#52NewEats :: Week 19 :: French Onion Zoodle Bake

French Onion Zoodle Bake

This dish popped my zoodle cherry. I have been wanting to try zoodles for a while now, but I hadn’t quite found the right recipe until I found this one. I love alfredo sauce too much to cover zoodles with it. I might try a Bolognese sauce on zoodles, but for this month, we need to go meatless because it’s Vegetarian May!

I actually really, REALLY enjoyed this dish. Between my husband and I, we just about finished the whole thing ourselves. I might make a batch and a half next time! The fontina cheese on top makes it so scrumptious. The flavor in this dish was very good and spot-on with a French onion soup. I found myself wanting something crunchy on top – so I think the next time I make this, I will add some of those French’s fried onion strings. 

We liked this dish so much that it is on the menu for Vegetarian May, but I will be subbing out the beef stock for either vegetable stock or mushroom stock (which I have seen at Whole Foods). I hate mushrooms, but I am thinking the stock will give this dish the beefy flavor it needs to fulfill that French onion craving. I will also top with fried onions of some kind for a little crunch. 

You can find the original recipe //here//.

French Onion Zoodle Bake
Serves 2-3 hungry folks as an entree; 4 as a side

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups zucchini noodles
1 small yellow onion, sliced thinly
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup beef broth
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 cup fontina cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a skillet preheated to medium heat, melt butter. Place onion into skillet and cook for a few minutes. Add salt, pepper, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and thyme. Stir and cook for another couple of minutes. Add beef broth and cook until onions are golden brown, about 12 minutes. Make sure to stir occasionally to keep the onions from burning.

3. Next, spray an 5 X 8 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl combine zucchini noodles and French onion mixture. Pour the French onion zoodle mixture into the dish and garnish top with fontina cheese. Place in the oven and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. If the cheese does not brown in the oven, pop it under the broiler for a few minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly before serving. Garnish with fresh thyme if desired. Also, there is a probability that liquid from the zucchini will appear. If so, just drain it off carefully with a spoon before serving. Enjoy!

#52NewEats :: Week 15 :: Million Dollar Mac and Cheese

Million Dollar Mac and Cheese

It should come as no surprise to any of you that I’ve been a huge fan of Grilled Cheese Social since the day I found her many years ago.  She is known for coming up with some of the most epic grilled cheese combinations.  I actually haven’t tried too many of her recipes, because they can feature some wild ingredients I’m not a fan of, or cheeses I just can’t find without taking a hike to Reading Terminal Market (which is harder now that I live so far out of the city).  BUT, I recently saw her recipe for Million Dollar Mac and Cheese on Facebook, and it shot straight to the top of my To Do list!

This recipe features several easily-attainable cheeses, and duh, burrata?!  In mac and cheese?!  I never would have thought.  I mean burrata kind of christens everything it touches with its lusciousness, so why not mac and cheese?!

I really loved this mac and cheese, and so did everyone I made it for.  Check out that cheese pull though.  👆👆👆  Who can’t get behind that?!

This recipe was such a hit that I’ll be making it for more of my family at Easter tomorrow.  It will probably be one of the only things I eat bc ew ham.

You should make this recipe too.  You should also go follow GCS on all the social media sites.  She is always posting delectable food pictures on Instagram, and she has recently started doing live videos on Facebook.  She’s adorable, and she makes hella slutty food.  What’s not to like?

You can find the original recipe //here//.  I wouldn’t change a damn thing!  Those toasted herb breadcrumbs are ABSOLUTELY worth the minimal extra effort of chopping the herbs – they completely made this dish!  In fact – I might even double that part of the recipe for tomorrow!

Million Dollar Mac and Cheese

Ingredients
For the mac and cheese:
1 lb rotini or fusilli
2 tbsp salted butter
2 tbsp shallots, chopped
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbsp all purpose flour
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup gruyere, shredded
1 cup muenster, shredded
1/2 cup burrata (about 1 large ball or two small ones)
1/2 cup cheddar, shredded
1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese
1 tsp hot sauce
salt

For the toasted herb breadcrumbs:
1 tbsp salted butter
1 tsp sage, chopped
1/2 tsp rosemary, finely chopped
1/2 tsp thyme leaves, stem removed
1/3 cup panko

Directions
For the mac and cheese:
1. Prepare pasta according to the directions and strain once it’s al dente.

