Caprese Pasta Salad ~

We’re down at my mother-in-law’s for the long holiday weekend, and her big, bright kitchen inspired me to finally do some cooking.

Making Caprese Pasta Salad ~

I hope that I’m getting this to you with enough notice that you can make it for your big Memorial Day spread tomorrow!

Caprese Pasta Salad 2 ~

Not sure if it’s pregnancy or the weather but I’ve been craving a tangy pasta salad, specifically one with all the flavors of summer. I combined my love of Caprese Salad with pasta into this tasty dish. It’s super easy and quick and can sit out for a decent amount of time, so it’s great for when you have a buffet at your bbq.

Caprese Pasta Salad 3 ~

Also, figured I’d throw in my 23 week pic, although I’m at 25 weeks now ;) Getting bigger every day…

23 weeks ~

23 wks front ~

Happy Memorial Day everyone!

Caprese Pasta Salad
Serves 6
A quick and easy pasta salad, full of the flavors of summer!
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  1. 1 lb farfalle pasta, dried (or any shape you prefer)
  2. 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  3. 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  4. 3-4 cloves garlic, minced plus 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  5. 5-6 medium tomatoes (this really depends how much tomato you like), diced with half of the juives removed
  6. 2 handfuls fresh basil, chopped
  7. 16 oz. fresh mozzarella, diced
  8. 1 tsp salt (plus more to taste) and pepper
  1. Cook pasta according to directions until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water, then put in large bowl. Put empty pot back on stove top.
  2. In a small bowl, mix vinegar and oil plus salt and pepper.
  3. In the empty pot, add a couple Tablespoons of olive oil and add garlic. Saute a min until fragrant and lightly brown. Remove immediately and add to olive oil mixture.
  4. Add chopped tomatoes, basil and mozzarella to bowl of pasta.
  5. Add in oil/vinegar mixture and toss well.

Thanksgivukkah! Spiced Sweet Potato "Gelt" with Orange Honey Cinnammon Sour Cream ~

As I mentioned in my last post, I have a Thanksgivukkah recipe for you guys today.

What is Thanksgivukkah you ask? It’s when Thanksgiving and Chanukkah coincide! Chanukkah goes by the Hebrew (lunar) calendar and so it’s not always in December like Christmas. It has been in November before, but it’s extremely rare that in falls on Thanksgiving. 

Thanksgivukkah! Spiced Sweet Potato "Gelt" with Orange Honey Sour Cream ~

Nate is a lovely hand model

According to Wikipedia, the last time it happened since Thanksgiving was declared a U.S. federal holiday by President Abraham Lincoln was 125 years ago, in 1888. The next time Thursday, November 28 will fall during Chanukkah will be in the year 79811, assuming the Jewish calendar is not revised. Crazy huh?

Being that Jews love to eat, and food bloggers love to cook, you can guarantee that this Chanukkah will have some awesome Thanksgiving/Jewish inspired treats.

The traditional Chanukkah foods are latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (donuts). If you notice, both of these foods are deep fried in oil, which is no coincidence. Oil is very important to the holiday of Chanukkah. You can read more about it here if you’re interested.

Thanksgivukkah! Spiced Sweet Potato "Gelt" with Orange Honey Sour Cream ~

I’ve already seen plenty of riffs on latkes for Thanksgivukkah, involving sweet potatoes rather than regular spuds. Honeslty I don’t think that’s so original, as Jews have been doing that already for years. Then I saw people made turkey donuts, which is just plain gross. I also saw a pumpkin rugelach or pumpkin kugel (pudding). 

But I wanted to be original. So I tried to think of other Chanukkah “things.” The other traditional food to eat on Chanukkah, if you can call it a food, is chocolate “gelt” or chocolate coins.Usually these coins are used to gamble while playing dreidel, a game involving a little spinning top.

Thanksgivukkah! Spiced Sweet Potato "Gelt" with Orange Honey Sour Cream ~

Gelt is really just money, or coins, so I figured a recipe could look like gelt without actually involving the candy that we love to eat on this holiday. That’s when it occurred to me- sweet potato gelt! I thought about using carrots since they’re smaller and would look more like coins, but they’re not as Thanksgiving-y as sweet potatoes. 

I added the dipping to sauce to make it more kid-friendly (kids love dipping!) and also to inject some more fall flavor (citrus and cinnamon) into the dish. Obviously this dish goes way beyond Thanksgivukkah and would be a welcome addition to any dinner, or even as a fun pass-around appetizer. 

