Super Green Lemon Chicken Pasta Salad

Have a story about your favorite pasta salad? Talk to me in the comment section below. In my experience, pasta salads truly are the side dish to a barbecue or special event. Sans meat, it’s a classic vegetarian dish. Meanwhile, we attempt to serve vegans — who don’t eat dairy — a mayonnaise-based pasta version. It’s often an “oops… we spent hours rubbing down ribs with spices and marinating chicken — let’s quickly make a vegetable” dish. As an afterthought dish, pasta salads often taste like no love.

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"Mason Jar Salads" by Julia Mirabella

The minister of my church once asked all the lawyers present to stand up. Nobody stood. “They’re all working. I should know, because I know the lawyers who are members of this church,” the minister reasoned. As an attorney, Julia Mirabella finds time to write a food blog at MyFoodandOtherStuff.com between long hours at the office analyzing data on computer screens and reading mile-high stacks of documents and forms.

While wisely managing time, Mirabella discovered the art of fine dining in a mason jar. To save time and money during the weekdays, she would concurrently pack several lunches in jars during the weekend. Once she mastered the technique of layering ingredients (such as placing vinaigrette at the bottom of the jars to avoid soggy salad leaves), she wrote a cookbook, Mason Jar Salads.

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Spicy Tomato Sauce with Shrimp, Chickpea and Roast Asparagus

For the first two to three years of MyLifeRunsOnFood.com, I was partially or fully unemployed. My hours were spent writing cover letters, resumes and recipes. The food blog enabled me to have a routine, stay creative and hopeful. The recipes created during that time period, continue to be my favorite meals.

During that time period, I recall a conversation with several friends about how process food isn’t as fast as preparing a home cook meal. Then there’s a lone voice among us who disagreed with us as she explained, “…for working families… it’s difficult to prepare healthy meals, join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) or a food co-op…” I was curious about her statement. Despite being unemployed, I wondered if my concept of time management around healthy eating was within the realities of single parents and families working full-time.

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Spinach Fettuccine with Basil Pesto Shrimp

The weather is cooler, but there’s still plenty of green vegetables everywhere, especially summer squash, arugula and basil. Fresh spinach fettuccine pasta (find it at an Italian store or use dry pasta) is tossed with shaved zucchini, basil pesto shrimp and baby arugula. It’s a pasta dish for enjoying the last of summer’s vibrant vegetables. Read more

Linguine with Clams and Shrimp

There’s seafood on my mind. Crawfish. Oysters. Crab. Scallops. Shrimp. Hopefully lobster. All seasoned with Southern spices and lure. I’m thinking of creole dirty rice. French cooking techniques mixed Southern flavors. Spicy red beans and rice. Gumbo seasoned with filé. Jazz music inspired from my Motherland. Warm weather on the gulf coast. Why? I’m going to New Orleans. It’s my first time. The trip is sponsored by The Gulf Seafood Marketing Coalition. Besides enjoying my favorite cuisine (on location), I’m learning how the seafood industry is moving on after a disastrous oil spill.  Read more