Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The View From my Park Bench

Hello again!  Wow...even I'm surprised at how long it's been, and I'm fully aware of the lengths my procrastination will go - I think I still have elementary report cards to sign and return and my baby just turned 26.  Stuff be happenin' tho - Son #1 and the lovely "Someday Daughter-in-Law" are now officially engaged...YESSSSS!!!  Now comes wedding prep and I"m sure she will turn into the T-Rex of Bridezillas...she just has that look about her and I just KNOW she's going to come up with some heinous dresses for her attendants, giant bows on the butt, possibly in Pepto Pink and topped off with a fruited hat of some sort.  It will look ridiculous on her maid of honor Daisy the cat, but she will wear it with tail held high because she's a class act.  Just not sure how they're going to get suspenders on best man George...he's not going to like wearing pants.  All kidding aside, we are thrilled and can't wait to see what they have in store for everyone...whatever it is it will be EPIC!!

Spent the summer chasing my tail at work, and cleaning up the woods after last year's drop em and leave em action....Handsome Stranger and I pinky swore that we will NEVER drop another tree without completely cleaning it up promptly thereafter.  It looked like the aftermath of a game of pick up sticks played by Paul Bunyan out there, but it is now mostly back in order save for the numerous piles of tree debris we are waiting for it to be wet enough to never catch on fire without copious amounts of gasoline.  Looks great and we have enough firewood neatly stacked to not pull out a chainsaw for another 5 years!

We ended our first and only week of vacation this summer with a lovely wine tasting at Ardiri Vineyards, which was catered by a local company of whose delicious work I have always admired - there we leftovers aplenty, and since I had committed MANY violations of the WW handbook in brewpub city Oregon, availed myself of a plateful of the roasted veggies and a few curried chicken skewers to take home for lunch the next day.  Once home, I thought how good they would be in a pasta salad, so I chopped them all up, added some rotini and a skosh of pine nuts and whipped up a very light dressing and blew my own mind - not only was it the best pasta salad I've ever had, it was also only 8 points plus for 2 cups of it!  I had such a nice lunch yesterday...sat on a park bench, took off my shoes and socks and rolled up my jeans and enjoyed all the flavors of summer - dropped a precious rotini and, if I could have found it, would have picked it up and eaten it...I think some hyper ants must have seen their chance and zipped off with it for an impromptu orgy of deliciousness.  Go ants!

So here is a somewhat laid back recipe for this wonderful dish - you can use whatever veggies you have on hand, I was sad that there were mushroom hogs at the party so I didn't have any of those in it, but you gotta go with what you got.  And when you eat it, you can take off your socks and shoes and roll up your pants...just not if you're at my son's wedding.

Tuscan Pasta Salad

Uhhhh...yeah.  Tuscan is just a hot button word that makes people think you're fancy and know something about Mediterranean food - in my mind it just means you watched that movie and got a little too much Tuscan Sun. Actually, it has pasta, vegetables, olive oil and balsamic, all of which are liberally used in Tuscany, so there.

2 C. uncooked rotini (or whatever pasta floats your boat)
6 chicken tenders or 1 chicken breast, fileted
Yellow curry (turmeric)
Olive oil or spray
Red bell pepper
Yellow squash
1 Cup grape tomatoes
12 teeny tiny squashes that look like flying saucers (Costco)
8 asparagus spears
1 T and 1 tsp. olive oil
1 T and 1 tsp. white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. honey mustard (any kind of mustard but yellow will do, just add a little sugar if it's not sweet)
2 pinches of sugar
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1/4 C. pine nuts

Cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water about 2 minutes past what the cooking time says (pasta for salad should not be al dente), immediately rinse with cold water until no longer warm, drain well and put in large bowl.  Sprinkle chicken with curry and a little salt, grill or broil until done, let cool and cut into bite size pieces and throw in the bowl.  Cut pepper, yellow squash and zucchini into strips, teeny squash into halves, spray or coat with olive oil and grill or broil until it starts to char a bit - remove from heat and splash with a bit of balsamic vinegar.  Cut into bite size pieces and toss in bowl.  Add dressing ingredients and toss until well coated, add pine nuts and you're good to go.  

You could add cheese if you like....I think feta would be nice in this, I just didn't have any, also black olives because I love them....pasta salad for me tends to be a way to use up little bits of leftovers, so whatever you have lurking in the fridge and you don't have to wrestle it into the bowl is good.  Now I need to get ready for the first real work day since I went on vacation - my email inbox is going to be more full of crap than this recipe, so I may have to go back to the park bench for lunch....if you see me chained to it with handcuffs, please do not try and find a key, I did it myself.