2. In a large pot, add butter, chopped shallots, a pinch of salt and red pepper flakes and cook over medium heat for a few minutes until the shallots start to soften. Right before they begin to caramelize, add flour and whisk constantly until a roux forms. After a few minutes, the roux will start to darken and the taste of the flour will have cooked out. At this point, add heavy cream and whisk. Let the heavy cream cook for 5-10 minutes or until it begins to reduce and thicken. Add the muenster and whisk in a figure 8 motion. Then add the gruyere and keep stirring with the whisk until all the cheese has melted. Cut the burrata in half and add to the cheese sauce. Stir until melted and combined. Last, add the hot sauce and the ricotta. Salt to taste and remove from heat.

3. Turn your broiler to high. Meanwhile, add the pasta to a serving bowl and mix in the cheese sauce, little by little until the desired creaminess is reached. Top the dish with grated cheddar and place under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese has crisped up and is golden orange.

For the toasted herb breadcrumbs:
Melt butter in a small pan over medium-high heat and add chopped sage, thyme and rosemary. Cook for a few minutes until the herbs have softened and the smell is irresistible. Add in the panko and continuously stir until it is golden brown and toasty. Keep an eye on this, I almost burned mine! Sprinkle toasted herb bread crumbs over broiled mac n cheese and serve!

#52NewEats :: Week 15 :: Buttermilk Cornbread

Buttermilk Cornbread

Holy cow!

Let me just start by saying that I don’t think I can say enough good things about this cornbread.  This buttermilk cornbread was absolutely amazing.  I love cornbread but I don’t often make it at home because it can be dry, crumbly, and just kind of generally unsatisfying.  BUT NO MORE!

This recipe was very easy to make, as it all came together in my stand mixer.  👍👍  I have to admit, though, as I poured the mixture into the baking pan, I couldn’t really see how it would come together in the oven and be a good cornbread.  The mixture seemed way too thin and much less like the batter I imagined.  But maybe that’s the very thing that sets it apart!!  This cornbread was moist, not crumbly at all, and held its shape very well.  We ate it warm right out of the oven topped with melted butter and I could have turned the whole darn thing into a meal right there.  This is a great way to use up that buttermilk you bought just for a few tablespoons for a salad dressing you were making, and now have almost a whole container of it left… 😉

I am already thinking of different ways to jazz up and use this cornbread – adding jalapenos and cheese, adding poblanos and fresh corn…

For now though, please go make this cornbread, because it was so frickin’ good!

You can find the original recipe //here//.

Buttermilk Cornbread

Ingredients
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, somewhere between cold and room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 large eggs
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup full-fat buttermilk (I used low-fat as it was all I could find, and it turned out fine)
1/2 cup mild olive oil (I used ‘extra light olive oil’)
2 tablespoons honey

Directions
1. Preheat your oven to 350°F and line an 8-by-8-inch metal pan with parchment paper.

2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and salt on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Incorporate the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl well.

3. Pause the machine and add the cornmeal, all-purpose flour, and baking powder. With the mixer on low speed, mix until incorporated. Then pour in the milk, buttermilk, oil, and honey and mix just until combined. This should yield a very loose, runny batter. (Small lumps of butter are no problem, but avoid any lumps of flour. If you see them, mix the batter just a little longer or work them out with your fingertips or the tines of a fork.)

4. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. You’re going to want to start checking the cornbread after 30 minutes, and if the surface turns perfectly golden brown before the time is up, loosely cover the pan with aluminum foil. Let the cornbread cool ever so slightly in the pan on a wire rack prior to slicing. This buttermilk cornbread is best served the day it’s made but keeps for up to 2 days if wrapped well.

Balsamic Potatoes

Balsamic Potatoes

I’m sure this sounds kind of strange to you, right?  Balsamic potatoes?  But I assure you – they are so good.  I haven’t made these in years, and when I thought about them recently and how I should make them for the blog, my mouth immediately started watering.

But!  I warn, they are not healthy.  I mean there’s a whole stick of butter in them (if you so choose, and I do so choose).

I discovered this recipe many years ago while paging through some foodie magazine.  There were many things I changed about the recipe to fit my liking – I think enough that I can say I made this a little bit my own.

