Best Macaroni Salad (fresh and tasty)

The Only Macaroni ...

Macaroni Cheese...comforting, warming and utterly satisfying.  But in the summer months, of alfresco dining, BBQ’s, long days and hot nights, do you really want to be serving up a bowl of steaming pasta?  Move over Macaroni Cheese and welcome, the best Macaroni Salad you’re going to eat, ever!

This bowl of flavor, can be enjoyed perfectly well on it’s own as it has so much to give: Salty bacon, creamy mustard, herbs, garlic and some refreshing crunch from a variety of vegetables. However, this recipe would also be a great addition to a table of other ingredients, part of a party buffet or a family BBQ? How about making it to take along to a dinner or lunch invite at a friend’s? It may just make you even more popular!

But what is it about macaroni that makes it such a comfort to us? Little mini, tubes of pasta; what’s the big deal? What makes Macaroni such a welcome guest at a social get-together? The smile maker, Macaroni!

Many of us are drawn to foods we were fed in our childhood. It reminds our subconscious minds of carefree days, where you played in the back garden all day, had no bills to pay and you only had to worry about making sure your hands were clean for dinner! Pasta was the food for many of us. Cheap, quick, readily available across the world and the food of the family! A macaroni salad provides such a cozy, well being for so many of us!

Macaroni is the perfect vessel for a sauce, whether that would be a tomato based one, or the traditional creamy, cheese one. Those tiny little tubes can hold quite a lot of any sauce, clinging inside and out and holding its shape well. Macaroni has the texture of a light, chewy softness that children and adults adore! The decision to create the best Macaroni Salad EVER seems a good choice for the summer months.

So, how can you decide the perfect sauce for a Macaroni Salad? It has to be something creamy, surely? A perfect mix of garlic, mayonnaise and sour cream with a dash of yellow mustard clings well to these little tubes. You need to make sure you get the perfect balance though. It’s a crime to provide too little sauce on a Macaroni Salad, leaving it looking dry and little crusty. It needs to ooze sauce around the other ingredients too and glisten on the party table, requiring any passing food hunter to have no option but to dig in!

The crispy bacon pieces were a must in this recipe. A good sprinkling of salty goodness, adds another layer of texture to the macaroni. Choose a high quality one that remains good and chunky in the pan though, instead of frying away a cheap one to watery thin pieces.

The vegetable choice was easy. Sweet green bell pepper, adding a crunch and freshness. The spring onion adds a little light heat and a bit more crunch. Lightly steamed baby corn and broccoli adds some further sweetness and texture to the dish and the perfect choice for being a good all rounder…who doesn’t like those vegetables?

Recipe

The recipe then? You’re going to want to make this up quite fresh. Of course, eat it the next day, but maybe increase the sauce ingredients slightly as the macaroni does like to thicken overnight. This will ensure the Macaroni Salad Police won’t come and arrest you for failing to provide adequate sauce! Better still, don’t hold back and tuck in straight away.

Ingridients

  • check
    2 cups of macaroni
  • check
    1 tsp olive oil
  • check
    1 cup chopped bacon pieces
  • check
    ½ cup mayonnaise
  • check
    ½ cup sour cream
  • check
    1 tsp yellow mustard
  • check
    ½ tsp garlic paste or salt
  • check
    1 green bell pepper
  • check
    3 spring onions
  • check
    handful of chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • check
    1 cup broccoli florets
  • check
    1 cup baby sweetcorn
  • check
    Salt and Pepper to taste

Direction

  1. Cook the macaroni in a large pan of boiling water for about 8-10 minutes. Don’t over cook as it will become mushy and a macaroni salad needs the pasta to be a little al dente!
  2. Heat the oil in a skillet and fry the bacon pieces until crisp and then drain.
  3. Chop the baby corn in to slices and cut the broccoli in to small, even sized florets. Lightly steam these whilst you wait for the pasta to cook, and place to one side.
  4. For the sauce, mix the mayonnaise, sour cream, garlic and mustard together until well combined.
  5. Chop the pepper and spring onions and add to the cooled baby corn and broccoli.
  6. When the macaroni is cooked, drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking. In a large bowl add all of the ingredients and stir gently until well combined. Reserve a few extra herbs and some of the crispy bacon pieces to sprinkle over the top if you like.
  7. Serve in a bowl with a big spoon!

