Super Simple Pasta Salad Recipes

Super Simple Pasta Salad Recipes |

I have a habit of making way too much food when hosting. The upside is I have leftovers for days, which is always a perk after all the work of having a party. For my birthday shindig, I decided I was going to make pulled pork (recipe/walk through forthcoming) and some sides. The pitfall was thinking people love pasta salad as much as I do.

Sooo, I made two pounds of pasta for 20ish friends and family. I received some sweet products from Colavita that I wanted to try out, which made the only real steps cooking the pasta and figuring out what to add in the salad. Continue reading Super Simple Pasta Salad Recipes

Make Trader Joe’s Your Sous Chef


It’s good to be known for something.

I’m known for a few things: cooking, an insatiable appetite for Mexican food and being funny.

At least that’s what people tell me to my face. I suspect that’s so they get invited to future dinner parties and taco excursions.

Once a month I have board meetings for my alma mater. Sometimes I attend and others I’ll skip the commute into the city and join remotely. I’ve been working later into the night recently (not as a gigolo) and can’t make it downtown in time to fraternize. So tonight in my rear view mirror I got to see a man vigorously drumming with drum sticks on his steering wheel. Once home, I made a quick pasta sauce from scratch to accompany a package of pesto tortellini from Trader Joe’s.

Bachelor Tip: Trader Joe’s and pre-made food can be your friend.

Ravioli or tortellini make really quick dinners. If you’re watching your carb intake, I’m sorry you aren’t blessed with my metabolism. But like all things in life, moderation. Add a salad or some grilled veggies to substitute for eating all the carbs in the pasta.


This sauce was inspired mostly by America’s Test Kitchen. They have yet to lead me astray in the kitchen. I also implicitly trust a man in a bow-tie.

Quick Marinara Sauce

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 can organic, whole tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced
  • 2 mini sweet peppers, sliced in rings or diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • 3-5 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 splash of vodka (chef’s choice if you want a shot for yourself, too)
  • Sprinkling of oregano


  1. Put your phone on mute for your conference call.
  2. Heat skillet on medium heat.
  3. Cut up all the veggies.
  4. Add tsp olive oil to hot pan.
  5. Add onions and carrots to pan. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  6. Add butter.
  7. Stir.
  8. Add mushrooms, stir. Add garlic.
  9. Add can of tomatoes. Mash with the back of a spoon. Or you can also use crushed tomatoes, if you don’t feel like the hulk tonight.
  10. Keep stirring and smashing. Add a splash of vodka or wine. Alcohol always adds more depth of flavor to sauces.

Total cook time was about 30 minutes before it thickened and the raw taste was cooked out of the tomatoes. Be sure to add crushed red pepper flakes if you like a little heat in your sauce.


Cold War Cuisine

beef, paleo, stroganoff, allrecipes, recipe, dinner

Every day there seems to be a new dietary movement. Just when I grasped what veganism  was the cult shifted to being localvores. Then there was freeganism. Of all the -isms, that one might be the closest to my value system. After all, free food is my favorite type of food.

Today I read this humorous explanation of the latest diets and their differences.

As part of my Sunday ritual, I went to mass this morning.

Bachelor Tip: The more you go, the less the Holy water burns.

There is a Mariano’s near my church, which allows me to kill two birds with one stone (possibly a bible reference). I’m not sure if it’s the monochromatic uniform of the employees that reminds me of Pleasantville (a film I haven’t seen) or the piano man playing tunes while I do laps around the store. Nevertheless, time is irrelevant once I enter the sliding doors. Shopping on Sunday sets me up for the week. In my years on this earth I’ve mastered the art of buying a week’s worth of food. I go through milk and bread in one week. If one of these cycles gets off a few days I fear for the consequences.

I loaded up on meat and was unable to find wonton wrappers to make ravioli. The cooking show (The Kitchen) that gave this tip made it seem like there was an entire freezer case of wonton wrappers. If you take one thing from this post, it’s that wonton wrappers, nor any ingredient from a TV show or cooking magazine, is readily available. Blasphemers!

Without the wrappers, my plan of ravioli was shot. Onto plan b.

I ended up taking a stab at my favorite dish. One that I’ve never made. Beef Stroganoff.

While all the rage is paleo, local, and/or food you found on your nature walk, this meal is the poster child for Cold War Cuisine. Almost all the recipes called for nearly a stick of butter. I’m not a nutritionist, but I’m confident that while that amount of butter may please Paula Deen, it won’t please your physician (or cardiologist if you’re older than 60).

But for a Sunday night supper an occasional indulgence won’t kill you. Or maybe it will.

I’ve had several variations of strogo in my lifetime. Some are the more time-intensive preparations. Others utilized a slow cooker and condensed soup. Both are good, but my preference is for the real deal.

To the kitchen!

beef, paleo, stroganoff, allrecipes, recipe, dinner

For my first attempt, the result wasn’t bad. Here’s a link to the one I made tonight from It wasn’t nearly as good as my grandma’s. So I had only one option tonight: call my gram and get the scoop.

Here are her tips:

  1. Cut the meat very thin, about 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick
  2. Pound the meat to tenderize it.
  3. Season the flour with salt and pepper. Then dredge the beef.
  4. Melt butter over medium/low heat in your pan, then soften 1 big onion (diced). After cooking for 4-5 minutes, transfer the softened, translucent onion to a bowl.
  5. Add more butter to your pan and brown the steak. After the steak is browned on all sides, transfer to the bowl with your onions. Add a bit of wine or water to deglaze your pan.
  6. Add a can of cream of chicken soup and some water. The recipe called for beef stock. This didn’t add a ton of flavor to the dish.
  7. Slice button mushrooms and add to the pot.
  8. You have to cook it for at least 90 minutes.
  9. Finish the dish with sour cream.

Before contacting my grandma, I was texting my friend who is Russian. I like to crowdsource cooking advice.

A Russian Mother’s Tip: Marinating meat in sour cream will aid in tenderizing the steak.

After a meal this rich, I think I’ll have to start on a minimalist diet tomorrow. Any recommendations?

Dating After Dark

Daily PresentAfter midnight you can’t hope for the most meaningful conversations with a woman. Or with lampposts for that matter.

Traipsing around Lincoln Park after a show at Lincoln Hall, my posse and I wandered into a sports bar that appeared to be crowded. Upon further investigation, the bar was populated by undergrads extending their night after a formal.

I like to envision my dating life as a nature documentary.

Observe the single white female…sitting alone. Abandoned by her flock. She stares off into space, then laps mouthfuls of beer.

She was lounging in the bar is if it were her living room, her boots resting on an empty chair, when we entered the establishment that smelled of popcorn. I walked across the sticky, popcorn-littered floor and asked what she was watching.

“Top 10,” she replied.

Bonus. She speaks and comprehends English! Check. Continue reading Dating After Dark