Southwest Pasta Salad

Picnic Week: Southwest Pasta Salad

Southwest Pasta Salad

There are a few things you need in order to have a totally awesome picnic. Plenty of food is a no-brainer. Also, don’t forget the wine, and/or beer, and/or cider. And bring all of your awesome friends because that makes everything perfect. Here are a few more things to check off your list.

  1. A big tablecloth for covering the possibly gross picnic table in the park, or to use as a big picnic blanket if you can’t get a table.
  2. Cups for discreet sipping of adult beverages.
  3. Matches to light the grill.
  4. A corkscrew (unless you brought screw top wine which I do all the time)
  5. Plates, napkins, and utensils. (I’ve forgotten forks before.)
  6. Condiments because that’s what makes stuff extra awesome.

Southwest Pasta Salad

You should also probably bring along this Southwest Pasta Salad. It totally rocks. It’s simple, bright, delicious, and a bit spicy. That’s where it’s at!

I love this recipe because it’s unexpected. It’s also brilliant for a picnic because it can be made ahead of time. In fact, it’s even better after it’s had a chance to sit in the fridge for a day. Black beans, corn, green onions, and bell peppers, combined with a spicy lime dressing, take this recipe above and beyond your normal every day pasta salad.

It also never hurts to have a vegetarian dish at your picnic. You never know who might stop by.

Pack your picnic basket with plenty of flavors. Trust me. It’s awesome.

Southwest Pasta Salad

Southwest Pasta Salad
Serves 6
A spicy take on pasta salad
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Total Time
30 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 pound small pasta (I used penne because it was in my pantry)
  2. zest of 2 limes
  3. 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  4. 1/2 bell pepper, diced
  5. 3 green onions, chopped (I use scissors)
  6. 1/2 cup frozen corn
  7. 1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
for the dressing
  1. 6 Tbsp lime juice (I combine the juice from the fresh limes I zested with some from the squeezy lime-shaped bottle. Nigella does it, so it’s okay.)
  2. 1/4 cup cider or rice vinegar (really whatever’s in your pantry will probably work)
  3. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 1-1/2 tsp chili powder
  5. 1 tsp cumin
  6. 1/2 tsp coriander
  7. 1/2 tsp salt
  8. 2 tsp sugar
  9. 3/4 cup oil (I used olive oil)
Instructions
  1. Cook your pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, according to the time on the package. Drain
  2. Zest your lime into the bottom of a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the black beans, bell pepper, green onion, corn, and cheese. Stir to combine.
  4. Add the pasta and stir it up.
  5. The easiest way to make the dressing is to combine all the ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Give it a good shake until the oil has mixed in.
  6. Pour the about 2/3 of the dressing over your salad and give it a stir. If you want more, add it. If not, save it for something awesome later.
  7. Allow the salad to chill in the fridge for at least an hour, but overnight is even better.
  8. Best served under puffy clouds.
Adapted from Our Best Bites
Adapted from Our Best Bites
http://awesomeon20.com/
 

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burger with pasta salad

Picnic Week: Burgers

burger with pasta salad

Do you love to entertain? Do you live in a tiny duplex without a dining room table? Yeah, me too. I have an easy and beautiful solution. Invite all your friends on a picnic and entertain outdoors in the park.

It really couldn’t be easier. We brought everything we needed on our two scooters. We have a small cheap gas grill that’s easy to transport. I’ve seen people at the park who seem to bring half their kitchen with them, and that’s awesome for them. I’m much too lazy for all that, and it’s certainly not necessary. Everything you need for an awesome picnic can be carried by two people in one trip.

Whatever you do, make sure you have the making of an excellent burger. There’s nothing like a cheeseburger hot off the grill. It’s probably my favorite food. We even served cheeseburgers at our wedding.

burger

If I persuade you to do one thing, it would be to walk away from the prefab patty. Do NOT eat those things. Making your own burgers is simple and at least eight million times better then those hockey pucks in the freezer section. You can season them anyway you like and the possibilities are endless.

