Pasta Salad

I am going to give you a super simple pasta salad recipe here. It is perfect for any potluck, family gathering. Plus, it is so simple. The homemade dressing is a basic Italian dressing seasoning. I was looking in the store at ingredients in most Italian dressings, and they contain everything from processed sugar to dyes. WHY?! So, if you want to ditch the processed ingredients, this will be your new favorite dressing.

Pasta Salad

For my pasta salads, I use an organic rigatoni pasta. I think the dressing coats the noodles best, and it has the best noodle-vegetable ratio.

Dressing Ingredients

  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/8 tsp paprika or turmeric
  • 1/2 tbsp Italian Herbs (or 1/4 tsp of each: basil, marjoram, oregano 1/8 tsp of each: rosemary, thyme)
  • zest from one lemon
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp vinegar (balsamic, apple cider, white, really any vinegar works here)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

And get creative with your Vegetables, throw whatever you have in the fridge in with the pasta. All of the measurements are for 1 box of pasta worth of noodles. I prefer the vegetables to be dices in about 1/2 inch cubes

  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 7-8 cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 1 bag snap peas
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1 box rigatoni pasta (or gluten free pasta)

You really cannot mess up this recipe. It is perfect to use up left over vegetables, or to have a fresh side salad for dinner. I hope you love the dressing!

Love, Liv

Refrigerator Pickles

Who does not love fresh pickles? My husband and I love anything pickled. Seriously anything. A few weeks ago, we were craving those salty, crunchy, delicious bites. So, I have a recipe for you all that requires NO sugar, fresh dill, or crazy ingredients.

For this recipe, I used dill seed, not dill weed. They are definitely not the same thing.  Dill seed are the little seed of the plant. While, dill weed, are the leaves of the plant. Dill weed goes great in potato salad, and dill seed is great for this recipe. It is not too hard to find dill seed in your local grocery store. Next year, I plan on drying the heads of dill, and making my own dill seed and sill weed. Stay tuned for the journey.

Refrigerator Pickles

  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1 and 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1 tbsp dill seed
  • 2 1/4 tsp pickling spices
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 dried chilies (or 1 and 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes)
  • 2 tbsp salt

This is probably one of my easiest recipes yet.

  1. Bring vinegar and water to a boil.
  2. Add salt, dill seeds, and pickling spices.
  3. Place garlic, cucumber, chilies into a jar.
  4. Pour liquid into the jar. Mix.
  5. Shake jar once per day.
  6. Let sit at least 3 days. For the best flavor wait at least 7 days.

I hope you find this recipe delicious as we do. Let me know how your batch turns out!

Love, Liv

Composting in an Apartment

I have wanting to start composting for a while, but I live in an apartment. I always thought I wouldn’t have space, or it would be really difficult. Good news for everyone: I was wrong! Composting can be done anywhere, and is way easier than you think.

First off, composting is not just letting your food rot in a container. It does take some work. You can use worms to help break down your food, but I want to figure out what I am doing; otherwise, we might have a worm massacre on our hands.  Instead I used some news paper. Newspaper breaks down really easily, and gets the process going.

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I decided to use a standard 5 gallon bucket to start, I figured I can always go up in size. I normally cook for two people. So far, the 5 gallon bucket is a perfect size for the amount of compostable waste my husband and I produce. You will need to drill a bunch of holes all over the bucket and lid. You will want a lot of air flow through your compost bin. The more air flow the better. Air flow does not mean dry, I keep a spray bottle near my compost bucket. When I go and mix the compost, I give it a spritz if the compost is looking dry. Healthy compost should always be slightly damp.

I keep my compost bin out side under our porch. Do not keep your bin in direct sunlight. Whenever I am cooking, I grab the bin, bring it in the house, and put all my kitchen scraps in. I keep a brick on the top to help keep pests out of the bin. Get a bin that has an easy lid to remove. You will want to mix your compost every day.

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I started my compost with a few vegetable scraps that had seen better days.  You can cut the scraps down to a smaller size to make the compost process faster. Kitchen scraps are great to start composting; they will give the end result a hearty mix of carbon and nitrogen. Which is what helps makes a healthy soil. Egg shells are quick to break down, and get the composting process started. Since I am vegan, I don’t have egg shells. That is where the news paper comes in. It works very similar to the egg shells, and it breaks down quickly.

Here are a few ideas to start your compost:

  • Vegetable scraps/peels
  • Coffee grounds
  • Tea
  • Dried leaves and twigs
  • Grass clippings
  • Untreated wood scraps/sawdust

Let’s talk about things not to compost:

  • Poop-just don’t do it. Poop, especially from critters, can contain organisms caring diseases, and can be transferred to whatever you use your compost on.
  • Dairy products: although they break down, when the bacteria in dairy spoils it can become toxic, and make people very sick. Because the bacteria is not being denatured, it will become toxic. Assuming you will want to use your compost in a garden, or around plants you will eat, just be safe and keep dairy out of your compost.
  • Meat, fat, bone, animal products: composting can actually preserve animal products, and attract critters to your compost.
  • Glossy paper: unlike news paper, glossy paper does not break down, and will remain in your compost.
  • Plants treated with pesticides: the pesticides will not break down, and will transfer to your compost.
  • Metal, tin, plastic: Things that are not biodegradable

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Happy Composting!

 

Love, Liv