Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Roasted Tomatoes Over Pasta

The inspiration for this yummy supper came from The Italian Dish Blog.
I tweaked it a bit to our taste and we really enjoyed the results!

Roasted Tomatoes Over Pasta
2 servings

two nice green house tomatoes
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried parsley
angel hair pasta
2 tablespoons butter
4 slices microwave bacon, cooked and crumbled

Preheat oven to 350.
Slice off tops of tomatoes and scoop out most of the pulp and seeds; discard.
Place tomatoes in a baking dish.
Place garlic inside tomatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in saucepan and quickly brown bread crumbs.
Remove bread crumbs from heat and stir in parmesan cheese.
Fill tomatoes with bread crumb mixture.
Top with seasonings.
Sprinkle with remaining olive oil.
Bake for one hour.
Meanwhile prepare pasta and toss with butter.
Place pasta on serving dish, top with tomatoes and sprinkle with bacon.


I have a new hobby!  Making soap at home.
No, not the "real" homemade soap with lye and the chance of chemical burns…
  That scares me just a tad. ;-)
Instead, the easy kind, where you use a soap base 
and then add scent, color, herbs, flowers, etc. etc!
The possibilities are endless and I have had more fun getting started.

You can find instructions, recipes and inspiration for making soap all over pinterest.
I started simple this week and bought a soap mold ($2.47 at Hobby Lobby) 
a block of goat's milk soap ($6.59 with my 40% off coupon to Hobby Lobby)
and a block of shea butter soap ($4.99 with my 50% off coupon to Michaels).

I went back to Hobby Lobby two more times this week ;-)
and got some essential oils and dried herbs at 40% off.

For color, I simply used food coloring from the pantry.

I also used a few other items from the kitchen as well.

And, here is what I created… :-)
(Each of the "recipes" I list makes two bars of soap.  With the two blocks of soap base I bought, I made  12 bars of soap and I still have some left over to make 4 more bars.)

~sweet almond oatmeal and honey soap~
(using this one as my face soap - oatmeal and honey are so good for your skin!)

8 cubes of goat's milk soap base
a few drops of sweet almond essential oil
1 tablespoon of honey
1/4 cup of oats (use old fashioned, not quick cooking oats)
1 capful of vitamin E oil

~lemon and poppyseed soap~
(loving using this one in the kitchen!)

8 cubes of shea butter soap base
zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 cup of poppy seeds
1 capful of vitamin E oil
2 drops of yellow food coloring

~mint soap~

8 cubes of goat's milk soap base
2 tablespoons of infused mint water
1 capful of vitamin E oil
2 drops of green food coloring

(The infused mint water didn't give me a strong enough scent for this soap, 
so next time I'll probably just get some spearmint or peppermint essential oil.)

~lavender soap~
(perfect for a sleepy time bath)

8 cubes of goat's milk soap base
1 tablespoon of drived lavender
a few drops of lavender essential oil
1 capful of vitamin E oil
1 drop of red and 1 drop of blue food coloring

~orange peel soap~
(for a morning shower, I think!)

8 cubes of shea butter soap base
1 tablespoon of dried orange peel
1 capful of vitamin E oil
1 drop of red and 1 drop of yellow food coloring

(Again, I think I'll get some orange or citrus essential oil next time for this soap.  Also, I want to add some cornmeal to this variety.)

~rose petal soap~
(Mr. H. calls this the "grandma soap!") ;-)

8 cubes of shea butter soap base
a few drops of rose soap scents 
a capful of vitamin E oil
2 drops of red food coloring

A few tips -
Get "suspension formula" soap bases and your add-ins won't sink to the bottom of your soap bars.
No need to buy the special soap colorings - food coloring works just fine.  One drop of coloring per bar of soap is a good rule of thumb.
It takes right at a minute in the microwave to melt 8 cubes of soap base.  I did 30 seconds, stir.
Then 10 seconds, stir 3 times.
Make sure your soap is completely cool before you pop it out of the mold.  Mine took about an hour.
No need to spray anything in the molds to help the soap not to stick.  Mine came out perfect each time.
Never buy anything full price at Hobby Lobby. :-)  Print your 40% off coupon and take your time gathering your supplies.

I do have a question for any experienced soap makers out there -
I am wondering about the shelf life of the soaps that I added organic ingredients to,
like the oats and the lemon zest?  Anyone know?

Next I want to try the clear glycerin soap base and add wildflowers from the backyard.
And a coffee bean soap, how neat would that be?
You can be SO creative with this 
and the possibilities really are endless!

I'm so excited to enjoy these at home 
and to give them as gifts.   

Asian Chicken and Orzo Salad

This recipe is from Paul Deen.
It's quite different and very good.  I actually don't think I've ever made a cold, asian pasta dish so it was a nice change of pace.  I am glad that I switched it to lunch for today instead of last night's supper. It's  more of a lunch type salad than a main dish. :-)

The toasted almond slivers are definitely the star of the salad.
Instead of toasting them in the oven, I browned them in sesame oil on the stove.

Then I used the same pan to cook the chicken and added some sesame seeds.

I used frozen Chinese veggies - sugar snap peas, onions, red and green bell pepper.

I mixed up the sauce, added the cooked orzo and water chestnuts 
and tossed in the almonds, vegetables, and chicken.

It's best after being chilled awhile.  So it's perfect to make ahead for lunch.  
It would be really great in a lunch box!