Here are a few tips for outstanding burger action. First, fat is your friend. Be sure to buy ground beef that’s at least 15% fat. The good news is, the 80/20 stuff is usually the cheapest. Next, don’t go light on the seasonings. Give it a couple extra shakes. It’ll be fine. Finally, go ahead and pay the extra dollar for the good buns. It’s totally worth it.

Feeding Friends

If you haven’t gone on a picnic in a while, plan one right away. It’s a great way to spend time with your friends without having to clean up your kitchen. Plus, if you’re lucky, the view can be stunning.

Queen's Beach

Burgers
Serves 6
A basic burger to get your picnic going
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 1-1/3 pounds (one package) ground beef 80/20
  2. Approx 1 tsp (several shakes) of the following
  3. salt
  4. pepper
  5. onion powder
  6. garlic powder
  7. chili powder
  8. cayenne
  9. dried oregano
  10. 1 Tbsp chili sauce
  11. 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  12. 1 egg, lightly beaten
  13. 1/4 cup bread crumbs (eyeball it, enough to soak up the liquid)
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients with your hands.
  2. Divide the mixture into 4 to 6 patties. Press them together firmly, but make sure not to pack it too tightly. Work quickly and handle the meat as little as possible to make sure it’s nice and juicy.
  3. Store your burgers in the fridge until it’s time to grill.
  4. Grill over medium high heat for about six to eight minutes a side.
  5. Top with all your favorite toppings and stuff your face.
Notes
  1. This is more of a method than a recipe. You can add your favorite seasonings and flavors, but here’s what I put in my favorite burgers.
http://awesomeon20.com/
 

Lemon Polenta Cake

Lemon Polenta Cake (Gluten-Free)

Lemon Polenta Cake

My husband bought us the most wonderful present the other day. Really it’s for his chameleon, but I like to pretend it’s for me. I just can’t wait until it starts working its magic.

Little Lemon Tree

We now have our very own lemon tree! It’s being protected from the chickens so they don’t try and eat all the leaves off of it before it has a chance to fulfill it’s mission of giving me luscious beautiful fresh lemons. I used to live in a country where lemons were nearly impossible to find, so they’re rather precious to me.

Lemon Polenta Cake

I’m so in love with our baby tree that I absolutely had to share this lemon polenta cake. Can you keep a secret? This cake is gluten free. Whatevs. It’s totally delicious and lemony and heavenly with an amazing texture.

Cornmeal plus lemon syrup equals sweet sticky cake of magnificence.

And it’s all mature and sophisticated with it’s frostingless simplicity, so you can pretend to be an adult when you serve it. It’s stunning even in its lack of decadence.

Lemon Polenta Cake

I can’t wait until we have our first backyard lemons. I’ll probably do a little dance. What else can I make with them?

Lemon Polenta Cake (Gluten-Free)
Yields 1
A simple and delicious lemon cake that's naturally gluten free
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
40 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
40 min
for the cake
  1. 200 grams (1-3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
  2. 200 grams (1 cup) sugar
  3. 200 grams (2 cups) ground almonds
  4. 100 grams (3/4 cup) cornmeal
  5. 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  6. 3 eggs
  7. zest of 2 lemons
for the syrup
  1. juice of 2 lemons
  2. 125 grams (1 cup) powdered sugar
for the cake
  1. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment, and grease the sides with butter
  2. Preheat your oven to 350.
  3. With a mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  4. Combine the almonds, cornmeal, and baking powder in a separate bowl, then mix a third of the mixture into the butter and sugar. Add an egg and combine. Continue alternating dry ingredients and eggs until everything is combined.
  5. Finally mix in the lemon zest.
  6. Transfer the batter to your pan and bake for 40 minutes until the edges start to pull away from the pan.
  7. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.
  8. In a small saucepan, boil the lemon juice and powdered sugar until the sugar is dissolved.
  9. With a toothpick, prick tiny holes in your cake, then pour the syrup over the cake and let it sink in.
  10. Once cool, remove the collar from your pan. Serve a big wedge with wine and experience pure joy.
Adapted from Kitchen by Nigella Lawson
http://awesomeon20.com/
 

Cake images by Monica Szczupider

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