Potato Casserole (Seriously Delicious)

Potato Casserole Recipe (Seriously Delicious) 

When it’s cold and you’re on a food budget, there is a requirement to produce warming, filling and cheap food. This doesn’t mean resorting to pre-made shop meals or low quality ingredients; you just need to cook smart!

The humble potato: So much can be made from this gentle, uncomplicated beast and this Potato Casserole recipe is certainly one that will elevate it! But what’s the history of this simple carbohydrate that so many of us reach for at dinnertime?

The potato began its culinary adventure in 1536 when the Spanish conquered Peru and brought this tuber back to Europe. The Inca Indians had been cultivating the potato from around 8000BC, so this is a fairly ancient ingredient! After spreading rapidly throughout Europe and continuing to many other parts of the world, the potato is now the world’s 4th largest food crop, following maize, rice and wheat.

Because it’s so easy to grow and full of vitamins, the potato has become a firm favorite in many countries, offering a basic essential to all diets. Along the way, there have been many inventions of using the potato in different ways and there are a plethora of recipes and uses for it to choose from! Chips, Mash Potato, Croquette and more. However as the title suggested, our star on this post is Potato Casserole. 

A potato casserole can be described as crowd pleaser. If you have a fussy team of small ones round your table, you can probably be quite sure they would tuck in to this hearty meal without complaint. The smell from the oven whilst it is cooking will have them queuing up and there will be no need to bang the dinner gong on a Potato Casserole Night! With the added pepperoni slices and onions, this layered Potato Casserole dish is a meal in one, and just requires some vegetables of your choice.

A potato casserole wouldn’t be complete without a crispy, cheesy topping and there are variations on this. This recipe uses the faithful breadcrumbs and cheese. You could use crushed crisps, cornmeal, cornflakes or even oats so just use whatever you think would create a lovely crisp finish. The cheddar cheese in this recipe could be swopped for parmesan or mozzarella, or even a combination!

Ingredients

  • 8 medium potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 100g pepperoni spicy sausage
  • 1 cup of condensed chicken soup
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 1 ½ cup vegetable stock
  • 1 bunch of chives, chopped
  • 4 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 4 tbsp grated cheddar cheese

Direction

Peel and slice the potatoes in to 1cm disks. Place in a large pan of boiling water for 10-15 minutes to part cook them. Don’t let them become too soft or they will break up. They will finish cooking in the oven.

Slice the pepperoni sausage in thin strips and slice the onion thinly too.

In a buttered casserole dish, place one layer of the potatoes on the bottom. Sprinkle some of the pepperoni and onion mix on top. Follow with another layer of potato and repeat until the pepperoni, onion and potato have been used. Finish with a layer of potato on top.

Mix the soup, cream, stock and chives together. Pour over the top of the potatoes. Sprinkle over the cheese and breadcrumbs and leave to soak for 30 minutes.

Place in a preheated oven, at 180 degrees and cook slowly for 45-50 minutes until soft, oozing and toasted on top.

Serve with some green vegetables or fresh herbs.

Beet Salad Recipe ( Fresh and Delicious )!

Beet Salad Recipe ( Fresh and Healthy )!

Overview

A salad doesn’t have to be lightweight and boring when there are so many great ingredients you can add. The best way to get successful results would be to choose seasonal produce. These will be at their most nutritious, vibrant, and hopefully, cheapest then. Add some staple store cupboard ingredients, your favorite cuisine flavors and some crusty bread or flat bread and suddenly a fantastic, healthy and filling meal has been created, with top-notch vitamins and minerals.

