Tag Archives: Cheese

Summer Salads- Tortellini Salad with Asparagus and Lemony Dressing


Summer…nothing better than the lazy days of summer on an educator’s schedule.  We have had a great summer of just relaxing and enjoying each other.  It has been a few years since we have been able to do that with the house on the market back in 2013 and then our move last summer from PA to TX.  Add to that a full year of working crazy long hours as teachers with our schedules being set by others and you can imagine how we have taken great pleasure in having a very loose schedule and hardly any “hours” to keep during the summer of 2015.

Summer 2015!

Summer 2015!

Summer has also allowed me to be in the kitchen again and try some new recipes.  Those that know us, know that the girls and I make frequent trips to the library in the summer.  Recently I picked up some cook books.  This recipe is from The Make-Ahead Cook.  One could prep it in advance and then store it up to 2 days…but I made it for my family to each for lunch today!

Tortellini Salad with Asparagus and Lemony Dressing

Bring a large pot of water to boil.

  • Add 1 pound of thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into about 1-inch pieces
  • 1 Tablespoon salt

Cook until the asparagus is crisp-tender, about 2 minutes or so.  While the asparagus boils, prepare a large bowl halfway with ice and water.

Once the asparagus is crisp-tender, remove it with a slotted spoon- transferring it to the ice water and let it cool for about 2 minutes.

Remove the asparagus from the ice water and then pat it dry with paper towels.  (If making this ahead now you would put the asparagus in a storage container and cover it…but if making to eat immediately just leave it out on the counter like I did!)

Return the pot of water to boil and cook according to directions on package:

  • 12-16 ounces of dried cheese tortellini

Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water- in case you need it later.

Drain tortellini and rinse it with cold water and drain it again.  You want to leave the tortellini slightly wet.

While the tortellini cooks…

Whisk together in a large bowl

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (I used lemon juice out of a bottle but you can use fresh—you will need about 2 lemons for the entire recipe)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed through a garlic press
  • 1/4 cup of yellow onion minced

While whisking the above mixture together constantly, drizzle in:

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Remove 1/4 cup of the dressing to a small bowl and stir in:

  • 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice

Cover the extra dressing if you are saving it for later.

Now add the tortellini to the large bowl with the dressing

Toss the dressing and tortellini to combine.  Add reserved pasta cooking water as needed to adjust consistency (I didn’t use any when I made it but I’m leaving the step in just in case!)

Cover the tortellini if you are saving it for later.

To store the salad:

Refrigerate the asparagus, tortellini mixture and dressing separately for up to 2 days.

When ready to serve it get the items out and let them sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.  You can stir in some boiling water to the tortellini to loosen it up and whisk the dressing to recombine it.

Last Steps:

Drizzle the dressing over the tortellini

Stir in the asparagus.


  • 12 ounces of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 -1 cup of Parmesan cheese, grated or shaved
  • 3/4 cup of fresh basil  (you can try mint or parsley too if you don’t have basil)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts toasted (I threw mine in the oven on a cookie sheet at 350° for about 10 minutes)

Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.  I sliced and apple and made some iced tea (sweet of course, is there any other way!)

Serves 4-6




Chicken Enchiladas


SCORE!  I had no clue what to make for dinner tonight.  I confess…I have not done any meal planning since before Mother’s Day.  Life has been a wee-bit hectic!  I have made it by with ground beef dishes, quesadillas, and burritos…but I needed something more substantial to prepare for my family.  I flipped open a family cookbook and found “Randi’s Chicken Enchiladas”….a recipe I submitted but haven’t made in almost nine years.  I checked out the ingredients and thanks to some shredded chicken in the freezer I had all the required items.

I decided to make mexican rice, a can of corn, and pull out the jello I made earlier this week.  Score—-a meal without a trip to the grocery store.

Here is the recipe; It gets four smiley faces at my house.

Randi’s Chicken Enchiladas

Combine in a bowl and mix well:

  • 2 to 3 cups of chopped, cooked chicken
  • 3/4 c shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 c shredded Monterrey Jack cheese (ok, confession I had shredded fiesta cheese and two thick slices of pepper jack which I chopped up to use for the 1 1/2 cups of cheese needed here)
  • 1/3 c chopped onion
  • 1/2 c sour cream

Spoon the chicken mixture onto:

  • 8 medium tortillas (or 12 small ones)

Roll to enclose the filling and place seam side down in a 9×13 baking dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

Melt in a saucepan:

  • 1/4 c margarine/butter

Blend into saucepan:

  • 1/4 c flour

Gradually stir in:

  • 1 can chicken broth (or make your own with 14 oz water and two bullion cubes)

Cook until thickened, stirring constantly.

Stir in

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 4-oz can of diced green chilies

Cook the sauce until heated through, stirring constantly.

Pour over tortillas

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

Sprinkle with

  • 1/4 c cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 c Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded

Bake for 5 minutes to let cheese melt.

Soup #1 for our week- Santa Fe Chicken Soup


It has been C-O-L-D this weekend.  So what is better on a cold weekend than warm soup???!!!  I was actually out of Ro-Tel and we had to make a quick stop by the store on the way home from church for it (I had two recipes and each needed Ro-Tel…it really is staple in our cooking at the Smith house!).  Some of my friends in PA haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Ro-Tel….well let me introduce you:

Ro-Tel: A Smith Family Staple

You can find Ro-Tel at every grocery store now but the best prices are at Target and Wal-Mart.  I cringe to pay over $1 for it, but today I had to as the grocery store was a lot closer than Target/Wal-Mart.

Once I had my can of Ro-Tel, I was able to throw this soup together in no time.  I had the other ingredients on hand because I had planned to make this on Tuesday.  But I like to have a warm, family meal on Sunday and since we threw sandwiches together for lunch…I had to come up with something for dinner.

Enter Santa Fe Chicken Soup….

I shared this recipe about the same time last year!  It was in the crockpot and ready to go in no time thanks to some previously cooked, shredded and frozen chicken I had.

We served the soup with tortilla chips and Fritos along with apple slices of course (that is always my…I know if the girls don’t really eat enough soup they can fill up on Apple slices strategy)

So if you need something quick to throw together and ready to eat in about 3 or 4 hours….this is one for you.