Art is the Handmaid of Human Good

Life in Lowell, Massachusetts, USA

Tortellini & Green Pea Salad + Chocolate Peanut Butter Blondies


Tortellini & Green Pea Salad + Chocolate Peanut Butter Blondies

First, a fair warning – this post is going to be long and a bit of a hodgepodge. I have some recipes, some grocery lists and some general life updates. I’ll be writing about them in that order, so feel free to skip whatever you want 😉

Tortellini & Green Pea Salad

This tortellini salad is an old faithful – it’s good, quick, easy, cheap, and I usually have most, if not all, of the ingredients in the pantry/freezer.  I’ve been making it for years (like 15), and it’s always a hit at potlucks (I take being a hit at potlucks *very* seriously).

Gist likes this dish so much that she’s requested it at her birthday picnic and because I already have a long to-do list for the event I have asked Nance to make this salad.  She’s the one who taught me how to make it, so Gist is getting the master version 😉

There are four steps – whisk together the dressing ingredients in a big bowl, boil a big pot of tortellini and green peas…

Tortellini & Green Pea Salad

…Combine them…

Tortellini & Green Pea Salad

…And top it with some grated cheese and chopped parsley. Oh wait, I forgot the fifth step – chill.

Tortellini & Green Pea Salad
Recipe courtesy of The Frugal Gourmet Cooks with Wine

  • 4 teaspoons of red wine vinegar
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (I use less, between 1/4 and 1/3 cup)
  • Tortellini
  • Frozen green peas
  • Chopped parsley
  • Grated cheese (Romano, Parmesan or Asiago)

Whisk the first five ingredients together to form an emulsion.  Cook the tortellini – when the tortellini is a minute away from being done, toss the peas into the pot and cook for just one minute.  Mix with the dressing and top with the cheese and parsley.  Chill well before serving.

So easy, so tasty.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Blondies

Last Thursday was just one of those days. I didn’t feel like cooking, hence the tortellini salad but Gist had one of those days that you just want to forget, hence these amazing chocolate peanut butter blondies.  Gist called me up to tell me about how badly her day was going and to request a treat.  I immediately hopped on the internets and googled “chocolate+peanut butter”, Gist’s favorite combination.  Google pointed me to Smitten Kitchen, and the rest was history.

These suckers?  They are awesome!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Blondies

So awesome, they cheered Gist right up…

Chocolate Peanut Butter Blondies

…And wowed her co-workers the next day. (As I am sure you can imagine, I also take wowing colleagues with food very seriously.)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Blondies

Chocolate Peanut Butter Blondies
Recipe courtesy of Smitten Kitchen/Adapted from Butterwood Desserts, West Falls, New York via Gourmet, October 2007

For brownies

  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 large yolk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (9 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For ganache

  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (9 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

Make brownies:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with rack in middle. Butter a 13- by 9- by 2-inch baking pan, then line bottom of pan with parchment paper and butter parchment.

Beat together butter and sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until mixture is light and fluffy, then add peanut butter and beat until incorporated. Beat in whole eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla. Reduce mixer sped to low, then mix in flour until just combined.  Mix in chocolate chips (1 1/2 cups) then spread batter in baking pan, smoothing top. (It will be thick, almost like cookie batter.)

Bake until brownies are deep golden, puffed on top and a wooden pick inserted in center come out with some crumbs adhering, 40 to 45 minutes.  Cool completely in pan on a rack, about 1 1/2 hours.

Make ganache:
Put chocolate chips (1 1/2 cups) in a heatproof bowl.

Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan, then pour over chocolate chips and let mixture stand for one minute. Gently whisk in butter until it is incorporated, chocolate is melted, and a smooth mixture forms. Spread ganache on cooled brownies and let stand until set, about 15 minutes.

And now some grocery bills, all from Market Basket…

April 30th 2009

  • Parsley for $.89
  • Fillo dough for $2.19
  • Butter for $1.99
  • Cheese tortellini for $1.69
  • Heavy cream for  $1.49
  • 1 dozen eggs for $1.19
  • Sugar for $2.29
  • Flour for $1.99

Total = $13.72.  This made the tortellini salad and blondies – the fillo is for Greek Pizza.