These are a great side dish for anything – or you could probably even just eat them as they are.  I won’t judge.  😊

Balsamic Potatoes
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 1/2 lbs small red potatoes, washed and scrubbed
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
5-8 tablespoons of butter, cut into tablespoon-sized chunks
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Directions
1. Pour vinegar into a small saucepan and add shallots. Heat over medium-high heat until boiling, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes, until the balsamic vinegar has reduced and thickened a little bit. Remove from heat. Whisk in the thyme, and some salt and pepper. Add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking to combine. At 5 tablespoons, taste the sauce. If it’s too balsamic-y for you, add more butter until your desired tastes are reached. I typically use a whole stick. 🙊 When finished, set onto a back burner of the stove to keep somewhat warm, but don’t turn the heat on.

2. Boil the potatoes whole, about 20-25 minutes, until done. I usually test by piercing one with a fork or knife – if it slips off easily, they are done. Drain. After the potatoes have finished draining, use tongs to pick them out of the colander and cut them into wedges. (You don’t want to boil them as wedges because they will become too waterlogged for the balsamic sauce.) Put them back into the pot you drained them from.

3. Once all the potatoes are cut into wedges, pour the balsamic sauce over top. Stir together gently to coat the potatoes with the balsamic sauce. Sprinkle with parsley and stir again, and sprinkle with another little bit just before serving. Enjoy!!

THANKSGIVING !! Parmesan Smashed Potatoes

I may lose my foodie card today, because I have to tell you that there is one food I have yet to master on a consistent basis – and that is mashed potatoes.

Most of the time when I make mashed potatoes, they are just ok.  They aren’t terrible, but they don’t knock your socks off either.  Sometimes I make mashed potatoes and they are pretty damn good.  But for whatever reason, no matter how hard I try, I can never quite duplicate those results.  Mashed potatoes are my forever work in progress.  But there IS one potato dish that I can make consistently well, no matter what, and that’s these Parmesan smashed potatoes.

I don’t even remember where this recipe came from, but every single time I make it, they come out perfectly.  And since we are calling them “smashed”, I don’t have to worry about that perfect, chunkless, silky-smooth consistency that characterizes mashed potatoes.  Nope.  Chunks are okay in smashed potatoes.  Totes ok.

But I must share a little tip with you that I learned the hard way…. DO NOT USE A HAND MIXER TO MAKE THESE.

Why?  Well for one, you’re not making mashed potatoes, remember – you’re making smashed potatoes.  So you must smash them.  With a potato smasher.  A hand-held (s)masher like this one.  No hand-mixers.  Nothing that you’re plugging into the wall.  You’re doing this by hand.  It’ll be your arm workout for the day.  You get to eat an extra helping of them because you’ll be in such a carb deficit after smashing these by hand.

Ok you get it right?  No hand-mixers.  Oh and why #2 is because you are never ever ever EVER supposed to use hand-mixers on red potatoes.  I can’t explain it scientifically but I can say from experience that a hand-mixer will ruin red potatoes.  If you feel like eating potatoes of a matte, soupy, gluey, porridge-like consistency, then have at it, but I highly recommend against it.  It’s pretty gross.  Scientifically, it has something to do with the wax content or something.  Idk.  I don’t care.  Google it if you care.  But you shouldn’t, because all you have to do is not use a hand-mixer and you’ll have good potatoes, which is what you really care about right now.  Get it?  Got it?  Good.

If you follow the directions and proportions exactly, these potatoes will turn out creamy, dreamy, silky, sweet, and delicious.  Good luck friends!

Parmesan Smashed Potatoes

Ingredients
3 lbs red potatoes, scrubbed, peeled, and cubed
Salt and pepper to taste
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
1 to 1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Directions
1. Boil potatoes until tender and drain. I know this is a generic direction, but I have found over the years that I can never nail down a time limit for boiling potatoes. I rely on the fork test for doneness – draw a large chunk of potato out of the water with a large spoon, and stab the potato in the center with a fork, and lift it off the spoon. If the potato slides off the fork easily, they are done. If the potato sticks to the fork, it needs more time. Just babysit them, or rely on someone else’s directions for how long to boil potatoes. I can’t tell you how many recipes I see “boil 10-12 minutes and drain”, and there are times when 10 minutes is too long and there are times when 12 minutes is not enough. Thus, I rely on the fork test. Ok end rant and sorry.

