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This is an adaptation of a recipe I found in 2015 on a wonderful site called Natasha’s Palace.  It’s worth a visit there to see all of the great and unusual recipes she has.  The original recipe is here:

https://nataschaspalace.co/2015/05/28/pear-goat-cheese-and-cured-ham-pasta/

My daughters and I love this dish, especially if I can use some flavorful Honey Baked Ham leftovers.

Ham, Pear and Goat Cheese Pasta

¾ cup bowtie pasta
1 Tblsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
2 Tblsp. garlic, minced
2 ripe Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and sliced
One cup chopped cooked ham
1 tsp. oregano
Salt/Pepper to taste
1 Tblsp. butter
4 oz. goat cheese

Cook pasta in boiling, salted water to al dente, drain

In a saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion slices, sprinkle with salt/pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes until onions are translucent but not brown.

Add garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.

Add pear slices and ham and cook until heated.  Stir in oregano and salt/pepper to taste.  Stir in butter and drained pasta.  Add goat cheese in small lumps and stir gently until cheese has melted.

Serve hot.

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The use of canned tomatoes and whipping cream was intriguing in this recipe.  I made the preparation even easier by using dried minced onions and minced garlic in a jar.  This is a mild, creamy sauce that is a nice change from the more robust kinds.  My daughters and I enjoyed this over fresh tortellini.

QUICK AND CREAMY TOMATO PASTA SAUCE

14 oz. can of crushed tomatoes (1-¾ cups), not drained
2 Tblsp. dried minced onions
½ tsp. minced garlic (from jar)
¼ tsp. each of dried basil, oregano and thyme
2 Tblsp. butter
2 tsp. light brown sugar
½ cup whipping cream

Salt/pepper to taste

4 servings of pasta, cooked

In a medium saucepan, place tomatoes, dried minced onions, minced garlic, and dried herbs.  Bring this mixture to a simmer and turn heat to medium low.  Simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the butter and brown sugar and cook for 5 minutes longer, stirring.

Add cream, stirring until blended.  Add salt/pepper to taste.  Remove from heat and serve immediately over hot pasta.

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We had two surprises in our garden this summer.  A big surprise was the appearance of volunteer cherry and pear tomato plants.  I haven’t planted tomatoes for 3 or 4 years and was delighted to see strong, vigorous plants growing.  A plant with little yellow pear tomatoes grew tall enough to bloom and produce right outside my kitchen window.

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Every day, my daughter picked a bowl of delicious, fresh tomatoes and I started looking for ways to use them other than in a salad.
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This tomato pasta sauce is delicious and worth trying if you still have cherry tomatoes hanging on in your garden.  It’s good enough that I’ll buy cherry tomatoes in the winter so we can have this sauce often.  The pesto portion was adapted from a recipe on Lidia’s Italy  and the sauce is one that I make often.

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CHERRY TOMATO PESTO SAUCE


Pesto:
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
12 large fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup walnuts
2 cloves garlic
¼ tsp. salt
Grating of black pepper
½ cup olive oil

Sauce:
2 Tblsp. butter
2 Tblsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup white wine (Charonnay)
2 tsp. lemon juice
½ cup halved cherry tomatoes

Grating of black pepper

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4 servings of hot, cooked pasta

To make pesto:
In a food processor, place tomatoes, basil, walnuts, garlic, salt and pepper.  Process until everything is finely minced.
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Gradually add olive oil and process until mixture is smooth.

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Set aside

To make sauce:
In a large skillet, heat butter and olive oil.  Add garlic and saute until lightly brown.  Add wine, lemon juice, pepper and ½ cup of halved tomatoes.  Stir in pesto and heat until mixture is piping hot.
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Serve immediately over cooked pasta.

Yield:  4 servings

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The second surprise was what grew up around a bird bath in the back yard.  My daughter thought she had picked up a packet of small marigolds to brighten up the bottom base of the bird bath, but the flowers kept growing until they extended well above it and  produced some gorgeous, huge orange and yellow flowers.

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This dish was inspired by one on Allrecipes.com, but changed quite a bit.  My daughters and I enjoyed this for lunch on Sunday and were able to enjoy it again for Monday night supper.  It’s very tasty and filling, and reheats well in the microwave.

CHICKEN AND SPINACH LASAGNE

5 dry lasagne noodles

¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
¾ cup cold milk
1 cup hot chicken broth
8 oz. shredded mozzarella (2 cups), divided
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 tsp. fresh basil, chopped (½ tsp. dried basil)
2 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped (½ tsp. dried oregano)
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
Dash nutmeg
2 Tblsp. dried minced onions

1 cup ricotta cheese, divided in thirds
1 cup cubed, cooked chicken breast
10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained*

2 Tblsp. grated Parmesan for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Grease a 9-inch casserole dish

*Squeeze water out of the spinach after draining so that it is as dry as possible.
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Cook lasagne noodles in boiling, salted water for 8 to 10 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Set aside.  Pat dry with a paper towel before adding to dish.

In a saucepan, whisk together the flour, salt and cold milk until smooth.  Add hot broth and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture starts to bubble.  Lower heat and continue cooking for two more minutes, stirring constantly.

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Remove from heat and add 1 cup of mozzarella, 2 Tblsp. Parmesan, basil, oregano, black pepper, nutmeg and dried onions, stirring to blend until cheese is melted.

To Assemble:

Spread 1/3 of sauce mixture in the bottom of baking dish.  Layer with 1/3 of the noodles and all of the chicken.  Using 1/3 of ricotta, place in dollops on top.

