Quarantine Pasta

I’ve been making a lot of quarantine pasta lately. And yeah, I always make a lot of pasta, mostly because it’s a versatile way to throw a bunch of flavors I love into a single dish. In recent weeks I haven’t bothered to plan out what kind of pasta I’ll be making though.

The grocery stores in our area always have plenty of food, but since they rarely have everything on my list, my mid-February habit of “I’m going to make this meal and buy those ingredients” doesn’t work very well. Instead I think about the overall type of sauce that would suit the things I already have on hand or managed to grab during my weekly shopping trip. It’s a more improvisational process that’s easy enough to change up if I find myself with unexpected leftovers or produce that’s going off faster than expected. And since it’s different than how I usually plan meals, I keep thinking of it as quarantine pasta.

To keep myself from just grabbing the same handful of stuff every week, I put together some lists of ingredients that work well with tomato sauce, olive oil, or pesto pasta. So read on if you want a few too many tips to Choose Your Own Pasta Adventures.

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Indoor Picnic Potato Salad

We picked this potato salad recipe to try while attempting a Barbie-style indoor picnic a few months back.

At the start of the “Sandwiches, Salads, Snacks” chapter of Barbie’s Easy-As-Pie Cookbook, Midge tries to talk Barbie into going to the movies now that the weather’s too rainy for the picnic they had planned. But Barbie promised Ken a birthday picnic, so she announces they’ll just lay out their paper plates in the dining room and use the stove instead of a grill.

The main attraction of Barbie’s indoor picnic involves a fundamental misunderstanding of what burgers are, so for our own similar type of party (back before we couldn’t have picnic parties), we decided on something more routine for the side dish.

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Mint Hot Chocolate

The weather’s warming up in our area, but we’ve had some cooler, rainy evenings that are still perfect for mint hot chocolate. And with everything that’s going on, the slightly slower process of homemade cocoa feels more satisfying than just grabbing a packet mix.

Using Barbie’s cocoa recipe as a base, I added mint for springtime flavor. I also swapped some of the milk for heavy cream, which makes it just indulgent enough to suit the Jeff Goldblum mug that Alana got me a few years back.

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Girl Talk

The April Stay At Home Challenge

This month is going to be a strange one. For many of us, our main role will be to stay at home while others take on the risk of keeping people safe, healthy, and fed. Social distancing may be simple compared to the important work still going on in the world, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be easy.

We want to tackle the challenge of isolation by setting a challenge of our own, and naturally, it’s mostly about food. With help from some friends, we put together a list of thirty things you can do in April to cook good food, learn new things, seek comfort where you can, and support your community. So let’s get started.

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Ginger Bump Cookies

We made these Ginger Bump Cookies during the last cooking party we had before cooking parties became a thing to avoid.

They’re a simple entry point into the Candies, Cookies, and Cakes chapter of Barbie’s Easy-As-Pie Cookbook because they just involve adding some extras to a prepackaged gingerbread mix. There are only a handful of other recipes in the book that rely on similar shortcuts though.

The simplicity of these cookies made them work well for a night when there was a lot going on in the kitchen, and they had a ton of flavor for something so quick and convenient. The ingredients are also basic enough that you should be able to pick them up the next time you venture out for quarantine supplies.

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Have a Peanut Party

This past week has been strange. But even though travel, large events, and readily available toilet paper have all been cancelled by now, I’m going to suggest a Barbie-approved party you can still throw in your very own kitchen: a Peanut Party.

Barbie’s Easy-As-Pie Cookbook has an entire chapter of peanut butter recipes. I never used to think of peanut butter as a pantry staple, but last year my husband and I adopted a puppy. Cadence is a little over a year old now and is still a ridiculous vortex of limitless energy delightful little scamp who needs a variety of treats and distractions. So these days, there’s always extra peanut butter in the house.

This no-cook dessert has only 5 ingredients. The process was a bit of a mess, but the end result was surprisingly tasty.

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Bacon-and-Mozzarella Beauties

For my take on Bacon-and-Cheese Beauties, I swapped the white bread for wheat, the American cheese for fresh mozzarella, and roasted slices of small, vine-ripened tomatoes. I also finished the dish off with some pesto, which is basically basil’s ultimate form. The result takes a bit more work than Barbie’s original Beauties, but it’s worth the extra effort.

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