So, here at Kitchen Decide, we’ve created a Moroccan inspired salad for you, to entertain in the summer evenings. Add some tea lights, exotic music, selection of brightly coloured table textiles and accessories and a relaxing evening won’t be far away Don’t forget some fresh and fruity rose wine and a soft drink option, cooled by bobbing dried rose petal filled ice cubes.

Health Benefits 

  • 1) A great source of iron and folate. If you’re suffering a bit from symptoms like tiredness and headaches from anaemia, the beet can be a great addition to your diet to give you natural boost of iron.
  • 2) An antioxidant. Beets are full of antioxidants that help combat the naturally occurring damage from the oxygen we breath. It can help towards neutralizing the free radicals that run around our bodies and boost white blood cells.
  • 3) A good source of calcium. Beets can help improve our bone health and look after our teeth.
  • 4) Can assist with lower blood pressure. Recent studies are suggesting that beets can also help reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease.
  • 5) Increase fiber. Any digestion issues may be helped with beets as they are a great natural source of fiber.
  • 6) Don’t forget these extra nutrients. Minerals, such as manganese and potassium are also present in this lovely root.
  • 7) Liver Health. Beets have been shown to stimulate the livers’ detoxification process and have been used for medicinal purposes for many years.

Preparation

Main Ingredients

  • 250g beets of any kind. Scrubbed clean and peeled.
  • 150g rocket and other small leaves
  • 1 tin of chick peas – drained
  • 100g feta cheese½ cucumber, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds – toasted

Dressing

  • 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • ¼ tsp sea salt

Nutritional Facts 

  • Calories Per Serving – 299
  • Carbohydrate 18.7g
  • Protein 18.5g
  • Fat – 19.5g

Direction

To the ingredients: it’s quite easy to put this together as this week we have been inspired by the humble beet. More and more different varieties have been popping up recently and suddenly there’s an explosion of yellows, stripy reds, pinks and oranges filling our trollies at the store and it seems to be the perfect ingredient to add some warming, spiced tastes to when creating a summer salad.

Beet has a sweet but earthy flavor that adds an incredibly tasty base to any dish, not just a salad. But how about adding some wafer thin strips of whatever beet you can get hold of (not the type in vinegar!), tossed through some peppery leaves as the start for our recipe? There are times when you may want to roast or boil this welcome root, but a salad needs something crisp and fresh. When using a trusty mandolin (or razor sharp knife), a raw beet won’t need the messy boiling, just a quick peel under the tap.

Next, we’re going to add some salty, crumbled feta for another layer of flavor and welcome protein. Pick a good quality one and crumble through the leaves. The addition of some meaty, mellow chickpeas and chunks of fresh cucumber, the dish is almost there.

Dressings can give a salad the finishing touch that brings all the flavours together. The Middle Eastern inspired spice, sumac is going to be a great taste here. Native to North America too, this lemony, tangy spice is going to the base of a dressing you will use over and over again. Add sesame seeds, paprika, cumin, lemon sea salt (or use some pink Himalayan if you like) and some extra-virgin olive oil and drizzle over just before serving.

Something nutty or crunchy does seem to be the perfect finish to a salad. We are going to suggest some toasted pumpkin seeds with this salad, nutty, sweet and full of even more nutrients to create this healthy dish.

Toast the pumpkin seeds and set aside. Toast the sumac, paprika, cumin and sesame seeds to get a really nutty and toasty spice aroma. Stir in the sea salt and olive oil and leave to one side.



Use a mandolin or sharp knife to create really thin strips of the beetroot and place in a bowl. Tip in the other ingredients and toss gently together. When to serve, drizzle over the dressing and sprinkle over the pumpkin seeds. Serve with a crusty bread or flat bread.

Vegan Fried Rice Recipe

Everyone can make fried rice – but it depends how special you want it to be! If you take a little more time, rather than just throw everything into a skillet and hope for the best, you can make a delicious and healthy fried rice recipe that everyone will love.