I hope you enjoy, and have a wonderful Thanksgivukkah! You know you want to celebrate it ;)

Thanksgivukkah! Spiced Sweet Potato "Gelt" with Orange Honey Sour Cream ~

Spiced Sweet Potato "Gelt" with Orange Honey Sour Cream Dipping Sauce
Serves 4
A perfect appetizer or kid's food for Thanksgivukkah or just any day of the year!
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  1. 4-5 sweet potatoes/yams (try to find ones with a small diameter to make smaller "coins")
  2. Cooking spray or olive oil
  3. salt/pepper/cinnamon for sprinkling
Dipping Sauce
  1. 8 oz. sour cream (I used low fat)
  2. 1 Tbsp orange zest
  3. 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
  4. 1 Tbsp honey
  5. 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 425. Cover a large baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Cut sweet potatoes crosswise into 1/2" thick rounds. Either toss with oil or place on the prepared baking sheet and spray with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt/pepper/cinnamon.
  3. Put potatoes in oven and cook, flipping them halfway, 20-25 minutes or until cooked and soft enough to be pierced with a fork, but firm enough to be picked up without falling apart.
  4. While potatoes are cooking, whisk dipping sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.
  5. Let potatoes cool to room temperature so you can pick them up without burning your fingers and serve with sauce on the side for dipping!

Marinated Mushrooms ~

 As you know, I just got back from a short vacation to Idaho with Nate. Sorry in advance for all the photos. Hopefully you’ll enjoy them. Recipe for these lovely mushrooms are at the bottom.

We stayed at Nate’s dad’s cute little log cabin. Well, it’s not so little. It also isn’t at all rustic. It has all the amenities of a typical house, complete with a beautifully updated kitchen.

Idaho Cabin ~

The cabin is kind of in the middle of nowhere. It’s over an hour from the nearest supermarket. 

Idaho Cabin ~

Idaho Cabin ~

However what the area lacks in the civilization department, it more than makes up for it in the scenery. The mountains and view behind his cabin are just spectacular. I couldn’t stop taking pictures of them in all sorts of light. 

This is in his backyard with the clouds rolling in.

Idaho Mountains ~

One morning after a light sprinkling, we even got a rainbow. I was still sleeping, so thanks to Nate for capturing this one.

 Idaho Rainbow ~

Not a bad  view to have while eating dinner. We used the grill out on his patio the first night for some tasty salmon and veggie kabobs.

Idaho Mountains ~

While there we tried to spend time outdoors, obviously. The cabin is surrounded by camp sites and hiking trails. 

 4th of July Hike, Idaho ~

One day we did a 3 hour hike up to a couple pretty lakes.

4th of July Hike, Idaho ~

The area has had numerous wildfires over the years and you can see the devastation everywhere. Here were some burnt, dead trees along the hike. In this area the grass has mainly grown back. Some areas definitely look much much worse.

4th of July Hike, Idaho ~

Despite the fact that many trees have burned down, there’s an abundance of little baby pine trees starting to grow. I think they were my favorite part of the whole trip. This one happens to be right in his dad’s yard.

Baby tree, Idaho  ~ Elephant

There were a few areas that were so close we didn’t even have to hike. This was a short drive away and then just a walk to this little creek. There were lots of salmon in it! Apparently you can see them spawning at the right time of year.

Idaho ~

Another view of the backyard, just because.

Idaho Mountains ~

And just some more photos…

Walk in meadow, Idaho ~

Idaho ~

Ok, my final mountain shot, I promise. This was during sunset on our final evening there.

Idaho Mountain~

Now back to the recipe. I made these mushrooms as part of Nate’s bday dinner party meal. They’re absolutely delicious but chock full of garlic. If you’re planning on doing some smooching, don’t make these. Unless the other member of your party eats them too…isn’t that the rule?

Marinated Mushrooms ~

They’re really simple to make- a quick boil of the mushrooms, mix up a tasty marinade, and then let them do their thing for a while, or overnight. You’re left with a tangy, flavorful side dish that goes great with just about anything.


Marinated Mushrooms
Serves 4
A zesty, flavorful side dish
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  1. 1 pound fresh cremini mushrooms
  2. 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  3. 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  4. 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  5. 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  6. 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano
  7. 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
  8. 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  9. 1/4 teaspoon crushed pepper
  10. 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds (or a pinch of dried coriander powder)
  1. Clean mushrooms and remove stems. Simmer mushroom caps in salted water for 5 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. .
  2. While mushrooms are cooking, mix olive oil, vinegar, garlic, red onion, oregano, parsley, salt, peppercorns and coriander in a medium bowl. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  3. When mushrooms finish cooking, drain and add to marinade. Toss well.
  4. Marinate in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Mayo-Free Potato Salad with Vinegar ~

I was reading Cooking Light magazine the other day and there was a picture of this potato salad but not a whole recipe. It was a question and answer section and it kind of told you approximately what to do to make the salad. The picture, however, looked amazing.

Nate loves potatoes and has been begging me to make him a potato recipe for some time now, so I knew this was the one. We both love sour things so this recipe’s vinegar, dijon mustard and capers were a perfect match for our taste buds. I just made the recipe up as I went, adding what I thought the photo showed.