2. While the potatoes are boiling, combine butter and milk in a small saucepan or skillet over low heat until butter melts. Return potatoes to the pot, then pour in half of the butter/milk mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Smash with a hand masher. If needed, add the rest of the butter/milk mixture to get the potatoes moist enough, and mash again. Taste for seasonings, and season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Mash until you’ve reached your desired consistency (more chunks or less chunks, up to you).

3. Add sour cream and Parmesan cheese. Fold in with a spatula, or use your masher to mix them in well. Taste for seasonings and add additional salt and pepper if desired. Keep warm over low heat until ready to serve.

THANKSGIVING !! Cranberry Orange Relish

It is finally here – it is finally upon us – one of my most favorite food holidays of the year! – THANKSGIVING.

Thanksgiving wasn’t always one of my favorite food holidays of the year.  There was a time once when I couldn’t have cared less about turkey, it was really just another day off where I got to sleep in and drive all over southeastern PA to spend portions of my day with different family members.  Which sounds like hell when I think about it now.  But then I started making a big Thanksgiving dinner myself, and I started to really love it.

If you’ve never cooked a Thanksgiving feast before, it can be pretty damn intimidating.  THERE IS SO MUCH TO DO.  I’ll admit, I’ve got a system down that I’ve developed over the years, and it typically ends up being a nice leisurely day until about an hour before we eat and I’m rushing around like a madwoman, cursing my small kitchen, wondering how I ever thought I could get it all on the table warm at the same time, ticked that I didn’t splurge for double ovens when I remodeled my kitchen 9 years ago (double ovens which will almost certainly be a must-have in my new house next year).  But nonetheless – every year there is that mad rush right before eating, and every year it turns out good and delicious.

I realize now I’ve made it sound bad but I promise it’s not.  It’s not that bad.  I’m just being dramatic.  I’m sure it’s even less bad if you have a kitchen bigger than my wingspan.

So let’s start with some easy stuff first.  Cranberry orange relish.  Why oh why would you buy that cranberry jell-o instead of making this?  This takes almost no effort at all.  All you need is a blender!

I’ll admit I’m not a fan of cranberry sauce, but I find this tasty; and those that DO like cranberry sauce find this stuff excellent.  I’m relying on their authority here.

My husband’s mother used to make something like this every year before she passed away, and when I discovered this recipe and made it for the first time, he was so excited that I was able to find something like what she made.  I make it every year and serve it in one of her crystal bowls.

The absolute best thing about this stuff is you can make it up to a day in advance.  Just blend it up and pour it into a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Cross this off your to-do list early, and you will feel more accomplished heading into the Main Event.  Stay tuned for more recipes and advice over the next couple of weeks to help you plan your big feast!!

Cranberry Orange Relish

Ingredients
12oz bag fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 whole orange, cut into small wedges (peel included)
1/4 cup orange liqueur, like Grand Marnier

Directions
Pour half of the cranberries, half of the sugar, and half of the orange into the blender, and bland until combined well. Add in the rest of the cranberries, sugar, and orange, and blend until combined well. You are looking for a thick-ish consistency, like salsa. You may need to stop the blender and push the contents down several times before it takes and starts getting smooth. Add liqueur and blend one last time to combine. Pour into a serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for several hours or overnight before serving.

Macaroni and Cheese

So like.  I just want to know when the heck I turned 35.  When did this happen, and why do I not feel 35?  I don’t believe that I’m 35.  No, not me.  I’m 26.  At heart.

It’s a funny thing to come to terms with your age.  Before long I’ll be 40.  I remember being in my mid-twenties and dreading turning 30.  It was like 30 was the Gateway to Geezerdom.  And then I turned 30 and I was eh this ain’t so bad.  Forty was barely on the horizon.  But now I’m 35.  And 40 looms.  Oh, how it looms.  Now I know plenty of people who are 40 or over, and they don’t look/act/seem like they are 40.  So I think there is hope for me yet.  But like – what is no longer acceptable once I reach 40?  These things I don’t know.  Can I still go out day drinking with my husband or my girlfriends without looking like an old-head?  Can I still get VIP tickets to Copeland concerts without looking like my sister’s mom?  Will I even care about those things anymore at 40?  Hell.

