lowers blood pressure).  They are good for helping insulin resistance, hypoglycemia or diabetes, and help you balance blood sugar levels while providing steady energy.

Poblano Peppers are extremely high in vitamin C; just one pepper has 95% of your daily value. They are great for your immune system; poblanos help reduce inflammation like in arthritis and asthma. They contain lycopene (a powerful antioxidant, giving many fruits and vegetables their color, especially tomatoes), which is great for the prevention of cancers in the bladder, prostate, cervix and pancreas. They are also helpful with increasing oxygen so the body can burn more calories 20 minutes after eating peppers.

Strawberry Thyme Mimosa

It is becoming the season for “Brunches”!  Soon Easter will be here and after that Mother’s Day, which is definitely an earned day for cocktails (for those of you mothers, you know). In leu of this, I deemed it appropriate to concoct a celebratory libation for the occasions, a fresh fruity herbal Mimosa that even the guys will love!

StrawberryThyme2

Fresh Ingredients are always the best.

StrawberryThyme1

Recipe: Makes 1 Cocktail

  • 1 oz. Hendricks Gin
  • 3 Fresh Strawberries – sliced
  • 1/2 oz Thyme Simple Syrup
  • 2-3 oz Sparkling Wine or Champagne

* Recipe for the Thyme Simple Syrup

Profile: Original/Fruity, Herbal

Glass: Coupe

Garnish: Fresh Thyme Sprig

Instructions:

 

Muddle fresh strawberries with the Thyme Simple Syrup & the gin then add ice, shake and strain through a fine mesh strainer  into a Champagne glass filling the glass half way.

Top with your favorite sparkling wine or Champagne.

Garnish with a thyme sprig or even a strawberry if you wish. I happen to love the smell of the thyme as I am sipping the cocktail.

StrawberryThyme

Roasted Poblano Cilantro Salsa

This salsa is a wonderful alternative to your classic tomato salsa.  There is something great that happens when you combine roasted poblano with cilantro.
This salsa is great on tortilla chips, or on top of any Mexican dish and I even love it on buttered toast!  Mexican spreads are my favorite for entertaining guests, because you can prepare everything in advance.  So when your guests arrive, you can hang out with them instead of slaving away in the kitchen!
 My spread typically consists of a big pot of black beans, refried beans, guacamole, pico de gallo, fire roasted salsa, this salsa, chopped lettuce, diced tomatoes, diced roasted poblanos, shredded cheese, corn tortillas, flour tortillas, some beer and Ang’s “Classic Lime Margarita“!

Recipe: Approx. 1 1/4 Cups

  • 2 Poblano Peppers – roasted
  • 1/2 White Onion
  • 1 – 2 Jalapeño or Serrano Peppers
  • 1 1/2 Cup Cilantro
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 Tablespoon  Lime Juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt or to taste

Instructions: 

First Roast the poblanos.

Cut the onion in half and add it to a pot of water and bring to a boil, then drain and add to the food processor.

Cut off the stems and remove the seeds from the poblanos, jalapeno or serrano peppers and add them to the food processor.

Measure lime juice, olive oil, cilantro, sea salt, and garlic, then put everything in the food processor and blend until desired texture.

Cilantro-Roasted-Poblano-Salsa

Health Benefits:

Poblano Peppers are extremely high in vitamin C;  just one pepper has 95% of your daily value. They are great for your immune system; poblanos help reduce inflammation like in arthritis and asthma. They contain lycopene (a powerful antioxidant, giving many fruits and vegetables their color, especially tomatoes), which is great for the prevention of cancers in the bladder, prostate, cervix and pancreas. They are also helpful with increasing oxygen so the body can burn more calories 20 minutes after eating peppers.