Many people who have not been vegan for a long time, may still ‘crave’ the texture of meat, but there are some tasty ways around this. You can use coconut flakes to make ‘bacon’ flavored crumble on top of your dish, or scrambled tofu to give that extra texture. We have included some instructions for these as well.

It is important as a vegan to get enough protein into your diet, as well as an array of vegetables and healthy carbohydrates. This recipe will certainly give you the right balance of nutritious intake.

Serves : 
6

Preparation Time : 
20 Minutes

Cook Time: 
25 - 30 Minutes

Ingredients:

Main :

  • 2 cups brown rice (you can use white but brown is healthier)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or canola oil
  • 2 carrots, very finely sliced into matchsticks
  • 2 sticks of celery, very finely sliced into matchsticks
  • 2 handfuls green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 red peppers, finely sliced
  • 1 red chili, finely sliced (it is up to you whether you remove the seeds)
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • 4 scallions, sliced into 1 inch pieces (save the green ends for garnish, finely sliced)Sprinkle of sesame seeds for each portion

For The Sauce: 

  • 3 tbsp tamariLarge pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp liquid smoke
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, grated
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp vegan chili sauce or sriracha (according to your taste)

Method:

Mix together, by whisking vigorously, all your sauce ingredients and set aside

Cook rice according to instructions and leave to one side.

Heat the olive oil over a medium heat (olive oil does not have a high burning point), toss in the carrots, green beans, scallions and celery. Cook for around 5 minutes until softened but not soggy.

Toss in the peas and red pepper slices and when lightly softened and heated through, remove the vegetables and place to one side, next to the rice.

Take your wok or a very large pan (grease with a little oil) and pour in your sauce, followed by the rice then vegetables. At this stage, if you are using tofu for more protein, add this in.

Keep cooking, and thoroughly combine all the ingredients until completely heated which should take 5-6 minutes. Do not allow to burn.

Serve into separate bowls and sprinkle with the sesame seeds and sliced scallion ends.

Additional Tips: 

Coconut Bacon 

To make ‘coconut bacon’, it is wise to make batches of it in advance, if you want to add them to a stir fried dish. They will keep in the freezer for up to three months, if required. They can be added to salads, any rice dish or even served with avocado on toast!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes (they must be flakes, not desiccated!)
  • 2 tbsp low-salt tamari sauce (you can use soy sauce, but that is up to you)
  • 2 tbsp liquid smoke
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup

Method:

Mix together the tamari sauce, liquid smoke and maple syrup. Spread the coconut flakes out on to a baking tray and pour over the sauce mixture, tossing well to coat all the coconut. Make sure the flakes are spread out evenly after tossing. Bake in the middle of a preheated oven at 350°F for 12-15 minutes. Watch carefully, as they should be a golden brown color, and they tend to burn quickly once cooked.

Try this method first, you may find you really like the taste or that you would like it a little more ‘bacony’ in flavor. You can always adjust your flavorings.

If you prefer to stay with tofu in your meals, follow these instructions for scrambled tofu. You must use extra firm tofu for texture, as silken tofu does not scramble well.

Scrambled Tofu

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb extra-firm tofu, completely drained and dried2tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast (for flavor)
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric (for color and a little heat)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped Holy Basil, or other herb of your choice

Method:

Break up the tofu, either by crumbling until fine (should look like curd cheese), or use a potato masher or similar implement.

Heat oil in a non-stick pan or skillet over a medium to high heat, toss in the tofu and cook for around 4 minutes, until you see some of the liquid in the tofu released into the pan.

Add seasoning (yeast, turmeric, salt) stir and continue to cook until the tofu is a golden yellow. Stir frequently to achieve this result.

Add chopped basil, stir and serve, either with your fried rice or as a breakfast dish or brunch with salad.

These different additions to your very special fried rice will delight your guests and give you more options for delicious meals. Enjoy!

>