You know how when you’re young, like a kid, and you picture 30-year-olds as these big fancy adults with briefcases and skirt suits and pumps?  No?  Was that just me?  I guess I just always thought I was destined for that.  And well here I am.  There are days I wear yoga pants to work (shhh).  And leggings.  And I hate pumps.  And I’ve never even priced out a briefcase.  I carry a backpack.  And I curse a lot.  I wear sneakers and hoodies on the weekends.  I don’t hardly ever wear makeup.  I still listen to Wu-Tang.  I drive a black Charger.

I am nothing like I thought I was supposed to be at 30+.  But.  I do go to bed at like 8-9pm most nights.  I don’t have the energy to chase my kid around the playground.  I get so excited about grocery shopping and menu planning.  Cuz I’m domestic AF.

I like my version of 30+ more.  But still.  Forty looms.

Anyway.  You know what makes me forget all about my age?  Slutty food.  So here I am, friends.  And what is more slutty than a warm, cozy, creamy, delicious bowl of homemade macaroni and cheese?

Everyone loves homemade macaroni and cheese.  And I am particularly proud of this recipe because I worked on it for a long time before I achieved that creamy, gooey, cheesey perfection.

There used to be a restaurant by my parents’ house called Tomatoes.  I actually worked there as a busser when I was a teenager, and it was a good neighborhood favorite.  We went one time for dinner in the winter and they had a five cheese mac and cheese on their specials menu.  My mom and I both ordered it and ogled over how creamy it was.  We asked the waitress to ask the chef if we could have the recipe – and of course he said no, but he DID tell us what cheeses he used in his recipe.  #score

I immediately went home and began googling homemade mac and cheese recipes that used the cheeses he mentioned in his recipe.  I found one that was really close, and I just subbed out some of the cheese that were in that recipe for ones the chef said he used.  After several attempts to adjust quantities, I finally got that perfectly creamy mac and cheese – even after it was baked.  Lots of mac and cheese dishes dry out or separate while baking – but this cheese sauce stays creamy through the baking process.

In fact, you could eat this mac and cheese as a stovetop version if you didn’t feel like baking it, too.  I may or may not have done that while “tasting” “for seasoning” “just to make sure” “it doesn’t need anymore salt or pepper” “I swear”.

Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 4 (main course) or 6 (side dish)

Ingredients
2 cups dry macaroni
1/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk, warmed for 2 minutes in the microwave and set aside
1 8oz package cream cheese, softened to room temperature
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups freshly shredded cheddar cheese (sharp, medium, or mild all work well)
1 1/2 cups freshly shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2oz Velveeta, cubed
1/2 – 1 cup dry Italian bread crumbs
2 tablespoons melted butter

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Cook macaroni according to package directions and drain. Return drained macaroni to the pan you cooked it in.

2. In a medium saucepan, melt 1/4 cup butter over medium heat and whisk in flour to make a roux. Let the flour-butter mixture bubble a little bit while you whisk, about 1 minute. Add warm milk and whisk until combined. Continue to whisk until you feel it thicken. (The warm milk will make this process faster – if you use cold milk, it will take a little bit for it to thicken.) Add cream cheese, salt, and pepper. Continue cooking and whisking until cream cheese has melted completely. Add shredded cheeses and Velveeta, a little at a time, whisking to incorporate and melt.

3. Pour the cheese sauce over the cooked macaroni, and stir to combine. “Taste for seasoning” at this point. At this point, you can also serve it as a stove-top macaroni and cheese (just make sure you turn your oven off). But if you prefer to bake it: pour the macaroni and cheese into a greased 11×7 casserole dish. In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons melted butter and enough breadcrumbs that when stirred, the mixture looks like wet sand. (This usually ends up being about 3/4 cup for me, but it depends on the brand of bread crumbs I use.) Pour the buttered breadcrumbs over the top of the macaroni and cheese and bake, uncovered, on a middle rack for 15-20 minutes. When it’s done, the breadcrumbs will be browned and the cheese will be bubbly along the edges of the casserole dish. If the breadcrumbs brown too quickly (before the cheese gets bubbly), cover with foil for the remainder of the cooking time.