Cilantro is an immune-booster that helps detoxify the body by loosening them from the tissue, binding to and pulling out toxins and heavy metals.  It helps promote a healthy liver function and is an overall digestive aid.  It is a powerful anti-inflammatory that may help symptoms of arthritis and joint pain. It also helps with insulin secretion and lowers blood sugar. It is rich in antioxidants, essential oils, vitamins (one of the richest herbal sources for vitamin K), and dietary fiber.

Radish Salad with Lemon Thyme Pesto Vinaigrette

I made this salad with spring in mind!  Spring is a rebirth, a renewal as well as a transformation.  Spring is the start of the new and letting go of the old.  Spring is love, hope and growth!  It is the birds singing, frogs croaking and flowers opening!

This is a crisp salad with a bit of saltiness from the Pecorino combined with lemony bright flavors from the vinaigrette.  The crunchy vibrant pink and green watermelon radishes make this a beautiful spring salad.

Radish-Salad-w-Lemon-Thyme-Vinaigrette

This has been a fun-filled last couple of weeks!  We got MARRIED!!!

It is pretty amazing to have all your closest friends in one place!  Ang and the boys arrived first and we had a great night of chatting on the deck drinking wine!  Maggie, Christine, Jonnie and George showed up Sunday afternoon.  They rented a house one house away from us, how cool is that?!  Monday we had a great girls night out with much laughter and catching up.  We met for cocktails and watched the sun set at the Crows Nest.  Then we headed to The West End Tap and Kitchen for a fantastic dinner as usual!  Tuesday night my mom, dad, step mom, and my friends who came from afar.  We all met for dinner at a new restaurant called The Hideout.  We ate outside on their great deck and had a wonderful time.

Radish-Salad-with-Lemon-Thyme-Vinaigrette

Wednesday was all about getting ready for the big day.  I feel so lucky, Angela did my hair and it was more beautiful than I ever imagined it could be.  My dad walked me down the flower lined aisle that my friends Maggie and Christine made with the succulent flowers that grow on the beach.  My mom married us with the most amazing vows she wrote and my friend Tanya took our photos!  After, we walked up the stairs from the beach and the shuttle busses were waiting to drive us to the Wrights Station Winery.  We basically drank great wine and ate the night away!  The best part was the incredible cake my friend Jill made us.  It was the prettiest and best tasting cake I have ever had!  A Spanish almond cake with a rosemary mascarpone frosting.  I feel so blessed to have had my friends and family involved in our wedding the way they were.  It made it much more special!

Radish-Salad-w-Lemon-Thyme

Recipe: Everything is to taste

  • Lemon Thyme Pesto Vinaigrette
  • Watermelon Radish – thinly sliced – to taste (about a half per person)
  • Pink or Red Radish – thinly sliced – to taste (about 2 per person)
  • French Breakfast Radish – thinly sliced – to taste (about 2 per person)
  • Radish Micro Sprouts  – to taste
  • Pecorino Cheese – shaved – to taste
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil – for drizzling

Instructions:

Make the vinaigrette and set aside.

Thinly slice the radishes with a sharp knife or a mandoline.

Arrange the radishes on a plate, top with sprouts and shaved cheese.

Drizzle with the vinaigrette and olive oil.

Radish-Salad

Health benefits:

Radishes help eliminate excess mucus in the body and are great for respiratory disorders, bronchitis and asthma. They are cleansing for the digestive system helping to break down and eliminate stagnant food and toxins that have built up over time as well as eliminate cancer-causing free radicals in the body. They are very high in vitamin C, which improves your immune system.  They have a low glycemic index and helps to regulate the absorption of sugars into the bloodstream, which is great for diabetics. Radishes water content keep your body and skin keep hydrated and with their high fiber content they increase regular bowel movements, relieve bloating and help indigestion. They are a powerful detoxifier of the liver and stomach. They are also great for reducing blood pressure with the high potassium content.

Lemon Thyme has anti-aging properties and boosts the immune system. It helps fight asthma, promotes relaxation and helps digestion. Lemon thyme is high in iron and an excellent source of vitamin C.