May 1st 2009

  • 1 lb. spinach for $2.29
  • 1.42 lb. asparagus for $2.83
  • .82 lb. cluster tomatoes for $1.06
  • Cabot Swiss cheese for $2
  • Cabot extra-sharp cheddar for $2
  • Smoked Gouda for $3.35
  • Feta for $2.19
  • Mozzarella for $1.69
  • 1 quart of milk for $1.59
  • 1 box of elbow macaroni for $.75

Total = 19.75.  This closed out the week and made Greek Pizza, Asparagus Frittata and Mac-n-Cheese.  Total for the week?  $55.88.

May 4th 2009

  • Morningstar Farms vegetarian “sausage” patties for $3.49
  • 1 head of cauliflower for $2.29
  • Leeks for $2.49
  • Cilantro for $1.29
  • 4 limes for $1
  • 1 crown of broccoli for $1.66
  • Edamame for $1.69
  • Butter for $1.99
  • 1 quart of milk for $1.59
  • Heavy cream for $1.49
  • 1 dozen eggs for $1.19
  • 1 container of plain yogurt for $.40
  • 1 loaf of Velveeta for $3.69 – there’s a disclaimer for this…
  • Coconut milk for $1.99
  • 1 big bottle of pure vanilla extract for $9.99
  • 1 jar of Teddie natural peanut butter for $2.50
  • 1 box of Nabisco chocolate wafers for $3.99
  • 1 box of jasmine rice for $2.39
  • 1 bag of powdered sugar for $1.39
  • 1 package of Jiffy corn muffin mix for $.50

Total?  $47.01.  Hey, big spender!  Now this week has been and will continue to be an off week.  I fully expect to blow my budget (I’m looking at you, vanilla).

This shopping trip made roasted broccoli and cauliflower that was served on Monday with the Mac-n-Cheese whose ingredients were bought last week.  It also made Gist’s birthday meals – Coconut Rice with Edamame and Leeks, Cornmeal waffles with veggie sausages and the most amazing peanut butter pie in the world.

So I cooked on Monday and Tuesday.  Wednesday, Gist headed off to her annual birthday trip with her mother (she’ll be home late tonight) and so I ordered something I’ve been craving for supper – Papa Gino’s pizza.  Gist hates Papa Gino’s and I have loved it since I was a child – it’s one of my favorite comfort foods – I was quite happy with my pizza, wine and American Idol last night 🙂

Tonight, I’m eating leftover coconut rice and I made some *more* Mac-n-Cheese (it’s like death by cheese here).  This batch of Mac-n-Cheese is in the freezer, ready for Gist to bring to a party at her parents’ on Saturday evening, and it’s why I bought Velveeta – Gist and her mom both love it, and it was specifically requested so I couldn’t say no…

Tomorrow, I head away to the Quiet Corner of Connecticut until Monday.  I’m dog-sitting for the loveliest pooch in the world, see…


Along with walking and playing fetch, I’ll probably be doing some cooking because I will be in a house with two items that I covet – a grill and a Kitchen Aid mixer.  I also have some back-logged recipes – Greek Pizza, Coconut Rice with Edamame & Leeks and the most amazing peanut butter pie in the world, did I mention that it is amazing?  It is!

That’s the scoop – I hope your Thursday is wonderful.  I’m off to meet some friends for drinks and there is thunder outside right now – yay!

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3 thoughts on “Tortellini & Green Pea Salad + Chocolate Peanut Butter Blondies

  1. Pingback: Hitting the reset button… « Art is the Handmaid of Human Good

  2. Hi, there – I think I found your site via a link from another site to your African peanut stew (which is on my dinner list for this week – Thurs!). I’ve been focusing on the thrifty meals, too (due to possible unemployment in the future) and eat mostly veggie, too, so your recipes are great!

    I also lived in Lowell for about 1.5 years, so it’s been fun to see some of your pics of it. I really enjoyed Lowell and thought it had a lot of potential – all the cool old buildings, its river views, and its easy proximity to Boston (& NH & ME). I now live on the West Coast, but I have a lot of good memories of my brief time in Lowell. I remember there was a pretty good vegetarian Indian restaurant that served the best okra! And the soup contest at the winter festival was awesome, too.

    Regarding the tortellini salad recipe, what size package of tortellini do you use? I wanted to get the right proportion for the dressing. Thanks!


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