Balsamic Garlic Bread

Y’all know who Tyler Florence is, right?  I mean really, who doesn’t.  😍  He makes some pretty amazing food.  I have a bunch of his cookbooks, and in one of those cookbooks he posted a recipe for the ultimate garlic bread.  I tried it a few times and tweaked it a little bit, and I loved it so much that the next time I went to my mom’s for dinner, I had to make it for her.

So I’m in her kitchen stirring together the butter mixture for the garlic bread.  And I was gabbing away about something or other and was totally distracted.  And not even thinking, I picked up a bottle of balsamic vinegar?  Cuz I guess I had it on my mind?  And I started to pour it into the butter mixture?  Idk.  I poured long enough to say OOPS! and stop pouring.  Like crap.  WTF was I doing??  So I stopped talking and my mom and I looked at each other, and I said “Shit.  I ruined the butter mixture!”  And she said “No you didn’t.  Balsamic vinegar doesn’t ruin anything.”  And I realized she was probably right.  So I stirred that balsamic vinegar into the butter mixture real well, and then I spread it on the bread and baked it as directed.

And what came out of the oven 20 minutes later was the tastiest kitchen mistake I have ever made in my life.  I mean why hadn’t some amazing Italian chef thought of this before I made this mistake?!  It is so tasty and yummy.  The balsamic lends a nice, unexpected flavor to the garlic bread, and you will be surprised at how it works.  Or maybe you won’t be surprised because balsamic and bread go waaaay back in the club of Best Pairings Ever.  But I love this garlic bread and so will you.

Balsamic Garlic Bread

Ingredients
1 loaf ciabatta, focaccia, baguette, or French bread, sliced in half lengthwise
1 stick butter, softened to room temperature
3 cloves of garlic, grated on a grater, or minced and mashed into a paste with salt
Minced parsley
Minced basil
Salt and pepper
1-2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese (optional)
1 “oops” pour of balsamic vinegar

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Stir butter, garlic, parsley, basil, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese together in a small bowl. Add one “oops” pour of balsamic vinegar – literally, pour it and say OOPS! and then stop. Stir well to combine. It will look at first like it might not come together, but keep stirring.

2. Spread half the butter mixture on one half of the loaf of bread. Spread the other half of the butter mixture on the other half of the loaf of bread. Wrap in foil. Bake for 15 minutes. Cut into slices and enjoy!

MEMORIAL DAY !! Macaroni Pepperoni Salad

Hey guys!

Long time no talk.  I know.  I’m sorry.  My bad.  My job is extremely demanding and it’s been completely wiping me out lately.  Like, going-to-bed-at-8pm wiped out.  It’s a busy life.  I wish that all I had to do in life was cook and eat and blog about it.  And be a mom.  And a wife.  And stuff.

Seriously though, you guys, steer clear of IT unless you have a plan to retire at 40.

Anyway.  Because of the exhaustive nature of my job, I especially cherish three day weekends.  Memorial Day is probably my favorite.  The weather is always perfect in Philly in May – just warm enough to be pleasant or maybe even a little hot, but still nice enough in the evenings to sit outside as the sun goes down and enjoy the breeze with a drink in your hand.  We usually set up our 6 foot blow-up pool and make some party food and hang out and have people over and grill some burgers and dogs.  It’s like the essential way to start summer around here.

Macaroni Pepperoni Salad is something I make damn near every time I have a cookout at my house.  It’s probably the best side dish ever.  It’s tangy and full of veggies.  And since it’s not mayo-based, you can eat it cold or at room-temperature, and not have to worry about it spoiling.

Try it at your bbq this weekend!!

Macaroni Pepperoni Salad

Macaroni Pepperoni Salad

Ingredients
2 cups elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions and drained
4 stalks celery, sliced or diced
2 small tomatoes on the vine, seeded and diced
2 spoonfuls dill relish
1/2 red onion, diced
Sliced pepperoni, cut into half-moons – as much as you want
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 small bottle Wish Bone Robusto Italian dressing, or your favorite Italian dressing

Directions
1. Rinse cooked macaroni under cold water and let drain thoroughly.

2. In a big bowl, combine the drained macaroni, celery, tomato, relish, and red onion and stir together to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in half of the bottle of Italian dressing and stir again to combine. Add sliced pepperoni and stir again, taking care to keep the pepperoni slices from clumping together.

3. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Before serving, add shredded cheddar cheese and more Italian dressing if needed. Stir to combine and enjoy!