Arrange 1/3 of the noodles over the chicken and layer with 1/3 of the sauce mixture, all of the spinach, the remainione cup of mozzarella and 2 Tblsp. Parmesan.  Place 1/3 of ricotta in dollops on top.
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Arrange remaining noodles over cheese and spread remaining sauce evenly over noodles.  Add remaining 1/3 of ricotta in dollops over top and sprinkle with 2 Tblsp. Parmesan.

Chick Las-ready

Bake in preheated 350 degree F oven for 35 to 40 minutes until top is light brown.

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Let dish stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.

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6 servings. 

Basil,oregano, rosemary, lemon thyme, peppermint (and marigolds)

Basil,oregano, rosemary, lemon thyme, peppermint (and marigolds)


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This recipe is adapted from one in a beautiful Crabtree & Evelyn (England) cookbook.  It was originally an appetizer recipe and I added a favorite sauce to the pesto to make a very flavorful topping for pasta.

TORTELLINI WITH CILANTRO PESTO


Sauce can be made in advance.  Refrigerate and warm over low heat before serving.

Cilantro pesto:

  • ¼ cup dry roasted peanuts
  • 1 cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • ¾ cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • ¼ cup light olive oil
  • 2 Tblsp. red-wine vinegar
  • Salt/pepper to taste

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In food processor, pulse peanuts, then add parsley and cilantro and pulse to produce coarse paste.  With motor on, drizzle oil and vinegar through feed tube.  Add salt/pepper and process briefly to blend.  Set aside.

Sauce

  • 2 Tblsp. butter
  • 2 Tblsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • Freshly ground pepper

Melt butter in oil, saute garlic briefly.  Add wine, boil gently 2-3 minutes.  Stir in lemon juice and pepper.  Stir the pesto into the sauce.  Sauce should be hot when served.
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1 to 1-¼ lbs. fresh cheese tortellini

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Bring large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add 1 Tblsp. olive oil and tortellini to boiling water and cook until pasta is tender – al dente, stirring occasionally.

Drain pasta (do not rinse) and place in a large bowl.  Place sauce in a small container and let each person spoon sauce over a serving of pasta.  Top with grated parmesan cheese and serve with some good bread.  I made a quick and easy batter loaf and cut into wedges for sopping up the good sauce.  Click here for the bread recipe.

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Servings:  4 to 6


I first tried this dish in 1989, adapted from a recipe in my daughter’s Weight Watchers’ Favorites cookbook.  There were several recipes in that book that were reduced in fat/calories but delicious and became family favorites.  The original recipe used 8 oz. of imitation crab meat (January, 1989 – “excellent”) and I’ve also used shrimp, salmon and now this version with tuna.

TUNA PASTA MORNAY

2 cups dry pasta
2 Tblsp. margarine or butter, divided
1 cup broccoli florets, in bite-size pieces
½ cup sliced onions
½ cup sliced mushrooms
2 Tblsp. all-purpose flour
2 cups 2 % milk
2 oz Swiss cheese, shredded
2 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
5 oz. can white Albacore tuna, drained and flaked
Salt/Pepper

Cook pasta in boiling, salted water until al dente according to package directions.  Drain.

In a large skillet, heat 1 Tblsp. margarine/butter; add broccoli and cook over medium low heat until color has brightened.

Add onions and cook until onions are starting to soften.   Add mushrooms and cook until all vegetables are tender.

With slotted spoon remove vegetables and set aside.

In a small bowl,  place flour and add a small amount of milk to make paste.

Gradually add remaining milk and stir.  In same skillet heat remaining 1 Tblsp. margarine/butter. Gradually stir in milk, mix, stir constantly until smooth.  Add cheese and cook, stirring frequently until cheese is melted.

Add the cooked vegetables, flaked tuna and cooked pasta.  Toss gently, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and cook over low heat until heated through.

Serve at once.
Servings – 4


My youngest son and his family (including their dog) come to visit every summer around the end of July.  He graduated from college, married his fiancee, moved to St. Louis and began his engineering career all within a month’s time in 1982.  This is my favorite picture of them taken quite a few years ago.  The girls have both graduated from college by now….


…and the dog, Brandy, passed away and has been replaced by Maggie.


Each year, there’s the decision of what to cook, particularly for the big family meal when everyone gets together.  It’s always blistering hot, of course, and I don’t want to spend all of my time in the kitchen.  This year, I decided to serve corn-on-the-cob from my local farm market and a Salad Buffet.  All but one of the salads have been posted previously on my blog and are old favorites:

  • Vegetable Pasta Salad.  This is an adaptation of the Tuna and Veggie Salad posted previously.  I omitted the tuna so I could have one plain pasta salad.

  • Thai-Inspired Chicken and Noodle Salad.  This is a new salad this year and we all like it very much.  It’s good either room temperature or chilled.

THAI-INSPIRED CHICKEN AND NOODLE SALAD

  • 8 oz. ( 4 cups) LoMein noodles (or thin spaghetti)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup Teriyaki sauce
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 3 Tblsp. granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • few gratings of black pepper
  • 2 chicken breast halves, baked and shredded
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook until al dente according to package directions.  Drain pasta and rinse with cold water.  Transfer pasta to a large bowl.

In a small bowl, combine canola oil, Teriyaki sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, peanut butter, ginger and pepper.   Mix well until smooth.  Pour dressing over pasta and toss to coat evenly.  Gently mix in chicken, cilantro and toasted sunflower seeds.

This makes a big bowl of salad – 6 to 8 servings.

For dessert we had a sundae bar and then went out on the patio to work off the calories.  My daughter-in-law brought water balloons and small fireworks and the visit ended with a flourish.

Already, I’m wondering – what can I cook next year?