Antipasto Pasta Salad

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This has been my "must bring" pasta salad for family gathering in recent years, especially on the 4th of July. 

You can put just about anything in but the kitchen sink, as it's a great way to use up veggies in the fridge.  A friend gave me this antipasto recipe several 
years ago, and I've tweaked it for our family taste buds.

The recipe can easily be cut down for fewer servings. I like to have it on hand especially in the summer as a side for BLTs, hamburgers or hot dogs.

The full recipe provides about 20 - 24 servings, so a very large bowl or roasting pan is needed to make in and mix it.  I've used disposable roasting pans when bringing to large gatherings.  It easily feeds 10 of us for two days over a two-day 4th of July gathering.

What I like about the recipe are so many Italian tasting flavors, and that a variety of pasta shapes can be used, but if one or two ingredients are left out or substituted, you can hardly tell the difference.  

I don't always have red peppers on hand, and been known to toss in some broccoli, artichoke hearts or shredded carrots.  I've never made it exactly the same way twice, so feel free to adapt for your own taste or with what's on hand in your fridge.

Antipasto Pasta Salad
Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App1 lb. cooked pasta, any kind of shaped pasta noodle
2 cups shredded cheddar
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1  cup diced dill pickles, or pickle relish
cup diced pepperoni or hard salami
1  cup  diced onions
1/2 can sliced black olives
1 cup sliced green olives
1 cup chopped celery
1 chopped green pepper
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1/2 cup diced marinated sundried tomatoes; or substitute with salsa)
2 Tabs. minced garlic

1 cup of mayonnaise
1/2 cup Italian dressing
2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 tsp. celery salt
3 tsps. dry Italian herbs or to taste, fresh is even better but use more than 3 tsps.
Mix well, pour over and mix into pasta salad.

Chill in refrigerator for flavors to blend.  Makes about 20 cups.

Estimated cost: $8.00or less; .40 cents a serving or less.

Enchiladas with Red Sauce

Red Enchilada Sauce photo null_zps2ccf927b.jpgNext to Italian or German dishes, Mexican food is a family favorite.  I make a Mexican type dish once a week: either a taco salad, tacos, fajitas or more often enchiladas with either red or green chili cream sauce. 

I serve with Mexican Rice which I make ahead in a big batch then freeze in pint size bags to have on hand when deciding to make a Mexican dinner.

Tortilla fillings for enchiladas is a great way to use leftover shredded pork or chicken.  Just add the meat with some cheese and few tablespoons of sauce, roll up, top with more sauce and cheese then bake.  You can make your own "combo-plate specials" by adding refried beans, and/or rice.

Beyond the benefit of saving money by making sauce from scratch, is knowing your sauce has no preservatives, chemicals, extra salt or corn syrup often found in commercial sauces.

Red Enchilada Sauce photo null_zpsf3b0f6d8.jpg
Red Enchilada Sauce
1 Tab. olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp. minced onion
1/2  tsp. dried oregano
1 Tab. chili powder
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/8  tsp. black pepper
salt to taste
1/8  tsp. ground cumin
1  tsp. dried parsley
1/3 cup salsa
1, 6 oz. can tomato sauce
1-1/2 cups water
2 Tabs. flour combined with 2 Tab. water

Heat the oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and saute 2 minutes. Add onion, oregano, chili powder, basil,  black pepper, salt, cumin, parsley, salsa and tomato sauce. Stir to combine then stir in water.

Red Enchilada Sauce photo null_zps39ad0e37.jpgMix 2 Tabs. of water with 2 Tabs. of flour and stir in. Bring sauce to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until cook through and thickened.

If wanting sauce smoother, process in a blender or use an immersion wand. Makes about a pint or 4-6 servings. Store extra in the refrigerator or freeze.

Roll enchiladas with desired cooked filling/s pork, chicken, cheese and a few Tabs. of red sauce, place in oven proof dish, then spoon sauce over rolled enchiladas and top with cheese and bake in 350 oven until heated through and cheese is melted. 20-30 minutes.

Estimated sauce cost: .75 cents or less;  .19 cents or less per 1/2 cup to 1/3 cup serving.

Strawberry Chocolate Shortcake

Strawberry Chocolate ShortcakeHere's a sweet treat anytime of the year or especially for a Valentine's Day Dinner for two, but dinner guests will also enjoy this version of a traditional strawberry shortcake.

Strawberries and chocolate offer a divine blend of flavors. Grocers and farmers markets feature strawberries from late spring through the summer, so that's the time enjoy fresh strawberry desserts or buy for making jams and jellies.  They can also be easily frozen. 

This recipe makes 6 short cakes, but you can double it, then freeze extras.  I've also served this shortcake with sliced peaches, bananas or a scoop of ice cream.

Strawberry Chocolate Short Cake
1 - 3/4 cups biscuit/baking mix
1/3 cup sugar, plus a tsp. for sprinkling
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 egg white
1 pint fresh strawberries, or frozen
1 cup whipped cream
1 - 1/2 Tabs. confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup chocolate syrup, optional

Chocolate Shortcake photo null_zps49461874.jpgCombine biscuit mix, 1/3 cup sugar and cocoa. Stir in milk and butter; mix well. Drop by 1/3 cups at least 2 inches apart onto a greased baking sheet.  Beat egg white until foamy; brush over shortcakes. Sprinkle with remaining sugar.

Bake at 400° for 15-18 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Makes 6 shortcakes

In a mixing bowl, beat cream and confectioners' sugar until soft peaks form. Slice strawberries.
Split shortcakes horizontally. Spoon half of the whipped cream and sliced berries between cake layers. Spoon remaining whipped cream on top. Top with more berries and drizzle with chocolate syrup if desired.

Tofu Shirataki Noodles for "Spaghetti"

 photo null_zps7e5d298d.jpgI was introduced to tofu back in the late 70s, but don't use it often except when dieting. It's a good protein and very low in carbohydrates (carbs).

Low-carb eating, especially since getting older, is the only successful way I've been able to easily loose weight when deciding to shed some pounds.

I buy firm tofu to use in stir fries and recently discovered Shirataki Tofu "noodles" at my grocery.  I tried them as a pasta substitute when my husband and I decided our New Year's resolution should be shedding some pounds we gained over last year's holiday season.

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Shirataki noodles come in different shapes (Fettuccine, Angel Hair Pasta, regular spaghetti, and egg noodle style) at my local grocer and sell for about $1.50 a package.  They're a great substitute for "pasta," and on 20 calories in a cup!

They come in a bag of watery liquid.  Each package has two, one cup servings of noodles. To use, simply rinse them, then heat in the sauce you are using, either spaghetti sauce or Alfredo Sauce and add cooked shrimp or chicken.
Shirataki Shrimp Alfredo photo 8CAE5BAC-D377-4876-9DD0-947E152DFAAE-2580-000003B5DBFBAAD9_zps076496a7.jpg
Shiratake with Alfredo Sauce and Shrimp

           Shirataki "Spaghetti" 
  • Drain package of Shirataki noodles, and rinse in a colander under warm water. 
  • Heat tomato sauce and stir in drained noodles and heat a few minutes until noodles are serving       temperature. Allow 1/2 to 3/4 cup of sauce per serving.
  • Cook meat balls and or Italian sausage separately and serve on top of noodles and sauce.
  • Top with grated Parmesan cheese.
  • One package has 2 one cup servings.
Estimated cost $3.00 or less; $1.50 or less per serving.