Tortellini Salad with Red Bell Peppers, Parsley, Parm and a Lemon-Artichoke Tapenade (and also, “Cousin weekend”)

Cousin weekend. <3

Every summer my cousin Erin and her husband Brian host our little group of cousins on my dad’s side at their weekend place in Brigantine, NJ.  We’re all super into cooking, so the weekend is usually a little bit schmorgasboard, a lot bit Erin’s amazing margaritas, beach, boating, catch-up, recipe swap. It’s one of my favorite weekends of the year and this year was no exception.  Even when the power went out (in AC. In the casino. Slot machines were the only thing that didn’t miss a beat).

My contribution was a Tortellini Salad – it takes about 10 minutes to make, keeps really well, and is something you can bring to the beach with you since it won’t go bad if it gets a little warm. I used to eat a version of this all the time when I lived in Bozeman, Montana – their Co-Op Market made this and I loved it – until I realized I could throw it together myself. This even passes the K. Haggs test, which for all of us who know her particular eating preferences, is saying a lot.

TORTELLINI SALAD WITH RED BELL PEPPERS, PARSLEY, PARM, and a LEMON-ARTICHOKE TAPENADE (makes an enormous bowl that will be a good side dish for 7 cousins over 2 days)
– 2 packages tortellini, cooked per directions
– 1 red bell pepper, diced
– 3 tbsp. flat leaf parsley, chopped (approx.)
– thickly grated fresh parm

Lemon-Artichoke Tapenade
– 2 cans artichoke hearts, drained, and chopped pretty thoroughly
– juice of 1 lemon
– solid 3 glugs of EVOO (or more, if the tapenade is too dry)
– freshly cracked black pepper and kosher salt to taste

1. Cook tortellini per directions. Drain and let cool completely. You can toss the tortellini with a little olive oil to keep it from sticking together.

2. Chop up the artichoke hearts, add to a small bowl. Some people pulse this all together in a food processor, but I like the little chunks of the artichoke hearts that you get by chopping them.

3. To that bowl, add the juice of 1 lemon, then the kosher salt & pepper.

4. Add the EVOO & stir well to combine. Taste & adjust. You want the EVOO to kind of bind everything, not have a pool of it in the bottom of the bowl.

5. Chop up the bell pepper & parsley.

6. Add artichoke tapenade to cooled tortellini, mix well to combine. 

7. Add the red bell pepper, parsley and parm. Stir well to combine. Add kosher salt & pepper if necessary.

Weekend highlights:

Boating on the “Cheeky Monkey”. Brian’s playlist for these rides, every time, just knocks it out of the park. Can you link to Spotify playlists from here? If anybody knows how, let me know and I’ll share the one I copied from him.

Margaritas everywhere (the one in the mason jar came with a “two drink max per person” rule):

Erin’s gorgeous garden – this is seriously one of my favorite spaces in America. She does such a beautiful job with it – there are hummingbirds everywhere, you feel like you’re sitting in the middle of the Secret Garden.

Beach – first time this summer!

Revel Casino  – unreal space


Drive in and out – sunshower, Philly without traffic, dumplings from one of my favorite Philly Chinese restaurants, that perfect moment on the way home with the sun shining and a great song on the radio, when you feel like everything is right with the world.

Thanks Erin & Brian – I love you guys & I’ll see you soon!  xoxo

 My birthday was on Monday, and my little sister bought my domain name for a present!  So we are now…


Such a great gift – I was so excited.  All the old links will still work, but now it’ll be easier to access the site instead of typing in the longer address I used to have. I feel so official now. Thanks Colly Doll!

So B and I decided to head down to Philly for a late birthday dinner at Amada, one of our all-time favorite restaurants.  The space somehow manages to be enormous but cozy, the tapas they serve is out of this world, their sangria tastes like Christmas morning, and the “little plates” give you an excuse to eat a LOT of some of the best food I’ve ever had:

A ridiculous meat & cheese plate: chorizo pamplona,  serrano ham,  & salchichon; then aged manchego with truffled lavender honey (!!!), ersmesenda with chocolate hazelnut puree, and a garrotxa with a garlic dulce de leche

Ensalada Verde with avocado, asparagus, favas, and green beans/  a spanish flatbread with artichokes, wild mushrooms, black truffles and manchego
parmesan artichokes and lamb meatballs
Grilled calamari with spanish pesto
“Mother and child”: chicken breast, fried egg, mojama & truffles

Combine that with a delicious “breakfast” (yes I know that’s a reuben) at the Downtown Deli, then lunch at Carl Von Luger’s with my Mom, and it was one of the best dining days I’ve had in a while.

And February itself has been pretty great in general: 

Yoga Dance party in one of the rooms at the gorgeous Scranton Cultural Center, hosted by Mission Yoga; The Dinner of Love at The Colonnade to benefit the Sant’ Andrea Society; a weekend yoga workshop with the amazing Pradeep Teotia at Balance (during the Northeast’s biggest snowstorm in decades, which ended up making it an even more incredible experience); a weekend at Moosic Lake with my girlfriends; Philly for my birthday; and a great yoga mat carrier from Green Being Scranton, among other things, to cap it all off.

34 and 2 days…