Friday, August 29, 2014

Weekend Kitchen: Summer Veggie Pasta with Feta & Herbs

Happy Friday, friends!  I am in complete denial that summer is winding down and that it is Labor Day Weekend.  I like fall, but I'm not ready for it yet!  This pasta recipe is the perfect way to savor the last bit of fresh produce from your garden or the farmers market.  I came up with this recipe a few weeks ago because I wanted to use up a zucchini and summer squash and I had a few tomatoes from my Mom's garden. I made it again the week after because I liked it so much. 
- 12 oz, pasta of your choice (I used whole grain elbows; bow ties or another bite-size pasta shape would be great as well)
- 2 TBS olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 small to medium zucchini, sliced and cut in to halves or quarters
- 1 medium summer squash, sliced and cut in to halves or quarters
- 3 medium homegrown tomatoes, sliced in wedges
- 3 TBS kalamata olives, sliced (omit if you don't like olives)
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta (or goat cheese, if you prefer)
- salt & pepper, to taste
- herbs for garnish; I used basil and flat leaf parsley
1.  Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add pasta and cook according to package directions or al dente.
2.  While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in sauté pan.  Add garlic and cook for a minute or two.  Add zucchini and summer squash and cook for 3-5 minutes over medium heat.  Do not cook too long or the veggies will become mushy (and nobody likes mushy zucchini!).  Season with salt & pepper.
3.  Add tomatoes and continue cooking.  Tomatoes will break down a bit and soften up.  Add olives and stir to combine all ingredients.
4.  When pasta is finished cooking, drain and add to sauté pan.  Keep heat on low and stir to combine all ingredients.  Remove from heat and dish out.  Top with crumbled cheese and herbs and drizzle with a small amount of olive oil, if desired.  Enjoy!

Now, go grab some veggies from your garden or the market, and make this delicious pasta!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Nautical Summer Party

{ This post was recently featured on the Tiny Prints Blog }

This was the first party at our new lake house, so I was thrilled when I discovered the 'Swell Times' invitation on the Tiny Prints site - it was the perfect fit for our theme! 
We ordered our invites and coordinating address labels and thank you cards (I love the anchors!) and got to work planning our party.
Our invitation was the first step in coming up with a theme and color scheme for the party.  My best tip for planning party decorations - pick a color, or a range of colors (in our case it was all shades of blue with a nautical theme) and go with it.  Start collecting accessories, table settings, and decorations in your selected color, and everything will look well pulled together. 
We kept the flowers simple - light blue hydrangeas, and put them all around the house.  The perfect summer flower to compliment our nautical theme.  By the way, did you know that Costco offers flowers in bulk online?  I ordered our flowers there and was pleasantly surprised - they were gorgeous and a great price as well!
I used glass vases and jars filled with sand, shells, and driftwood to compliment our beachy, nautical theme.
We decided to go with a Summer picnic theme for the food.  The menu:  pulled pork sandwiches, coleslaw, potato salad, pasta salad, potato chips, watermelon slices, potato chips, and caprese skewers.
Our simple dessert station:
One of my favorite spots to set up - the drink station!  More hydrangeas and lots of blue to fit with the theme.
I added a collection of nautical themed prints in our colors to add interest to the drink station.  I love how it looks and how simple it was to put together!
I printed out names of the drinks we served on my computer and placed them in small frames.  The Lake Michigan Spiked Lemonade was very popular - so popular that I never had a chance to photograph it!
We had a wonderful party! 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Weekend Kitchen: Mac & Cheese with Pesto, Corn, and Sun Dried Tomatoes

I'm a sucker for macaroni and cheese.  If I see it on a restaurant menu, you can be pretty sure that I am going to order it.   I've posted before about my all time favorite macaroni and cheese recipe.  It's hard to resist the combination of pasta and gobs of melted cheese - two of my very favorite things!  I came across this recipe on Pinterest and had to try it.
Recipe adapted from Foodie Crush.  Original recipe found HERE.

- 1 pound pasta, shells or similar
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups milk (I used skim)
- 1/3 cup prepared pesto (Or make your own)
- 4 oz. Fontina cheese
- 4 oz. extra sharp white cheddar
- 1/3 cup sundried tomatoes, slivered
- 1 cup sweet corn, cooked and cut from cob
- salt and pepper, to taste
- fresh basil, for garnish
- fresh flat leaf parsley, for garnish
1.  Bring a pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to package instructions.  Drain and set aside.
2.  Meanwhile, prepare sauce.  Over medium high heat, melt butter.  Add flour and use a whisk to incorporate.  Continue whisking, one minute longer.  Gradually add milk, stirring each time to incorporate.  Keep whisking until mixture is bubbly and has thickened.  Remove from heat.
3.  Stir in pesto until incorporated.  Next, add cheeses and stir until melted.  Add tomatoes and corn and stir.  Add pasta and stir until just coated in sauce.  Season with salt and pepper, if desired.  Dish out pasta and garnish with fresh herbs.  Serve immediately.  Enjoy!

I really liked this unique version of mac and cheese.  The recipe is a "keeper", for sure.  This version is particularly quick, because it's a stovetop mac and cheese - meaning you don't put it in the oven.  Do you have a favorite mac and cheese recipe?  I'm always looking for more versions to try!


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