Mayo-Free Potato Salad with Vinegar ~

The recipe mentions an interesting technique for the dressing. By mashing up some of the potato and mixing it with the dressing ingredients, you get a creamy, highly seasoned dressed that coats the potatoes and really stays in place.

This dressing also, unfortunately, makes for a less than gorgeous appearance-hence the reason there are only two photos. But you’ll have to trust me that it tastes THAT good.

Nate and I ate this alongside our dinner for several days, and we found that it only gets better as it sits, because the onions and potatoes really absorb all the dressing. We fought each other for the last serving.

I can’t wait to make this again!

Mayo-free Potato Salad with Onions and Capers

adapted from Cooking Light

Print this recipe!

makes a lot (sorry, I have no way how to estimate this, but it filled my large mixing bowl, but prob 8 servings)

3 lb. bag red-skinned potatoes, washed and cut into bite-sized pieces.
1/4 cup white vinegar plus 2 Tbsp for boiling, divided
1 medium red onion, cut into quarters and then into 1/2 thick slices
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 celery stalks, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp capers
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1/3-1/2 cup olive oil plus 1 Tbsp, divided
3 Tbsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste.

Place the cut potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Add a couple Tablespoons of white vinegar and 1/2 tsp salt. Bring to a boil, and cook for 5-10 minutes or until a fork can pierce them but they’re not falling apart (I took a potato out, cut it and tasted it to really tell). Drain potatoes and rinse with cold water to cool them down and stop cooking.

While potatoes are cooking heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a medium saute pan. When it gets hot, add the onion. Cook several minutes then add the balsamic. Continue cooking, stirring so balsamic doesn’t burn, until onions are cooked but still hold their shape. Remove to a large bowl.

Take a heaping cup of cooked potato, put in a small bowl and mash well. Whisk in the olive oil, 1/4 cup vinegar and dijon mustard.

Add rest of the potatoes to the bowl with the onions. Add the celery, capers, parsley. Dump in the dressing and thoroughly combine. Serve at room temperature or cold. It’s even better the next day after the flavors have really absorbed into the potatoes!

Farro Salad ~

Sorry I haven’t posted a recipe in a while. We’ve been quite busy around these parts.

First, Nate’s mom came to visit, then my parents flew in for the wknd, then it was the 4th, then my bday and then I came down with a nasty stomach bug. But I’m back now, so I’ve got some lovely photos for you all, and a tasty recipe!

When Nate’s mom came to town, we went to this cool exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art called the Rain Room. It’s basically a dark room with just one light shining, and inside it’s raining…but wherever you walk the rain stops. They only let 10 or so people in at a time.

Here’s Nate and his mom- in the rain, but dry as can be.

Moma Rain Room ~

Because it was a dark room with a huge light beam shining right on us, there were some crazy shadows while we were waiting in line.

No one else in line seemed to notice, as they were too mesmerized by the actual exhibit, but Nate and I managed to get quite a silhouette of us!

Moma Rain Room Silhouette ~

Then, we headed to the Botanical Gardens in the Bronx. We’ve been there a bunch of times, but this time we went specifically because they had this awesome outdoor temporary exhibit called The Four Seasons.

From their site, “Four Seasons is an installation of four sculptures—each standing more than 15 feet high—by contemporary American artist Philip Haas. Encompassing Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter, the works are inspired by the 16th-century creations of Italian Renaissance painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo.”

They were SOOOO cool. Clockwise from top left: Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn.

NY Botanical Gardens Seasons

Here’s a photo to show how large they are in comparison to a person. Quite a resemblance, isn’t it?

Nate Old Man Winter ~

Which one is the real Beardo?

I don’t have any great pics from when my parents visited because it was too hot to do anything, much less take out the camera. We did do some fun stuff though- walked over the Brooklyn Bridge, ate some yummy food, saw a cool Lego exhibit at the Discovery Center, and ate more yummy food :)

Finally, here’s me, enjoying my delicious Reese’s PB cup ice cream cake, a mere 12 hours before the stomach virus incapacitated me. At least I got to enjoy my bday!

Amy bday 2013

But the real star of this post is the Farro Salad I made to bring to my friend Barrie’s annual 4th of July party. I saw it on one of my fave sites, Shutterbean, and I chose it because it has nothing in it that can spoil if it’s left out in the hot temperatures for an afternoon (i.e. perfect picnic food!). And it’s a good thing I chose something like that since it was in the 90s all day on the 4th.

Farro Salad ~

It was TOTALLY delicious and I couldn’t stop eating it before I packaged it up for the party.

I’m pretty sure I didn’t change a thing from the recipe on Shutterbean’s site, so you can head on over there for the recipe! The only caveat I’d make is that I doubled the recipe and it still didn’t seem like all that much. I guess it depends if you’re serving it as a main dish or side dish.

Farro Salad ~

I hope you all had a great 4th! I can’t believe we’re already into July. How is this year going by so quickly!

Get the recipe on Shutterbean’s site!